Classical home listening: Mutter and Ferrández play Brahms; Ruby Hughes sings Huw Watkins | Classical music

In their first joint album, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her protege, the new generation Spanish cellist Pablo Ferrández, have recorded Brahms’s Double Concerto (Sony) – a work full of turbulent, hard-won joy – with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Manfred Honeck. Brahms composed this concerto (his last orchestral work) for violin, cello and orchestra in part to renew a friendship, which had slightly cooled, with the violinist Joseph Joachim. The original cellist, Robert Hausmann, was part of Brahms’s circle and a regular chamber music colleague.

Mutter, Ferrández and co give a performance of heft and exuberance, the soloists powerfully lyrical, the supporting forces alert to the score’s details. For the impassioned piano trio by Brahms’s adored friend Clara Schumann, cellist and violinist are joined by Mutter’s long-term duo partner, pianist Lambert Orkis. The rewards of friendship ring out.

Two leading British musicians, the soprano Ruby Hughes and the pianist-composer Huw Watkins, have created an insightful new album called Echo (BIS). The title is taken from Watkins’s 2017 song cycle for Hughes – here in a world premiere recording, with settings of poems by Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Philip Larkin, WB Yeats and David Harsent. Echo also refers to the way music looks back; present to past, past to present. Works by Bach and Purcell are transfigured in realisations by Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett and Thomas Adès.

The mood throughout is melancholy, but Hughes’s pure tone and sensitivity shine out, her voice at times almost ethereal, as in the Britten folk song arrangement How Sweet the Answer (The Wren). Watkins, ever characterful and precise as composer and pianist, also plays two Bach partitas (Nos 4 and 6), and the Sarabande from the French Suite No 3. Songs by Deborah Pritchard, Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Errollyn Wallen complete this affecting disc.

Chamber music inspired by jazz: Hannah French presents concerts from LSO St Luke’s, London, featuring works by George Gershwin, Olga Neuwirth, William Grant Still. The performers include trumpeter Simon Höfele, Orsino Ensemble, violinist Aleksey Semenenko and pianists Joanna MacGregor and Inna Firsova. Tuesday to Friday, BBC Radio 3, 1pm/ BBC Sounds.


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