March 10, 2020


GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE – The Listening Room: Episode 92 (03.03.20)

James Jolly’s latest playlist includes a quartet of concertos – Grieg from Eldbjørg Hemsing and Simon Trpceski, Chopin from Benjamin Grosvenor, Mozart from Charles Richard-Hamelin, Tjeknavorian Snr from Tjeknavorian Jnr, and Adès from Kirill Gerstein plus Lili Boulanger songs with Cyrille Dubois, and Walton sung by Carolyn Sampson – plus pre-release tracks by Matthias Goerne and Jan Lisiecki, Seong-Jin Cho, and the Czech Philharmonic

A bumper concerto playlist this week, with the piano dominating. Thomas Adès’s Piano Concerto is played by Kirill Gerstein and with the composer conducting the Boston Symphony this is a major addition to the repertoire – a bold, dramatic and showy concerto that sounds somehow both Romantic and wonderfully modern.

A more traditional piano concerto comes courtesy of Mozart – his delicious E flat work, K482, with its wonderful finale. Charles Richard-Hamelin is the stylish soloist and Jonathan Cohen draws some flavoursome playing from Les Violons du Roi.

A new violin concerto comes from Loris Tjeknavorian, a prolific conductor when I was first becoming interested in recordings, and clearly also a composer with a distinctive voice, here infused with the atmosphere of Iran where he now lives. And to play it, his highly accomplished son, Emmanuel, who has a slew of awards to his name.

Our current Recording of the Month is Benjamin Grosvenor’s outstanding album of the two Chopin piano concertos with Elim Chan conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. As Harriet Smith wrote ‘On every hearing new details seem to emerge – the most delicate trilling here, a wonderful snippet of clarinet theme there – but always with a sense of storytelling, Chopin’s ever-shifting moods lustrously caught.’ It’s a wonderful recording and offers up new perceptions on every listening.
I’ve pounced on a new recording of songs by Nadia and Lili Boulanger from a French tenor whose voice I adore, Cyrille Dubois. Do explore the remainder of the album; it’s terrific. And from another favourite singer, the soprano Carolyn Sampson, I’ve a trio of Walton songs drawn from Façade, Joseph Middleton the attentive partner at the piano.

Eric Lu, winner of the last Leeds Piano Competition, has just released his first debut solo album – I’ve included Schumann strange Ghost Variations, the programme’s culmination, for this week’s playlist.

Another impressive release comes from BIS – the three Grieg violin sonatas with Eldbjørg Hemsing and Simon Trpčeski forming a really impressive musical partnership.

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