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Highly Reviewed Recordings

August 21 - September 3, 2013

Chamber Music with Clarinet - POULENC, F. / BERNSTEIN, L. / STRAVINSKY, I. / GOULD, M. / BARTOK, B. (Waiting for Benny) (J. Herve)
(Naxos: 8.573032)

Chamber Music with Clarinet - POULENC, F. / BERNSTEIN, L. / STRAVINSKY, I. / GOULD, M. / BARTOK, B. (Waiting for Benny) (J. Herve)

Benny Goodman is the inspiration behind this disc too since he was the person who caused most of these compositions to be written as their commissioner. Clarinettists have had good cause to thank him ever since as these works are pearls in 20th century clarinet repertoire. What they share is a thorough exploration of all the wonderfully evocative and virtuosic possibilities of this most charismatic of instruments.

All the works on this disc are absolutely fabulous and each of them is a quintessential representative of its creator. If one had to guess who they were it would be pretty obvious in almost every case, apart perhaps from Morton Gould’s since he is less well known than the others.

The entire disc was a very neat idea and the unifying theme of Benny Goodman has resulted in a disc that presents some really wonderful works for clarinet that will give endless enjoyment to the listener. All the instrumentalists are first class but naturally one must highlight the contribution of the clarinettist Julien Hervé whose technique is both stunning and apparently effortless. It has a gorgeously rich tone and a clarity of sound that is quite breathtaking at times.

It is difficult to praise this disc highly enough as anyone who listens to it will find to their great delight and lasting pleasure.

By Steve Arloff  © 2013 MusicWeb International

CORTOT, A.: Piano Arrangements (Yue He)
(Grand Piano: GP641)

CORTOT, A.: Piano Arrangements (Yue He) Editor’s Choice

This is, in all the senses of the word, a brilliant release.

This release is proof that the piano can easily stand on its own. But you need a pianist who can imitate the melodic line, the harmonies and, not least, play with a singing tone. Chinese pianist He Yue is just the right man for the job. He is tremendously talented and his piano tone is round and full, his fortissimos never hard. He is helped by a clear and transparent recorded sound.

…here they [Grand Piano] have catapulted up to the very top of piano releases with CD I simply cannot praise enough. What a fantastic discovery!

© 2013 Pianist

MOZART, W.A.: Requiem / BRUCKNER, A.: Te Deum (Barenboim)
(EMI Classics: 5099943329359)

MOZART, W.A.: Requiem / BRUCKNER, A.: Te Deum (Barenboim)

…possibly the best lineup of soloists yet gathered on disc: Sheila Armstrong, Janet Baker, Nicolai Gedda, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. It doesn’t get any better than that. …Barenboim leads a thrilling interpretation by any standard from the wild Dies irae right through to the final Lux asterna. Toss in superb choral singing, and you have one of the great Requiem recordings, whether anyone mentions it or not.

…makes this reissue even more special is the presence of one of the best-ever versions of Bruckner’s Te Deum. …this version has notable warmth to the engineering, a natural balance between orchestra and organ, the fabulous New Philharmonia Chorus, and in general a barbaric splendor that’s pretty much unmatched. It’s a potent reminder of just how exciting a conductor Barenboim could be…

By David Hurwitz © 2013

MOERAN, E.J.: Cello Concerto / Serenade / Lonely Waters / Whythorne's Shadow (Johnston, Ulster Orchestra, Falletta)
(Naxos: 8.573034)

MOERAN, E.J.: Cello Concerto / Serenade / Lonely Waters / Whythorne's Shadow (Johnston, Ulster Orchestra, Falletta)

The Cello Concerto (1945) premiered in Dublin and reflects the composer's late style, an eclectic romanticism influenced by Moeran's own marriage to Irish cellist Piers Coetmore. The first movement Moderato has Guy Johnston's weaving a continuous melody that proves through-composed, influencing all subsequent developments. The baleful second theme smacks of Elgar, more of the Violin Concerto than that composer's own Cello Concerto. Still, the lyrical outpouring proves quite attractive and bucolic, until the music assumes a decidedly aggressive cast rife with quick variations on the original tune. Johnston plays a lovely 1714 David Tacchier instrument with a generous singing tone. The melancholy tone resumes, with the cello, horns and tympani (and a touch of harp) all fading into a cloudy distance.

By Gary Lemco © 2013 Audiophile Audition

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