Editor's Choice recordings – June 2016

Gramophone Fri 20th May 2016

Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews

Recording of the month

Rachmaninov Etudes-tableaux, Op 39. Moments musicaux, Op 16 

Boris Giltburg pf 

Naxos 

This highly gifted pianist’s well-chosen survey of Rachmaninov’s solo works reveals a remarkable instinct for getting to the heart of the composer’s music, and then making it his own. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Prokofiev Symphony No 5. Scythian Suite 

Deutsche Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin / Tugan Sokhiev 

Sony Classical 

Tugan Sokhiev is building an impressive catalogue of Russian repertoire recordings, and this Prokofiev Fifth is an addition very much worth acquiring. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Berg. Schoenberg. Webern Complete Works for String Quartet 

Diotima Quartet 

Naïve 

A hugely impressive survey, not just of the works for quartet by these key 20th century composers, but of the interpretative skill of this fine ensemble too. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Franck Piano Quintet Debussy String Quartet 

Marc-André Hamelin pf Takács Quartet 

Hyperion 

The superb, ever illuminating Takács (exquisite in the Debussy) and the brilliant virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin unite for a truly beautiful take on the Franck Quintet. Read the review 

 

‘Virtuoso’ 

Leonidas Kavakos vn Enrico Pace pf 

Decca 

These show-stopping virtuoso pieces push the violin (not to mention violinist) to the absolute limit, something the excellent soloist Leonidas Kavakos handles, and revels in, brilliantly. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: It takes some chutzpah to name your album Virtuoso, but fortunately Kavakos’s performances of this set of lollipops more or less live up to the title: it’s anything but dull and shows the range of the violinist’s talents. He’s served by a sound that’s equally expressive and dynamic in its 96kHz/24bit form, giving a wide-open view of both instrument and performance: there’s a strangely muted sound to the piano in the opening Danse Russe from Petrouchka, but that aside the timbres here are both persuasive and captivating, and while the bill of fare here may be a bit rich to tackle at one sitting, this is an enjoyable ‘dip in, dip out’ compilation, and a fine showcase for just what high-resolution audio can bring to your listening.

JS Bach Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas 

Rachel Barton Pine vn 

Avie 

Playing that feels entirely at the service of Bach’s profound music, but in the best possible way: a powerful and personal performance of these masterpieces for solo violin. Read the review

 

‘Neglected Works for Piano’ 

Bengt Forsberg pf 

dB Productions 

Neglected works, by neglected composers – all of whom are women – are given richly rewarding and beautiful advocacy by Bengt Forsberg. A fascinating and compelling recording. Read the review

 

Machaut Messe de Nostre Dame 

Graindelavoix / Bruno Schmelzer 

Glossa 

This is wonderfully exciting – there’s an earthy passion underpinning the excellent musicianship which lends something very different and quite unforgettable to Machaut’s music. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Satie Socrate. Mélodies 

Barbara Hannigan sop Reinbert de Leeuw pf 

Winter & Winter 

Songs which seem tailor-made for Barbara Hannigan’s skill at making controlled coolness seem rich and dramatic, with equally superb piano support from Reinbert de Leeuw. Read the review

 

Zelenka Missa Divi Xaverii 

Collegium 1704 / Václav Luks 

Accent 

Marvellous theatricality and virtuosity, combined with excellent singing throughout, make this a first-class recording of this 18th-century Mass. Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Verdi La forza del destino 

Sols incl Harteros & Kaufmann; Bavarian State Orchestra / Asher Fisch 

Sony Classical 

The star is very much Anja Harteros, who as Leonora is ‘mesmerising, exuding a sense of noble tragedy’ writes reviewer Hugo Shirley. Read the review

 

Reissue/archive

Arnold The Complete Conifer Recordings 

Sony Classical 

A welcome return to the catalogue for this survey of Arnold’s orchestral music. Download from Qobuz

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