The Listening Room: Episode 31 (May 25, 2018)

The Listening RoomFri 25th May 2018

Concertos by CPE Bach, Vivaldi and Rachmaninov; African piano music and choral music by Lalande, Vaughan Williams and Sviridov and new music by Matthew Whiteside

Concertos are the order of the day in this new Listening Room playlist – a couple from an invigorating collection of string works in Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition played by Accademia Bizantina (the slow movement of the A minor Viola d’amore Concerto is one of those heart-stoppingly beautiful creations, laid over a simple, repeating accompaniment); I’ve Boris Gilburg’s Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto which is every bit as impressive as his earlier recording of the Second (and the RSNO partner him with real style); and from CPE Bach comes a cello concerto played with great panache by Jean-Guihen Queyras with the excellent Ensemble Resonanz. From a forthcoming album that finds Joshua Bell and his Academy of St Martin in the Fields returning to the music of Bruch, I’ve the pre-released finale of the First Concerto. (The same work crops up on Ray Chen’s debut album for Decca – but the pre-release track there is a fun arrangement of Waltzing Matilda, a reminder of where Ray Chen hails from.)

Choral music comes in various guises this week – from St John’s, Cambridge and Andrew Nethsingha, I’ve included Vaughan Williams’s virtuoso Lord, Thou has been our refuge which cleverly laminates two great melodies together using the words of Psalm 90 in two versions: the tune for O God, our help in ages past stealing in with extraordinary and understated power. Music, too, by Lalande sung by Le Poème Harmonique with lovely restraint, and from nearer own time, The Red Easter from 1978 by Georgy Sviridov sung by that magnificent vocal ensemble, the Latvian Radio Choir. Another Cambridge choir also features: the Choir of Clare College in Music Director Graham Ross’s heavenly Duo Seraphim, a piece that finds the two sopranos curling ecstatically upwards into the chapel roof like smoke rising into the sky. 

With Esa-Pekka Salonen featured on the front cover of the new issue of Gramophone, I’ve included Carl Nielsen’s lovely Little Suite – a charmer of a piece that’s not often heard in concert. And not dissimilar in mood is Herbert Howells’s very English Elegy for viola and orchestra from a fine new collection of British works for that combinations, with Helen Callus and the New Zealand SO. 

Two highly contrasted piano works – Beethoven’s magnificent late Piano Sonata in A, Op 101 played with terrific authority by Andreas Haefliger as part of his ongoing 'Perspectives' series and which links Beethoven’s piano sonatas with other major compositions for piano, and, a real curiosity, a selection from the Ghana-born, American composer Fred Onovwerosuoke’s 24 Studies in African Rhythms, a catchy piece played with impressive technical command by Rebeca Omordia – perhaps the only African piano music I’ve ever heard. 

While at Classical:Next in Rotterdam last week I met the young Scottish composer Matthew Whiteside, someone who’s clearly going places with commissions and performances from some impressive organisations. He self-publishes his music on various streaming sites, and I’ve been listening to his music with interest: my ear was particularly caught by the dark and intense The World in an Oyster, The Oyster in the World from 2011 for piano trio. It’s a piece that explores the idea that ‘everything is possible in the smallest things, from a single atom the world grew’. 

Another pre-release track is from John Adams’s opera Doctor Atomic – Gerald Finley reprising his towering performance as the scientist Robert Oppenheimer with the composer conducting the BBC Symphony, the words of John Donne taking on a truly contemporary power. 

Listen on:

SpotifyApple MusicQobuz

The tracks:

Vivaldi Concerto for Viola d'amore in A minor, RV397

Alessandro Tampieri; Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone (Naïve)

Vaughan Williams Lord, Thou hast been our Refuge

The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha (Signum)

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3

Boris Giltburg; Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Carlos Miguel Prieto (Naxos)   

Vivaldi Concerto for strings in C, RV117

Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone (Naïve)    

Lalande Ecce nunc benedicite, S8

Le Poème Harmonique; Ensemble Aedes / Vincent Dumestre (Alpha)

Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 - Finale; Allegri energico

Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Joshua Bell (Sony Classical)

Beethoven Piano Sonata No 28 in A, Op 101

Andreas Haefliger (BIS)  

J Adams Doctor Atomic - Act 1, scene 3, 'Batter my heart'

Gerald Finley; BBC Symphony Orchestra / John Adams (Nonesuch)

Howells Elegy 

Helen Callus; New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / Marc Decio Taddei (Naxos)

Sviridov The Red Easter

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Klava (Ondine)

Nielsen Little Suite in A minor

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen (Sony Classical)  

Onovwerosuoke 24 Studies in African Rhythms – Nos 1, 3, 15, 8, 11, 18, 23, 24, 

Gerald Finley; BBC Symphony Orchestra / John Adams (Nonesuch)

CPE Bach Cello Concerto in A, Wq172 

Jean-Guihen Queyras; Ensemble Resonanz / Riccardo Minassi (Harmonia Mundi)

Ross Duo Seraphim

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge / Graham Ross (Harmonia Mundi)

Whiteside The World in an Oyster, An Oyster in the World

Red Note Ensemble (Matthew Whiteside)  ONLY ON SPOTIFY & APPLE MUSIC

Trad (arr. Koncz) Waltzing Mathilde

Ray Chen; Made in Berlin (Decca)

The Listening Room

James Jolly's weekly exploration of the newest and most interesting classical releases. Available on Spotify, Apple Music and Qobuz

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