Star countertenor Philippe Jaroussky – ‘a golden voice’ in the words of Le Figaro – records music written for the most famous castrato of them all, Farinelli. The composer Nicola Porpora, who became celebrated around Europe, was Farinelli’s mentor and teacher. A new album, Jaroussky’s first release for the recently relaunched Erato label (September) includes two duets featuring Cecilia Bartoli and  presents highlights from seven of his operas.


Lutoslawski: More from Pearls of Polish music

LUTOSLAWSKI: ORCHESTRAL WORKS Jerzy Maksymiuk/Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia BeArTon SACD CDB052 There have been no new recordings on SACD from the excellent Polish label BeArTon for quite some time, so this new release of three works by Witold Lutoslawski – the centenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year – is particularly welcome. The ‘Concerto for Cello and Orchestra’ dates from 1969-1970 and is one of Lutoslawki’s most impassioned and succinct works. Written for and first performed by Mstislav Rostropovich in London in 1970 it is in one single movement though it falls into four distinct sections – not given separate track numbers on this recording. The distinguished British cellist Robert Cohen gives a virtuoso account of this challenging piece and the adversarial nature of the orchestral accompaniment is excellently realised by the incisive orchestral playing that Jerzy Maksymiuk elicits from Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia. Lutoslawski’s ‘Piano Concerto’ was written for his Polish compatriot Krystian Zimerman and given its first performance by him at the Salzburg Festival in 1988 with the ORF Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. The ‘Piano Concerto’ is in four clearly delineated sections played attacca (though here, unlike the Cello Concerto, they are delineated with track numbers). Ewa Poblocka plays the busy opening two sections with compelling virtuosity while she brings a wonderful range of tonal colour to the introspective third. The orchestra open the final part which is permeated by staccato stabs and an energetic piano part that drives the music to an exciting conclusion. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned Lutoslawski’s 4th Symphony, his last major work, and they gave its first performance under the composer’s direction in 1993.The opening of this symphony is surely some of the most melodious and romantic music Lutoslawski ever composed, so the episodes of aleatoric and dissonant music that appears throughout the opening movement come as quite a shock. The second movement rises seamlessly from the first – a lyrical theme on the strings contrasting with much faster music. Gradually the music dies away to single spare instrumental lines and pizzicato strings, but the symphony ends with a powerful orchestral climax. Jerzy Maksymiuk and his fine orchestra play this complex music with complete assurance and beauty of tone. The recordings of all three pieces, made in the Witold Lutoslawski, Concert Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw, are state-of-the-art in clarity, immediacy and depth of sound. It is hardly the fault of BeArTon that there are already fine alternative recordings on SACD of all three works featured on this disc though with different couplings. The comprehensive survey of this composer’s music on Chandos has reached Volume IV and been very well received, whilst there is another excellent recording of the Cello Concerto played by Christian Poltéra on BIS. Nevertheless it would be a great pity if the fine qualities of this superbly performed and recorded disc were to be overshadowed by the intense competition elsewhere. Most warmly recommended.

New levels in the recording process: Diabolo

DIABOLO (MDG 9061757-7) is a beautifully produced 2-disc package that represents MDG’s latest developments in sophisticated surround sound recording. It carries their current 2+2+2 recording process to a new level that they describe as 2222+. One disc is a hybrid SACD sampler consisting of 28 well-chosen excerpts from some of the finest recordings in MDG’s extensive classical catalogue. The lavish booklet that accompanies ‘Diabolo’ provides details of the discs from which these excerpts are taken as well as ‘press acclaim’ for the recordings – some of which come from reviews posted on as well as in many other International publications. Continue reading

Walton’s Guitar Bagatelles from Cordover and Cala

Multi award-winning Australian guitarist Jacob Cordover pursues an international career while producing recordings both as a soloist and with Rupert Boyd as the Australian Guitar Duo. In the first of three projected recordings for Cala, he has tackled Walton’s Guitar Bagatelles. Jacob presents an eclectic program ranging from Bach through Spanish favourites to contemporary popular songs, the album title being taken from the work by his compatriot Ross Edwards. Jacob’s playing has been lauded for its “consummate artistry” and for having “demonstrated how much poetry and feeling can be obtained from the guitar in the hands of master musicians.” C


Warner is to issue The Sound of Alison Balsom, featuring repertoire drawn from the trumpeter’s critically acclaimed discography and reflects her passion for Baroque music. Alison performs works by Purcell, J.S. Bach, Torelli, Handel, Albinoni and Marcello on both the Baroque and modern trumpet with colleagues including The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock and the Scottish Ensemble. In addition, she plays her own transcriptions on the piccolo trumpet of the aria Al lampo dell’armi from Handel’s Giulio Cesare and the Sinfonia from Act 3 of his opera Amadigi di Gaula, both of which appear here for the first time on CD.

David Starkey’s Music & Monarchy for DVD

Renowned historian David Starkey’s BBC series Music & Monarchy, which reveals how British Kings and Queens shaped the story of the nation’s music as patrons and tastemakers (and even as composers and performers) was shown on BBC Two as part of this year’s celebrations for the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. David Starkey’s Music & Monarchy comes to DVD on 12 August 2013 including never before seen bonus features courtesy of Acorn Media.