Classical, October 2023

hfnalbum.pngFuge, Williams, Singapore SO/Venzago
Herrmann: Wuthering Heights (Suite); Echoes For Strings
Chandos CHSA5337 (SACD; downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Bernard Herrmann's expressionist-verismo take on Brontë was a labour of love for which he received scant reward beyond a decent but hardly definitive 1971 LP set. Compiled by Hans Sørensen, this hour-long suite of excerpts whets the appetite for a revival of the opera proper, but it flows well on its own terms and focuses the action on Cathy (Ceri Fuge) and Heathcliff (Roderick Williams). Venzago's direction is a good deal more sympathetic to the idiom than his oddball Bruckner, drawing black-velvet depths from the SSO. Echoes was Herrmann's string quartet, and Sørensen's expansion underscores its debt to Verklärte Nacht. Both works reward investigation by anyone who only knows the Herrmann of Psycho and Vertigo. PQ


Freiburg Baroque/Von Der Goltz
Mozart's Mannheim – Cannabich, Danner, Toeschi
DG 4863502 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Do the much lesser contemporaries of Mozart hold more than historical interest? They do when the performances are as exhilarating as this. In any case, composer collectors (new names to add to the shelves) will reap a harvest here. A sizzling overture by GJ Vogler sets the scene for a ceremonial symphony by Cannabich. Gottfried von der Goltz is a tonally beguiling soloist in an easygoing violin concerto by Christian Danner. The FBO's members get under the skin of a sextet by Carl Joseph Toeschi, finding more than effortless charm. There's even some young, Mannheim-period Mozart, such as a concert aria spun out beautifully by Nicole Chevalier. PQ

PSC1377 Sandra Lied Haga & Katya Apekisheva front

Lied Haga, Apekisheva
Franck: Cello Sonata; Strohl: Grande Sonate
Simax PSC1377 (downloads to 192kHz/24-bit resolution)

The opening to Franck's Sonata steals in – once the volume is turned up, this Simax album is an intimate affair from an imagined Paris salon c.1890, heady with perfume, chartreuse and heartache. The Norwegian cellist Sandra Lied Haga lays the vibrato on thickly while stylishly throwing off the violinistic figuration of (ii). The mellow, vocal qualities of her middle and lower register bring an even more personal sense of engagement to the 35m epic by Rita Strohl (1865-1941), an instrumental retelling of a Roman legend of tragic love like a Straussian tone-poem in sonata form. It's heady stuff, demanding a sensitive pianist as much as a heroic cellist. PQ

Entwürfe cpo-Cover Februar 2023_cover.indd

Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes
Leopold I: Requiem, Lectiones
CPO 555078-2 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Leopold I, the Habsburg emperor, ruled the Holy Roman Empire from Vienna for almost half a century until his death in 1705. At 33, he wrote a requiem for the obsequies of his wife Margaretha, who died of fever shortly before she could give birth to a son. Grief does not overwhelm technique or craft, which closely mirrors the text's promise of consolation as well as the terrors of the final judgment. The excellent Weser-Renaissance voices are expanded by a sonorous band of trombones, et al. Director Manfred Cordes draws out every exquisite suspension from a trio of penitential Lessons and a final mourning motet. PQ