New releases

50 posts / 0 new
Last post
New releases

An issue with reviewing recordings that afflicts me and no doubt others, is that preferences change over time. A nice cover, recent live performance, other reviews, or a silly remark in the media can influence one's reaction to a recording - but over time and several listens later, this opinion can change (for the better, or worse). So how about a thread on new issues / first listens only, which allows the writer to wax lyrically or completely put down a recording without necessarily fixing its position for the future?

EJ

Cuarteto Casals in Mozart

I'll kick off with the latest from the Cuarteto Casals. Although my exposure to the string quartet scene is limited, this is one of the groups I invariably take an interest in, largely on the strength of their previous Haydn and Schubert discs. The Mozart is their second proof point (after the difficult Schubert D887 - which they passed with flying colours). I don't know this music as well as I should, but I am currently of the opinion that their way with this music is just about as good as I can imagine, not overly sophisticated or refined but sufficiently so, and with continued quicksilvery attention to details. However, a feeling that they could have introduced a bit more 'schwung'. My benchmark remains the old Quartetto Italiano, but that is comparing apples and pears. Of more modern quartets, they have the Alban Berg Quartett DNA and most of all sound a bit like the young Hagen Quartett, although without the latter's emphasis on the first violin. The Hagen recorded all the Mozart 'Haydn' quartets, but it was a disappointingly slack effort with exception of KV421 and 575 (recorded earlier), which are excellent and remains an often-played disc in this household. Anyway, what I particularly like about the Casals is that they play the way they do, and never seem to lose concentration. Here's hoping they get around to Beethoven at some point.

EJ

 

Angela Hewitt's Art of the Fugue

Hewitt on top form in her new recording. First impression is very good indeed.

EJ

New and...Future releases.

I sense you move now to advance or future releases, EJ. I plan to buy the respective CD(s) when they are...for sale. I trust Hewitt will be perfectly fine, but, if you can go a bit further, give a shot to Zhu Xiao-Mei's also very recent release of "The Art of Fugue", on Accentus. That was a daring surprise and a performance to make a difference, in a lucid and quite impressive recording.

Parla

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

I sense you move now to advance or future releases, EJ. I plan to buy the respective CD(s) when they are...for sale. 

Nope, already available via the normal channels, I only comment on recordings that I own - and the point of this thread is to provide first throughts, not detailed, lived in, reviews.

 

I know Xiao-Mei from the partitas, on mirare - not my favorite version, but then again the AOTF is very different music. Do you know the recording by Cedric Pescia? He's very good, with a sparse, minimalist reading. Hewitt is arguably more mainstream in approach, but reaches a surprising level of transcendance in her build-up. I suspect 'perfectly fine' is undercutting her achievement - but time will tell.

EJ

Autumn

...is a good time for collectors. Another brilliant release out of the left field, is Igor Kamenz in Scarlatti, on Naive. You haven't heard Scarlatti as with him - and if you think Pogorelich or Tharaud were bending the rules, well, Kamenz goes further.

EJ

Esfahani in CPE Bach (Hyperion)

New to me, but as all readers here will know, a Gramophone award winner. I'm a CPE Bach sceptic, but this truly won me over.

EJ

Denis Kozhukhin in Haydn (Onyx)

Kozhukhin did a spectacular recording of Prokofiev's war sonatas (at the same time as Boris Giltburg's debut with the same programme), and his follow up is a brave move - four Haydn sonatas, of which a couple of the well knowns. This is no music to hide behind, and Kozhukhin doesn't seem to try. He plays with beautiful tone, rather broad tempi and (after a somewhat subdued start to XVI:49) a lot of personality while remaining at the service of the music (seems to use the sustain pedal quite a lot, so take care if you don't like that in Haydn). The 24bit recording has marvellous presence. 

EJ

Art of Fugue on record.

Well, Angela Hewitt's Art of Fugue just arrived here and I got it immediately. I understand it has been released on Sept 29 in UK. I'll report my views, if I find her recording that exceptional. Normally, she is quite good but as a "safe bet" rather than a thrilling recording event.
Cedric Pescia is one of a kind, very individual approach of the type "love or hate" it. Almost "heretic" (unexpectedly broad tempi, variable dynamics and use of pedal etc.). However, a very bright, almost superb production by the very eclectic and selective Aeon. So far, Nikolayeva's two recordings (on Melodiya and Hyperion) and Koroliov (on Tacet) are some of the most seriously and emotionally involved performances on record.
Parla

Cuarteto Casals...and Casal Quartet.

Eventually, the Cuarteto Casals' Mozart arrived here few days ago and my first impression is quite positive. They have a forceful drive, not necessarily with the needed refinement, but they can be very convincing in their approach. Still, I prefer the Prazak in their single disc of three of the "Haydn" Quartets by Mozart (on Praga, in the usual superb SACD sound). The Hagen have recorded recently, also in great SACD format (on Myrios), only the E flat Quartet, K.428 along with Beethoven's e minor, Op.59, no.3 and some...Webern. Brilliant, mature and even profound performances.

The Cuarteto Casals is a very consistent group in this rather volatile (in our days) genre (groups come and go). All their recordings are much above average, but I cannot easily find one of them as a sort of benchmark recording. I appreciate a lot their classic and bright approach of the Op.33 of Haydn (on H.M.), but their "Seven Last Words" did not move me that much despite their quite solid and well-articulated performance.

It is interesting that there is also a Casal Quartet, which, among their daring projects, there is one called "The Birth of String Quartet", on Solo Musica. Recently, they recorded, on a double SACD, the String Quartets by F.X. Richter of 1757. Excellent production and vivid performances.

Parla

The Art of Live Recording

Robin Ticciati and the SCO's Schumann sounds fresh, interventionist but buoyant and rythmic. But it's the recording itself that is also a miracle - spacious and dynamic in a way live recordings seldom are. No applause was included.

EJ

 

Pages

Log in or register to post comments

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019