The Listening Room: Episode 57 (1.2.19)

The Listening RoomFri 1st February 2019

Haydn - symphonically from Heidelberg, and a piano sonata from Roman Rabinovich, Chaminade piano music and a wonderful Queen of Spades from Moscow, plus pre-release tracks by Simon Rattle, Avi Avital and Valentina Lisitsa

Two notable baritones, sadly no longer with us, are remembered in this week’s playlist: Sanford Sylvan, who created some of John Adams’s most powerful stage characters, died last Tuesday, and I thought I’d feature him in a piece he premiered and often sang, Adams’s powerful setting of Walt Whitman, The Wound Dresser. I’ve chosen Sylvan’s second recording – with the Oregon Symphony. The voice may lack the freshness of his first recording with Adams conducting, but Sylvan has made the music entirely his own. The Russian Dmitri Hvorostovsky died in November 2017 at the far too early age of 55. A magnificent live concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades has just been released by Melodiya and it enshrines his noble, complex performance of Prince Yeletsky (it also finds the role of Lisa sung, beautifully, by Natalia Datsko – I’ve a track featuring her too).

Two striking Haydn recordings this week – Symphony No 63 in the Heidelberg SO cycle that has, happily, started again now with Benjamin Spillner in charge and the C major Piano Sonata played with passion and great dexterity by Roman Rabinovich (who has caught the imagination of London-based music-lovers over the past week thanks to a very fine Wigmore Hall recital and an appearance on Radio 3). I made a Gramophone Podcast with him when he was in the UK and he certainly makes a powerful case for this under-performed music. 

I remember way back in the mists of time, a DG recording that found an unknown violinist (Kaja Danczowska) teaming up with a great Polish pianist (Krystian Zimerman) for a recording that became something of a classic with an unforgettable performance of Franck sonata a highlight. Now DG has done much the same thing again – Bomsori Kim joins Rafał Blechacz for a recording of three French and Polish violin sonatas and the results are equally wonderfully. I’ve selected them in the First Sonata by Gabriel Fauré

Two powerful orchestral pieces this week: Ekkehard by Franz Schreker and the concert overture At the Gate by Michael Fine, best known as one of today’s leading record producers – an impressive piece.

Other tasty morsels include a song from Schubert’s Winterreise sung with authority by Martin Achrainer, some gorgeously played Chaminade from Mark Viner and a Rachmaninov miniature from Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev, Tatiana Nikolaeva’s grandson, no less, and clearly the recipient of a fairly large helping of his grandma’s musicality. A very impressive programme from him. And talking of younger musicians, Santtu-Matias Rouvali has launched a Sibelius symphony cycle with the fine Gothenburg Symphony – sample his way with En saga.

From pre-release albums, I’ve Rattle conducting Berlioz (what is it with the LSO’s Music Directors and this composer?), Valentina Lisitsa playing Tchaikovsky and Avi Avital playing Bach on the mandolin (delightful!).

Listen on:

SpotifyApple Music 

The tracks:

Schreker Ekkehard

Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz / Christopher Ward (Capriccio) 

Chaminade Arabesque No 1, Op 61

Mark Viner (Piano Classics)

Schubert Winterreise – Die Lindenbaum 

Martin Achrainer; Tommaso Lepore (Preiser) NOT IN APPLE MUSIC

Haydn Symphony No 63, 'La Roxelane' 

Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra / Benjamin Spillner (Hänssler Classic)

Chaminade Thème varié in A, Op 89

Mark Viner (Piano Classics)

Fine At The Gate (Concert overture)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Philip Mann (Evidence Classics)

Haydn Piano Sonata in C, HobXVI:21

Roman Rabinovich (First Hand Records)

Tchaikovsky The Queen of Spades, Act 1 scene 2 – Duet of Lisa and Polina

Natalia Datsko; Nina Romanova; Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra / Vladimir Fedoseyev (Melodiya)  

Rachmaninov Polka de VR

Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev (Decca)

Tchaikovsky The Queen of Spades, Act 2 scene 3 – Prince Yeletesky's aria

Dmitri Hvorostovsky; Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra / Vladimir Fedoseyev (Melodiya)

Fauré Violin Sonata No 1

Bomsori Kim; Rafał Blechacz (DG)

Sibelius En saga

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Santtu-Matias Rouvali (Alpha)

Adams The Wound Dresser 

Sanford Sylvan; Oregon Symphony / Carlos Kalmar (Pentatone) 

Tchaikovsky 12 Morceux, Op 40 – No 2, Chanson triste  

Valentina Lisitsa (Decca) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Berlioz La damnation de Faust – Marche hongroise

London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle (LSO Live) PRE-RELEASE TRACK (NOT IN APPLE MUSIC)

Bach Cello Suite No 1 – Prelude (arr Avital)

Avi Avital (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

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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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