C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 28, 2018  |  0 comments
Marc Coppey is a French cellist now 47, his talents first spotted by Menuhin, whose repertoire spans from Bach to Boulez and Carter. He plays a 1711 Matteo Goffriller cello – and here, of course, faces enormous competition in the Dvorák from the span of Casals to Fournier, Rostropovich and Isserlis.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 24, 2018  |  0 comments
Unusually, a period-instrument recording with a large complement of cellos and basses, recorded (apparently over a whole week of sessions) at a Berlin studio. The booklet note is another of Currentzis’s indulgent addresses, this time largely to the composer. I thought his Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Kopatchinskaja [HFN Apr ’16] was a travesty of the music and other reviews warn that, here, he takes the music to extremes – The Times, though, welcoming ‘a return to subjectivity’ in interpretation.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 17, 2018  |  0 comments
Like other conductors, Stéphane Denève finds Prokofiev’s orchestral suites from Romeo And Juliet and the later, more traditional ballet, Cinderella, dramatically unsatisfactory and has prepared his own ‘Suites Romantiques’ that follow the story-lines more clearly. In the famous dissonances opening R&J his Brussels Orchestra articulates the brass writing with complete security, and these spacious readings – I have never heard the minuet with Paris and Juliet [trk 5, 1m 56s] taken so slowly before – allow every colour in the score to emerge with perfect clarity.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 27, 2018  |  0 comments
A sequel to their demanding Adès/Nørgård/Abrahamsen ECM album [HFN Dec ’16], this is a self-produced, helpfully annotated 16-track collection of mainly Nordic folk music, arranged by the group and including a reel after Dowland, ‘Shine You No More’, by the leader, Rune Tonsgard Sørenson. To add textural variety, he also plays harmonium, piano and glockenspiel. And cellist/bass player Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin contributes three compositions, ‘Shore’, ‘Intermezzo’ – especially delightful – and the unwinding ‘Naja’s Waltz’ with pizzicato backing. The traditional pieces also include ‘Unst Boat Song’ from the Shetlands and the Faroese ‘Stædelil’.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 06, 2018  |  0 comments
The time when the Manfred Symphony was cut (Toscanini, Kletzki) or worse, cut and pasted (Ahronovitch), has long gone; and it now seems it was Balakirev who first suggested replacing harmonium with organ in the finale – which nearly all conductors do (Markevitch excepted). In this marvellous recording from Prague’s ample Rudolfinum it’s the way Bychkov integrates all those finale episodes and flashbacks into a coherent whole that impresses most. Back in 1972 a HFN editorial review suggested that Decca’s earlier VPO/Maazel version ‘would be unlikely to be surpassed’ as an orchestral recording – but it clearly is by this one over 45 years later! Bychkov’s is a powerfully dramatic account with a glowing richness missing from Pletnev’s cooler Pentatone Manfred with the Russian National Orchestra, which we also reviewed in this section [Album Choice, HFN Jun ’14]. CB Sound Quality: 90% Hi-Fi News Lab Report Digital throughout (recording, mixing and mastering) and mercifully free of obvious distortion or compression, this file still shows some low-level (<–80dBFs) spuriae, particularly 20kHz-48kHz.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 23, 2018  |  0 comments
These four young Spanish musicians decided they would like to undertake the three Brahms Piano Quartets – composed for piano, violin, viola and cello and first heard in 1861, ’62 and ’75. No 1 is by far the most popular, not least for its final ‘Rondo alla Zingarese’, and it was later orchestrated by Schoenberg (and twice recorded by Rattle). The 1949 set by Serkin and the Busch players is still current and these new recordings face huge competition. The stage width in this Zaragoza studio production is rather narrow and the 1862 Vuillaume violin sounds less generous in tone than I would have liked.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 16, 2018  |  0 comments
Forget the PDF booklet hyperbole about a project ‘opening new doors’ and seeking the ‘spirituality and sounds’ of Bach. Now 27, Christian Grøvlen plays 18 works – the Chromatic Fantasy And Fugue, Sinfonias Nos 1-15; French Suite No 3, Partita No 5 – on a modern Steinway and he’s recorded with an array of mics set up in a Norwegian church. There’s a pleasing ambience to the sound which is as clean as Grøvlen’s own fingerwork. He’s a thoughtful interpreter and unafraid to use the pedals (which András Schiff avoids in Bach keyboard works), while his ornamentation ripples and gives a fluidity to the musical line.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 26, 2018  |  0 comments
96kHz & 192kHz/24-bit, FLAC*; Linn CKD572 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) Sibelius’s First Symphony has long attracted hi-fi enthusiasts with landmark recordings by Collins, Maazel, and Vänskä that showed off your system – not least in the exciting scherzo with its textural contrasts. The Sixth, by contrast, was his most austere symphony, described by the composer as offering ‘pure cold spring water’.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 26, 2018  |  0 comments
The album title refers to oboist Nicholas Daniel’s teacher Janet Craxton, whose London Oboe Quartet premiered the Knussen Cantata, Op. 15, and Françaix’s Cor Anglais Quartet here. Besides the familiar Mozart Qt, there’s a completion of his fragment K580a, Adagio For English Horn, and – not mentioned in the booklet – a bonus track, Colin Matthews’ arrangement of Schumann’s song ‘Mondnacht’. It is a programme of extremely wide contrasts – the Mozart classic fresh as new paint, the Françaix (Daniel playing a cor anglais) the epitome of Twenties Gallic sophistication and the Britten precociously clever (he was 19).
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2018  |  0 comments
This programme by a Belgian piano trio which debuted in 2011 contrasts those by Shostakovich, written (No 1) as a teenager, the other during the war years. His contemporary Sergei Prokofiev is represented by the Cinq Mélodies, ‘songs without words’, revised in 1925 for violin and piano, and the early Ballade for cello and piano. It’s quite a shock to hear this flamboyant music after the introversion of the Shostakovich masterpiece (especially as the transfer levels leap up for the duos!). Reconstructed from incomplete parts, Trio No1 is a competent essay but the step to the cello’s harmonics opening No 2 is to move to another artistic world altogether.

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