Classical, January 2021

hfnalbum.pngYves Saelens, Lucile Richardot, Het Collectief/Reinbert De Leeuw
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
Alpha ALPHA633 (downloads to 88.2kHz/24-bit resolution)

This is the third Das Lied we have had in as many months – but one with a difference. Following the example of Schoenberg, in 2010 Reinbert de Leeuw made his own reduced forces transcription, involving just 15 players – he felt his choices gave a better idea of Mahler's own sound world. A labour of love, de Leeuw completed this recording in Amsterdam's modern Muziekgebouw in Jan '20, one month before, sadly, he passed away. Piano is perhaps a little prominent, but this intimate re-scoring somehow allows the vocal parts to have greater impact. The singers are both excellent, and this is altogether a rather special release. Alpha provides generous booklet information. CB


BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson
Eric Coates Orchestral Works
Chandos CHAN20148 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Everyone will know Calling All Workers, the lively piece commissioned by the BBC for its wartime morale-boosting programme 'Music While You Work' – it ran for 27 years. There's London Bridge too (no Dambusters which must surely be in the pipeline). John Wilson's zips through these in readings that are as smart as new paint, while the 1938 ballet score The Enchanted Garden shows – say, in the charming Allegretto, No 4, with its swooning second theme – what a master of orchestral colour Coates was. When the BBC Philharmonic moved to MediaCityUK, Salford, I thought Chandos was not getting such good sound quality, but it has clearly come to terms with its acoustics. CB


Ida Ränzlöv, The Mozartists/Ian Page
Sturm Und Drang, Vol.2
Signum SIGCD636 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

This second volume in Ian Page's period-orchestra series celebrating the Sturm Und Drang arts movement – the CD cover seascape here is a typical example – has minor-key symphonies by JC Bach, Haydn (No 39) and Vanhal. These are interspersed with short vocal pieces by Gluck and Mysliveček, expressively sung by the young Swedish mezzo Ida Ränzlöv. These are fine St John's, Smith Square, recordings (the venue so often used, years ago, by Argo). The Haydn, c.1756, stands apart from the two companion symphonists – anyone who has doubts would surely become a convert via this spirited Mozartists performance. CB


Philharmonia Orchestra/Santtu-Matias Rouvali
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake excerpts
Signum SIGCD648 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Forty-three minutes is hardly generous for a full-priced release, but the 13 Swan Lake excerpts here were recorded live, during the second half of a long concert given at the Royal Festival Hall in Nov '19. It's the first Philharmonia/Rouvali CD and a fine showcase for the orchestral playing – the principal trumpeter shines in the Act 1 Waltz, where apparently Rouvali asked Jason Evans for 'some Mexican tequila… more mariachi trumpet'. And the Act 3 'Scene' is fairly enchanting. Rouvali is certainly strong-willed, which some will dislike, and to my ears misses the sense of 'theatre' this music should convey. CB