The Listening Room: Episode 37 (20.7.18)

The Listening RoomFri 20th July 2018

James Jolly's weekly selection of new releases including symphonies by Brahms and Piston, a piano concerto by Anton Rubinstein, Vivaldi sung by Grace Davidson, Liszt from Francesco Piemontesi and taster tracks of Bernstein and Silvestrov

The late-summer rush of new classical recordings is gearing up and a few appetising tidbits are being released in advance, and I’ve scooped up a couple  to include this week. From Sir Antonio Pappano’s Warner Classics set of the three Bernstein symphonies, we’re treated to part of the First Symphony, Jeremiah - I was at the concert in Rome at which this was recorded and must say it made a quite an impact with the Santa Cecilia orchestra on top form. A DG release from the pianist Hélène Grimaud, due out in later, contains a haunting solo piece, Bagatelle I, by Valentin Silvestrov - a composer with an appealing and distinctive voice. 

There are a few rather impressive symphonic releases just out, including the four Brahms symphonies from Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin - a set that emerges almost exactly 25 years after the Chicago cycle he recorded for Teldec. With the Berlin orchestra, an ensemble he’s worked with for decades, there’s an extraordinary rapport and ease of communication that's worth sampling, as well as some glorious orchestral playing. I’ve opted for the Third Symphony. A symphonic rarity, splendidly done, comes from BIS - Walter Piston’s Sixth Symphony. The LSO get this idiom totally and Lance Friedel, a young conductor with an impressive CV, does a splendid job (also on the recording are symphonies by Samuel Jones and Stephen Albert). Piston’s Sixth (written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1955) is surely one of the great American symphonies and it’s good to have an impressive new recording.

Neeme Järvi, irrepressible recording artist that he is, is in charge of a thrilling new recording for Sorel Classics of Anton Rubinstein’s Fourth Piano Concerto with Anna Shalest a fine soloist. The Rubinstein is one of those concertos that sits on the very edge of the repertoire, occasionally done in concert, and what an enjoyable piece it is. 

Other tracks this week that have caught my ear include Francesco Pietmontesi playing Liszt (terrifically well), Britten’s Nocturnal, reclaimed, as it were, by a lutenist, Jakob Lindberg and sounding very convincing on the instrument that inspired the piece in the first place; a couple of songs from Dame Sarah Connolly’s new English song collection, ‘Come to me in my dreams'; a typically quirky piece by the unique Lou Harrison; a piano piece by Granville Bantock and some contemporary choral music by Patricia Van Ness.

And for lovers of the Baroque repertoire, a delightful performance of Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera sing by Grace Davidson (a soprano given vast exposure thanks to her appearance on Max Richter’s epic Sleep).

Listen on:

SpotifyApple MusicQobuz

The tracks:

Bantock Reverie

Maria Marchant (Somm)

Clarke The Cloths of Heaven

Dame Sarah Connolly; Joseph Middleton (Chandos)

Rubinstein Piano Concerto No 4

Anna Shelest; The Orchestra NOW /  Neeme Järvi (Sorel Classics)   

Vivaldi Nulla in mundo pax sincera

Grace Davidson; Academy of Ancient Music (Signum)    

Liszt Années de pèlerinage I, S160, 'Suisse' - No 6, 'Vallée d'Obermann'

Francesco Piemontesi (Orfeo)

Piston Symphony No 6

London Symphony Orchestra / Lance Friedel (BIS) - NOT ON QOBUZ

Van Ness Birds of the Psalms - I. Psalm 91

Capella Clausura / Amelia Leclair (Navona)

Britten Nocturnal after John Dowland

Jakob Lindberg (BIS)  

Silvestrov Bagatelle I

Hélène Grimaud (DG)

Gurney The Fields are full

Dame Sarah Connolly; Joseph Middleton (Chandos)

Brahms Symphony No 3

Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim (DG)

L Harrison Canticle No 3 

Percussion UVU / Donna Fairbanks (Albany Records) – NOT ON QOBUZ

Holborne The Countess of Pembroke's Paradise

Jakob Lindberg (BIS)

Bernstein Symphony No 1, 'Jeremiah'

Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome / Sir Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics) 

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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