Classical (December 2018)

En saga; Finlandia; The Swan of Tuonela; The Oceanides; Valse Triste; King Christian II Suite
BBC Nat Orch Wales/Thomas Søndergård
Linn CKD566 (downloads up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution)

Rather than a continuation of Søndergård's BBC NOW Sibelius symphony cycle (Linn has released pairings of Nos 1/6 and 2/7 but his agency Askonas Holt says there won't be more and he's now left the orchestra), we have a concert of smaller pieces, familiar apart from the five-movement King Christian II Suite – the composer's first printed score, premiered in 1898. The other works nicely complement the Colin Davis recordings, with consistently transparent textures, Søndergård getting playing of wide dynamic range too (sometimes barely audible), while Linn's Cardiff production conveys every nuance of Sibelius's scoring. CB


JS Bach
Violin Concertos BWV1041/1042; Partita BWV1004
Daniel Lozakovich, Bavarian RSO Kammerorchester
DG 479 9372 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

The performance stance of this young violinist is extraordinarily 'adult' if you watch him online. Born in Stockholm, he is DG's youngest ever signing (aged 15 in 2016) and he plays a 1713 Stradivari, the 'ex Baron Rothschild'. A step back from Faust or Ibragimova, to a more romantically expressive style, the two Violin Concertos are enjoyable, thoughtfully detailed and never mechanical. Lozakovich achieves his aim of 'chamber music performance'. We do hear his breathing in slow movements and this becomes a sizeable elephant in the room in the D-minor Partita, rather discouraging repeat listening. CB


Symphony No 5/German Requiem/Symphony No 25
Philharmonia; BBC SO & Ch/Otto Klemperer
ICA Classics ICAC5152 (mono; two discs)

Mozart's 'little' G-minor was a favourite with Klemperer and in this 1955 Maida Vale recording (i) has a vigour and (iii) almost harsh black and white dynamic contrasts that make the urbane Abbado/Sony version [HFN Nov '18] seem inconsequential. Also from that venue – now closed down, alas – the Brahms Requiem boasts fine soloists, Hans Wilbrink and Elfride Trötschel, and a choir evidently inspired by Klemperer's presence. The 'airborne' final part of (ii) makes up for a more variable Beethoven Fifth (Edinburgh Festival, 1958) where (i) and (ii) are curiously distanced but the finale, with repeat, has real power. CB


The Rotterdam PO Collection
Bartók Concerto for Orchestra; Debussy Three Nocturnes; Symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, Dvorak, Haydn, Mahler & Shostakovich; Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini; Turnage Piano Concerto
Marc-André Hamelin, RPO/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
DG 483 5345 (six discs, downloadable singly at 96kHz/24-bit res)

Marking the end of his ten-year tenure, these live recordings from the Doelen Concert Hall were chosen by Nézet-Séguin – six well-filled CDs. Performances are inevitably variable: the Dvořák slow movt too indulgent; the wonderful atmosphere at the start of the Bartók not found in Debussy's 'Nuages'. But the Mahler 10 is very moving and the rest always interesting in characterisation. The Oct '13 world premiere recording of Turnage's Piano Concerto is a significant item here. CB