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BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - August 2024 Choices

BBC Music Magazine August 2024 edition; cover-star: Harry Christophers 'Passionate, committed' accounts of Brahms's String Quintets from the Gringolts Quartet and violist Lilli Maijala (released on BIS in June) take the palm in this month's issue, with Jessica Duchen applauding the ensemble's 'multifaceted, technicolour playing' and noting that 'their wealth of expression is further enhanced by the superb, warm and clear recorded sound'.

Category Choices include a collection of 'characterful' orchestral works by Eleanor Alberga on Resonus, a 'scrupulously observed' live recording of Meyerbeer's grand opera Le Prophète from Mark Elder and the London Symphony Orchestra (with John Osborn in the title-role and Elizabeth De Shong as his mother Fidès), and Irish tenor Robin Tritschler's tribute to Peter Pears on Signum, which he discussed with us in depth last month.

Recording of the Month

Gringolts Quartet, Lilli Maijala (viola)

'There’s a wealth of characterisation within this richly unified, bronze-dark ensemble. A deep-dug, chunky tone, often quite rugged, is offset by moments of intense sweetness, as well as great delicacy and refinement.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Castalian String Quartet, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Kemp

'The BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Thomas Kemp give a meticulous and colourful performance...Echoes of Bartók ’s nature music give [Strata] rustling, flurrying energy; a love of Stravinsky surely shapes how Alberga handles tension. Like both composers, she always finds moments for the music to dance.'

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

Concerto Choice

Christian Poltéra (cello), Juho Pohjonen (piano), Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Anja Bihlmaier

'His 1711 ‘Mara’ Stradivari positively glows with honeyed tones, and is particularly winning in the high register lyrical melodies...The Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Anja Bihlmaier are particularly brilliant partners, bringing incisive texturing and purposeful voice leading to the orchestral part.'

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

Opera Choice

John Osborn (Jean de Leyde), Elizabeth DeShong (Fidès), Mané Galoyan (Berthe), Edwin Crossley-Mercer (Count Oberthal); London Symphony Orchestra, Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, Maîtrise des Bouches-du-Rhône, Lyon Opera Chorus, Sir Mark Elder

'Elder and the LSO bring unerring musical conviction to a performance recorded at the Aix Festival in 2023...Elizabeth De Shong's Fidès, the Prophet's abandoned mother, is something else...This is a voice that without the libretto’s promise of high explosives could destroy Münster Palace in the final scene singlehandedly!'

Available Formats: 3 SACDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

Choral & Song Choice

Robin Tritschler (tenor), Philip Higham (cello), Malcolm Martineau (piano), Sean Shibe (guitar)

'Tritschler has none of Pears’s uptight characteristics and never sounds like a parody...Pears may be the inspiration for these songs, but with this collection Tritschler and his three superb collaborators have renewed and reinforced their enduring expressive power and impact.'

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

Chamber Choice

Pacifica Quartet, Uniting Voices and Josephine Lee

'Affectionately and adroitly played, theirs is a very impressive performance [of Dvořák's 'American' Quartet] indeed, with buoyantly-sprung rhythms underscoring the folkish elements of this much oversubscribed work to the degree that virtually every bar sounds freshly minted.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Yuja Wang (piano)

'This is an achievement on a pretty spectacular new level, and the range of musical sensibility she demonstrates here is vast...her rhythmic sense [in the Ligeti] keeps the music aloft and totally compelling, turning this into a scary five-minute masterpiece of virtuosity.'

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