The Listening Room: Episode 65 (5.4.19)

The Listening RoomFri 5th April 2019

Brahms from Paavo Järvi, Vasily Petrenko's Elgar, Dame Janet Baker in Bach and taster tracks from Andris Nelsons, Evgeny Kissin and the Emerson Quartet, and Colin Currie with Steve Reich

Music familiar and probably less so this week. Paavo Järvi’s impressive Brahms series with his wonderfully responsive Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Berlin concludes and I’ve chosen the Third Symphony from the last volume, music making by a fine ensemble totally attuned to their conductor. More familiar fare, at least to British listeners, comes in the form of Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings – up on Merseyside, Vasily Petrenko has proved himself a fine Elgar conductor and he gauges this lovely work for strings to perfection.

We’ve not dipped into the archive recently, but a superb collection of JS Bach's solo cantatas, all overseen by the late Sir Neville Marriner, returns some superb performances to the catalogue with some great soloists – I’ve opted for Dame Janet Baker in 1966 in Cantata No 170, which focuses on the role of justice and how superior justice can found away from laws and decrees. Baker’s plangent singing is glorious.

Another fine English mezzo, Sarah Connolly, joins the BBC Scottish SO and John Wilson for Richard Rodney Bennett’s suave and elegant A History of the Thé Dansant; Bennett’s gift for evoking a particular period is spot on! Staying with voices I couldn’t resist slipping in Rusalka’s gorgeous Song to the Moon from the Dvorak opera sung by Camilla Nylund with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst, recorded live at the 2008 Salzburg Festival, as well as Lara’s Granada sung by Elina Garanca.

Some sparkling violin playing comes from Moné Hattori in Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie and I’ve followed that with a haunting arrangement of She moved through the fair played by saxophonist Amy Dickson with the didgeridoo player William Barton, part of a wonderful album called ‘In Circles’. 

Contemporary music comes courtesy of an appealing recording, ‘Project W’, from the Chicago Sinfonietta: I've selected pieces by Jessie Montgomery and Clarice Assad, both composers with strong, individual voices. One of the major composers of our time, Steve Reich, appears on a pre-release track from a new album by Colin Currie and his magnificent Group - sample part of Mallet Quartet a week before its release (and next Friday catch him talking to me on the Gramophone Podcast). And musical balm for the ear comes in the form of Peteris Vasks’s Laudate Dominum – a magnificent example of Latvian choral singing at its finest!

Unfamiliar music by a familiar composers brings us Saint-Saëns’s powerful Piano Quartet – there’s so much by this great composer still to discover. And this performance does the work proud.

More tasters this week: Andris Nelsons in Bruckner’s Sixth and Evgeny Kissin with the Emerson Quartet in Dvorak’s Piano Quintet. 

To close the playlist this week, I’ve another new work – Haven by Bryce Dessner, one of those hard-to-categorise composers whose new album with the Labèque sisters couldn’t have existed without the towering example of Reich.  

Listen on:

Spotify, Apple Music 

The tracks:

Waxman Carmen Fantasie 

Moné Hattori; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Alan Buribayev (ICA Classics)

Traditional She moved through the fair

Amy Dickson; William Barton (Sony Classical)

Jessie Montgomery Coincident Dances

Chicago Sinfonietta / Mei-Ann Chen (Cedille)

RR Bennett A History of the Thé Dansant

Dame Saah Connolly; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / John Wilson (Chandos) 

Elgar Serenade for Strings

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko (Onyx)

JS Bach Cantata No 170, 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust'

Dame Janet Baker; Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Sir Neville Marriner (Decca Eloquence)

Clarice Assad Sin fronteras

Chicago Sinfonietta / Mei-Ann Chen (Cedille) 

Dvořák Rusalka – Song to the Moon

Camilla Nylund; Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst (Orfeo)

Saint-Saëns Piano Quintet  

Guillaume Bellom; Quatuor Girard (B Records)

Vasks Laudate Dominum

State Choir Latvija; Latvian National Symphony Orchestra / Maris Sirmais (Skani)

Brahms Symphony No 3

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / Paavo Järvi (RCA Red Seal) 

Lara (arr Chichon) Granada 

Elina Garanca; Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria / Karel Mark Chichon (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Reich Mallet Quartet – III. Fast

Colin Currie Group (Colin Currie) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Bruckner Symphony No 6 – Scherzo. Nicht schnell … Trio. Langsam

Gewandhausorchester / Andris Nelsons (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Dvořák Piano Quintet – Scherzo (Furiant)

Evgeny Kissin; Emerson Quartet (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Dessner Haven

Katia and Marielle Labèque (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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