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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - November 2018 Choices

BBC Music Magazine November 2018

Pick of the BBC Music Magazine crop this month is a spellbinding nocturnal recital from Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon, featuring Schumann’s Fantasiestücke Op. 12, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and Bartók’s Out of Doors, which impressed reviewer David Nice with its ‘shining space and grace’ and ‘special magic’.

The Instrumental Choice goes to the young Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe for his arresting and often acerbic second solo album, softLOUD, released on Delphian last month and taking in seveenteenth-century Scottish lute manuscripts as well as his own transcriptions of works by Julia Wolfe, David Lang and James MacMillan; you can read Katherine's interview with Sean about his conviction that classical musicians 'need to re-discover our radical heart' here.

Recording of the Month

Dénes Várjon (piano)

'Várjon moves swiftly between numbers, joining the puzzle-pieces without ever giving us the complete picture…but there’s no doubt that [his] connecting intelligence makes each set as a whole indispensable…This is an unremittingly bewitching programme and perfectly engineered.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

'An excellence of this new live recording is the way Mariss Jansons and his Bavarian players subtly bring out the harmonic changes or enrichments of surrounding part-writing with which Schubert more often varies his recurrent long melodies…The Bavarian brass and woodwind are on glowing, translucent form, and the recorded sound is warm and vibrant. In all, a release to renew one’s admiration and love for this wonderful work.'

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

Concerto Choice

Paul Watkins (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

'Sir Andrew Davis’s feeling for the composer’s sensitive, harmonically conservative language is abundantly clear in these vivid readings with the BBC Symphony orchestra. Soloists, too, are well chosen. Not for the first time, cellist Paul Watkins proves a master of expressing powerful feelings through the prism of British reserve, vital for Finzi’s Concerto.'

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

Chamber Choice

Daniel Barenboim (piano), Michael Barenboim (violin), Yiulia Deyneka (viola) & Kian Soltani (cello)

'There is no question from the start of the guiding force here: Daniel Barenboim, a great Mozart player early in his career, and once more now, manages to hold things together while being free with rubato and altogether spontaneous, so that this is quintessential chamber music-making…One of the many delights of these performances is that they recognise the intimate and non-portentous nature of the works.'

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

Instrumental Choice

'There’s no doubting that [Shibe] is an artist blessed with grace to spare, and a roar that is fearsome – witness the opening section of Julia Wolfe’s LAD which screams into anguished life before cornering into lament, then frenzied catharsis…Like Julian Bream before him, Shibe has a natural yet creative rapport with 17th-century lute music…Both refract the music through a generous soundworld that demands you savour every note.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton

'One feature of his music is its wide range of historical reference…clothed in Park’s own musical language, which is contemporary in orientation but with resonant harmony which falls easily on the ear. He chooses texts imaginatively and has a special gift for radiant choral ‘orchestration’…Altogether, this is a welcome introduction to a composer of impressive achievement and considerable promise. '

Available Format: CD

Opera Choice

Rolando Villazón, Marina Rebeka, Joyce DiDonato; Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

'Apart from her gorgeous voice, DiDonato possesses a grace perfect for the role, soaring to expressive heights in her final six-minute aria…Marina Rebeka is DiDonato’s ideal vocal and dramatic foil…What’s special about this Clemenza is Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s trust in Mozart’s lyricism, heard for instance in the huge space he gives the soloists for their tender numbers. The conductor has created a production that’s as sensitive as it is exuberant.'

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

Jazz Choice


'Any piece by one of the group’s members…will contain more ideas than many artists can muster for an entire project…The musicians’ exceptional technical skills are completely integrated into the fascinating twists and turns of the music, which echoes everything from Liszt to early Soft Machine via bebop while still being unique in its conviction and sheer depth of content.'

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