Classical, December 2022

hfnalbum.pngChorwerk Ruhr, Bochum So/Huber, Helgath, Hofman, Alber
Stockhausen: Carré/Kagel: Chorbuch
Coviello COV92113 (SACD)

Carré has always suffered from being the B side, literally (on an old DG LP) and figuratively, of the triple-orchestra showpiece Gruppen. The spatial theatre of being surrounded by four choirs and orchestras is inevitably flattened by two-channel reproduction, but the piece builds its own enthralling momentum through a mostly gradual rate of change, endlessly varied textures and sudden flurries. Stockhausen likened Carré to hearing the steady tick of a jet engine, and there is a thrilling sense of an aural map being unfurled at simultaneously slow and high speeds. Kagel's irreverent take on Bach chorales is good fun, too, and performances are immaculately prepared and engineered. PQ


Talich Quartet
Dvorak: 'American' Quartet, 8 Waltzes Op 54, etc
La Dolce Volta LDV101 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

However many 'American' quartets the Talich has recorded in its 60-year history, I fancy few of them rank with this one. Violist Radim Sedmidubský brings a joyous spring to the opening melody that feels like a hug from a long-absent friend. As grandson of the quartet's founder-leader, Jan Talich Jr leans into the sad song of (ii) with old-school, high-intensity vibrato, while cellist Michal Kaňka brings his own decades of experience to bear on the Schubertian bass. Both fillers have rarity value. An abandoned Allegro from 1880 quotes a Weber aria within a tightly worked form; originally written for piano, the Waltzes evoke a bygone charm in modern transcriptions. PQ


Quatuor Hermès, Kadouch, Luzzati, et al
Sohy: Orchestral, chamber and piano music
La Boîte à Pépites BAP01.03 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

A new label dedicated to reviving the work of unknown women composers launches with a set dedicated to the music of Charlotte Sohy (1887-1955). The tugging harmony of Trois Chants Nostalgiques (1910) shows that Sohy knew her Wagner, and how to handle it, but the string-orchestra Histoire Sentimentale (1952) also belongs to its own complicated time. Sohy grew up in wealth, learnt her music at the bench of a Cavaillé-Coll (at home!) and studied with Mel Bonis, Vierne and Roussel before marrying and bearing seven children. Two substantial string quartets attest to her technique. Sohy is done proud here. PQ


Anna Fedorova, Orch St Gallen/Modestas Pitrenas
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4
Channel Classics CCS42522 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Fedorova's star rose this summer as soloist with the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. Her Fourth makes an appealing contrast to the classic Michelangeli [Warner], underlining its unsettled, Prokofiev-like ambivalence – even Bartók comes to mind in the central nocturne. There is plenty of authentic muscle both to her left-hand bass and to the engineering, though older listeners may hear an echo of Ansermet's OSR in the transparency of the St Gallen ensemble. Even No 2 sheds some of its maudlin weight, not by turning on the speed but through rapturous phrasing in (ii), and a surging freedom in (i) and (iii). PQ