Happy 80th, Yvonne Minton; high-class Finzi, Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and Schumann Lieder from Christian Gerhaher
A magnificent new recording of Elgar's The Music Makers, the choral work piece that keeps giving you the best bits of many of hismost popular works, comes from Chandos - a winner at every level and performed with terrific power under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis. Staying with British music, there's a very appealing Vaugan Williams Lark Ascending from James Ehnes and the Royal Liverpool Phil and Andrew Manze. And the same orchestra gives glorious support to Ning Feng in Gerald Finzi's Violin Concerto in an impressive new recording that has the Elgar concerto as coupling. (And I've some more British choral music in the shape of one of Parry's Songs of Farewell, beautifully sung by the Choir of New College, Oxford.)
December 4 was the birthday of one of Australia's greatest singers, the mezzo Yvonne Minton, an artist who was a favourite of conductors like Boulez, Solti and Barenboim. I've selected her in two of her classic recordings - Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, both conducted by Solti. (Australian Eloquence has recently released a fine album of all of Minton's Mahler recordings for Decca.)
Christian Gerhaher's project to record all of Schumann's songs has got off to a terrific start with the album 'Frage', and while future volumes will involve other singers, this opening one is pure Gerhaher with Gerold Huber, as always, an ideal partner. Gerhaher's blend of head and heart is a winning combination and he brings a terific sense of spontaneity to his singing here.
The piano appears in three different guises - anachronistically, but delightfully, in a four-piano Bach concerto (the sonority of Bach on a piano with modern orchestra always reminds me of Michel Legrand's score for the Jospeh Losey/Harold Pinter film The Go-Between!); in its full Romantic bloom in Brahms, played with great passion by Charles Owen, and in modern music courtesy of Philip Glass.
A new piece that has really worked its way into my consciousness is Sept particules by David Chalmin and played by an ensemble primarily formed for Baroque music, but who play this intriguing score – that seems to sit between so many different genres – with palpable excitement and commitment.
Taster tracks include Couperin from Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques and Berlioz from San Francisco and MTT.
JS Bach Concerto for four pianos in A minor, BWV1065
David Fray; Emmanuel Christien; Audrey Vigoureux; Jacques Rouvier; strings of the Toulouse Capitole Orchestra (Erato)
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
James Ehnes; Royal Liverpool Philharnmonic Orchestra / Andrew Manze (Onyx)
Mahler Das Lied von der Erde - 'Abschied'
Yvonne Minton; Chicago Symphony Orchetsra / Sir Georg Solti (Decca Eloquence)
Chalmin Sept particules
Justin Taylor; Théotime Langlois de Swarte; Sophie de Bardonnèche; Louise Pierrard; Marta Paramo; Emilia Gliozzi; Sylvain Sartre; Johanne Maître (B Records)
Schumann Romanzen und Balladen, Vol 2, Op 49 Nos 1-3
Christian Gerhaher; Gerold Huber (Sony Classical)
Finzi Violin Concerto
Ning Feng; Royal Livepool Philharmonic Orchetsra / Carlos Miguel Prieto (Channel Classics)
Brahms Two Rhapsodies, Op 79
Charles Owen (Avie)
Elgar The Music Makers
Dame Sarah Connolly; BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis (Chandos)
F Couperin Les Nations, Troisième Ordre: 1. Sonade
Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset (Aparté)
Parry Songs of Farewell – No 6, 'Lord, Let me know mine end'
Choir of New College, Oxford / Robert Quinney (Novum)
Berlioz Roméo et Juliette, Part 3, Second Prologue - Juliet's Funeral Cort¡ege
San Francisco Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas (San Francisco Symphony)
Glass Distant Figure
Anton Batagov (Orange Mountain Music)
R Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, Act 3 - 'Es ist ein Traum'
Régine Crespin; Yvonne Minton; Helen Donath; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Georg Solti (Decca)