The Listening Room: Episode 91 (17.2.20)

Daniel Hope and friends play Chausson; Masaaki Suzuki conducts Bach's St Matthew Passion, Konstantin Lifschitz plays Beethoven and John Eliot Gardiner conducts Schumann, plus taster tracks from Mutter, Ma and Barenboim, Eric Lu and Aleksandra Kurzak

Fun album of the week has to be ‘20th-century Foxtrots, 1’, played with terrific charm, by Gottlieb Wallfisch – and from the album, the stand-out among so many of the wonderful numbers plucked from various Zeitopern is Leopold Kraus-Elker’s Foxtrot drawing on Wagner’s Tannhäuser. More substantial fare comes from Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the LSO in the form of Schumann’s Spring Symphony where the conductor’s period-instrument credentials meet 21st-century orchestral virtuosity head-on with terrific results. Very convincing and beautifully played is Chausson’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet with the strings expanded to a full chamber orchestra’s worth, tipping the balance of the piece towards a full-on double concerto – it comes from Daniel Hope’s splendid new ‘Belle Époque’ album, a treasure trove drawn from one of history’s most fascinating periods.

Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan has returned to JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion 25 years after his first recording for BIS – and he explained the thinking behind this new version in a Gramophone Podcast – and I’ve included the closing sections. It’s a wonderful and appropriately overwhelming experience … The pianist Konstantin Lifschitz has recorded – live over eight consecutive nights of concerts (!) – all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, an incredible feat that has produced some real gems. I’ve included the late Sonata in A, No 28, Op 101.

Maxim Emelyanychev’s superb new recording of Handel’s Agrippina has probably the strongest cast you could assemble today, with Joyce DiDonato, Jakub Józef Orlinski, Franco Fagioli, Elsa Benoit, Luca Pisaroni … even Marie-Nicole making a cameo appearance. It’s a terrific achievement and positively fizzes with drama as pretty well everyone on stage is quite loathsome as a character, the only exception is our current Young Artist of the Year who sings gloriously – but then they all do. A terrific achievement.

With some Sibelius from the Gothenburgers and their musical boss, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and some very classy pre-release tracks, this week’s playlist is full of good things. James Jolly

Listen on Apple Music.

Handel Agrippina - Act 1, 'Non ho cor che per amarti'

Joyce DiDonato; Il Pomo d'Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev (Erato)

Kraus-Elker Thannhäuser-Foxtrot, Op 33

Gottlieb Wallfisch (Grand Piano)

Handel Agrippina - Act 1, 'Lusinghiera mia speranza'

Jakub Józef Órlinksi; Il Pomo d'Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev (Erato)

Chausson Concert for violin, piano and string quartet (orch. for strings)

Daniel Hope; Lise de la Salle; Zurich Chamber Orchestra (DG)

Schumann Symphony No 1, 'Spring'

London Symphony Orchestra / Sir John Eliot Gardiner (LSO Live)

Farrenc Grandes Variations sur un thème du Comte Gallenberg, Op 25

Jean Muller; Solistes Européens, Luxembourg / Christoph König (Naxos)

JS Bach St Matthew Passion - Nos 62-68

Soloists; Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)

Beethoven Piano Sonata No 28 in A, Op 101

Konstantin Lifschitz (Alpha)

Handel Agrippina - Act 2, 'Spera, alma mia'

Elsa Benoit; Il Pomo d'Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev (Erato)

Sibelius King Christian Suite

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Santtu-Matias Rouvali (Alpha)

Beethoven Triple Concerto – Largo 

Anne-Sophie Mutter; Yo-Yo Ma; West-Eastern Divan Orchestra / Daniel Barenboim (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Grieg Violin Sonata No 2 – Allegretto tranquillo

Eldbjørg Hemsing; Simon Trpčeski (BIS) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Puccini Tosca – Act 2, 'Vissi d'arte'

Aleksandra Kurzak; Morphing Chamber Orchestra / Frédéric Chaslin (Sony Classical) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Brahms Intermezzo in E flat, Op 117 No 1

Eric Lu (Warner Classics) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

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