Navigation for The Critic's Chair

The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.

This week Robert Johnson returns toThe Critic's Chair.

HMCBeethoven & Berg: Violin Concertos
Isabelle Faust (vln), Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
(Harmonia Mundi HMC 902105)
In 1997 I was among many critics enormously impressed by Isabelle Faust’s debut CD, which consisted of Bartók’s First Sonata for Violin and Piano and his Sonata for Solo Violin. The quality of her tone, her ability to sustain a line, the sureness of her technique – all of these were remarkable, but so too was the depth of her interpretation. The recording deservedly won the 1997 Gramophone Award for “Young Artist of the Year”, and Faust has been fulfilling the promise of that recording ever since.

ONYXGlazunov: String Quintet in A, Op.39
Arensky: String Quartet No.2 in A minor, Op.35
Borodin: String Sextet in D minor
The Nash Ensemble
(ONYX 4067)
…an extremely enjoyable concert of relatively unfamiliar 19th century Russian chamber music for strings, performed with all the technical brilliance and musical insight we’ve come to expect from these first-rate musicians. Production and engineering are comparably excellent and, if the programme appeals to you, there’s no reason to hesitate.

Atoll ACDRitchie: Symphony No.3; A Bugle Will Do; French Overture; Revelations
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Tecwyn Evans
(Atoll ACD 741)
The performances throughout this disc are excellent, committed and highly charged, and the recording is also top-notch. This is the finest CD of Ritchie’s orchestral works to have appeared so far and it’s well worth investigating.

Hyperion CDABrian: Symphony No.1 (“Gothic”)
Susan Gritton (sop), Christine Rice (mezzo), Peter Auty (ten), Alastair Miles (bass), David Goode (org), The Bach Choir, BBC National Chorus of Wales, Brighton Festival Chorus, CBSO Youth Chorus, Côr Caerdydd, Eltham College Boys’ Choir, Huddersfield Choral Society, London Symphony Chorus, Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Chorus, BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC Concert Orchestra/ Martyn Brabbins
(Hyperion CDA67971)
The first commercial recording of The Gothic was released on the Marco Polo label in 1990, using Slovak musicians under the direction of conductor Ondrej Lenard. Though this was an extraordinary achievement and an invaluable addition to the Havergal Brian discography, the new performance is superior in almost every way.