Showing posts from December, 2020

Beethoven CD review

A REWARDING BEETHOVEN MINI-CONCERT BEETHOVEN: EGMONT OVERTURE, TWO ROMANCES, FIFTH SYMPHONY (Guild GMCD7826) **** Though there are some who might accuse this CD of offering short measure at just an hour, it in fact manages to convey all the structure of a full symphony concert, with overture, concerto and symphony, and constitutes a deeply-felt homage to Beethoven in this year in which celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth have been so cruelly locked down. Rimma Sushanskaya conducts the fine musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra on a disc amazingly set down during just one day, and released within two months. yet there is no feeling of rush -- in fact, sometimes the opposite, as Sushanskaya has the very Russian trait of savouring the moment, occasionally at the expense of onward sense of momentum. This approach works very well for the opening of the Egmont Overture, appropriately weighty, but there are moments of stasis in the allegro when we should be mo

CDs of Delibes, Stanford, Schmitt and a mandolin medley reveiwed

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS A BRANTUB OF NEW CD RELEASES DELIBES, BALLET SUITES: Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Järvi (CD & SACD) ★★★★ At the age of 83 the prolific conductor Neeme Järvi (400 recordings and counting) shows no sign of slowing down. He's been mining yet another musical seam with Chandos – French ballet music. This delightful disc features suites from three ballets by Delibes, Tchaikovsky's favourite ballet composer. His most popular score Coppèlia – the life-like mechanical doll which also featured in Offenbach's opera – gets a sparkling performance from the RSNO with a lively Mazurka and snappy set of Slavic variations. Järvi's brisk tempi will raise eyebrows – as they did in his Tchaikovsky ballet recordings. Could the waltz have a little more rubato and charm? Fans of Richard Bonynge's relaxed approach (Decca) will think so. But Järvi's decision not to linger can pay dividends. He gives La Source a spring by obeying Delibes

CBSO review

WONDERFUL BRAHMS AND MENDELSSOHN CONDUCTED BY LOCAL BOY ALPESH CBSO streamed from Symphony Hall ***** Never mind the puny sound from computer loudspeakers, nor the fact of not being able to flick one's eyes around the orchestra and the much-missed 2000-strong audience, this streamed concert still breathed the exhilarating freshness of the CBSO as it responded to the gifted young conductor who has grown through its tiers (sorry about that word) of training, Alpesh Chauhan. It was also exhilarating to hear how the orchestra reached out to us from the spaciousness and acoustic marvels of the hall which has been its home for nearly 30 years. Social distancing pinpointed detail, and actually enhanced ensemble alertness. I have never heard a more vivid, engaging account of Brahms' Academic Festival Overture than this, well-paced, onward driven, and with a wonderful web of sound far more transparent than Brahms could ever have hoped for from the clod-hopping orchestra

Haydn and Britten CD reviews

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE ENTHUSES OVER NEW HAYDN AND BRITTEN RELEASES, JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS HAYDN PIANO SONATAS VOL. III: Leon McCawley ★★★★ Devotees of Haydn's solo keyboard works are spoiled for choice. Complete box sets are available from McCabe (Decca), Jando (Naxos) and Buchbinder (Warner) while Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's much lauded survey (Chandos) has reached Vol.8. Meanwhile the third volume in Leon McCawley's survey on Somm, this one of six sonatas, brings us astute performances and much pleasurable listening. Bavouzet uses a bright-toned Yamaha, which occasionally becomes a little unrelenting, while McCawley's Steinway gives him extra depth and warmer colours – in the adagio central movements of Sonatas No.34 in D major and No.38 in F major, for example. Yet his articulation is excitingly crisp and forthright when required: the Allegro di molto of the two-movement Sonata No.55 in B-flat major fairly bowls along, as does the rumbustious Vivace assai of No.

CBSO December 3 review

A WONDERFUL CBSO CONCERT DESPITE THE TECHIE PROBLEMS CBSO (streamed from Symphony Hall) ***** This latest streamed concert from the CBSO in these locked-down times was well-conceived, two refreshing open-air works preceding one cathedral-closed. Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla introduced the programme charmingly and persuasively, and trumpeter Jonathan Quirke prefaced the opening item enthusiastically and informatively, telling us how John Ireland's Downland Suite had been composed as a brass band competition test-piece (as was Elgar's Severn Suite). I have to say I prefer the string orchestra transcription, which was the title-music to BBC TV's The Pearcross Girls, with the wondrous Penelope Wilton, nearly 50 years ago, but this was a crisp account from the brass players here, lyrical, smoothly-phrased and sensitively-balanced. The trouble was, I couldn't see it! There was no vision from the link I was given, so all I had to work on was puny sound from my laptop.