Chailly conducts Stravinsky, Wallfisch plays Gál, Goebel directs Bach plus music from Voces8, Murray Perahia and Paavali Jumppanen
I’ve always been fascinated by music of the first half of the last century, a time when composers had to make important decisions about which musical road they would choose to take. And this week’s playlist dips into this fertile period – and nowhere more powerfully than with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913), a work that still has the power to shock and awe (and in a recording as a vividly recorded as Riccardo Chailly’s new one with his Lucerne Festival Orchestra the work’s astounding originality comes across with undimmed power).
Hans Gál, who had to leave his native Austria in 1938, and who then settled in the UK, is a composer who is emerging from the shadows, and what appealing music he wrote. His Cello Concerto of 1944-49, despite the horrifying deaths of some many of Gál’s family at the hands of the Nazis, speaks in a language both modern yet remarkably approachable. Raphael Wallfisch is a powerful advocate on this new recording.
Gál’s near contemporary Walter Braunfels, despite being half-Jewish, stayed put in Germany and survived the war, and afterwards returned to his role as one of Germany’s most important educators. His Three Chinese Songs are gorgeously orchestrated and a serious prompt to explore his music further.
A new set of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos finds Reinhard Goebel galvanising the Berliner Barock Solisten, an ensemble drawn from players on both sides of the period-instrument divide, who play with terrific spirit: I've chosen No 5. From that a gentle segue into a powerful prayer setting by Pēteris Vasks and then, from the archive, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll in a heavenly recording by the Vienna Philharmonic.
My taster tracks this week include the astoundingly tightly woven vocal sound of Voces8 (singing Arvo Pärt), Rolando Villazón and Ildar Abdrazakov duetting in Donizetti, a fine performance of Debussy’s prelude ‘La cathédrale engloutie’ from the very impressive Paavali Jumppanen and the opening movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata from a yet-to-be-released recording of two sonatas (the other’s the Hammerklavier) from Murray Perahia, an album I’m just dying to hear … It’s released on February 9.
Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 5
Berliner Barock Solisten / Reinhard Goebel (Sony Classical) - only on Apple Music & Spotify
Vasks Prayer (Lord, open our eyes)
Latvian Radio Choir; Sinfonietta Riga / Sigvards Klava (Ondine)
Wagner Siegfried Idyll
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Georg Solti (Decca)
Gál Cello Concerto
Raphael Wallfisch; Konzerthausorchester Berlin / Nicholas Milton (CPO)
Braunfels Drei Chinesische Gesänge, Op 19
Juliane Banse; Munich Radio Orchestra / Sebastian Weigle (BR-Klassik)
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly (Decca)
Voces8 (VCM Records)
Debussy Préludes, Bk 1 - 'La cathédrale engloutie'
Paavali Jumppanen (Ondine)
Donizetti L'elisir d'amore, Act 1 – 'Voglio dire'
Rolando Villazón; Ildar Abradazok; Orchestre Métropolitain / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (DG)
Beethoven Piano Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor, Op 27 No 2, 'Moonlight'
Murray Perahia (DG) - only on Apple Music & Spotify