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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - November 2020 Choices

BBCMM November 2020The world premiere recording of the 1778 version of Lully’s last 'tragédie en musique' Armide (significantly overhauled by Louis-Joseph Francoeur almost a century after its composition in response to Gluck’s setting of the same libretto in 1777) is cream of the crop this month, with Berta Joncus describing it as ‘a solid-gold performance and an eighteenth-century opera revival to remember’.

The Opera Choice is our recent Recording of the Week Anima Rara, with Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho paying homage to the original Madama Butterfly Rosina Storchio – read our exclusive interview with Jaho about the project here.

Recording of the Month

Katherine Watson (soprano), Véronique Gens (soprano), Chantal Santon Jeffrey (soprano), Philippe-Nicolas Martin, Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor), Zachary Wilder (tenor), Tassis Christoyannis (bass); Le Concert Spirituel, Hervé Niquet

'Gens delivers a career-defining performance as Armide…Her sexy, dark-hued instrument, blistering line and dramatic intensity project a woman both commanding and vulnerable…Niquet is also enchanting…For the calibre of its performances as much as for its originality and careful reconstruction, this Armide is among the most brilliant opera projects of recent years.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, François-Xavier Roth

'There’s a luminous clarity about the sound, but it’s never thin…Roth’s phrasing is generous but always directed with an ear to the larger shape of things, and his rhythmic articulation manages to be light and muscular at the same time…How wonderful, too, hear such a gripping, thoroughly convinced-sounding rendition of the original version of No. 4. '

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

Concerto Choice

Triin Ruubel (violin), Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

'She’s a top-notch violinist, and the fact that she spends much of her time as leader of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra means some ideal fine tuning with her fellow players, in a naturally balanced sound, for what amounts to a symphony-concerto…The playing from all concerned has the electricity of a live performance.'

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Chamber Choice

Ground Floor, Alice Julien-Laferrière (violin)

'The musical world of Restoration England is brought vividly to life by the charismatic and joyful pairing of violinist Alice Julien-Laferrière and the ensemble Ground Floor…They’re highly responsive to the music’s vacillating emotions, and evoke a colourful soundscape where mirth certainly triumphs over melancholy…This disc will warm the spirits with Italianate sun in an English clime.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Lang Lang (piano)

'Listening first to the studio version, I was impressed by the immaculate playing, and by the fact that Lang Lang wears his heart on his sleeve throughout…The two halves of this album complement each other, yet they are almost exactly the same length. Such is the integrity of Lang Lang’s interpretation: he has deeply pondered every bar, and his edifice is rock-firm.'

Available Formats: 4 CDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Choral & Song Choice

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano), Alexandre Tharaud (piano)

'Devieilhe has the ideal voice for the Ariettes oubliées, with a creamily dreamy opening to ‘C’est l’extase’. Her iridescent clarity is to the fore throughout…Changes of register, notably Devieilhe’s hushed leap towards the end of Debussy’s ‘Apparition’, are seemingly effortless, matched by Alexandre Tharaud’s ever-nuanced, passionately intelligent pianism…a deeply rewarding recital guaranteed to melt the heart.'

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

Opera Choice

Ermonela Jaho (soprano), Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Andrea Battistoni

'This eagerly-awaited recording will delight all fans of the charismatic Albanian soprano…The way she sings them, they all radiate soul…Jaho turns every aria into a commanding performance, with a fine-spun tone which ranges from being light and translucent to packing luxurious power.'

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

Jazz Choice

Brad Mehldau (piano)

'Very few jazz composers have that peculiar talent for writing successful miniatures at the best of time, but Mehldau not only succeeds with these 15 pianistic snapshots but does so in a way that is perfectly evocative of their subject matter and circumstances…The recorded sound is occasionally slightly clangorous, but not enough to matter. Overall, utterly extraordinary.'

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

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