THE number one seasonal gift for a Liverpool Phil concertgoer this year is Vasily Petrenko's new release of Tchaikovsky ballet music.
Here we have selections from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker recorded at public concerts over the last 15 months, and, needless to say, Petrenko is right on his home territory with this one.
The sound is excellent and the audience on their best behaviour.
Having received the Gramophone award for the two obscure Russian operas released earlier this year, this disc released by Avie will bring Petrenko before a wide audience, as it has worldwide distribution.
The Chilingirian String Quartet were welcome visitors to the city recently, appearing both at the Phil and at St George's Hall.
The connoisseur label CRD is continuing to release occasional discs and the Chillies feature on a new issue, the first of a series of Mozart string quintets, on which they are joined by Yuko Innoue.
The first disc has the famous K515 in C and the earlier K174 in B Flat.
There is an appendix of two abandoned movements of this.
The Quintet bring great warmth to these readings and there is good presentation, making for another recommendation.
Ashley Wass was programmed to play piano music by William Alwyn at the Rodewald concert on Tuesday night, and has started to release his complete piano music on the Naxos label.
He is also to be found partnering Lawrence Jackson in the second volume of Violin Sonatas by Arnold Bax sonatas, a ballad and a legend, adding to the praiseworthy activities of this budget label in promoting 20th-century British music.
Kathryn Stott partners cellist Christian Poltera in a sonata, and a sonatina by Hindemith, and he is joined by Christian Tetzlaff for a Sonatina for violin and cello.
The Malmo Symphony Orchestra is here for the short cello concerto. I often find Hindemith's music arid, but the cello seems to bring out the warmth in him and I found this BIS release very acceptable.
Marin Alsop completes her successful cycle of Brahms symphonies with the London Philharmonic, with the 4th, topped up with seven of the Hungarian Dances, again for Naxos, who also give us six Hungarian Rhapsodies of Liszt played on home ground by the Staatskapelle Weimar under Artur Fagen.
I amnot always a fan of the music of the Argentine Astor Piazzola, but another Naxos disc has a fine collection of short pieces, played by the Granada-based Versus Ensemble, withmale and female vocalists and even a reciter. The Spanish language sounds so beautiful, one can forgive Naxos the lack of translations of texts. Less forgivable are the Songs of the Auvergne, Vol 2, where texts are surely essential - but are missing.
This is a shame because Veronique Gens is outstanding in these nine songs, Triptyque and six popular French songs.
The Lille Orchestra, under Serge Baudo, give excellent support and buyers should beg, borrowor steal texts from friends.