Valentine’s Classics/ Philharmonic Hall
THE ghost of St Valentine should cast his rosy hue over the Phil tonight when the orchestra plays an evening of romantic music. But love never runs smoothly in the world of music and the Romeo and Juliet story is a case in point.
This is Tchaikovsky’s most popular overture, telling their story from romance to tragedy after the bungling by Friar Laurence. But for the real nitty-gritty of their sad tale, Prokofiev got nearer the bone with his ballet. It’s full of good if spiky tunes and the 1st Suite will be played tonight after the interval.
Between the two tragedies, pure balm comes from the Max Bruch Violin Concerto No 1, played by Hyeyoon Park, and Jose Luis Gomez will round off the evening with Ravel’s Bolero.
There is also rare romance with the little Nocturne of Martucci, another of those romantic Italian composers with whose music we are now becoming familiar.
Steven Osborne: Mussorgsky and Prokofiev (Hyperion)
UNTIL now, I have preferred Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition. The piano original always seemed thin and adequate. But now Steven Osborne has changed all that, bringing remarkably to life this gallery, sometimes humorous, sometimes grotesque, and even convincing in the final expanses of The Great Gate of Kiev.
I am totally won over and for good measure. He completes the recital with Prokofiev’s most popular piano pieces, Visions Fugitives, and his tiny Sarcasms, which may be taken with a pinch of salt.
Brundibar: The Nash Ensemble (Hyperion)
THERESIENSTADT was the towncamp where the Nazis kept thousands of Jews before being moved on to extermination. It was an artistic hotspot, used by the Nazis as a show piece, and music was an important element. The Nash Ensemble plays a Suite from Hans Krasa’s children’s opera Brundibar, some of which survives on poignant film of its first performance in the camp.
Then there are quartets by Pavel Haas and Viktor Ullmann and a trio by Gideon Klein. All died before middle age, losing a generation of Czech composers in virtually the same year.
Canciones Espanolas/ Sylvia Schwartz (Hyperion)
SPANISH soprano Sylvia Schwartz sings songs of Spanish love and list by Granados, including The Maiden and the Nightingale and nine other laments of lovelorn set ladies in ancient style. There are another 16 songs by Turina and Guridi and five negro songs of Montsalvatge, including the famous lullaby. Malcolm Martineau is the idiomatic accompanist on this delightful collection best heard with a glass of Rioja to hand.