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Hyperion 30
Hyperion 30th Anniversary series 2010 (limited edition) and other Dyad bargains

Congratulations to Hyperion Records on their 30th anniversary. We take this opportunty to bring to notice their special releases for the occasion and remind readers that we have reviewed many Hyperion discs over long years (in other outlets besides Musical Pointers too) and have come to rely on their high production values, so that re-issues on their label are almost always self-recommending.

Bach - Toccatas and Fuguesbach

Christopher Herrick, organ

A famed recording from 20 years ago on a Metzler organ in Switzerland; a worthy choice for this anniversary collection. Full documentation and superb sound !!

CDA3004 [originally CDA66434, 1990]

Fauré - Piano Quartets



A renowned and well loved disc from the pre-cursor of the now famous Florestan Trio, recorded before Fauré's chamber music had achieved quite the reputation it presently enjoys.

Read Susan Tomes (pianist of both groups) telling how it was travelling with a portable concert-hall!

This disc won many awards, but some commentators find Domus "very bland" and prefer more impassioned and extrovert accounts of the quartets; this issue is dealt with fully in Roy Howat's The Art of French Piano Music, which we have reviewed.

Mozart - Sacred music

Regina Coeli, K127 & K108
Sancta Maria, K273
Exsultate Jubilate, K165

The King's Consort/Robert King/Carolyn Sampson

Recorded at London's Cadogan Hall following a concert we attended, this is a pleasing disc - a useful collection of mostly minor Mozart from his Salzburg days, with the popular Alleluia the most spectacular (from a time when church and opera were close) and the Agnus Dei from the Coronation Mass "a melody surely as near perfection as any he ever wrote" [Robert King].

Robert King will be directing his Consort with leading soloists in a major Bach concert (Lutheran masses) at Wigmore Hall, 1st October.

Shostakovich / Shchedrin - Piano Concertos
Marc-Andre Hamelin / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton

This is another Hamelin specatacular (he is a Hyperion stalwart, with numerous recordings, all of them critically praised - the most recent his own Études...)

Hamelin deplores the near disappearance of the composer/pianist, of whom Shostakovich and Shchedrin were two famous examples, the latter composer's inclusion prompting me to catch up with the disc, which I missd first time round.

Shchedrin's 2nd Concerto is well worth getting to know, a very lively piece which roams amongst many idioms, including a look a dodecaphony (which he never fully embraced) and some "bop piano", all supported in great style and sonic splendour by the BBCSSO under Andrew Litton.

See enthusiastic Amazon reviews (which I endorse) and the original cover image.

A great addition to the Hamelin discography and Hyperion's.

Locatelli: L'Arte del Violino Op. 3

Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin)
The Raglan Baroque Players/Nicholas Kraemer

Hyperion CDS44391/3 [from CDA66721/3, 213 mins]

This is a great collection of virtuoso baroque violin playing, of music which was at the very cutting edge in the early 18th C, stretching technique to an unimagined limit, and in music of high intrinsic qualty.

It gained high praise on original release (c.1994), when I had the pleasure of reviewing it in a long-lost paper-journal, and it retains its allure fresh as ever.The boxed set is available at various prices, worth looking around; a derisory £12 for the box of three discs from Presto Classical, but at up to £82 from Amazon (I guess they'll come into line shortly...)!

This is an important recording worth searching for. The new pressings are dated P.2010. Sample one of the twelve concertos on YouTube.

Beethoven: Complete String Trios
Serenade Op. 8 &
String Trios , Op. 3 & Op. 9 Nos. 1 - 3

Leopold String Trio

CDD22069 Dyad (originally 1998 as two CDA discs)

Perfect music to enjoy at mealtimes; we have played them over breakfast on several mornings.

Alert performances, sometimes a little edgy (deliberately), by fine young players who are prominent on the UK scene in various groups; should be in everyone's collections alongside the quartets.

Brahms: The Complete Variations for solo piano

Theme and Variations in D minor (arr. from String Sextet, Op. 18)
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24
Variations on an Original Theme in D major, Op. 21, No. 1
Variations on a Hungarian Song in D major, Op. 21 No. 2
Variations on a theme by Schumann in F sharp minor, Op. 9
Variations on a theme by Paganini in A minor, Op. 35

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

CDA67777 [2 CDs for the price of one]

It is good to have all the Brahms variations brought together. Some are quite modest and accessible to "ordinary" pianists, even good amateurs; others are of notoriously fiendish difficulty. For listeners, however, "Variations" is an attractive form, easier to "follow" than are complex sonata movements.

The virtue of this recording is that Ohlsson exudes the same confidence in the latter parts of the Handel Variations and the Pagannini set (which used to be thought almost unplayable except by Egon Petri and a very few others) so that one ceases to be amazed and just enjoys them as music.

Never have I heard such a relaxed approach to the Pagannini Variations as here, and it gives a new respect towards the composer...

The recording (over four leisurely days in 2009, how sensible) is magnificent, perfect sonority from the outset with the rich transposition of the string sextet, a perfect opener.

A truly exceptional recording which has given us hours of pleasure. See a New York account of Ohlsson playing some of them live: - a Serene Approach to Difficult Brahms Technique is not about playing large numbers of the right notes in short spaces of time; it is the gift to listeners that allows them to hear with confidence. The average virtuoso approaches Brahms's "Handel Variations" with admirable tenacity. The impression conveyed is of a fiercely difficult opponent being wrestled to the ground. Garrick Ohlsson played the piece at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday afternoon with wondrous serenity. Mr. Ohlsson made it a point not to hurry, but at the moments when Brahms turns vicious we knew better than to worry about the outcome - -

Peter Grahame Woolf