Classical, June 2023

hfnalbum.pngLucile Richardot, Stéphane Degout, Anne de Fornel, et AL
Lili & Nadia Boulanger: Chansons & Chamber Music
Harmonia mundi HMM902356.58 (three discs, downloads to 96kHz/24-bit res)

Both Boulanger sisters picked their poets with Symbolist leanings, and Nadia's version of Verlaine's Grand Sommeil Noir is closer in sound and spirit to Varèse's early setting than you might expect. Compiled, performed and documented as a labour of love, the set allows us to compare their major song cycles, and Les Heures Claires by Nadia loses nothing by comparison either with its models in Fauré, or Lili's more elemental simplicity and exquisitely chromatic harmony in Clairières dans le Ciel. Raquel Camarinha is all wide-eyed Melisande here, but the set's glories lie in the chocolate tones of Lucile Richardot, her caress of line and text leaving much to the imagination. PQ


Los Angeles PO/Gustavo Dudamel
Adès: Dante
Nonesuch 75597906134 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

More than overcooked versions of canon repertoire, new music brings out the best in Dudamel, who pumps adrenaline (and more!) through the veins of Adès's three-act ballet on The Divine Comedy. Adès himself has become a modern-day Dukas, casting complicated rhythmic spells amid clouds of orchestral smoke and laughter. Inferno tarts up bits of Liszt as a kind of X-rated second-act Nutcracker. Cantorial prayers, low brass and thudding bass all evoke purgatory before Paradiso curves heavenwards in trademark style on glistening upper strings and winds: he measures up to big subjects and reaches for transcendence like few other composers. PQ


Veronika Eberle, LSO/Rattle
Beethoven: Violin Concertos in C & D
LSO Live LSO5094 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

While this is Eberle's solo debut on record, the Concerto interpretation is over a decade in the making, since in 2006, aged 16, she was launched by Rattle in Salzburg (shades of Mutter and Karajan). Not quite as spacious as before, still exploring the piece as a spiritual testament and dialogue, their reading is the longest on record owing to cadenzas newly written by Jörg Widmann. These make playful, Expressionist use of the concerto's themes and add contrast to its overall picture of serenity. The C major fragment is a what-might-have been of passing interest compared to the radiant assurance of the finished article: not an ugly note or a hurried crotchet. PQ

Entwürfe cpo-Cover Oktober 2022_cover.indd

WDR SO/Łukasz Borowicz
Grazyna Bacewicz: Symphony Nos 3 & 4
CPO 555556-2 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

The symphonies of Grażyna Bacewicz are stylistically hard to place, which makes them all the more intriguing. Maybe think of her as a Polish Malcolm Arnold or Camargo Guarnieri before getting stuck into the concise and combative Fourth with its plaintive Adagio and scintillating Scherzo. Like them, she trades off juggernaut rhythms and harmonic pile-ups which are impressively marshalled by Borowicz and his Cologne band. No 3 also shares the proportions of a Haydn symphony but has the Soviet-sized orchestra of Prokofiev, and it wears a quizzical smile even in the cinematic Adagio – a grown-up sister to the Concerto For Orchestra by Lutoslawski. PQ