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Building a Library: Puccini's La fanciulla del West

With Andrew McGregor. Including Building a Library: Puccini's La fanciulla del West; Alexandra Coghlan reviews recent choral releases; Disc of the Week.

with Andrew McGregor

Building a Library: Flora Willson sifts through some of the available recordings of Puccini's opera La fanciulla del West.

Puccini's La fanciulla del West, or Girl of the West, is set in a mining camp at the foot of the Cloudy Mountains, California. If it has fewer famous arias than other Puccini operas, it is greatly admired for its colourful orchestration with influences from composers such as Debussy and Richard Strauss, while at the same time having a unique sound world. The opera was premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, in 1910. And Puccini himself thought it one of his greatest works. The conductor Arturo Toscanini called it a "great symphonic poem".

Alexandra Coghlan reviews recent releases of choral discs.

Andrew chooses an outstanding new release as his Disc of the Week.

3 hours, 12 minutes

Music Played

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Symphony No. 1 In G Minor Op.13 (Winter Daydreams) 1. Allegro Tranquillo ('Dreams of a Winter Journey')

    Orchestra: St Luke's Orchestra. Conductor: Pablo Heras‐Casado.
    • Harmonia Mundi : HMC 902220.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 1.
  • Ólafur Arnalds

    For Now I Am Winter

    Composer: Arnór Dan. Music Arranger: Geoff Lawson. Performer: VOCES8.
    • Decca : 483 0968.
    • Decca.
    • 1.
  • Sam Corbin, Siglo De Oro & Patrick Allies

    O Adonai

    • Delphian DCD34184.
    • Delphian.
    • 4.
  • George Crumb

    Little Suite For Christmas Ad 1979 For Piano

    Performer: Steven Osborne.
    • HYPERION: CDA68108.
    • Hyperion.
    • 5-6.
  • Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien & François Lazarevitch

    Iesous Ahatonnia

    • Alpha : 266.
    • Alpha.
    • 2.
  • Concerto de’ Cavalieri & Marcello Di Lisa

    Sinfonia: Scipione Nelle Spagne

    • Deusche Harmonia Mundi : 88985370012.
    • Deusche Harmonia Mundi.
    • 20-22.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Sonata In B Flat Major Rv.759 (Manchester Sonata No.5) For Violin And Continuo, i. Preludio

    Performer: Les Accents. Performer: Thibault Noally.
    • Aparté : AP128.
    • Aparté.
    • 12.
  • Main Baroque Orchestra Frankfurt

    Concerto Secondo In E Minor (iii and iv)

    • Aeolus : AE-10077.
    • Aeolus.
    • 7-8.
  • Bohuslav Martinu

    Concerto No. 1 For Cello And Orchestra [1930 & 1955]

    Performer: Sol Gabetta. Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Krzysztof Urbanski.
    • Sony : 88985350792.
    • Sony.
    • 5-7.

Record Review Christmas Stocking

Record Review Christmas Stocking
As a part of our annual Critics’ Choice edition of Record Review, we’re asking which new 2016 recordings you’d want in your Christmas stocking. Give yourself a budget of £50, and tell us how you’d spend it. Email to let us know what you're hoping to find under your Christmas tree.


Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 'Winter Dreams' & The Tempest
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor Op. 13 'Winter Daydreams'; The Tempest Op. 18
Orchestra Of St. Luke's, Pablo Heras-Casado (conductor)

ALEXANDER, J: Come Wander With Me
ARNALDS: For Now I Am Winter
BINGHAM, J: The Darkness Is No Darkness
DALE, R: Winter
HOLST: In the Bleak Mid-winter (Cranham)
PART: Nunc dimittis
POTT: Balulalow
PRAETORIUS, M: Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
RACHMANINOV: Vespers Op. 37: Nyne otpushchayeshi; The Snow It Melts The Soonest
VASKS: Plainscapes (Lidzenuma ainavas) for mixed choir (vocalise), violin and cello; The Fruits Of Silence
DECCA 4830968 (CD)

Drop down, ye heavens: Advent antiphons for choir & saxophone
ALLAIN: O Day-spring
ALLWOOD: O Virgin of virgins
CERTON: O Adonai
DESPRES: O virgo virginum
KANER: O Adonai
MIKSCH: There is no rose
MORNABLE: O clavis David
POTT: O Key of David
PRAETORIUS, M: Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
RATHBONE, S: O Root of Jesse
TODD: O Wisdom
TURNBULL, S M: O Emmanuel
WEIR: Drop down, ye heavens, from above
WILSON, G: O King of the Nations
Sam Corkin (saxophones), Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies

Feldman: Palais de Mari & Crumb: A Little Suite for Christmas
CRUMB, G: Processional; Little Suite for Christmas, AD1979
FELDMAN, M: Intermission V; Piano Piece (1952); Palais de Mari; Extensions 3
Steven Osborne (piano)

Noel Baroque - Chansons de France et d'ailleurs
Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Maitrise de Radio France, Francois Lazarevitch (conductor), Sofi Jeannin

9.30am - Building a library

Building a Library: a weekly look at a piece of music, a comparison of the available recordings, and a recommendation.

This week, Flora Willson reviews recoridngs of Puccini's La fanciulla del West.

Building a Library: Puccini's La fanciulla del West

Recommended recording: Carol Neblett (Minnie) Placido Domingo (Dick Johnson), Sherrill Milnes (Jack Rance), Royal Opera House Orchestra, Zubin Mehta (conductor)

Available on:
DG 4748402 (2CD)

Other recommended recordings:
Below is a shortlist of other recordings which Flora Willson also liked, although we can’t guarantee the availability of these discs.

PUCCINI: La fanciulla del West
Renata Tebaldi (Minnie), Mario del Monaco (Dick Johnson), Cornell MacNeil (Jack Rance), Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Franco Capuana (conductor)
DECCA 4215952 (CD)

PUCCINI: La fanciulla del West
Nina Stemme (Minnie), Jonas Kaufmann (Dick Johnson), Tomasz Konieczny (Jack Rance), Orchester, Chor der Wiener Staatsoper, Franz Welser-Most (conductor)
SONY 88875064069 (DVD Video) or SONY 88875064079 (Blu-ray)


A. Scarlatti: Opera Overtures and Concertos
SCARLATTI, A: Il prigioniero fortunato: Sinfonia; Concerto Grosso No. 3 in F major; La Caduta: Sinfonia; Concerto Grosso No. 1 in F minor; Concerto Grosso No. 6 in E major; Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor; Concerto Grosso No. 4 in G minor; La Donna ancora e fedele: Sinfonia; Concerto Grosso No. 2 in C minor; L'amazzone corsara: two sinfonias
Concerto de' Cavalieri, Marcello Di Lisa
DEUTSCHE HM 88985370012 (CD)

Venezia 1700
ABACO, E: Sonata in G minor for violin and continuo Op. 4 No. 12
ALBINONI: Violin Sonata in G minor Op. 4 No. 5
BONPORTI: Invenzione Op. 10, No. 6
CALDARA: Chiaccona in B flat major Op. 2, No. 12; Sonata in C minor Op. 2 No. 7
TORELLI: Sonata in E minor for violin and continuo
VIVALDI: Violin Sonata in B flat, RV759; Sontata da camera No. 12 for two violins
Thibault Noally (violon), Les Accents

Six Concertos - Main-Barockorchester Frankfurt
GNOCCHI: Six Concertos (Trio Sonatas)
Main Baroque Orchestra, Martin Jopp


JOHNSON, C H: Considering Matthew Shepard
Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807638/39 (2Hybrid SACD)

Refuge from the Flames
ALLEGRI: Miserere mei, Deus
ANIMUCCIA: Iesu, sommo conforto; Alma, che si gentile; Che fai qui, core?; Ecce quomodo moritur
BETTINI: Ecce quam bonum
BYRD: Infelix ego
CLEMENS: Tristitia obsedit me – Infelix ego
EŠENVALDS: Infelix ego
JEUNE: Tristitia obsedit me
RICHAFORT: O quam dulcis
VERDELOT: Letamini in Domino
ORA, Suzi Digby

Meditatio: Music for Mixed Choir
EŠENVALDS: O salutaris Hostia
LAURIDSEN: Lux aeterna
LEIFS: Requiem Op. 33b for mixed choir a cappella (Text: Folk poetry and Jonas
MACMILLAN: A Child's Prayer
SAEVARSSON: Nunc dimittis
SIGURBJORNSSON, T: Nu hverfur sol i haf; Heyr himna smiour
WHITACRE: Lux aurumque
ÞORVALDSDOTTIR: Heyr þu oss himnum a
Rakel Edda Guomundsdottir (soprano), Ragnheiour Sara Grimsdottir (soprano), Thelma Hronn Sigurdorsdottir (soprano), Kirstin Erna Blondal (soprano), Johanna Osk Valsdottir (alto), Helgi Steinar Helgason (tenor), Fjolnir Olafsson (bass), Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis, Horour Askelsson
BIS BIS2200 (Hybrid SACD)

Ultimum: New A Cappella Music
LUKASZEWSKI: Responsoria Tenebrae
RIHM: Sieben Passions-Texte
Kammerchor Saarbrucken, Georg Grun

As Dreams - Choral Music
JANSON, A: Nocturne
LACHENMANN: Consolation II (Wessobrunner Gebet)
NORGARD: Drommesang; Singe die Garten
SAARIAHO: Uberzeugung; Nuits, adieux
Norwegian Soloists' Choir, Oslo Sinfonietta, Grete Pedersen
BIS BIS2139 (Hybrid SACD)

11.45am - Disc of the Week

Sol Gabetta Live
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85
MARTINU: Cello Concerto No. 1, H.196
Sir Simon Rattle (conductor), Krzystof Urbanski, Sol Gabetta (cello), Berliner Philharmoniker
SONY 88985350792 (CD)


  • Sat 10 Dec 2016 09:00

Browse previous episodes of the Record Review Podcast

Browse previous episodes of the Record Review Podcast

All episodes since 2010, listed alphabetically by composer surname.

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