Classical, February 2021

hfnalbum.pngCBSO/Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla
Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem
DG 483 9072 (download options MP3-96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Issued in digital form only, at a special low price (but without a booklet), this live recording was made towards the end of 2019 at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. It's the second DG recording by the young Lithuanian conductor: appointed to the CBSO following Andris Nelsons' tenure. Their first CD, music by Weinberg, won the Gramophone's 2020 'best album' award. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla's Sinfonia da Requiem is markedly individual – her outer movt timings (9m 30s/5m 34s) contrasting with Britten's own, in his 1964 NPO recording for Decca (8m 51s/6m 37s). Her grip never falters in that slow Lacrymosa and if the young Britten's Dies irae sounds too clever by half, the emergence of the Requiem aeternam touches the heart. CB


RAM Soloists Ens/Trevor Pinnock
JS Bach: Goldberg Variations (arr Koffler)
Linn CKD609 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

In 1980 Trevor Pinnock made an Archiv LP of the Goldberg Variations, playing a Ruckers harpsichord. Here, however – with his Royal Academy players augmented by five strings, guests from the Glenn Gould Conservatory, Toronto – he's opted for an orchestration, not by a contemporary of Bach's, but (in 1938) by the Polish composer Jósev Koffler, later executed by the Gestapo. Scored for four solo winds and strings the intricate transcription was recorded at Snape Maltings in May '19, and it's fascinating to hear how Koffler changes the instrumentation for each Variation. Pinnock's affection for the project shines through as does the RAM wind playing. CB


James Ehnes, Andrew Armstrong
Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Op.30:3 and Op.96
Onyk ONYX4209 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

This fourth CD concludes the Beethoven cycle by these artists – they gave three Wigmore Hall recitals covering the ten sonatas, but the two recordings here were produced at Wyastone Leys. It's a recital hall soundstage but the earlier sonata is set closer to the listener. With, say, the fine Kremer/Argerich [DG] set you could say the players were complementary; however (as other reviews have noted for this series) with Ehnes and Armstrong it's a narrative as if voiced, with differing timbes, by a single person. The give and take, and Ehnes' soft violin playing make this a remarkable conclusion – for me, Op.96 is the loveliest of these works anyway. Recommended. CB


Budapest Fest Orch/Iván Fischer
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
Channel Classics CCSSA40020 (downloads to DSD256 resolution)

This is Iván Fischer's own 'Abschied' to recording Mahler Symphonies, and was made back in March '17, with Gerhild Romberger and Robert Dean Smith (sounding more at ease under studio conditions than in the Jurowski/Pentatone live version). But it's the German mezzo whose vocal technique is so compelling – producer Jared Sacks has set both soloists slightly left of centre with a finely judged balance. Fischer has made a video where he talks about this score and in the finale his control of the oriental elements dancing then darkening to become serious in intent is quite masterly. Of the post-Klemperer versions this is the one to have. CB