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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - January 2022 Choices

BBC Music January 2022First among equals in the latest issue is the debut recording of the London-based Eusebius Quartet, which features Korngold's Piano Quintet (with guest artist Alasdair Beatson), the suite of incidental music from Much Ado About Nothing, and the String Quartet No. 2; reviewer Jessica Duchen observes that 'the musicians seem to feel the music just as it is, complex on the surface but direct and straight from the heart'.

Also featured are French soprano Sabine Devieilhe's programme of sacred and secular Bach and Handel with her husband Raphaël Pichon and his ensemble Pygmalion (which was also Recording of the Month in the December edition of Gramophone), Italian-Dutch pianist Saskia Giorgini's traversal of Liszt's 'expansive spiritual landscapes' in the Harmonies poétiques et religieuses on Pentatone, and Marc Minkowski's all-star studio recording of Mozart's early opera Mitridate, re di Ponto with Michael Spyres in the title-role, Devieilhe as Ismène, Julie Fuchs as Aspasia, and Elsa Dreisig as Sifare.

Recording of the Month

Eusebius Quartet, Alasdair Beatson (piano)

'Sometimes it’s hard, listening to the Eusebius here, to believe that there are only four musicians playing...from their full-blooded yet flexible tone to their intelligent handling of the ebb and flow, they offer a joyous feast of Korngold at his finest.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Ádám Fischer

'Every aspect of this colossal symphony finds its proper expression in the latest instalment of Ádám Fischer’s hugely impressive Dusseldorf Mahler cycle – which is not to say it’s in any way a middle-of-the-road performance...The engineering is superlative.'

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

Concerto Choice

Timothy Jones (horn), Olivier Stankiewicz (oboe), Andrew Marriner (clarinet), London Symphony Orchestra, Jaime Martín

'You would expect the principal woodwind players of a team in the London Symphony Orchestra’s league to perform at stellar technical level. Even more striking, and highly appealing besides, is the musical spirit that’s in evidence here throughout, and which suits Mozart’s music to near perfection.'

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

Opera Choice

Michael Spyres (Mitridate), Julie Fuchs (Aspasia), Sabine Devieilhe (Ismène), Elsa Dreisig (Sifare), Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian (Farnace), Adriana Bignagni Lesca (Arbate), Cyrille Dubois (Marzio); Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski

'Julie Fuchs is one of the excitements of this recording...and so is Michael Spyres as Mitridate with a handsome account of the king’s opening number...Yet the hero here and throughout is the conductor Marc Minkowski with a crisp and considered account of this score. Frankly his Les Musiciens du Louvre make you forget when young Mozart is padding.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano), Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon

'A thoughtful assembly of music depicting affliction and repentance on the one hand and joy and desire on the other. The recording finds Sabine Devieilhe on sparkling form. Bach and Handel do not always sit comfortably together, so it is all the more rewarding when they do.'

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

Chamber Choice

'Both [Op. 44 quartets] have long first movements – genial in the D major, more plangent and yearning in the E minor - and it’s a measure of the performances that they capture these moods with precision and a wealth of detail in the colouring and phrasing of individual lines. This never detracts from the unity of purpose in the playing...All in splendid Chandos sound: a winner.'

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

Instrumental Choice

'Giorgini’s affinity with this reflective music is evident from the outset. Formidable technical ability is matched by the architectural sense, harmonic sensibility and coloristic range this sprawling music demands. Her shaping of climaxes demonstrates complete control of pace and dynamics, on a Bösendorfer which never sounds brash.'

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

Reissues Choice

'The Britten Quartet was a musical force of nature...Britten’s quartets are easy to admire, but are often played as though they are fascinating objets d’art rather than flesh-and-blood emotional utterances. This is where the Britten Quartet comes into its own with an unbeatable combination of sonic radiance and searing interpretative flair.'

Available Format: CD

Jazz Choice

Graham Collier, featuring Harry Beckett and Ed Speight

'Encompassing a range of moods and styles with a no-nonsense modernist tilt, this five-movement suite (Collier always worked best on a large canvas) draws some remarkable work from his soloists as it flows between energetic drive and abstract, almost capricious sections that nonetheless never lose sight of their own logic. Wonderful listening and an invaluable document.'

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