CD Spotlight is Classical Music Daily's regular series of online CD reviews, which are always illustrated with at least a couple of sound samples.
CD Spotlight. Fascinatingly Exuberant and Bold - Gerald Fenech explores the music of American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. 'Giancarlo Guerrero and his Nashville Symphony are ardent advocates of the composer ...'
CD Spotlight. Impressive Dexterity - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by American composers William Dawson and Ulysses Kay. 'Arthur Fagen draws some immaculate playing from his Viennese Orchestra ...'
CD Spotlight. A Fascinating Insight - Geoff Pearce enjoys piano music by the late Paul Reale, played by John Jensen. 'The composer regarded Jensen as his ideal interpreter ...'
CD Spotlight. Passionate Language - Violin Concertos by the late Myroslav Skoryk, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Andrej Bielow is an enthusiastic advocate of his compatriot's music, and his flowing virtuosity gives these works a glowing attire; also, concern to every phrase and nuance is consistently in focus. Sirenko and his Ukraine ensemble give unbridled support.'
CD Spotlight. Gentle and Tender Stravinsky - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to violin and piano music by the Russian master. '... a new and beautiful reading ...'
CD Spotlight. Lively and Dynamic - Geoff Pearce listens to symphonies by Czech composer Franz Krommer. 'This interesting and enjoyable disc will delight most listeners rather than astound them.'
CD Spotlight. Unfamiliar yet Totally Rewarding - Gerald Fenech listens to symphonies by the twentieth century Norwegian composer Eivind Groven. 'The Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra delivers performances that are convincing throughout, and Peter Szilvay's ardent attention to detail brings out all the hidden twists of these remarkable but unjustly neglected scores.'
CD Spotlight. A Wide Emotional Spectrum - Alexandra Matvievskaya plays Fauré piano music, appreciated by Patrick Maxwell. '... played with a precise and enjoyable dexterity and with admirable clarity; the collection as a whole deserves to be celebrated.'
CD Spotlight. Enticing Orchestration - Gerald Fenech listens to tone poems by César Franck performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud. 'This fine issue also includes three overtures ...'
CD Spotlight. Cheerfulness, Humour and Passion - Pietari Inkinen conducts Dvořák's Symphony No 6, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. 'This fine issue also includes three overtures ...'
CD Spotlight. A Nostalgic Novelty - Paul English's 'Girl in Green', reviewed by Ona Jarmalavičiūtė. '... feels personal and human, bringing charged emotion.'
CD Spotlight. A Powder-keg of Uncontrolled Passions - Gerald Fenech is impressed with this new recording of Korngold's 'Violanta'. '... Pinchas Steinberg's insightful reading draws some hot-blooded singing and playing.'
CD Spotlight. Romantic Concertos - Geoff Pearce listens to Dohnányi's two piano concertos. 'Sofja Gülbadamova is a superb pianist who obviously identifies with this composer and has the crispness, accuracy and flair to bring off these two works.'
CD Spotlight. Resplendent Sound - Stephen Francis Vasta has mixed feelings about Mariss Jansons' 2008 recording of Bruckner's 'Romantic' Symphony. 'I enjoyed the focus and resonance of the bass strings, providing a solid support for the full orchestra; the lovely clarity of the woodwind principals - the bright, forward oboes and clarinets suggest the organ's reed stops - and the brass choir's full-bodied depth.'
CD Spotlight. Full of Joy - Patrick Maxwell celebrates Peter Donohoe's Mozart Piano Sonatas. '... played with a precise and enjoyable dexterity and with admirable clarity; the collection as a whole deserves to be celebrated.'
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.'
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. Baroque Minimalism and 21st Century Minds - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to music for violin by Philip Glass. 'The magic of this iconic figure in American music is still aweing listeners.'
CD Spotlight. Fierce Criticism - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Rodion Shchedrin and Ottorino Respighi. '... a fitting tribute to Mariss Jansons ...'
CD Spotlight. Out of the Ordinary - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to a new recording of Verdi's 'Otello'. '... a new and beautiful reading ...'
CD Spotlight. Full-blooded Italianate Roots - Stephen Francis Vasta listens to Donizetti's 'La favorite'. '... Fabio Luisi projects the score with refinement and character.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Enjoyable Stuff - Liszt, Schubert and Brahms piano works, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Christopher Park's near flawless interpretations have a broad structural vision, and his exquisite and intimate phrasing, while not over-romanticised, makes these works sound even more impressive. The Liszt/Schubert piece is particularly stirring, even more so through the sympathetic support of Eschenbach and his players.'
CD Spotlight. Engrossing Memories - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein. 'The Wolf Trap Opera National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, conducted by James Judd, offers very professional, but not startling, performances.'
CD Spotlight. Soft-painted Colours - Gerald Fenech listens to music by Norwegian composer David Monrad Johansen. 'This is brilliantly performed Nordic music with warmth written all over it.'
CD Spotlight. Very Palatable - Geoff Pearce listens to orchestral music by Albéric Magnard. 'The quality of the performances by Philharmonisches Orchester Freiburg and conductor Fabrice Bollon is exemplary and complimentary to the work of this minor master.'
CD Spotlight. Audacious Symphonic Language - Prokofiev's Symphonies Nos 3 and 6 played by the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Pietari Inkinen and his German ensemble are on top form and both symphonies receive compelling interpretations full of cohesive and dynamic playing.'
CD Spotlight. An Impressive Undertaking - Simon Rattle conducts Wagner's 'Die Walküre', heard by Giuseppe Pennisi. 'The singing and the orchestra raise this performance above the ordinary.'
CD Spotlight. Incandescent - Gerald Fenech listens to the second Naxos disc of Charles-Marie Widor's organ symphonies. 'Wolfgang Rübsam provides irrepressible playing in these two early but much enterprising works.'
CD Spotlight. Distinctly Continental - Patrick Maxwell listens to Brahms from Lars Vogt and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. '... carried off with impressive dexterity by the players ...'
CD Spotlight. Supremely Pianistic - Gerald Fenech finds pure joy in Etsuko Hirose's recent Moszkowski piano works disc. 'Truly hair-raising stuff, wonderfully annotated and recorded.'
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. Special in Many Ways - Gerald Fenech listens to Musorgsky and Ravel, conducted by François-Xavier Roth. 'Truly hair-raising stuff, wonderfully annotated and recorded.'
CD Spotlight. Imperial Music - Giuseppe Pennisi enjoys a recital by Karina Gauvin. 'Here the listener can appreciate Karina Gauvin's superb phrasing and elegant coloratura.'
CD Spotlight. Magical Repertoire - Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Kashchei the Immortal', enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. 'Do not be taken aback; the sound quality is miraculous and I enjoyed listening to this historic venture with immense pleasure.'
CD Spotlight. Great Character - Lucas Ball listens to Riccardo Minasi's interpretations of late Mozart symphonies. 'Minasi's control is great here.'
CD Spotlight. Youthful Influences - Early string quartets by William Alwyn, heard by Patrick Maxwell. '... carried off with impressive dexterity by the players ...'
CD Spotlight. Meaning and Identity - Gerald Fenech listens to Leonard Bernstein's first two symphonies. 'A wholly impressive issue, brilliantly performed and recorded ...'
CD Spotlight. Love's Trials and Rewards - Gustav Holst's 'The Cloud Messenger', recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'This colourful chamber version by Joseph Fort lends the more tender passages a new intimacy and clarity, while retaining much of the force of the original and preparing the foundations for a new life in performance.'
CD Spotlight. A Korngold Renaissance - Giuseppe Pennisi reviews a four CD set of music by the Austrian-born composer. 'The wholeness of this anthology is admirable.'
CD Spotlight. A Musical Goldmine - Gerald Fenech enjoys music by Giovanni Battista Vitali. '... gorgeously crafted music full of melodic sweetness and intensely passionate emotions.'
CD Spotlight. Undoubted Historical Importance - Paul Sarcich listens to music by Nikos Skalkottas. '... Skalkottas is no slave of Schoenberg - he has his own take on Schoenberg's methods and one could not confuse the two.'
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. Full of Colours and Flavour - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music from Sharon Isbin and the Pacifica Quartet. '... an original program and excellent rendering make very pleasant listening.'
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. 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. Inestimable Value - Gerald Fenech listens to 'Hypermnestre' by French baroque composer Charles-Hubert Gervais. 'Vashegyi marshalls his moderate forces with a caring deftness that betrays his sense of purpose and engagement with Gervais' score. Indeed, this is a deeply intelligent and attractive performance that should arouse the fresh sense of investigation which it so richly deserves.'
CD Spotlight. Thus Conducted Mariss Jansons - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė discovers a unique listening experience on one of the Latvian conductor's last recordings, featuring Daniil Trifonov and the music of Richard Strauss. '... this maverick CD contains contrasting faces of Richard Strauss, Trifonov's virtuoso skills and one of the last memories of Mariss Jansons' conducting.'
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. Unique and Most Compelling - Concertos by Danish composer Bent Sørensen, heard by Eugene Takeuchi-Williams. '... in these three pieces, Sørensen is the consistent champion of the understatement.'
CD Spotlight. Interesting Stuff - Beethoven's 'King Stephen' and other rare works, appreciated by Gerald Fenech. 'Finely performed and recorded, this CD is a must for all serious collectors and admirers of the great man.'
CD Spotlight. Youthfulness and Energy - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to chamber music by Paul Hindemith. '... an explosion of happiness and a real whirlwind from the very fast introduction to the vibrant finale ...'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Unpredictable and Beautiful - Gerald Fenech admires volume 4 of Malcolm Martineau's 'Decades - A Century of Song'. 'The programme is mellifluously performed and all the songs give immense pleasure. Martineau's singers have fresh, youthful voices and they are consistently caring for each word in the texts, while his own playing is sensitive and coloured throughout.'
CD Spotlight. Psychological Acuity - Music for harp by Boris Tishchenko impresses Gerald Fenech. '... challenging but highly rewarding music, passionately performed and sumptuously recorded.'
CD Spotlight. Thoroughly Enjoyable - Dohnányi's 'The Veil of Pierrette', recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'The rapid changes of mood and atmosphere are well done, and the playing of all concerned is exemplary.'
CD Spotlight. A Splendid Performance - Rachel Mahon plays Canadian organ music, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'A hugely enjoyable album, well worth hearing ...'
CD Spotlight. Undoubtedly Colourful - Music by Poulenc and Koechlin, heard by Paul Sarcich. 'Odradek and the Bambergers have produced clean, well-balanced recordings and treated both composers with great sensitivity. The orchestral playing is first rate.'
CD Spotlight. A Dynamic Vitality - Music for organ and orchestra by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'A hugely enjoyable album, well worth hearing ...'
CD Spotlight. An Absolute Soprano - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to a recording by Marina Rebeka. '... perfect emission ... consummate technical skills ...'
CD Spotlight. Highly Effective - Gerald Fenech listens to miniatures by William Mathias. '... splendid and sweetly unaffected performances ...'
CD Spotlight. Uniformly Excellent - A complete recording of Beethoven's 'The Ruins of Athens', highly recommended by Julian Jacobson. 'The maverick Finnish conductor and composer Leif Segerstam ... and his varied forces give a splendidly committed and characterful account of the complete entertainment.'
CD Spotlight. Eschatological Truth - Gerald Fenech is inspired by Josef Suk's 'Asrael' Symphony. '... Jakob Hrůša gives a compelling rendition that is intense, profound and consistently electrifying.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Something of a Marvel - Lucas Ball listens to J S Bach, Caroline Shaw and Robert Schumann, played by Amy Yang. '... Yang's delivery can be wild and exciting and even irritable but also depressing, lonely and longing.'
CD Spotlight. Translucent Performances - Gerald Fenech listens to music written for Louis XIII. '... a rich array of delicately chiselled miniatures full of fragile beauty and sweet-sounding textures.'
CD Spotlight. South American Melodic Turns - Music by José Serebrier, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... I was very much taken by the imagination, colour, rhythm and neo-classical expressiveness of the music, particularly in the "tango" pieces ...'
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. The Charm of 'La Nuova Commedia Dell'arte' - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Busoni's 'Turandot' and 'Arlecchino'. '... this is a book and two CDs to enjoy and to make an elegant gift.'
CD Spotlight. Opposite Religious Poles - Secret Catholic music by William Byrd impresses Gerald Fenech. 'Absolute joy from beginning to end.'
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. Great Advocacy - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Nikos Skalkottas. 'Stefanos Tsialis draws impassioned playing from his Athens ensemble, and the openheartedness and technical finesse with which these works are despatched is beyond admiration.'
CD Spotlight. Serious and Entertaining - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to choral music by William Mathias. '... each moment ... truly captivates and draws further.'
CD Spotlight. Nothing Short of Heroic - Idil Biret plays César Franck, impressing Gerald Fenech. 'My impression is that Biret does not only interpret these works but she reincarnates them.'
CD Spotlight. A Good Anthology - The story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, as seen by eight Baroque composers, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... this is a book and two CDs to enjoy and to make an elegant gift.'
CD Spotlight. Committed and Highly Energetic - Gerald Fenech listens to Mahler 6 from the Essener Philharmoniker. 'Netopil has stiff competition but this meticulously detailed, immaculately paced, vibrantly played version can stand with heads held high among the most recent issues of this work.'
CD Spotlight. Of Considerable Interest - Music by Gian Francesco Malipiero, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'This excellent Naxos disc is well worth exploring, and performances from all concerned are very fine indeed.'
CD Spotlight. Truly Admirable - Gerald Fenech listens to works by French composer Louise Farrenc. 'An exhilarating addition to the composer's discography, passionately performed and recorded.'
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. A Precious Recording - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Offenbach's 'Maître Péronilla'. '... this is a book and two CDs to enjoy and to make an elegant gift.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Masterly Setting - Paul Sarcich listens to traditional Croatian song plus jazz-rock inflected arrangements. 'The recording of the women is very clear and detailed, the big band has some balance problems ...'
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.'
CD Spotlight. A Delight - Song cycles by Mahler, Berg and Rhian Samuel, sung by Ruby Hughes with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, impress Geoff Pearce. 'Right from the start, she shows a more flexible and somewhat lighter voice, but a very good understanding of the lyrics, and she colours her voice beautifully to express this.'
CD Spotlight. Interesting and Varied - New music from Apollo Chamber Players, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances are committed and enjoyable.'
CD Spotlight. Dazzling Virtuosity - Mendelssohn concertos from the Stankov Ensemble and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, highly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Exceptionally beautiful music, sparklingly performed, sumptuously recorded, with a very insightful essay thrown in for good measure.'
CD Spotlight. A Gorgeous Tribute - Piano music by Ireland and Tchaikovsky impresses Gerald Fenech. '... a fascinating series of contrasts within a framework of spectacular effects.'
CD Spotlight. Exquisite Precision - Early Beethoven from Boris Giltburg, Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, heard by Patrick Maxwell. '... the orchestra and the piano are often interwoven in their lines, and the conversational phrases built up a tension that is perfectly managed by Giltburg.'
CD Spotlight. An Auspicious Start - Gerald Fenech listens to the first disc in the new Naxos cycle of Widor organ symphonies. '... a fascinating series of contrasts within a framework of spectacular effects.'
CD Spotlight. Remarkable Expressiveness - Piano transcriptions by Kirchner, Reger and Brahms, reviewed by Gerald Fenech. 'Uriel Tsachor performs these ingenious pieces with a poetic brilliance that is consistently arresting ...'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Style and Panache - Gerald Fenech listens to flute music by Mieczysław Weinberg. 'A compelling disc which should keep the renewed interest in Weinberg's musical legacy on the upward curve.'
CD Spotlight. Exquisite Pacing - Gerald Fenech listens to Mendelssohn's String Symphonies. 'Michi Gaigg and his Baroque Orchestra deliver performances full of charm and beauty ...'
CD Spotlight. High Praise - Gerald Fenech listens to film music by Gerard Schurmann. 'Notes and sound are superb. A must for film addicts.'
CD Spotlight. Fresh and Engaging - Villa-Lobos, Bax and Bolcom from Kerry Duwors and Futaba Niekawa, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... the sheer musicianship, combined with flawless technique and imaginative programming, never fails to impress me.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Contrast and Energy - Modern wind chamber music, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'This is an enjoyable disc with quite a diversity of styles, performed by musicians of high calibre. I think most people who listen to these works will enjoy them.'
CD Spotlight. Why Mahler? - Roger Norrington's interpretation of Mahler's Fourth Symphony, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Roger Norrington presents the music very much as Mahler would have approved, and dynamics are never exaggerated. The orchestra is never allowed to be short on emotion and overall this performance is deeply moving. Anu Komsi is also perfectly cast as the child-like soprano in the last movement.'
CD Spotlight. Interesting and Entertaining - Geoff Pearce listens to music by Paul Reale. '... a fantastic disc ...'
CD Spotlight. Jewel in the Scottish Musical Crown - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė is impressed by Mr McFall's Chamber. '... a vivid kaleidoscope of impromptu freely expressed creativity.'
CD Spotlight. Absolutely Riveting - Kent Nagano's recording of the 1869 version of Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov', reviewed by Gerald Fenech. 'Nagano's formidable insight is able to take the listener on a musical journey into the dark depths of the human soul. Painful, yes, but unmissable.'
CD Spotlight. A Distinctive Scottish Flavour - Geoff Pearce listens to chamber music and songs by Judith Weir. '... a fantastic disc ...'
CD Spotlight. The Harpsichord's Newest Reincarnation - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to twentieth century harpsichord concertos. 'Not many harpsichord players are as multifaceted and expressive as Jory Vinikour when interpreting modern music.'
CD Spotlight. Dramatic Stuff - Sibelius' 'Kullervo', recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'The foremost Sibelius conductor Hannu Lintu's interpretation is brimming with maturity and grandeur. His pacing is impeccable, and he draws vivid singing from his choir and soloists, not to mention the impressive sense of sweep from the orchestra.'
CD Spotlight. Unhurried and Spacious - Geoff Pearce listens to Ernst von Dohnányi's first symphony. '... a fantastic disc ...'
CD Spotlight. The Merging of Migrating Sounds - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to music by American composer Derek Bermel. '... here the merge is extremely harmonious.'
CD Spotlight. Music of the Utmost Beauty - Gerald Fenech listens to Weber's 'Euryanthe'. '... highly charged emotional singing, felicitous and lush playing, and the ensemble and choral pieces are brought off with panache and precision.'
CD Spotlight. Charming and Engaging - Geoff Pearce recommends Alexander Moyzes' Dances from Slovakia. '... colourful and joyful music, beautifully performed ...'
CD Spotlight. The French Romantic Experience - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to a CD box set from Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice. '... almost a mini course in French Romantic music, and well worth a try.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Enjoyable - Patrick Maxwell listens to Brahms from the Primrose Piano Quartet. '... the playing is meticulous and the overall effect magnificent.'
CD Spotlight. Gounod's First Faust of 1859 - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Christophe Rousset's new recording from Bru Zane. 'Everything is lighter, softer, more sensual.'
CD Spotlight. Judged to Perfection - Baroque oboe sonatas played by Xenia Löffler, strongly recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... played very pleasingly with great style and panache by all instruments concerned.'
CD Spotlight. Arrangements for Chamber Orchestra - Gerald Fenech listens to scaled-down Busoni, Debussy and Mahler. 'All four works retain a certain freshness in their new garb, and despite the sound world created being slightly less opulent than their orchestral originals, they still acquire a more fully-fleshed structure than some keyboard reductions.'
CD Spotlight. Great Character - Lucas Ball listens to the latest volume in James Brawn's Beethoven series. '... the sort of technical control and agility that you get from many world class artists.'
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. Deeply Humane - Patrick Maxwell listens to music by John Dowland. '... the exquisite word-painting comes through brilliantly ...'
CD Spotlight. Fresh and Natural - Leila Schayegh plays Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons', heard by Gerald Fenech. '... she succeeds brilliantly with some magical playing full of "joie de vivre" and silhouetted tone painting.'
CD Spotlight. Delicately Played - Ali Hirèche plays Chopin, heard by Patrick Maxwell. 'Hirèche manages to give an impeccable portrait of Chopin, through a mixture of the multiple skills required to give an effervescent yet intimate feel to the music.'
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 ...'
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 ...'
CD Spotlight. To Be or Not To Be - Franco Faccio's opera 'Amleto', heard by Gerald Fenech. 'A must for all opera lovers, particularly those interested in nineteenth century Italian repertoire.'
CD Spotlight. Something of Rare Beauty - Twentieth century oboe sonatas by York Bowen, Petr Eben, Henri Dutilleux, Eugène Bozza, Francis Poulenc and Camille Saint-Saëns, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'What a fantastic and inspiring team Alex Klein and Phillip Bush make.'
CD Spotlight. An Introspective Reflection - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to music created by Australian composer Mark John McEncroe. '... beautiful music is currently in demand, and there are listeners for Mark John McEncroe's emotional platform.'
CD Spotlight. Impressive and Delightful - Geoff Pearce listens to Martin Setchell playing the Christchurch Town Hall Rieger organ in New Zealand. '... a wide range of organ music that I am sure will delight lovers of fine organ playing.'
CD Spotlight. Vintage Rossini - A Munich recording of the early opera 'Sigismondo', heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Keri Lynn Wilson paces the work with an uncanny tempo that strikes an ideal balance between the psychological and musical aspects of the opera, and her conducting is consistently sensitive to the nuanced phrasing and textures of the score.'
CD Spotlight. A Stupendous Disc - Roderic Dunnett listens to countertenor duets by Purcell and Blow. 'The music is sensationally beautiful and touching - and so are the performances.'
CD Spotlight. The Connection that Musical Depth Provides - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė writes about a new CD of music by Peruvian composer Jimmy López Bellido
CD Spotlight. Uplifting and Inspired - Dvořák's 'Saint Ludmila' impresses Gerald Fenech. 'A piece for the ages, passionately performed and recorded.'
CD Spotlight. Truly Lovely - Music by Petr Eben for girls' choir impresses Geoff Pearce. 'This great disc of an exceptional girls' choir performing the work of one of Bohemia's most important voices does not disappoint in any way ...'
CD Spotlight. Understated Sensuousness - Symphonies by Nikolay Myaskovsky intrigue Geoff Pearce. '... the Ural Youth Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Alexander Rudin) plays very well indeed, especially considering the age of the players. I am particularly impressed by the woodwind and brass, which never fail to impress.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Considerable Appeal - Music by Peter Lieuwen, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'Peter Lieuwen appeals on many different levels, and this offering demonstrates his recognisable and accessible style.'
CD Spotlight. Triumphant Splendour - Gerald Fenech commends the reissue of Roger Norrington's recording of Elgar's Symphony No 1 with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. '... Norrington conveys the sweep of the score spontaneously in one breath and takes his players on a headlong ride to the finish which is simply spinetingling.'
CD Spotlight. Very Colourful - Geoff Pearce recommends music by Manuel de Falla. '... superb performances by all concerned.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Sound Pallette from Hong Kong - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to music by members of the Hong Kong Composers' Guild
CD Spotlight. Imaginative Touches - Rossini's 'Eduardo e Cristina', recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... sensitively dramatic singing, invigorating playing and some glowing conducting from Gianluigi Gelmetti ...'
CD Spotlight. Thoroughly Engaging - Piano quartets by Andrew Anderson, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... compelling and unique.'
CD Spotlight. Full of Surprises - Michael Hofstetter's recording of Weber's 'Oberon', recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Recommended ... if only for the magical sound world created by Hofstetter.'
CD Spotlight. Quite Unusual - Orchestral storytelling by Jon Deak, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances here are very good, the music colourful and inventive, and I can imagine that this disc may appeal more to people with children than to adult listeners.'
CD Spotlight. Bold Simplicity - Patrick Maxwell listens to music from Wadham College Chapel, Oxford. 'The choral sound is well produced, if at times lacking in cohesion, and the interpretations at the hands of Katharine Pardee are well handled.'
CD Spotlight. A Timely Resurrection - Music by Kurt Weill, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. 'Recorded seventeen years ago, this reissue retains its freshness remarkably well, and the performance of both works is delivered with great elegance and elan.'
CD Spotlight. An Impassioned Account - Seldom-performed Beethoven, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... excellent performances by all concerned.'
CD Spotlight. Hard to Resist - Johann Strauss Junior's 'Eine Nacht in Venedig', arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Marius Burkert and his fine team of soloists and chorus exude a performance that has subtlety and charm, and the vivid freshness of Korngold's arrangement is brought out with a wistful elan ...'
CD Spotlight. Jollity Ultimately Triumphs - Orchestral music by Dmitri Kabalevsky, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'I am pleased to see this interesting disc, as it showcases an important composer from the Soviet era.'
CD Spotlight. Evolution of a Spirit - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė reviews the latest CD from Donald Nally and The Crossing
CD Spotlight. Lost Gems Unearthed - Gerald Fenech listens to music by contemporaries of the Strauss family. 'John Georgiadis deserves immense credit not only for his painstaking research and wonderful arrangements, but also for his vibrant and energetic conducting that breathes new life into an era that once celebrated life with an unparalleled exuberance.'
CD Spotlight. His Music Glows - Richard Meszto listens to works by Leonard Bernstein. 'Iain Sutherland leads the Hannover Philharmonic in these fine and well thought out performances.'
CD Spotlight. From Russia with Love - Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov orchestral music from Dmitry Kitajenko and the Gurzenich Orchestra, Cologne, impresses Gerald Fenech. 'Kitajenko draws some gorgeous playing from his Cologne forces, and dynamic and tempo markings are observed with fidelity. Also, orchestral textures are both warm and revealing of inner detail.'
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. The Darling of Hamburg - Gerald Fenech listens to songs by Louise Reichardt. 'Amy Pfrimmer's singing is supremely warm and refreshing, and the innocent beauty of these songs is brought out in bright, luminous textures.'
CD Spotlight. Lauded all over Europe - Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... performances are passionately committed, resonating continuously the collective emotion that is mystical and festive, painful and joyous, surprising and disturbing.'
CD Spotlight. Seldom Recorded - Music for horn and piano, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... two superb musicians enjoying themselves in music which is not well-known ...'
CD Spotlight. Novel Sounds and Experimentation - Havergal Brian's Symphonies Nos 7 and 16, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Alexander Walker and his Russian forces give passionately committed performances, highly idiomatic and bursting with excitement.'
CD Spotlight. Crossing Boundaries - Chamber music by Nigel Osborne, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... beguiling and vivid performances ...'
CD Spotlight. Sheer Musicianship - Geoff Pearce listens to music for viola, played by Matthew Lipman. '... a delight for the listener and aficionados of the viola.'
CD Spotlight. Spiritual and Emotional Depth - Piano trios from the Delphi Trio by Beethoven, Brahms and Bolcom, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'An invigorating mixture of past and present, brilliantly executed and sumptuously recorded, which is truly worth investigating.'
CD Spotlight. The Spirit of Tango - Piazzolla's 'María de Buenos Aires', recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Bouncy yet thought-provoking stuff.'
CD Spotlight. An Emotional Journey? - Geoff Pearce listens to music for solo instruments and orchestra. 'The performance is very tight and exciting.'
CD Spotlight. An Invaluable Addition - Kathleen Ferrier sings the Bach Magnificat, impressing Gerald Fenech. 'A masterstroke by SOMM and an invaluable addition to the Ferrier discography that will grace any music collection.'
CD Spotlight. A Sense and Taste for the Infinite - Choral music by Rautavaara, Wennäkoski and Livorski impresses Gerald Fenech. 'For those who love contemporary choral singing, this disc should prove a real revelation ...'
CD Spotlight. Freshness and Imagination - Rhapsodies for Piano and Orchestra by Matej Meštrović, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... lovers of music that is tuneful and that does not require deep thought will really enjoy this disc.'
CD Spotlight. Brilliantly Executed - John Kitchen plays British Light Music by Arthur Sullivan and Michael Thomson, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'A gem of a disc full of wit, warmth and colour ...'
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.'
CD Spotlight. A Quintessentially French Bestiary - French songs by various composers, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Ducks, peacocks, pigs, butterflies, dromedaries, carp, cicadas and owls are just some of the creatures in the menagerie assembled for this recording.'
CD Spotlight. A Thrilling Musical Discovery - Violin Concertos by Giovanni Giornovich, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Bojan Čičić has this repertoire in his blood, and this shows in performances of exhilarating beauty.'
CD Spotlight. A Compelling Disc - Schoenberg piano music, recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'Yoko Hirota's performances here are truly exceptional ...'
CD Spotlight. A True Czech Operatic Masterpiece - Gerald Fenech listens to Janáček's 'The Cunning Little Vixen'. 'This performance from Frankfurt has everything going for it ...'
CD Spotlight. Deeply Emotional - Alice McVeigh listens to music by the late John Joubert. 'William Boughton conducts with great sensitivity, and the orchestra excels.'
CD Spotlight. Truly Sublime - Mariss Janssons conducts Bruckner's Symphony No 9, recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'The precision, attention to detail, warmth and depth of sound really set this recording apart from the pack.'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Very Interesting and Original - Geoff Pearce listens to chamber music by John McCabe and David Ellis. '... superb performances delivered by the Camerata Ensemble.'
CD Spotlight. A Compelling New Reading - Anett Fodor is impressed by Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra's recent recording of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. 'Daniel Harding awakens and keeps the listener's curiosity captive, demanding thorough attention for his compelling interpretation.'
CD Spotlight. Improvisatory Freedom - Gerald Fenech listens to pianist Myron Romanul. 'Romanul's playing brims with an expressive power that generates its own excitement and self-belief ...'
CD Spotlight. Past and Present - Gerald Fenech finds music for trombone and piano worthy of serious investigation. 'Performances are wonderfully attractive, with a certain exquisite timbre and beautifully shaped nuances permeating each piece.'
CD Spotlight. Fascination and Influence - Gerald Fenech is impressed by Lucille Boulanger and friends. 'The talented foursome heard here rise brilliantly to the hurdles presented and performances are consistently full of charm and warmth, wrapped up in an aura of unmitigated sensitivity.'
CD Spotlight. Two Fine Violinists - Stephen Francis Vasta listens to music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. 'Even the Violin Concerto ends with a downward chordal scale that 'resolves' to a dissonance, "à la" Charles Ives!'
CD Spotlight. Highlights of a Composer - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Nicola Sani. 'The performances by Roberto Fabbriciani and Alvise Vidolin, frequent collaborators of Nicola Sani, were just superb.'
CD Spotlight. Gorgeously Sung - Choral music by Richard Allain, heard by Roderic Dunnett. 'The music is undoubtedly beautiful, without exception.'
CD Spotlight. Idiomatically Revealing - Oxana Shevchenko plays Stravinsky for solo piano, heard by Roderic Dunnett. '... finely and deftly played.'
CD Spotlight. Dazzling Symphonies - Symphonies by Ruth Gipps, recommended by Roderic Dunnett. 'It conveys as much energy and artistry and expressiveness today as it did the day it was written.'
CD Spotlight. Extending the Repertoire - Anett Fodor listens to Hungarian viola player Vidor Nagy. 'The mellifluous sound, the doleful melody, as well as Vidor Nagy's sensitive performance convince the listener that both the artist and instrument are worthy of recognition.'
CD Spotlight. Diverse and Interesting - New works for large orchestra, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'All pieces on this disc are varied and the performances are satisfying.'
CD Spotlight. Scuttling Crabs - Music for vibraphone and wind quintet, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'There is some great vibraphone and bassoon work here ...'
CD Spotlight. A Splendid Compendium - Iberian concertos and sonatas, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... finely and eloquently played by an ensemble that is passionately committed to creating a sound world that never ages.'
CD Spotlight. Sensitive and Meditative - Kamyar Mohajer's 'Pictures of the Hidden' engages Geoff Pearce. 'The performers here are superb.'
CD Spotlight. A Deep Understanding - John McCabe's 'lost' Australian recording, commended by Geoff Pearce. 'The music is unfamiliar, but interesting, full of surprises and variety, and the fine piano playing is insightful and committed.'
CD Spotlight. Rich and Varied - Songs by Robin Holloway, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Performances are full of expressive variety and sensitivity, complementing the composer's thoughts with undiluted commitment.'
CD Spotlight. Distractingly Unusual - Peter Navarro-Alonso's Goldbergs re-invented, heard by Keith Bramich. 'It's certainly clever, but I'm not sure what it gives us that we don't already have.'
CD Spotlight. Very Weird - Orchestral music by Witold Lutoslawski, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'This is meaty music through and through and, admittedly, for some this may be off-putting.'
CD Spotlight. Melting Ice - Music from glaciers by Matthew Burtner, recommended by Keith Bramich. '... a slightly romanticised account of the effects of climate change in the far north, which doesn't affect the pure beauty, and often sadness, of these vivid and intriguing natural sound recordings and ideas.'
CD Spotlight. Majestic Feelings - Leon McCawley plays Schubert, admired by Anett Fodor. 'His unique touch, articulation, expressive dialogue between hands and outstanding technique are admirably illustrated in virtuoso passages which demonstrate his remarkable sense of style. This recording offers many memorable moments for the listener.'