CD review: Nicholas Daniel and the Britten Sinfonia

Nicholas Daniel shot to fame upon winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition with Vaughan Williams’ oboe concerto, and here he returns to the work on a disc of luscious English pastoralism. Suffusing its lyricism with wistful longing, Daniels gives a performance both reflective and robust. He handles the juxtaposition of lyrical and scherzo-like material with élan, integrating both into a sweeping arch to poignant effect.

Read the full review at Sinfini Music.

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Catching up

It’s been a busy few weeks, and I’ve neglected to post my last few reviews and features.

For Sinfini, I delved into the woodwind repertoire to write top 10 works guides for flute and recorder. I also compiled a list of the 10 greatest flautists – see who made my cut here.

I reviewed the first concert in the New York Philharmonic’s Barbican residency for Bachtrack, and also indulged my wanderlust in writing a feature on the BRQ Vantaa festival.

More links and news to come soon!

CD review: CPE Bach Orchestral Music

Touted as a forgotten pioneer, CPE Bach shines in the spotlight of this new release from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Recorded live at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2014 under the baton of Rebecca Miller, this recording brings together five symphonies which show Bach at his finest; bursting with daring gestures and unexpected changes of direction, the music drips with drama.

Read the full review at Sinfini.

Exploring French women composers

Try to reel off the members of Les Six, and you might struggle to complete the set. The names of Poulenc, Milhaud, Honegger, Auric and Durey were frequently heard alongside that of another composer. The music of Germaine Tailleferre – the only female member of the group – may be neglected today, but she was highly regarded during her lifetime, earning the praise of such luminaries as Erik Satie.

Tailleferre is by no means the only female musician who has been overshadowed by her contemporaries. Nadia Boulanger is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century Paris, but the early part of her career was eclipsed by the star of her younger sister, Lili. A prodigious talent, Lili Boulanger would be the first woman to win the prestigious Prix de Rome. Her career was to be meteoric, but short-lived: she died at the tender age of 24, struck down by Crohn’s disease.

The lives of the women are fascinating, and their music no less so. Both were distinctive and characterful voices, deserving of the esteem in which they were held during their lifetimes.

Find out more by reading my profiles of Germaine Tailleferre and Lili Boulanger at Sinfini Music.

CD Review: Dutilleux from Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony

Seattle SO/Morlot

Bringing together pieces which span almost half a century of Henri Dutilleux’s output, this CD is a labour of love. Conductor Ludovic Morlot knew the composer personally, and his passion for Dutilleux’s music shines through in vivid and sensitive performances. Although there may be 46 years between the first and last pieces on the disc, all three works demonstrate the composer’s keen ear for orchestral sonority: textures are rich and luxurious while possessing a crystalline transparency.

Read my review in full at Sinfini Music.