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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - February 2019 Choices

BBC Music MagazineThis month’s Choices include a vivid, theatrical account of Purcell’s King Arthur from Gramophone Award-winners Lionel Meunier and Vox Luminis, a Lutosławski triptych from Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and an all-Polish recital from violinist Jennifer Pike, who spoke to Katherine last month about 'getting more in touch with her own Polish character' over the past few years.

Recording of the Month

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu

'Three key works, each from an essential point in Witold Lutosławski’s career, add up to a thrilling portrait of the modern Polish master. All are played with searing energy by the Finnish Radio Symphony orchestra under the lucid baton of their chief conductor, Hannu Lintu, in equally successful performances…Captured in brilliant sound, this recording makes an unbeatable introduction to Lutosławski’s world.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Antonio Pappano

'They play it to a standard that’s in line with their standing as one of the world’s special orchestras – silky strings, wonderfully blended woodwind chording, and a brass section to match anyone’s anywhere…Pappano conducts with his trademark energy, avoiding excessive juice-extraction of the music’s late-Romantic idiom, and gives the orchestra plenty of time and space to deliver in their classy way.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Concerto Choice

Joseph Swensen (violin & conductor), Scottish Chamber Orchestra

'There’s an impressive level of excellence throughout, though Swensen is adaptable to moods between and within concertos…I love his natural way with slow movements, especially Mendelssohn’s and Brahms’s – faster speeds than usual, no excess sentiment but plenty of love. The tone is always sweet, the intonation what players call ‘speaking’, which means a constant alertness that is especially refreshing in the familiar.'

Available Format: 4 CDs

Chamber Choice

Jennifer Pike (violin), Petr Limonov (piano)

'Pike’s exceptional sensitivity to tonal inflection and temporal flexibility works wonders in Szymanowski’s Mythes…She invests [the Karłowicz] with such open-air freshness and gentle affection that it emerges as though hot off the press…Limonov partners her devotedly with great skill and sensitivity, captured in exemplary sound by producer Rachel Smith and engineers Jonathan Cooper and Cheryl Jessop.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Charles Owen (piano)

'This is altogether very impressive playing, capturing all the intimacy of the pieces which Brahms labelled as Intermezzos, as well as the drama and urgency of the more outward-going Capriccios…What stays in the memory after listening to Owens is the imagination and warmth of his playing, perfectly captured by the recording engineers.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano), Léa Desandre (mezzo), Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm

'This production is a delight throughout…Haïm retains control by preparing both the scores and the sopranos’ ornaments, her vision giving this carefully wrought performance a fiery intensity, as if recorded live in concert…Desandre, a superb vocal actress, delivers bold musical rhetoric…You might think you know these cantatas, but this is a performance to make you think again.'

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

Opera Choice

Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier

'This King Arthur is a giddy triumph for its artists. Blazing their way through the score, the performers set a new benchmark, delivering a production that’s equally gutsy and gorgeous…Dance meters swing, and grand choruses are crisp and alluring. Amorous ensembles ooze passion, with guest soprano Sophie Junker irresistible as Cupid…Director Lionel Meunier is the real star, with a soaring vision of Purcell’s music in a class of its own.'

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

Jazz Choice

Michel Petrucciani Trio

'Across a programme of swinging evergreen standards and ear-popping hard bop originals, Petrucciani’s playing is joyfully mesmerising. His fleet take on ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ delivers flurries of notes that build to a blizzard…Petrucciani knew his time was limited, and that perhaps explains the intensity of performances like this.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC