The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
CD Spotlight. Beauty to Entice the Ears - Gerald Fenech listens to a compilation mass from Antonio Vivaldi's music. '... vibrant playing full of unalloyed joy.'
CD Spotlight. Sorrowful Magnificence - Gerald Fenech is impressed by Johann David Heinichen's Passion Oratorios. '... engrossing performances that are as gripping as they are reverential.'
Ensemble. Effectively Realised - Mike Wheeler listens to Brahms' Requiem
Ensemble. Poise and Sensitivity - Mike Wheeler listens to baroque choral music by J S Bach, Handel and Purcell
Ensemble. An Interesting Contamination of Genres - Giuseppe Pennisi reports from the first Italian performance of 'The Passion according to St Mark' by contemporary Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn
CD Spotlight. Incomparable Musical Beauty - Gerald Fenech listens to Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' from Carnegie Hall. '... a precious addition to this acclaimed treasure trove of historic recordings ...'
Ensemble. An Italian Creation - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Giuseppe Carpani's Italian language version of Haydn's oratorio
CD Spotlight. Byzantine Style and Tropical Scales - Gerald Fenech listens to music by Petros Petridis. '... committed vigour and passionate warmth.'
CD Spotlight. Music to Unite People - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Arvo Pärt. '... an excellent selection ...'
CD Spotlight. Exceptionally Convincing - Masses by Johann Simon Mayr, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... Franz Hauk is completely committed to the cause, drawing some truly memorable singing from soloists and chorus alike.'
CD Spotlight. Culmination of the 'Tintinnabuli' Style - Gerald Fenech listens to Arvo Pärt's St John Passion. '... powerful and emotional stuff performed with devotional ardour and spiritual rigour.'
Ensemble. Very Convincing - Lucas Ball listens to Bach and Buxtehude at last month's Three Choirs Festival in Worcester UK
Profile. Francesco Azopardi - A snippet of a Maltese classical composer, introduced by Simon Farrugia
CD Spotlight. Heartfelt Pathos - Juan Bautista Cansino's Stabat Mater, strongly recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... serenity and resignation beyond comprehension.'
CD Spotlight. The Perfect Musical Mixture - Gerald Fenech listens to music by Johann Rosenmüller. 'Gregor Meyer and his forces give disciplined yet highly laudable performances, and their commitment to the cause is spirited and vibrant.'
A Thriller about a Score - Giuseppe Pennisi explores a new critical edition of Palestrina's 'Missa Papae Marcelli'
Ensemble. Easter Concerts - Giuseppe Pennisi experiences two recent performances broadcast on Italian TV
CD Spotlight. Natural Talents - Gerald Fenech listens to Easter cantatas by Baroque German composer Christoph Graupner. 'Christian Bonath and his team give these baroque choral gems the ideal exposure, and reveal them to be the masterpieces they truly are in performances of inspirational nobility and incomparable beauty.'
CD Spotlight. An Important Discovery - Georg Philipp Telemann's Markus-Passion 1759, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi. 'Hermann Max, a specialist not only of baroque but especially of Georg Philipp Telemann, conducts Das Kleine Konzert with rigor and flair as well as emphasis on the dramatic impact of the recitatives and on the moral content of the arias.'
CD Spotlight. An Enchanting, Levitating Musical Experience - Choral music by Arvo Pärt, sung by Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika and reviewed by Ona Jarmalavičiūtė. '... performed beautifully.'
CD Spotlight. The Para-Liturgical Art of Tchaikovsky - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to the Latvian Radio Choir. '... the score's full range is captured sharply and sensitively, bringing out the true colors as well as the pure and attractive sound of choral liturgical music.'
Profile. A Philological Discovery - Giuseppe Pennisi writes about the seventeenth century Italian architect and global musician Carlo Rainaldi
Ensemble. Christmas is for Concerts - Giuseppe Pennisi makes his festive choice from the Italian media
CD Spotlight. A Real Adventure - Christmas in seventeenth century Mexico, conjured up by Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies and friends, greatly impresses Keith Bramich. 'Siglo de Oro's performances here are superbly well-blended, joyously fresh and optimistic, seemingly flowing over and through the listener, sweeping them along in a stream of Mexican-tinged Renaissance splendour.'
CD Spotlight. Enchanting and Powerful - Patrick Maxwell listens to Bruckner motets. '... performed superbly ...'
CD Spotlight. An Integral Part of Christmas - Carols from the SWR Vokal Ensemble, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... beautifully shaped and vocally refined and the voices come across clear and resonant.'
Classical music news - Muti Returns to Palermo - Riccardo Muti will be back in Palermo for three concerts and will be granted freedom of the city
Ensemble. A Survival Strategy - Giuseppe Pennisi writes about the current music scene in Italy, touching on recent notable performances
Classical music news - Schubert via Zoom - Sing and/or play Schubert's Mass in G online
Ensemble. A Touch of Verdi in Rossini's Last Work - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Opera Roma's grand performance of Petite Messe Solennelle in Rome
CD Spotlight. In Tune with the Changing Times - Giuseppe Pennisi discovers the eighteenth century Neapolitan composer Girolamo Rossi. '... an important discovery.'
Ensemble. Rossini's Last Sin - Giuseppe Pennisi attends a very special performance at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro
CD Spotlight. Lifting the Spirits - Reformation music, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Five hundred years of memorable music condensed into just seventy-one minutes and performed spectacularly by Jared Stellmacher and Mark Sudeith, sympathetically supported by the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble.'
Classical music news. Obituary - John Poole (1934-2020)
CD Spotlight. An Unmissable Issue - Gerald Fenech explores the music of Marc'Antonio Ingegneri. 'The repetition of phrases in the musical exchange between the two choirs becomes almost hypnotic for the listener, and one feels totally engrossed in the Eucharistic mystery.'
CD Spotlight. A Celebratory Mood - Gerald Fenech is impressed with a new recording of Beethoven's Mass in C. 'Leif Segerstam leads a first-class group of soloists and brings out all the humanity and tenderness of the music with aplomb.'
CD Spotlight. Fierce Urgency - Bach Collegium Japan's St Matthew Passion, reviewed by Patrick Maxwell. 'Suzuki's forces create this inner energy in a way that surges, through the music, into the crucifixion, creating the mix of oratorio and opera that Bach must have been envisaging when the work was first performed across the church of St Thomas' in Leipzig in 1827.'
CD Spotlight. Startlingly Original - Michael Gielen conducts Beethoven's 'Missa Solemnis', heard by Gerald Fenech. 'The orchestra is magnificent and the choir rises to the occasion with some impassioned singing. Top of the list are the four soloists, whose renditions are nothing short of impressive and iridescent.'
Classical music news. Obituary - Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)
CD Spotlight. Effervescent Beauty - Music by Pärt, Vasks and MacMillan, sung by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, impressing Patrick Maxwell. 'This recording from the Choir of Clare College Cambridge under the direction of Graham Ross cements their position as one of the finest church ensembles in the country ...'
CD Spotlight. Serious and Entertaining - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to choral music by William Mathias. '... each moment ... truly captivates and draws further.'
CD Spotlight. Touching the Heart - Choral music by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'David Shuler and his choristers deliver interpretations of sheer beauty brimming with natural and musical phrasing, spot-on-intonation and a glorious tonal blend ...'
CD Spotlight. Masterly Setting - Gerald Fenech listens to choral music by Kenneth Leighton. 'Performances are of a consistently high level throughout and blessed with a beautifully recorded sound.'
Ensemble. Variegated Colours - Alexander Binns plays Messiaen, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Emotional Gravitas - Gerald Fenech recommends this recording of the 1876 version of Dvořák's Stabat Mater. '... this latest undertaking has excellence written all over it.'
Ensemble. From Chaos to Ecstasy - Haydn's 'The Creation' in Rome, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Much to Enjoy - Christmas with the Sitwell Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. 'Messiah' Overload? - Handel from Derby Bach Choir, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Tradition Still Alive - Gerald Fenech listens to Advent carols from King's College London. 'A hugely beautiful issue, full of inspiring singing and emotional joy, performed with fine control, impressive depth of tone and a dynamic range that commands one's admiration from start to finish.'
Ensemble. A Dramatic Requiem - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Verdi in Rome
Ensemble. As Fresh As Ever - Mike Wheeler takes stock of Benjamin Britten's 1948 cantata 'St Nicholas'
CD Spotlight. A Glittering Compilation - Spanish Christmas music from Stile Antico impresses Gerald Fenech. 'Flawless performances by Stile Antico, added to some impressive sonics and eye-catching presentation ...'
Profile. A Controversial Figure? - George Colerick investigates the younger Franz Liszt
Ensemble. Tremendous and Sublime - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Berlioz's 'Grande Messe des morts'
Profile. Spectacular Productions - George Colerick explores the rise and decline of French composer Charles Gounod
Ensemble. In the Vatican Basilicas - Giuseppe Pennisi reviews a special concert
CD Spotlight. Uplifting and Inspired - Dvořák's 'Saint Ludmila' impresses Gerald Fenech. 'A piece for the ages, passionately performed and recorded.'
CD Spotlight. Absolutely Exhilarating - Gerald Fenech discovers Friedrich Schneider's oratorio 'The Last Judgement'. 'Gregor Meyer keeps the drama moving briskly, and his forces respond brilliantly to the kaleidoscopic sequence of emotions coursing through the three sections.'
Ensemble. Packed With Good Things - Roderic Dunnett reports from the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester
CD Spotlight. Hauntingly Beautiful - Rachmaninov's Vespers, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Although the choir is not Russian, performances are as passionately devotional as one can expect, particularly the soprano and bass sections, who capture the wide range of dynamics with astounding clarity and vision.'
Profile. Only the Screen - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė talks to the Belgian singer and conductor Tore Tom Denys
CD Spotlight. An Impassioned Account - Seldom-performed Beethoven, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... excellent performances by all concerned.'
Sacred and Secular - Rossini's 'Petite Messe Solennelle' from Derby Bach Choir, Richard Roddis and friends, appreciated by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Beacon of God's Love - Gabriel Jackson's Passion impresses Gerald Fenech. 'Emotionally charged performances, superb sound quality and highly informative annotations complete a revelatory disc that is wholly in tune with the present Lenten season.'
Ensemble. Faith and Revolution - Poulenc's 'Dialogues des Carmélites' in Bologna, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Religious Allegory - Jonathan Sheffer's 'The Conference of the Birds', heard by Ron Bierman. 'Recommended for its colorful, often striking orchestral effects.'
CD Spotlight. Devotional Piety - Music by Niccola Monti, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... distinctive and brilliant, rich in operatic and chromatic devices with an orchestration that is harmonically well-balanced and full of melodic touches of the utmost beauty.'
Ensemble. Sacred and Profane - Symphonies, cantatas and concertos by J S Bach, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
Thus Spoke Nietzsche - Daniel Sampaio marks some interesting anniversaries
CD Spotlight. Quite Sublime - Sacred music by Antonio Maria Bononcini, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... an issue that oozes beauty ...'
CD Spotlight. A Cautionary Tale - Pulitzer Prize-winning choral and orchestral music, heard by Karen Haid. '... an important and largely successful undertaking.'
Ensemble. Exotic Soundscapes - Two London concerts featuring music from the opera to the orient, attended by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. A very happy occasion - A promotional recording of Oliver Rudland's 'The Conquests of Zeus', heard by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. An Epic Opera - Rossini's 'William Tell', from Rome to the BBC Proms, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Artistic Magic - Seraphic Fire's Rachmaninov Vespers, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Ensemble. Pilgrimages of the Soul - Giuseppe Pennisi visits Italy's Sagra Musicale Umbra
CD Spotlight. Praise and Attention - Romabarocca Ensemble plays Carlo Rainaldi, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... they will go far in the rediscovery of Baroque music.'
CD Spotlight. Ready to Oblige - Music by Beethoven?, reviewed favourably by Robert Anderson. '... the pleasure of unfamiliar music and fine performances.'
Ensemble. When God and Man Collide - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Salzburg Festival to investigate 'the downfall of the myth and the spirit of the music'
Ensemble. Dramatic Strength - The 'Glory of God' through three Verdi operas at the Sferisterio Festival 2010, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Finely Judged - Brahms and Schumann piano quartets, heard by Robert Anderson. 'This is music-making both sensitive and relaxed.'
Ensemble. Terrific Pace and Direction - Verdi's 'Luisa Miller' at the Buxton Festival, recommended by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Darkness to Light - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Ravenna Festival
Ensemble. Young Eroticism in the Third French Republic - Massenet's 'Manon' returns to Rome, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Cosmic Distance - Choral music from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, recommended by George Balcombe. '... such clarity ...'
CD Spotlight. Airy Textures - Handel's 'Judas Maccabaeus', heard by Robert Anderson. '... the choral mood is everything.'
Ensemble. A Sensitive Account - Choral music by Rossini, Elgar and Handel, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
His Forever - My Love Affair with Johann Sebastian Bach, by Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer
CD Spotlight. Lyrical Powers - Orchestral music by Louis Spohr, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Howard Shelley and the Swiss orchestra clearly relish this unusual assignment.'
CD Spotlight. Nearly Unknown - Bologna's Renaissance music, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... an efficient and effective local ensemble ...'
Imaginative Heights - Gordon Rumson looks forward to the Calgary Art Song Competition
Ensemble. Quirky Opera - Mike Wheeler experiences Janácek's 'The excursions of Mr Broucek'
Ensemble. Strong Performances - Handel's 'Susanna' from Les Arts Florissants, assessed by Robert Hugill
CD Spotlight. Deft and Brilliant - Sibelius orchestral music, recommended by Robert Anderson. '... in the safest of hands.'
CD Spotlight. Forever Challenging - Symphonies by Leif Kayser, heard by Patric Standford. '... his ingenious inventiveness continues to impress.'
Making a Real Fuss - Robert Hugill looks forward to English Touring Opera's HandelFest this autumn
CD Spotlight. A Striking Urgency - Schnittke and Ginastera from the Choir of St Ignatius Loyola, reviewed by Howard Smith. 'Not quite what one might expect.'
Ensemble. A Notable Success - Grange Park Opera's 'Norma', reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Profoundly Satisfying - 'Theodora' at the London Handel Festival, enjoyed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. A Musical Gem - Donizetti's 'L'elisir d'amore', enjoyed by Maria Nockin
Ensemble. Infectious Rhythms - Jim Lueers' 'Come to the Well', enjoyed by Kelly Ferjutz
Provocative thoughts, from Patric Standford - Religion
Stolen property - The daughter of a Christchurch actress fights church duplicity in Moscow, by Howard Smith
Celestial music - Gordon Rumson explores sacred and secular in the writing of Wilfrid Mellers
Record box. Occasionally beautiful - The sacred choral music of Robert Evett, explored by Ron Bierman
Record box. Dvorák on the edge - His Stabat Mater reconsidered, by Basil Ramsey
Record box. Cathedral setting - Howells in ecclesiastical mode, by Basil Ramsey
Record box - Giving generously. A Recording of church music by Peter Aston, introduced by Basil Ramsey
Record box - Church music by gaslight. Sullivan's church offerings, by Basil Ramsey
Record box - Drawing out. Herbert Howells on CD, considered by Basil Ramsey
Subtle Celebration - James MacMillan talks to Roderic Dunnett about composing sacred and liturgical music.