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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - October 2019 Choices

BBCMM October 2019Pride of place this month goes to a recital celebrating the contrasting talents of Handel's supposedly warring divas Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, courtesy of Lucy Crowe, Mary Bevan, Bridget Cunningham and London Early Opera on Signum.

Instrumental Choice goes to Mahan Esfahani's larger-than-life accounts of the Bach Toccatas on Hyperion, recorded on a custom-built instrument with a 16’ bass coupler - you can read David's in-depth interview with Mahan about the project here.

Lucy Crowe, Mary Bevan (sopranos), London Early Opera, Bridget Cunningham

‘Crowe and Bevan recreate two prime donne through their own blazing talents...Cuzzoni was idolised for her pure tone, translucent of timbre, nobility of line and steely diminutions; all these distinguish Crowe's artistry. Bevan, as Faustina, matches her intensity.’

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

Orchestral Choice

Axel Schacher (violin), Oliver Schnyder (piano), Antoine Lederlin (cello), Sinfonieorchester Basel, Ivor Bolton

‘Fauré expressed extreme aggravation at being interpreted as 'a composer of the half-light'...Ivor Bolton and his players have clearly taken the composer’s aggravation seriously and the result is pure delight.’

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

Concerto Choice

Fenella Humphreys (violin), Covent Garden Sinfonia, Ben Palmer

‘Humphreys's previous Bach 2 the Future albums demonstrated her ability to combine traditional and contemporary techniques, and here we find her ideally suited to Richter's writing. She mines the repetitive melodies for subtleties of colour, rather than drama.’

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

Chamber Choice

Marie Ythier (cello), Samuel Bricault (flute), Marie Vermeulin (piano)

‘An iridescent sonic weave which lingers long in the ear. Marie Ythier is a discovery for me: a musician of exquisite subtlety and charisma, whose every phrase is alive with penetrating intelligence.’

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

Instrumental Choice

Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

‘Under Mahan Esfahani’s fleet fingers, and even fleeter imagination, the toccatas positively fly...He perfectly understands the toccatas' architecture, yet celebrates their quirkiness and, interrogating every note, is generous with expressive pauses.’

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

Choral & Song Choice

Melody Moore (soprano), Bradley Moore (piano)

‘Her pin-point attack occasionally recalls Birgit Nilsson, but with a warmer tonal patina...The concentrated power and richness of Moore's voice means this is a recital probably best not played through uninterrupted. But its individual parts are invariably full of interest and vividly communicative artistry.’

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

Opera Choice

Mauro Peter, Christiane Karg, Adam Plachetka, Albina Shagimuratova, Matthias Goerne, Wiener Philharmoniker, Constantinos Carydis, Lydia Steier

‘Steier offers brilliant and convincing solutions to the perennial problems of Die Zauberflöte. Everything is seen through the eyes of the three boys who are on stage throughout...The trio from the Vienna Boys Choir carry the show, supported by the Vienna Philharmonic's silky warmth.’

Available Format: 3 DVD Videos

Mauro Peter, Christiane Karg, Adam Plachetka, Albina Shagimuratova, Matthias Goerne, Wiener Philharmoniker, Constantinos Carydis, Lydia Steier

SOUND FORMAT: BD: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.0

PICTURE: NTSC, 16:9

Available Format: Blu-ray

Historical Choice

David Oistrakh (violin), Ida Haendel (violin), Dennis Brain (horn), Zara Nelsova (cello)

'Hearing these distinguished performers on the wing makes for an invigorating listen. there are no surprises in Oistrakh's consummate mastery of the Tchaikovsky, but the tight orchestral playing under Sargent adds to the coherence and thrust...Dennis Brain shines through in Mozart and Richard Strauss.

Available Formats: 4 CDs, MP3, FLAC

Jazz Choice

Leo Richardson Quartet

‘Combining speed and accuracy, they play the hardest of hard-bop, but are also capable of urbane, relaxed swing...The work of this band could stand confidently alongside the great Blue Note sessions by the likes of Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Jackie McLean. And that's saying something.’

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC