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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - July 2021 Choices

BBC Music Magazine July 2021Cream of the crop in this month's issue is what reviewer Berta Joncus describes as 'the best ever recording of Rodelinda' from Harry Bicket and The English Concert, made under socially-distanced conditions at St John's Smith Square last September and starring Lucy Crowe in the title-role, with Iestyn Davies as her missing-presumed-dead husband Bertarido; you can read our full review of the recording here, and do stayed tuned for our forthcoming interview with Bicket about his long-standing relationship with the opera and the challenges of recording it whilst abiding by COVID regulations.

Category choices include the young British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso's debut album on Decca, Alina Ibragimova's 'cherishable' Paganini Caprices on Hyperion, and Vasily Petrenko's swansong recording as Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring music by Zemlinsky and Schreker.

Recording of the Month

Lucy Crowe (Rodelinda), Iestyn Davies (Bertarido), Joshua Ellicott (Grimoaldo), Brandon Cedel (Garibaldo), Jess Dandy (Eduige), Tim Mead (Unulfo); The English Concert, Harry Bicket

'Bicket’s artistic integrity makes his the definitive Rodelinda. His subtlety pays off especially in slow movements, which are more suspenseful and ravishing than in any previous recording...Crowe’s laments alone make this a must-have recording, but her steely bravura is equally gobsmacking.'

Available Formats: 3 CDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Orchestral Choice

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko

'This warmly recorded version not only goes to the top of the tree as the most satisfying account of Zemlinsky’s score in the current catalogue, but also trumps its closest rivals in offering the most apposite and brilliantly performed coupling of Franz Schreker’s colourful ballet score Der Geburtstag der Infantin.'

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

Concerto Choice

Matyáš Novák (piano), Wihan Quartet

'The Wihan Quartet’s collective sound has a rounded fullness and mellow, tawny-brown colouring which, besides being handsome in itself, also means that they never have to force any kind of would-be orchestral effect. And on this form, Matyá Novák is yet another of today’s wonderful vintage of young pianists.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Opera Choice

Freddie De Tommaso (tenor), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Renato Balsadonna

'Listen to Freddie De Tommaso at full throttle and you’ll need to lie down in a darkened room. Passione is singing in the tradition of De Tommaso’s hero Franco Corelli: stylish and heartfelt, spinning gold out of the simplest of popular Italian songs...He has an unerring instinct for drama and for when to lead and when to lean into the melody.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

'The real beauty of these readings...is the singers’ poetic nuancing of the texts, which they articulate with glassy clarity. The members of Fretwork play with characteristic grace, weaving gossamer textures around the voices. In sum, the performances, masterminded by scholar and director David Skinner, are a delight from start to finish.'

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

Chamber Choice

Ensemble Diderot, Johannes Pramsohler

'Ensemble Diderot’s invigorating approach has considerable appeal...Among the musical highlights is a sonata by Austrian Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Best known for his string writing, his music is generously seasoned with local colour from the folk traditions of central and eastern Europe.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Alina Ibragimova (violin)

'Ibragimova imbues each caprice with its own unique musical personality and expressive narrative, with the result that all those thousands of notes emerge with an emotional rather than merely technical imperative...she goes behind the notes to reveal a composer fully in touch with, and in many cases innovating, the spectral extravagances of the era...Inimitable, unforgettable and cherishable.'

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

World Choice

'These luminous reworkings of 15 songs he discovered or wrote, by San Francisco’s most adventurous string quartet, underline the fact that their relevance lives on well after his life ended...His championing of grassroots activism and the collective power of how many small voices can effect change, and fight the unwelcome changes that irresponsibly wield power and capital, remains very reassuring and inspiring.'

Available Format: CD

Jazz Choice

Amaro Freitas

'Though highly rhythmic, the pianist’s dappled, sometimes startling sound has glimpses of Art Tatum’s stride jazz and even the impressionism of Erik Satie...Brazilian music is legendarily diverse, coming out of African, European and indigenous influences. And with Amaro Freitas, it’s a melting pot that just keeps on giving.'

Available Format: CD