Maxwell Davies, Naxos Quartets Nos 1& 2

Also reviewed: Beethoven/Schubert/Wagner | Ysaye

Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets Nos 1 & 2
Maggini Quartet
(Naxos 8.557396)

In a highly imaginative move, Naxos has commissioned 10 string quartets over the next five years from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Returning the compliment by calling them the 'Naxos' quartets, Maxwell Davies here delivers the first two in a recording by the excellent Maggini Quartet. Elegant, accessible, full of mood swings, these inventive works begin his long journey in a classical Orcadian landscape, via Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin and Scottish dance music, to a powerful interim resolution with echoes of Bartók and Berg.

Missa Solemnis
Schubert Symphony No 8
Eine Faust Overture

Teresa Stich-Randall, Norma Procter, Richard Lewis, Kim Borg, BBC SO and Chorus/ Horenstein (BBC Legends BBCL 4150-2)

There are few recordings of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis to rival this 1961 Jascha Horenstein version, with outstanding soloists led by the incomparable Teresa Stich-Randall. Coupled with Schubert's eighth symphony and Wagner's Faust overture, it is the flagship title of the latest batch of oldies but very goodies from BBC Legends, which also includes Beecham's Sibelius 2 and Dvorak 8 and Nathan Milstein playing Beethoven's violin concerto.

Sonatas for solo violin, Op 27

Thomas Zehetmair (violin)
(ECM 18 354 726872)

Few violinists but Thomas Zehetmair could bring such effortless authority to these six 1923 sonatas by the Belgian virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, as challenging as any Bach partita or Paganini caprice. Other new issues on ECM's trailblazing 'New Series' also include a magisterial Alexander Lonquich recording of French piano music, and an impeccable Chants, Hymns and Dances, by Gurdjieff and Tsabropoulos from cellist Anja Lechner, with Tsabropoulos at the piano.

· To order Beethoven/Schubert for £16.99, Maxwell Davies for £4.99 or Ysaÿe for £13.99, each with free UK p&p, call the Observer Music Service on 0870 836 0713


Anthony Holden

The GuardianTramp

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