Hyperion: Helios

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Hyperion
CATALOGUE NO: See text for individual catalogue numbers and BBCMusic Magazine Direct prices

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The Sixteen are smooth in two MONTEVERDI Masses, as befits the music, but there’s still drama in the Credo of the Missa In illo tempore, the highpoint of this Hyperion disc – now on Helios (CDH 55145, £6.99).

Three HANDEL Italian cantatas find affecting soloists in Patrizia Kwella, Catherine Denley (particularly sonorous as the voice of the River Tiber) and Gillian Fisher. Denys Darlow’s conducting is a little stodgy, though 20 years ago it was probably considered to be indecently springy (CDH 55136, £6.99).

Susan Drake’s recital of 19TH-CENTURY HARP MUSIC (CDH 55129, £6.99) contains little of substance, but a great deal of pleasure in the effusions of the likes of Parish-Alvars and Hasselmans, played with a wide variety of tone, from the most sumptuous to the tenuously delicate.

There’s more to get your musical teeth into in britten’s oboe and piano music (CDH 55154, £6.99), from his precocious Phantasy Quartet to the late Night Piece.

Sarah Francis brings authority to the oboe works, though her vibrato is sometimes too wide, but Michael Dussek clarifies Britten’s sometimes awkward piano sonorities with searching fingers and mind.

No problem with muddy textures in HAYDN’s symphonies, especially in the Hanover Band’s clean-limbed performances of Nos 101 and 102 (CDH 55127, £6.99), where the wit of the eponymous clock movement and the lightness and energy of both finales are a complete delight.

More substantial orchestral noises come from Svetlanov and the Philharmonia in RIMSKY-KORSAKOV’s symphonic suite Antar (CDH 55137, £6.99), and though Svetlanov makes the most of the colourful orchestration, turning to his Regis reissue of glinka (RRC 1142, call for price) brought home what was missing: the thrilling sound of a Russian orchestra with its blood up.

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The Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila with the Bolshoi Orchestra is sock-blowing-off stuff, crude 1963 Melodiya recording and all, and the braying brass at the beginning of the Jota aragonesa reaches the parts that other horns can’t.