James Jolly's weekly selection of new releases and archive classics including Shostakovich from Noseda and the LSO, Górecki's Third String Quartet, Nézet-Séguin conducting Tchaikovsky, and Bostridge and Pappano perform Mahler
I’m writing this in Galatina right down in the heel of Italy, a small town where the annual festival of St Peter and Paul brings together the sacred and the profane as the dance – the tarantella – is celebrated to exorcise those bitten by a tarantula. The festival is in full swing and the local band, Scazzata Tarantelle, keeps the tradition alive with music of frenetic, almost orgiastic vigour. Numerous classical composers have appropriated the dance, but Bizet’s vocal version has long been a favourite even if it’s rather polite and seductive for the purpose (a young Cecilia Bartoli does the honours), and I’ve also included Rachmaninov’s altogether more vigorous version for two pianists from his Second Suite (Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire are the magnificent players on their classic Philips recording).
Mozart’s Second Flute Concerto makes an appearance in a neat and stylish performance by Ana De La Vega, the founder of the London International players, and the ECO, no strangers to this piece. And I’ve also included (for Apple Music users) Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony in a performance from the cycle that Gianandrea Noseda has embarked on with the LSO – again, this is music they know so well, but play here with striking power and intensity (Spotify and Qobuz users will have to make do for the time being with the second-movement Allegretto). A recent release, drawn from the archive of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and celebrating their ten years with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is of Tchaikovsky’s wonderfully compact and evocative tone-poem Francesca da Rimini – it receives a terrific performance.
Warner Classics has released a taster from their forthcoming album, ‘Requiem – The Pity of War’ in which Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano perform music by Gustav Mahler and Kurt Weill joined by Rudi Stephan and George Butterworth, two composers who died far too young. The project marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, but takes a different and imaginative approach to the subject. Mahler’s ‘Revelge’ from his Knaben Wunderhorn songs takes a dark and sardonic look at the soldier’s lot and Bostridge, characteristically, brings it powerfully to life.
Henryk Górecki, he of the best-selling Third Symphony, wrote his Third String Quartet for the Kronos Quartet who made a fine recording in 2006 – now, the Polish DAFÔ Quartet (who studied with members of the Quartetto Italiano, Borodin and Tokyo Quartets) have added their version of this quartet, subtitled ‘…songs are sung’ to the catalogue, music of mourning, grief and sadness, and movingly conveyed in this new recording.
The Scottish composer John McLeod, now 84, is celebrated in an album of his music played by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and recorded with impressive clarity and depth by Delphian. Out of the Silence (2015) is a tribute to Carl Nielsen, written to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, and engages with both his Clarinet Concerto and Fourth Symphony to powerful effect.
Some shorter pieces – Jacob Gade’s famous Tango Jalousie played with great aplomb by the Vienna Philharmonic; a Fanny Mendelssohn song from Anna Lucia Richter with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer; a wonderfully inventive take on Handel by Concerto Stella Matutina and Rolf Lislevand; haunting music by the sixth-century Boethius from Sequentia and (pre-release) a movement from a Brahms Piano Trio played by Daniil Trifonov, Ilya Gringolts and Truls Mørk.
J Gade Tango jalousie
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sakari Oramo (Dacapo)
Fanny Mendelssohn Gondel Song, 'O come to me'
Anna Lucia Richter; Budapest Festival Orchestra / Iván Fischer (Channel Classics)
Mozart Flute Concerto No 2
Ana De La Vega; English Chamber Orchestra / Stephanie Gonley (Pentatone)
Handel Eternal Source of Light Divine, HWV74
Concerto Stella Matutina/ Rolf Lislevand (Sony Classical)
McLeod Out of the Silence
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Holly Mathieson (Delphian)
Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn – 'Revelge'
Ian Bostridge; Sir Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics)
Górecki String Quartet No 3, '...songs are sung'
DAFÔ Quartet (Dux)
Shostakovich Symphony No 5 (on Apple Music)
Shostakovich Symphony No 5 – Allegretto (on Spotify & Qobuz)
London Symphony Orchestra / Gianandrea Noseda (LSO Live)
Cecilia Bartoli; Myun Whun Chung (Decca)
Rachmaninov Suite No 2 – Tarantella (Presto)
Martha Argerich; Nelson Freire (Philips/Decca)
Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (DG)
Brahms Piano Trio No 1 – Scherzo. Trio
Ilya Gringolts; Truls Mørk; Daniil Trifonov (DG)
Boethius O stelliferi