One-man gospel choir Sam Robson performs ten of his own a cappella arrangements of his favourite hymns
Related Artists: Sam Robson
Catalogue No: 5060192780499
SOME COMMENTS FROM YOUTUBE:
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“The climax was insane!! I loved every second of this video!!”
“Truly gifted and sang with so much heart! Thank you, thank you, thank you! More please!”
A recital of piano music by Mozart, Beethoven and Berg.
Related Artists: Mikhail Shilyaev
Catalogue No: 5060192780482
This odd grouping of classics from Vienna’s First and Second Schools is so well played that one happily accepts its rather strained rationale; Shilyaev is a natural Beethovenian, but his Berg has a full-blooded lyricsim. **** (BBC Music)
The clarity of the voicing and adroit phrasing in the Beethoven and Mozart sonatas are exemplary (Gramophone)
Opera star Matthew Rose and leading accompanist Malcolm Martineau team up for this amazing rendition of Schubert’s masterpiece.
Catalogue No: 5060192780475
Splendidly strong and powerfully carved out. (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)
English bass Matthew Rose shows that a deep voice and low keys need not make for a gloomy experience in Schubert. It helps that his voice has the scope for lyrical beauty – his entreaty to the fisher-girl in her boat is carried on phrases as smooth as a lakeside breeze – and that offsets his rugged strength. With pianist Malcolm Martineau chameleon-like in matching his singer’s colours, there are more than enough contrasts. **** (Financial Times)
In 1997 the British bass Matthew Rose attended a masterclass in which the work being studied was Aufenthalt, one of the more emotionally turbulent of the 14 songs from Schubert’s posthumous collection Schwanengesang (Swan Song). So affected was he, Rose determined to become a professional singer. He is now among the most musically illuminating of the new generation of basses, alert and perceptive in performance, as his Winterreise (for the same label) has already shown. Again here, with the pianist Malcolm Martineau, with whom Rose first sang the cycle in 2004, he ensures clear textures, sensitivity to the words and a lightness and variety of touch. There’s a charming bonus track: Schubert’s comic Der Hochzeitsbraten, with Christina Gansch and Robert Murray. **** (Observer)
For the pianist Malcolm Martineau’s second new recording of Schubert’s last songbook in as many months, Matthew Rose includes the “spare” Seidl setting Die Taubenpost (Pigeon Post) and a substantial bonus: the rare “operatic” scene Der Hochzeitsbraten (The Wedding Roast), with the excellent Christina Gansch and Robert Murray … his potential Wagnerian bass comes into its own in Kriegers Ahnung (Warrior’s Foreboding) and the great Heine settings Der Atlas and Der Doppelgänger. (Sunday Times)
One of the most powerful basses … and was, as usual with this singer, and this marvellous accompanist, Malcolm Martineau, soon enjoying myself without qualification. Rose’s voice may be best suited to the more boisterous songs, such as ‘Der Atlas’, but he can also be delicate without sounding precious, as in ‘Ständchen’ (Serenade) and the extra song ‘Die Taubenpost’ (The Pigeon Post). (BBC Music)
Internationally renowned organist Robert Costin performs JS Bach’s Trio Sonatas on the organ of Pembroke College, Cambridge – a modern reconstruction of a period instrument.
Related Artists: Robert Costin
Catalogue No: 5060192780468
Robert Costin’s new record is highly successful. The Six Trio Sonatas conveniently ‘fit’ a CD, so it is valuable to have them ‘all in one place’ so to speak, more so in such well-conceived and executed performances as these. In terms of tempos and registration, I have no complaint, but what makes this recording additionally stand out is Costin’s admirable phrasing, which points the nature of Bach’s invention so well. The clarity of the slightly recessed sound in the recording is an added bonus, and I would cite the Adagio and Allegro movements of the E flat major Sonata, BWV 525 as being amongst the best examples of this new release. ***** (The Organ)
This superb recording might be considered as Cambridge’s equivalent of Robert Quinney’s acclaimed recording of these pieces at The Queen’s College, Oxford. Costin’s playing is consistently excellent; articulation is clear and sensitive, tempi finely balanced, and the character of each movement is beautifully conveyed. Quick movements sparkle with energy and wit, while the slow movements have a gentle but insistent quality that holds the listener’s attention throughout. The order of performance works well, offering contrasts that would not have been apparent in a numerical ordering. Sonata no.5 make a fine opening; the crispness and vitality of the broken-chord figures at the beginning of the first movement draw the listener in immediately. Costin’s performance of Sonata no.6 is a particular delight; the sprightly tempo, bright registration and precise articulation create a luminosity that belies its technical complexity. The slow movement is given a spacious, almost plaintive account, while the jaunty angularity of the final movement is conveyed with subtle humour. The Pembroke College organ is an inspired choice; the clarity and brightness of its flue stops suits the fast movements superbly, while the judicious use of the tremulant in some slow movements is most effective. Overall, the organ has a gentleness that helps capture the intimacy of these wonderful works. Costin’s programme notes are informative and well-written and the booklet includes the specification of the instrument and a photograph showing its elegant situation in the Chapel (Organists’ Review)
This is the second organ recital disc for Stone Records by Robert Costin, Director of Music at Ardingly College, the first being the Goldberg Variations (see OCJ 2013-3). Once again, Costin plays the Pembroke College, Cambridge, organ, a period instrument containing some Father Smith pipework and reconstructed by Mander in 1980. It is eminently suited to the repertoire. Bach’s Trio Sonatas, written for Wilhelm Friedemann to instruct him in organ playing and composition, demand equality and independence of hands and feet if their musical riches are to be fully realised. This, Costin largely achieves with a strong and sensitive interpretation. I found this a most enjoyable performance. (Organ Club)
This one is most enjoyable and catches the spirit of this music very well. Robert Costin generally chooses lively tempi and often sparkling registrations for outer movements, with good clarity and balance … slow movements use the beautiful flutes of the Pembroke organ … Excellent recording quality and notes … this disc certainly demonstrates his fine musicianship. **** (Choir and Organ)
Robert Costin is well known to New Zealand audiences, having worked as the Assistant Director of Music at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul and later as interim Director of Music of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland – not to mention the fine recordings he has made here in New Zealand and the countless recitals over the years. It was with some trepidation that I loaded this CD into my player – this is music I know so well and adore as a performer myself, and hearing music that has become such an integral part of my own performing and teaching career performed by someone else can be quite an alienating experience. My anxiety increased when the puritanical side of me noted that sonatas were presented out of their sequential order – the disc opens with Sonata 5 in C major BWV 529 instead of Sonata 1 as you might expect. My fears were quickly allayed on hearing the first few bars of the Allegro – my pulse quickened as I was swept away in the astounding music and Costin’s virtuosic performance. Bach’s trio sonatas are, in my experience, amongst the most challenging but equally rewarding music an organist can play – maintaining the three independent voices requires immense physical control and mental ability. Throughout this disc Robert always maintains composure and command of the instrument, occasionally pushing the boundaries of being out of control – but for me this adds to the drama of the music, and brings you closer to the experience of a live performance. Interestingly, my favourite recording of the Trio Sonatas is not performed on the organ – but by string players – the recording by London Baroque on the BIS label. Hearing the music performed by three musicians instead of one organist really challenged the way I view and perform the works, and reshaped my own phrasing and interpretation. It is rare to find an organ recording that defines each voice as a separate entity as clearly as when performed by individual musicians – but Costin succeeds admirably in doing this. The ever important feeling of dance in the music of Bach is present throughout. The quality of the audio recording and production is equally superb – the balance of direct sound from the organ to the acoustics of the room is perfectly judged. As a recording engineer myself I am always faced with the tough decision about how much extraneous noise should be removed from the audio – it is now relatively simple to remove the sound of page turns, car alarms etc. from the recording with sophisticated software. I am delighted that the engineer didn’t feel the urge to remove the sound of page turns, coughs and pedal noise from this recording, making the listening experience that much more human and visceral. In writing this I tried hard to find some fault – no matter how small – to make this review more balanced. The best I can say is that the performances are not perfect and air-brushed recordings – but this only makes them in turn feel more intimate, exhilarating and impassioned. I heartily recommend this CD – even if you already own numerous recordings of these works! (NZ Organ News)
Rising-star soprano Caroline MacPhie’s debut solo CD of songs inspired or written by women.
Catalogue No: 5060192780451
This lovely disc marks the decisive arrival of a fine young recitalist. Soprano Caroline MacPhie’s enterprising programme consists of “songs inspired or written by women”. Starting with Richard Strauss’s Ophelia settings, based on translations of the madness of Shakespeare’s heroine, it continues with Poulenc’s deceptively simple Fiançailles pour rire, which MacPhie interprets with great wit and panache. Following a real curiosity – Charles Koechlin’s Sept chansons pour Gladys, reflections of the composer’s infatuation with the actress Lilian Harvey – come six beautifully polished miniatures from Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch. Four lesser-known female composers are also featured. Muriel Herbert became friendly with Joyce, who gave her permission to set his verse. Three other composers are represented by contrasting versions of Ophelia’s mad songs. Elizabeth Maconchy’s How Should I Your True Love Know? is followed by newly-commissioned pieces by Rhian Samuel and Cheryl Frances-Hoad, all sung by MacPhie with beautiful sensitivity and emotional engagement. Vividly stylish and responsive accompaniment from Joseph Middleton enhances this delightful musical menu: MacPhie is a singer of whom we should hear more. **** (Daily Telegraph)
MacPhie and Middleton bring a nicely sidelong glance to the recital programme, mixing some well known with a fascinating selection of lesser known songs. Definitely a recital to investigate. (Planet Hugill)
Caroline MacPhie erweist sich in ihrem Debut-Album als eine interessante Interpretin, mit der man auch in Zukunft rechnen darf. Ihr heller, leichter lyrischer Sopran, auf dem Theater in Rollen wie Papagena, Norina und Schlaues Füchslein erprobt, zeigt auch dramatischen Biß. Der Vortrag der Sängerin ist imaginativ und eloquent und man nimmt ihr Ophelias Wahnsinn ebenso ab wie die Koketterie der Frauen im Italienischen Liederbuch. Dass die Sängerin vor ihrer Gesangsausbildung an der Universität Deutsch und Französisch studiert hat, kommt ihr sehr zugute. Auch das Idiom der französischen Lieder ist ihr nicht fremd, und bei den Gesängen der britischen Komponistinnen gewinnt man den Eindruck, dass sie für sie keine Pflichtübung sind, sondern eine Herzensangelegenheit. Joseph Middleton, mit dem sie auch im Konzertsaal häufig zusammenarbeitet, ist dabei weit mehr als ein Begleiter, sondern mit seinem entschiedenen Zugriff eine Art Motor des ganzen Unternehmens. (Klassik Heute)
A Christmas kaleidoscope of classical, popular and folk songs wonderfully arranged and beautifully played by this fabulous classical ensemble.
Catalogue No: 5060192780444
I also love Deck The Halls from the Little Venice Ensemble, an eclectic group of professional musicians drawn from all over the world, but especially from Scandinavia, who live and work in London, and regularly perform chamber music in the Paddington area. A truly talented arranger, Bjorn Kleiman turns out an amazing selection of music for a small instrumental ensemble, ranging from traditional carols to little-known European stuff like Koppången, first performed in 1998 by a group including Abba’s Benny Andersson. There are organ solos, lovely string quintet arrangements, and some fine solo work from soprano Susanna Andersson (no relation). It all ends splendidly with winning performances of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Keeping The Dream Alive, another Christmas-oriented pop song that was a big hit in late Eighties Germany. ***** (Mail on Sunday)
Listeners unfamiliar with European Christmas celebrations should head straight for this unpretentious compilation. Many of the numbers are well-known British and American ones, but the programme also reflects the polyglot nature of the Little Venice Ensemble’s membership. The fun starts with a spare solo viola transcription of the Swedish folksong “Beredan väg för herran”, followed by an enchanting arrangement of the modern carol “I Bethlehem” by Jerker Leijon. It’s sublime. As is the gorgeous childrens’ carol “Bethelehems Stjärna”, which should make sensitive listeners’ eyes water. Max Reger’s “Mariae Wiegenlied” is unexpectedly beautiful, as is a neat arrangement of the Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still”. Percy Grainger’s “Sussex Mummers” is heard in a mellifluous string transcription. This is a fantastic disc, and one which you’d happily listen to all year round. Familiar pleasures are interspersed with alluring rarities. Soprano Susanna Andersson’s pure-toned vocals are a consistent pleasure, and the chamber arrangements invariably charm. (The Arts Desk)
Deck the Halls from Stone Records is also a Christmas CD with a difference: the arrangements in this myriad collection are aimed at a broader mainstream audience than one which devoutly sits in church at Midnight on Christmas Eve. not that there is anything unsuitable in these transcriptions (International Record Review).
Stone Record’s Christmas discs are always a delight but this year’s offering is unique. Deck the Halls, with Susanna Andersson and the Little Venice Ensemble. Imagine yourself at a house party, where some of the young European musicians based in London, (relatively far away from home) celebrate by performing together. The joyous energy on this disc is bound to chase away chills and bring good cheer. Expect surprises! (Classical Iconoclast)
Susanna Anderssons slanka, svala sopran passar bra till julvisornas enkelhet; hon dominerar inte och blir aldrig svulstig. Det är roligt med så många instrumentala stycken, och skivans största förtjänst, förutom att den är fläckfritt spelad och välsjungen, är de många effektfulla, påhittiga och genomtänkta arrangemangen av framför allt violinisten Björn Kleiman. Men i skickliga och välspelade arrangemang, som här, kan en stråkensemble visa oväntade sidor. Det blir många sorters musik inslagen i samma behändiga paket. (Sundsvalls Tidning)
På en annan engelsk julskiva hör vi en ensemble som döpts efter Little Venice, det kanaltäta området i norra London. Basen är en skicklig stråkkvintett, utökad med flöjt och orgel samt den svenska sopranen Susanna Andersson – en omväxlande skiva, jazzig och stillsamt klassisk, där vi både får höra ”Koppången” och en härligt bumpig version av Leroy Andersons “Sleigh ride”. (Svenska Dagbladet)
“Fina stråkar och tajta orgelsolon”. I ”Betlehems stjärna” är kompet genomarbetat och sången som ett direkt tilltal. Samma sak gäller fina ”Marie Wiegenlied”. När stråkgruppen ”Little Venice” tar sig an ”Deck the halls” blir det riktigt svängigt och tajt. Detta är albumets pärla. Även ”Tomorrow shall be my dancing day” får skönt sväng, liksom käcka ”Sleigh ride”. Detta är främst stråkkvintettens förtjänst. Emellertid vill jag ge en speciell eloge till organisten Jonathan Cunliffe, som presenterar några tajta solon och ett nära ackompanjemang. (Norrköpings Tidningar)
I årets skörd av souljul, retro- och dansbandsjul, så damp det ned jul i, typ, systrarna Brontës anda. Och jag är såld. Stråkensemblen Little Venice Ensemble tillsammans med sopranen Susanna Andersson har satt tänderna i ett gäng uttjatade klassiker – “Stilla natt”, “Bereden väg för herran”, “Ding Dong Merry on high”, ni fattar – och lyckats med konststycket att gjuta ny magi utan att för en ton falla för den svulstiga frestelsen. Arrangören och violinisten Björn Kleiman är en fena på att slå in julvisorna med snöre av hampa, i sparsmakat, oblekt papper och sätta en lackad kvalitetsstämpel som glänser i all sin finstämda strykning av stråkar. (Kristianstadbladet)
Music for flute and piano by Australian composers
Catalogue No: 5060192780437
There’s no shortage of excellent flute works, but a few more by a group of Australian composers won’t harm, especially when they are of the calibre of those on this two-disc charmer from English independent label Stone Records. It features two prodigious talents in Neil Fisenden, principal flute of West Australian Symphony Orchestra and pianist David Wickham, who also lives in WA. Perhaps the gem here is Raymond Hanson’s Sonata for Flute and Piano from 1941. Hanson, who died in 1976, taught and influenced a whole generation of Australian composers but his own works have been neglected. Part of the reason is that his scores only existed in manuscript form in the Sydney Conservatorium, but more likely he was shunned for his opposition to serialism and the prevailing trends of the time. His works are now seeing the light of day. Tall Poppies have released his complete piano works but also composer Geoffrey Allen, who published all the works on this album and has contributed two excellent pieces of his own, has brought some of them to the public notice. Allen’s suite Watercolours proves an admirable companion to the Hanson work on the first disc. Phillip Wilcher’s charming An Idle Voice, a tribute to Ravel’s Pavane, opens the second half. But the pivot is Allen’s Sonata for Flute, with its harmonic hints of Delius, a substantial work in four movements. Some of the works owe a debt to paintings, while Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition inspired May Howlett’s Exhibits with one of its pieces dedicated to Arthur Streeton. The clean and simple lines of Japanese art and ceramics are more the spark for Ann Ghandar’s Iridescences. Paul Paviour’s Elstow Suite, an affectionate and very English tribute to the village in Bedfordshire where he grew up, round things off nicely. (Limelight)
Neil Fisenden’s performances are outstanding, and he is sensitively accompanied by David Wickham (SA Flute News)
The eighth disc in the first complete recording of the songs of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), recorded live at the Oxford Lieder Festival. This eighth disc features his settings of the poet Eichendorff.
Catalogue No: 5060192780420
The variety of portraits is matched by the palette of voices chosen by deviser and accompanist Sholto Kynoch. The baritone, David Stout, is the very incarnation of the stalwart stoic companion … Nicky Spence is more agile throughout his tenor range, and more expressive in his characterisation … Best of all, Katherine Broderick’s star-bright soprano creates sensuous nocturnes of silent love. (BBC Music Magazine)
The sound is clear and alive, the presentation exactly what one would want … Kynoch’s accompaniments are beautifully sensitive, flexible and transparent throughout, and all three singers engage intelligently with the texts … These are all refreshing and unfailingly engaging performances (Gramophone)
Settings of Francis Booth’s poety for counter-tenor, flute, vibraphone and cello.
Catalogue No: 5060192780413
Praise for Ronald Corp’s Dhammapada CD:
an expert choral hand at work (Gramophone)
Album of the Week (The Independent)
An artless quality informed but not stifled by western choral tradition – ***** (Classic FM Magazine)
The debut album from chamber choir Cantoribus, featuring a cappella works by Timothy Hamilton.
Catalogue No: 5060192780406
Cantoribus offers a novel approach to small ensemble singing … It’s one that is worthwhile to experience (Musicweb International)
Timothy Hamilton is a composer, singer, and founder and musical director of the choral group Cantoribus. Hamilton has fairly prestigious credentials: he studied singing with Benjamin Luxon, Teresa Cahill and Janice Chapman; he studied composition with Paul Edlin and jazz piano with Lionel Grigson. Hamilton has written a substantial body of choral and sacred music, and has also composed orchestral works and film and television scores. From the evidence here, I would say that Hamilton appears to be a talented composer and his choral group sings with commitment and great beauty. According to the album notes Hamilton composed the music on this disc “to reflect some of the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year,” but with no chronological scheme in mind. It is sung a capella, as are the works by Stanford and Adam. Hamilton’s music is conservative in its expressive manner but not without grit and mettle. While much of it is very lush and fluid, and maybe even serene, it often features an anxious or unsettled sense especially in faster-paced middle sections or in upward melodic surges or even in harmonies that strike you as slightly cool emotionally when heard against their warmer main line. Crucifixus may be the piece here that embodies many of these stylistic elements. It begins in a restive way with the word “Crucifixus” sung repeatedly. Soon it is proclaimed loudly and emphatically, almost as if shouted, and then the character of the music turns both dark and ethereal. A sense of struggle ensues but finally a consoling character emerges at the close. Here in this short work (3:44) a whole world of emotion and religious fervor is effectively conveyed … The sound reproduction is fine and the album notes are informative. Full texts are provided too … He is an imaginative and stimulating composer of sacred choral music whose style is quite individual within its conservative character … If you are interested in contemporary sacred choral music, this disc should prove of considerable interest. (Classical.net)
Australian art-songs by twentieth-century composers.
Catalogue No: 5060192780390
Soprano Lisa Harper-Brown and pianist David Wickham, both English but now based in Perth, have released a sequel to The Poet Sings (2012), their first volume devoted to neglected 20th-century Australian art song, and particularly female composers. The Red of a Woman’s Heart features three collections by Margaret Sutherland, including of William Blake poetry and six settings of Judith Wright, which for Wickham “are the best of the genre in Australia.” Many composers were still looking to England for lyrical material, so the Wright cycle is particularly significant, as are Raymond Hanson’s two settings of poems by the extraordinary Australian radical socialist poet Mary Gilmore. Other highlights include two sets by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Profiles from China and Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird. There is a lightness of touch about this recording, with a great sense of presence and space that makes it an excellent complement to the selections recorded by Ian Munro and Elizabeth Campbell nearly a decade ago. The interplay between Harper-Brown and Wickham is seamless, as though the music is being produced by a single entity. Harper-Brown is completely at home with the demands of this excitingly varied material, from the dance rhythms of Sutherland’s Blake songs, to the melancholy of two Jewish songs by Linda Phillips **** (Limelight)
Live recording of every work for cello and piano by Mendelssohn.
Catalogue No: 5060192780383
This is a disc on which the stance of the playing ideally matches the scale and perspective of the music. Mendelssohn’s works for cello and piano are not numerous but, with two sonatas together with the “Variations concertantes” and a couple of miniatures, they fit neatly onto one CD. Mendelssohn was not a cellist, but he had a brother who was, and it was for him that he wrote the “Variations concertantes” and the two sonatas. Given Mendelssohn’s talents as a pianist, it is understandable that in his duo music he did not exactly underplay the pianist’s virtuoso requirements, but here in the chopping and changing of priorities in the “Variations concertantes” Marie Macleod and Martin Sturfält weave a scintillating, tightly knit fabric, full of colour and energy. Instinctive coordination and passion are maintained in the B flat Sonata No 1, the cello’s tonal spectrum and the piano’s variety of touch and weight astutely and expressively applied both to the music’s lyricism and to its bravura flourishes. They also possess exciting panache for the D major Sonata No 2, a performance combining brilliance with emotional warmth. (Daily Telegraph)
Powerfully eloquent (Guardian)
Real technical brilliance, which Sturfält has in abundance … a masterly performance. (Manchester Evening News)
The première recording of Carr’s Seven Last Words from the cross and other choral works.
Catalogue No: 5060192780376
This is a finely presented CD. The performances from the baritone, William Dazeley in The Seven Last Words is excellent. The choral singing is always well-balanced and clear. And finally the Bath Philharmonia under Gavin Carr give a committed account of this deeply felt music. The liner-notes by the composer are always helpful. The sound quality is faultless. This is an excellent production from one of Britain’ leading composers. Every piece is enjoyable, approachable and ultimately inspiring and often moving. It may be that some folk will not approve of Paul Carr’s largely ‘traditional’ musical language. However, to my ear this CD proves that there is still ever so much to be ‘said’ using a largely tonal musical structure. This music does not require any ‘ism’ but simply a genuine inspiration — truly devotional in the broadest sense. (MusicWeb International)
Drawing on Arvo Pärt and the Slavonic choral tradition, the key work here is a substantial work which, Britten-like, interpolates the Seven Last Words with religious texts ranging from Phineas Fletcher to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina … All are strongly performed and richly recorded (Classical Music)
The role of Jesus, most eloquently fulfilled here by William Dazeley … Fluency and ease with which he handles his forces … Exemplary results from his assembled performers (Gramophone)
Settings of texts by Buddhist nuns, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, alto flute, clarinet and viola.
Catalogue No: 5060192780369
The texts are strongly meditative, evoking the calm and poise of those who wrote them. Corp has expertly matched this in music, and by craving for variety, greater characterisation and even drama one is no doubt missing the point. This is music that will work well late at night with the lights down. The five performers certainly seem convinced by it. (Gramophone)
Romantic British music for viola and piano.
Catalogue No: 5060192780352
Viola music of virtuosic brilliance, splendidly played by Su Zhen and Simon Lepper in this well-recorded Stone disc. (Gramophone)
Thanks to Lionel Tertis (1876-1975), the great viola player who inspired many works last century, British composers have had a close association with the instrument. This disc is full of the rhapsody and lyricism that suits its middle-voiced, rich tone, opening with the poignant First Meeting (Souvenir) by Eric Coates, composer of Desert Island Discs’ theme tune and himself a violist. Delius, in an arrangement of his Violin Sonata No 2, and York Bowen’s Phantasy follow the mood deliciously. The Welsh composer Rhian Samuel (b.1944), in contrast, exploits the viola’s capacity for sparseness and eloquence in Blythswood, written as she watched seascapes and mountains while resident in the remote Scottish Highlands. Beautifully played, this is an addictive disc. (Observer)
Zhen and Lepper play all the selections with sensitivity and the ultimate in technical prowess. I enjoyed this foray into British music and think listeners will like it too. (Fanfare)
One of the 40 men and women who make Beijing great (Time Out Beijing)
Su Zhen – someone who makes people love the viola (Musical Instrument Magazine)
The seventh disc in the first complete recording of the songs of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), recorded live at the Oxford Lieder Festival. This seventh disc features the secular songs from the Spanish songbook.
Catalogue No: 5060192780345
This is a disc few would regret buying – **** (BBC Music Magazine)
A musical countdown to Christmas with 25 wonderful carols.
Catalogue No: 5060192780338
Lusty performances, and a nice mix of familiar and less familiar selections. (BBC Music)
One of the most interesting programmes of carols this year (Gramophone)
This is a truly excellent and worthwhile disc (International Record Review)
At last, a Christmas disc you can enjoy for the quality of the performances! It would make a great gift, but you might want to keep it for yourself. This is a disc you can enjoy in private, and in the company of friends and family with above average taste in music. It’s that good. No Xmassy ersatz here. This is the real thing! The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, conducted by David Crown make this a disc to cherish. Their enthusiasm is genuinely infectious. You get caught up in the sheer joy of the singing, excitement, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. That’s high praise, especially in a market saturated with the blasé and conventional. The Somerville Choir are young, but older than many church choristers. Thus they sing with freshness and energy, yet are mature enough to sound as if they’re singing because they have chosen, spontaneously, to get together and enjoy themselves. (Classical Iconoclast)
A wonderful survey of Schubert’s Lieder, with one song taken from each year of his composing career.
Catalogue No: 5060192780321
CHOICE FOR THE CURIOUS, Terrific. Amazing value. (Classic FM)
Here is a most unusual collection of Schubert Lieder. Eighteen songs are arranged in chronological order, with one representative song selected from each year, beginning with Schubert’s earliest known song, Der Vatermörder, D 10, written in 1811 when he was 14, and ending with his last composed song, Die Taubenpost, D 965a, written in 1828, shortly before his death. If you’re wondering why there are 18 songs instead of 17—the number of years between 1811 and 1828, it’s because Die Taubenpost, which really is Schubert’s last known song, was arbitrarily tacked on to the end of the Schwanengesang collection, D 957, by its first publisher, Tobias Haslinger, and there it remains today in most modern performances. So, just to cover all bases, the current CD also gives us one other, slightly earlier, song from 1828, Der Winterabend. The highly informative booklet note omits one crucial detail. It doesn’t tells us who came up with the idea for this program, whether it was pianist Sholto Kynoch’s brainstorm or the joint vision of the seven singers that share the honors of presenting the songs. Whoever was responsible should be congratulated, for the individual songs chosen, even if you ignore the chronological theme, make for an exceptionally satisfying recital.Obviously, I can’t conclude this review without mentioning the excellent keyboard support afforded all seven singers by pianist Sholto Kynoch. Not only has he had to learn the accompaniments to these 18 songs, but his task is made all the more challenging by having to adjust his tone and touch to complement the unique vocal timbres of each of the vocalists. Credit, too, goes to Stone, for a bright, but not glaring, detailed recording. Strongly recommended. (Fanfare)
Mary Bevan’s soprano brings warm scents and breezes of spring to “Lob der Tränen” (1818) and the vernal tenor of James Gilchrist gives sweet, if slow, performances of “Frühlingsglaube” (1820) and “Im Frühling” (1826). Best of all is the cultivated, supple and stable tenor of Benjamin Hulett in “Abendstern” (1824). (BBC Music)
An interesting disc, with many good things in it. (International Records Review)
Live recording of Britten’s five canticles, with the extended version of Canticle III (The heart of the matter).
Catalogue No: 5060192780314
Both sets of performances are very fine. Those from Oxford around Norman are easier on the ear … The Oxford performance has a wider-ranging essay by recent Britten biographer Paul Kildea … Both discs are well recorded. (International Record Review)
This release is a valuable addition to the Britten discography (Classical Iconoclast)
Those expecting five “canticles” will not be disappointed (Fanfare)
The second disc in a four-disc series that will comprise the first complete recording of the songs of Roger Quilter (1877-1953).
Catalogue No: 5060192780307
The talented baritone Mark Stone adds another fine disc to his discography. Once again, the range of colour and dynamic in his singing is impressive, precisely geared to the words of each song. In every way this is an English equivalent to German Lieder or French mélodie. Roger Quilter is an extraordinary composer. Born into a wealthy family, he was a delicate child and ill health dogged him throughout his life. He was educated at Eton but never had any idea of trying to earn a living. It did not help that he was homosexual, at a time when any gay activity was strictly illegal. Nonetheless, he was wealthy enough to leave his parents’ apartment and set up on his own nearby in Mayfair, devoting his whole life to writing songs, 38 of which are on this second disc (of four) in Stone’s ‘Complete Quilter Songbook’. Going from one song to another is a delight. It reminds me that Quilter’s songs were favourites with the great Jessye Norman, drawing out her great ranger of expression in their easy lyricism and easy freshness. When each song is so delightful it is hard to pick out particular examples, except that Quilter’s love of poets of the 17th century – Herrick, Suckling, Lovelace etc – drew out some of his finest inspirations. As in previous discs from Mark Stone, Stephen Barlow in his accompaniments matches his partner perfectly. (Gramophone).
Quilter’s songs feature in may English song recitals, but this second volume of Mark Stone and Stephen Barlow’s excellent complete edition confirms that they’re more than mere programme fillers. This wealthy Old Etonian might be mistaken for a patrician amateur, but he was a serious musician who studied in Germany alongside Percy Grainger and others, and wrote successful operas, light music, and more than a hundred songs. Heard together, their individuality becomes more evident, sprightly and limpidly lyrical in a characteristically Edwardian manner; they influenced Philip ‘Peter Warlock’ Heseltine and others. They lack Vaughan Williams’s dynamic originality, perhaps, yet they have deeply felt undercurrents, sometimes a melancholy hinting at Quilter’s ill health, repressed sexuality and mental decline after his nephew’s murder in World War Two. They’re mostly strongest when they emory Quilter’s response to some already power poetry, from Shakespeare and the Earl of Rochester to Byron, Blake and Keats; Quilter’s own early lyrics sound distinctly weedy. The concluding Herrick sequence To Julia is particularly good. Stone’s high. slightly grainy baritone and incisive diction deliver Quilter’s often long, soaring lines with compelling fervour, and Barlow’s fluent accompaniment is the opposite of the dreaded effete tinkling sometimes inflicted on these songs. **** **** (BBC Music)
This second of four discs will be the first complete recording of the songs of Roger Quilter (1877-1953). As well as setting Blake, Byron, Keats, Binyon and the Earl of Rochester, the Sussex-born composer also wrote some of his own texts, sometimes using a pseudonym. The mood of these songs is wistful, fairly conventional and often with intricate piano parts, elegantly played by Stephen Barlow. Mark Stone’s performances are assured and persuasive … this Volume 2 is full of pleasures, not least the song cycle To Julia, to poems of Robert Herrick. (Observer)