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Ethelbert Nevin

[May 2016.]


To Thee We Sing.” Valentin SILVESTROV: Alleluia (2006); Liturgical Chants (2005); Diptych (1995); Two Sacred Chants (2006); Two Sacred Songs (2006); Two Christmas Lullabies (2006). Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond.). Ondine ODE 1266-5 (1 SACD) (

Despite the giddying echo and basso profundo, these dewy-eyed antiqued choruses will satisfy the Silvestrov devotee seeking true balm. MAYBE.


Wilhelm STENHAMMAR: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 1 (1893; orig. vers.)*; Fragment from Symphony No. 3 (1918-19; rev. Tommy B. ANDERSSON, 1991). Mats Widlund* (pno), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (cond.). Chandos CHAN 9074 (1 CD) (

The world would be a far better place if Stenhammar’s hugely romantic “Happy Brahms” Concerto replaced all instances of routine Grieg’s. YES.


Louis SPOHR: Grand Concert Overture (1819); Symphony No. 1, Op. 20 (1811); Symphony No. 2, Op. 49 (1820). Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Howard Shelley (cond.). Hyperion CDA67616 (1 CD) (

It’s easy to comprehend why Spohr’s symphonies are forgotten. That there are four further releases with Nos. 3 to 10 raises small alarms. NO.


English Clarinet Quintets.” Herbert HOWELLS: Rhapsodic Quintet, Op. 31 (1917). Arnold COOKE: Clarinet Quintet (1962). Elizabeth MACONCHY: Clarinet Quintet (1963). Benjamin FRANKEL: Clarinet Quintet, Op. 28 (1956). Josef HOLBROOKE: Eilean Shona, Op. 74 (1920). Thea King (clar), The Britten String Quartet: Peter Manning, Keith Pascoe (vln), Peter Lale (vla), Andrew Shulman (vlc). Hyperion CDH55105 (1 CD) (

Don’t be scared by the arcane repertoire. Maconchy and Frankel are for those who want grit. Howells and Holbrooke will soothe Romantics. YES.


Henryk GÓRECKI: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 62, “Already It Is Dusk” (1988); String Quartet No. 2, Op. 64, “Quasi una Fantasia” (1990-91); String Quartet No. 3, Op. 67, “…songs are sung…” (1995-2005). Royal String Quartet: Izabella Szałaj-Zimak, Elwira Przybyłowska (vln), Marek Czech (vla), Michał Pepol (vlc). Hyperion CDA67812 (2 CDs) (

The Royals consummately surpass the Kronos’ showy naïveté with nuance and a calm throttle. Górecki’s three are grueling when done right. YES.


Francis CHAGRIN: Symphony No. 1 (1946-59; rev. 1965); Symphony No. 2 (1965-71). BBC Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins (cond.). Naxos 8.571371 (1 CD) (

First releases of British film composer/conductor’s two solid but cranky symphonies. They grind and ponder, lifting off just slightly. MAYBE.


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