Schumann from Sakari Oramo, Christian Thielemann and Julian Prégardien, Mozart from Evgeny Kissin and the Emersons, and Herbert Howells 'in Gloucestershire'
I wonder at what time of year Herbert Howells wrote his Third String Quartet, ‘In Gloucestershire’, with its slightly melancholy air (has a viola solo ever sounded so lonely as in the first movement?) because here ‘in Gloucestershire’ on Good Friday, it’s one of those extraordinary days that might very well be the height of summer. Howells’s music, though, is so very English and the Dante Quartet make a lovely job of this haunting work. More impressive quartet playing comes from the Cuarteto Casals - I’ve chosen Beethoven’s Second Quartet (Op 10 No 2) for its lovely sense of interplay and quiet wit. And rather a more high-octane quartet comes courtesy of the Emerson Quartet, joined in Mozart’s First Piano Quartet by Evgeny Kissin.
Schumann in three guises this week: going full tilt in the ever-thrilling Konzertstück for four horns (with a magnificent quartet from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic); a very traditional (though with a few slightly self-regarding moments) performance of the Fourth Symphony from the glorious-sounding Staatskapelle Dresden under Christian Thielemann who has recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and to close The Listening Room this week, a lovely duet with Sandrine Piau and Julian Prégardien on top form with Eric Le Sage playing a fine period instrument.
Sandrine Piau also appears in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy - Laurence Equilbey conducting her choir Accentus and her orchestra Insula - Bertrand Chamayou is the impressive piano soloist in this always rather strange work.
A couple of arias - Núria Real in one by José de Nebra from a wonderful new album. ‘Muera Cupido’, and Cavaradossi’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’, from Puccini's Tosca, sung by Johan Botha with Plácido Domingo doing the conducting honours in Vienna.
Other treats along the way: Otama by John Metcalfe, a mellow and easy-on-the-ear piece for string quintet on the Carducci Quartet’s own label; a taster from a forthcoming album played by Maxim Vengerov with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (visiting the Proms this year) - Kreisler's Le tambourin chinois – and Allegri’s Miserere sung by The Sixteen as part of their 40th birthday celebrations. Oh, and in slightly dated sound, Robert Farnon’s gloriously Waltonian Concorde March, commissioned 50 years ago to mark the supersonic aircraft’s first flight from Filton to RAF Fairford - I remember watching its final approach as a young boy!
Schumann Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra
Markus Maskuniitty; Martin Schöpfer; Kristopher Öberg; Monica Berenguer Caro; Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchetsra / Sakari Oramo (Ondine)
Nebra Viento es la dicha de amor – 'Selva florida'
Núria Real; Accademia del Piacere / Fahmi Alqhai (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)
Beethoven String Quartet in G, Op 18 No 2
Cuarteto Casals (Harmonia Mundi)
Matthew Barley; Carducci Quartet (Carducci Qt)
Schumann Symphony No 4
Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann (Sony Classical)
Puccini Tosca - 'E lucevan le stelle'
Johan Botha; Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera / Plácido Domingo (Orfeo)
Howells String Quartet No 3, 'In Gloucestershire'
Dante Quartet (Naxos)
Beethoven Choral Fantasy
Sandrine Piau; Anaïk Morel; Stanislas de Barbeyrac; Florian Sempey; Bertrand Chamayou; Accentus; Insula Orchestra / Laurence Equilbey (Erato)
Mozart Piano Quartet No 1
Evgeny Kissin; Emerson Qt (DG)
Kreisler Le tambourin chinois
Maxim Vengerov; Shanghai Symphony Orchestra / Long Yu (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers (Coro)
Farnon Concorde March
London Symphony Orchestra / Robert Farnon (CRD)
Schumann Spanisches Liederspiel – 'In der Nacht'
Sandrine Piau; Julian Prégardien; Eric Le Sage (Alpha) PRE-RELEASE TRACK