CLASSICAL

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS CDs - Michael Der­van Michael Der­van Michael Der­van Michael Der­van

MOZART: RE­QUIEM Sibylla Rubens (so­prano), Lioba Braun (mezzo so­prano), Steve Dav­is­lim (tenor), Ge­org Zep­pen­feld (bass), Chor des Bay­erischen Rund­funks, Mu­nich PO/Chris­tian Thiele­mann Deutsche Gram­mophon 477 5797

If you thought big­band Mozart was dead in the wa­ter, think again. Chris­tian Thiele­meann says he tried “to fol­low a path be­tween the ‘nor­mal’ per­for­mance prac­tice and the os­ten­si­bly au­then­tic”. But in this live record­ing, made last Fe­bru­ary with the Mu­nich Phil­har­monic, it’s the monumental and rev­er­en­tial as­pects of the mu­sic-mak­ing which stand out. Old-fash­ioned as this may sound to many 21st-cen­tury ears, it is also deeply stir­ring. In keep­ing with his credo, Thiele­mann keeps a care­ful ear to over­all clar­ity of line, and it helps that the team of soloists, topped by a ra­di­ant Sibylla Rubens, can show a fa­mil­iar­ity with cur­rent prac­tices in early mu­sic. www.deutschegram­mophon.com

SIL­VE­STROV: POST SCRIP­TUM; MIS­TE­RIOSO; PÄRT: SPIEGEL IM SPIEGEL; USTVOL­SKAYA: TRIO; VI­O­LIN SONATA Kyrill Ry­bakov (clar­inet), Alexan­der Tros­tian­sky (vi­o­lin), Alexei Lu­bi­mov (pi­ano) ECM New Se­ries 467 3108

The only well­known work here is Arvo Pärt’s plain­tively pat­terned Spiegel im Spiegel, but it’s played in an unfamiliar ver­sion for clar­inet and pi­ano. The two pieces by Shostakovich’s favourite pupil, Galina Ustvol­skaya, are early (1949 and 1952) but al- ready show her trade­mark dogged stark­ness. Shostakovich was im­pressed, and quoted from the Clar­inet Trio in two works of his own. It re­mains as­ton­ish­ing to think of such un­com­pro­mis­ing mu­sic be­ing writ­ten in the Soviet Union while Stalin was still alive. Lead­ing Ukrainian com­poser Valentin Sil­ve­strov makes a spe­cial­ity of nos­tal­gia that typ­i­cally evokes well-worn for­mu­las through a haunt­ing, bil­low­ing haze. Un­usu­ally, Mis­te­rioso, in a world full of the sounds of breath­ing, is a clar­inet solo in which the clar­inet­tist also plays left-handed pi­ano – some­thing that surely needs to be seen as well as heard. www.ecm­records.com

STRAUSS: PI­ANO MU­SIC Ste­fan Ve­selka Naxos 8.557713

The ground­break­ing de­vel­op­ments that Richard Strauss was to achieve in the realm of the sym­phonic poem are hardly re­flected at all in his early pi­ano mu­sic. The Five Pi­ano Pieces, Op 3, the Sonata in B mi­nor, Op 5, and the Moods and Fan­cies, Op 9, were all writ­ten when he was in his late teens, and the young Strauss re­mains con­tent to fol­low his el­ders (think of Schu­mann or Men­delssohn be­fore Liszt) rather than strike out in new di­rec­tions. Yet the at­trac­tive, airy flight of Men­delssohn is not to be found any­more than the pierc­ing char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of Schu­mann. Ste­fan Ve­selka’s straight-talk­ing per­for­mances wisely present the mu­sic with­out frills or spe­cial plead­ing. www.naxos.com

THE MAL­COLM ARNOLD EDI­TION Var­i­ous per­form­ers Decca 476 5337 (Vol 1, The Sym­phonies, 5 CDs); 476 5343 (Vol 2, 17 Con­cer­tos, 4 CDs); 476 5348 (Vol 3, Orches­tra, Brass and Pi­ano Mu­sic, 4 CDs)

This well-con­ceived, three-vol­ume, 13-disc cel­e­bra­tion, read­ied for Mal­colm Arnold’s 85th birth­day, has, with the com­poser’s death in Septem­ber, be­come a me­mo­rial. Mu­si­callyspeak­ing, Arnold, best re­mem­bered for his mu­sic for the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, was a kind of con­ser­va­tive dandy, as proud of his craft and tech­nique as he was fond of broad com­po­si­tional hu­mour. He liked to grat­ify his per­form­ers and amuse his lis­ten­ers. Those sides of his char­ac­ter are best ex­em­pli­fied in the con­cer­tos, the brass mu­sic and the lighter works. On one level Arnold the sym­phon­ist – the 11 here in­clude the un­num­bered ones for brass and strings – is some­times dis­tractable, some­times dogged. He can move with­out cau­tion from dis­so­nant strid­ing ac­com­pa­ni­ments into sug­ary Man­to­vani mo­ments or cavalry to the res­cuestyle in­ter­ven­tions. But the sug­ges­tion of his hav­ing been a pre-post­mod­ern sym­phon­ist is not to­tally with­out foun­da­tion ei­ther. Ver­non Han­d­ley’s per­for­mances suc­cess­fully walk a very fine line in­deed. www.dec­ca­clas­sics.com

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