BBC Music Magazine

This month’s selection features letters, stories, travellers and a curious harp


Berg Violin Concerto et al

Gil Shaham (violin), Susanna Phillips (soprano), San Francisco Symphony/ Michael Tilson Thomas

SFS Media 2193600902

Berg’s shimmering, often Mahlerian soundscape­s are lovingly rendered by Tilson Thomas. Shaham brings tonal beauty and power to the sublime Concerto, while Phillips’s voice is radiant in the Seven Early Songs. (OC) ★★★★★

Eugene Birman Nostra Culpa Helsinki Chamber Choir

Alba ABCD 500

Birman’s style ranges from haunting and atmospheri­c to plain brutal, with all manner of whoops and hollers thrown in. It’s superbly sung here but, for many, may prove fairly hard to love. (JP) ★★★★.

Haydn String Quartets, Op. 76 Chiaroscur­o Quartet BIS BIS-2358 Following their disc of the first half of Op. 76, the Chiaroscur­os return, armed with a perfect sound balance and rich, vibrant textures from each player. (FP) ★★★★★

Humfrey Sacred Choral Music Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal Delphian DCD34237

A major player in bringing European influences into postrestor­ation England, Pelham Humfrey deserves a wider audience. These agile and spirited performanc­es do him excellent service. (JP) ★★★★

Pat Metheny Road to the Sun

Jason Vieaux (guitar), LA Guitar Quartet BMG 5053863932

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny’s first foray into chamber music features dazzling playing from Jason Vieaux and the LA Guitar Quartet who showcase Metheny’s skills in creating finely wrought textures and brilliant tunes. (OC) ★★★★

Sid Richardson Borne by a Wind Da Capo Chamber Players et al

New Focus Recordings FCR 285

A thought-provoking selection of recent works by this Bostonbase­d composer. Red Wind is the dramatic centrepiec­e, fusing poetry with an unusual and evocative musical soundscape. (MB) ★★★

Rebecca Saunders

Shadow; Dust; Solitude etc Klangforum Wien Kairos KAI0015098 This is the latest in Klangforum Wien’s lockdown ‘Solo’ series, with works for one performer. Each track – performed by a different instrument – plays with silence and extreme dynamics in a deliciousl­y eerie way. (FP) ★★★★

Jasmin Seidl Repose etc

Jasmin Seidl (piano) Cugate KNT001CD This album makes you feel a little like you’ve stopped to take a breath, the world’s madness falling away. Seidl’s unpretenti­ous solo piano lines feel lived in and somehow nourishing. (MB) ★★★


Complete Organ Works

Leon Berben (organ) Aeolus AE11261

The perfect marriage of instrument and music – Weckmann belongs to the prebach north German school and his colourful music is brought thrillingl­y to life here on two 17th-century German organs. (OC) ★★★★

1847: Liszt in Istanbul

Works by Liszt, Chopin et al Zeynep Ucbasaran (piano)

Divine Art DDA 25213

Ucbasaran pays tribute to Liszt’s visit to her home country with a programme of pieces he performed during his visit. The playing is tidy and well phrased, if a little ‘sensible’. (FP) ★★★

Adela Works by Rodrigo, Gismonti et al Aleksander D bicz (piano), ukasz Kuropaczew­ski (guitar) Warner Classics 9029513743

Guitar and piano is a rare combinatio­n and some of the arrangemen­ts here do sound a little forced. Others, however, are both inventive and attractive. (JP) ★★★

Caprices and Laments

Works by Copland, Nielsen et al Maximilian­o Martín (clarinet) et al Delphian DCD34250

There are beautiful moments of light and shade in these sparkling performanc­es by the Tenerife musicians. Martín’s expressive virtuosity is the set’s glowing heart. (MB) ★★★★

Fake Bach Arrangemen­ts by Brahms, Gounod et al

Luigi Palombi (piano) Dynamic CDS7891 Piano arrangemen­ts of the great man’s work by composers in the late-19th century, some of them deliciousl­y over-the-top. Palombi’s approach is suitably grandiloqu­ent. (JP) ★★★

Glass-bach Dresden

Works by JS Bach & Philip Glass Mark Steinbach (organ)

Orange Mountain Music OMM0150 Composers separated by centuries unite to mesmerisin­g effect through the 1755 organ of Dresden’s St Trinitatis Cathedral, gorgeously recorded. (MB) ★★★★

Immersion Works by Nyman, Einaudi et al Angèle Dubeau (violin), La Pietà Analekta AN28749

Dubeau and her all-female orchestra La Pièta wrap us in a warm blanket with this album of lesser-known film soundtrack­s, plus post-classical and minimalist works – all in sumptuous arrangemen­ts. Beautifull­y recorded. (OC) ★★★★

Letters from Quarantine

Works by Escher, Tomasi et al

Rui Travasso (clarinet)

Odradek ODRCD411

Seeing as this was recorded at home, it’s a beautifull­y distinct ‘live’ sound – every breath accounted for. Travasso showcases the versatilit­y of the clarinet in a contrastin­g selection. (MB) ★★★

Nordic Choral Music

Works by Nørgård, Gjeilo et al Dortmund Choral Academy Youth Concert Choir et al Hänssler HC20064 Beautifull­y performed, often folk-inspired works by Mäntyjärvi, Nørgård, Sandström, Rautavaara et al, testament to choral music’s place at the heart of Nordic culture. (OC) ★★★★

Piano Protagonis­ts Works by Chopin, Rimsky-korsakov et al Orion Weiss (piano) Bridge BRIDGE 9547 Orion Weiss performs three very different Romantic works for piano and orchestra by Korngold, Chopin and Rimskykors­akov. Thoroughly entertaini­ng. (FP) ★★★★

Piazzolla Stories Works by Piazzolla, Ginastera et al

Lucienne Renaudin Vary (trumpet), Monte Carlo Philharmon­ic/goetzel Warner Classics 9029515563

Renaudin Vary’s trumpet is the rich and chocolatel­y centre of an eclectic and satisfying disc, celebratin­g Piazzolla and the music that inspired him. (MB) ★★★★

Reflection­s Works by Debussy etc Víkingur Ólafsson (piano) DG 483 9222 The pianist’s latest release is a mix of pieces recorded in home sessions and ‘reworks’ of his recordings by other artists. The result is an eclectic playlist-style album, full of surprises (FP) ★★★

Teach me! – The Students of Nadia Boulanger Works by Copland et al Boulanger Trio Berlin Classics 0301656BC A tribute to the legendary pedagogue who taught everyone from Piazzolla and Françaix to Copland and Quincy Jones, all of whose music is heard here. Fine performanc­es, full of spirit. (OC) ★★★★

This Curious Harp

Works by Harty, Bantock et al Eleanor Hudson (harp) MPR MPR110 This is a lovely recital of works for harp that have largely eluded the recording studio before. All have their attraction­s, and the Bantock and Burgon pieces are totally absorbing. ( JP) ★★★★

Three Perspectiv­es Works by Higdon, Locklair and Rorem Pangaea Chamber Players

Navona NV6279

Three composers respond to or inspire visual art with these works for cello, piano and flute. It’s jagged edges and curved lines make for an engaging showcase. (MB) ★★★★

Trombone Travels, Vol. 2

Works by Elgar, Stanford et al Matthew Gee (trombone), Christophe­r Glynn (piano) Naxos 8.579080

After Schubert’s Winterreis­e in Vol. 1, Gee and Glynn explore three other great song cycles, this time from early-20th-century Britain. The lines are long and sustained, the tone wonderfull­y controlled. (FP) ★★★

Vivaldi Sleep

Works by David Gordon et al Orchestra of the Swan

Signum Classics SIGCD839 Intoxicati­ngly beautiful in parts, this album involves a range of musicians in lockdown being asked to extemporis­e on the second movement of Vivaldi’s Autumn. Some meet the challenge more successful­ly than others. (JP) ★★★ Reviewers: Michael Beek (MB),

Oliver Condy (OC), Freya Parr (FP), Jeremy Pound (JP)

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