July Editor’s Choices
RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR
BRAHMS Violin Concerto. Violin Sonata No 1. ‘F-A-E’ Scherzo
Vadim Gluzman vn Angela Yoffe pf Lucerne SO / James Gaffigan BIS
Whether in concerto or sonata, Vadim Gluzman proves himself a violinist of fine tone, calm control and virtuosity.
HANDEL Water Music Göttingen Festival Orchestra / Laurence Cummings Accent Delightful playing from the Göttingen Festival Orchestra under Laurence Cummings, full of vitality and embodying a truly joyful sense of rapport.
LECLAIR Violin Concertos Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi vn Glossa There’s an air of refinement and graceful confidence in these recordings of concertos by French Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair that just feels completely appropriate.
ALBERTO REYES Piano Recital Alberto Reyes pf VAI It ‘may be his best yet’, says Jed Distler in praising the latest recording from Uruguayan pianist Alberto Reyes, a musician who evidently should be much better known to us all.
FAURÉ ‘The Complete Songs, Vol 2’ Soloists; Malcolm Martineau pf Signum Volume 2 in
Malcolm Martineau’s survey of Fauré’s songs pairs some whole cycles with rarities, and follows the first in offering listeners some superb singing.
MACHAUT ‘Sovereign Beauty’ The Orlando Consort Hyperion This wonderful disc – the latest in The
Orlando Consort’s exploration of Machaut – unites a programme of well-chosen works with performances (and a recording) of great eloquence and clarity.
STANFORD Choral Works The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge / Stephen Layton Hyperion
A celebration of Stanford’s link with Trinity – many of his works were written for the chapel – and of this impressive choir under Stephen Layton’s leadership.
LULLY Armide Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset Aparté Leading Lully interpreter
Christophe Rousset has assembled an excellent cast for a performance rich in exquisite singing, drama and dancelike momentum.
‘VISIONS’ Véronique Gens sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Hervé Niquet Alpha Admirers of Véronique
Gens will know what to expect: namely powerful characterisation, emotional commitment and singing of deeply moving beauty.
(primo) achieves a thrilling synergy of articulate instrumental playing, fulsome choral ripienos and dexterous solo singing. Sonorous textures doubled by trombones and harmonic twists from the violins are balanced perfectly in the descending chromaticism that word-paints ‘misericordia’ in Laudate Dominum (primo). Hollingworth argues in his booklet note (and more extensively online at a microsite dedicated to the project) that Monteverdi’s triple-time signatures are commonly performed too quickly – in a nutshell, he reckons that a lateBaroque dance aesthetic has been misapplied to Monteverdi’s late-Renaissance practice. These scholarly ideas directly inform the shape and personality of these gorgeous reinterpretations. Seen afresh in this light, Confitebor tibi, Domine (secondo) lilts gently and with delightful translucence, its measured pace aligned to an affectionate tone of delivery from the superb solo trio Ciara Hendrick, Nicholas Mulroy and
Jonathan Sells. Similarly, the evergreen Beatus vir (primo) springs a double surprise: the opening section (four beats in a bar, over a ground bass) is a notch quicker than is usually the case (its light flexibility of touch and articulate delivery of text means that the details are never in jeopardy of being blurred in a rush), but the ensuing dancelike, triple-time middle section adopts a slower and softer pulse than usual. This means that the violin ritornello has increased lyricism, the florid solo voice parts are more congruent (the duo singing of mezzo-sopranos Clare Wilkinson and Ciara Hendrick is lovely), and the singers are able to communicate the text with more effective clarity than is often the case at a quicker speed. What’s more, the word-setting actually makes more sense when performed like this. Monteverdi’s small-scale setting of Salve, o regina (1624), sung mellifluously by Matthew Long, is a beautifully understated conclusion.
In truth, the choice of Monteverdi psalmsettings has a fair bit of overlap with Gustav Leonhardt’s ‘Vespri di S Giovanni Battista’ (Philips, 4/89) and also Rinaldo Alessandrini’s award-winning ‘Vespri solenni per la Festa di San Marco’ (Naïve, A/14), but Hollingworth’s curiosity to ask difficult questions and put practical suggestions to the test within a contextual performance brings more to mind the philological instincts and musical qualities of Andrew Parrott (to whom this recording is dedicated as ‘a respectful hommage’).
I Fagiolini were never going to offer anything mundane for the composer’s 450th birthday celebrations, and this ‘other Vespers’ contributes fresh ideas about how to interpret music about which plenty of matters are far from settled, in addition to being a fine advocacy of Monteverdi’s later Venetian-period sacred works. David Vickers gramophone.co.uk
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GRAMOPHONE RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2017 17