Asv: Platinum

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: ASV

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ASV’s Platinum series is a justified celebration of 21 years of a company built up with enthusiasm and good judgement, as well as a weather-eye on the balance sheet.

The series consists of 21 single-composer discs, all well filled – none under 70 minutes, some nearer 80. Most of the contents are reissues, though there are a few new recordings (including the Barber Violin Concerto reviewed in Orchestral).

And most of the discs are a pleasing mixture of familiar and less familiar works, with chamber music well represented. So, for example, a MENDELSSOHN disc partners the Violin Concerto, performed with sweetness and agility by Xue-Wei, with the teenage Op. 2 Piano Quartet and the Op. 12 String Quartet, well played by respectively the Schubert Ensemble and the Vellinger Quartet (PLT 8513).

A WEBER programme has the incisive clarinet-playing of Emma Johnson, one of ASV’s regular stars, not only in the First Concerto but also in the delightful Clarinet Quintet (PLT 8521).

SCHUMANN is represented almost entirely by chamber music, including a quite outstanding performance of the Piano Quintet by Peter Frankl with The Lindsays (PLT 8518). Frankl and The Lindsays also contribute separately to a disc of BARTÓK, the latter with a movingly characterised Sixth Quartet (PLT 8502).

A JANÁCEK disc features The Lindsays again, in the volatile Second Quartet, alongside an ideally poised Mládí from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe Wind Soloists (PLT 8509).

And an attractive programme of KORNGOLD includes an ardent performance of the fine Piano Quintet by the Schubert Ensemble (PLT 8511). Among other mixtures of orchestral and chamber music is a PROKOFIEV disc with a colourful Third Piano Concerto from Mari Kodama, a strong Seventh Piano Sonata from John Lill, and an atmospheric First Violin Sonata from Mayumi Fujikawa and Craig Sheppard (PLT 8516).

A RAVEL anthology has a lively Le tombeau de Couperin from Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin’s, a satisfying String Quartet from The Lindsays once more, and a well-paced Valses nobles et sentimentales to represent Gordon Fergus-Thompson’s stalwart work for ASV (PLT 8517).

A COPLAND disc is especially valuable for including, alongside Richard Hosford’s mellifluous reading of the Clarinet Concerto, the rarely heard Sextet and Piano Quartet, in performances of the highest quality by the Vanbrugh Quartet with clarinettist Michael Collins and pianist Martin Roscoe (PLT 8504).

The Platinum series has done especially well by English music. An ELGAR disc includes a lovely, warm-hearted reading of the Piano Quintet by the Schubert Ensemble, and the tantalising Suite culled from the unfinished opera The Spanish Lady, neatly done by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Gavin Sutherland (PLT 8508).

A VAUGHAN WILLIAMS collection includes refulgent recordings by Marriner and the ASMF of the Tallis Fantasia and The Lark Ascending, with Iona Brown in eloquent flight; there is also the composer’s last work, the Three Vocalises for soprano and clarinet, hauntingly performed by Judith Howarth and Emma Johnson (PLT 8520).

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And a BRITTEN disc features the Nocturne and Les illuminations, with the London Mozart Players and Jane Glover providing first-rate support to the beautiful and intelligent singing of Anthony Rolfe Johnson (PLT 8503).