Classical, September 2022

hfnalbum.pngPeter Donohoe, BBC SO/Sakari Oramo
Pejacevic: Symphony; Piano Concerto
Chandos CHSA5299 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Dora Pejačević's stock is rising in time for the centenary of her death, aged just 38, in 1923. The distinction of the 'first Croatian symphonist' would be meaningless as the work of another talented, well-trained and privately funded dilettante, were the piece itself not so impressive as an authentic expression of Wagnerism (think Chausson and Franck, even Bax, rather than Brahms or Bruckner). In the slow movement of the Piano Concerto, and elsewhere on this richly rewarding release, all roads lead back to Liszt as they so often tend to when it comes to music of the early 20th century. Big-hearted performances, cannily recorded with plenty of Chandos-brand ambience at the renovated Fairfield Halls. PQ


Michelle Cann, New York Youth SO/Michael Repper
Price, Coleman, Montgomery
Avie AV2503 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

More so than the symphonies revived by Nézet-Séguin (DG) and others, Florence Price's single-movement Piano Concerto (1934) has the virtue of memorable as well as affecting melodies, and a command of a late-Romantic idiom that produces meaningful dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Her Ethiopia's Shadow In America triptych relies more heavily on Negro-Classical tropes – as does Valerie Coleman's Umoja from nine decades later. Rhythmic vitality is the keynote, especially in Jessie Montgomery's concluding Soul Force which renews those cross-cultural currents to invigorating, widescreen effect. PQ


Vicky Chow
Cornish: Sierra, Sky, Ocean, Sunglitter, Last Light
Canteloupe CA21174 (downloads to 96kHz/16-bit resolution)

Mostly quiet and economical like Feldman, patterned like Glass (both New Yorkers), these pieces for multitracked pianos are more obviously redolent of big canvases by the likes of Terry Riley and John Luther Adams. UK born, New York resident Vicky Cornish tailored these pieces for the rhythmic grip of Vicky Chow's playing. More reflectively than in Pejačević, rippling evocations of water by Liszt and Ravel inflect Cornish's Ocean. The 15m title track Sierra is placed last, growing like a controlled improvisation. Canteloupe's sensuous engineering and Chow's luminous upper register certainly rewards an immersively high playback level. PQ


Lisette Oropesa, Dresdner Phil/Daniel Oren
Verdi: La traviata
Pentatone PTC5186956 (two discs; downloads to 96kHz/24-bit res)

Oropesa is a new Violetta for our times much as Gheorghiu was 30 years ago, drawing standing ovations in London and New York and recorded here (like Gheorghiu was for Decca) while her interpretation is fresh and untainted by mannerism. Her brittle gaiety in Act 1 slips naturally into anguish and finally pathos, all underpinned by remarkable agility and security across the range. As Germont father and son, Lester Lynch and René Barbera both play off her well, and the youthful brio of Barbera's Alfredo is reassuringly Italianate if not especially subtle. Daniel Oren guides his Dresden forces with a firm hand. PQ