Classical (September 2018)

Symphony No 4/Lohengrin: Act 1 Prelude
Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/Andris Nelsons
DG 479 7577 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

When first exposed to No 4, the 'Romantic' Symphony (Klemperer conducting), I thought it was a dreadful piece of music – Beecham too complained that Bruckner was all unresolved 'fits and starts'. And in a way I can understand that teenage reaction, although today I revel in hearing the work. And Nelsons clearly revels in conducting it, the opening horn motif emerging from near silence, the brass resplendent throughout and the final culmination of the work magnificent – that motif binding everything together. The sound is rich and it makes the VPO/Abbado [DG, 1990] sound washy by comparison. The 1965 BPO/Jochum is another distinguished DG option for No 4. CB


Concerti a due cori, HWV332-4
Freiburger Barockorchester
Harmonia Mundi HMM 905272 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit res)

Simon Heighes, in his invaluable booklet note, explains that here Handel capitalised on the fact that after the failed Jacobite uprising many guardsman instrumentalists became redundant, and these six- or seven-movement Concertos ('for wind choirs') would make use of them. But also the music was written to go with his oratorios, etc, introduced at the Covent Garden season of 1747-8, and he even 'trailed' bigger works by borrowing and re-orchestrating material from them. Recorded at the Teldex Studio Berlin in 2014, the playing – period instruments, of course – has a splendour and exuberance that fits perfectly. CB


Symphony No 1
Düsseldorfer Symphoniker/Adam Fischer
AVI Music AVI8553390 (downloads up to 48kHz/24-bit resolution)

Adam Fischer has a large discography, notably the Haydn Symphony series for Nimbus, but he's not as high profile as his younger brother Iván. This is Vol 3 in a live-sourced Mahler Symphony cycle with his German orchestra (Principal Conductor since 2015). Tonally the Düsseldorf SO is no match for the best European orchestras but they clearly respond to him. The recorded sound is decent except that the off-stage band is faded down far too much; musically the trio of (ii) strikes me as unacceptably contrived, while (iii) brings awkwardness at around 8m. So not a 'keeper', I'd say, although the CD was praised elsewhere. CB


16 Keyboard Sonatas
Federico Colli
Chandos CHAN10988 (downloads up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Gold medallist in the 2012 Leeds Competition, the Italian pianist (now 30) is newly signed to Chandos, making his debut in Sonatas only three of which are duplicated in the two excellent Sudbin BIS discs. But Colli takes a very different approach – and he's definitely not offering keyboard wizardry of the Horowitz/Michelangeli kind. Instead, and grouping the pieces under 'chapter headings' ('The Power of Illusion', etc) he thoughtfully explores the expressive possibilities of these pieces, compellingly varying dynamics and timings in repeats. He receives a beautifully clean recorded sound at Potton Hall. CB