This Week's Essential New Albums

Friday, April 2, 2021

Our guide to this week's outstanding new recordings, including Sibelius's Violin Concerto, Byrd in 1588, Ravel's Boléro, French Songs and more...

Welcome to our guide to the best new classical releases this week. We’ve provided links to the albums on Apple Music, so you can dive straight in and enjoy the best new classical albums in great sound, and links to the Gramophone reviews where possible.

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For this fascinating new album, David Skinner and Alamire are joined by the viol consort Fretwork and soloists Grace Davidson, Martha McLorinan and Nicholas Todd to perform the music from Byrd's first solo publication from 1588: Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs of Sadnes and Pietie. This is the first complete recording of the 1588 publication and the album was recorded at Holdenby House in Northampton, which was built five years before Byrd's publication, in 1583.

Skinner and Alamire won a Gramophone Award in 2015 for 'The Spy's Choirbook', which featured 34 four-part motets from the early 16th century. Read the review of 'The Spy's Choirbook' in the Reviews Database.

Christian Tetzlaff, Augustin Hadelich and Lisa Batiashvili (twice) have all made outstanding recordings of Sibelius's Violin Concerto that have been shortlisted for Gramophone Awards in recent years. Now Fenella Humphreys with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor George Vass have released this new account on Resonus which pairs the concerto with Sibelius's Two Humoresques for Violin and Orchestra and the premiere recording of Nors S Josephson's (b1942) Celestial Voyage.

'Good Night, Beloved' features music ranging from William Cornyshe in the 15th century ('Ah, Robin, gentle Robin') to Eric Whitacre today ('Sleep'), plus a new commission from Roderick Williams: 'Eriskay Love Lilt'. 

In the April issue (out now), Robert Trevino talks to Andrew Mellor about the technical and interpretative challenges posed by Ravel's La valse – as he says in the interview, 'You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if our La valse is one of the most savage you have heard.’ Now, with the release of the album, which also includes Ravel's Boléro, Rapsodie espagnole, and Alborada del gracioso, you can sample the savagery of Trevino's interpretation with the Basque National Orchestra for yourself.

Last year's album 'Lines Written During a Sleepless Night' from Louise Alder and Joseph Middleton was warmly welcomed by Gramophone's David Patrick Stearns, who wrote: 'Louise Alder’s recording presence moves into a considerably higher gear with this release – not her first recital disc but one distinctively curated to further tap into her intelligence, remarkable linguistic range and emotionally vibrant instincts.' (Read the full review in the Reviews Database). Alder spoke to James Jolly about the album for the Gramophone Podcast, which you can enjoy for free here: Gramophone Podcast.

This new album of French Songs, released today, ranges widely, from Ravel's Shéhérazade to Viardot-Garcia's Mélodies sur des poésies russes and Poulenc's Metamorphoses.

On this album, Andrew Kirkman and The Binchois Consort have sought the recreate the acoustic of the Chapel Royal of Linlithgow Palace, which today is a ruin, but at the turn of the 16th century was very grand indeed. The album was recorded in an anechoic chamber (a room with no reverberation) and was then overlaid with a virtual reconstruction of the acoustic environment of the Chapel as it might have been hundreds of years ago. We will be exploring this recording in depth in the May issue (on sale from April 21).

The Listening Room

Gramophone’s The Listening Room is an Apple Music playlist featuring hand-picked selection of the most interesting new classical releases chosen by Editor-in-Chief James Jolly. It’s the essential classical playlist:

Specialist Classical Chart

The Official Specialist Classical Chart Top 20 appears on the Gramophone website and is updated every Friday at 6pm (UK time). It’s a great way of exploring the new classical releases: 

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