Friday, September 18, 2009

This week I listened to

David Matthews: Music of Dawn; Concerto in Azzurro; A Vision and a Journey
BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba; Guy Johnston (cello)
Chandos
(emusic)

Nominated for a Gramophone award, although I did have my eye on it before that. Music of Dawn is a quite impressionistic piece full of colour, while A Vision and a Journey is a more robust sort of piece but somewhat along the same lines. These 2 pieces I liked, and he uses the orchestra well (what would you expect from someone who helped edit Mahler's Tenth?), but the Concerto didn't do much for me.

Mozart: Serenade no.10, 'Gran Partita'; Divertimento K252
Linos Ensemble
Capriccio
(emusic)

This was a BBC Building a Library choice - fortuitous as I'd been looking for a good version on eMusic. In the absence of clear advice, I'd almost settled on Herreweghe's period-instrument one, which did get a nod too. Not knowing much of the work beforehand all I can say is that this one is certainly a fine disc, and the sound of the ensemble seems just right.

Handel: Chandos anthems nos.5, 7 & 8
soloists; The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
Chandos
(emusic)

Of course the link between label and work is irresistible, but as far as I know this is the only recording of the full set. Handel sort of strays into Bach cantatas territory here, although it's fascinating to hear how quickly he settled into the English idiom. I will have to complete the set myself at some point (will it be easier or harder when the album-capping comes in? I downloaded the anthems on different accounts... it's complicated...)

Humperdinck: Hansel und Gretel
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf; Elisabeth Grummer; Philharmonia Orchestra/Karajan
Past Classics
(emusic)

This is the classic now-out-of-copyright 1953 recording by EMI. Only 3 tracks! You get what you pay for, though - the sound isn't exactly splendid, and there are a couple of very obvious defects in the children's chorus near the end. Presumably these were simply recorded from LPs. Incidentally, parents beware! Hansel und Gretel is a gateway opera and may lead your children on to more sinister things, like Wagner!

Schubert: Piano sonatas D845, D850 & D959, etc
Imogen Cooper
Avie
(emusic)

I have been disgracefully ignorant of Schubert's piano sonatas, but this double album has gone a long way to rectifying that. The late A major sonata is alarmingly good, reminding me of how amazed I was when I first started exploring his lieder. These are live recordings from a set of recitals Cooper gave in London last year; 2 more double albums are forthcoming.

7 comments:

Spider said...

Mitsuko Uchida's Schubert piano sonatas are well worth a listen - they're part of her complete cycle of Schubert's solo piano works. Schubert's piano music is still very under-rated, I think - but I suppose the competition is pretty stiff.

Nereffid said...

I actually have one of the Uchida discs - D840 and D894 - but it's a long time since I listened to it. I know I liked it at the time, but I'm not sure why I didn't fall for this music the way I did with the Cooper album. I suppose it was just that the time was wrong, like it took me years to realise how great Handel was.

Incidentally, Spider - welcome! How did you come across this blog?

Jon said...

Hi Nerefiid - and my apologies, but I only just saw your reply (is there a notification mechanism I missed somewhere?)

> How did you come across this blog?

I really enjoyed your old 'Guide' on Geocities, so searched to see if you were elsewhere on the Web - and found your blog :-)

Jon said...

Ah - just found the notification mechanism! :-)

Jon said...

And yes, Jon = Spider (I couldn't get the sign-in for Spider to work, so used a different one).

Spider said...

Of, course, Spider works *now*.

Nereffid said...

OK, carry on amongst yourselves...
:)