Classical album reviews: Paavo Jarvi, The Juilliard String Quartet, Carolyn Sampson
Paavo Jarvi Jorg Widmann: Armonica (Pan Classics)
Paavo Järvi is one of the busiest contemporary conductors, working here with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra on a programme combining three pieces by Jorg Widmann with complementary works by Mauricio Kagel, Beat Furrer and Peter Ruzicka. The latter’s “Clouds” is an accumulation of sonic droplets and mist into a torrential downpour, while Kagel’s Etude No 3 offers a Stravinskian cacophony of horns. But it’s Widmann’s title track that stands out: inspired by Mozart’s interest in the glass harmonica, it features a blend of strings, accordion and tuned percussion emulating that instrument’s long, keening tones, everything shaped “lightly and vitreously... like a musical suspension of gravity”, as Widmann describes it.
Download: Armonica; Antiphon; Etude No. 3; Clouds
The Juilliard String Quartet Elliott Carter: The Five String Quartets (Sony Classical)
With the addition of the fifth and final string quartet completing the cycle recorded in the early Nineties, the Juilliard String Quartet here demonstrates the value of its close relationship with Elliott Carter in negotiating the difficulties of this most challenging of composers. Take the fiendishly testing String Quartet No 3, in which the quartet is split into duos playing completely separate works. The precise, prickly texture of the pizzicato passages speaks of exhausting rehearsal, as does the more playful String Quartet No 2, built around what Carter considered the “characters” of the instruments. The Juilliard handles these problems, and the complex “metric modulation” of String Quartet No 1, with a grace and dexterity that surely belies the industry involved.
Download: String Quartet No 3; String Quartet No 2; String Quartet No 1; String Quartet No 5
Carolyn Sampson, Daniel Reuss, Cappella Amsterdam, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Poulenc: Stabat Mater (Harmonia Mundi)
Written in 1949 to commemorate his friend, the painter Christian Bérard, Poulenc’s setting of the Stabat Mater was intended as a “Requiem without despair”, more focused on hope than mourning. Accordingly, the choir imposes an angelic balm, bordering in places on the frivolous: the seventh section is effectively a dance, while the ninth finds glory in contemplation. It’s paired here with his later setting of the Sept Répons des Ténèbres, commissioned by Leonard Bernstein for the New York Philharmonic, in which Poulenc uses Christ’s tragedy as an allegory for the existential dread of the individual in an unjust world.
Download: Stabat Mater; Sept Répons des Ténèbres
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling