The Listening Room

James Jolly's weekly playlist of the best and most interesting classical recordings on Spotify, Apple Music and Qobuz

The Listening Room: Episode 54 (7.1.19)

The Listening RoomSun 6th January 2019

In James Jolly's first playlist of 2019, F-X Roth conducts Debussy, Seiji Ozawa conducts the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Saint-Saëns, Seong-Jin Cho plays Mozart and Anton Batagov plays Philip Glass - plus a rarity by Walter Bricht

As things start to wind back up for another year, there is a surprising number of new releases that have slipped out during the first few days of 2019. In terms of scale, the biggest work here is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5, recorded live in Japan as part of DG’s 120th birthday celebrations. Diego Matheuz conducts the Saito Kinen Orchestra, an ensemble that has always made a beautiful sound - as they do here in a performance of power and elegance. (Anne-Sophie Mutter joins them with Seiji Ozawa for Saint-Saëns’s delicious Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, also included.) Elegance is a word that might usefully be applied to the new recording of Mozart’s D minor Piano Concerto played poetically by Seong-Jin Cho, here joined by the splendid Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose Mozartian credentials need little extra advocacy from me as they’ve made quite an impact in a handful of the operas already for DG. 

François-Xavier Roth and his ensemble Les Siècles won Gramophone’s Orchestral Award last year for their wonderful recording of Ravel’s Daphnis, and here they turn their attention to Debussy and his quietly revolutionary Prelude à l’après-midi d’un faune - a quite glorious performance with some astounding sounds (particularly from the winds and brass).

A couple of rarities this week: a tone-poem by Boris Lyatoshinsky (1895-1968) conducted by Kirill Karabits who speaks eloquently about the composer in our January issue. Lyatoshinsky’s is an interesting musical voice and Karabits and the Bournemouth orchestra do him proud (with Chandos providing some fine sound). The other composer is Walter Bricht (1904-70), born in Vienna but who fled, like many Jewish composers, to the US in 1938 and wound up as Professor of Music at Indiana University School of Music. Tonal, lush and impressively crafted, I stumbled across his music by reading an article by Rebecca Schmid in the New York Times - and thanks to the wonders of streaming was listening to his music, courtesy of Toccata Classics in no time at all.

Shorter pieces this week include a piano piece by Philip Glass, choral music by Peter Bruun, a Haydn piano Fantasia played by Janö Jandó (once a cornerstone of the Naxos catalogue), a piano sonata by Prokofiev played by one of the alumni of the last Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Lukas Geniusas, and a madrigal by Cipriano da Rore. I’ve also included a Johann Strauss waltz from the 2019 New Year’s Day concert and a Chopin nocturne from a forthcoming release by Maurizio Pollini. 

Listen on:

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The tracks:

Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth (Harmonia Mundi) 

Glass Distant Figure (Passacaglia for solo piano)

Anton Batagov (Orange Mountain Music)

Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo capriccioso

Anne-Sophie Mutter; Saito Kinen Orchestra / Seiji Ozawa (DG)

Mozart Piano Concerto No 20 in D minor, K466 

Seong-Jin Cho; Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (DG)

Bruun Peace 

Svanholm Singers / Sofia Söderberg (Footprint Records)

Bricht Symphonic Suite in A minor, Op 25

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Constantine (Toccata Records)

Haydn Fantasia in C, HobXVII:4

Janö Jandó (Naxos)

Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5

Saito Kinen Orchestra / Diego Matheuz (DG)  

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No 5

Lukas Geniusas (Mirare)

Lyatoshynsky Grazhyna

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits (Chandos)

Rore Se ben il duol

La Compagnia del Madrigali (Glossa)

Chopin Nocturne in F minor, Op 55 No 1 

Maurizio Pollini (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

J Strauss II Nordseesilber, waltzer

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Christian Thielemann (Sony Classical)

Trad Amazing Grace – Akatonbo 

Svanholm Singers / Sofia Söderberg (Footprint Records)

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