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Andrew McGregor with Hannah French and Sarah Walker

The best new classical releases, plus in Building a Library, Hannah French compares recordings of Bach’s Ascension Oratorio, and Sarah Walker reviews new releases of piano music.

Building a Library: Hannah French listens to and compares recordings of Bach’s Ascension Oratorio ‘Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen‘ BWV 11.
Composed probably in 1735 for the feast of the Ascension, the text of Bach’s oratorio comprises several biblical sources, free poetry and chorales. It tells the narrative of Christ’s ascension to Heaven, as told in the Gospels of Luke and Mark, and in the Acts of the Apostles. As is often the case in Bach’s music, several of the movements from the Ascension Oratorio are re-workings of parts of earlier cantatas, while the alto aria was used again much later for the plangent Agnus Dei of his Mass in B minor.
Sarah Walker reviews a wide-ranging selection of new piano music recordings.
Andrew chooses an outstanding new release as his Disc of the Week.

2 hours, 44 minutes

Music Played

  • Edward Elgar


    Performer: Albrecht Mayer. Conductor: Jakub Hrůša. Orchestra: Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Alessandro Striggio

    Missa ecco si beato giorno: VI. Agnus Dei

    Ensemble: Armonico Consort. Choir: Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. Director: Christopher Monks. Director: Geoffrey Webber.
    • Signum.
  • Giovanni Antonini

    Prelude (Improvisation)

    Performer: Giovanni Antonini.
    • Alpha.
  • Anon.

    La morte della ragione (pavana)

    Performer: Giovanni Antonini. Ensemble: Giardino Armonico.
    • Alpha.
  • Henry Brant

    Ice Field (excerpt)

    Performer: Cameron Carpenter. Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony. Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas.
    • SFS Media.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Symphony No. 2 in A minor Op. 55: IV. Prestissimo

    Orchestra: Utah Symphony. Conductor: Thierry Fischer.
    • Hyperion.
  • Edward Elgar

    Piano Quintet (extract)

    Performer: Martin Roscoe. Ensemble: Brodsky Quartet.
    • Chandos.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Cello sonata No. 3 in A Op. 69: II. Scherzo

    Performer: Leonard Elschenbroich. Performer: Alexei Grynyuk.
    • Onyx.
  • David Matthews

    Double concerto Op. 122: II. Lento

    Performer: Sara Trickey. Performer: Sarah-Jane Bradley. Conductor: Kenneth Woods. Orchestra: English Symphony Orchestra.
    • Nimbus.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Diabelli Variations: Variation XXXI

    Performer: Imogen Cooper.
    • CHANDOS.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Sonata no. 13 in B flat, K. 333: III. Allegretto grazioso

    Performer: Lars Vogt.
    • ONDINE.
  • Olivier Messiaen

    Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus: XX. Regard de l'eglise d'amour

    Performer: Martin Helmchen.
    • ALPHA.
  • John Adams

    Short Ride in a Fast Machine (arr. Piano 4 hands by Preben Antonsen)

    Performer: Christina Naughton. Performer: Michelle Naughton.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Prelude in D flat major, Op.32 no.13

    Performer: Boris Giltburg.
    • Naxos.

Record Review


‘Longing for Paradise’ – Strauss: Oboe Concerto + oboe works by Elgar, Ravel & Goossens
Albrecht Mayer (oboe)
Bamberger Symphoniker (orchestra)
Jakub Hrusa (conductor)
Deutsche Grammophon 483 6622

‘Supersize Polyphony’ – Striggio: Mass in 40 & 60 parts & Missa sopra Ecco si Beato Giorno; Tallis: Spem in Alium & O Nata Lux + sacred choral works by von Bingen
Armonico Consort (ensemble)
Christopher Monks (director)
Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge (choir)
Geoffrey Webber (director)
Signum SIGCD560

‘La morta della ragione’ – Music by Mainerio, Desprez, Agricola, Dunstable, G. Gabrieli, Gombert etc.
Il Giardino Armonico (ensemble)
Giovanni Antonini (recorder & direction)
Alpha 450

Henry Brant: Ice Field
San Francisco Symphony (orchestra)
Cameron Carpenter (Fratelli Ruffatti concert organ of Davies Symphony Hall)
Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)
SFS Media SFS-0075 (digital only)

9.30am – Building a Library – Hannah French on J.S. Bach’s Ascension Oratorio

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Reviewer: Hannah French

Recommended Recording:

Lenneke Ruiten (soprano)
Meg Bragle (mezzo soprano)
Andrew Tortise (tenor)
Dietrich Henschel (bass)
The Monteverdi Choir
The English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)
SDG 185

Other Recommended Recordings:

Sandrine Piau (soprano)
Sibylla Rubens (soprano)
Bogna Bartosz (mezzo soprano)
Bernhard Landauer (countertenor)
James Gilchrist (tenor)
Christoph Prégardien (tenor)
Jorg Durmuller (tenor)
Klaus Mertens (baritone)
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir
Ton Koopman (conductor)
Challenge Classics CC72285

Carolyn Sampson (soprano)
Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
James Gilchrist (tenor)
Petery Harvey (bass)
Retrospect Ensemble
Matthew Halls (conductor)
Linn Records BKD 373

10.20am – New Releases

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No.2, Danse macabre & Symphony in F ‘Urbs Roma’
Utah Symphony (orchestra)
Thierry Fischer (conductor)
Hyperion CDA68212

Elgar: String Quartet & Piano Quintet
Brodsky Quartet
Martin Roscoe (piano)
Chandos CHAN 10980

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas Nos. 1-5 & Cello Sonata in F major, Op. 17 (arr. from horn sonata by Beethoven)
Leonard Elschenbroich (cello)
Alexei Grynyuk (piano)
Onyx 4196

David Matthews: Symphony No.9, Variations for Strings & Double Concerto for Violin and Viola
Sara Trickey (violin)
Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola)
English String Orchestra
English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods (conductor)
Nimbus NI 6382

10.45 am – New Releases – Sarah Walker on Piano Releases

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations & 11 Bagatelles
Imogen Cooper (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20085

Mozart: Piano Sonatas K280, K281, K310 & K333
Lars Vogt (piano)
Ondine ODE 1318-2

Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus
Martin Helmchen (piano)
Alpha 423 (2 CDs)

‘American Postcards’ – Arrangements for piano duet of works by Adams, Schoenfield, Nancarrow & Copland
Christina and Michelle Naughton (piano duet)
Warner Classics 0190295562298,0190295562298/christina-and-michelle-naughton-american-postcard

Rachmaninov: Preludes Opp. 23 & 32 + Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3 : No. 2. Prelude in C-sharp Minor
Boris Giltburg (piano)
Naxos 8.574025

11.20am – Record of the Week

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 ‘Pathetique’
Berliner Philharmoniker
Kirill Petrenko (conductor)
Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR190261 (Hybrid SACD & download)


  • Sat 25 May 2019 09:00

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