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 Gramophone Choices, Gramophone Editor's Choices - June 2019

Gramophone June 2019Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s ‘revelatory’ accounts of two symphonies by Mieczysław Weinberg (whose centenary falls this year) with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Kremerata Baltica come out on top this month, with honourable mentions including András Schiff’s second volume of late Schubert on his beloved Brodmann fortepiano, and Paul McCreesh’s An English Coronation. (You can read David’s interview with McCreesh about a project which he describes as ‘mad, crazy and uplifting’ here).

Gramophone’s 2018 Young Artist of the Year, powerhouse Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, also receives an Editor’s Choice for her upcoming debut album of Strauss and Wagner on Decca - stay tuned for Katherine’s interview with ‘one of the greatest vocal talents to have emerged in recent years’ in advance of the album’s release next Friday!

Recording of the Month

Gidon Kremer (violin), Kremerata Baltica, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

'It takes a performance of fierce concentration and absolute dedication to ensure this music’s hold on an audience...the CBSO, with its newly appointed fireball Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, is teamed up with Kremerata Baltica, lending extraordinary depth and power to the string sound...All in all, this has to be one of the most important symphonic releases of the year.'

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

Editor's Choices

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier

'There’s a spring in Tortelier’s step with the Icelanders, a sappy bounce to the opening Allegro molto… The strings are alert and light and the woodwinds attack Gounod’s melodious writing with élan. If Haydn is the influence on the First, it is Beethoven who looms large over the Second.'

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

Alexandre Kantorow (piano), Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow

'It is no hardship to review yet another Saint-Saëns piano concerto recording when it is as good as this…Believe me, [Kantorow] is the real deal – a firebreathing virtuoso with a poetic charm and innate stylistic mastery… I had forgotten just how demanding is some of the piano writing [in No. 4] is but I have rarely heard it delivered with such commanding ease and infectious delight.'

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

Leonard Elschenbroich (cello), Alexei Grynyuk (piano)

'In Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk’s hands, these sonatas’ staggering invention is impossible to ignore. The musicians’ success comes, at least in part, from scrupulous attention to the composer’s markings in matters of dynamics and articulation…They can drive the music hard in fast movements, although their playing always breathes naturally.'

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

Colin Currie (percussion), Steve Reich (percussion), Colin Currie Group, Synergy Vocals

'A powerful rhythmic incisiveness and assertiveness that marked the group’s excellent recording of Drumming is again apparent throughout… Synergy Vocals impart a beautiful, haunting performance, whose quiescence quietly defuses the energy and explosiveness of the rhythmic pieces.'

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

Olivier Latry plays the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris

'Bach played with no hang-ups, using the full resources of a magnificent organ…happily discarding any ideas of authenticity and completely shorn of that kind of hallowed reserve with which so many organists treat it. This is a joyous celebration of Bach’s music, not a kneeling, hands-together, head-bowed worship of it.'

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

András Schiff (fortepiano)

'The colours are more or less dictated by the instrument… But what magical melancholy, and above all modesty, it enables…Schiff is a true master of the instrument and knows how to connect its resources to his individual, yet never mannered, Schubertian vision…If your concern is for emotional Schubertian truth, uniquely illuminated, Schiff’s new discs are boundlessly rewarding.'

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

Véronique Gens (soprano), Orchestre National de Lille, Alexandre Bloch

'A performance that ranks, unquestionably, among the finest to date. Superbly sung, and wonderfully well conducted and played by Alexandre Bloch and his Lille orchestra, this is an interpretation of great beauty and insight. Gens’s dark tone and her ability to fuse sound with sense allow her both to encompass the work’s rapturous lyricism and to map out the psychological subtlety of its depiction of the painful end of an affair.'

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

Lise Davidsen (soprano), Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen

'Davidsen is no ordinary singer. Throughout the whole album one marvels at the voice, its easy grandeur and sheer size, its steely focus and security… The timbre has a default cool beauty but she can flood it with warmth to fill out a phrase magnificently. These gifts are matched by the maturity, honesty and integrity of Davidsen’s approach. This album only reinforces the fact that she is one of the greatest vocal talents to have emerged in recent years, if not decades.'

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

Gabrieli, Paul McCreesh

'Some may find the extensive spoken liturgy excessive but such is Simon Russell Beale’s compelling delivery that the sheer beauty of the words offers a musical diversion of a different kind. Most impressive, perhaps, is how extremes of unalloyed opulence sit so movingly alongside intimate supplication…One can imagine the virtuosity required by every contributor, at every turn, to make this a reality, let alone a dazzling triumph.'

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

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

Teresa Iervolino, Carmela Remigio, Loriana Castellano, Francisco Fernández-Rueda; Ensemble La Scintilla, Fabio Luisi, Giorgio Sangati

'Sangati’s staging, mixing (vaguely) 18th-century costumes, Venice carnival masks and modernist camp, is unpretentious and uncluttered. The substitute arias, often short-breathed, cannot rival Handel’s energy and melodic breadth, and a few outstay their welcome. But they are effective enough… Luisi judges tempo and character well and gets spruce playing from his band…. Just don’t expect more than a smattering of Handel.'

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Teresa Iervolino, Carmela Remigio, Loriana Castellano, Francisco Fernández-Rueda; Ensemble La Scintilla, Fabio Luisi, Giorgio Sangati

PCM Stereo 2.0

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Available Format: Blu-ray