Rayfield Allied Advent Calendar 2023

29 November 2023

Join us this festive season as we look back on 25 of our favourite recordings from our artists over the past year!

Day 1:
Robert Levin / Ya-Fei Chaung / Laurence Cummings’ Mozart concertos 7 and 10 – Academy of Ancient Music

Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang on fortepiano join Laurence Cummings and AAM in what is the eleventh volume of the acclaimed project to record Mozart’s complete works for keyboard and orchestra. Begun in 1993, the project is now in the home straight with the final two albums of the series to follow in 2024. This CD set presents Mozart’s Concertos Nos 7 and 10, the former being Mozart’s own arrangement for two pianos. The recording also includes the Concerto Movement for Piano, Violin and Orchestra, completed by Robert Levin.

“There can be few keyboard players more thoroughly drenched in Mozartian style than Levin, and his incursions – thoughtful, cheeky, inventive, resourceful – are always true to the spirit of the music.” – David Threasher, Gramophone Magazine

Listen to Mozart Piano Concerto No.7 in F major, K.242: I. Allegro here


Day 2:

 Hilary Summers - Circus Dinogad

with Mike Fentross (theorbo), Maarten Ornstein (bass clarinet) and the Dudok Quartet

Formed in Amsterdam in 2022, this new ensemble’s journey takes you through ancient melodies, reimagined classics, and innovative original compositions that playfully plunge into the bottomless sea of human emotions. The culmination of the album comes in the shape of the Seven Deadly Sins: seven completely new compositions, written by the individual musicians woven seamlessly into the fabric of the album. With this innovative addition, the ensemble’s essence evolved, shedding traditional stylistic confines and boldly embarking on audacious musical escapades.

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/track/3wvspd0TQlkbXMovCbEaJm?si=250b3d08f8a840be

Day 3:

Daniel Kidane’s 'Be Still'

‘Be Still’ is Daniel Kidane’s response to the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic as a reflection on the experience of the passing of time during a year of lockdowns. Through highly effective instrumentation of shimmering tremolo strings and delicately bowed crotales, the work creates a sense of much-needed inner piece after incredibly turbulent times. 'Be Still' has resonated with audiences and performers across the world, premiered in January 2021 by Manchester Camerata with further international premieres with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.

“One of the best I’ve heard from this British composer: an exercise in atmospheric string tremolando chords, spookily embellished by bowed crotales, in which the harmonies gradually became more intense and dissonant. It had shape and substance.” – Richard Morrison, The Times

Listen to Daniel Kidane’s Be Still on United Strings of Europe’s album Through the Night here


Day 4: 

Helen Charlston - The Honour of William Byrd

Through a collection of songs and instrumental works performed by the Chelys Consorts of Viols joined by tenor violist Harry Buckoke and Helen Charlston, this recording introduces William Byrd as a key figure of the English Renaissance music: both devoutly Catholic and a favourite of the Protestant Queen, a serious character capable of weighty contemplation but also sharp wit and humour, and the loyal friend who wrote so personally and touchingly.

“[Charlston] can give life to a line like few others; her diction is marvellous, and marvellously varied; everything flows with incomparable beauty.” - Gramophone

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/3LgMrYOHxRsXAi7sbQqWQs?si=K7ghz4ZpRuiHrouA37-lng

Day 5: 

Mahan Esfahani: Krasa, Kalabis, Martinu with Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mahan Esfahani’s first concerto album for Hyperion, a recording of Czech harpsichord concertos by Martinů, Krása and Kalabis with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Liebreich, was awarded the Opus Klassik Concerto Recording of the Year award in 2023.

"Martinu's writing for the instrument is remarkably idiomatic and delivered here by Mahan Esfahani with poise and elegance...these excellent and committed performances get to the heart of these fascinating works" - Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine (performance 5*, recording 4*)

Listen here: https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68397

Day 6:

Ben McAteer (baritone), David Hill (conductor) - Maltworms and Milkmaids: Warlock and the Orchestra

The works on this disc, performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers, largely composed in the 1920s, cover a wide range of moods. From the rumbustious tributes to drink in ‘Mr. Belloc's Fancy’ and ‘Captain Stratton's Fancy’ to the sensibility of ‘The First Mercy’ and ‘Balulalow’. They illustrate Warlock's links both with English folk song and with contemporary continental angular harmonic developments.

“...the star of the album is Ben McAteer whose agreeably lyrical baritone can effortlessly muster plenty of much-called-upon swagger and suggestive tongue-in-cheekery.” - Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmP_kh_tY5c&list=OLAK5uy_mTLU7VSw96Ljvboc3IlOL4OSqdm4KbIAM&index=4

Day 7:

Zubin Kanga’s Cyborg Pianist – including works by Laura Bowler and Laurence Osborn

Zubin Kanga’s latest disc, Cyborg Pianist for NMC, puts the piano at the heart of the recording, challenging composers to incorporate cutting-edge technology to work with and against the instrument. The album features some of the most inventive and forward-thinking composers, including Laura Bowler, Laurence Osborn and Zubin Kanga, who utilise a range of technologies including AI, brain data and MiMU sensor gloves with the piano which create a new ‘cyborg sonic identify’ for the instrument.

“Groundbreaking or cutting edge … on this debut NMC solo disc by Australian pianist and composer Zubin Kanga, those adjectives are warranted” – Liam Cagney, Gramophone

Listen to Zubin Kanga’s Cyborg Pianist here https://open.spotify.com/track/7KXO685R75wzMJnfQT0bTn?si=7c60fcf530b948ef

Day 8:

Brahms, Coll, Korngold: Trio Isimsiz

Trio Isimsiz’s third album for Rubicon Classics is released today, 8th December, and features Korngold, Brahms No. 2 and Francisco Coll’s Piano Trio No. 2, commissioned for the Trio by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, Britten Pears Arts, and Centro Nacional de Difusion Musical in Madrid.

Listen here: https://rubiconclassics.com/release/brahms-coll-korngold-trio-isimsiz/

Day 9:

Anthony Romaniuk: Perpetuum

Released in February 2023, ‘Perpetuum’ features no fewer than six keyboard instruments colouring a programme based around the timelessness of perpetual motion. Romaniuk translates ‘Perptuum’ with three words: hypnosis, trance and groove and draws on the intoxicating pull of repetitive movement in music. All the works feature a self-contained pulse, yet throughout there is a wide variety of tempo and movement and the timbral variety offered by the use of multiple keyboard instruments encourages listeners to re-engage with the Classical repertoire.  

“Romaniuk expands our listening habits and, with the different sound worlds that he creates on the instruments and which he knows how to present absolutely convincingly, allows us to recognise new aspects of the often much-heard works that one would otherwise accept without question.” – Carsten Dürer, Piano News (DE)  

Listen to Anthony Romaniuk’s Perpetuum here:


Day 10:

Escher Quartet – Janáček & Haas: String Quartets

The Escher Quartet’s 2023 release of Janáček and Haas quartets present an almost expressionistic display of the extreme emotions that can be found in all three works. Janáček’s First Quartet, the ‘Kreutzer Sonata’, is based on a novella by Leo Tolstoy dealing with marriage, adultery and murder, which are evoked in the music. The second quartet, the last major work completed by Janáček, is subtitled ‘Intimate Letters’ and reflects on the composer’s unrequited love for a young woman. Pavel Haas claimed that his second string quartet ‘From the Monkey Mountains’ evoked a pleasant summer holiday in the country, but it also seems that it is a love story. Percussion is added to the string quartet in the last movement ‘A Wild Night’, contributing to the jazzy atmosphere, played on this recording by Scottish virtuoso Colin Currie.  

“The Escher players are like four finely tuned actors on stage, lending the drama a compelling narrative” – Joanne Talbot, The Strad  

Listen to the Escher String Quartet Janáček & Haas: String Quartets here:


Day 11:

Mozart Great Mass in C minor featuring tenor Nicholas Mulroy

Dunedin Consort and its Music Director John Butt are joined by Nicholas Mulroy (Associate Director) in this new release of Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass in C minor and Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach’s Heilig ist Gott on Linn. Devised to celebrate his marriage to Constanze, but left unfinished at the composer’s death, Mozart’s Mass can clearly be traced back to the choral writing of Johann Sebastian Bach and his son, Carl Phillip Emmanuel. This musical genealogy is displayed here in a lavish double-chorus, double-orchestra feast where both works echo each other. No stranger to Mozart – the ensemble’s recording of the Requiem was a Gramophone Award Winner and Grammy- nominated – Dunedin Consort puts its stamp on these most spectacular contributions to church music.  

‘The baroque specialists thrill in a new edition of Mozart’s C minor Mass.’ The Guardian  

Listen here:


Day 12: 

Bob Chilcott: Christmas Oratorio featuring tenor Nick Prichard

Telling the traditional Christmas story, according to Luke’s Gospel, Bob Chilcott’s setting of the Christmas Oratorio was premiered to critics acclaim at The Three Choirs Festival in 2019, where Nick Pritchard sang the role of the Evangelist, alongside fellow soloists Sarah Connolly and Neal Davies, all three of whom return for the premiere recording of this new work. The Choir of Merton College, Oxford and the Oxford Contemporary Sinfonia are conducted by Benjamin Nicholas, and the CD was produced by Jeremy Summerly for Delphian. This recording was listed as Presto Music’s Recording of the Week and one of The Guardian’s Best Classical Christmas Recordings of 2023.

“The most outstanding contribution comes from Nick Pritchard, who takes the tenor’s traditional role as evangelist or narrator. Always accompanied by the harp, his engaging, passionate delivery is crystal-clear and a great bonus.” Gramophone Magazine.

Listen here:


Day 13: 

Nicholas McGegan, The Cantata Collective – Bach's St John Passion

Nicholas McGegan directs Cantata Collective, the San Francisco based ensemble who are dedicated to the performance of the Cantatas of J.S. Bach. This performance of St John Passion was recorded live at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley for AVIE records and was released in 2023 to critical acclaim.

“The recording … captures an intimate, detailed, and warm acoustic. It’s billed as a “live” recording yet the audience is silent throughout. In all, this is a beautifully performed and recorded St. John Passion that gives full measure to the work’s remarkable synthesis of devotional and theatrical elements.” – Ken Melzer, Early Music America

Listen to the Nicholas McGegan and The Cantata Collective: St John Passion here:


Day 14:

Lotte Betts-Dean: 'Earth, thy cold is keen' with Stuart MacRae and Sequoia Duo.

In 2021, Stuart MacRae heard a recorded performance by mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean of The Lif of this World, his 2008 setting of an anonymous Middle English lyric. Entranced by the way she shaped its phrases and ornamentation, he immediately began to conceive new works for her voice, solo or lightly accompanied, as well as to bring to completion several other works-in-progress.

Listen to the album here:


Day 15:

Laurence Osborn - CBSO Sounds New: ‘The Biggest Thing I’ve Ever Squashed’

Commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as part of its centenary celebrations and its world première given by the CBSO on 29th January 2023. The work relates to Cornelia Parker’s artwork ‘Perpetual Canon’ revolving around a sousaphone which she flattened with an industrial press. The piece begins with six bars of a march, which are repeated and gradually ‘squashed’ in various ways, before being exploded into fragments and arranged into a sort of structural mobile.

“…the most successful [compositions] were those in which vivid thematic material was used with economy and perceptible logic. That material came in various forms … [including] the deconstructed march of Laurence Osborn’s The Biggest Thing I’ve Ever Squashed.” - Andrew Clements, The Guardian****

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/track/6fhv0grpu8oppZ3Aftzs83?si=3e2948f8bcd943a2&nd=1&dlsi=72cbdbe0e0ef4f40

Day 16:

‘Transfigured’: Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective featuring soprano Francesca Chiejina

Known for its championship of neglected repertoire, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective presents a programme of works by members of the Second Viennese School, based around Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. 

“Francesco Chiejina’s lustrous soprano brings serious class to Zemlinsky’s Dehmel setting, and also to Alma Mahler’s songs” - Malcolm Hayes, BBC Music Magazine

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6nD7uK0LziTRUB7LWVBCTB?si=nsQqbkUhTCeU5GhXrH8v8g

Day 17:

Sunhae Im: Liszt: Orchestral Songs with Wiener Akademie

Devoted to the latter aspect of the composer’s output, this recording by Martin Haselböck and the Orchester Wiener Akademie presents Liszt’s original compositions for voice and orchestra, together with arrangements of his own songs and ones by Franz Schubert, thus embracing different aspects of his work, and bringing out the exceptional lyricism and expressive power that characterise them. The repertoire is performed here by baritone Thomas Hampson, soprano Sunhae Im, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Houtzeel, and bass-baritone Tomasz Konieczny.

Listen here: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9469972--liszt-orchestral-songs#about

Day 18:

'Mirrored in Time' from Jörgen van Rijen and the Alma Quartet

Acclaimed international trombonist Jörgen van Rijen sets out, in this expansive collection of arrangements and new works, to explore and grow the chamber music repertoire available for the trombone alongside the pinnacle of chamber music, the string quartet. Together with the Alma Quartet, van Rijen has compiled five pairs of works - a new arrangement of an existing composition, mirrored by a recent or new commission, and framed by adaptations of works by Bryce Dessner and Chiel Meijering - telling a story of what could have been, and what the future may look like. "It’s always a pleasure to hear an instrument in something of a different light," said Michael Beek of this album in BBC Music Magazine, "and Van Rijen’s gleams."

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album...

Day 19: 

Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato / Les Arts Florissants featuring James Way

A hybrid work between oratorio, ode and serenata, L’Allegro . . . is undoubtedly one of Handel's most mysterious works, but also his most inspired! With their accustomed poetry, William Christie along with James Way and Les Arts Florissants offer us the chance to rediscover this masterpiece, in which the composer transforms metaphysics into painting and ideas into pure emotions.

“Tenor James Way is infectious in his laughing number” - Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Album: https://open.spotify.com/album/3vEVMzHM3RXJ0L81jXpjPT?si=BCQNDpLlTu2_GjkVClF-_A

Day 20:

Liam BonthroneSoirée parisienne

The Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Series sees tenor Liam Bonthrone make his recording debut. Soirée parisienne takes us on a journey into the fascinating world of Parisian salons, which were the epicentre of the cultural scene in nineteenth-century France. Accompanied by pianist Benjamin Mead, Liam Bonthrone highlights the contributions of three of the most influential salonnières of their time: Pauline Viardot, Comtesse Élisabeth Greffulhe and Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac.

Editor's Choice: '[It] quickly establishes Bonthrone as a major talent' - Presto Music

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2xWl27HCoVzemkWwvGZKnv?si=qtN1IJwTQEGnphcTBdb_eg

Day 21:

Pieter WispelweyIn Memoriam I

In a moving program note, Pieter writes “half a year before my sixtieth birthday my family and I suffered a massive, tragic blow, when my son Dorian died. While still shaken to my foundations, a way forward seems to me to be to allow music to play a constructive and healing role. So I have recorded Bach’s Fifth Suite and Kodaly’s Solosonata to form the Scordatura Album for a September In Memoriam II release. This first In Memoriam for my beloved Dorian, consists of a rerelease of the three greatest Schubert Violin-Piano pieces and the wonderful Trockne Blumen Variations, as Schubert had played a big role in his life as a singer and a music lover.”

Listen here: https://orcd.co/inmemoriam1

Day 22:

'Mozart in Milan' featuring Robin Johannsen 

The splendour of Mozart’s motet Exsultate, jubilate stands out in a repertoire that has for too long remained in the shadows: the magnificent output of church music composed in 18th century Milan, the city in which Mozart, then not even 17 years old, wrote his first masterpiece of sacred music precisely 250 years ago. The virtuosity and melodic beauty of that score, conceived for the celebrated castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, can finally be heard alongside the brilliant works – for soloists and choir, in both the stile antico and the new modern manner.

‘..but what is rare is the care and insight Johannsen brings to colouring the text. One example must suffice; the final line of the second, lyrical aria concludes with a perfectly executed trill on the final word ‘cor’, which the singer allows to swell slightly, thus bringing added fervour to the final plea – ‘console our feelings from which our hearts sigh’. Early Music Review

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0foyCELk4cobW7vG1hcCxj?si=Eftu2zvNQF-e-wc85bcMxQ

Day 23:

Sergio Tiempo: 'Hommage' 

The disc, Sergio’s second for Avanti Classics, celebrates Tiempo’s closest musical mentors and collaborators in a disc of duets. Star contributions come from Lyl Tiempo, a world-renowned music pedagogue and Sergio’s mother, his sister and lifelong musical partner Karin Lechner, and mentors Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Alan Weiss, and Mischa Maisky.

“'Hommage' is a triumph on at least two levels: the performances themselves, and the kind of mixed-genre programme I wish more musicians would offer us, here for cello and piano, piano duet and two pianos... I hope you enjoy it all as much as I did.” Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

Find out more here: https://www.avanticlassic.com/releases/1484dab9-95d4-4777-9f69-269db36da46e

Day 24:

Handel's Messiah with The English Concert & Choir conducted by John Nelson featuring Matthew Brook

Embarking on a theme of resurrection and recorded in the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, this recording marks 280 years since the London premiere of Handel’s masterpiece.

Review of the original performance in Coventry Cathedral in November 2022

“Matthew Brook’s brilliantly delivered solo (his ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’)…The bass Matthew Brook was another singer who managed Handel’s perilous semiquaver melismas perfectly (the ‘shake’ passages in ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts’, and in ‘Why do the nations so furiously rage together?’)” - Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

Album Link: https://open.spotify.com/album/7L9hDTUKox7BP3VOgeX5ov?si=mUIXAyiVRziebTvHpXfZyg

Day 25:

Carolyn Sampson: ‘But I like to Sing’

In Carolyn Sampson’s programme for her 100th disc she artfully blends well-known and lesser-known lieder by German and Austrian masters such as Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Hugo Wolf with French songs by Gounod, Poulenc and Franck, as well as works by Anglo-Saxon composers such as Hubert Parry, Samuel Barber and Ivor Gurney. Female composers are not forgotten, with rarely-performed songs by Rita Strohl based on slightly risqué poems by Pierre Louÿs, music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Kaija Saariaho and Deborah Pritchard, whose song presented here was composed especially for Sampson. And while Leonard Bernstein’s comically cheeky song ‘I hate music’, appears to be a call not to let music take itself too seriously, Errollyn Wallen’s ‘Peace on Earth’, which concludes the album, invokes calm and encourages us to find peace, a message that seems more relevant today than ever.

‘It’s a portrait of an artist who has shown us many faces on those 100 discs but whose voice remains a constant: sweet, flexible, alive to the text. And always intelligent.’ — Gramophone Magazine, December 2023

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/track/77OLD4i7I1s6vDOoplftgD?si=b134b105fe8b4b0c

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