This week's playlist including some gems from the ECM catalogue
Dvořák Piano Quintet No 2
Pavel Haas Quartet (Supraphon)
Morales Parce mihi domine (from ‘Officium)
The Hilliard Ensemble; Jan Garbarek (ECM New Series)
R Strauss Metamorphosen
Berlin PO / Herbert von Karajan (DG)
Wolf-Ferrari Violin Concerto
Francesca Dego; City of Birmingham SO / Daniele Rustioni (DG)
Silvestrov Two Psalms of David
Kiev Chamber Choir / Mykola Hobdych (ECM New Series)
JS Bach Die Kunst der Fuge
Accademia Bizantina (Decca)
Schubert Allegretto in C minor
András Schiff (ECM New Series)
McCarthy Codebreaker – ‘At Sea’
Hertfordshire Chorus; BBC Concert Orchestra / David Temple (Signum Classics)
Delibes Lakmé – ‘Viens Mallika’
Sabine Devieilhe; Marianne Crébassa; Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth (Erato)
The arrival on streaming platforms of much of the ECM New Series catalogue is an exciting event and I’ve dipped into for some of my favourite recordings – a reminder of the first few minutes of the now-classic ‘Officium’ which saw The Hilliard Ensemble joined by saxophonist Jan Garbarek – a masterstroke by ECM’s A&R genius, Manfred Eicher, that proved a game-changer. (Other ECM releases here include two haunting psalm settings by Valentin Silvestrov and a heavenly Allegretto by Schubert played by András Schiff.)
The programme, though, starts off with Dvořák from one of today’s leading string quartets, the Pavel Haas – winners of the more Gramophone Awards than any other chamber ensemble and who don’t seem able to put a foot wrong. Thank goodness. Joined by Boris Giltburg they give us the Second Piano Quintet by Dvořák – and what a treat it is to hear music-making of this calibre and idiomatic understanding.
With red poppies still adorning people’s lapels following Remembrance Sunday, I've chosen a recording from the archive that seems appropropriate – Richard Strauss’s lament for 23 strings, Metamorphosen. I’ve gone for Herbert von Karajan’s Gramophone Award-winning recording, made shortly after I heard him conduct the work in Oxford, one of the greatest musical experiences of my life.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s operas receive the occasion outing (particularly Il segreto di Susanna – Susanna’s secret being that she enjoys a quick smoke from time to time). But beyond that, too little of his music is played. Thanks to the young Italian violinist Francesca Dego there’s a new recording of the Violin Concerto in D, made in Birmingham with a clearly inspired CBSO and Daniele Rustioni – scrumptious stuff and played with great passion.
A few tasters of new albums: Accademia Bizantina’s fine-sounding, period-instrument-ensemble take on JS Bach’s The Art of Fugue; a chorus from the impressive young composer James McCarthy’s powerful choral work about Alan Turing – who broke the wartime German encrypted code and yet suffered horribly for his homosexuality – sung with enormous commitment by the Hertfordshire Chorus who clearly love every note of the piece, and, to end, that glorious duet from Delibes's Lakmé that British Airways has made its own – stunningly sung by the heavenly Sabine Devieilhe from her new collection 'Mirages' and for which she's joined by the mezzo Marianne Crébassa.