Best new classical albums – March 2017

Gramophone Fri 24th February 2017

The finest recordings from this month's reviews, chosen by Martin Cullingford

Recording of the month

Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 3, 4 and 6 

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko 

Onyx 

Tchaikovsky symphonies in this slot, two months in a row? I make no apology (besides, they’re different symphonies) – Petrenko’s now complete cycle is an achievement well worthy of praise.

Read the review

 

Bach Family ‘Dynastie’ 

Jean Rondeau hpd et al 

Erato 

Directing from the harpsichord, Jean Rondeau leads his colleagues – who all seem to share a happy rapport – in a highly enjoyably and characterful survey of music by Bach father and sons. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Beach. Chaminade. Howell Piano Concertos 

Danny Driver pf BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Rebecca Miller 

Hyperion 

A nice parallel to this month’s Specialist’s Guide, three unfamiliar works, by women (a first in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series), given strong advocacy. 

Read the review

 

Vaughan Williams Symphony No 9. Job

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis 

Chandos 

Two major works, conducted with an authoritative sense of journey; evidence of the wisdom of Chandos’s bond with both Davis and the Bergen Philharmonic.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

Andrew Everard, Gramophone's Audio Editor, writes: 'As the main review notes, there’s a mass of textural detail in this recording of RVW’s Job, and the 96kHz/24bit hi-resolution Qobuz download delivers it with even greater clarity, insight and impact than the CD-quality files. That allows the finest nuances of the scoring and performance to be appreciated – and makes the organ thunder and the timpani cannon from the speakers in spine-tingling fashion in Scene 6. It’s a fine recording throughout, and the extra resolution and dynamic range of the "hi-res" version makes even more of it.'

 

 

Beethoven ‘Complete String Quartets, Vol 3’ 

Elias Quartet 

Wigmore Hall Live 

A crowded catalogue certainly, but on the evidence of both this and the first volume’s Editor’s Choice accolade, the young Elias Quartet are building an impressive Beethoven cycle. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Liszt. Saint-Saëns Works for Two Pianos 

Ludmila Berlinskaya, Arthur Ancelle pfs 

Melodiya 

A hugely enjoyable opportunity to hear one of the most familiar and formidable piano sonatas in an unfamiliar form – great virtuosity, with the added challenge of collaboration!

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Martinů Cantatas 

Prague Philharmonic Choir / Lukáš Vasilek 

Supraphon 

These four cantatas are richly atmospheric, seeming to grow out of the language and culture on which they draw. Beautifully performed, and indeed recorded, throughout.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

‘Heimat’ 

Benjamin Appl bar James Baillieu pf 

Sony Classical 

The beauty of voice and thoughtfulness in interpretation that led us to name Benjamin Appl our Young Artist of the Year – and for Sony Classical to sign him – are very evident on this recital. 

Read the review

 

‘Sacred Duets’ 

Nuria Rial sop Valer Sabadus counterten Basel Chamber Orchestra 

Sony Classical 

This is a delightful disc: two voices – a pure, agile soprano and rich, rounded countertenor – which feel perfectly suited both to this repertoire, and to each other. 

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

Berg Wozzeck 

Sols; Houston Symphony Orchestra / Hans Graf 

Naxos 

Taken from concert performances, but ones which combine a powerful sense of drama and story-telling (so crucial in this work) with a quite intense focus on the music-making.

Read the review | Download album from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Schoenberg Gurrelieder 

Sols; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra / Marc Albrecht 

Opus Arte 

Gurrelieder as you probably won’t have seen it before: staged. ‘It makes’, as our critic Hugo Shirley puts it ‘for fascinating viewing.’

Read the review

 

Reissue/archive

William Kapell 

Marston 

Killed in a plane crash aged 31, Kapell’s discography is relatively small: these broadcasts and concerts, many of them first releases, are valuable additions.

Read the review

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