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Brahms: Viola Sonatas/ Two Songs Bashmet, Muntian, Diadkova (RCA Red Seal)

Brahms's late sonatas for clarinet are among his most loved pieces, but they work equally well in the composer's versions for viola, as played here with poise by Yuri Basmet. With accompaniment from Mikhail Muntian, he goes straight to the heart of these wonderful works. The Kirov's superb contralto Larissa Diadkova joins the pair for the lovely Two Songs Op 91. HHHH

Mikroutsikos: The Return of Helen Camerata Orchestra of the Friends of Music, soloists, Myrta (EMI)

Like Strauss's Die Aegyptische Helena, this opera by the Greek composer Thanos Mikroutsikos deals with Helen after Troy. But this is a modern take on the myth, so we have Helen on the psychiatrist's couch coming to terms with her past - and the psychiatrist falling in love with her. This is a grandly scored, expansive piece with echoes of Strauss and Berg, but with its own distinctive voice. It is beautifully performed, with Pamela Pantos's heroine particularly outstanding. HHHHH