GRAMOPHONE Review: Legrand Concertos for Piano & Cello – Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Frank

I have long adored the songs and admired the talent of Michel Legrand, inflected as it is with a jazzer’s free-ranging melodies and oblique harmonies – but the devilish inventiveness of these concert pieces took even me by surprise. The fact is they don’t really sound like anyone else, and even if you were to [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Sibelius Symphonies 1 & 6 – BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Søndergård

The solo clarinet which stands on the threshold of Sibelius’ symphonic journey is quite simply the palest, chilliest, loneliest sound in the world. Thomas Søndergård has a nose for such things and his Sibelius – as we have already heard in the first release of the series coupling the Second and Seventh symphonies – is [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Das Lied von der Erde – Jonas Kaufmann Vienna Philharmonic/Nott

When you are as big a star as Jonas Kaufmann, when your instrument is fach-defying and your choices in terms of the repertoire seemingly boundless, you get to do pretty much what you want – including, it seems, re-conceiving Mahler’s seminal song-symphony for a single voice. It’s hard to know who thought this was a [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Elgar Symphony No. 1 / Introduction and Allegro – BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Doric Quartet/ Gardner

With each new disc that arrives, it becomes clearer and clearer that Edward Gardner is evolving into something really special. If I was permitted only one “library” choice for the works under scrutiny these would not be they – but they can and should be applauded for their lucidity and clarity and insightful honesty. There [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Bernstein Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 – Baltimore Symphony/Alsop

A disc of two halves, for sure: a somewhat sober “Jeremiah” and a scintillating “Age of Anxiety”. Perhaps there is simply no reply to Bernstein’s feverish intensity in both his recordings of the former; the latter, of course, has the poetic Jean-Yves Thibaudet as protagonist and he is very much a chip off the Bernstein … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Natalie Dessay – Pictures of America Paris Mozart Orchestra/Gibault

Anyone who has ever seen Natalie Dessay on the stage will know what an accomplished actress she is. It is that which has put flesh on her singing and enriched her operatic career. And now a new phase begins. There is talk of films, of straight acting roles – and maybe even adventures at the … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Tchaikovsky Symphonies 4, 5 & 6 – Arctic Philharmonic/Lindberg

In a forward to the liner notes for this new BIS release superstar trombonist and composer turned conductor Christian Lindberg writes of his childhood obsession with the Tchaikovsky symphonies and in particular his fascination with the disparity of tempi revealed in different interpretations. His return to the composer’s metronome markings would, he says, probably mark … [Read More]

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly, Barbican

MA5_8872There’s an old conductor’s adage which suggests that the only way safe to start Strauss’ Don Juan is to start before the applause has died – that way no one hears any imperfections in the upward rush of strings. Remembering those words made me smile as Riccardo Chailly and his magnificent Leipzig orchestra leapt as … [Read More]

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall

Jurowski - Festival HallMahler’s supersonic Seventh – a grand experiment in sensory colouration if ever there was one – needs no special pleading: it is what it is, a one-off, an oddity, a new departure of no fixed destination. But how different and how much more subtle and individual it sounds through the ears and fine sensibilities of … [Read More]

Philadelphia Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall

Philadelphia Orchestra Nézet-SéguinThe venerable and venerated Philadelphia Orchestra swept into London bearing gifts and mixed messages from Nico Muhly. Actually that was the title of his crowd-pleasing opener for the orchestra – Mixed Messages (UK Premiere) – and for a moment or two the confusion implicit in the title might have extended to the identity of the … [Read More]

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