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Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone as ‘an organ of candid opinion for the numerous possessors of gramophones’

The open-mindedness of the finest artists

If anyone doubts the astonishing range and quality of classical music recordings being made today – and, I hope, regular readers of these pages would harbour no such perception – then they should really take heed of this month’s releases. There’s always a slight seasonality to release schedules, summers are traditionally more quiet, and labels often gear up for the pre-Christmas period with headline projects. But even so, take a look through our pages – this month really stands out. Choosing the Editor’s Choices is always a difficult task, but this month it was doubly so given just how many recordings had drawn such heart-felt plaudits from our critics.

the younger generation of musicians as streaming continues to break down barriers. Levit’s album, meanwhile, movingly closes with a work by the jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans.

Speaking of championing young artists, 21 years ago Sony Classical backed a 17-year-old violinist and brought the world her remarkable performances of three of Bach’s six sonatas and partitas. Now, courtesy this time of Decca, Hilary Hahn completes the set for us. The result is Bach-playing of breathtaking accomplishment. (And, again, Bach: what is it about this composer that inspires artists to such heights and, indeed, depths?). A superb Recording of the Month.

That two major labels should produce extraordinary piano records from leading young artists as different in approach as Igor Levit’s deeply thought-out meditation on life, featuring music from Bach to Busoni, and Víkingur Ólafsson’s beautifully coloured exploration of, again, Bach, is a powerful reflection of the industry’s continuing commitment to not just nurturing the next generation, but to giving them the platforms their music-making deserves. Both artists share an aversion to allowing either themselves or their repertoire to be pigeonholed. At a Deutsche Grammophon event this month Ólafsson reflected on this, citing his upbringing in Iceland as a part of shaping this mindset. In a small country, he said, you simply can’t isolate yourself by style, and many musicians happily genre-hop, even from day to day (including, apparently, players stepping between orchestra and heavy metal bands), enriching themselves, their audiences and their art form as they do so. It’s a mindset we see more and more among

But as we continue to celebrate the extraordinary legacy being laid down month by month, by the most inspirational artists of today, let us also pause to remember the passing of one the greats from the ‘Golden era’ of opera recording. Montserrat Caballé, who has died aged 85, had a voice of both thrilling beauty and drama (surely that’s what lay behind the New York Times headline from 1965: ‘Callas + Tebaldi = Caballé’), and one that excelled in repertoire from bel canto to Wagner. But late in her career she acquired fame far beyond opera goers when she duetted with Freddie Mercury in the hit single ‘Barcelona’. Here, indeed, was an artist not afraid to throw herself into another genre, and to do so with considerable style. Perhaps an openness to genrehopping is not a new phenomenon after all: today’s young artists are simply following in the footsteps trod by one of opera’s true, and much-missed, icons. martin.cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

‘Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres are the tucked-away masterpieces of Baroque church music,’ says

‘I knew the Chiaroscuro Quartet could give me a rich interview on Schubert’s Death and the Maiden,’

LINDSAY KEMP, who listened to over 30 recordings for this month’s Collection. ‘But anyone who knows them has to love them for their profound beauty, nobility and expression.’

says CHARLOTTE GARDNER , who wrote this month’s Musician and Score. ‘However, I hadn’t anticipated the sheer number of entirely fresh and illuminating pictures they ended up painting in my head.’

‘All the most interesting cellists are musical explorers,’ says RICHARD BRATBY, who

interviews Daniel Müller-Schott this issue. ‘I was delighted to ind he shares my enthusiasm for neglected Russian miniatures and sees them as unlocking a whole new artistic world.’

THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Michelle Assay Richard Bratby • Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Charlotte Gardner • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott • Richard Lawrence Andrew Mellor • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil • Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol Geo frey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger • Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Julie Anne Sadie • Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley Pwyll ap Siôn • Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher • David Vickers • John Warrack Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman

Gramophone, which has been serving the classical music world since 1923, is irst and foremost a monthly review magazine, delivered today in both print and digital formats. It boasts an eminent and knowledgeable panel of experts, which reviews the full range of classical music recordings. Its reviews are completely independent. In addition to reviews, its interviews and features help readers to explore in greater depth the recordings that the magazine covers, as well as o fer insight into the work of composers and performers. It is the magazine for the classical record collector, as well as for the enthusiast starting a voyage of discovery.

gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE NOVEMBER 2018 3