The best new classical albums this week (February 3, 2023)
Friday, February 3, 2023
Clara and Robert Schumann's Piano Concertos, The Well-Tempered Consort III, Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia
Today sees the release of new albums from Beatrice Rana with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Sinfonia of London and John Wilson, viol consort Phantasm, Nikolai Lugansky, Mahan Esfahani and Frank Dupree. Explore them all below and listen on Apple Music.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin has already recorded an outstanding survey of Robert Schumann's symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for DG. In his review (from May 2014), David Threasher wrote: 'it now becomes a heavyweight contender in a far from uncrowded corner of the market.'
Beatrice Rana is the soloist for this new recording of the A minor piano concertos of Clara and Robert Schumann. Rana's recording of Chopin's Etudes, Op 25 (written in 1836, the year after Clara Schumann's concerto), was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award last year (read the review).
John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London's 'English Music for Strings' (read the review) featured music by Britten, Bliss, Bridge and Lennox Berkeley, and it was Shortlisted for the Gramophone Orchestral Award in 2021. In his review, Edward Seckerson noted of the recording of Bliss’s Music for Strings that 'Wilson and the Sinfonia of London strings point up its inventive spirit – not least the soloistic writing at the close of the first movement (a nod perhaps to Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro), where solo basses transition to a slow movement marked molto sostenuto. That’s the kind of marking that Wilson and his strings live for and to which they lend their most sonorous tone.'
Interesting, then, that Elgar's Introduction and Allegro is included on the new album, 'Music for Strings', alongside Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Howells's Concerto for String Orchestra and Delius's Late Swallows.
The Sinfonia of London's recording of Ravel's orchestral works, including Boléro, won Gramophone's Spatial Audio Award last year, so this too should be a sonic feast.
This series of recordings of Bach's keyboard works arranged for the viol consort Phantasm has been very well received in Gramophone's reviews pages. In his review of Vol 2, Mark Seow wrote: 'Bach’s music is etched with the tantalising sound of challenge. It’s thrilling stuff that, honestly, I’m struggling to put into words ... A wholly wondrous album.'
Vol 3 features arrangements of movements from The Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 and 2, and Clavier-Übung III.
Nikolai Lugansky has recorded Rachmaninov's Études-Tableaux before, back in the January 1995 issue Bryce Morrison was impressed by the then 22-year-old pianist's 'glorious eloquence'. Indeed, that earlier recording was Morrison's top choice when he wrote his Gramophone Collection article on the work in 2015. He wrote: 'Lugansky's performance blazes with a demonic force, purging all possible sentimentality while telling you in every bar of Rachmaninov’s uniquely Russian flavour and stature.'
It will be fascinating to hear how Lugansky's interpretations have transformed and developed in this new recording, released today.
'Of course, sometimes expectations run wild ahead of actuality, but not here. If I encounter an album as good as this one this year I will be overjoyed!' So wrote Guy Rickards in his review of this new album from Mahan Esfahani, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Liebreich in the February issue (out now).
Esfahani's recording of Bach's Six Partitas was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award last year (read the review).
Frank Dupree discusses this new album on today's episode of the Gramophone Classical Music Podcast. Listen below: