Gramophone Editor’s Choice: November 2021

Monday, November 8, 2021

Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews, including Florence Price's symphonies from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Bruckner's Fourth Symphony by the Vienna Philharmonic, and Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason's 'Muse'

Recording of the month

Price Symphonies Nos 1 & 3

Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin 

DG 

The music of Florence Price, neglected for a century, couldn’t have asked for more splendid champions – detail, beauty and thematic sweep run throughout this triumphant DG release.

Read the Gramophone review


Bartók. Beethoven. Berg Violin Concertos

Frank Peter Zimmermann vn Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 

Berliner Philharmoniker 

A riveting offering of four major concertos from one of today’s very finest violinists, with superb orchestral playing too.

Read the Gramophone review


Bruckner Symphony No 4, ‘Romantic’ 

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Christian Thielemann 

Sony Classical 

One is immediately aware of Christian Thielemann’s deep understanding of this score, one built on 40 years of experience – a magisterial recording. 

Read the Gramophone review


‘Muse’ 

Sheku Kanneh-Mason vc Isata Kanneh-Mason pf 

Decca 

A personal programme by siblings whose intensely musical rapport has obviously been honed down the years, with deeply engaging results. 

Read the Gramophone review


Dvořák String Quintet No 3, ‘American’ Kurtág String Quartets 

Parker Quartet with Kim Kashkashian va 

ECM New Series 

Whether in Kurtág’s intimate and exploratory music, or Dvořák’s expressive Quintet, this is striking chamber playing.   

Read the Gramophone review


Stravinsky The Soldier’s Tale 

Isabelle Faust vn Alexander Melnikov pf 

Harmonia Mundi 

The authentic spirit of Stravinsky’s theatrical work – or certainly a spirit that feels perfectly apt to this listener – pervades this brilliant performance, music and narration alike.

Read the Gramophone review


Liszt Années de pèlerinage – année 1: Suisse 

Charles Owen pf 

Avie 

From dramatic grandeur to elegant reflection, pianist Charles Owen offers us a Liszt recital rich in colours and personality, and one beautifully recorded too. 

Read the Gramophone review


‘Nostalgia’ 

Magdalena Kožená mez Yefim Bronfman pf 

Pentatone 

Mezzo Magdalena Kožená – astutely partnered by Yefim Bronfman – is in her element here, in a programme of songs that seem almost perfectly written for both her voice and her interpretative soul.

Read the Gramophone review


Pärt Passio 

Sols; Helsinki Chamber Choir / Nils Schweckendiek 

BIS 

A deeply moving performance of Pärt’s Passio, one both meditatively spiritual and yet achingly human too, the singers and acoustic lending the recording an almost visual dimension. 

Read the Gramophone review


‘Josquin’s Legacy’ 

The Gesualdo Six 

Hyperion 

An inventive programme exploring Josquin and his influence on his contemporaries – but most importantly, one exquisitely performed by this ever-impressive vocal ensemble. 

Read the Gramophone review


DVD/blu-ray

Glass Akhnaten 

Sols; Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Karen Kamensek 

Orange Mountain 

‘An outstanding document of an outstanding production,’ is how a clearly impressed Mark Pullinger rates this film.  

Read the Gramophone review


Reissue/archive

‘The Complete Solo Recordings’ 

Cyril Smith pf 

APR 

This wonderfully prepared APR survey of Cyril Smith’s recordings –  made prior to losing the use of this left hand and forming his famed duo with his wife Phyllis Sellick – reminds us what an incredible pianist he was. 

Read the Gramophone review


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