• Recorded Music Department

    September 3, 2016

    New classical recordings, including arias from Pumeza and an Elgar world premiere

    Welcome to the first of a new series of posts from the Recordings department at Forsyth. This week we digest some of our favourite new classical releases available now in store, by phone and on-line.

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    Pumeza: Arias

    Pumeza Matshikiza (soprano)

    Aarhus Symfonieorkester

    Tobias Ringborg (conductor)

    Decca 478 8964 – 52 mins

    £14.25

    Pumeza Matshikiza’s debut album, Voice of Hope (2014), introduced her to an international audience with a mixture of music from her home country, South Africa, and arias by Mozart and Puccini, with whose works she had already established her reputation at the Stuttgart Opera. Her follow-up builds on this range with a beautifully assembled programme showcasing the diversity of her recent and forthcoming roles – including Dido (Purcell), Rusalka (Dvořák) and Concepción (Ravel) – as well as an even broader selection of individual songs: the Cuban-inspired La Paloma (Yradier) and Punto de Habanera (Montsalvatge), the pastiche baroque of À Chloris (Hahn), and newly-commissioned orchestrations of Si tu le voulais (Tosti) and Après un rêve (Fauré). Writing in The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning enthuses, “The verismo arias… reveal one of the most luscious sounds we’ve heard from a young soprano in years”, while noting approvingly that, unlike many of her contemporaries, “she sings words!”

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    John Field: Piano Concerto No. 7, Irish Concerto & Piano Sonata No. 4

    Benjamin Frith (piano)

    Northern Sinfonia, David Haslam (conductor)

    Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Andrew Mogrelia (conductor)

    Naxos 8.573262 – 66 mins

    £6.00

    Recently the subject of Alistair McGowan’s Radio 4 documentary Field Notes: The Irishman Who Invented the Nocturne, John Field spent the majority of his working life in Russia, selling pianos for Clementi, with whom he had previously studied in London and travelled in Paris and Vienna. Russian audiences were particularly receptive to Field’s highly nuanced playing, and in turn a Russian influence is apparent in the second movement of his Piano Concerto No. 7. The so-called Irish Concerto is a one-movement work based on the first movement of his Piano Concerto No. 2: among the revisions is the addition of a central nocturne, reflecting Field’s practice of performing a pre-written or improvised nocturne in the middle of his two-movement sonatas and concertos to compensate for their lack of written slow movements. This recording concludes Frith’s complete series of Field piano concertos but also includes the Piano Sonata No. 4 not previously represented in his two volumes of Field’s solo piano music.

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    Elgar, orch. Donald Fraser: Piano Quintet & Sea Pictures

    English Symphony Orchestra

    English Chamber Orchestra

    Rodolfus Choir

    Kenneth Woods (conductor)

    Avie AV2362 – 60 mins

    £13.75

    Donald Fraser has form when it comes to orchestrating Elgar, having already provided arrangements for The Elgar Society, Yehudi Menuhin and Channel 4, and reviews of this world premiere recording agree that, even while taking the liberties demanded by expanded forces, his orchestral language is faithful to Elgar’s own. The Times deems that Fraser “has added the kind of touches of colour and splashes of figuration Elgar himself might well have introduced” while BBC Music Magazine finds the finale of the Piano Quintet “exhilaratingly Elgarian”. Fraser’s new version of the Sea Pictures, originally scored for contralto and an orchestra including solo winds and harp, transforms the song cycle into a choral work accompanied by string quartet and string orchestra, the more unified ensemble intended to highlight the extent to which Elgar integrated his vocal and instrumental material.

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    Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7

    Minnesota Orchestra

    Osmo Vänskä (conductor)

    Bis BIS-2006 – 82 mins

    £15.40

    Osmo Vänskä’s latest release with the Minnesota Orchestra brings to a close not his first but his second series of the complete Sibelius symphonies and, according to The Sunday Times, “confirms his status as our greatest living Sibelian”. BBC Music Magazine made the recording their Orchestral Choice (August 2016) and Gramophone their Editor’s Choice (September 2016), both publications praising Vänskä’s new performances in particular for their clarity – “of rhythm, of texture, of intention” (Gramophone). If you’re wondering whether to re-invest in Vänskä’s re-interpretations, James Longstaffe writes in Presto Classical that “even if you already own Vänskä’s earlier cycle with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, I think that these new performances are simply unmissable.”