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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - August 2019 Choices

BBC Music Magazine August 2019More praise for Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s tribute to Mieczysław Weinberg with Kremerata Baltica and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which takes the Recording of the Month spot for August – the Lithuanian conductor’s debut album on Deutsche Grammophon has also won accolades from Gramophone, Diapason and Radio 3’s Record Review, as well as being one of our best-selling recordings of the year to date. (You can read James's thoughts on the album here).

American tenor Michael Fabiano (who discussed his first solo album of Verdi and Donizetti with Katherine recently) takes the laurels for opera, whilst Orchestral Choice goes to the late Jiří Bělohlávek’s third recording of Suk’s Asrael, made in Prague in the autumn of 2014.

Recording of the Month

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

'The Second Symphony in general conveys a message of vigour and youthful optimism…and it is presented here in a performance of consummate technical brilliance and sustained emotional conviction…Gražinytė-Tyla really has the measure of [No. 21's] expansive structure. Not only does she sustain a mesmerising atmosphere that draws you in even when the emotional temperature is distant and withdrawn, but she also manages to shake you to the very core in the violent eruptions of anger and aggression that involve the full orchestra.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

'If anything, Bělohlávek sounds even more fired-up [than on his previous recordings of these works]…His natural warmth and charm characteristically enchants the central scherzo’s prismatic textural shifts, while elsewhere he demonstrates a greater willingness to probe the dark side of this endlessly fascinating score…[Pohádka’s] radiant allure and pictorial splendour is brought stunningly to life by Bělohlávek.'

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

Concerto Choice

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

'This is altogether a really fine performance…Bavouzet uses the ubiquitous Beethoven cadenzas for K466, while for its C major companion-piece K467 he opts for the examples by Friedrich Gulda, whose recording of the work has been a seminal influence on him…Emulating Gulda, Bavouzet makes the melody float freely while maintaining the throbbing rhythm in the left hand…Takács-Nagy and the Manchester Camerata are thoroughly in tune with Bavouzet, and the recording is first-rate.'

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

Chamber Choice

Phoebe Carrai (cello), Beilang Zhu (cello), Charles Weaver (lute), Avi Stein (harpsichord)

'In this recording, the virtuoso Phoebe Carrai joins Beiliang Zhu to probe the art of London’s forgotten cello masters. The programme and its execution are equally superb, as Carrai and Zhu roll out one world-premiere recording after another…Infusing this project are two ingredients rare in glitzy big-name recordings: the soloists’ long friendship (Zhu studied with Carrai) and their trust in non-canonical music.'

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

Instrumental Choice

'As Christophe Rousset observes, writing for the harpsichord requires an understanding of the instrument’s limitations to turn them to advantage – admirably exemplified here. Rousset’s firm touch and steady tempos are well suited to these toccatas and suites, as is his instrument: a late 16th-century Bolognese harpsichord whose richness of tone well honours Frescobaldi’s soundworld.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Sandrine Piau (soprano), Le Concert de la Loge, Julien Chauvin

'This is utterly adorable from start to finish…In the booklet Piau speaks of her joy at performing this kind of repertoire and her rapture is palpable from the breathless opening moments of Saint-Saens’s ‘Extase’. Soaring above the luminous timbres of Julian Chauvin’s period ensemble Le Concert de la Loge, Piau’s fresh-voiced delight infuses Berlioz’s Villanelle’, Vierne’s ‘Beaux Papillons blancs’ and Bordes’s affable ‘Promenade matinale’.'

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

Opera Choice

Michael Fabiano (tenor), London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Voices, Enrique Mazzola

'Fabiano is at his best in those great Verdian oaths of vengeance such as ‘Sprezzo la vita’ from Ernani. For complicated reasons it is usually cut in performance, but Fabiano shows us just what we are missing as his lashing phrases unite with the fervent crowd (sung by the London Voices) and the brilliant, searing sounds of the London Philharmonic Orchestra…Still, what happens on a recording is of course only half the story: Fabiano’s acclaimed impact on stage needs to be experienced in the theatre.'

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

Jazz Choice

Bill Frisell (guitar), Thomas Morgan (double bass)

'This is the second recorded outing for this duo and a fine demonstration of the fact that minimal resources can be liberating rather than restricting…Frisell and Morgan are perfectly at ease here, delivering a set of standards and borrowings with a combination of conspiratorial intimacy and panache…The recorded sound is both warm and detailed.'

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

Screen Choice

BBC Philharmonic, Rumon Gamba

'The name may not be so familiar and neither are some of the film titles, but the music speaks volumes for the talent of composer Gerard Schurmann…The orchestral flavours here – wild, romantic, playful, offer a tantalising glimpse into the music of a composer who really deserved a much higher-profile career on screen…How I wish there was a second disc!'

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