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Fiona Maddocks

Proms 58 & 59 shattering, gut-wrenching Strauss

Royal Albert Hall, LondonSopranos Nina Stemme and Christine Goerke are outstanding as Salome and Elektra in two highlights of the musical yearEver one to split opinion, Richard Strauss is abused as vulgar, retrograde and opportunistic, or praised as radic

Joyce DiDonato: Stella di Napoli review dizzying technical virtuosity

The latest of Joyce DiDonato's themed discs is a mix of high-impact arias by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti as well as the less familiar Mercadante, Carafa, Valentini and Pacini, several of them world premiere recordings which DiDonato and Riccardo Minasi

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas review a tale of two Russians

Rachmaninov and Medtner, both late-romantic Russian composers, have fared differently since their deaths in 1943 and 1951.

Grimeborn: The Medium review a deft, intrepid production

The prolific Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) was coolly regarded by the classical world, especially in his final years.

Panufnik/Lutoslawski: String Quartets review beguiling and pensive

These two Polish composers, born and dying within years of one another, tackled the string quartet medium at different stages in their long careers. Witold Lutoslawski (1913-94) wrote his only example, in two sections and lasting just under half and hour,

David Matthews: Symphony No 7, Vespers review ethereal and explosive

This world-premiere recording, which came out earlier in the summer, confirms David Matthews (b.1943) as a natural composer for voices here, the full-bodied, occasionally untamed Bach Choir as well as a richly gifted orchestral colourist happy to find i

Enough war to last several lifetimes at the Edinburgh festival 2014

Review: Hespèrion XXI, The Sixteen, Collegium Vocale Gent, Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake, Alban Gerhardt and Steven Osborne at the Usher Hall Continue reading...

Enough war to last several lifetimes at the Edinburgh festival 2014

Review: Hespèrion XXI, The Sixteen, Collegium Vocale Gent, Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake, Alban Gerhardt and Steven Osborne at the Usher HallFrom the plains of Troy to the fields of Flanders, war is the theme of this year's Edinburgh international festi

Quilter: The Complete Songbook Volume 2 review full of pleasures

Mark Stone (baritone), Stephen Barlow (piano) (Stone Records)This second of four discs will be the first complete recording of the songs of Roger Quilter (1877-1953). As well as setting Blake, Byron, Keats, Binyon and the Earl of Rochester, the Sussex-bor

Byrd: The Three Masses, Ave verum corpus review splendour and finesse

Choir of Westminster Cathedral/Baker(Hyperion)Byrd's double life, in public a member of Queen Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal in a newly Protestant England, in private a covert Catholic, directly shaped his music. Grand works such as the Great Service are amon