GRAMOPHONE: From Where I Sit – January 2018

Reviewing Daniele Gatti’s new recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony (see the December issue) I found myself questioning yet again how it is possible to keep this now familiar music sounding startling and fresh and at the very edge of possibility when great orchestras have the facility, the virtuosity, to make light of its super-challenging demands. … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Richard Rodney Bennett Orchestral Works Vol. 1 – BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Wilson

Richard Rodney Bennett wore his prodigious talent lightly – but he dispensed it generously. From hardcore Darmstadt beginnings to friendlier tonalities; from movies and TV to his passion for the American Songbook where his pianistic gifts shone so inventively. Was there anything he couldn’t say musically? No need to answer that – but rather to … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Symphony No. 4 – Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra/Fischer

Adam Fischer launched his Düsseldorf Mahler cycle with an accomplished and individual account of the nighthawkish Seventh Symphony. I commented at the time that his brother Ivan should be looking over his shoulder. More so now. This Fourth is even better. Its Wunderhorn playfulness offsets a knowing old-world charm where phrases turn on a sixpence … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Daniele Gatti

As Mahler symphonies have become better and better known over the years so too has the pressure grown on his interpreters to rekindle their “newness”, their ability to surprise and shock. I have nothing but the highest regard for Daniele Gatti and his magnificent Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, steeped as they are in a long and … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Heggie – It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s interesting – and revealing – that Pentatone has a designated “American Operas” series. It’s an acknowledgement, if you like, that there is something very particular, very recognisably “American”, about the USA’s contribution to the genre, something that separates them from the world of international contemporary opera. It’s in their traditions, their songs, and most … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Symphony No. 4 – Munich Philharmonic/Valery Gergiev

This is a trickiest of discs to write about – unremarkable performances often are. For the first few pages that’s how it felt: a sound tempo, fluent, elegant enough playing, but also a sense of a reading on “automatic pilot”. Even the well-mannered Viennese rubatos sound prescribed, applied more than they are felt. But now … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Dear Evan Hansen – Original Broadway Cast Recording/Pasek & Paul

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are perhaps best known as collaborators on the phenomenon that was La La Land and amongst other things an insidiously memorable little ditty called “City of Stars” (with composer Justin Hurwitz). But despite the best efforts of the media and a string of misinformed critics La La Land was in … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Semyon Bychkov

There is much here to build upon the promise of Bychkov’s Pathetique – the exceptional performance which launched this ongoing ‘Tchaikovsky Project’. There is, of course, the abiding warmth and humanity of the Czech Philharmonic where expressivity always trumps spectacle, where phrasing relates to sound in ear-catching ways and the reasons the notes are there … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Brahms Symphonies 1-4 Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons

In a personal liner note for this set Andris Nelsons celebrates the recorded legacy of Brahms in Boston referencing complete cycles from Leinsdorf and Haitink and recordings of individual symphonies under Koussevitzky, Munch and Ozawa. Only a conductor supremely confidant in his own identity would venture to do so, of course, and Nelsons is nothing … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Elgar The Dream of Gerontius – Soloists, Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim

There is probably no such thing as the perfect Gerontius. Every recording is flawed in some way. Even the classic (and glorious) Barbirolli has Kim Borg’s misshapen vowels to contend with. But the inspirational nature of the piece relies so much on temperament to carry it into the ascendency that perfection is probably not such [Read More]

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