MAXWELL DAVIES, P.: Symphony No. 6 / Time and the Raven / An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise (Royal Philharmonic, Maxwell Davies)
The sound is spectacular, ranking in the demonstration class thanks in part to the composer’s gifted orchestration.
[An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise] is a genuine masterpiece, full of feeling combined with whimsy and with bagpipes to boot. It is raucous with melodies buried here and there to boot. Getting acquainted with this composition after several hearings, I found it enjoyable. Incidentally, Maxwell Davies lives in the Orkney Islands.
In Time and the Raven Maxwell Davies treats an Australian aboriginal song to such change as to be unrecognizable, then covers a broad selection of made-up national anthems, ending with a rambunctious fortissimo coda.
This is highly recommended!
By Zan Furtwangler © 2013 Audiophile Audition
JANACEK: Jenufa (Sung in English)
(Chandos / Opera in English: CHAN3106-07)
This is the Brno—that is, the correct, original, without orchestration added by Karel Kovarovic—version of Jenufa, sung here in a good English translation by Edward Downes and Otakar Kraus. It is acknowledged that Janáček’s operas are most effective when they are sung in Czech, and therefore this achievement deserves extra praise: the end product is almost overwhelming in its potency and ability to move. It is no coincidence that such a superb reading should be led by Charles Mackerras, long a Janáček specialist and the conductor of this set’s strongest competition…
The playing and singing of the WNO forces is nothing less than brilliant. Don’t toss away Söderstrom, but Chandos is now number one.
By Robert Levine © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
BRITTEN, B.: Winter Words / 7 Sonnets of Michelangelo / 6 Holderlin-Fragmente / Songs from the Chinese (Bostridge, Pappano, Xuefei Yang)
(EMI Classics: 5099943343256)
Ian Bostridge has established form in Britten’s songs and I, among other, praised to the skies his recording of the orchestral cycles with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. This, his offering for the Britten centenary, is worthy to take its place alongside that disc. Bostridge is one of the finest Britten tenors around today. What sets him apart as special is not just his exceptional musicianship, but his profoundly musical understanding of the text, which he repeatedly invests with all sorts of nuances and inflections that sharpen both the music and the words. This helps point the listener to things that the mere reader might never notice were there. That is a rare gift, but Bostridge does it so often that he makes it seem easy. In Pappano he has a partner whose ear for detail is every bit as fine. In fact, his instinct for musical drama is, if anything even finer than Bostridge’s, honed as it is by his vast experience in the opera house.
Yang proves herself an accompanist every bit as accomplished and sensitive as Pappano. The delicacy of her playing—and her instrument—adds an even finer level of transparency and insight to Bostridge’s singing.
All of this is every bit as much in praise of Britten’s sensational skill as a setter of poetry. Even if it were not so exceptional, we would owe Bostridge and Pappano (and Yang) a debt of gratitude for reminding us of this in the composer’s anniversary year. This is the finest new Britten recording to have come my way for the centenary, and if anything else comes our way this year that is nearly as good as this then we can count ourselves very lucky indeed.
By Simon Thompson © 2013 MusicWeb International
CORDERO, E.: Caribbean Concertos - Concierto Festivo / Insula / Concertino Tropical (Pepe Romero, Figueroa, I Solisti di Zagreb)
(Naxos / Latin American Classics: 8.572707)
This CD is a really nice surprise. It’s a collection of music by Puerto Rican composer Ernesto Cordero (b.1946), and I found the Caribbean themes music engaging and worth multiple listens.
With some thrilling syncopation, and some contrasting reflective moments, the Concierto is a musical trip well worth taking.
Figueroa gives a striking and emotional performance of a work (Ínsula) he is emotionally bound to.
…Concertino Tropical…has boundless energy and some remarkable playing by Figueroa that is clearly technically difficult but sounds flawless in this performance.
The Naxos recording is excellent, capturing every detail and nuance of this collection of Cordero’s works.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this CD, but it is highly recommended and something that will find its way to your CD player over and over again. …highly individualistic and worthy musical journeys.
By Mel Martin © 2013 Audiophile Audition