Julian Prégardien sings Schumann, Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts the Eroica, James MacMillan from Amy Dickson and music by Hillborg, Badzura and Adrian Williams
A new Beethoven symphony cycle comes from the WDR orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste, the sort of straightforward, no-frills interpretation that rightly draws attention to the music rather than the conductor, and in the Eroica, which I’ve included this week, it offers rich rewards, and leaves one amazed, all over again, at this extraordinary score. Another ‘core’ work of the classical repertoire comes courtesy of Julian Prégardien and Eric Le Sage – Robert Schumann’s song-cycle Dichterliebe. Apart from Prégardien’s beautifully subtle singing, and some interesting little additions along the way (some discreet ornamentation and a slightly startling, though almost imperceptible, guest appearance by Sandrine Piau), the recording is distinguished by the use of an 1856 Blüthner piano, played with wonderful fantasy. Terrific. And talking of period instruments, Sir András Schiff uses a fine-sounding 1820 Viennese fortepiano for his new ECM Schubert album – sample it in the first of the D899 Impromptus, beautiful playing that balances head and heart to powerful effect. And Schumann transcribed by Liszt provides an excuse to samnple the artistry of James Martin Bartlett, whose debut recital is on the way from Warner Classics.
Dvořák’s Third Piano Trio finds three big musical personalities – pianist Lahav Shani (better known these days as a conductor and newly established at the Rotterdam Phil), violinist Renaud Capuçon and cellist Kian Soltani – coming together for some rewarding chamber-music-making. What a lovely work this is, and how well these three players respond to its rich emotional life.
Staying in what’s now the Czech Republic, I’ve included a song-cycle that’s entirely new to me, Martinů’s The New Chap-Book. Sung with a lovely freshness by Martina Janková and Tomáš Kral, it made a real impact. More singing comes from our current Young Artist of the Year, the soprano Lisa Davidsen – Decca has released one of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, ‘Beim Schlafengehen’ which also includes some breathtaking solo violin playing by the Philharmonia’s Szolt-Tihamér Visontay.
New or newish music this week finds the Calder Quartet playing Anders Hillborg’s Kongsgaard Variations, I Fagiolini singing Gillian Clarke’s words and Adrian Williams’s music in Shaping the Invisible, part of their tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, Sir James MacMillan’s Saxophone Concerto (played by Amy Dickson – the guest on this week’s Gramophone Podcast) and a rather catchy piece, 847, by Christian Badzura that might easily open a TV drama.
Schubert Impromptu in C minor, D899 No 1
Sir András Schiff (ECM New Series)
Julian Prégardien; Eric Le Sage (Alpha)
Dvořák Piano Trio No 3 in F minor, Op 65
Renaud Capuçon; Kian Soltani; Lahav Shani (Erato)
Martinů The Chap-Book
Martina Janková; Tomáš Kral; Ivo Kahanek (Supraphon)
Beethoven Symphony No 3 in E flat, 'Eroica'
WDR Sinfonieorchester / Jukka-Pekka Saraste (Hänssler Profil)
Hillborg Kongsgaard Variations
Calder Quartet (Pentatone)
MacMillan Saxophone Concerto
Amy Dickson; Adelaide SO / Nicholas Carter (Sony Classical)
James Martin Bartlett (Warner Classics) PRE-RELEASE TRACK
Mari Samuelsen; Konzerthausorchester Berlin / Jonathan Stockhammer (DG)
A Williams Shaping the Invisible
I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth (Coro)
R Strauss Vier letzte Lieder - No 3, 'Beim Schlafengehen'
Lise Davidsen; Philharmonia Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen (Decca) PRE-RELEASE TRACK