Skip to main content

 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - January 2019 Choices

BBCMM 2019This month’s Choices include a pared-down account of Monteverdi’s Vespers from French vocal ensemble Ludus Modalis, the final instalment of the Elias Quartet’s superb live Beethoven cycle from Wigmore Hall, a collection of orchestral works from Liverpool-born composer Kenneth Hesketh, and a Saint-Saëns rarity based on the same source-material as Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini but focusing on the Florentine sculptor’s young apprentice.

Recording of the Month

Ludus Modalis, Bruno Boterf

'Boterf brings us a Vespers of unique beauty, in a version Claudio Monteverdi had printed by which until now has never been recorded…Boterf’s stripped-back Vespers offers a more sumptuous array of colours and vocal artistry than many standard recordings…Boterf gilds Monteverdi’s polyphony by using two trebles in an otherwise one-to-apart ensemble. This delicate imbalance yields an astonishing range of affect.'

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

Orchestral Choice

BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Christoph Mathias Mueller

'Hesketh is a composer at the height of his considerable powers. Born in Liverpool in 1968, his music is saturated with an Anglo-French modernism informed by figures from Dutilleux to Knussen, and interests from classical architecture to medieval iconography. These three recent orchestral works showcase to brilliant effect his deepening fascination with scientific and other philosophies of existence.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Concerto Choice

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), Manchester Camerata, Gábor Takács- Nagy

'The Manchester Camerata under Gábor Takács-Nagy deliver blisteringly energetic articulation…Bavouzet and Takács-Nagy relish Mozart’s wicked touches of humour…[in the Quintet] once again, Bavouzet, working in a stimulating partnership with the orchestral principals, produces an elegant account that more than holds its own with many of the formidable recordings in the current catalogue.'

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

Chamber Choice

'This sixth and final volume of the Elias String Quartet’s admirable Beethoven cycle comfortably matches the exulted qualities of earlier releases…There is painstaking attention to detail, yet these live performances burst with spontaneity…The Elias enable Beethoven’s radical modernism to be heard afresh, this disc capping a cycle that takes a deserved place among the finest on disc.'

Available Format: CD

Instrumental Choice

Elicia Silverstein (violin)

'Silverstein demonstrates a connective element in the two periods which could so easily have been pretentious but which, aided by her own lucidly explanatory essay, is not…Her playing is warm and technically secure, with faultless intonation and, above all in the Biber and the Bach, she engages and touches us with eloquent articulation.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Sarah Fox (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)

'These perceptive performances by both singers and their pianist recover even the sense and sensibility of those songs which seem distant from our time…Hearing this brings us closer to understanding the essential decency of the man beloved by his pupils, including Holst and Vaughan Williams, and whose influence extended well beyond the mere issue of musical style.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Opera Choice

Jean-Francois Lapointe, Bernard Richter, Eve-Maud Hubeaux, Chœur et Orchestre de la Haute École de Musique de Genève, Guillaume Tourniaire

'It would be good to report that this is a lost masterpiece. It’s not, but it is a carefully crafted late version of the form that Meyerbeer had invented for Paris…Competent to a fault, Saint-Saëns gives his principal singers every opportunity to shine, and they rise to his challenge in this concert performance…Clémence Tilquin’s Colombe sings her heart out, investing some of the composer’s most lyrical with genuine feeling. Here and throughout is that French vocal style all too rarely heard in opera houses today.'

Available Format: 3 CDs

Jazz Choice

Orrin Evans and The Captain Black Big Band

'The band’s third outing on CD features a set almost entirely written by band members and is crammed with energetic yet elegant arrangements, inventive melodies, rhythmic drive and bonkers solos and cadenzas in both likely and unlikely places, all corralled on a cleanly balanced recording that nonetheless captures all the atmosphere of its live origins.'

Available Format: CD