Recording of the Month

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Richard Lehnert  |  Mar 22, 2017  |  11 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 9: Completed Version
Gerd Schaller, completion & conductor, Philharmonie Festiva
Profil PH16089 (2 CDs). 2016. Lutz Wildner, tonmeister; ambitus Musikproduktion, engs. DDD. TT: 84:37
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Between 2007 and 2016, Gerd Schaller recorded all 11 of Bruckner's symphonies with the orchestra he founded, the Philharmonie Festiva. In the November 2011 issue I reviewed his 2010 recording of Symphony 9 with William Carragan's completion of the Finale, left incomplete (if perhaps not uncompleted) at Bruckner's death. Six years later, in 2016, with the same orchestra and engineer, and in the same hall—a vast cathedral in Ebrach, Bavaria—Schaller recorded his own completion of the Finale.

Robert Baird  |  Jul 25, 2017  |  9 comments
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Anniversary Edition
Parlophone/EMI PCS 7027 0602557455328 (4 CDs, 1 BD, 1 DVD). 1967/1987/2009/2017. Giles Martin, prod.; Sam Okell, mix; Jeff Jones, exec. prod.; Jonathan Clyde, Guy Hayden, project prods.; Matt Mysko, Greg McAllister, mix assts.; Miles Showell, Sean Magee, mastering; Matthew Cocker, transfer eng.; James Clarke, audio restoration. ADD? TT: 3:23:11 (CDs only)
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Even VIP visitors to Abbey Road studios are allowed to only peer down a dimly lit hallway to the vault where the Beatles tapes, arguably the UK's most valuable crown jewels, are meticulously stored. Given the value of the band's recorded legacy, it was only a matter of time before even Macca, who over the years has made cryptic and patently false statements about scraping the bottom of the barrel, would get behind new stereo mixes and the long-awaited official release of alternates and outtakes. While the three double-CD volumes of Anthology contained some of this material—and bootlegs had the rest—the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Anniversary Edition is a welcome and wonderful conglomeration of music and information, old and new, about this landmark recording.

Richard Lehnert  |  Dec 03, 2001  |  0 comments
WAGNER: The Ring of the Nibelung
Norman Bailey, Wotan, Wanderer; Derek Hammond-Stroud, Alberich; Alberto Remedios, Siegmund, Siegfried; Rita Hunter, Brünnhilde; Margaret Curphey, Sieglinde, Gutrune; Gregory Dempsey, Mime; Aage Haugland, Hagen; Norman Welsby, Gunther; Emile Belcourt, Loge; Clifford Grant, Fafner, Hunding; Katherine Pring, Fricka I, Waltraute II; Ann Howard, Fricka II; Anne Collins, Erda, First Norn; Valerie Masterson, Woglinde; Shelagh Squires, Wellgunde; Helen Attfield, Flosshilde; Gillian Knight, Second Norn; Anne Evans, Third Norn; Maurine London, Woodbird; others; Sadler's Wells (Siegfried) and English National Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Reginald Goodall
Chandos CHAN 3065 (16 CDs). 1974–78/2001. John Mordler, Ronald Kinloch Anderson, prods.; Robert Gooch, Stuart Eltham, engs. ADD. TT: 16:53:30
Performance ****
Sonics ***½
Richard Lehnert  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  1 comments
Keith Jarrett: La Fenice
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 2601/02 (2 CDs). 2018. Keith Jarrett, prod.; Martin Pearson, eng.; Christoph Stickel, Manfred Eicher, mastering, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 97:47
Performance *****
Sonics *****

This July 2006 concert, performed in Venice's Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Keith Jarrett's seventh recording of the shorter solo-piano improvisations he's explored since the early 2000s, after chronic fatigue syndrome robbed him of the stamina needed to improvise for unbroken stretches of nearly an hour. Despite their many high points, none of its six predecessors—Tokyo Solo, Radiance, Carnegie Hall, Testament, Rio, Creation—matched the cumulative power and depth of his best long-form improvisations: Köln, Sun Bear, Bregenz München, Paris. This one does.

Richard Lehnert  |  Oct 30, 2018  |  4 comments
J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo, BWV 1007–1012
Kim Kashkashian, four- & five-string violas
ECM New Series 2553/54 (2 CDs). 2018. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Judy Sherman, eng. DDD. TT: 2:22:35
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

Little is known of the origins of the Solo Suites, usually performed on the cello. No manuscript in Bach's hand survives, and in the copy produced by his second wife, Anna Magdalena, markings for slurs, articulation, and dynamics are sparse even by baroque standards. The suites may actually have been composed for the violoncello da spalla, an instrument smaller than the cello but larger than the viola, and played while held on the shoulder (some modern players use a neckstrap). But what are problems for the musicologist present a world of latitude to the interpreter, in this case master violist Kim Kashkashian, who takes full advantage of them.

Margaret Graham  |  Aug 30, 2017  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1979  |  0 comments
Michael Newman—Classical Guitarist
Sheffield Lab 10 (LP). Lincoln Mayorga, prod.; Doug Sax, eng., prod.

Mr. Newman's program comprises Bach's "Chaconne" from the Violin Partita No.2 in d, Albeniz's Torre Bermeja, Turina's Fandanquillo, and Eduardo Sainz de la Maza's Campanas del Alba. This is simply gorgeous. The most perfect guitar recording to date. BUY IT!!!!Margaret Graham

Corey Greenberg  |  Feb 13, 2005  |  First Published: Oct 13, 1993  |  0 comments
Hasil Adkins: Out to Hunch
Norton Records (no catalog # whatso-a-ever) LP, no CD. No producer, no engineer, no studio, no stereo, no mikes that weren't carbon police dispatcher models, no other people at all in fact—just Hasil Adkins, vocals and guitars and one-man drums and some weird rhythmic screeching that may or may not be LP surface noise. TT: infinite, as I can't stop hearing it in my head hours after I raised the needle off it.
To order, send $10 to Norton Records, Box 646, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003. If you don't, you shall burn in hellfire eternal. Hasil Adkins Fan Club; Hasil Adkins Headquarters.
Robert Levine  |  Sep 19, 2017  |  11 comments
Eriks Ešenvalds: The Doors of Heaven
The First Tears, Rivers of Light, A Drop in the Ocean, Passion and Resurrection
Dr. Ethan Sperry, Portland State Chamber Choir; various instrumentalists
Naxos 8.579008 (CD). 2017. Erick Lichte, prod.; John Atkinson, Doug Tourtelot, engs. DDD. TT: 58:52
Performance ****
Sonics *****

Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds has been making quite a name for himself in choral music. He teeters gingerly between consonance and dissonance, and varies intimate whisperings, the strength of forces—sometimes a solo soprano over the chorus; sometimes a solo vocal quartet; sometimes exquisite, silky smooth legato singing by the entire chorus—with wise, spare use of instruments.

Richard Lehnert  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  3 comments
Bruckner & Wagner
Andris Nelsons, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Bruckner: Symphony 4. Wagner: Lohengrin Prelude
Deutsche Grammophon 479 7577 (CD). TT: 79:24
Bruckner: Symphony 7. Wagner: Siegfried's Funeral March
Deutsche Grammophon 479 8494 (CD). TT: 76:48
Both: Everett Porter, prod., eng.; Lauran Jurrius, eng.; Polyhymnia International, mastering. DDD.
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

In works as vast and challenging as the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, near perfection of interpretation and execution can come in different, even opposed forms. The slow meditations of Celibidache, the crisp classicism of Schaller, the precise power of Skrowaczewski: each is uniquely fulfilling and true to the scores, and none sounds anything like the others—or anything like the Bruckner of Andris Nelsons. Deutsche Grammophon has contracted with Nelsons and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to record, in concert, Bruckner's symphonies 1–9. After beginning last year with a polished if impersonal account of Symphony 3, Nelsons's cycle is rapidly advancing in quality and pace of release.

Richard Lehnert  |  May 06, 2008  |  First Published: Feb 06, 1992  |  0 comments
KEITH JARRETT TRIO: The Cure
Keith Jarrett, piano; Gary Peacock, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums
ECM 1440 (849 650-2, CD only). Manfred Eicher, prod.; Jan Erik Kongshaug, eng. DDD. TT: 77:36
Richard Lehnert  |  May 07, 2008  |  First Published: Feb 07, 1992  |  0 comments
WAGNER: Götterdämmerung
Hildegard Behrens, Brünnhilde; Reiner Goldberg, Siegfried; Matti Salminen, Hagen; Bernd Weikl, Gunther; Cheryl Studer, Gutrune; Hanna Schwarz, Waltraute; Ekkehard Wlaschiha, Alberich; Helga Dernesch, First Norn; Tatiana Troyanos, Second Norn; Andrea Gruber, Third Norn; Hei-Kyung Hong, Woglinde; Diane Kesling, Wellgunde; Meredith Parsons, Flosshilde; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus; James Levine
DG 429 385-2 (4 CDs only). Cord Garben, prod.; Wolfgang Mitlehner, eng. DDD. TT: 4:29:53
Guy Lemcoe  |  Dec 31, 2008  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1991  |  0 comments
MIKE GARSON: The Oxnard Sessions, Volume One
Mike Garson, piano; Bob Summer, trumpet; Bob Shephard, sax; Rick Zunigar, electric guitar; Brian Bromberg, acoustic bass; Billy Mintz, drums
Reference Recordings RR-37 (LP), RR-37CD (CD*). Keith O. Johnson, eng.; J. Tamblyn Henderson, Jr., Marcia Martin, prods. AAA/DDD. TTs: 49:53, 75:51*
Corey Greenberg  |  Dec 31, 2008  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1991  |  0 comments
SHIRLEY HORN: You Won't Forget Me
Shirley Horn, voice, piano; Charles Ables, bass; Steve Williams, drums. With: Miles Davis, trumpet; Buck Hill, trumpet; Branford Marsalis, tenor saxophone; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Toots Thielemans, harmonica, guitar; Buster Williams, bass; Billy Hart, drums
Verve Digital 847 482-2 (CD only). Richard Seidel, Joel Siegel, prods.; David Baker, eng. DDD. TT: 71:13
Richard Lehnert  |  Sep 02, 2007  |  First Published: Nov 02, 1992  |  0 comments
JOHN WESLEY HARDING: Why We Fight
Sire 45032-2 (CD only). Steve Berlin, prod.; Paul DuGre, Danny McGough, engs. AAD. TT: 53:38
Richard Lehnert  |  Sep 02, 2007  |  First Published: Nov 02, 1992  |  0 comments
WAGNER: Götterdämmerung
Eva Martón, Brünnhilde; Siegfried Jerusalem, Siegfried; John Tomlinson, Hagen; Thomas Hampson, Gunther; Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Gutrune; Marjana Lipovsek, Waltraute; Theo Adam, Alberich; Jard Van Nes, First Norn; Anne Sofie von Otter, Second Norn; Jean Eaglen, Third Norn; Julie Kaufmann, Woglinde; Silvia Herman, Wellgunde; Christine Hagen, Flosshilde; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus; Bernard Haitink
EMI CDCD 54485 (4 CDs only). Wolfram Graul, Peter Alward, prods.; Martin Wöhr, eng. DDD. TT: 4:17:42

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