The best new classical albums: May 2019

Gramophone Wed 24th April 2019

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

Recording of the month

Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos 30‑32

Steven Osborne pf

(Hyperion)

Outstanding piano-playing from Steven Osborne – from extreme delicacy to energetic drama, everything in these late Beethoven sonatas feels newly thought-through. 

Read the review

 

Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No 2. First Symphony

Kristian Bezuidenhout fp Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras‑Casado 

(Harmonia Mundi) 

Kristian Bezuidenhout is on superb form here, a real period keyboard delight.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Nepomuceno Orchestral Works

Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra / Fabio Mechetti 

(Naxos) 

An auspicious way to start a 30-disc survey of Brazilian music from Naxos – hopefully one full of discoveries just like this.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Britten String Quartets 

Doric Quartet 

(Chandos) 

Two decades since forming on the Suffolk coast, and here even playing the composer’s own viola, this is an understandably personal, powerful journey through Britten’s quartets for the Dorics. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

Audio Editor Andrew Everard writes: There’s a lovely warmth and intimacy to this set, combining as it does string quartet styles separated by more than two and a half centuries. The 96kHz/24bit Qobuz download reveals extra depths of detail, bringing the listener closer to the music while placing the quartet persuasively in the context of the generous Snape Maltings Concert Hall acoustic.

Boulez. Dutilleux. Messiaen ‘Notations & Sketches’

Alexander Soares pf 

(Rubicon) 

For his debut album, British pianist Alexander Soares has chosen a fascinating 20th-century programme, with an instinctive grasp of the composers’ sound worlds.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Dufay ‘Lament for Constantinople’

The Orlando Consort 

(Hyperion) 

You’re in expert hands here with The Orlando Consort: if that sounds like a cliché, it’s no less true, and that in-depth understanding of Dufay’s music leads to something very beautiful. 

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Nyman. Purcell ‘If’

Iestyn Davies counterten Fretwork 

(Signum) 

Michael Nyman and a viol consort may sound an unlikely pairing, but the result is beautiful – add in Iestyn Davies’s sublime singing, and some glorious Purcell, and ‘If’ is a delight.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Schubert ‘Heimweh’ 

Anna Lucia Richter sop Gerold Huber pf 

(Pentatone) 

There’s something movingly communicative about Anna Lucia Richter’s Schubert-singing, all impeccably done, with a strong sense of humanity and engagement. 

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

Tavener ‘Angels’ 

Winchester Cathedral Choir / Andrew Lumsden 

(Hyperion) 

Chosen works from John Tavener, whose music reflected both a sense of heaven and our experience of humanity, given uplifting performances by Winchester Cathedral Choir. 

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‘Poèmes d’un jour’

Stéphane Degout bar Simon Lepper pf 

(B Records) 

French baritone Stéphane Degout moves effortlessly into the German lieder repertoire, with compelling interpretative skill and great beauty of voice.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

 

DVD/blu-ray

Puccini Tosca 

Soloists; Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann 

(C Major Entertainment) 

A modern setting adds its own atmosphere to this Tosca from Salzburg, led by the superb Anja Harteros in the title role. 

Read the review 

 

Reissue/archive

Mikhail Pletnev Moscow 1979 Recital 

Mikhail Pletnev pf 

(Melodiya) 

A thrilling recital from just a year after Mikhail Pletnev’s Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medal.

Read the review | Download from Qobuz

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