Present Arts On CD

Borodin

In the early 1990s the Australian conductor Geoffrey Simon, resident in London, was bold enough to start his own label, Cala, and book the established London orchestras to make a series of recordings, mainly of well known repertoire. At the time he came in for a lot of press flack; partly for his temerity in doing it all himself (vanity publishing, they muttered), partly for ignoring the artists’ contract system of the big labels like EMI and Philips…

Beethoven

This completes Elizabeth Sombart’s three disc cycle of the Beethoven piano concertos recorded in the superb acoustic of London’s Cadogan Hall, which allows the balance between the piano and orchestra to remain natural. It also emphasises that, despite the grandiosity of the Emperor, the orchestra is large chamber rather than heavy-weight symphonic size, giving an intimacy that Vallet exploits well…

After Silence

This must be the ultimate choral concept album, over two hours of music divided into a quartet of roughly equal sections, dealing with four aspects of spiritual life and each containing one substantial work surrounded by complementary shorter ones. The styles range from the sixteenth century till now. Only the Bach and Mahler works have instrumental accompaniment but these never outnumber the eight voices of the group’s title…

Alfredo Piatti

All great 19th century instrumental virtuosi were expected to write ‘novelties’ to play at their concerts. Often amateurs were good enough to play the serious works at home and the ‘stars’ gave their recitals as much to show how much better than average they were, as to provide insights into the great works of composers. The operatic fantasy was much beloved by Liszt for the piano and flautists made similar arrangements…

Debussy – Images

This latest in Sir Mark’s recordings of Debussy’s orchestral works is another fine example of his ability to give shape to the music and not be distracted into letting glossy sound take away from these magnificent pieces of mood painting. He allows the music space, nothing is rushed – indeed Ibéria’s streets are full of rather stately citizens, their brass chorales and arabic timbres pointed out on a good humoured stroll. The perfumed night is langorous and sensuously exotic, the festival morning opens without too much haste then, as if the townspeople suddenly realise what day it is, hurl themselves out of bed, grab a coffee, and prepare for the fun to come…