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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - July 2018 Choices

BBC Music Magazine July 2018Topping the BBC Music Magazine bill this month is a terrific recording of two large-scale John Adams pieces: Naïve and Sentimental Music (1999) and the Beethoven-inspired Absolute Jest (2012), both of which receive only their second outings on disc here.

There are honourable mentions for Tatiana Gürbaca’s brilliantly claustrophobic staging of Massenet’s Werther from Zurich Opera (starring Juan Diego Flórez and Anna Stéphany as the star-crossed lovers), an eclectic unaccompanied recital from flautist Emmanuel Pahud, and Martinů’s double concertos from two classy sister-acts: Momo and Mari Kodama in the Concerto for Two Pianos, and the French-Romanian Nemtanu siblings in the Concerto for Two Violins. (This is a real favourite of mine – it was one of my personal picks on Radio 3’s Record Review for this year’s Record Store Day back in April!)

Recording of the Month

Doric String Quartet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Peter Oundjian

'The RSNO’s playing captures all the delicacy, grandeur and zing of Adams’s complex score, while the Doric String Quartet brings sumptuous sweetness and laser-like clarity to its solo part…There follows a magnificent reading of Naïve and Sentimental Music…with the balance of pace and introspection skilfully managed by Oundjian.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Gewandhausorchester, Andris Nelsons

'It is a fairly leisurely account, encouraging us to listen to what is happening at the moment rather than what is going to emerge from or follow it. That is fine until we reach the last movement, which is enormous but largely bombast. Still, it is performed here with great conviction, as much as in any recording in recent years.'

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

Concerto Choice

Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, Lawrence Foster

'The biggest challenge here is the Concerto for Two Pianos…the Kodama sisters’ approach with Lawrence Foster and the very fine Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra (who knew?) is less mellow, more hard-hitting [than Bělohlávek’s 2009 Proms performance]…but also alive to the dizzying outer movements…The disc as a whole is another unmissable addition to the Martinů discography.'

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

Opera Choice

Juan Diego Flórez (Werther), Anna Stéphany (Charlotte); Oper Zürich, Cornelius Meister, Tatjana Gürbaca

'Director Tatjana Gürbaca and designer Klaus Grünberg have transformed Massenet’s masterpiece into a compelling drama that glues you to the edge of your seat from start to finish…Flórez gives the performance of his career as a hero who knows that death is where passion is fulfilled. Anna Stéphany’s Charlotte, by turns terrified, tender and tearful, is with him all the way.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Juan Diego Flórez (Werther), Anna Stéphany (Charlotte); Oper Zürich, Cornelius Meister, Tatjana Gürbaca

Picture Formats: NTSC 16:9, Full HD

Sound Formats: DTS HD Master Audio, PCM

Stereo Region Code: 0

Disc Format: BD 25

Available Format: Blu-ray

Choral & Song Choice

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, Andrew Nethsingha

'Some performances grip you from the outset, and this St John’s College recording of Vaughan Williams’s Mass in G minor is one of them. The Kyrie’s rapt inwardness is built on the outstandingly assured vocalism of the singers at restrained dynamic levels, but also on conductor Andrew Nethsingha’s pleasingly fluid moulding of the undulating motifs Vaughan Williams uses to knit the music together.'

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

Chamber Choice

Silesian Quartet and friends

'For those invigorated by the Silesian Quartet’s complete quartet set, here’s an exciting new addition: two piano quintets. They are works of real substance and originality. The First (1952) is an assured achievement with a powerful identity…her Second Quintet is confrontational and virtuosic. The Silesians tap into its nervous energy…Look out for more Bacewicz: her time has come.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Instrumental Choice

Emmanuel Pahud (flute)

'Taken at face value, the order and selection of works seems entirely random…However, the eccentric programme is carefully considered; repeated listening reveals new parallels between the pieces. It’s like eating a bag of pick ‘n’ mix where every sweet is deliciously interesting, and the aleatory element merely enhances the enjoyment…The flautist’s customary rounded sound is pristinely captured throughout this quirky collection.'

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