We’ve been treated to another rich trawl of goodies on Classical Ear over the last couple of weeks. Opera fans were particularly well served by two centenary offerings, both of which drew glowing praise from Michael Quinn: Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (buy from iTunes/buy from Amazon), conducted by Massimo Zanetti on Decca, features a notably strong cast including Thomas Hampson in the title-role and the Maltese tenor, Joseph Calleja; and Steuart Bedford’s thrilling new version of Britten’s Peter Grimes for Signum Classics was set down in conjunction with the remarkable production of the opera on Aldeburgh beach last June (buy from iTunes/buy from Amazon). Lindsay Kemp was unequivocal in his praise for a collection of Schubert’s entire output for violin and piano on Hyperion performed by the inspired partnership of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien (buy from iTunes/buy from Amazon): “Superbly recorded, this set easily assumes the definitive status to which such ‘completist’ packages ought to aspire.” Chris Achenbach was comparably enthusiastic about a Harmonia Mundi coupling of the two Bartók violin concertos from Isabelle Faust and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding (buy from Amazon), commenting that their beautifully prepared readings “offer fresh insight into these highly contrasting works”, while Andrew Achenbach purred with approval for a pungently characterful solo Liszt concert from Delphian Records featuring the septuagenarian pianist David Wilde on truly magnificent form (buy from iTunes/buy from Amazon). Last, but certainly not least, Michael J Stewart found heaps to enjoy in a Linn anthology entitled ‘Cantus’, on which the remarkable Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato plays her own arrangements of works by Arvo Pärt (including Fratres and Spiegel im Spiegel), Steve Reich (his New York Counterpoint) and Hywel Davies (buy from iTunes/buy from Amazon). Happy exploring!