The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.
This week Robert Johnson returns to The Critic's Chair
VIEUXTEMPS: Violin Concertos, No 1 in E Op 10; No 2 in F# minor Op 19; Greeting to America Op 56
Chloe Hanslip (vln), Royal Flemish Phil/Martyn Brabbin
(Hyperion CDA 67878)
The soloist is British violinist Chloë Hanslip in her first recording for the Hyperion label. A child prodigy, Hanslip performed in major concert halls on both sides of the Atlantic at age 10, recording her debut album for Warner Classics at just 13. Over the past decade or so she’s matured into a true artist of the violin, who can deliver the pyrotechnics with apparent ease when they’re called for, but who also displays fine musicianship in the more cantabile passages. Enhanced by a very natural sounding recording, this CD forms Volume 12 of Hyperion’s “Romantic Violin Concerto” series.
MEDTNER: Arabesques; Elegies (Arabesques Dithyrambs)
Hamish Milne (pno)
(Hyperion CDA 67851)
All 38 tracks on these two CDs are performed with consummate artistry by a pianist who has considered his interpretations of the scores over several decades. Milne has also written the wise, entertaining and informative programme notes. Sensitively and unobtrusively recorded for the Hyperion label, these discs offer a treasure trove to anyone even vaguely interested in this repertoire.
Martin Fröst: Dances to a Black Pipe
COPLAND: Clarinet Concerto; BRAHMS: Hungarian dance No 1 in G minor, No 13 in G major, No 21 in E minor, No 12 in D minor; FRÖST: Kletzmer Dances; HILLBORG: Clarinet Concerto (Peacock Tales); HOGBERG: Dancing with Silent Purpose; LUTOSLAWSKI: Dance Preludes; PIAZZOLA: Oblivion
Martin Fröst (cl), Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti
(BIS SACD 1863)
Included on the disc are works written for Fröst – Peacock Tales by Anders Hillborg – which specifically involves a dance element. You can see the multi-talented Fröst performing this work on YouTube, by the way – it’s certainly worth a look. Fredrik Högberg’s Dancing with Silent Purpose involves a pre-recorded tape and was inspired by computer games. Don’t be put off – it’s actually a highly entertaining piece, like everything on this disc.
BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915; BERLIOZ: Les Nuits d’été; BRITTEN: Les Illuminations
Anne-Catherine Gillet (sop), Orchestra Philharmonique de Liège/Paul Daniel.
(æon AECD 1113)
There are other recordings of each of these works that are just as fine, and in the case of Les Nuits d’été I do, on balance, prefer to hear the work sung by a mezzo. However, taken as a programme, this is a particularly rewarding coupling, and Anne-Catherine Gillet brings an opera singer’s sense of theatre to bear on works that all benefit from that dimension. Paul Daniel conducts the Liège Philharmonic with similar sensitivity, and the refinement of the orchestra’s response and the clarity with which it’s recorded all contribute to a highly successful disc.
CASELLA: Orchestal Works Vol 2, A Notte Alta; Concerto for Orchestra; La Donna Serpente Suites
Martin Roscoe (pno), BBC Phil/Gianadrea Noseda
(Chandos CHAN 10712)
Chandos has so far produced two CDs of Casella’s orchestral music, Volume 2 in this series has just appeared, and it includes the world premiere recording of Casella’s Concerto for Orchestra. Also on the disc are two series of Symphonic Fragments from the opera La donna serpente, based on a comedy by Goldoni. These are brilliantly scored and well worth hearing. The engineering for this Chandos disc is spectacular, and I thoroughly recommend the disc to anyone who’s interested in the byways of twentieth century orchestral music.