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BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - May 2020 Choices

BBCMM May 2020British violinist Jack Liebeck’s outstanding accounts of the Brahms and Schoenberg violin concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Gourlay on Orchid Classics is this month’s outright winner – I know my colleague Katherine’s been enjoying this recording enormously during lockdown and recently spoke to Jack about his perspectives on these two very different works, so do keep your eyes peeled for the resulting feature over the next few days…

Another artist mentioned in despatches is Leeds International Piano Competition-winner Eric Lu, who recently talked to us about his first studio recording of Chopin, Schumann and Brahms on Warner Classics – the album takes the Instrumental palm in this month’s issue, and you can read Eric’s reflections on pieces which he describes as ‘some of the most personal works ever written’ here.

This year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards ceremony will sadly no longer take place next Tuesday as planned, but winners will be announced imminently, so stay tuned for results over the coming weeks…

Recording of the Month

Jack Liebeck (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Gourlay

'Liebeck responds [to Schoenberg’s technical demands] with astonishing command, allowing the music’s expression to speak with a real degree of freedom, even fantasy, so that the solo part can interact with similarly deft accompaniment by the orchestra. The same qualities shine throughout in a stellar interpretation of Brahms’s masterwork.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu

'This magnificent new recording completes a strong symphonic portrait of the Polish modernist master…The Third Symphony comes first here in a coruscating performance. Hannu Lintu conducts with lucidity and rigour in a work exploring Beethovenian notions of tension and release. His musicians respond with brilliant, punchy playing but are also capable of dazzling refinement…Altogether, Lintu’s Lutosławski cycle sets a new standard.'

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

Concerto Choice

Pulcinella Orchestra, Ophélie Gaillard

'Gailliard brings a joyous and incisively idiomatic grace to these performances. What she may lack in the absolute fluency and charisma of Christophe Coin is more than made up for in this exciting programme and the dynamism of her Pulcinella Orchestra.'

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

Opera Choice

Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Antoinette Dennefeld, Anaïs Constans, Tassis Christoyannis, Véronique Gens, Éric Huchet; Orchestre National de France Markus Poschner

'Offenbach deftly plays to the 19th-century French passion for all things Iberian with Spanish accents in the orchestration…A strong cast includes Véronique Gens as the wicked sister Leona who sings a splendidly fruity version of her ‘Ballade de la belle Espagnole’…Markus Poschner conducting the Orchestre National de France and the French Radio Choir encourages the bubbles to rise to the surface in a never-ending stream.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Maximilian Schmitt (Evangelist), Krešimir Stražanac (Jesus), Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe

'Herreweghe’s unswerving focus is evident from the opening chorus, whose elemental summons is exactingly calibrated, dark-grained and resolute…Schmitt’s Evangelist narrates with exemplary pacing and dramatic involvement…Herreweghe’s is an ensemble triumph, a symbiotic entwining of voice and instruments that brings about repeated moments of wonder.'

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

Chamber Choice

Ursula Paludan Monberg (horn), Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen

'The Danish horn player Ursula Paludan Monberg, thoroughly in command of her instrument, produces a miraculously smooth and agile line with secure tuning…the continuo section of Arcangelo, led by Jonathan Cohen’s harpsichord, provides firm support. The recording convincingly places the listener in the room with the players, tying the notoriously elusive horn to a precise spot on the soundstage.'

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

Instrumental Choice

'Lu’s playing is in a rare class – one that has a vacancy since Radu Lupu’s retirement. This type of sensitivity and emotional intuition does not grow on trees, especially no when served by such a technique, with richly singing tone and delicate fleetness of finger…Moreover, there’s high finesse in his control of nuance and ability to create subtle, intense atmospheres…Wonderful.'

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

Jazz Choice

Jorge Rossy, Jasper Somsen, Enrico Pieranunzi

'Here’s a fine outing from a pianist noted for his ability to stir unexpected concepts into jazz that seem to fit perfectly and naturally but that never seem to occur to anyone else…Good tunes with plenty of substance, then, on the third impeccably recorded CD from this empathetically bedded-in trio. The programme’s relative brevity absolutely works in its favour given the concentrated nature of the music.'

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

Documentary Choice

A documentary by Paul Smaczny

'This sequence of almost mini-documentaries, beautifully paced, shows different sides of his character, musicianship and history…The cameras follow him to Moscow where he studied with David Oistrakh, but there’s more than simple reminiscence here…[The performance of Weinberg’s 24 Preludes] forms the substantial bonus and has riveting intensity, enhanced by the changing photographic backdrops. Kremer’s authenticity always shines out.'

Available Format: DVD Video