An die Musik: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Deutsche Grammophon B0004638)
Bruckner, Smetana, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Dvoršk (Deutsche Grammophon B0004882)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, considered by many to be the greatest interpreter of art songs, celebrated his 80th birthday on May 28. The legendary baritone's long-time label, Deutsche Grammophon, marks the occasion with An die Musik, a special collection of lieder and arias by Schubert, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner, Wolf, Strauss, Mahler, Schumann, and others. The two-CD set includes several never-before-released tracks and a bonus DVD of a 1978 German television special about Fischer-Dieskau that aired just once.
DG also marks the passing of one of its signature artists. Violinist Norbert Brainin, the leader of the Amadeus Quartet, died this past spring, leaving behind a legacy that includes a string of recordings on the "yellow label" dating back to the 1950s. Included in a new two-disc set of of Amadeus's performances with Brainen are works by Bruckner, Smetana, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Dvoršk. The Bruckner, Verdi, and Tchaikovsky performances are appearing internationally on CD for the first time.
Bach: Keyboard Concertos (Hyperion CDA 67307/8)
Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Warner Classics 61940)
Bach: The Six French Suites (Nimbus NIM 5744)
Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier (Nimbus NIM 5608)
Bach: Complete Partitas (Nimbus NIM 5673)
Bach: Cantatas, Volume 24 (Soli Deo Gloria SDG 107)
Bach: Clavier‹bung III (Gothic )
The Bach continues to flow. Pianist Angela Hewitt, in the midst of a 10-year effort to record all of J.S. Bach's major keyboard works, turns to the concertos in two new discs from Hyperion. Hewitt is joined by the Australian Chamber Orchestra in seven concertos for solo keyboard and orchestra, plus the Triple Concerto and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Hewitt recorded the concertos in Sydney in February after honing her performances during a month of concerts across Australia with the ACO.
Meanwhile, a year after releasing Daniel Barenboim's traversal of Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier, Warner Classics offers Book II in a new three-disc set. The English pianist Bernard Roberts performs Bach's six French Suites in a two-disc release from Nimbus. At the same time, the label is reissuing two other Bach cycles by Roberts: His Well-Tempered Clavier, a well-regarded effort that has been absent from the catalog for several years; and his recording of the six Partitas.
Two ongoing Bach series continue this month. John Eliot Gardiner's journey through the cantatas reaches Volume 24 with a set that offers BWV Nos. 12, 103, 108, 117, 146, and 166. On the Gothic label, organist Joan Lippincott performs the Clavier‹bung III and Bach's complete Sch‹bler Chorales. She plays the new Fritts organ at Princeton University, which was designed for Bach's music. Finally, Harmonia Mundi reissues Bach's Motets with Baroque specialist Ren_ Jacobs leading the Akademie f‹r Alte Musik Berlin.
Berio: Orchestral Transcriptions (Decca)
Dallapiccola: Orchestral Music (Stradivarius STV 33698)
Malipiero: Chamber Music (Stradivarius STV 33557)
Bolcom: Songs (Naxos 8.559249)
Henze: Violin Concertos (MD&G MDG 6011242)
Bennett: The Mines of Sulphur (Chandos CHAN 5036)
Bach also figures in an unusual new Decca disc featuring Riccardo Chailly and his Verdi Orchestra of Milan. Chailly, a champion of the music of the late Italian composer Luciano Berio, leads a program of that composer's orchestral transcriptions of works by Bach, Purcell, Boccherini, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, some of which are appearing on disc for the first time. The Brahms is, in effect, a clarinet concerto fashioned by Berio from the Clarinet Sonata in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1.
More contemporary music, by two of Berio's countrymen, is featured in a pair of interesting releases from the Stradivarius label. One disc contains orchestral works by the 12-tone composer Luigi Dallapiccola; the other surveys chamber works by the 20th century modernist Gianfranceso Malipiero.
A new CD of songs by the American William Bolcom features soprano Carole Farley accompanied on the piano by the composer. The disc, which includes several world premiere recordings, contains several items originally written for the great Marilyn Horne. Hans Werner Henze's three violin concertos—written in 1947, 1971, and 1996—are played by Torsten Janicke on a disc from MD&G. Baritone Ulf Dirk Madler joins him, providing the vocal part in the unusual second concerto. Richard Rodney Bennett's opera The Mines of Sulphur was a surprise hit last summer at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, New York last summer. That production, which travels to the New York City Opera this fall, can be heard on a new set from Chandos.
Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert: Arias (Warner Classics 62257)
Rossini: Complete Piano Edition, Volume 2 (Chandos CHAN 10319)
Most people don't think of Haydn and Schubert as opera composers, but each of them wrote quite a few works for the stage. Baritone Thomas Hampson presents some of their rarely heard arias plus works by Mozart and Beethoven. The Concentus Musicus Vienna and conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt accompany him. Most people do think of Rossini as an opera composer, but he also wrote quite a bit of instrumental music, including a couple of discs' worth of piano pieces. Marco Sollini offers a selection of character pieces in Volume 2 of his Rossini survey, which features works written toward the end of the composer's life.
Beethoven, Mozart: Violin Concertos (EMI 7243 558029)
Franck: Symphony in D minor (7243 558033)
Wagner, Berlioz: Arias (EMI 7243 558031)
Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas (Calliope CAL 3254)
Ravel: Complete Chamber Music (Calliope CAL 3822)
Brahms: Violin Sonatas (Testament SBT 1357)
Schumann, Saint-SaêŠns, Bloch (Testament SBT 1371)
Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, 1960-1970 (RCO Live 05001)
It's a good month for budget reissues and historical recordings. EMI's Legends series—which offers both a CD and a DVD in the same package for the price of a single compact disc—presents several releases. Among them, David Oistrakh's performances of violin concertos by Beethoven and Mozart; the Franck Symphony and works by Ravel and Debussy conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini (who died in June); and music by Wagner and Berlioz, sung by Regine Crespin.
Calliope is offering a pair of reissues in two-for-one sets. One of them features Yakov Kasman performing all ten of Scriabin's demanding piano sonatas. In the other set, the accomplished Talich Quartet and guests play the complete chamber music of Ravel. The Testament series of remastered historic records expands with several worthwhile items, among them an elegant reading of the Brahms Violin Sonatas by Szymon Goldberg and Arthur Balsam, and cello concertos by Saint-SaêŠns and Schumann, performed by the legendary Gregor Piatigorsky. The disc also includes Bloch's Schelomo, which was composed for Piatigorsky.
Finally, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra offers a 14-disc collection of recordings culled from the archives of Dutch Radio and Radio Netherlands. The third volume in a decade-by-decade anthology, this set includes concert performances by legendary artists. Among the treasures: Glenn Gould playing Bach, Eugene Ormandy conducting Hindemith, Birgit Nilsson singing Wagner, and Peter Pears and Colin Davis performing Britten.