Reviews: April 2018

Joseph Haydn
Piano Trios
Hob XV 14,18,21,26 & 31

Trio Wanderer
Harmonia Mundi 902321 (2018)

Confident, nimble playing with sparkling passagework and seemingly effortless cohesion among the players make these joyful performances by the Trio Wanderer of Haydn’s perennially youthful Piano Trios a delight from start to finish. Even with generally more brisk tempos than in the Beaux Arts Trio’s landmark 1970s recordings, the results never sound hurried or superficially showy; just marvel at the crystalline playing and rhythmic bite in the quicksilver finales of Nos. 14 and 21 or the warmly lyrical playing in the slow movements of Nos. 18 and 26. The Trio is well attuned to the unexpected turns and derailments in Haydn’s inventive scores and the result is one of unalloyed pleasure. The recording is well-balanced, focussed and with an intimate, burnished sound. Highly recommended.

Sergei Rachmaninov
Symphonies 1 -3
Symphonic Dances

London Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
LSO Live LSO0816 | 822231181620 (2018)

In these stirring and engrossing live performances of Rachmaninov’s three symphonies and Symphonic Dances, Valery Gergiev adopts a generous, disciplined approach lacking neither urgency nor drama which comfortably accommodates the fluctuations from gloomy introspection to impassioned outpourings and energetic rhythmic abandon. This is especially impressive in the romantic sweep of the slow movement of the Second Symphony, the searing drama of the finale of the First Symphony, and the intricate textures of the Symphonic Dances. The LSO’s playing is appropriately full-bloodied and lively, with incisive brass and sonorous woodwind well-captured in this vivid recording. Also included in this release is a riveting account of Balakirev’s fiery Tamara and the folk-inspired Russia which has palpable echoes of Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

Works by Dvořák, Bartók, Shor, Walton

David Aaron Carpenter, viola
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Kazushi Ono, Vladimir Jurowski, David Parry
Warner Classics 0190295697693 (2018)

Motherland is an engaging collection of works for viola and orchestra by Dvorak, Bartok, Walton and Alexy Shor, played with sublime technical assurance by David Aaron Carpenter with sterling support from the London Philharmonic Orchestra under three leading maestros. Carpenter makes his instrument sing like no other, the alluring dusky hues conjuring up an atmosphere of dreamy, lyrical introspection  in the openings of the Bartok and Walton concertos.  In the arrangement of Dvorak’s cello concerto, the viola’s lack of heft in the lower register is more than compensated by Carpenter’s restrained yet powerful reading.  And his singular talents are showcased in the unabashedly sentimental Well Tempered Chanson by Alexy Shor, nostalgic music which blends lush orchestration with heart on sleeve lyricism, recorded here for the first time.


Reviews first published 19 April 2018 on Primephonic.

Kevin Painting
Twitter: @berggasse