Beethoven from Lang Lang as well as the Belcea Quartet, Tchaikovsky from Kirill Gerstein and Semyon Bychkov, Korngold from the resurrected Sinfonia of London, and three Verdi arias
One surefire gauge of the arrival of autumn is not the leaves turning brown, but the new release lists growing plump with major recordings featuring the biggest artists. And this week it turns autumn in classical music land.
The Listening Room this week, our 80th, contains a few big works - a Beethoven Razumovsky Quartet in the Belcea Quartet’s ongoing and very fine series for Alpha, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto - what a shame it’s heard so seldom - as part of Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project for which he and the Czech Phil are joined by Kirill Gerstein for the piano concertos (and, yes, as expected, he does give us the original version of the First) and Brahms’s F minor Clarinet Sonata in Luciano Berio’s sensitive orchestration - it’s played with great finesse by Annelien van Wauwe.
I’ve also dipped into a couple of albums that contain some quite astounding singing - a collection of ‘Verdi Heroines’ drawn from various archives and my chosen trio are Julia Varady, Marjana Lipovšek and Krassimira Stoyanova. And from a Mozart collection directed by Raphäel Pichon, I’ve a couple of excerpts including an aria sung with breathtaking style by Pichon’s wife, the wonderful Sabine Devieilhe (sounding a little like a young Lucia Popp).
John Wilson has revived the Sinfonia of London - an ensemble which made that legendary Elgar album for HMV back in the day - and he’s turned his attention to the music of Korngold. Needless to say, given his pedigree, Wilson does it brilliantly, aided by some thrilling orchestral playing and a recording which even exceeds the high expectations one has from Chandos. (If you like what you hear in The Listening Room, do check out the Symphony on the same album.)
Some classy pianism too this week: Janina Fialkowska playing Debussy, Arcadi Volodos playing Schubert and Lang Lang adding serious star power to an inconsequential miniature from DG’s Beethoven 2020 Rarities set. And with music by George Gershwin, Terry Riley and Hans Gál on the menu, I’ve something for everyone. I hope you enjoy this fortnight's selection.
Listen on Apple Music
Mozart Lo sposo deluso – Overture
Pygmalion / Raphäel Pichon (Harmonia Mundi)
Beethoven String Quartet in C, Op 59 No 3
Belcea Quartet (Alpha)
Mozart 'No, che non sei capace', K419
Sabine Devieilhe; Pygmalion / Raphäel Pichon (Harmonia Mundi)
Korngold Theme and Variations, Op 42
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson (Chandos)
Verdi La traviata - 'È strano! È strano!'
Julia Varady; Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera / Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Orfeo)
Brahms/Berio Clarinet Sonata in F minor, Op 120 No 1
Annelien van Wauew; Orchestre National de Lille / Alexandre Bloch (Pentatone)
Janina Fialkowska (ATMA Classique)
Verdi Il trovatore - 'Stride la vampa'
Marjana Lipovšek; Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera / Giuseppe Patanè (Orfeo)
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 2
Kirill Gerstein; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Semyon Bychkov (Decca)
Verdi La bataglia di Legnano - 'Voi lo diceste, amiche'
Krassimira Stoyanova; Munich Radio Orchetsra / Friedrich Haider (Orfeo)
Gál Concertino for violin and orchestra
Erez Ofer; Rundfunk-Symphonieorchester Berlin / Frank Beermann (Haenssler Classic)
Gershwin An American in Paris
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra / Louis Langrée (Fanfare Cincinnati)
Riley Sun Rings – Earth Whistlers
Kronos Quartet; Volti (Nonesuch)
Debussy I'isle joyeuse
Imogen Cooper (Chandos)
Beethoven Minuet in C, WoO218
Lang Lang (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK
Schubert Minuet in A, D334
Arcadi Volodos (Sony Classical) PRE-RELEASE TRACK