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 Gramophone Choices, Gramophone Editor's Choices - April 2021

Gramophone April 2021Steven Osborne and Paul Lewis’s ravishing recital of French piano duets on Hyperion occupies pride of place this month, with reviewer Harriet Smith stunned by their ‘irresistible combination of imagination and refined pianism’ in works including Fauré’s Dolly Suite, Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye, Debussy’s Six épigraphes antiques and Petite Suite, and Poulenc’s youthful Sonata for Four Hands; the album was our best-selling title for March, and you can read our full review here.

Editor's Choices include Lise Davidsen's impassioned account of Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder (pus arias by Beethoven, Verdi, Mascagni and Cherubini) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder, Beethoven's Triple Concerto from Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov on Harmonia Mundi, and the world premiere recording of John Eccles's Semele, which David discussed with conductor Julian Perkins last month.

Recording of the Month

Steven Osborne (piano), Paul Lewis (piano)

'This offers not only the perfect escape from our current locked-down state but also the most sublime example of peerless pianism.'

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

Editor's Choices

Renaud Capuçon (violin), Stephen Hough (piano), London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

'Capuçon’s interpretation is undoubtedly an exceptional one in its affection and sympathy for the long, plangent lines of Elgar’s score; it is also a reading intensified by the empathetic support and élan of Rattle and the LSO.'

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

Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Alexander Melnikov (piano), Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado

'It almost seems that social distancing brought them closer together, such is the relish, spontaneity and inventiveness of the playing.'

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

Anna Lucia Richter (mezzo), Bamberger Symphoniker, Jakub Hrůša

'Taut, refreshing, often inspired, never bland. Such music-making confirms Hrůša as among the very finest Mahler conductors of the younger generation.'

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

Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Mario Caroli (flute), Thurídur Jónsdóttir (tape), Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Daníel Bjarnason

'It’s easy to conclude that no country on earth has reinvented the language of the symphony orchestra on such distinctive and locally relevant terms as this one.'

Available Formats: Blu-ray + CD, MP3, FLAC

Danny Driver (piano)

'In essence, Driver’s Ligeti Études complement rather than compete with Aimard and Ullén, and that’s high praise.'

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

Zlata Chochieva (piano)

'Right from the first note, you realise Chochieva has not just drifted into the studio on a whim or simply to fulfil a contract. This is music-making of real purpose and conviction.'

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

Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew

'Fully integrated with the musical line, the singers avoid melodrama through intimate, small gestures as if acting for screen, not stage.'

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

Anna Dennis (Semele), Richard Burkhard (Jupiter), Helen Charlston (Juno), Aoife Miskelly (Ino), William Wallace (Athamas), Héloïse Bernard (Iris); Academy of Ancient Music, Julian Perkins

'Pacing, not least in the expressive recitatives, is fluid and natural, the playing of the AAM strings tingles with theatrical life and the young cast is uniformly fine.'

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

Lise Davidsen (soprano), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Mark Elder

'Another fine album from an artist who, quite simply, is one of the greatest voices to be heard today.'

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

Roberto De Candia (Pietro Il Grande), Loriana Castellano (Caterina), Paola Gradina (Madama Fritz), Nina Solodovnikova (Annetta Mazepa); Orchestra Gli Originali, Coro Donizetti, Rinaldo Alessandrini

'Conducting, playing and choral singing are all terrific, sweeping you through the opera with their infectious precision and energy.'

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Roberto De Candia (Pietro Il Grande), Loriana Castellano (Caterina), Paola Gradina (Madama Fritz), Nina Solodovnikova (Annetta Mazepa); Orchestra Gli Originali, Coro Donizetti, Rinaldo Alessandrini

'Conducting, playing and choral singing are all terrific, sweeping you through the opera with their infectious precision and energy.'

Available Format: Blu-ray

Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, Djansug Kakhidze

'Let no one with the slightest interest in this giant among composers be dissuaded from buying these five discs, which constitute such a magnificent monument to his life and work.'

Available Format: CD