Saturday, 31 December 2016

BEST & WORST CLASSICAL CDS 2016


As published in the 18 December 2016 edition of The Sunday Times (Singapore):

BEST


ZHOU LONG & CHEN YI
Symphony Humen 1839
New Zealand Symphony / Darrell Ang
Naxos 8.570611

Conductor Darrell Ang became Singapore’s first-ever Grammy nominee for classical music with this symphony jointly composed by the China-born husband-and-wife Zhou Long and Chen Yi. Commemorating China’s act of defiance in Humen, Canton that sparked off the Opium Wars, the 2009 work is both patriotic and cathartic, heralding the ascent of China as a global superpower.



THE CLASSICAL ELEMENTS
ALBERT TIU, Piano
Centaur 3503

The 20 piano pieces in this recital are inspired by the ancient concept of earth, air, water and fire as the four pillars of the natural world. The Philippines-born and Singapore-based pianist Albert Tiu has an exquisite and variegated touch in diverse works by Liszt, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Godowsky, Scriabin, Griffes, Ibert, Mompou and others, all of which are evocatively coloured.



J.S.BACH Mass in B minor
Soloists with Concerto Copenhagen 
Lars Ulrik Mortensen
CPO 777 851-2

This recording of Bach’s classic choral work employs five soloists and just five ripieno voices (one voice per part) in the choral movements, accompanied by period instruments. The effect is one of lighter and more transparent textures without sacrificing on volume, depth or grandeur. A sitting will help redefine the words “divine” and “beautiful”. 


WORST


TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Violin
MusicAeterna / Teodor Currentzis
Sony Classical 88875165122

Has there been an uglier recording of Tchaikovsky’s popular Violin Concerto than this travesty? Russian-Austrian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja adopts a preening demeanour, deliberate extremes of dynamics, slashing and percussive bowing, and capped by a dry vitriolic tone that makes for irritating repeated listening. Simply perverse.


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