Close to the edit: Edna Stern, ‘Schubert on tape’

Edna Stern’s latest release is a fascinating find. Beautifully performed, for sure, but those performances are led by an intriguing, impeccably realised idea. The pieces on this disc are well-loved and oft-recorded: the first four ‘Impromptus’ (D899) and the ‘Moments Musicaux’ (D780). But Stern, following the courage of her convictions, has arrived at a new…

Leonore Piano Trio plays Bargiel’s Piano Trios Nos 1 and 2

Woldemar Bargiel is not a composer I had heard of. His connection to Clara Wieck (later Schumann) is intriguing. Born in 1828 in Berlin, Woldemar was Clara Wieck’s half-brother – younger by nine years. Despite their difference in age, they enjoyed a life-long closeness of music-making. When Bargiel was born, Clara had already met Robert…

Continental lift: Rebeca Omordia, ‘African Pianism’; the African Concert Series

This marvellous disc contains multitudes. The variety of sounds and styles packed into its generous 77 minutes showcases not only the infinite intrigue of a music too little-heard until now, but the lightly-worn virtuosity of Omordia herself. (Important note: for the facts/background underpinning this post, I’m indebted to Robert Matthew-Walker’s invaluable booklet notes which, in…

Viennese Winds Blow Through Elisabeth Leonskaja’s Mozart Sonatas

In the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to Elisabeth Leonskaja’s Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas,. I have now worked my way through six discs, eighteen sonatas and one fantasia. I love Mozart’s sonatas and especially his fantasia, but it must be said that one or two early sonatas come across as a little frothy. That said, this…

Cantus Covid Sessions A Singing Tour de Force

American ensemble Cantus recorded The Covid-19 Sessions back in March 2020 on their home territory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the time, Cantus were facing a year of cancelled concerts. The future was so dire, they believed that the recordings would be the last time they would perform together. I failed to listen to their album when it released in August 2020….

Opalescence – Piano and chamber music by Ruth Gipps

Sonata for cello and piano, op. 63 (1978) – world premiere recording The Fairy Shoemaker (1929) – world premiere recording Theme and Variations, op. 57a (1965) The Ox and the Ass Introduction and Carol, op. 71 (1988) Opalescence, op. 72 (1989) Scherzo and Adagio for Unaccompanied Cello, OP. 68 (1987) – world premiere recording Sonata…

The dark ascending: Dead Space Chamber Music, ‘The Black Hours’

This is music at once vivid, immediate – and at the same time, otherworldly, almost surreal. In its heady combination of genres, approaches and sounds, the album feels both timeless and original. In the best sense, it’s a sonic trap, daring you to identify familiar elements and motifs, only to snatch them away and re-purpose…

Kosuge’s Electrifying Chopin Wraps up ‘Elements’ Project’

For the past 5 years, pianist Yu Kosuge has created a series of four recordings inspired by the Greek concept of the four elements: Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. Last year her ‘Wind’ album really impressed me with its bird-inspired 18th century music by Daquin,Couperin and Rameau. With her Beethoven, the Tempest Sonata No 2, she really took off.  ‘Wind’…

Retrospecstive 2021: Adrian Ainsworth’s 25 recordings of the year

As ever, blood, sweat, tears and several industrial-strength mugs of tea have gone into this year’s round-up. Even while the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to make musicians’ lives uncertain at best and hellish at worst, they have still managed to do us listeners proud. I have already written about some of the below…

With ‘Heritage’ Violinist Rudin Uncovers Denisov

Fedor Rudin’s album Heritage celebrates Russian repertoire and more specifically the music of composer Edison Denisov (1929-1996). Denisov is associated with modernist music in Soviet Russia of the 1960s. With mentors like Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich and Debussy an early inspiration, I was keen to hear how these musical influences panned out. Rudin’s decision to premiere…