Concertos by Stravinsky and Ginastera, sublime Schubert from Carolyn Sampson, an all-star Schubert Octet and an archive Mozart gem with Jessye Norman, Alfred Brendel and Neville Marriner
In January 1978, rather inconsequentially on Mozart’s 222nd birthday, the International Music Council of UNESCO put on a concert in Strasbourg to raise money for the Musicians’ International Mutual Aid Fund. And they certain hit the jackpot when it came to the performers - Jessye Norman and Alfred Brendel joined the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Neville Marriner to perform Mozart. The concert was recorded by Philips, released in November of that year and then slipped from sight. Thanks to the forensic skills of Universal’s Antipodean catalogue sleuth Cyrus Meher-Homji the recording has been rescued from the archive and from it I’ve chosen the concert aria Ch’io mi scordi di te - with Jessye Norman grand of voice and Alfred Brendel wonderfully nuanced, it’s well worth a second outing (as is the whole recording - there's also the aria to the same words, though in its Idomeneo setting, from Norman with a glorious obbligato violin part instead of the piano. A shrewd bit of programming - I suspect Erik Smith was behind the idea).
A couple of concertos this week - Igor Stravinsky’s glorious Violin Concerto, like etched glass fusing ice and fire, and finely played by Ilya Gringolts, and Alberto Ginastera’s Concierto argentino, a work that contains everything you’d expect of a piece with such provenance.
Sitting at the heart of this week’s Listening Room is Schubert’s wonderful Octet in a recording led by Isabelle Faust, winner of last year’s Gramophone Recording of the Year. They draw such a magnificent array of colours from this rich score. And staying with Schubert, I’ve dipped into Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton’s recent Scubertiade for the lovely ‘Kennst du das Land?’.
Elgar’s Serenade for strings finds the BBC Symphony Orchestra on top form under Edward Gardner, aided by some fine Chandos engineering, and equally striking, sonically, is Tenebrae singing the Lamentations by Pawel Lukaszewski. And, as today is Roberto Alagna's 55th birthday, an aria from Karl Goldmark's never-heard opera, Die Königin von Saba. Throw in Richard Strauss's Dance of the Seven Veils, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, Anna Netrebko singing Cilea (rather too slowly for my taste), a piano miniature by Heino Eller and a Fauré Nocturne from Jean-Claude Pennetier and you've a typically eclectic Listening Room celebrating the best of the new!
R Strauss Salome – Dance of the Seven Veils
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski (LPO)
Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur – 'Io son l'umile ancella'
Anna Netrebko; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome / Sir Antonio Pappano (DG)
Stravinsky Violin Concerto
Ilya Gringolts; Orquestra Sinfònica de Galicia / Dima Slobodeniouk (BIS)
Fauré Nocturne No 10 in E minor, Op 99
Jean-Claude Pennetier (Mirare)
Ginastera Concierto argentino
Xiayin Wang; BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Juanjo Mena (Chandos)
Tenebrae / Nigel Short (Signum)
Isabelle Faust, Anne Katharina Schreiber, Danusha Waskiewicz, Kristin von der Goltz, Lorenzo Coppola, Javier Zafra, Teunis van der Zwart, James Munro (Harmonia Mundi)
Schubert Mignons, D321, 'Kennst du das Land?'
Carolyn Sampson; Joseph Middleton (BIS)
Elgar Serenade for strings
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner (Chandos)
Mozart Ch'io mi scordi de te?
Jessye Norman; Alfred Brendel; Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Neville Marriner (Eloquence)
Eller Caprice in B minor
Sten Lassmann (Toccata Classics)
Goldmark Die Königin von Saba – 'Magische Töne'
Roberto Alagna; London Orchestra / Yvan Cassar (DG)