Classical, March 2020

Jean-Guihan Queyras, Alexandre Tharaud, et al
Harmonia Mundi HMM902274 (downloads to 44.1kHz/16-bit resolution)

Pardon the analogy but this is like a chocolate box with 19 exquisite flavours, from Haydn (a Piatigorsky arrangement) to Shchedrin (a tangy homage to Albéniz), with Chopin, Saint-Saens's 'Swan' and familiar Kreisler as soft centres, the Coltrane Bach improv (with Raphaël Imbert tenor saxophonist) and Dutilleux's Strophe after Paul Sacher something with more to chew on. Mostly, Queyras is partnered by Tharaud in these transcriptions, although I liked even more the two solo cello pieces (Zimmermann's short Study, wholly in a high register, and the Strophe) and the concluding Haydn 'Toy' Symphony movement with two other strings. Rarities include an Adagio by one von Veczy and Poulenc's charming Chemins de l'amour. CB


Symphony No 9
Sally Matthews, Gerhild Romberger, Mark Padmore, Gerald Finley, Bavarian RSO & Ch/Bernard Haitink
BR Klassik 900180 (downloads to 48kHz/24-bit resolution)

Taken from live recordings made last February this represents Bernard Haitink's last thoughts on Beethoven's 'Choral' Symphony. It's an account which is rather Brucknerian in manner: the architecture always transparently clear – if at the expense of some shattering drama – the finale memorably sung with one of the most musical baritone solos I have heard. Padmore is good, too, as the 'village band' approaches but the soprano sounds are uncomfortable. 'Above all there's Haitink's humanism,' wrote one reviewer, and that neatly sums it up. CB


Pictures At An Exhibition/Spartacus Suite, etc
RLPO/Vasily Petrenko
Onyx ONYX4211 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Three popular Russian works with two unfamiliar fillers: a Rachmaninov Romance, quoted in his Symphony No 2, and a jazzy, brash Concerto for Orchestra by Shchedrin. The CD opens with the Colas Breugnon Overture and Pictures is in Ravel's orchestration. I don't think we've had a more compelling version since the CSO/Reiner RCA classic – the Promenades are varied and interesting, the two debating Jews seen with respect, and if the Catacombs are rather brightly lit the Polish Oxcart and Old Castle are full of atmosphere. The lush Spartacus Adagio is for once tastefully restrained. CB


Symphony No 9, 'Great C Major'
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Maxim Emelyanychev
Linn CKD619 (downloads to 192kHz/24-bit resolution)

Emelyanychev, a young musician from Russia, was a Rozhdestvensky pupil and has been appointed principal conductor of the SCO, after Ticciati. Online interviews suggest a bright, personable nature and someone with a keenly cooperative approach (he's also a gifted pianist – Google Conduction, 3m 13s). Produced at the resonant Caird Hall, Dundee, his Linn debut CD does – as others have suggested – bubble along with unstoppable energy and it's great to have both outer-movt repeats. But I do find the first half of the work too lacking in relaxation: points are made rather insistently. The Scherzo, though, is fine. CB