Hyperion Records

Things we (or you) like
An occasional focus on albums we find ourselves listening to a lot, the ones that just never seem to make it off the player. Anything you'd like to share here? Email downloads@hyperion-records.co.uk with details of your favourite album or albums (as long as they're available on this website!), together with a sentence or two explaining why it's so good, and we'll add it to the list.
'Postcards' (SIGCD393)
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Alarmingly addictive. You've been warned.

Nick Flower (Head of Production & Website, Hyperion Records)
'Stravinsky: Jeu de cartes, Agon & Orpheus' (CDA67698)
Stravinsky: Jeu de cartes, Agon & Orpheus

Another fantastic album featuring my favourite instrument the mandolin. Jeu de cartes is one of my favourite puzzles, which might be one of the most functional of 'diskeepers' for my brain. Agon sounds like sonic architecture, cool and tidy, much thanks to the attentive performances. And Orpheus … Stravinsky flies across time and space easily. Beautiful cover art: Orpheus by Odilon Redon.

Akiko Muneta (Japan)
'Vivaldi: Lute and Mandolin Concertos' (CDA66160)
Vivaldi: Lute and Mandolin Concertos

Let me introduce one of my old pals please - the mandolin. Yes, a good fellow. I played the mandolin during my school days, and this is the very first CD which I bought for myself. Sparkling in tones, natural in tempi, comfortable and pleasant, always evoking my good memories.

Akiko Muneta (Japan)
'Bantock: Hebridean & Celtic Symphonies' (CDA66450)
Bantock: Hebridean & Celtic Symphonies

This is the epic and romantic score, always inflaming my imagination. Bantock had a close relationship with two of my favourite composers; Sibelius (who dedicated his third symphony to Bantock), and Elgar (Bantock's predecessor at the University of Birmingham). Bantock was influential on the foundation of my favourite orchestra, the City of Birmingham Orchestra (later the CBSO), as well. I was happy when Sakari Oramo directed the BBC SO in the Celtic Symphony at the Proms last year (21st August 2013).

Akiko Muneta (Japan)
'Saint-Saëns: The complete works for piano and orchestra' (CDA67331/2)
Saint-Saëns: The complete works for piano and orchestra

Of course Saint-Saëns is one of the very well known composers, but do we really know his opus besides his famous third symphony or Le carnaval des animaux? This set is one of the popular Romantic Piano Concerto series but sometimes the composer easily jumps beyond the category. Another great journey, full of astonishing ideas, all played handsomely.

Akiko Muneta (Japan)
'Milford: Fishing by Moonlight' (CDA67444)
Milford: Fishing by Moonlight
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Why Milford isn't better known I'll never know. The Guildhall Strings (and the remarkable Julian Sperry) perform this music with perfectly-mingled detachment and heart-throbbing. It's like Finzi without the occasional histrionics; an Arcadia lost and remembered without regret; Binyon's pearlescent Dante.

Crawford Wiley (United States)
'Bach: Goldberg Variations' (CDA67305)
Bach: Goldberg Variations

A friend and I endangered our lives on a roadtrip while listening to this recording; we were simply incapable of driving. "Oh my God!" we'd shout, "did you CATCH that?!" We had to repeat each track over and over again, marvelling at the wonder that is Ms. Hewitt's divine phrasing.

Crawford Wiley (United States)
'Howells: Requiem & other choral works' (CDA67914)
Howells: Requiem & other choral works

The Requiem reaches the sublime, of course, but the reason this record goes into my CD player again and again is that the St Paul's Service has rarely sounded so of-the-earth-earthy; there's an almost Lawrentian splendor in the roar of the Lincoln Willis under all the famously gilded fire of Trinity College Choir.

Crawford Wiley (United States)
'Bruckner: Requiem & other sacred music' (CDA66245)
Bruckner: Requiem & other sacred music

The claim that Bruckner wrote little of value before middle age is rebutted by this austerely beautiful setting of the Requiem, written when he was in his mid twenties. (He had, in fact, been composing since he was 12.) The orchestral scoring—three trombones, organ and strings—is even starker than that employed in Mozart’s Requiem in the same key (surely its inspiration); anyone who knows and loves the later Bruckner will not be disappointed.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Stravinsky: Les Noces & other choral works' (CDH55467)
Stravinsky: Les Noces & other choral works
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55467  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

According to Stravinsky, Diaghilev thought Les noces 'the most beautiful and most purely Russian creation of our Ballet'. Listening to this recording, which usefully couples not only other folk- and Slavonic-inspired choral works by Stravinsky but genuine Russian folksong of the type which gives Les noces its unique pungency and vitality, it’s impossible to disagree. At least as exciting a version as the starrier one on Deutsche Grammophon conducted by Bernstein (and which boasts Argerich and Zimerman among the roster of pianists), and indisputably more idiomatic.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Bach: The Six Motets' (CDH55417)
Bach: The Six Motets
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55417  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

The Bach motets are utterly sublime, even by JSB’s impossibly exalted standards, and contain some of the greatest music ever written. Although they’ve fared well on disc, this recording by The Sixteen conveys better than most a proper sense of dignity and devotion rather than mere scholarly rectitude.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Bruckner: motets' (CDA66062)
Bruckner: motets

Bruckner’s motets are miniature masterpieces. Each is entirely and unmistakably typical of its composer, and each conveys the essence—distilled into a few minutes—of the same musical impulse which animates the symphonies. I’ve known these recordings for the best part of thirty years, and can now scarcely imagine life without them.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Jones: The Geisha' (CDH55245)
Jones: The Geisha
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55245  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

This is just plain silly. A glorious cast takes on the paranormal delights of such lyrics as 'He call’d her the Jewel of Asia, / But she was the Queen of the Geisha' and 'Of course there is a moral, and of course it’s at the end' (coming towards the conclusion of an extended interlude, the relevance of which escapes me). Glorious tunes abound—as you'd expect from an era when theatre impresarios thought nothing of adapting a show to keep it fresh. Here the 'core' music of Sidney Jones finds itself alongside a couple of numbers by the immortal Lionel Monckton. First performed in 1896, The Geisha ran for an unprecedented 760 performances. If you like your light operas politically correct, this is definitely not for you …

Nick Flower (Head of Production & Website, Hyperion Records)
'Schubert: String Quintet & String Quartet D956 & 703' (CDA67864)
Schubert: String Quintet & String Quartet D956 & 703
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We’re fortunate to live in a golden age of string quartets (and, incidentally, of Lieder singing). Furtwängler’s Brahms and Wagner may yet to be equalled, but comparisons between the Takács Quartet and their illustrious forebears are invariably to the great American quartet’s advantage. Any of their Hyperion recordings—Brahms, Britten, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann—would make a distinguished library choice, but hardly a week seems to have gone by since its release that I haven’t listened to their recording of the Schubert Quintet, with no less a second cellist than Ralph Kirshbaum.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Reger: Violin Concertos' (CDA67892)
Reger: Violin Concertos
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Poor Reger. Driven to alcoholism and an early death by the critical mauling doled out to his Piano Concerto, his posthumous reputation has not fared well outside Germany. But Tanja Becker-Bender and the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin's wonderful, luminous recording of the Violin Concerto gives the lie to the usual charge of turgid orchestration and an unhealthy obsession with fugue. Longer even than Elgar’s near-contemporaneous concerto (with which it shares much else, not least a sense of loss and palpable regret at a changing cultural climate), it may never become a repertoire work, but you’re unlikely to hear a finer version than this.

Edward Taylor (Copyright and Licensing Manager, Hyperion Records)
'Browne: Music from the Eton Choirbook' (CDGIM036)
Browne: Music from the Eton Choirbook
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This is quite simply one of the best recordings ever made. The music is extraordinary, and the recording sublime. I know these five works are also available on the specially priced double album The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music – 1, but there's something rather more appealing about this stand-alone original album.

Nick Flower (Head of Production & Website, Hyperion Records)
'Bird Songs at Eventide' (CDH55156)
Bird Songs at Eventide
MP3 £4.00FLAC £4.00ALAC £4.00Buy by post £4.40 CDH55156  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I  

Can't really explain this one. I was at some of the recording sessions, fresh out of college as it were. But I have no recollection of the music from the time. About ten years later, however, I rediscovered these songs—and more to the point, perhaps, these performances of them—and now find myself listening to them with alarming frequency.

Nick Flower (Head of Production & Website, Hyperion Records)
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