The best new classical albums: January 2019

Gramophone Wed 2nd January 2019

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

Recording of the month

Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria 

Sols; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner 

(SDG) 

The instinctive and thrilling music-making is a given from Gardiner, but it’s the compelling characterisation that really makes this recording stand out. A musical drama, beautifully told.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

JS Bach Violin Concertos 

Shunske Sato, Zefira Valova vns Il Pomo d’Oro 

(Erato) 

These Bach concertos are approached with a tempo that is graceful rather than fiery, but the speed and space really allows an elegant and powerful personality to shine through. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Lyatoshynsky Symphony No 3 

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits 

(Chandos) 

As he discusses in an interview on page 28, Kirill Karabits believes this music should be much better known. An impressive album to mark 10 years with the Bournemouth Symphony. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Górecki String Quartets 

Tippett Quartet 

(Naxos) 

Powerful music, which in some places packs the punch of much-larger forces than a string quartet, and at others possesses a moving fragility – demands which these players meet brilliantly.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

‘The Scene of the Crime’ 

Håkan Hardenberger tpt Colin Currie perc 

(Colin Currie Records) 

An inspired coupling – trumpet and percussion, that is, and specifically Håkan Hardenberger and Colin Currie – in which poetry and lyricism are wonderfully to the fore. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: 'Brass and percussion place particular demands on both a recording and the equipment used to play it: get things wrong and there’s a tendency to harshness, not to mention monotony. However, this remarkable 96kHz/24bit download from Qobuz brings out all the colour and impact of the two performances, to magical effect.'

Bartók ‘Racines’ 

Florent Boffard pf 

(Mirare) 

French pianist Florent Boffard here offers us fascinating and beautifully thought-through performances of solo Bartók piano music, impressively textured throughout and rich in personality. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Beethoven. Liszt Piano Sonatas 

Till Fellner pf 

(ECM New Series) 

Two highly engaging performances, recorded eight years apart, of two monumental works – including Beethoven’s Op 111 drawn from Fellner’s tour of the composer’s sonata cycle.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Finnissy Vocal Works 

Exaudi Vocal Ensemble / James Weeks 

(Winter & Winter) 

Exaudi prove once again what a skilled ensemble they are, bringing vividly to life contemporary music of complexity, enabling listeners to understand and appreciate the composer’s vision. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Lalande Grands Motets 

Collegium Marianum / Olivier Schneebeli 

(Glossa) 

Grand motets indeed – the performance under conductor Olivier Schneebeli, the acoustic and the context (recorded in Versailles itself), lend this music an attractive grandeur that feels highly appropriate.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

‘War & Peace 1618:2018’ 

Dorothee Mields sop Lautten Compagney / Wolfgang Katschner 

(Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) 

Music about conflict separated by three centuries, intriguingly programmed and expertly explored by the superb soprano Dorothee Mields. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Bellini Norma 

Sols; Metropolitan Opera, New York / Carlo Rizzi 

(Erato) 

It’s for the music-making, not least ‘the glorious central performances’ led by Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, that critic Hugo Shirley particularly urges you to give this Norma a try. 

Read the review

 

Reissue/archive

Rudolf Serkin ‘Early & Unpublished Recordings’ 

Rudolf Serkin pf 

(Pristine Audio) 

Early Rudolf Serkin, which captivated Rob Cowan in Replay: ‘dignified in an especially poetic way’.

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© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019