The Listening Room: Episode 87 (16.12.19)


Few things are as Christmassy - or as classy – as Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Gramophone’s Label of the Year, Pentatone, has just released a new recording that finds Vladimir Jurowski in charge of his Russian ensemble, the very fine State Academic Symphony Orchestra 'Evgeni Svetlanov'. I’ve included the Overture and the whole of the vibrant Act 1.

Chamber music this week sweeps up the Franck Violin Sonata, played on the cello, by Gautier Capuçon with our 2019 Instrumental Award winner, Yuja Wang, at the piano. The guitarist Sharon Isbin is joined by the Pacifica Quartet for Boccherini’s lively Fourth Guitar Quintet (complete with its Fandango finale), and Pēteris Vasks’s Piano Quintet, a work of poise and at times almost imperceptible quietness. Missy Mazzoli’s A Thousand Tongues makes a welcome appearance in a version for violin and piano (it was originally conceived for cello) played by Jennifer Koh with the composer at the piano (and presumably also doing the singing!).

A splendid ‘Berio Primer’ comes courtesy of Ivor Bolton and some impressive soloists - Andreas Ottensamer plays the orchestrated Clarinet Sonata, and Benjamin Apple sings eight of the early Mahler song settings (and I’ve included them this week).

Alexandre Tharaud plays D’Angelbert on the piano, 12 Ensemble play Sir John Tavener’s The Lamb in an orchestral version and Cecilia Bartoli sings an opera aria by Nicola Porpora. And to tie-in with this week’s Gramophone Podcast with the pianist Freddy Kempf, I’ve included his recent recording of the Prokofiev’s Third Piano Sonata.

Listen on Apple Music

Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker – Overture & Act 1

State Academic Symphony Orchestra ‘Evgeni Svetlanov’ / Vladimir Jurowski (Pentatone)

D’Anglebert Variations sur les folies d’Espagne

Alexandre Tharaud (Erato)

Mahler/Berio Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit - eight songs

Benjamin Appl; Basle Symphony Orchestra / Ivor Bolton (Sony Classical)

Franck Cello Sonata in A (trans of Violin Sonata)

Gautier Capuçon; Yuja Wang (Erato)

Porpora Polifemo - ‘Alto Giove’

Cecilia Bartoli; Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini (Decca)

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No 3, ‘From the Old Notebooks’

Freddy Kempf (BIS)

Tavener The Lamb (trans strings)

12 Ensemble (Harmonia Mundi) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Vasks Piano Quartet

Ippolitanov-Ivanov Piano Quartet (Naxos)

Boccherini Guitar Quintet No 4

Sharon Isbin; Pacifica Quartet (Cedille)

Mazzoli A Thousand Tongues

Jennifer Koh; Missy Mazzoli (Cedille)

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