Recent listening

Stunning Beethoven symphonies (Nos. 1-8) from Rudolf Barshai, Russian Melodiya recordings from the 1970s. Measured tempos, ‘dovetailed’ phrasing, strong though never brutal emphases, all first movement exposition repeats observed, fairly good stereo sound. And such STRONG interpretations! I’d recommend them to anyone

A whole range of fascinating Melo Classic CDs, none of the material previously released on CD, probably not in any form. The pianist Marian Filar, whose life story is virtually as tragic as Szpilman’s (of ‘The Pianist’ fame). Eloquent Chopin with no excessive rubato (a sequence of Op. 28 Preludes is especially good). Exhaustive booklet notes. Friedrich Wuhrer and Elly Ney (both Nazis), Wuhrer worth hearing for a magnificent Hammerklavier, Ney for a fairly sensitive Schumann Quintet (with the Hoffman Quartet, the second movement being incredibly slow). Plenty more in the catalogue – do check out their website.

I’d never heard of the violinist Patrice Fontanarosa but a 12-cd set on French Decca has, in some respects, proved a revelation. A superb Schumann Fantasy plus the Violin Concerto, the Schubert trios with his brother and sister, Ravel and Fauré too.

What have you heard?

11 thoughts on “Recent listening

  1. Robert Roy

    Good to Have this page open again!

    I’ve been mega impressed with a new recording featuring the violinist Augustine Dumay on Onyx. He conducts Beethoven’s 8th Symphony with the Kansai Philharmonic. (A very good band!) He then plays first violin in Brahms’ first string sextet (a very, imho, under-rated work), and then gived a superb performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. A really lovely performance.

    Well worth hearing.

    Looking forward to writing more but better get back to work for a bit.


  2. Thanks Robert. I’ve been listening to that too. Found the first movement of the Beethoven a little too free … and a don’t like trills that slowly accelerate. The slow movement though is wonderfully pure in tone and I thought the Brahms Sextet quite superb. I hope Dumay and his mates go on to do the Second Sextet, which I love even more than the First. Thanks for responding so promptly Robert. Best. R


  3. Eddie Williamson

    I have a few CD’s by Fontanarosa. He was the concertmaster of Orchestre National de France for a decade in the seventies and eighties, in addition to his trio duties with his brother and sister. Worth checking out. Thanks for the tip on the French Decca box.

    Now listening to Poulenc’s Sept chansons, Mass in G major (1937), Four motets for the season of Lent, and Four motets for the season of Christmas. Sung by the Elora Festival Singers with direction by Noel Edison. Recorded in St. John’s Church, Elora, Ontario (October 2012) and issued on Naxos a few months back. Can’t think of a much better way to push through a off-day morning than with some a cappella singing as accomplished as this.


  4. Steven Swalbe.

    Hello Rob.
    All I can remember of RB’s LvB Ss is Op.21.Have several recs of MCO (KV201 etc.) ++ also he and DO in JSB BWV 1043 and of course with LK, DO and MS in Kammermusik. There was a prog abt Ney (LvB) She was a Nazi member. Friedrich Wührer was a Nazi sympathiser who was famous as a FS interpreter. I remember D575 and D959.


  5. Robert Roy

    Hi Rob. Here’s an odd coincidence. I picked up a Pearl cd (for a pound!) this morning of a Chopin recital by Raoul Koczalski, a name I was unfamiliar with. Determined to find out more, I put his name in The Gramophone’s search engine which took me to your review of Celibidach’s Berlin Recordings from 1945 – 1957 which features a recording of Chopin’s second piano concerto. (November 2013).

    Well, I was listening to this set last night (which I picked up in a church sale a couple of years ago) and listened to Celi’s Prokofiev ‘Classical’ symphony and numbers from ‘Romeo & Juliet’ which I thought were exceptionally well played and recorded bearing in mind they were recorded in Berlin in 1946.

    Anyway, thought I’d tell someone who would understand!

    Best, Robert.


  6. Robert Roy

    Thanks, Rob.

    Now listening to the late, great Mr. Claudio Abbado conducting Schubert’s ‘Great’ (and long!) C Major symphony.

    Sounds pretty good to me.

    Best, Robert


  7. Interesting that Robert – an old friend of mine, a long-term player with the major orchestras (violinist) much prefers repeats to be honoured even if they’re a bit of a chore to play! He asked me about this very recording.


  8. Robert Roy

    I seem to remember that a big fuss was made of The Halle/Loughran recording since it was the first, I believe, to include all the repeats. Of course it was a studio recording so the players could have a break.

    I read somewhere that a long time principal viola of the LSO had a viola he used specially for this one piece since his usual instrument was just too heavy!

    I’m wondering if this Abbado will supplant my beloved Boult/LPO ‘Studio’ disc. I wore out my public library’s tape of it.

    Happy days.

    Best, R.


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