Choral

Anna Lapwood is one of those musicians that leaves most feeling exhausted before they read half way down her CV. Still only 25, she’s already been Director of Music at Pembroke for four years, presents on television, is an organ recitalist around the world and leads a music charity in Zambia. She also sings, plays the piano, violin and viola and composes – and of course, conducts. She probably rules several small countries in her spare time…

Elgar

This recording has already won enough plaudits and prizes to fill a suitcase, which just goes to show that my colleague critics are not all the cloth-eared fools that others take us for. I’m going to go much further than them, though, and say that this is the best recording of Elgar’s Violin Concerto ever…

Purcell

One of the splendid things about this disc is that, like the first three volumes in the series, it delivers much more than it promises. There is much more here than the two Welcome Songs for King Charles and his brother. There are anthems, instrumental interludes, drinking and theatre songs, several from the decade after Charles’s reign too. The Sixteen is also an excellent understatement. Nine singers are joined by a seventeen strong instrumental ensemble. The singers perform as soloists as well as choir, the players similarly…

Beethoven

Composers conducting other composers’ work always adds a layer to our understanding of the music, perhaps because they are perfectly capable of taking the score apart and reworking it, rather like a formula one car designer. They rarely do, of course, when they are conducting unless they are making new arrangements, but they seem to have a way of emphasising different details and pointing to undiscovered aspects of orchestration than conductors who don’t write their own stuff…

Lennox Berkeley

Listening to this complete survey of Berkeley’s piano music, I am struck by how much more French it sounds than English; hardly surprising, given that he studied in Paris with Boulanger and that one of his strongest friendships was with Francis Poulenc. He could be part of that group that also included Françaix and Dutilleux. He was a staunch Catholic too and so the cross-channel identity ran deep. Berkeley composed at the piano, indeed one day in about 1980 he allowed me to sit with him in his house in Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, while he did so. He was no virtuoso public performer, though, and his music reflects his essentially private and domestic nature…