CLASSICAL: NEW RELEASES

Poulenc Piano Music Vol II Olivier Cazal (Naxos)

The centenary year of Henri Poulenc's birth is producing a plethora of recordings of the Frenchman's endlessly intriguing music. This budget- price release can hold its own against the fiercest full-priced competition. Cazal's selection is nicely varied and his keyboard enunciation and bravura is evident throughout. HHHH

Handel Ombra mai fu and other Arias, Scenes and Instrumental Music Scholl, Akademie fur Alte Musik, Berlin (harmonia mundi)

With his reed-like purity of tone and brilliant phrasing, Andreas Scholl must now be regarded as the world's greatest countertenor. He certainly shows off the full beauty of his magnificent voice in this choice selection of Handel arias, including material from Xerxes, Giulio Cesare and Radamisto. Sumptuous vocal presence is augmented by no less precise period-instrument accompaniment. This is already one of the discs of the year. HHHHH

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