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New Release Round-up, New Release Round-Up - 9th February 2024

Laws of Solitude, Puccini Symphonic Suites, Lost Majesty, Ravel - Berkeley - PoundsToday's new releases include Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder (in orchestral and piano versions) from Asmik Grigorian on Alpha, symphonic suites on Puccini's Tosca and Madama Butterfly from Carlo Rizzi & Welsh National Opera Orchestra on Signum, sacred music by seventeenth-century English composer George Jeffreys from Solomon's Knot on Prospero, and Ravel, Berkeley & Pounds from John Wilson & Sinfonia of London on Chandos.

The three composers featured on this album are interconnected: Lennox Berkeley acted as interpreter and tour-guide to Ravel when the older composer visited London in the 1920s, and also taught British composer and conductor Adam Pounds (b.1954) in the 1970s. Ravel is represented by Le tombeau de Couperin, Berkeley by the 1942 Divertimento (composed after he had taken Ravel's advice to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris), and Pounds by his Symphony No. 3 - which was written during the 2020/21 lockdowns and is dedicated to Sinfonia of London and Wilson.

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

Asmik Grigorian (soprano), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Mikko Franck, Markus Hinterhauser (piano)

Two years on from her multi-awarding-winning recital of Rachmaninoff songs on Alpha, the Lithuanian soprano turns to Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder, which she associates with the idea of solitude. She performs the songs first with orchestra, then in arrangements for voice and piano by Max Wolff and John Gribben - her partner here is Markus Hinterhäuser, director of the Salzburg Festival (where Grigorian has appeared to great acclaim as Strauss's Salome and Chrysothemis in recent years).

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

Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Carlo Rizzi

Inspired by his experience of conducting the orchestral suite from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Rizzi spent much of his time during the 2020/2021 lockdowns crafting similar suites on material from Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Tosca. Reviewing the live premiere of the latter suite (which took place as a curtain-raiser to Leoncavallo's Zingari two years ago), The Arts Desk's David Nice observed that 'Too often Puccini as one of the great orchestrators passes people by in the opera house, but you couldn’t ignore the skill and kaleidoscopic variety here.'

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

Born in around 1610, the ardent Royalist and Italophile George Jeffreys spent the early part of the English Civil War as organist to Charles I when his court was based in Oxford. Recorded at Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire (where Jeffreys was employed as steward to the Hatton family for much of his life), the album includes world premieres of The Lord in thy adversity, What praise can reach thy clemency, Awake my soul and Great and marvellous are thy works.

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

Kirill Gerstein (piano), Berliner Philharmoniker, Kirill Petrenko

Following their recording of the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Gerstein at the end of last year, the Berliner Philharmoniker continues its Rachmaninoff 150 project with Symphony No. 2, The Isle of the Dead and the Symphonic Dances; the Piano Concerto, which was originally issued with the Variations on a Theme of Corelli and shorter solo piano works, is included again on this hard-cover deluxe edition.

Available Format: 2 CDs + Blu-ray

Jack Liebeck (violin), Andrew Staples (tenor, Thomas Carroll (cello), London Choral Sinfonia, Michael Waldron

The two major works on this programme are the Violin Concerto 'Accademico' and the cantata In Windsor Forest (adapted by the composer from the opera Sir John in Love). The album also includes A Song of Thanksgiving: Land of Our Birth, Nothing is here for tears (an elegy for George V), Owain Park's new orchestration of 'Silent Noon' for string orchestra, and Vaughan Williams's own transcriptions of Bach's Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele and Wir glauben all an einen Gott.

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

Neave Trio

Five years on from Her Voice (which featured music by Amy Beach, Louise Farrenc & Rebecca Clarke and was one of The New York Times's Recordings of the Year), the Neaves return with another programme of works by female composers, comprising Lili Boulanger's D'un matin de printemps and D'un soir triste, piano trios by Cécile Chaminade and Ethel Smyth (both composed in 1880), and Germaine Tailleferre’s Piano Trio. Tailleferre composed the original, three-movement version of the work in 1916/17 but replaced the original second movement and added a fourth in her 80s, and it is this later incarnation which is featured on the album.

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

Alena Baeva (violin), Vadym Kholodenko (piano)

The couple's first recording on Alpha comprises Schubert's Fantasie in C major D934, Samuel Dushkin's arrangement of Stravinsky's Le Baiser de la fée, Schumann's Märchenbilder, and Messiaen's Fantaisie (written for his first wife Claire Delbos, but published only in 2007). A pupil of Shlomo Mintz and Mstislav Rostropovich, Baeva won the Grand Prize at the Henryk Wieniawski International Competition in 2001; her husband Kholodenko took the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013.

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

Can Çakmur (piano)

After a first volume which explored the connections between Schubert and Schoenberg, the Turkish pianist continues his Schubert + project with a programme including the posthumously-published Four Impromptus D935 and Drei Klavierstücke D946; as Brahms was the first editor of the latter set of pieces, they are complemented here by his Vier Klavierstücke Op. 119

Read our recent interview with Can about the project.

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

Tiffany Poon (piano)

The Hong Kong-born American pianist and vlogger makes her debut on Pentatone with an all-Schumann programme comprising Kinderszenen, the Arabeske and Davidsbündlertänze. Reviewing her performance of the latter work in December 2021, Washington Classical Review enthused that 'Poon’s range of soft touch amazed, with the music-box tune of the fourteenth movement or the distant sounds of the seventeenth movement heard as if through an obscuring veil.'.

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

Andreas Staier (harpsichord)

This is the first instalment of a new series in which the German fortepianist, harpsichordist and composer will present his own music alongside earlier models which inspired him: the mainstay of the album is his Anklänge: Six Pieces for Harpsichord, which grew out of conversations about 'what it means to compose in our time, and in particular what it implies to compose for historical instruments'. The programme also includes shorter works by Fux, Fischer, Louis Couperin, Froberger and JS Bach.

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

Sharon Carty (mezzo), Benjamin Russell (baritone), Finghin Collins (piano)

The title-work here is a 1910 song-cycle setting poems by Ulster-Scots poet John Stevenson (aka 'Pat McCarty') which seek to counter some of the stereotypical depictions of rural Irishmen as portrayed by English writers; Stanford's music draws on Wagner's Die Walküre as well as Irish folk-song. The album also includes the three Blarney Ballads, A Sheaf of Songs from Leinster, A Fire of Turf, and three songs from the 1895 opera Shamus O'Brien.

A complete recording of Shamus O'Brien is due for release on Retrospect Opera on 8th March.

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

Reinoud Van Mechelen (Céphale/Nerée/director), Ema Nikolovska (L'Aurore), Deborah Cachet (Procris), Marc Mauillon (La Jalousie); A Nocte Temporis, Chœur de Chambre de Namur

Premiered in Paris in 1694, Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre's tragédie en musique sets an episode from Ovid's Metamorphoses and (like many of Lully's operas) opens with a chorus praising King Louis XIV. Its initial short shelf-life has been attributed to the King's waning interest in opera as well as to the convoluted libretto, although the work has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years - this recording was made live at Versailles last January.

Available Format: 2 CDs

Marie Perbost (Lucile/Zaïre/Isménide/Florise), Florie Valiquette (God of Love/Zamide/A Sylph), Anna Reinhold (Main Nymph/Pircaride); Ensemble Il Caravaggio, Choeur de l'Opera Royal, Camille Delaforge

Following in the footsteps of Jacquet de la Guerre, Mlle Duval was a French composer, dancer and harpsichordist who became the second woman to have an opera performed at the Académie Royale de Musique. Staged nine times in 1736, Les Génies ou les Caractères de l'Amour tells four separate love-stories centring on the four elements: Water ('Les Nymphes'), Air ('Les Sylphes'), Earth ('Les Gnomes') and Fire ('Les Salamandres').

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