• Recorded Music Department

    February 18, 2012

    Current Special Offers On DECCA, DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON and EMI Recordings

  • Recorded Music Department

    December 6, 2011

    Only Men Aloud at Forsyths - Monday 12 December at 12.00 noon.


    Forsyths are delighted to announce that Only Men Aloud, one of the most exciting and original Welsh male voice choirs, will be visiting the shop on Monday 12th December at Mid-day.


  • Recorded Music Department

    July 22, 2011

    Bargain box sets



    We’ve taken a new delivery of budget box sets in the Record Department.  Each set comprises 10 CD’s and retails for £10.50.  Some of the highlights comprise two boxes of Chanson, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.    There’s a set of greatest operas featuring Maria Callas and fans of conductors like Furtwangler, Toscanini, Beecham, Barbirolli, and Karajan will be pleased with sets devoted to these artists.    A personal favourite for me is the Celibidache box as the last disc contains two of the most blistering performances of Shostakovich symphonies you will ever encounter with the Berlin Philharmonic in the period 1945-50.

  • Recorded Music Department

    June 6, 2011

    Listening again to Lenny

    bernstein-mahler5We’ve been acquiring a few new re-issues in the record shop here at Forsyth’s and one of them, in particular, has grabbed my attention.  A customer bought this 1987 Bernstein VPO Mahler 5th a few months ago and told me that, whatever else I listened to, I had to hear this.  As a matter of fact, quite a few customers have been urging me to listen to Bernstein’s Mahler.  The great irony is that I grew up with these performances and I heard nearly all of them as a teenager in New Zealand.  In fact, it was Bernstein who really switched me on to a lot of ‘classical’ music particularly during a Beethoven cycle that we were lucky enough to see on television.  So, I thought I knew what I was ‘in for’ when I gave this recording another spin.   Now, it was never really fashionable to like Bernstein in the 80’s at least not where I lived!  My elders and betters assured me that I wasn’t listening to ‘real’ Beethoven and they found his Mahler uncontrolled and too often ‘hysterical’.  Of course, I loved it - all that jumping about on the podium and thrashing round - terribly exciting; it was almost enough to make you want to become a conductor!  Above all, I reckoned at the time (and still do) that Mr Bernstein made the music come alive - it was as though he ‘lived’ everything he conducted.    

    Listening again to this Mahler was an incredible experience.  Part of the impact may just be nostalgia or the joy of remembering a musician who gave so much to music and was ‘larger than life’.  Part of it may be the joy of hearing my favourite orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, very much as I remembered it - silvery toned strings, rich dark bass and with that slightly astringent sound in the winds and brass.  I’m also certain that I was right about Bernstein - that he makes the music live and stamps his own personal view on it.  And, of course, in the interim I have learnt to love other Mahler 5ths - most notably those of Barbirolli, Bruno Walter and Kubelik. 

    Even so I wasn’t really prepared for what I heard.  Just when you think you’re getting to know a great work somebody comes along who knocks you off your seat with a vision of a symphony that alters the way you think about it and about the composer.  In fact, I wondered whether I haven’t been missing the whole ‘point’ of Mahler all these years.  With Bernstein every little detail tells; he and the orchestra know just how to ‘point’ a rythm or shape a phrase and tempi are finely judged.  Even the Adagietto benefits from Bernstein’s more languorous approach (around 11 minutes as opposed to Walter’s 7 or 8 minutes).  Perhaps Bernstein felt that this really was the heart of the work - in any case, there’s an explosion of string tone part way through which is simply incredible - and there’s that rich, dark Vienna Phil sound which is so much part of the soundscape of Mahler’s music (or, at least, I think so).  Above all, the score is ‘built’ by Bernstein - did he have an emotional or pictorial ’blueprint’ in his mind as he prepared this performance?- possibly, for I have never heard the music so richly ’staged’ or dramatised so that we really do end up with a portrait of a man torn between joy and suffering; the joy wins but it is hard earned.  And when the mighty apotheosis comes at the end of the last movement it has been prepared as part of a vast, architectural whole so that it is the culmination of the whole piece.

    Listening again to Lenny has also convinced me of another thing.  That he was in some senses a ‘throwback’ to those ‘Romantic’ subjective conductors such as Mengelberg, Stokowski or Abendroth - those musicians who thought of music in terms of line and pulse and phrase rather than of rythm or text or metre.   Like them, Bernstein feels able to adjust the tempo and vary the pulse as the music demands; he is not bound to a predetermined tempo.  Of course, all of this is anathema to certain types of listener so this Mahler is definitely not for everyone.  But, if you’re prepared to forego the way you think the piece should go and enter into the spirit of the interpretation and if you’re prepared to have your ideas about Mahler challenged and your whole concept of music making questioned than give this Mahler a go; Bernstein definitely has his place in the pantheon of great musical interpreters.

  • Recorded Music Department

    May 5, 2011



    Late last year Daniel Barenboim signed a major new deal with Decca and DG and we are already beginning to see the fruits of this partnership.  On this disc Barenboim conducts his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble made up of young players from Israel, the Palestinian territories and surrounding Arab nations.  And, my goodness, can they play! This disc, comprising Schoenberg ’s Variations for Orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony showcases both orchestra and conductor in fantastic light and was recorded live at the Salzburg Festival in 2007.  Perhaps the frisson of a live concert produced that extra degree of tension and commitment from all concerned but the Tchaikovsky, in particular, is a stunner.  One can certainly hear echoes of Barenboim’s conducting passions Furtwangler and Celibidache in this performance combining as it does the weight and beauty of sound of those earlier conductors with something of the fleetness of Mravinsky.  The finale, in particular, is positively searing and is notable for the beauty of the string playing.  More, please.

  • Recorded Music Department

    April 6, 2011

    Sony Classical Masters



    It’s never been easier to acquire a collection of ‘classical’ music at such reasonable prices.  Now Sony have just made available a selection of some of their finest recordings at bargain prices.  Called ‘Sony Classical Masters’ there are 28 box sets and 42 single releases.  You’ll find some of the highlights on our shelves here at Forsyth’s.  You can acquire the single discs for a mere £4.30 each and the box sets include such bargains as this 6 CD set of Heifetz for £20.70.  There are single discs of Horowitz’s Beethoven and Schumann, Ashkenazy’s Rachmaninov Concertos 3 and 4 and Bernstein conducting Mahler’s 5th.

  • Recorded Music Department

    March 26, 2011

    Hyperion Highlights

    This month is Marc-Andre Hamelin month at Hyperion.  The label’s lead release is the 53rd installment in their Romantic Piano Concerto series and features the F minor concerto by Reger and Richard Strauss’s captivating ‘Burleske’, a Hamelin party piece.  The Reger is a rarely recorded behemoth noted for its denseness and harmonic complexity.  Hostile press criticism of the concerto drove the composer to drink, apparently.  Needless to say, Hamelin is fully equal to the task of unlocking its secrets.

    If that doesn’t satisfy you, then try Hamelin’s new recording of the Liszt Piano Sonata on a disc that also includes the three pieces of ‘Venezia e Napoli’, the supplement to his Italian ‘Years of Pilgrimage’. 

    And while I’m on the subject of Liszt, there’s a recent Hyperion disc from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov that’s a worthy addition to any Lisztian’s collection.  It features ‘From the Cradle to the Grave’, ‘Three Funeral Odes’ and ‘Two Episodes from Lenau’s Faust’.  The Odes exist in a variety of versions but the orchestral version recorded here is thrilling and well worth investigation.

  • Recorded Music Department

    January 31, 2011


    Deutsche Grammophon and Decca continue to mine gold from their back catalogue  in a new batch of  ‘Originals’ issues.   The CD’s come complete with the original covers from those vinyl issues of long ago.  The pick of the bunch, for me at least, is Fischer-Dieskau’s 1963 recording of Mahler’s ‘Kindertotenlieder’ with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karl Bohm together with the later Kubelik recording of ‘Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen’ and other songs.  I must confess that I hadn’t heard this particular version of ‘Kindertotenlieder’ before having owned the mid-50’s version with Rudolf Kempe.  It was certainly an intense listening experience as singer, orchestra and conductor penetrated Mahler’s anguished sound world in a way that I’d never experienced before.  If you don’t believe me, try the disc yourself. 

    Just as fabulous, though, is a Decca originals re-issue of the 1961 recordings of Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony and Brahms Third Symphony by Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic.  The VPO’s burnished and radiant sound in this brilliant early 60’s Decca version is just marvellous  and the recording simply doesn’t sound its age.  These Decca recordings were ’state of the art’ in their day and still sound pretty fabulous.

    Brent Siddall

  • Recorded Music Department

    January 29, 2011

    Early Music in 2011 : Messiah

    Haendel: Messiah

    George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) composed music firmly rooted in many traditions. Born in Germany he studied both in his native country and in Italy. Upon arrival in England, eventually becoming a naturalised citizen in 1729, he was deeply affected by the mastery of Purcell’s scores and in particular his vocal writing.

    Of his entire output, Messiah (composed Aug.–Sept. 1741, first performed Easter 1742) stands as a monument of the great English choral tradition. Being possibly the most famous and most performed choral work internationally its influence and appreciation is colossal. Consequently many recordings of this work are available and, given Handel’s several versions of the music, one recording is simply not enough.

    By way of introduction to Messiah one must consider the different types of attention this work has received over the decades. Firstly, there are huge, re-orchestrated recordings with bombastic choruses and orchestras including everything except the kitchen sink. This kind of recording includes people like Sir Thomas Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic and Sir Malcolm Sargent’s famous offering with the Huddersfield Choral Society. Following this tradition for massive Messiahs, performances with much smaller, period instruments came along. These recordings also often have the benefit of being a specific version of the score – for example Edward Higginbottom’s all male recording of the 1751 version which Handel arranged specifically for the Chapel Royal or Paul McCreesh’s 1753 recording of the 1753 version.

    As a recommendation of just one of the many recordings to choose from, my personal favourite is from the Harmonia Mundi catalogue featuring conductor William Christie with chorus and choir, Les Arts Florissants.  Soloists Barbara Schlick, Sandrine Piau, Andreas Scholl, Mark Padmore and Nathan Berg all sing beautifully and effortlessly, easily producing warm, rounded tones with furiously well adapted coloratura. The choir add a wonderful sense of French joie d’vivre making each chorus a joy to listen to, even if the text and theological message is far from jubilant. The orchestra also is sound, secure and tight. In this recording, Christie brings us one of the most delicious accounts of Messiah to ever appear on disc.

  • Recorded Music Department

    January 8, 2011

    Early Music in 2011



    Purcell - The Complete Odes and Welcome Songs, (8CDs).  £50.80.


    Since the advent of historically informed performance practice in the second half of the twentieth century we have benefitted enormously as listeners. Our ears are now open to the wealth of music now made available to us on disc as the direct result of years of expert scholarship. Names such as Gustav Leonhardt, Trevor Pinnock, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Robert King, Paul McCreesh and Marc Minkowski are now common place as pioneers in the early music movement.

    It seems appropriate now to suggest, week-by week, an item of particular delight for customers enthusiastic to explore the riches of of an enormously varied and rich catalogue of early music.

    Where better to begin than with the seventeenth-century master and inspiration for generations of composers thereafter, including Handel, Benjamin Britten and Elliot Crater to name but three. I speak, of course, of Henry Purcell (1659-1695) whose unique vision became the bench mark for the possibilities of making music mirror the text, a technical term amounting to ’word-painting’. Along with his fantastically keen sense of harmony we can be thankful for some of the most interesting, exciting and sublime music ever penned. An early death, due to tuberculosis inspired such grief that contemporary composers supplied us with works of sufficient misery at our loss that listening today to John Blow’s Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell can still vividly allow us to wallow in the early exit of such a great mind.

    Beginning a collection of Purcell is no mean task and I should like to suggest several releases that stand as landmarks both in recorded music history and as most excellent performances.

    The first  is The Complete Odes and Welcome Songs. Finally released in an attractive box set after many years of single disc issues this collection features  Purcell’s completes odes and welcome songs written for and dedicated to various seventeenth century dignitaries including dukes, monarchs and members of the royal family as well as St. Cecilia - the patron saint of music. On Hyperion CDS44031/8 and priced at £50.80 which works at £6.35 per disc this is an incredible bargain. The King’s Consort, along with selected soloists and their conductor Robert King give every note its full value of passion and commitment.

    More to follow.

    Andy King

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