Sunday 29 December 2019

2019 in CD reviews

Ethel Smyth Fete Galante, Liza Lehmann The Happy Prince; Charmian Bedford, Carolyn Dobbin, Felix Kemp, Simon Wallfisch, Mark Milhofer, Alessandro Fisher, Lontano Ensemble, Odaline de la Martinez, Felicity Lott, Valerie Langfield; Retrospect Opera
2019 seemed a year for scholarship and rarity in recordings. Retrospect Opera gave us the first recording of Ethel Smyth's Fete Galante, whilst John Butt and the Dunedin Consort recorded every note of Handel's Samson as the composer originally wrote it, and the Academy of Ancient Music recorded a new edition of Handel's Brockes Passion. Palazzetto Bru Zane's new recording of Gounod's Faust explored many variants not usually performed, and their new recording of Spontini's Olimpie gave us a new view of the opera.  Opera Rara reconstructed Donizetti's L'Ange de Nisida, an opera thought lost, whilst Vladimir Jurowski recorded the original version of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Contemporary discs included a terrific recital from pianist Adam Swayne, whilst the symphonies of the Scottish composer Thomas Wilson (1927-2001) made you wonder why his music is still relatively neglected.

 John Taverner Missa Gloria tibi trinitas; Contrapunctus, the Choir of The Queen's College, Oxford; Signum Classics
  • Reviving Ethel Smyth's dance dream: Fete Galante from Retrospect Opera
  • Striking new studio recording of Verdi's La Traviata from Latvia, with Marina Rebeka, Charles Castronovo, Michael Balke
  • Valuable first thoughts: John Butt & the Dunedin Consort record every note of Samson as Handel first performed it
  • A work of scholarship and a fine performance: Academy of Ancient Music's new recording of Handel's Brockes Passion
  • 17th century Playlist: from toe-tapping to plangently melancholy, Ed Lyon & Theatre of the Ayre
  • Sheer delight: Iestyn Davies and James Hall in duets by Henry Purcell and John Blow
  • The other Fausts: a very different version of Gounod's classic opera is revealed by this important new recording from Palazzetto Bru Zane 
  • Weaving their magic: Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt's From the ground up: the chaconne
  • Craftsmanship, colour & imagination: the symphonies of Thomas Wilson 
  • Poise, elegance and drama: Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton - Reason in Madness
  • A young man's passion: Julian Prégardien & Erik Le Sage in Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe 
  • Palpable enthusiasm & engagement: An English Coronation from Paul McCreesh, Gabrieli & Gabrieli Roar
  • Revivifying Olimpie: Spontini's opera in a terrific new recording from Palazzetto Bru Zane
  • A remarkable work of reconstruction: Opera Rara's world premiere recording of Donizetti's L'ange de Nisida
  • Thrilling dynamism: Taverner's Missa Gloria tibi trinitas from Owen Rees, Contrapunctus & the Choir of The Queen's College, Oxford on Signum 
  • Magnificent original: Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake restored in a superb performance from Vladimir Jurowski on Pentatone
  • Intimate conversations: the young Jubilee Quartet in three quartets spanning 20 years of Haydn's maturity
  • Political piano and terrific technique: Adam Swayne's '(speak to me)'

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