RECENT: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
Classical music news - April 2021 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month
CD Spotlight. High Romanticism - Paul Sarcich discovers the music of Robert Kahn. 'Ensemble Émigré have done fine service to Kahn ...'
Ensemble. Cancel Culture and a Cryptic Message - Adam J Sacks listens to the Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Classical music news - March 2021 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month
CD Spotlight. Saying Goodbye - Music in response to Debussy's early death, reviewed by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances are great all round, and this is a useful addition to anyone's collection.'
CD Spotlight. Living in the Moment - Paul Sarcich explores the music of Pēteris Vasks. '... wonderfully luminous recordings of luminous music.'
CD Spotlight. Merriment and Joy - Music by Nicola Matteis, John Banister, Gottfried Finger, Matthew Locke and Johann Schop, warmly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Elegant and full of warmth, these dances are imaginatively orchestrated and extremely well crafted, and the playing is wonderfully affective.'
CD Spotlight. Time and Space - Geoff Pearce recommends accessible contemporary music for cello by French composer Dominique Lemaître, played by Dan Barrett. 'All the artists involved, and especially cellist Dan Barrett, produce truly inspirational music making.'
Ensemble. A Space to Reflect - Adam J Sacks was at the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's season opener for music by Copland, Beethoven, Doming Lam and Richard Strauss
CD Spotlight. Lightness and Joyousness - Geoff Pearce strongly recommends Josephine Knight's recordings of works for cello and orchestra by Robert Schumann and Alfredo Piatti. 'This is a beautifully presented disc, the orchestra and soloist work very well together, are in very fine fettle and the recordings could easily be put up there with the very best.'
Ensemble. Engagingly Vigorous - Mike Wheeler watches 'Nottingham Stories: Separation and Serenade', a series of videos created by Carmen Flores, director of Nottingham Chamber Music Festival
Classical music news - Virtual Cellobello Gala 2020 - Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Alisa Weilerstein and Pieter Wispelwey will perform at the virtual CelloBello Gala on Sunday 11 October 2020
CD Spotlight. Particularly Arresting - Further music by the recently deceased American composer Paul Reale impresses Geoff Pearce. 'Although these works are in an unmistakably modern idiom, they are exciting, fresh and performed with panache.'
CD Spotlight. An Unusual Debut - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Ravel, James Francis Brown and Liana Alexandra, performed by Andrea Oliva and the Hemisphaeria Trio. '... an innovative program by a very promising ensemble.'
CD Spotlight. Haydn at his Light-hearted Best - Haydn Cello Concertos, heartily recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... the brilliant and sparkling playing of Natalie Clein brings out all the beauty of this music.'
Classical music news - Gabrielle Després - Nineteen-year-old Canadian-born violinist Gabrielle Després wins the thirty-fifth Irving M Klein String Competition
CD Spotlight. Extraordinarily Gifted - Hans Rosbaud conducts Beethoven, and Gerald Fenech is impressed. 'These exceptional recordings, taped between 1953 and 1962, reveal a conductor of exceptional insight and unbounded energy, and these interpretations can be safely considered as among the very best of their time.'
CD Spotlight. Very Satisfying - Music for strings by American composer Paul Reale, enjoyed by Geoff Pearce. 'Paul Reale shows himself as a fine composer for string ensemble ...'
CD Spotlight. Tonal Brilliance - Brahms clarinet chamber music, heard by Patrick Maxwell. '... Brahms' incredible score is done full justice in this recording, which shows the best of the composer's last years and the glories of Romantic chamber music.'
CD Spotlight. Prevailing Classicism - Music by Prokofiev for the cello, reviewed by Gerald Fenech. 'Conductor, soloists and orchestra get under Prokofiev's skin with renditions full of fire and energy, spiced with a Slavonic spirit that complements the texture of the music - mesmerising virtuosity matched only by the genius of the composer.'
CD Spotlight. The Host and the Guest - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to a celebration of Eastern and Western musical cultures. '... truly striking performances.'
CD Spotlight. Worth Investigating - Music for cello by J S Bach and Mike Block, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... my feeling was one of spontaneous joy and serenity.'
Ensemble. A More Intimate Approach - Mike Wheeler listens to Suppé, Dvořák and Holst at Derby Concert Orchestra's seventieth anniversary concert
CD Spotlight. Immediately Engaging - Raphael Wallfisch plays cello concertos by Mieczysław Weinberg, recommended unreservedly by Geoff Pearce. 'This magnificent disc showcases the work of a composer who is still relatively under-represented in recording catalogues and on the concert platform.'
CD Spotlight. Strengths and Weaknesses - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Max von Schillings. 'A very fine addition to CPO's ongoing advocacy of Schillings' oeuvre in detailed notes and exemplary sonics.'
Ensemble. The Finest Musical Superglue - Mike Wheeler witnesses 'Energy', Sinfonia Viva's latest schools project
Classical music news. Stjepan Hauser - The Croatian cellist performs with orchestra at Egypt's Soma Bay in April 2020
CD Spotlight. Unusual and Colourful - Contemporary orchestral works and concertos by James Lentini, Rain Worthington, Jan Järvlepp, Peter Castine and Beth Mehocic, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances are committed and enjoyable.'
Classical music news. Beethoven in his Time - Registration has begun for a new international competition for historical performance practice
Ensemble. Particularly Irresistible - Music by Smetana, Martinů and Dvořák from Laura van der Heijden, Pietari Inkinen and the Prague Symphony Orchestra impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Sparkingly Virtuosic - Kim Cook plays music for cello and orchestra by Elgar, Schumann, Dvořák and Strauss, recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'The soloist, when she enters, is authoritative, warm and very sure footed, and reveals what a remarkable artist she is.'
CD Spotlight. Handel and the Roman Baroque School - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Lorenzo Tozzi's Romabarocca Ensemble. '... a precious CD from which to learn little known aspects of baroque music ...'
Piquant Ensemble. Contrasts - A cello and violin recital by Katherine Jenkinson and Ning Kam, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Thoroughly Engaging - Piano quartets by Andrew Anderson, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... compelling and unique.'
Classical music news. Adrian Williams - The English Symphony Orchestra announces Adrian Williams as its John McCabe Composer-in-Association for 2019/20
Ensemble. Breathless Excitement - In the last of his reports from the 2019 Buxton Festival, Mike Wheeler listens to music by Jean-Féry Rebel, Telemann, Marco Ucellini, J S Bach, and an improvisation on 'La Folìa', played by Improviso
Ensemble. Airborne Twice - Giuseppe Pennisi attends a cello and piano recital unexpectedly
CD Spotlight. A Fine Start - American recordings of Elgar, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... considering today's technological excellence, this issue is strictly for collectors with a nostalgia for the past.'
CD Spotlight. Particularly Thrilling - Music for strings by Alfonso Romero Asenjo intrigues Geoff Pearce. 'It showcases the composer's skill in writing for strings, and at the same time one can sense his development as a composer.'
CD Spotlight. Great Performances - Music for oboe and cor anglais by Phil Salathé, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'This composer is technically assured, and has a unique perspective and voice.'
Ensemble. All About Collaboration - Music by Steve Reich impresses Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Children's Game - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to special Rossini in a special place
Classical music news. Three Composers - Three Continents - A new cello concerto is being written for German cellist Jan Vogler and will be performed at the 2019 Dresden Festival. 'Our world today could be just like this particular cello concerto: colourful, rich in contrast and in happy cultural coexistence.'
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Realized - Richard Harwood's EMI debut, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Harwood never once strives for effect ...'
Ensemble. Something Really Special - Bliss, Elgar and Vaughan Williams from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Elizabeth Watts, Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Played - Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto, heard by Alice McVeigh. 'Brinton maintains a clear, sonorous and resonant sound even in the highest register, though he could perhaps have been willing to take a few more risks.'
CD Spotlight. Hugely Enjoyable - Orchestral music by Camille Saint-Saëns, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... an exotic musical picture postcard full of perfumed sensuality and brazen march themes ...'
Ensemble. A Worthy Successor - Tomáš Netopil steps in to conduct the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Nottingham, impressing Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Highly Interesting - British music for cello and piano, enthralls Gerald Fenech. 'An important addition to the genre's discography in excellent performances, sound and annotations ...'
Ensemble. A Jubilant Celebration - Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Offenbach and Tchaikovsky from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Immaculately Crazy - Red Priest's 'Baroque Bohemians' impresses Alice McVeigh. '... extreme alternations of mood, from manic charges to bucolic brusqueness, with serious offbeat percussive work ... and general anarchy ...'
CD Spotlight. Captivating Rhythms - Music for cello and piano, recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'Inspired programming, stellar performances and excellent recorded sound ...'
CD Spotlight. Rising Stars - Dmitri Shostakovich's complete concertos, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... unreservedly first class, not just for the technical prowess of the soloists and orchestra but also in the artistic vision of all involved.'
Ensemble. Piquant Contrast - Mike Wheeler listens to Schulhoff and Tchaikovsky from members of the Fibonacci Sequence
Ensemble. A Renewed International Chigiana Prize - Giuseppe Pennisi was in Siena for the Chigiana Award concert
CD Spotlight. Flair and Musicianship - Short cello works by Bohuslav Martinu, heard by Paul Sarcich. '... small storms should be taken in small doses.'
CD Spotlight. Splice the Mainbrace - Red Priest's 'Pirates of the Baroque', heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The foursome are outrageous, hugely entertaining, and Red Priest take no prisoners.'
Ensemble. Rock-solid Technique - Victoria, Gesualdo, Schütz, J S Bach, Poulenc and Knut Nystedt from cellist Deirdre Bencsik and the Derwent Singers impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Broad and Profound - Philip Higham plays J S Bach's cello suites, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'The soloist's wise and daring approach also leads him to combine elements of period and modern style both in his playing and in his choice of instruments ...'
CD Spotlight. A Strange Affair - Ulrich Heinen plays Bach and twentieth century composers, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'This snappy title with its hints of España and whimsical echoes of theatre is nailed to perfection by Heinen, as are all five modern works within the programme.'
CD Spotlight. A Foregone Conclusion - Angela East on the rocks, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... she clearly gives serious, if misguided attention, to matters of baroque scholarship.'
Ensemble. An Uneven Work - Mike Wheeler listens to Dvorák's 'Stabat Mater'
Ensemble. Close Partnership in Action - J S Bach, Shostakovich, Oliver Davis and Brahms from Katherine Jenkinson and Alison Farr, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Rapturous Creations - Trio Karénine plays Robert Schumann piano trios, and impresses Gerald Fenech. '... commanding authority, rewarding depth and devil-may-care exuberance ...'
Ask Alice - Classical Music Agony Aunt Alice McVeigh on recorder playing, Lassus, J S Bach and the mass cello repertoire
CD Spotlight. Well Worth Exploring - Chamber music by Franz Mittler, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Both string performers ... prove excellent advocates for this full-blooded music.'
Ensemble. Stand-out Performers - Michael Landes attends an American Protégé winners' recital
Ensemble. A Dynamic Entity - Malcolm Miller reports on the 2016 BPSE Beethoven Chamber Music Competition
Ensemble. Off-the-beaten Track - Chamber music from Katherine Jenkinson, Julian Bliss and Alison Farr, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Lyrical Warmth - Dvorák, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms from Steven Isserlis, Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Excellent on All Fronts - Music for cello and orchestra, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Jamie Walton exudes warm and committed performances ...'
CD Spotlight. Star Musicians - Piano trios by Saint-Saëns, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... tonal variance and measured passion ...'
Ensemble. Haunting Effect - Spanish and Catalan music from Maria Camahort and friends, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. An Intruiguing View - Guitar music by Sofia Gubaidulina, heard by Keith Bramich. '... clear, poised and committed performances.'
Ensemble. A Special Aura - Malcolm Miller describes Goldsmith College's special tribute to Alexander Ivashkin
Memorable Distinction - Halida Dinova brings her Liszt to New Zealand, by Howard Smith
CD Spotlight. Most Beguiling - Works by Chopin written in 1846, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'A positive artistic experience ...'
CD Spotlight. Utmost Pleasure - English music for strings, praised by Howard Smith. '... a gorgeous new release from Naxos ...'
CD Spotlight. Limited Soundscape - Music by Beth Anderson, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances were well realized ...'
Ensemble. Undeniably Spellbinding - A cello and piano recital by Jessie Richardson and Simon Callaghan, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Astutely Judged - Music for violin and piano by Xavier Montsalvatge, heard by Howard Smith. '... brilliant, clear and individualistic.'
Ensemble. Generous Spirit - Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Nielsen from Katherine Watson, Gary Griffiths, Jian Wang, Nikolaj Znaider and the Hallé Orchestra, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
Profile. Remembering Hoffy - Alice McVeigh writes about cello teacher Robert Hofmekler
CD Spotlight. Rampant Imagination - Viola de Hoog plays J S Bach, heard by Alice McVeigh. '... a cellist and an artist of utter integrity ...'
CD Spotlight. Immediately Approachable - Music by Kevin Malone, heard by Howard Smith. '... a fantastical carnival of sound, style and social critique.'
CD Spotlight. An Ideal Pairing - Brahms cello sonatas, heard by Julian Jacobson. '... honourable, fluent and enjoyable playing ...'
CD Spotlight. Great Accomplishment - Music by Philip Sawyers, appreciated by Robert Anderson. '... a very cogent argument.'
Ensemble. Smiles All Round - Fawzi Haimor conducts Sinfonia Viva and impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Considerable Substance - Contemporary music for cello, heard by Howard Smith. '... Marinescu ... appears to have the measure of each work on offer here.'
CD Spotlight. Likeable Discs - Music for cello and piano, heard by Howard Smith. '... affectionately presented throughout.'
CD Spotlight. Spirituality and Psychosis - Music improvised by Sophie Harris, heard by Howard Smith. '... clear qualities ...'
CD Spotlight. Expressive Style - Music for cello and guitar, heard by Howard Smith. '... the entire concert is alive with a myriad textual and sonic possibilities.'
CD Spotlight. Breath Control - Amy Porter plays J S Bach Cello Suites, heard by Howard Smith. '... fluent and uniformly pleasing.'
CD Spotlight. Clearly Inescapable - Gerard Schurmann's chamber music impresses Howard Smith. '... potent, consuming, thematically cogent and burning with zeal.'
Ensemble. Collective Virtuosity - Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Britten from Natalie Clein, the Moscow Philharmonic and Yuri Simonov, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Characteristic Patina - Brahms chamber music, heard by Howard Smith. '... Walther-Korevaar-Fejér are exemplary in all three works.'
CD Spotlight. Confidence and Assuredness - Mary Costanza plays Bach, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... wholly impressive and full of lively ideas ...'
CD Spotlight. Approachable Pieces - Enescu and Bartók, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Laura Buruiana triumphs in what is ultimately an exacting work.'
CD Spotlight. Interpretive Fabric - Beethoven's complete works for cello and piano, reviewed by Andrew Schartmann. '... a tapestry of infinite colors ...'
Ensemble. Magnificently Sonorous - Brahms, Dvorák and Rimsky-Korsakov from the Derby Concert Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Composer of Note - Graham Waterhouse receives standing ovations at Munich's Gasteig, by Tess Crebbin
Ensemble. Guitar and Cello - Maria Nockin listens to Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani
CD Spotlight. Rare Multi-Tasking - Marta Bagratuni plays and sings, heard by Howard Smith. '... music of notable sensitivity and fine tonality.'
CD Spotlight. A Valuable Sampling - Armenian music, heard by Howard Smith. '... South Caucasian music performed by a team of its best authenticated exponents.'
Ensemble. Deeply Satisfying - John Wilson conducts the CBSO, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Uncommon Piquancy - Music for two cellos, heard by Howard Smith. '... riveting effect.'
Ensemble. Intimate and Moving - The Ex Cathedra consort and continuo, heard by Keith Bramich
CD Spotlight. Wholly Persuasive - Music by Fredrick Kaufman, heard by Howard Smith. 'Gekic, Drobinsky and the three conductors do excellently ...'
CD Spotlight. Unerring Artistry - Wendy Warner plays Haydn and Mysliveček, recommended by Howard Smith. '... her beguiling performances are alive with consistent ebullience ...'
Ensemble. Searingly Passionate - Katherine Jenkinson and Ning Kam open Derby Chamber Music's new season, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Tradition and Novelty - Music by Lera Auerbach, heard by Andrew Schartmann. 'Her music is competently crafted and deeply affecting.'
CD Spotlight. In Perfect Balance - Mendelssohn from Laura Buruiana and Ferenc Vizi impresses Andrew Schartmann. 'Their playing is musical to the very core and their technique flawless.'
CD Spotlight. Mesmerizing Creations - Music by Anthony Piccolo, heard by Andrew Schartmann. '... a well-rounded perspective on his musical style.'
Ask Alice - Modern bow or baroque bow? with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ask Alice - Cello repertoire suggestions from classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ask Alice - Reminiscences of János Starker, from classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ask Alice - Classical Music agony aunt Alice McVeigh is spotted in Yorkshire, playing solo cello
CD Spotlight. Gutsy Performances - Enescu cello sonatas, heard by Howard Smith. '... perfectly rounded and the intonation irreproachable.'
CD Spotlight. Much Playfulness - Beethoven cello sonatas and variations, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Fournier and Gulda give Handel a rousing send-off ...'
CD Spotlight. Immediate Appeal - Music for cello, piano and Korean drums, heard by Howard Smith. 'Greenberg's sonata ... deserves a recognized place in the cello and piano repertory.'
Ensemble. Agile and Impassioned - J S Bach's Suites for solo cello, heard by Michael Tremberth
Ensemble. Total Rapport - Jonathan Dormand and Marisa Gupta's Fauré, Brahms and Prokofiev impress Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Sensitive Understanding - Music by Kodály and Dohnányi, heard by Robert Anderson. '... the orchestra captures with apparent ease the seductive idiom of this music.'
CD Spotlight. Real Worth - Orchestral music by Patric Standford stimulates Robert Anderson. 'All the music on this CD is logical, intelligible, and gripping.'
CD Spotlight. Tender Warmth - Beethoven cello sonatas, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Starker's interpretation suggests he has not quite grasped the magnitude of his responsibility.'
Ensemble. Incandescent Performance - Nigel Kennedy with the Royal Philharmonic and Andrew Litton, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Do Not Be Deterred - American double concertos, recommended by Howard Smith. '... both shapely and thought-provoking.'
CD Spotlight. Original Soloists - Shostakovich concertos, enjoyed by Robert Anderson. '... high-powered music-making ...'
Ensemble. Gleaming Sonorities - Handel, Haydn, Delius and Mozart from the European Union Chamber Orchestra impress Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Commitment and Energy - Sinfonia Viva contributes to the UK's 'Music Nation', reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Exemplary Fashion - Francis Gouton's solo cello, heard by Howard Smith. '... a richly nuanced Gallic flair and beautiful tonal capabilities ...'
Ensemble. Flying Colours - Yelian He and Yasmin Rowe play Chopin, Beethoven and Piazzolla, heard by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Pyrotechnic Skills - Lionel Cottet and Louis Schwizgebel-Wang play Beethoven, Schubert, Zanon and Brahms, and impress Bill Newman
Ensemble. Innermost Passions - Ralph Kirshbaum and Shai Wosner play Beethoven, Janácek, Brahms and Schumann, enjoyed by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Lyric Expressiveness - Russian music for cello and piano, recommended by Howard Smith. '... much here to praise ...'
Ensemble. Special Musical Connections - Bill Newman attends a fundraising concert for the Raphael Sommer Foundation
CD Spotlight. Impetuous and Ruminative - Music for cello and piano by Schumann, recommended by Robert Anderson. '... imaginative gestures of great power and significance.'
CD Spotlight. Clear Tonal Focus - Music for cello and piano by Krzysztof Meyer, recommended by Patric Standford. '... fine playing ...'