Classical, February 2024

hfnalbum.pngScottish CO/Maxim Emelyanychev
Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos 3 & 5
Linn CKD0667 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Elijah at the 2023 BBC Proms gave notice of Emelyanychev as an exemplary modern Mendelssohnian who could bring tender care and not just scrubbed purity to the composer's fastidiously balanced textures. There is something of Mitropoulos's relentlessly wound tension to the opening dramas of both symphonies, and neither slow movement relaxes despite generous rubato in the phrasing. Beyond their pinpoint articulation, the SCO colour the scherzos with mists and melancholy not so distant from the canvases of Caspar David Friedrich. The forces themselves are small-scale, but deliver a majestic coda to the 'Scottish' all the more satisfying for the preceding hush and mystery. PQ

ODRCD411 Rui Travasso - Clarinet Solo1

Pina Napolitano, Wiener Concert-Verein/Zlabinger, etc
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Chamber Sym No 1, Lieder Op.22
Odradek ODRCD340

A chamber version of the Concerto is such a good and obvious idea, yet apparently a new one. Napolitano brings an ideally relaxed, Brahmsian sense of freedom to the solo part. The Lieder likewise gain in both clarity and cantabile from piano-quintet accompaniment, sung with heartfelt assurance by baritone Christoph Filler. Mezzo Ida Aldrian never has to strain for effect in the composer's reduction of the 'Song Of The Wood-Dove' from Gurrelieder. And Zlabinger directs an upbeat, exhilarating First Chamber Symphony with just enough Viennese lilt to the rhythms. PQ


Dubois, Orfeo Orch/Vashegyi
'Jouissons de nos beaux ans': Rameau, Mondonville, Philibert, et al
Aparté AP319 (downloads to 48kHz/24-bit resolution)

French Baroque opera: all frills and no thrills? Far from it: sceptics and initiates should start here. Taking in all the major players in the game, and several unknowns, this collection adds up to a sampler of the genre. There is pageantry and splendour, of course, in a sequence from Grenet's Triumph Of Harmony, and softly tinted bucolic delight in arias by Philibert and Rameau. Beside them, arias of solitude by Francoeur and Mondonville strike notes of high drama. Cyrille Dubois encompasses all these moods with the quivering intensity and soaring head-chest register that is the natural property of a real French tenor. PQ


Household Cavalry Band, St George's Chapel Winds Orch
Music by Elgar, Parry, Walton, Saint-Saëns, et al
CRD CRD3545 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Recorded at St George's in March 2022, this version of I Was Glad must be the last to feature 'Vivats' celebrating 'Regina Elizabetha' rather than 'Carolus Rex'. In an arrangement with band as well as organ, it makes a glorious, equipment-stretching noise, likewise the finale from Saint-Saens's 'Organ' Symphony. Organist Luke Bond is no less intricately virtuosic and rhythmically strong in Britten's Hymn To St Columba and Elgar's Te Deum And Benedictus. The sequence is intelligently varied, including an elegant band transcription of Elgar's Chanson De Nuit alongside VW's church-filling version of 'The Old Hundredth'. PQ