may, 2012

Mother's Day falls on May 13, and Thomas's Music has issued a catalogue of 'music for mothers'. If you have not already browsed it, you can have a look by clicking here.


Kathryn Selby and Friends are coming to town as a piano trio, and performing Gade, Chopin, Stravinsky, and Mendelssohn in concert at the BMW Edge, Federation Square, on Wednesday 9 May at 7pm. Thomas' Music have three double passes for the concert to give away; email your contact details to by 5pm on Monday 7 May with 'Kathy Selby' in the subject line, and we will contact the winners. 


Helios, the reissue marque of the distinctive British label Hyperion, have always featured particularly interesting repertoire and performers, including the Sixteen, Gothic Voices, Nicolai Demidenko, Garrick Ohlsson, the Corydon Singers, and in their Haydn Symphony series, the Hanover Band with Roy Goodman. We are able to offer the entire range at $10 while stocks last. 


It is only quite recently that French Baroque music has come to be held in the same regard as German or Italian, but fortunately this inequity is being rapidly corrected. For instance, this month two attractive sets, a 6-DVD Rencontres Musicales a Versailles set and a three-CD set of Musiques Sacrees a Versailles will reach our shelves, both well-priced reissues. The former contains performances of music by the incomparable Marc-Antoine Charpentier, excerpts from operatic works by Lully and Rameau, and music from the salon of Marie-Antoinette: Gretry and Gossec. The CD set celebrates the 20th anniversary of the youth choirs les Pages and les Chantres from the Centre Baroque de Versailles, led by Olivier Schneebeli, and includes works by Lejeune, du Caurroy, Du Mont, Campra, and Moulinie.


This year sees the 150th anniversary of Debussy's birth, and several record labels are releasing appetising compendia of his music, including an outstanding 18CD box, and collections of his piano and orchestral music on Deutsche Grammophon, and Naxos. It is hard to produce a definitive Debussy collection as new manuscripts turn up on a regular basis--the new 2-piano set on Decca by Cassard & Chaplin contains a 25-minute recorded premiere, for instance--and new orchestrations of his piano music, such as Colin Matthews' version of the Preludes sometimes appear, which is why the sets are not identical in content. If any composer can be said to be the inheritor of the Debussy mantle it is Messiaen, and Deutsche Grammophon have also re-released the orchestral component of their complete Messiaen set on 10CDs at a very attractive price.


There are several other outstanding releases and reissues this month, including the long-overdue reissue of Oliver Knussen's recording of Henze's score for the ballet Ondine--a vehicle for Margot Fonteyn--and celebrated pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei's Bach Partitas; a new recording of Morton Feldman's very late Piano and String Quartet, made famous by Kronos and Aki Takahashi; and a heart-warming live recital from Zaragoza by celebrated Cuban--"the best pianist you haven't heard of (BBC Music Magazine)"--Jorge Luis Prats.


We are, of course, primarily a CD/DVD shop, and our stock of books focuses on the visual, but we are pleased to have added copies of the distinguished Melbourne scholar, organist, and Editor of the quarterly Organ Australia, Robert J Stove's excellent biography of Cesar Franck to our catalogue. Franck's reputation is of a rather staid, even dull, composer, and it is startling, reading Stove's book, to discover how eventful at least the first half of his life was: like Mozart he had a domineering, over-ambitious father; at the same time Stove is at pains to rehabilitate the music, and his insightful discussions of Franck's works, including several unlikely operatic projects, suggest that a reevaluation is long overdue.

Chris Dench More about chris
Magdalena Kozena
Magdalena Kozenas silken mezzo delivers definitive interpretations of this luscious and enchanting orchestral-song repertoire.
Magdalena Kozena, Sir Simon Rattle, and the Berliner Philharmoniker seduce in Ravels Sheherazade, stir and awe in Dvorak's austere Biblische Lieder, and render to the fullest the bittersweet potency of Mahlers ... See More
3mbs Cds of the week

May being a five-week month, we have five selections this month--


Week one: the latest release, Elation, from the excellent Streeton Trio has works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Australian Roger Smalley.


Week two: Timothy Young of Ensemble Liaison plays piano music by Australian composer George Frederick Boyle, who was a pupil and assistant of Busoni--his music has the high romantic flavour.


Week three: 16-year old Jan Lisiecki is already a household name in his home country of Canada! On his debut CD he plays Mozart Piano Concertos 20 & 23.


 Week four: more imaginative choral music from Eric Whitacre: Water Night.


Week five: Magdalena Kozena's new CD with husband Sir Simon Rattle is titled Love and Longing; it features music by Ravel, Dvorak, and Mahler.

$28.00 AUD
$29.95 AUD
Elation - Haydn Beethoven Smalley Piano Trios
Mozart Piano Concertos 20 & 21
Streeton Trio
Jan Lisiecki
It is quite clear that these young players have entirely ... See More
The Deutsche Grammophon debut of Canadian phenomenon, Jan Lisiecki, ... See More
$29.95 AUD
$24.95 AUD
Virtuoso Piano Music Of George Frederick Boyle
Love And Longing - Ravel / Dvorak / Mahler
Timothy Young
Magdalena Kozena
Timothy Young offers the ideal introduction to the rapturous solo ... See More
Magdalena Kozenas silken mezzo delivers definitive interpretations ... See More
Thomas` Recommends
$34.00 AUD
$106.00 AUD
$89.95 AUD
Verdi La Traviata Dvd
Rencontres Musicales A Versailles 6dvd
Debussy Edition 18cd
Natalie Dessay
Natalie Dessay (Violetta), Charles Castronovo (Alfredo), Ludovic ... See More
Christophe Rousset, L'Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar, Jordi Savall, ... See More
Following the successful Mahler and Chopin editions, this is a joint ... See More
$47.50 AUD
$19.95 AUD
$19.95 AUD
Ravel Debussy Complete Dg Recordings 6cd
Debussy 2 Pianos & 4 Mains
Live In Zaragoza
Pierre Boulez
Cassard / Chaplin
Jorge Luis Prats
Debussy: Prlude l'aprs-midi d'un faune; Images Pour Orchestre; ... See More
Philippe Cassard, Franois Chaplin
A Great Vintage Uncorked: Pianist Jorge Luis Prats Reappears in the ... See More
$69.00 AUD
$49.95 AUD
$24.95 AUD
Messiaen Orchestral Works 10cd
Sibelius Complete Symphonies Tone Poems 5cd
Youll Never Walk Alone & Live Deluxe Edition
Pierre Boulez
Colin Davis
Rhodes / Hobson
Spanning six decades, Messiaens orchestral and vocal-orchestral ... See More
David Hobson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Sinfonia Australis, Guy Noble ... See More
Collectors Corner
$34.00 AUD
$24.95 AUD
$24.95 AUD
Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances Stravinsky Symph
Harty String Quartets Piano Quintet- Piers Lane
Mozart Symphony 38 Prague/ 41 Jupiter
Gergiev/ Lso
Goldner String Qt
Rene Jacobs
An orchestral suite in three sections, the 'Symphonic Dances' were ... See More
Piers Lane (Performer)
Goldner String Quartet ... See More
$19.95 AUD
Plays Chopin And Liszt
Evgeny Kissin
A former child prodigy who had already made his concerto debut by the ... See More

Once again, the Collectors Corner collection tantalises. Last month the MDG audiophile label featured large in the list, and this month it is the Dutch label Channel Classics, including a CD of works from the Twenties inspired by jazz by such composers as Martinu, Milhaud, and Stefan Wolpe. Celebrated conductor Valery Gergiev continues his series of live recordings with the LSO, this time in repertoire by Russian composers: Rachmaninov's neoclassical Symphonic Dances and Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements, two exhilarating works both written in America in the 1940s. Inescapably associated with Handel, Irish composer Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty was nonetheless a tuneful composer in his own right, and Hyperion present three of his major chamber works on a portrait CD; the Choir of Westminster Abbey present a program of Tudor composer Christopher Tye, including his contribution to the trio of famous 'Western Wynde' masses (the others are by Taverner and Sheppard); as well as everything else he wrote in his short life, Schubert even managed to produce several melodious operas, and BIS have released a disc of his operatic overtures; and for Bruckner lovers, a DVD from Accentus of Abbado conducting the vast, grand, Fifth Symphony.


Collectors Corner is joined this month by another group of CD releases under the heading of Classical Corner, offering mainstream repertoire in interesting recordings--this month the featured CDs include Carl Davis' music for the 1925 silent movie version of Ben-Hur, Rene Jacobs conducting Mozart Symphonies, and Evgeny Kissin playing Chopin and Liszt.

$14.95 AUD
$9.95 AUD
Copland Fanfare Appalachian Spring Barber Adagio
Verdi Opera Choruses
Zubin Mehta
Sir Georg Solti was one of this centurys most brilliant conductors ... See More

There are no Eloquence releases in May, consequently our esteemed colleague Cyrus Meher-Homji has fallen silent for this month which leaves me free to introduce a new label: the Virtuoso series. Drawn from the same archive as the Eloquence recordings, these budget titles call on the extensive back-catalogue of Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and what was once Philips, to provide a basic Classical music library in very fine performances. Notable among these are the complete Beethoven Symphonies on five separate CDs with the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikael Pletnev, Bach Violin Concertos, performed by Gidon Kremer with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, a Choral Collection including Allegri's Miserere and Tallis' Lamentations and works by Byrd, Josquin, and Obrecht, and the Brandenburg Concertos with Trevor Pinnock and the English Consort, but the label boasts many treasured performances.

--Chris Dench

Jazz & world news
$24.95 AUD
Keep Cool Fool
Grace Knight
Grace Knight vocal, Ben Robertson double bass, Dave Beck drums, Sam ... See More

Jazz releases for this month include three from some popular performers: Melbourne resident Grace Knight's lovely vocal collection, pianist Ketil Bjornstad, whose Floating CD is a perennial favourite, and singer Melody Gardot's new CD, the Absence--don't miss the teaser video, on our website now!

MSO News
$19.95 AUD
Lambert Summers Last Will/ Rio Grande/ Aubade
David Lloyd-jones

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra offer three outstanding concert programs in May: Wind Power, featuring wind chamber music by Ligeti, Mozart, Vivaldi, and Janacek, on Sunday May 13 at 11am in the Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre; Beethoven's Piano Concerto no.2 and Dvorak's Seventh Symphony, with the Brahms Tragic Overture, familiar from Richard Gill's inaugural 2012 Ears Wide Open presentation, on Friday May 18 at 7:30pm, Saturday 19 May at 2pm, and Monday 21 May at 6:30pm, all at Melbourne Town Hall. Most interesting of all, perhaps, are the concerts on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 May, both at 8pm, in Melbourne Town Hall with Bramwell Tovey conducting Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, and, between them, a real rarity, Constant Lambert's marvellous, exuberant, Rio Grande. Don't miss it!


And, speaking of Ears Wide Open, Richard Gill will be discussing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in his next presentation, on Wednesday 6 June at 6:30, in Melbourne Town Hall. Get your tickets early!   

Staff Reviews
$29.95 AUD
Blue Moon
Ahmad Jamal
Ahmad Jamal, piano; Reginald Veal, double bass; Herlin Riley, drums; ... See More

The much admired jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal is now in his 82nd. year and his latest recording finds him still with plenty of know-how in a quartet setting. With a repertoire of standards and three originals that could indeed become standards, Ahmad is a lyrical improviser and has an inventive way with arrangements. This is a thoroughly likeable recording and an in-shop favourite.   Christine Hinton 2012.

$29.95 AUD
Arcadia Lost Vaughan Williams Britten - Davislim
Wigglesworth/ Sso
Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Mark Wigglesworth conductor, Michael Dauth ... See More


“Arcadia Lost", on Melba records, is somewhat of an unusual 'highlights-reel' of the current Australian music scene featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with soloists Michael Daugh (violin), Roger Benedict (viola), Cantillation, in live performances of Britten and Vaughan-Williams. Given that most discs are released with the aim of featuring a composer or artist, it makes the grouping of Vaughan-Williams The Lark Ascending, Flos Campi, and On Wenlock Edge (performed by the Hamer Quartet, Benjamin Martin and Steve Davislim) with Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem an immediately unexpected program. What makes the disc work are the wonderful performances, and that, with the exception of The Lark Ascending, these are all works that need more recognition for the masterpieces they are.

The SSO are in fine form for this recording, with Mark Wigglesworth pacing each of the works beautifully to allow the orchestra time to make an excellent sound throughout—nowhere more evidently than in the Britten. The wind solos are radiant--especially the unusual saxophone--and really illuminate one of Britten's most colourful scores. The orchestra support the soloists wonderfully in each of the Vaughan-Williams works, particularly in Flos Campi. The oboe solo that begins the work is arresting, and Roger Benedict is given full opportunity to explore the solo lines that haunt the work. The sound is compelling throughout. This is, at least in my opinion one of Vaughan-Williams greatest, if not most confronting works—the orchestral scoring is masterly, and the combination with wordless chorus is truly unique.

The standard of performance throughout the disc is faultless, and it is a credit to Melba records that through putting these performances on disc that none of the immediacy of the live performance is lost—you feel like you are in the concert hall.

On Wenlock Edge is, however, a strange conclusion to the disc—a fine work, and a fine performance, but it is a sudden change in ensemble and it was recorded in a studio, making it lack the "edge" that was so impressive in the other performances presented. Still, on its own, the performance is very fine, and makes a compelling case for the merit of the music.

As a showcase of some of the best music talent within Australia, this recording is really hard to go past, and the repertoire is excellent.

$29.95 AUD
Berg Lulu Dvd
Patricia Petibon
Patricia Petibon
Julia Juon
Ashley Holland
Paul Groves & ... See More


"Welcome to my menagerie, voluptuous ladies, proud gentlemen. Sunk in pleasure and terror, you will gaze on the cruel creature tamed by human wit." 

In fact, this "menagerie" by director Olivier Py and co-presented by Grand Théâtre de Genève (where it was held) and Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu, was seen to contain such a degree of disturbing and graphic imagery, that the management felt it necessary to post warnings dissuading anyone under sixteen years old from attending. However, as the German playwright Wedekind discovered over a century ago, censorship (the plays on which Alban Berg adapted his opera, Lulu, were originally banned) and notoriety only fuels curiosity, and before long these plays were championed and performed in private to invited audiences. It was one of these clandestine performances in Vienna in 1905 where the twenty year old Berg first encountered his irresistible anti-heroine.

Like much of Alban Berg's music, tonality isn't completed eschewed in favour of serialism. Tonal vestiges remain, and meander back and forth between harmonic centres, providing a perfect complement to the enchanting complexity of Lulu's mercurial character. And it's this character that coloratura soprano, Patricia Petibon captures with utmost rawness and sexualised dominance. The role of Lulu is monumental, carrying the intensity of the entire drama, and Petibon delivers with startling virtuosity and equanimity (she is often required to perform nude, merely clothed in transparent stockings). Her sometimes brazen tone and sybaritic high register, only to suddenly shift to tones of enchanting sweetness, suit the malefic temptress who has capricious power to seduce and destroy the hearts of men. Yet somehow, Petibon's multi-dimensional and surprisingly nuanced performance transforms Lulu into a human being of eerie poignancy. One grows to pity her, this "exterminating angel", the "hangman's noose" around the neck of all the men she encounters.

Skulls and breasts... a blood-stained sofa... sex and death... a circular wheel of neon lights, labeled "Mort en color'" inexorably rotates. The references to sex are abundant and constantly reinforced by the staging and background action, but these perhaps hyperbolic approaches allow the audience to delve deep into Lulu's ambiguous and complex soul, all lasciviousness and darkness made explicit. The interlude in Act 2 where we see Lulu's trial, conviction and imprisonment, only to contract cholera (deliberately) and escape in Countess Geschwitz' clothes, juxtaposed as a tableau vivant against the action of Scene 2 behind a blood red veil, is a particularly arresting sequence. The colourful approach to costume design is not without its idiosyncrasies, and Petibon's voluptuous Marilyn Monroe-inspired sequin dress and make-up in Act 3 is a truly a sight to behold.

The rest of the cast are equally remarkable. Ashley Holland's menacing Dr. Schön delivers assertive strength, and Dr. Schön's son, Alwa, is performed with moving discomposure by a robust Paul Groves. Julia Juon as the lesbian Countess Geschwitz who is infatuated by Lulu, captures her enfeebled role with pitiable yearning. The ambiguous Schigolch, delivered with startling ease by Franz Grundheber, is appropriately ominous and foreboding. 

The Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu delivers a strikingly powerful performance under Michael Boder, revelling in the heady romanticism that makes Berg such a beguiling and fascinating composer. The video direction by François Roussillon is a careful balance between wide stage shots and dramatic closeups, from the excessive kaleidoscopic spectacle accompanied by neon signs with text such as "Mein Herz ist schwa", "Liebestod", "Joie ads asters", to Petibon's plush eyelashes and murderous glances. 

This is a breath-taking production of a brilliant and important opera which is too infrequently recorded with such meticulousness and artistry. Lovers of Berg's music and 20th century opera will undoubtedly adore this production, but it's also a worthwhile consideration for anyone even remotely interested in opera at large.

$29.95 AUD
Js Bach Cpe Bach Berio Carter Britten
Celine Moinet
In the orchestra, the oboe gives the tuning A on account of the ... See More


Berlioz boldly asserted in his Treatise on Instrumentation: "The oboe is above all a melodic instrument; it has a rustic character, full of tenderness, I would even say timidity". With this debut album with Harmonia Mundi, French oboist Céline Moinet delivers a beautifully crafted program of solo oboe music spanning from around 1718 (JS Bach) to 1992 (Carter), which questions and challenges this anachronistic statement.

It's worth noting that the three 20th century works by Berio, Britten and Carter, are in fact the only works on the album which were written specifically for the oboe. The pieces by the Bach family were both originally written for the flute, though Moinet shows that they also work rather charmingly for her instrument. Her time at the Paris Conservatoire, working with the likes of David Walter, Maurice Bourgue and Marcel Ponseele, has clearly equipped Moinet with wonderfully dexterous technique and an exquisite approach to tone production. The Bach works which effectively sandwich the program are approached with welcome clarity and a sweet timbre. Her use of rubato in these works has been criticised as being perhaps "self-conscious", but I find myself more attracted to her brave choices in this regard, which I view as an attempt (and a successful one) at effusing more lyricism and a personal intimate touch.

Perhaps it's due to the added virtuosity and timbal flexibility, but I find myself substantially more convinced by Moinet's renditions of the three 20th Century works on the CD. Her performance of Berio's Sequenza VII captures the mercurial spirit of the piece with striking assertiveness. The work is characterised by a continual state of being "trapped" on a single pitch (B) and attempting to escape, only to be inexorably drawn back again. Moinet captures this capricious journey with a truly remarkable palette of timbres and startling control of the extremes ends of the oboe's register. In Britten's substantially more subtle and understated Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Moinet's beautifully crafted tone truly sings. When listening through the fifth "metamorphosis" titled 'Narcissus', Caravaggio's own evocation of Narcissus transfixed by his reflection in the water suddenly came to mind, and I found myself utterly enchanted by the plaintive yearning and echoic gestures Moinet so carefully sculpts. Despite the ostensible simplicity of Elliott Carter's Inner Song, Moinet infuses a hyper-expressive intimacy into what is effectively a six and a half minute long cantilena. With long-arching phrases, interjected by the occasional manic angularity, and introspective multiphonic, Moinet's precise control of timbre and shaping of melodic line proves to be quite arresting.

A real strength of the CD is the perspicacious approach to the program, from the "virtual polyphony" that draws together the Bach Partita and the Berio Sequenza, to the haunting monodies of the CPE Bach Sonata and the Britten and Carter works. For this reason I feel it transcends a limited appeal to students and oboe enthusiasts, and offers a rewarding listening experience to a much wider audience.