Classical, May 2021

hfnalbum.pngDaniel Lozakovich, Munich PO/Valery Gergiev
Beethoven: Violin Concerto
DG 483 8946 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Much is made in the booklet note by the soloist that these are live recordings, Gastein Hall Munich, Dec '19, so it's a pity there's total silence between tracks. The last is the Adagio from Bach's Sonata BWV1001, beautifully played although with some breathing sounds from Lozakovich. We hear the Kreisler cadenzas in the Concerto: a warmly 'traditional' performance and all the better for that. We may not think of Gergiev as a Beethoven conductor but here he brings out some pertinent detailing (eg, the bassoon writing) and he shows acknowledged empathy with his young soloist. 'We have such a great chemistry', says Lozakovich – who is just 20 this month. CB


Hallé Orch/Sir John Barbirolli
Brahms: Symphony No 4; Academic Festival Ovt
Warner Classic 9029507797 (downloads to 192kHz/24-bit res)

Warner is producing downloads from its inherited Barbirolli catalogue: less costly than manufacturing a reissue CD and aimed at the younger-generation (?) 'high-res' enthusiast. These were Pye stereo recordings made in September 1960, shortly before Barbirolli's return to HMV, which have a spark missing from his later VPO Brahms encounters. This is one of Warner's better remasterings from the big box set, although tonally you cannot 'rejuvenate' an old recording, and the sound is dated, even if the stereo soundstage is amply detailed. But this is no barrier to admiring these two completely fulfilling interpretations. CB


Kristian Bezuidenhout
Mozart: Sonatas, Variations and shorter works
Harmonia Mundi HMX290400715 (nine discs; downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

The fruits of Air Studios sessions spanning seven years, this recompiled set has each disc programmed with a keyboard sonata, a set of variations and selected shorter works – many of these virtually unknown to most of us. In this near-complete survey, Bezuidenhout has only left out the juvenalia. He is playing fortepianos after Anton Walter 1802 and 1805 originals, and he describes his musical approach – 'unlearning' the techniques better suited to modern pianos – in a foreword to exhaustive annotations. Always focused, the playing ranges from brilliance to pathos – I'd not go back to Steinway Mozart now. CB


Tonhalle Orch Zurich/Paavo Järvi
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 5, Francesca da Rimini
Alpha ALPHA659 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Seemingly ubiquitous, Paavo Järvi was chosen to become the Tonhalle Orchestra's chief conductor in 2017; this is their first coupling in a projected Tchaikovsky cycle – two Symphonies still to record, with the pandemic disrupting session planning. Francesca, says Järvi, makes a good coupling here, with both works to do with 'fate' (those gloomy motifs and all that lower-strings writing!). It's a restrained performance. If you want to hear clearly every micro-detail in the textures of the Symphony Järvi gives you that, but for me the conducting somehow gets in the way of the music, notwithstanding excellent orchestral playing and some fine solos. CB