Home listening: Dvořák, Bach and sons, and at home with John Tomlinson

In our new column rounding up classical music on CD and online: Jerusalem Quartet and friends, three Magnificats from Arcangelo... and the Lancastrian bass on Radio 3

Jersusalem Quartet Dvorak String Quintet, String Sextet

• On the CD player as soon it arrived, this album of irresistible, larger scale chamber music – Dvořák’s String Quintet No 3, Op 97 and String Sextet, Op 48 – by the Jerusalem Quartet with Veronika Hagen (viola) and Gary Hoffman (cello) on Harmonia Mundi doesn’t disappoint. Each work bursts with wistful, catchy folk melodies and that subtle abundance of sound of, essentially, an enlarged string quartet. Dvořák composed Op 97 in 1893 in Spillville, Iowa, that small outpost of Bohemia where he also wrote the “American” Quartet.

The earlier Sextet, Op 48, with stylised “dumka” and “furiant”, is altogether more Slavonic in mood. Tender, melancholy yet jaunty, with a hint of Brahms, it deserves to be more widely known. The high-octane Jerusalem Quartet, Hagen and Hoffman keep textures clear and deliver fresh, sparkling performances.

Arcangelo: Bach Magnificats

• The title of Bach Magnificats by Arcangelo, conducted by Jonathan Cohen (Hyperion), puzzles until you realise that three examples of the text often known as the “canticle of Mary” are on offer: the famous version by JS Bach, and one each by his sons: in concise, early “Mozartian” style by JC Bach, and at exuberant, fizzing length by CPE Bach. Cohen drives uplifting, beautifully phrased performances, with crisp playing and, a few strained top notes aside, fine singing from Arcangelo. Even if you already have JS Bach’s Magnificat on disc, you’ll discover you need this too.

• The London Sinfonietta, founded in 1968 to “make new music”, has commissioned more than 400 works. It’s still ahead of the game as one of the world’s leading contemporary music ensembles. Its 50th anniversary concert, including Stravinsky and Ligeti, plus premieres by Deborah Pritchard, Samantha Fernando and more, will be broadcast live at 7.30pm on Wednesday from the Royal Festival Hall, presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch. Radio 3/iPlayer.

• Ten days left to catch Sean Rafferty at Home (Radio 3 iPlayer) with the great bass John Tomlinson, Lancashire-born but resident in Sussex since his early days in the Glyndebourne chorus. He talks Handel, Wagner, Gilbert and Sullivan, maths, weak tea, cars, finding high notes, walking in the South Downs, woodwork, and making willow baskets with his wife. Endless pleasure.

John Tomlinson
At home, and on iPlayer… John Tomlinson. Photograph: Alamy


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Home listening: where Beethoven, Shostakovich and Bach meet
Sparkling new releases from the Danish String Quartet, the DSCH-Shostakovich Ensemble and James Rhodes

Fiona Maddocks

02, Dec, 2018 @7:59 AM

Article image
Home listening: a good week for Stravinsky
The RLPO and Petrenko dazzle in The Firebird, while the Mariinsky Orchestra and Gergiev make Petrushka their own

Fiona Maddocks

23, Dec, 2018 @8:00 AM

Article image
Classical home listening: Penderecki, Fauré and more
The late Polish composer’s chamber music is a treasure trove for the Tippett Quartet

Fiona Maddocks

10, Jul, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Classical home listening: Vaughan Williams, Paganini and Ysaÿe
The LSO and Pappano fire on all cylinders in RVW’s Symphonies 4 and 6. And Alina Ibragimova’s Paganini Caprices astound

Fiona Maddocks

24, Apr, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Home listening: Vaughan Williams, Frank Martin and Kenneth Leighton
The RLPO concludes its magnificent Vaughan Williams symphony cycle. Plus, two masses for double choir

Fiona Maddocks

26, May, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Home listening: Howard Skempton piano works and more
Take two pianists and a druid princess…

Fiona Maddocks

16, Feb, 2020 @5:30 AM

Article image
Home listening: a good week for keyboard wizards
Each in their own way, Martin James Bartlett and John Challenger pull out all the stops

Fiona Maddocks

21, Jul, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Home listening: behind the scenes at the Met
In a studio high up in New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, presenters Ira Siff and Mary Jo Heath take us through their meticulous pre-broadcast preparations

Stephen Pritchard

21, Apr, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Home listening: Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams come to life
John Bridcut’s three composer portraits have been issued on DVD – and make riveting viewing

Fiona Maddocks

01, Jul, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Home listening: heavenly Haydn, and a good week for Farinelli
An exemplary recording of the Missa Cellensis; Ann Hallenberg channels the great castrato; and in praise of Opera on 3

Nicholas Kenyon

15, Dec, 2019 @5:30 AM