Classical, April 2019

Petrushka; Jeux de Cartes
Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Mariinsky MAR0594 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

One of Gergiev's more memorable, pre-LSO appointment, recordings was the 1911 version of Petrushka (as here) with the Solti-founded World Orchestra for Peace [Philips]. By coincidence it was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre. In poster-paint vividness – and one of Jame Mallinson's last productions – this new version is full of character, in both the bustle of the Fairground and in the intimate scenes. Excellent trumpet solos in Scene 3 and a fine (uncredited) pianist. No real pathos at the end, but plenty of colour. Jeu de Cartes is a short ballet from 1937, with sly quotations from other composers. It's enjoyably done here. Informative booklet notes by Daniel Jaffé. CB


JS Bach
Partita No 4; Italian Concerto; Chaconne (arr. Busoni)
Federico Colli
Chandos CHAN 20079 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Federico Colli follows-up his Scarlatti Chandos debut [HFN Sep '18] with Bach, again adding a subjective booklet note – here, complementing analyses by musicologist Peter Wollny. Playing a Steinway D, Colli was recorded at Potton Hall. His Bach is utterly unlike that of modern-instrument purists like Schiff or Perahia and is as uniquely personal as Glenn Gould's, often dropping into remotely withdrawn pianissimi. His trills and fluent decorations are a constant joy as we move from the al fresco opennness of (i) in the Partita to the grandeur of the final Busoni transcription. Fanciful but fascinating. CB


L'après-midi d'un faune; Jeux; Three Nocturnes
Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth
Harmonia Mundi HMM905291 (downloads to 44.1kHz/24-bit res)

Highly praised elsewhere, this is the last of the label's Debussy centenary celebrations: three orchestral masterpieces played on instruments from the period. In L'après-midi the flute has a 'woody' timbre and harps too sound unlike today's. The problem is that Les Siècles is closely balanced in a too-lively acoustic and above mf the sound tends to crowd. Jeux is certainly very good but the two other pieces emerge in a rather 'driven' manner and (for me) are in no way comparable with the Three Nocturnes interpretations of Abbado/Boston or Boulez/Cleveland – Giulini/Philharmonia too in an unforgettable 'Nuages'. CB


Leonard Bernstein
An American in Paris
Belkin, Horne, McInnes, Rostropovich, Weissenberg/Orch National de France/Leonard Bernstein
Warner Classics 9029568954 (seven discs)

Much of the material here appeared on EMI LPs in the late 1970s – Harold In Italy, a powerful Symphonie Fantastique, a rather overdone Schumann Concerto coupling with Bloch's Schelomo, a truly awful Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 3, etc. But, new to CD, there's some fascinating live material from the Champs Élysées Theatre: mostly popular Ravel and Bernstein's own music from West Side Story and his powerful film score On The Waterfront. You can also hear the conductor coaxing a fine Alborada del Gracioso in rehearsals. Exemplary remastering too. CB