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Highly Reviewed Recordings

October 5 - October 18, 2011



GRIEG, E.: Symphonic Works (Complete), Vol. 1 (WDR Symphony, Aadland) - Symphonic Dances / Peer Gynt Suites Nos. 1 and 2
(audite: Audite92.651)


GRIEG, E.: Symphonic Works (Complete), Vol. 1 (WDR Symphony, Aadland) - Symphonic Dances / Peer Gynt Suites Nos. 1 and 2

Does there still need to be special pleading for Grieg’s orchestral music? He has a clutch of ardent champions on record and, if anyone is still unconverted to the depth and worth of this music, Eivind Aadland and his Cologne forces are set to change their minds. This is a hugely enjoyable first volume in what promises to be an excellent survey.  James Inverne,  Gramophone

Review Excerpt:  The launch of a third new survey of Grieg’s orchestral music in the last decade, following Bjarte Engeset’s for Naxos and Ole Kristian Ruud’s for BIS, starts here (the first volume of a promised five) with the most obvious popular items. But any sense of mere repetition of well-known repertoire in (perhaps) improved recorded sound is challenged immediately by the idea of starting with the four 1898 Symphonic Dances. No 2 aside, the Allegretto grazioso that has become quite a Proms lollipop (and, of course, a Beecham speciality), these are meaty pieces of real orchestral (if not quite symphonic) substance which deserve to be better known.  Mike Ashman, Gramophone




SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2 / Arpeggione Sonata (arr. for cello and piano) / Fantasy, D. 934 (Trio Dali)
(Fuga Libera: FUG584)


SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2 / Arpeggione Sonata (arr. for cello and piano) / Fantasy, D. 934 (Trio Dali)

An eminent Belgian label that sometimes slips under the radar somewhat, Fuga Libera clearly have some canny artist-spotters in their ranks, judging from the quality of musicians they manage to find. The latest discovery is the Dali Trio, a prize-winning young European group who cast a lasting spell on this repertoire. Harriet Smith’s review even compares them favourably to the Beaux Arts Trio. More from the Dalis please! - James Inverne, Gramophone

Review Excerpt:  Set alongside the Vienna Piano Trio’s somewhat staid account of the E flat (D929), this new one has a joyous sense of energy from the off. The recording is beautifully balanced, with the piano never unduly forward in the texture and a particular delight is the way the players meld Schubert’s countermelodies so sensitively.  – Harriet Smith, Gramophone




BARTOK, B.: Violin Concerto No. 2 / Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2 (Kelemen, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Kocsis) (Bartok New Series, Vol. 9)
(Hungaroton: HSACD32509)


BARTOK, B.: Violin Concerto No. 2 / Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2 (Kelemen, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Kocsis) (Bartok New Series, Vol. 9)

From the first bars, we’re clearly in the hands of a master Bartók interpreter in Zoltán Kocsis. Cunningly, he holds a contrast between the orchestra, who use minimal vibrato, and the ripe sound of Kelemen’s violin, for instance—their acerbity balancing his sweetness. It feels lyrical yet idiomatic. A great recording.  – James Inverne, Gramophone

Review Excerpt:  Kelemen lunges at both like a man possessed: his bow knows no fear and his orchestral collaborators are with him all the way. An exceptional disc.  – Rob Cowan, Gramophone




DONIZETTI, G.: Lucia di Lammermoor [Opera] (Gergiev)
(Mariinsky: MAR0512)


DONIZETTI, G.: Lucia di Lammermoor [Opera] (Gergiev)

Now here’s an intriguing pairing. In the pit, Valery Gergiev, heavyweight conductor with a penchant for the orchestral fist. On the set, Natalie Dessay, light-voiced yet mercurial stage animal. One would think that a Gergiev Lucia would need a weightier soprano, a Netrebko perhaps. But Dessay’s complete commitment to the role is matched by Gergiev’s theatricality. – James Inverne, Gramophone

Review Excerpt:  The new recording from the Mariinsky brings us into another world. Following Gergiev’s and the label’s habitual mix, the cast imports Natalie Dessay’s tortured and youthful-sounding Lucia and Piotr Beczala’s doomed Edgardo into a more home-grown ensemble. Valery Gergiev’s Verdi has caused controversy in the past, so how authentic a Donizettian can he be?  The basic answer is that the tinta he establishes for the work—a dark sound with good forward winds and present brass (the opposite of the smooth, over-romanticised sound favoured for this music in the first days of LP recording)—creates real atmosphere. – Mike Ashman, Gramophone









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