The Listening Room: Episode 75 (14.06.19)

The Listening RoomFri 14th June 2019

Jessye Norman sings Wagner, Karl Leister plays Spohr, Sigvards Klava conducts Tchaikovsky choral music and Hugo Ticciati revisits Dido's Lament

Back in 2003, Gramophone named the conductor Marin Alsop our Artist of the Year. For the ceremony itself we’d engaged the London Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra she knew well. ‘Do you know Kabalevsky’s Colas Breugnon Overture?’ I casually asked her when we looking at shortish works that would make quite an impact. And come the day, she conducted it for the first time (and I’m slightly chuffed to see it pop up on her programmes from time to time ever since). It’s a cracker of an overture, guaranteed to thrill, excite and move in equal measure and it gives the (large) orchestra a pretty good work out. Enter the Malmö Symphony Orchestra this week to launch the Listening Room playlist with the work - and they do a splendid job!

Tomorrow I fly off to Moscow to introduce the piano rounds of the International Tchaikovsky Competition for medici.tv, and so I thought some music by the composer who not only gives his name to the competition but also the venue (the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory) would be appropriate, and by chance Sigvards Klava and his magnificent Latvian Radio Choir have just released an album of Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St John Chrysostom alongside the Nine Sacred Pieces (which start with the well-known three Cherubic Hymns). I’ve split them into two to surround a very impressive new recording of Poulenc’s deliciously Gothic Organ Concerto, Christopher Jackson putting the organ of Geneva’s Victoria Hall through its paces with the Suisse Romande Orchestra and Kazuki Yamada on top form. 

Staying with keyboard-orchestra combinations, though here not the most obvious, a new recording has just come out of Walter Leigh’s charming neoclassical Concertino for harpsichord and strings - Jory Vinikour brings this curiosity from 1934 to life and joins a rather impressive roster of harpsichordist to have recorded the piece.

The name Richard Flury may not mean much to you - it certainly didn’t to me, but an album from Toccata Classics reveals a richly Romantic musical voice in the post-Wagner/Richard Strauss mode. He was a Swiss composer (1896-1967) who also worked as conductor, and in that role collaborated with some of the great musicians of the last century. His own music was championed by the likes of Felix Weingartner and Hermann Scherchen. (Toccata’s publishing arm lists a biographical study of Flury by Chris Walton for anyone whose interest is piqued by this very lush music.) His scena The Death of Sappho, sung with character by Julia Sophie Wagner, and partnered with the fine Nuremberg SO and Paul Mann makes an impressive introduction to the composer.

This week’s Gramophone Podcast finds me in conversation with the cellist Matthew Barley who has just released a new recording of Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil; I’ve included Barley’s arrangement of Tavener's Mother and Child, but I do implore you to hear his version of The Protecting Veil, a highly impressive achievement.

Other gems this week: from the archive, the Berlin Phil’s Principal Clarinet under Karajan, Karl Leister gives us the Spohr clarinet concertos - I’ve included No 2, and the Jasper Quartet play Aaron Jay Kernis’s Third String Quartet. And from a newly compiled collection of Last Night of the Proms albums Jessye Norman joins Sir Colin Davis for one of Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder,

And I couldn’t not include O/Modernt’s wonderful remix of Dido’s Lament - it’s might raise the odd eyebrow but I love it!

Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

Kabalevsky Colas Breugnon Overture

Malmö Symphony Orchestra/ Darrell Ang (Naxos)

Brahms O kühler Wald (arr vn and pf)

Ulf Wallin; Roland Pöntinen (BIS)

W Leigh Concertino for harpsichord and strings

Jory Vinikour; Chicago Philharmonic / Scott Speck (Cedille)

Trad Armoniosi concerti sopra la chitarra spagnuola: Chaconne in parte variate all vera spagnuola

O/Modernt / Hugo Ticciati (Signum Classics)

Flury The Death of Sappho

Julia Sophie Wagner; Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra / Paul Mann (Toccata Classics)

Tchaikovsky Nine Sacred Pieces – Nos 1-5

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Klava (Ondine)

Poulenc Organ Concerto

Christopher Jackson; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande / Kazuki Yamada (Pentatone)

Tchaikovsky Nine Sacred Pieces – Nos 6-9

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Klava (Ondine)

Wagner Wesendonck-Lieder – No 5, 'Träume'

Jessye Norman; BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis (Eloquence)

Tavener (arr Barley) Mother and Child

Sinfonietta Riga / Matthew Barley (Signum Classics)

Spohr Clarinet Concerto No 2

Karl Leister; Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchetsra / Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (Orfeo)

Steenbrink/Telemann What about some bells

Wu Wei; Holland Baroque (Pentatone)

After Purcell Dido's Lament Remix

Sam West; Baba Israel; O/Modernt / Hugo Ticciati (Signum Classics)

Kernis String Quartet No 3, 'River'

Jasper Quartet (Sono Luminis)

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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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