Resilience – Prokofiev, Janáček, Golijov & Mendelssohn on Signum Classics
…a commendable venture, thoughtfully programmed and featuring strong performances throughout. … The piece [Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 6, Op.80] burns with a brutal energy, and the Calidore Quartet successfully capture the emotional charge of this powerful work, bringing Resilience to a suitably stirring close.
Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine, November 2018
… thrilling performances … Superb, rhythmically alert playing, the players’ collective virtuosity always at the
service of the music.
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 3 November 2018
Everything here has a clarity and an underlying rhythmic energy that I found enormously invigorating, whether in their bracing approach to Mendelssohn’s tragic F minor Quartet – a near ideal meeting of lyricism and high tension – or the playful rhythmic kick-and-a-swing they give to the Prokofiev… Freshness doesn’t have to be chilly, and precision needn’t inhibit expression. These lively, intelligent performances of an attractive and thought-provoking programme offer compelling proof.
Richard Bratby, Gramophone, October 2018
Prokofiev Violin Sonatas on Aparte
with Michail Lifits piano
Faultless, colourful readings in one of the finest recordings of the year… Her new recording impresses from the start, with a meticulous attention to detail in her colouring of the mysterious opening phrases of the First Sonata… Technique sounds faultless too.
Matthew Rye, The Strad, October 2018
This recording reveals her as a major artist… in terms of both technical assurance and interpretative daring. Conunova grabbed my attention from the first bars of Prokofiev’s First Sonata, employing a hoarse, beseeching tone and giving each repetition of the inital shivering, semitone motif its own meaningful inflection. Remarkably, she and Lifits sustain this level of involvement and imagination … I cannot recommend their freshly considered, vividly recorded interpretations highly enough.
Andrew Farach-Cotton, Gramophone, August 2018
Alexandra Conunova is highly attuned to this music and she has a fabulous pianist who understands the dark undertones of the first movement of the first sonata. Her shadowy yet beautifully haunting sound in the Andante is remarkable… the scampering finale driven by infernal energy. Michail Lifits again excels, and the rapport between the two is remarkable.
Colin Clarke, Classical Music Magazine, June 2018
Before Mozart – Early Horn Concertos on BIS
with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Nicholas McGegan
…the technical challenges are formidable, and he [Frank-Gemmill] meets them with an assurance that often takes your breath away. Neruda’s vertiginous lines ascend into the stratospheres with astonishing ease and Haydn’s rapid-fire figurations are done with effortless dexterity. Nothing is vacuously showy, however: virtuosity is consistently placed at the service of expression… An exceptional disc that confirms and consolidates his reputation as one of today’s finest horn payers, it makes for compelling and essential listening.
Tim Ashley, Gramophone, June 2018
This is an outstanding collection, in which Frank-Gemmill’s stratospheric virtuosity, on three different instruments, is elegantly counterpointed by Nicholas McGegan’s buoyantly sympathetic direction… A radiantly engineered recital of heart-warming bonhomie and virtuoso sparkle.
Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine, June 2018
Five horn concertos from the five decades before Mozart make a fun programme for a brilliant player… In the Haydn, Frank-Gemmill plays across an amazing range. Superb recordings increase our pleasure.
Tully Potter, Daily Mail, 26 May 2018
Alec Frank-Gemmill is just fantastic at writing his booklet notes as well as playing the horn… [Neruda Horn Concerto in E flat Major] is just technically so accomplished but so musical as well. You feel the horn can do anything – and he does… absolutely a joy to listen to, this CD, from start to finish. Things like the ornamentation just sound so effortless… I really think it’s a wonderful CD.
Sarah Devonald, BBC Radio 3 Record Review, 19 May 2018
Frank-Gemmill’s agility is second to no horn player active today. A superb disc.
Colin Clarke, Classical Music Magazine, May 2018
What had me salivating was a chance to hear the concerto by one Johann Baptist Georg Neruda, a piece usually appropriated by greedy trumpet players. Frank-Gemmill conclusively proves that this is a genuine horn work. It’s ludicrously, impossibly high, originally written for a Dresden virtuoso who specialised in the horn’s clarino register. Telemann’s D Major Concerto is less daunting, though Leopold Mozart’s Sinfonia da Camera contains some scary moments. More musically satisfying is Haydn’s Concerto No. 1, composed for the same player who inspired Leopold Mozart’s son. Haydn’s finale is a joyous romp, a mirthsome sequence of trills and rapid arpeggios which would be more popular if it wasn’t so hard to play. A superb collection.
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, April 2018
Handel’s Last Prima Donna – Giulia Frasi in London on Chandos
with the OAE and Laurence Cummings
With her limpid purity of tone, immaculately even coloratura and graceful sense of style, Hughes is in many ways ideal for this repertoire… The gentle beauty of Hughes’s voice, deployed with unfailing taste, can hardly fail to give pleasure, the music – not least the Queen of Sheba’s valedictory Will the sun forget to streak – often touches the sublime, while the non-Handel items will come as delightful discoveries to many.
Richard Wigmore, Gramophone, May 2018
Ruby Hughes’ vocalism fits Frasi’s song perfectly. Arias by Hayes, Ciampi and JC Smith – all recorded for the first time – are often simple in their design, but demand total control. The pure-toned Hughes achieves this with ease and fresh-faced candour… this disc is a treat, illuminating why Frasi and her music demanded a huge following.
Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine, May 2018
Hughes is in delightful form throughout this collection and there are many highlights with the Handel works shining out like beacons. One of her finest performances is from the oratorio Susanna… With Hughes displaying her smooth, golden tone with both purity and with such excellent enunciation this is a persuasive depiction of the heroine’s vulnerability… An enthralling blend of established baroque works and new discoveries makes this satisfyingly performed album from Ruby Hughes particularly desirable…
Michael Cookson, Music Web International, April 2018
Hughes’s technical accomplishment is indisputable.
Curtis Rogers, Classical Source, April 2018
Hughes’s honeyed tone is balm on the ears: there’s never a hint of shrillness and her impeccable diction means that you never have to refer to the texts. The Handel excerpts are wonderful, taken from Susanna, Theodora, Jephtha and Solomon… The rarities make this disc a mandatory purchase, though… Not just for baroque buffs: this is one of the most thrilling vocal recitals I’ve heard in ages.
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 31 March 2018
Performances are excellent; the recording sumptuous – you can’t wait to ge to the next track.
Andrew MacGregor and Simon Heighes, BBC Radio 3 Record Review, 17 March 2018
Ruby Hughes and Laurence Cummings interview. View film here
Classic FM, 9 March 2018
Handel’s last Prima Donna podcast. Listen here
Gramophone, 2 March 2018
Read Ruby’s blog about Frasi here