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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - December 2021 Choices

BBC Music Magazine December 2021A fine new period-instrument account of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale from Isabelle Faust and friends on Harmonia Mundi is pick of the crop this month, with the German violinist and her regular duo partner Alexander Melnikov also impressing reviewer David Nice with their 'mercurial and mysterious' performance of the same composer's Duo Concertant from 1932. (In case you missed it earlier, you can read David Smith's full review of the recording here).

Other picks from the December issue include the final instalment of Martin Helmchen and Frank Peter Zimmermann's cycle of the Beethoven violin sonatas on BIS, Igor Levit's 'unforgettable' accounts of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes & Fugues and Ronald Stevenson's mammoth On DSCH on Sony, and Lully’s Atys (conducted by William Christie and starring Bernard Richter, Stéphanie d'Oustrac and Emmanuele De Negri), filmed at the Opéra Comique in 2011 and released in September on Naxos.

Recording of the Month

Isabelle Faust (violin), Dominique Horwitz (narrator), Alexander Melnikov (piano)

'It’s rounded, intensely vocal, intimate, incredibly sophisticated – not the usual, but very welcome, as if the whole thing were an ethereal fairytale...It’s your choice which language version you invest in, but don’t miss the musical wonders.'

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

Isabelle Faust (violin), Dominique Horwitz (narrator), Alexander Melnikov (piano)

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

Isabelle Faust (violin), Dominique Horwitz (narrator), Alexander Melnikov (piano)

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

Orchestral Choice

Astrig Siranossian (cello), Philharmonie Südwestfalen, Nabil Shehata

'A fine, flowing account, recorded with just enough resiny grit and grain in the soloist’s sound...Siranossian plays with lyricism and passion, as well as with a rapt inward quality at the first movement’s end...altogether a delightful album, one which may both serve as a fine introduction to Saint-Saëns and restore faith in his unpretentious art.'

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

Concerto Choice

Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), DSO Berlin, Alexandre Bloch

'Müller-Schott has the technique to project the disc’s multitude of moods and to move seamlessly from virtuosity to sensuousness and back again...The Saint-Saëns Concerto is a joy from start to finish, even the most fiendish moments being delivered with aplomb.'

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

Chamber Choice

Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Martin Helmchen (piano)

'Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen are an outstanding team, whose latest release brings their three-disc survey to an uplifting conclusion...Finest of all is the reading of the elusive Op. 96 Sonata that allows the music to dream a little, capturing to perfection the composer’s often undervalued lyrical muse in all its captivating sincerity.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Igor Levit (piano)

'The first surprise of this album – which you will absolutely want to hear – is the subtlety and intimacy of Levit’s playing...Only a handful of pianists have scaled the heights of Stevenson’s tour de force. Levit does so in unforgettable style.'

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

Opera Choice

Bernard Richter (Atys), Stéphanie d'Oustrac (Cybele), Emmanuele De Negri (Sangaride), Nicolas Rivenq (Célénus), Marc Mauillon (Idas), Sophie Daneman (Doris), Jaël Azzaretti (Mélisse), Paul Agnew (Dieu du Sommeil), Cyril Auvity (Morphée), Bernard Deletre (Le Temps/Le Fleuve Sangar), Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

'These excellent singer-actors tread a fine line between sincerity and send-up...Les Arts Florissants excel themselves. The sumptuous realm of le roi soleil is here brilliantly evoked.'

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Bernard Richter (Atys), Stéphanie d'Oustrac (Cybele), Emmanuele De Negri (Sangaride), Nicolas Rivenq (Célénus), Marc Mauillon (Idas), Sophie Daneman (Doris), Jaël Azzaretti (Mélisse), Paul Agnew (Dieu du Sommeil), Cyril Auvity (Morphée), Bernard Deletre (Le Temps/Le Fleuve Sangar), Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

Picture format: HD 16:9

Sound format: PCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Available Format: Blu-ray

Choral & Song Choice

Joanne Lunn (soprano), Katie Bray (mezzo), Hugo Hymas (tenor), Robert Davies, Matthew Brook (basses); The Dunedin Consort, John Butt

'As with all their releases, John Butt and the Dunedins approach the scores from a scholarly angle (Butt’s approachable notes guide us through various musical and liturgical considerations) but it’s the heart rather than the head that informs their music-making.'

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

Screen Choice

A Collection of Italian Horror Sounds From the Cam Sugar Archives

'This collection of rarities takes in themes and tunes from the 1970s and early ’80s, a rich period of unique, visceral and downright absurd films...The sound is very much of its time, and all the more brilliant for it. There is no small amount of camp here, from eerie wordless lullabies to hypnotic electro riffs. It’s a lot of fun.'

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

Jazz Choice

'This has to be pick of-the-month for historical interest alone, but for those of us who admire the passion and abandonment of late-period Coltrane this is a gift. Hardly a comfortable ‘listen’, but the passionate intensity feels therapeutically cathartic in these anxious times.'

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

Vinyl Edition

Available Format: 2 Vinyl Records