Classical (October 2018)

Keyboard Sonatas Hob.XV1:32, 40, 49, 50
Paul Lewis
Harmonia Mundi HMM902371 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit res)

Mozart apart, Paul Lewis's discography has closely mirrored his mentor Alfred Brendel's (both even including Mussorgsky's Pictures) although the 11 Haydn sonatas with Brendel [Philips] excluded the E-flat No 49 which opens this CD. Some of Haydn's sonatas were written with specific, talented persons in mind, able to deal with their intricacies – they are a lot more challenging technically than Mozart's. Typically, the opening of No 49 has a fragment that keeps popping up, but Lewis's adroitness means we never feel we've heard it too often. His playing in the Allegro of No 50 (a wonderful sonata whose Adagio Beethoven must surely have known) is quite marvellous – selfless too. CB


Dream Album
Stephen Hough
Hyperion CDA68176 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Yes 'By The Sleepy Lagoon' is here but the only really dreamy pieces in this 27-track compilation are the two lullabies composed by Hough – the second distinctly Debussy-like in places. Music, he says, suspends (dream-like) the ordinary aspects of our lives. Hough's cheeky Radetzky March should make you smile – there are six Hough originals and nine transcriptions, while chosen composers range from Albeniz to Sibelius. The track listing tells you something about why he's chosen the pieces. Recorded at the Wyastone Estate concert hall in Sept '16 Hough plays a Yamaha CFX. Maybe slight all told, but a suitable late night listening companion. CB


Mendelssohn/Fanny Mendelssohn
A Midsummer Night's Dream/Three songs
Anna Lucia Richter, Barbara Kozelj, Pro Musica Ch, Budapest Festival Orch/Iván Fischer
Channel Classics CCS SA 37418 (SACD; downloads up to DSD256)

'The fairies are still with us' Fischer assures us. But it's not all magic with this MND selection – which includes some of the brief 'Melodramas' first introduced on a 1969 Decca LP, but fewer than on Dausgaard's excellent BIS SACD [HFN Feb '16]. The three lightly scored songs by Fanny Mendelssohn I found more rewarding than the main work, where the two singers are not well matched, the 'Funeral March' is given a klezmerish Mahlerian twist and the 'Wedding March' has cymbal clashes far too prominent. It all sounds like a showcase for orchestra, albeit a brilliant one. CB


R Strauss
Eine Alpensinfonie; Die Frau ohne Schatten – excerpts; Salome 'Dance of the seven veils'
LPO/Vladimir Jurowski
LPO LPO0106 (two discs; downloads up to 44.1kHz/24-bit res)

These Festival Hall live performances allay any doubts about Jurowski in Strauss prompted by his disappointing Berlin RSO/Pentatone Also Sprach Zarathustra. The LPO's beautiful brass chording at the start of the Alpine Symphony – a well spread soundstage too – augurs well for a flowing performance which matches the best in the catalogue. CD2 has a spacious Salome excerpt (not as sinuous as Karajan's), then we have 47m of orchestral music from Die Frau, again with marvellous playing and conducting. It's a quite masterly score but am I alone in finding it repellent? CB