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 Gramophone Choices, Gramophone Editor's Choices - January 2022

GramophoneJanuary2022Lise Davidsen and Leif Ove Andsnes's all-Grieg recital on Decca (released last Friday and featuring Haugtussa and the Five Songs by Otto Benzon) is the leader of the pack this month, with Hugo Shirley praising the Norwegian soprano's 'rare rich beauty and steely strength and grandeur' as well as her compatriot's 'supremely refined and sensitive playing; you can read our own full review of the album here.

Other recordings mentioned in despatches include Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta's eclectic duo album centring on masterpieces by Kodály and Ravel, American-Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan's ingenious Time Traveler’s Suite on Pentatone, and Christof Loy's elegant staging of Dvořák's Rusalka from Madrid, starring Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian in the title-role.

Recording of the Month

Lise Davidsen (soprano), Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

'In purely vocal terms, it's a stunning display of range and technical control...Andsnes’s role cannot be overestimated, either. His playing is supremely refined and sensitive…An outstanding release.'

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

Editor's Choices

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Lionel Cottet (cello), Jenny Daviet (soprano), Chor und Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Kent Nagano

'Considered as a pocket history of Messiaen’s large-scale writing, this set could hardly be improved upon...All five commercial recordings of La Transfiguration live up to the ambitions of the piece, but Nagano’s might be the finest yet.'

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

Trio Con Brio Copenhagen

'It feels as though everything adds up to a completely thought-through and deeply felt interpretation…In every way, then, this is an outstanding achievement, and I only hope the disc gets the acclaim it deserves.'

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

Ragazze Quartet

'Happily, I can suggest you raise a glass to this second volume which is, if anything, even finer than the first...For the Ragazze Quartet catching the mood is everything, more so than dotting Is and crossing Ts.'

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

Les Soloists de l'Orchestre de Paris

'The performances are impeccable, admirably understated, beautifully focused and balanced, and only showy on the rare occasions when the music really demands it.'

Available Format: 2 CDs

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin), Sol Gabetta (cello)

'The beauty of this programme – quite aside from the players’ crazed spontaneity – is that it revolves around two duo masterpieces: Ravel’s Sonata in A minor...and Zoltán Kodály’s Duo, Op. 7.'

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

Inon Barnatan (piano)

'Barnatan is palpably in his element [in the Barber], with a real clarity to his thinking and a whole range of colours and shadings…Barnatan is utterly at home in the midst of counterpoint. He’s beautifully recorded too. A winner!'

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

Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini

'You may find more richly dramatic accounts of the individual operas (scenes from which don’t quite hit the ground at full dramatic speed, vocally), but you’d struggle to name a more beguiling whole of its kind.'

Available Format: CD

Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo), Maxim Vengerov (violin), Kammerorchester Basel, Muhai Tang

'By 2013 Bartoli’s middle register had grown darker and more opaque. But her dramatic flair, her unerring gift of locating the music’s nerve ends, are as vivid as ever.'

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

Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Paul Sharp (trumpet), Christine Rice (mezzo), Roger Montgomery (horn), Joe Walters (horn), Lucy Crowe (soprano), Leo Duarte (oboe), Thomas Gould (violin), Joe Qiu (bassoon), La Nuova Musica, David Bates

'Virtually every number is a Handelian winner, the performances could hardly be bettered, and Pentatone’s a model of its kind.'

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

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

Asmik Grigorian (Rusalka), Eric Cutler (The Prince), Maxim Kuzmin-Karavaev (Vodník), Katarina Dalayman (Ježibaba), Karita Mattila (The Foreign Princess); Teatro Real, Ivor Bolton, Christof Loy

'Loy’s concept works well and the stylish production values make this one of the most successful Rusalkas on film…Central to the success of Loy’s production is Asmik Grigorian’s outstanding, passionate Rusalka.'

Also available on Blu-ray.

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Reissue/Archive Issue of the Month

Jessye Norman (soprano), Agnes Baltsa (alto), Jose Carreras (tenor), Yevgeny Nesterenko (bass); Chor und Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Riccardo Muti

'All in all, here’s an all-enveloping performance of this great work that demands to be heard. Highly recommended.'

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