Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Haydn - Concerti per Esterhazy - Beyer, Gli Incogniti

Rating: 5/5

A very fine recording

I have enjoyed Amandine Beyer’s baroque recordings with Gli Incogniti for some years now. I am pleased to say that this Haydn disc is just as good.

Haydn’s Cello Concertos are terrific works and there is a very good interpretation by Marco Ceccato here of the C major Concerto. I have never got on nearly so well with his Violin Concerti – until now. Beyer brings exactly the right combination of serious musical weight and that knowing Haydn twinkle to make the two concerti here an absolute delight. She and her players really seem to understand that Haydn often said serious things in a witty way, and their baroque experience brings a lovely lightness of step while never losing the music’s genuine quality. It has been rather a revelation to me and I very much hope Beyer will record more in the future.

The recorded sound by Harmonia Mundi is excellent and the disc is very nicely presented with good notes. It’s a very fine disc all round and I can recommend it very warmly.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Quartom - Renaissance

Rating: 3/5


I was looking forward to hearing Quartom who are a new ensemble to me. They make a very lovely sound, but overall I was rather disappointed in this disc.

The programme is of motets and antiphons by Palestrina, interspersed with plainchant. It is very beautiful music, which Quartom sing with skill and impeccable intonation. However, there is very little engagement with the texts (it may be significant that no texts are provided in the booklet) and there is a sameness of tone and sound which becomes rather cloying. Sometimes it is simply inappropriate – the celebratory words Hodie Christus natus est have rather a lugubrious air, for example – but often it’s just a bit bland. The same can be said of the plainchant, which to me needed a good deal more muscularity at times.

For me this is a bit of a waste of what is plainly a talented quartet of singers, sounding more as though it is aimed at a commercial chill-out market rather than a real attempt to bring the music to life. I’m sorry to be critical, but in the end I found much of Renaissance rather bland and dull, for all it’s beauty of sound, and I can only give it a very qualified recommendation.

Bach - Six Suites for Viola Solo - Kashkashian

Rating: 5/5

An excellent recording

I really like this set. Kim Kashkashian is a terrific musician and she really makes these wonderful works shine.

I think Kashkashian manages to allow Bach to shine through here while giving her own distinctive, loving interpretations. It can be a difficult balance to strike and for me she gets it just right so that the lighter dances really dance, and movements like the amazing Sarabande from Suite No. 5 carry all the emotional and spiritual weight which Bach gives them. They are lovely interpretations.

My sole reservation is that on the viola those magnificent resonances of the cello which Bach uses to such effect are much diminished and I do think the music loses something as a result. However, the musicianship, interpretation and sound quality here are all absolutely first-class and it’s still a five-star recording for me which I can recommend very warmly.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Bach - Sonatas & Partitas - Gottfried von der Goltz

Rating: 5/5

A very fine recording

I like Gottfried von der Goltz’s solo Bach very much. There are many, many recordings of these works now but there is always room for another really fine interpretation.

It is plain that von der Goltz really gets Bach. This is unsurprising after the outstanding Bach recordings he has made as conductor of the Freiburger Barockorchester, and that depth of understanding shines through here. It is often quite hard to put my finger on, but there is an overall sense of a great balance between the composer’s and the artist’s voices, so that von der Goltz gives these wonderful works his own interpretation while never swamping Bach’s own intention. The mighty Chaconne from the D minor Partita, for example, retains all its emotional and intellectual depth while never becoming bogged down in over-seriousness. It’s a difficult line to walk, and von der Goltz gets it just right, I think, as he does throughout. His technique is impeccable, his tone is lovely and the recorded sound is excellent.

I’m not yet sure whether this will take its place among my very favourite recordings by Rachel Podger, Viktoria Mullova and Isabelle Faust, but it’s in the same league, which for me is really saying something. It’s a very fine recording indeed and warmly recommended.