James Jolly's weekly playlist of new releases and archive favourites, including string concertos by Walton and Martinu, Wagner from Leipzig, Victoria from Stile Antico and songs by Barber, Schubert and Ivor Gurney
Last week’s Listening Room featured a movement from William Walton’s Partita, a work written for George Szell; this week I’m returning to that very fine new Chandos recording for the Viola Concerto played by James Ehnes, currently on magnificent form both as a violinist (check out last year’s Beethoven Violin Concerto) and, as here, a viola-player. Great playing from an energised BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. And staying with string concertos, I’ve also included a lovely Double Violin Concerto by Martinů – immediately identifiable as his voice once you’ve got past the fleeting reminder of the opening of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. Sparkling playing from an orchestra I’ve never heard before, the Marseilles Philharmonic, and with Lawrence Foster in charge, you know you’re in good hands. And violin-playing siblings, Sarah and Deborah Nemtanu, on fine form.
A new coupling of Debussy’s La mer and Images comes from Emannuel Krivine in time for the composer’s centenary. Krivine has recorded this pairing before but here, with the Orchestre national de France, and in very fine sound, this is a lovely reminder of French music played by an French orchestra. And Krivine really has this music under his skin. And from the archive, another French composer who died 100 hundred years ago, Lili Boulanger - I've chosen her masterpiece, Du fond de l'abîme from the Gramophone Award-winning Chandos recording conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier.
Other gems this week: Nico Muhly’s Look For Me (2015) for winds and played by Amsterdam’s Calefax Reed Quintet who commissioned and premiered it, and Philip Venables’s Klaviertrio im Geiste (2011), a reflection on Beethoven’s Ghost Trio (the title puns in various ways but ends up meaning ‘Piano trio in spirit’). And from Andris Nelsons’s Leipzig Bruckner cycle, always coupled with a short piece by Wagner, I’ve detached Siegfried’s Funeral March from Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony – a lovely luminous sound from the great Gewandhausorchester.
I’ve also dipped into some fine recent releases for a Schubert song transcription played by Barry Douglas, Liszt from the hugely talented Aimi Kobyashi, an Ivor Gurney song from Sophie Bevan and, from Sandrine Piau’s delicious new album, ‘Chimère’, a song by Samuel Barber in which her lovely French accent is a delight. And as a taster of Roderick Williams’s new Winterreise in English (translation by Jeremy Sams), here’s Schubert's ‘The Linden Tree’.
Going back in time, we’ve part of Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories sung by Gramophone Award winners, Stile Antico, music by Tarquinio Merula (very attractively sung by the tenor Karim Sulayman) and an operatic aria by Geminiano Giacomelli sung by Flavio Ferri-Benedetti.
Liszt 12 Lieder von Franz Schubert, S558, No 1, 'Sei mir gegrüsst'
Barry Douglas (Chandos)
Walton Viola Concerto
James Ehnes; BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner (Chandos)
Muhly Look For Me
Calefax Reed Quintet (Pentatone)
Debussy La mer
Orchestre national de France / Emmanuel Krivine (Warner Classics)
Franziska Lee (Capriccio)
L Boulanger Du fond de l'abîme
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus; BBC Philharmonic / Yan Pascal Tortelier (Chandos)
Wagner Götterdämmerung – Siegfried's Funeral March
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig / Andris Nelsons (DG)
Merula Curtio precipitato et altri capricii, 1638
Karim Sulayman; Apollo's Fire / Jeanette Sorrell (Apollo's Fire)
Martinu Concerto No 2 in D for Two Violins, H329
Sarah and Deborah Nemtanu; Marseilles Philharmonic Orchestra / Lawrence Foster (Pentatone)
Gurney Most Holy Night
Sophie Bevan; Sebastian Wybrew (Wigmore Hall Live)
Venables Klaviertrio im Geiste
Phoenix Piano Trio (NMC)
Liszt 3 Liebesträume, S542 – No 3 in A flat
Aimi Kobayashi (Warner Classics)
Schubert Winterreise (in English) – The Linden Tree
Roderick Williams; Christopher Glynn (Signum)
Victoria Tenebrae Responsories – Holy Saturday Responsories, Second and Third Nocturns
Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Giacomelli Lucio Papirio – Spera, sì, presago in petto
Flavio Ferri-Benedetti; Musica Fiorita / Daniela Dolci (Pan)
Haydn Piano Trio in A, HobXV:18 – Allegro
Trio Wanderer (Harmonia Mundi)
Barber Despite and Still – Solitary Hotel
Sandrine Piau; Susan Manoff (Alpha)