Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Did you even hear the same CD?

The albums that appeared in the Nereffid's Guide Awards are, by definition, those that were universally praised, or maybe at worst had one critic who was not overly impressed. Here's 4 albums that might have made the grade were it not for one oul' bollix who ruined it for everyone:

Bach: Solo violin sonatas and partitas. Viktoria Mullova [Onyx]
Nigel Simeone in IRR: "a great violinst - seemingly free of mannerism but with a superlative understanding of how to animate this music... all this is done within the bounds of superbly stylish Baroque playing".
Joseph Magil in ARG: "As usual, she plays like a student who has just learned a work and isn't yet sure what to make of it. Her attitude toward period performance is that it is a set of rules to be followed rather than a key to unlocking any of the music's mysteries".

Sibelius: Night Ride and Sunrise; Kuolema; etc. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Pietari Inkinen [Naxos]
Leslie Wright on MusicWeb: "This is one terrific disc! On the basis of this alone - and I gather from the reviews I’ve read of the first installment in his Sibelius series - Pietari Inkinen is a Sibelian of the first order. The young conductor, born in 1980, has the New Zealand Symphony playing its collective hearts out for him and the recorded sound is superb".
Donald Vroon in ARG: "This is a very boring orchestra, with no tonal allure. The conducting is dull as well".

Chopin: Piano sonata no.2, etc. Maurizio Pollini [DG]
Donald Manildi in IRR: "Pollini's lack of affinity for these works is clearly manifest in the mechanical hauteur of his pianism, his prevailing lack of colour and the unrelenting sobreiety of his approach. He reveals no fresh perspectives, no delight in Chopin's interplay of rhythmic and harmonic elements, and little beyond his well-known, tight-lipped, businesslike efficiency".
Jessica Duchen in BBC Music: "proves Pollini's stature as one of the greatest Chopin players of his time".

... and my favourite:

Schubert: Trout quintet; Variations on Trockne blumen. Martin Helmchen et al. [Pentatone]
David Hurwitz on Classics Today: "There is no finer performance available, and certainly none better recorded... this has got to be one of the most shapely, elegant, and effortlessly flowing versions ever committed to disc".
Jerry Dubins in Fanfare: "I found this disc repellent, and will never listen to it again".

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