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 Gramophone Choices, Gramophone Editor's Choices - June 2018

Gramophone June 2018The multi-tasking Michael Collins is star of the show this month, directing the Swedish Chamber Orchestra from the clarinet in three delectable concertos by the Swedish-Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell. Editor's Choices include Bernstein from Christian Lindberg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Schubert's final piano sonata from Marc-André Hamelin, and the last instalment of Edward Gardner's Walton series on Chandos (you can read David's recent interview with him about the project here).

Recording of the Month

Michael Collins (clarinet/conductor), Swedish Chamber Orchestra

'It takes an extraordinary degree of skill (and breath control!) to play such technically demanding solo parts while simultaneously leading the players...As to his role as soloist, I can only say that Collins’s first entry made me smile – and kept it there for the entire length of the disc...His faultless clarity and articulation, especially at some of the speeds he adopts, are things to marvel at.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Editor's Choices

Leila Josefowicz (violin), St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson

'The 2018 Josefowicz vintage certainly brings with it a depth and maturation that can only be achieved through 20 years of living and breathing a work now performed by the violinist more than 100 times. Throw into the mix David Robertson’s bold interpretation with the excellent St Louis Symphony Orchestra and this recording sets a new benchmark...Faultless.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Wiener Symphoniker, Philippe Jordan

'Jordan’s account of the Fourth is well-nigh ideal: lithe, lyrical, rhythmically intent...The performance of the Fifth Symphony is lean-bodied and swift in the modern style…Whatever one’s preferences as to text or pulse, rest assured that what Jordan and his superbly trained players give us is thought-through Beethoven of the highest order.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Christian Lindberg

'The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic put on such a good show throughout this disc. The Symphonic Dances from West Side Story find them rounding corners that challenge the very best big bands...The all-dancing aspects of the disc do Bernstein’s struttin’ NYC style proud.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

James Ehnes (viola), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner

'Ehnes and Gardner take us back to those pre-Menuhin tempos, only a fraction slower than William Primrose’s pioneering 1946 recording. There’s a grand sweep to the performance which is wholly engaging in its refusal to wallow. Ehnes’s burnished viola tone is noble and warm...A winning interpretation.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Trio Wanderer

'These are beautifully played performances, set in a generous enough acoustic (the Teldex Studio in Berlin) to give each instrument full voice...There is enough clarity around each instrument to make every line audible, which hasn’t necessarily been the case in the Wanderer’s previous recordings of Romantic music.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini

'Alessandrini and his crack players marry elegance with unfailing rhythmic zest, always attentive to textural clarity and the shaping of bass lines. The continuo (harpsichord and/or theorbo) adds impetus without ever becoming irritatingly obtrusive...In an enterprisingly chosen repertoire, Concerto Italiano are here at their exhilarating, imaginative best.'

Available Format: CD

'This is spacious Schubert, secure, august and unrushed... it may be in the Sonata’s Andante that the originality of Hamelin’s reading becomes fully evident. With perfect poise, exquisite voice-leading lends the opening theme a chaste, heroic, noble character.'

Available Format: CD

Ricercar Consort

'The key to the success of these readings is that while they are rooted in transparency, they are vibrantly resonant, boldly directional and never brittle. The arias tend to portray the singers as primus inter pares with the obbligato instruments as real partners in the dialogue.'

Available Formats: MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Marc Mauillon, Myriam Rignol, Thibaut Roussel, Marouan Mankar-Bennis

'The unwavering, honest quality of Mauillon’s reedy voice – so suited to earlier music – works perfectly in this context, creating the sense of a cantus firmus on which the instrumentalists elaborate. ...Might this release have laid down a new benchmark in the revival of 17th-century performing practices? I think so.'

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly

'There’s an irresistible clarity to Chailly’s illumination of Mahler’s symphonic antecedents: the deformation of Beethoven’s Ninth in the opening bars, as well as their more direct debt to the moment of sudden mystery in the middle of the finale to Brahms’s Second...he's one of those musicians who not only know that there is always more to say but who challenge themselves to communicate it.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly

Picture format NTSC 16:9, Full HD

Audio formats DTS HD Master Audio, PCM Stereo

Region Code 0

Running Time 62:24

Disc format BD 25

Available Format: Blu-ray

Re-issue/Archive of the Month

Alfred Brendel (piano), Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

'So do we need another account of the Schumann from Brendel? Yes, when it’s this fine...Rattle and Brendel mould a reading that ebbs and flows with complete naturalness...Brendel may have been playfully dismissive of [the Brahms] but there’s no sense of halfheartedness about this performance...This is without question an essential addition to the Brendel discography.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC