Nouveaux CDs de Musique Classique

This week, a French flavour!

ClassicalrecentOctb1Leçons de Ténèbres, Couperin. Performed by La Nuova Musica.
“Music for Holy Week. François Couperin served as harpsichordist to Louis XIV and was famed for reforming elegant chamber music of the French court in the more impassioned Italian style of the time. For his Leçons de Ténèbres, a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, ‘Couperin le Grand’ fused devotional expression with a dramatic performing style embodied here by sopranos Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts. Two trio sonatas and a Stabat Mater by Sébastien de Brossard round out this luminous programme.” (cover)

ClassicalrecentOctb2Roméo et Juliette, Berlioz. Performed by the BBC Singers and Symphony Orchestra.
“…the BBC SO and its Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by offering as you have never heard them: the third symphony, Roméo et Juliette, and excerpts from his largest opera, Les Troyens; a ‘magical revelation… that wrought shivers’ (Bachtrack), in which ‘one could feel the instant rightness of the sonorous imagery Berlioz devises’ (The Sunday Times). The London Symphony Orchestra also recently produced a recording of this work: listen to both and compare!

ClassicalrecentOctb3A Fauré Recital, Volume 1: Après un Rêve. Performed by Louis Lortie.
“This album, the first in the series, travels through Fauré’s various creative periods, from easily appealing early pieces such as the Pavane and the mélodie ‘Après un rêve’ to the late and unjustly neglected Préludes, a masterpiece of condensed harmonic and melodic audacity.” (

Four new classical CDs

This week, in Steve Reich’s 80th year, we introduce a recording of two of his recent works (plus some older classics).

ClassicalrecentOcta1Double Sextet / Radio Rewrite, Steve Reich. Performed by Ensemble Signal.
“Following their internationally acclaimed recording of Steve Reich’s 1974-1976 masterpiece Music for 18 Musicians, Ensemble Signal and Brad Lubman present two recent pieces by the composer: Double Sextet from 2007 and Radio Rewrite from 2012 – strong, tuneful, energetic, tightly made works” (Cover).

ClassicalrecentOcta2Piano Concertos K. 413, 414, 415, Mozart. Performed by Kristian Bezuidenhout and the Freiburger Barockorchester .
“In January 1783 Mozart advertised in the Wiener Zeitung, ‘the publication of three new, recently completed piano concertos’, which could even be played with quartet accompaniment – thus enabling him to reach a wider public. In similar vein, he told his father that they were ‘very brilliant and pleasing to the ear… Here and there only connoisseurs will derive satisfaction from them – yet in such a way that the non-connoisseur will also be pleased, without knowing why.’ It’s a fair bet that these dazzling performances by Kristian Bezuidenhout and the Freiburger Barockorchester will meet with the same unanimous approval!” (Cover).

ClassicalrecentOcta3Homages. Performed by Benjamin Grosvenor.
“In this new recording Benjmain [Grosvenor] explores works by great composers paying tribute to their predecessors. Amongst these works, Mendelssohn looks back to the Prelude & Fugue form made so popular by Bach; and Franck does likewise (adding a Chorale as a central section to his work). Busoni takes Bach’s great solo violin Chaconne, presenting it in a bold and imaginative transcription for piano; Chopin breathes new life in to the traditional Barcarolle of Venetian gondoliers, followed ten years later by Lizst’s tribute to Italian folksong, Venezia e Napoli” (

ClassicalrecentOcta4Concertos & Cantata, Ihr Völker Hört, Telemann. Performed by Florilegium.
“In 2016, Florilegium celebrates 25 years of performances and recordings. The group made their concert début in July of 1991 and are now one of Britain’s leading period ensembles. This program of Telemann concertos offers listeners the same enthusiasm and excitement for baroque and classical music that have defined Florilegium since the beginning. The recording also features the Cantata Ihr Völker Hört with mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson. To commemorate the group’s 25th Anniversary, Channel Classics has included a bonus compilation disc featuring a selection of spectacular recordings from Floreligium’s catalog” (

Coming soon: Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, symphonies by Bruckner and Mahler produced under Münchner Philharmoniker’s new label, and a compilation of arias from some of Rossini’s trouser roles sung by countertenor Franco Fagioli.

New Classical Picks

This week we introduce new drama to the collection, some more literal, some figurative.

ClassicalrecentSep16b1Shakespeare Songs. Performed by Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano.
“In a pairing of true vocal scholars, renowned tenor Ian Bostridge and eminent conductor-pianist Antonio Pappano unite to celebrate the Bard’s 400th anniversary year, offering a diverse selection of some of the best known and most attractive musical settings of Shakespeare texts composed in the four centuries since his death. From the music of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, with delicate lute accompaniment, to the modern genius of Stravinsky’s cycle for voice and chamber ensemble, each song is remarkable for the sensitivity with which the composer has approached the subtle nuances of the words, their shades of meanings and their delicacy of metrical rhythm” (cover).

ClassicalrecentSep16b2Transcendental Etudes, Liszt. Performed by Kirill Gerstein.
“Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes are a quintessential distillation of the mid-19th century romantic project: they’re like sounding images of romanticism’s nervous system, its otherworldly experiences, and its transcendence” (cover). The programme notes include an interview with the pianist, giving further insight into the nuances of the compositions and their performance challenges. (According to he describes the work as “one of the most towering mountain peaks of the piano literature”.)

ClassicalrecentSep16b3Verismo. Performed by Anna Netrebko.
Performed by Netrebko with the orchestra and choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, with Antonio Pappano (again! This time as conductor). This is a compilation of post-Romantic Italian opera arias performed in the verismo tradition, focusing on real-life characters rather than the mythical. Puccini provides the lion’s share of the disc, which also features composers such as Cilea, Giordano, and Leoncavallo.

Coming soon: an influx of French music (well, two new discs!); Couperin, Leçons de Ténèbres and Faure, Après un rêve.