Classical, February 2020

Piano Works
Sandro Nebieridze
Harmonia Mundi HMN916115 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Nebieridze is a young Georgian pianist/composer (just 19) and his debut recording is full of contrasts. Rachmaninov's unashamedly romantic Sonata No 2 (revised version) and Prokofiev's determinedly modern No 4; the motoric drive of his E minor Étude and the wistful Vocalise; the brio of 'Mercutio' and the pathos in 'Romeo and Juliet before parting' in Nebieridze's four chosen R&J excerpts. Then there's the unfailing articulation where high speeds are required versus an inwardness in slow music where the pianist explores depth of intentions in the writing. A fine Steinway recording and considered gap-lengths between tracks complement this absorbing playing. CB


El Amor Brujo; El Sombrero de Tres Picos
Marina Heredia, Carmen Romeu, Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Pablo Heras-Casado
Harmonia Mundi HMM902271 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit res)

Unusual repertoire for the Mahler CO perhaps, but vivid performances under Heras-Casado, who has an earthy Granadian flamenco singer in El Amor Brujo, as Falla would have wanted, contrasting with the gentler tones of the mezzo's brief numbers in Three-Cornered Hat. You can simply picture everything in this ballet: the ripostes of the 'blackbird' made me laugh, as did the bassoon solos characterising the pompous Corregidor. The Barcelona Auditori Studio recording is exemplary as are the annotations included with this CD – full song texts as well, of course. CB


Prism II
Music by Bach (arr. Förster), Beethoven, Schnittke
Danish String Quartet
ECM 481 8564 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

ECM's Prism series has a transcription from a Bach fugue, a modern work and then a Beethoven Quartet. Prism II leads to his Op.130 where the players opt for the Grosse Fuge as finale. They are on their mettle for this so it's a shame the sound is brought too forward. Quoting the Grosse Fuge, the Schnittke is a tour de force with its melodic lines scribbled over with pitch-slides, screams and more. The Beethoven I thought a little too self-conscious in places, too 'tidied'. Taken very fast, for example, the Presto doesn't sound a little 'crazy', while the beklemmt passage in the Cavatina is more delicate than grieving. CB


R Strauss
Don Juan; Don Quixote; Till Eulenspiegel
Louisa Tuck, Catherine Bullock, Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko
LAWO LWC1184 (downloads to 192kHz/24-bit resolution)

Like the Maazel [VPO/Decca], Petrenko's Don Quixote is with orchestra principals (ladies from London and Yeovil here!), in this generously filled second Oslo Strauss disc. Louisa Tuck is eloquent in the 'Knight's Vigil' and touching in her 'expiry' and if the orchestra hasn't the burnished gloss of the Berlin Philharmonic they make up for that in vital characterisation under Petrenko. He is particularly good at seamless transitions in these three pieces (where both Dons and Till all perish!) and this is far from a 'hear once and then forget' trio of performances. You'll discover lots of orchestral details lost with other conductors. CB