Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Lara St. John, violin; Eduardo Marturet, Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Lara Saint John Vivaldi and Piazzolla Four SeasonsViolinist Lara St. John also serves as chief executive of her own Ancalagon label, and she takes an interest in unusual and challenging couplings. It seems every violin player has to come to terms with Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at one time or another, but rather than mate it with other Vivaldi concertos or similar Baroque fare, here she combines Vivaldi's oft-recorded cycle with Astor Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires in a shimmering arrangement for violin and strings by Leonid Desyatnikov. She is not the first to do so -- that may have been I Solisti Italiani back in the 1990s -- but it remains a striking combination in the face of the usual fare that comes along for the ride with most issues of The Four Seasons.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Lara St. John, violin; - Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Op. 8

Lara St. John, violin - Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

 
 
Marc Blitzstein: First Life
Sarah Cahill, piano; Del Sol String Quartet
Marc Blitzstein First LifeMarc Blitzstein makes a significant impression from first contact, whether through his songs, the Airborne Symphony, his theatrical work The Cradle Will Rock, or the opera Regina; a composer who is "in the American grain" -- to borrow a phrase from William Carlos Williams -- yet who is not of the hay bales, prairie lands, and rodeos of Aaron Copland, but of cities, sophistication, and late nights spent in conversation, cigarettes, and a glass or two of whiskey on the rocks. The Cradle Will Rock -- the earliest Blitzstein piece longer than a song that has previously circulated -- comes to us so complete and fully formed that one might wonder if the back story is genuinely necessary. But if one is as passionate about Blitzstein as other trailblazing American composers of his generation, who wouldn't be curious as to what went before; after all, Blitzstein never suppressed his early works, he just couldn't find a publisher for them, and ultimately fell out of sympathy with their style and baggage. San Francisco's Other Minds has worked with Blitzstein's estate to raise First Life: Marc Blitzstein, the first substantial peek into Blitzstein's pre-1937 output that recordings have provided to the general public.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Sarah Cahill, piano - Scherzo "Bourgeois at Play"

Del Sol String Quartet - Serenade for String Quartet

 
 
Source Records 1-6, 1968-1971
Various Artists
Source Records Volumes One through SixIn the late '60s, a fair amount of avant-garde and electronic music was being recorded in the United States, even on major labels; in addition to the old standbys like CRI, which had represented some measure of experimental music in addition to the straight, modernist orchestral stuff that had been its main bread and butter. However, there was a stratum of experimental music beyond that which even CRI wouldn't touch, owing to its heightened political rhetoric, seeming artlessness or perceived sense of experimentation for the sake of experimentation. Enter Source Magazine, a spiral-bound periodical featuring music scores, photographs, and articles on experimental music, and, from Vol. 2/2, 10" LPs. Despite their somewhat smaller size, the 10" LPs could hold a lot of music and -- in addition to adding a lot of value to the periodical itself -- delivered works drawn from that substrate of experimental musicianship, introducing to records composers like Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, Lowell Cross, Alvin Curran, and Allan Bryant to records for the first time. The main compilers at Source were composers Larry Austin -- the only artist represented twice on Source -- and Stanley Lunetta, and both have cooperated with this Pogus Productions retrospective of the label.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Robert Ashley: The Wolfman

Lowell Cross: Video II (B)/(C)/(L)

 
 
Music for Violin & Piano by Ferruccio Busoni & George Enescu
Nurit Stark, violin; Cédric Pescia, piano
Nurit Stark violin and piano music by Busoni and EnescuClaves' Ferruccio Busoni/George Enescu, featuring Israeli violinist Nurit Stark and Franco-Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia visits two towering violin sonatas from the early end of modernism; Busoni's Sonata No. 2, Op. 36a (1898) and George Enescu's Sonata No. 3 "dans le caractère populaire roumain," Op. 25 (1926). What these two works mainly have in common is that both are insanely difficult for both players; Enescu takes as his point of departure characteristics of Gypsy music, down to the cimbalom-like piano part, whereas Busoni draws inspiration from Johann Sebastian Bach, thought not exclusively so in this early work. These pieces have enjoyed a respectable number of recordings already, but Stark and Pescia manage to raise the bar on both in this wonderful Claves recording.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Nurit Stark, violin; Cédric Pescia, piano - Busoni: Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 36a

Nurit Stark, violin; Cédric Pescia, piano - Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 3 "dans le caractère populaire roumain"

 
 
Cyril Scott: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 5 "Lotus Land"
Leslie De'Ath, piano
Cyril Scott Piano Music Volume Five Lotus LandWith Cyril Scott: Lotus Land, Canadian pianist Leslie De'Ath reaches the fifth volume of his complete survey of the piano music of British composer Cyril Scott for Dutton's Epoch series. The conventional wisdom about Scott is that he was a composer of light, insubstantial music for salon pianists and that his compositions are not worth the countless printed pages that they occupy. However, what has proven so impressive about De'Ath's project thus far is that it makes clear that Scott's music is serious, and it plays a significant role in the development of early modernism. De'Ath's series also opens a window upon a composer who was a greatly imaginative musical thinker and a pictorialist on a par with Edward MacDowell.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Leslie De'Ath, piano - Lotus Land

Leslie De'Ath, piano - Tarantula

 
 
Antonio Bertali: Prothimia Suavissima, Parte Seconda
Ars Antiqua Austria; Gunar Letzbor, cond.
 Antonio Bertali Prothimia Suavissima Parte SecondaNot too long ago, musicologists treated the 17th century as a period where instrumental music barely existed, as though there wasn't anything really noteworthy in terms of instrumental music before Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi apart from early English keyboard music. The revival of interest in Heinrich von Biber beginning in the 1960s brought about a revolution in that regard, and by the opening of the 21st century the names of figures such as Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Giovanni Felice Sances, and Johann Kasper Kerll are reasonably familiar ones to those who follow music of the early Baroque. Considerably less well known is that of Antonio Bertali, a musician in the Viennese royal chapel from the 1620s and, from 1649 until his death in 1669, served as kapellmeister in the Viennese court. In Arcana's Antonio Bertali: Prothima Suavissima Parte Seconda, Gunar Letzbor leads the Ars Antiqua Austria though the posthumous 1672 print indicated in the title in its entirety.
Read the rest of the review by Uncle Dave Lewis
 
Gunar Letzbor, cond. - Sonata No. 5 á 3

Gunar Letzbor, cond. - Sonata No. 11 á 3

 
 
Ravel: L'Enfant et les sortilèges; Shéhérazade
Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Alastair Willis, cond.
ravelGiven the number of very fine recordings of Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges, it's perhaps surprising that one of the very finest, most stylish, and idiomatic performances should have its roots firmly planted in the American heartland. Alastair Willis, leading the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and the Chattanooga Boys Choir, conjures up a truly magical version of the opera. This is the result of a happy confluence of all the necessary elements: exceptional soloists who may not yet be international superstars, but who sing beautifully and are fully invested in bringing their roles to life, a thoroughly responsive chorus, exquisite orchestral playing, extraordinarily fine, nuanced engineering, and above all, Willis' loving attention the details of the score and his ability to bring an exhilarating musical and dramatic coherence to an opera that in lesser hands can seem quaintly episodic.
Read the rest of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Alastair Willis, cond. - L'Enfant et les sortilèges - Votre serviteur humble, Bergère
Alastair Willis, cond. - L'Enfant et les sortilèges - Il est bon, l'Enfant, il est sage
 
 
Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Sergiu Celibidache, cond.
BrahmsSergiu Celibidache's 1957 recording of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem easily ranks among the most thrilling and satisfying on disc, which is no small recommendation, given the multitude of outstanding versions. The conductor's grasp of the work's architecture, both as a whole and in each movement, makes this a riveting performance; the Requiem has rarely sounded so vividly dramatic. The opening movement, "Blessed Are They That Mourn," seems slow at first compared to common performance practice. There is no slackness in Celibidache's approach, though; the sense of ethereal equipoise that the stately tempo induces beautifully evokes the serenity that the text describes, and it doesn't take long before this relaxed pace is entirely convincing, even revelatory.
Read the rest of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Sergiu Celibidache, cond. - Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 - Selig sind, die da tragen Leid
Sergiu Celibidache, cond. - Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 - Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
 
 
Adès: The Tempest
Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra, Covent Garden; Thomas Adès, cond.
TempestThomas Adès' 2004 version of The Tempest has been acclaimed as one of the outstanding operas of the new century, so it's a pleasure to have it available in such a fine recording, taken from the 2007 Covent Garden revival, featuring many of the principals from the premiere. Librettist Meredith Oakes has not only effectively distilled the play so that the opera lasts less than two hours without seeming overly-condensed, but she has rewritten and simplified the text. Something is lost when Shakespeare's poetry is altered, but Oakes' verse, if more mundane, is easily singable and easily comprehensible. The change in Shakespeare's language may the biggest hurdle for purists, but for those who can make the leap and accept the libretto as an independent work of art, Oakes' version makes strong and coherent dramatic sense.
Read the test of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Thomas Adès, cond. - The Tempest - Act 1. Scene 3. Fear to the sinner...



Thomas Adès, cond. - The Tempest - Act 3. Scene 2. Murder!


 

Handel: Alcina

Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis, cond.
AlcinaIt's a pleasure to have such an abundance of excellent recordings of Handel operas that were long virtually unknown or available on CD in a single version, if at all. Alan Curtis' stellar recording of Alcina, which joins a respectable number of very fine recordings of the opera, is remarkable for the supple liveliness of his conducting and the outstanding performances of the soloists. The elasticity of his performance, leading Il Complesso Barocco, should dispel any misconceptions about Baroque music being rigid and metronomic.
Read the test of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Alan Curtis, cond. - Alcina - Act 1. Scene 4. No. 12. Aria. Di te mi rido
Alan Curtis, cond. - Alcina - Act 2. Scene 3. No. 23. Aria. Mi lusinga il dolce affetto
 
 
Bernstein: West Side Story
Patrick Vaccariello, cond.
West Side StoryThe much-anticipated 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story was notable for the decision of Arthur Laurents (the author of the show's book and the director of this production) to make it bilingual; the sections where the Puerto Ricans would have naturally spoken Spanish, such as when they are interacting independently from English-speaking characters and when the gangs are facing off, are now in Spanish. It's a bold, brilliant move and it makes complete sense for creating the most naturalistic dramatic experience. The impact is not as pronounced on the recording; only a few musical numbers, such as "I feel pretty" and "A boy like that," and some of the Sharks' scenes are changed. Those moments are genuinely effective, though, and tantalizingly suggest the production's authentic flavor.
Read the test of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Patrick Vaccariello, cond. - West Side Story - Act 1. Scene 8. Tonight (Quintet)

Patrick Vaccariello, cond. - West Side Story - Act 2. Scene 1. Me Siento Hermosa (I Feel Pretty)

 
 
Michael Jarrell: Cassandre
Ensemble InterContemporain; Susanna Mälkki, cond.
CassandreIt's stretching the conventional, technical definition of the term to call Swiss composer Michael Jarrell's spoken monodrama Cassandre an opera, but that's the composer's description of it, and as such, it ought to be respected. It does consist of a musical narrative accompanying a verbal narrative, so even though it doesn't involve singing, it comes closer to standard opera than some pieces that are so designated. Also, the fact that it is so compelling as a unified musical and dramatic entity makes its definition seem less consequential; it's fully successful in using music and story to draw the listener into the protagonist's world.
Read the test of the review by Stephen Eddins
 
Susanna Mälkki, cond. - Cassandre - Hécube, ma mère...

Susanna Mälkki, cond. - Cassandre - Oui, ce fut ainsi...

 
 
Hindemith: Klaviermusik mit Orchester; Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"
Leon Fleischer, piano: Curtis Symphony Orchestra; Christoph von Eschenbach, cond.
HindemithIt's not too often anymore that we get a world premiere recording of a work by a composer as well-known and widely performed as Hindemith. The circumstances surrounding the recording as well as the artist make this album a real find. Composed in 1921 for wealthy pianist Paul Wittgenstein, Hindemith's Klaviermusik mit Orchestra, Op. 29, was one of several compositions for left-hand only that Wittgenstein commissioned from the likes of Britten, Prokofiev, and Ravel after losing his right arm in WWI. Unlike these other compositions, Wittgenstein never performed Hindemith's piece, did not allow others to perform it, and did not allow it to be published. Only after several machinations following his death was the work finally available in 2002.
Read the rest of the review by Mike Brownell
 
Christoph von Eschenbach, cond. - Hindemith: Klaviermusik mit Orchester - 2. Sehr lebhafte Halbe

Christoph von Eschenbach, cond. - Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World" - 2. Largo

 
 
ATOS Trio plays Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann
AtosSometimes, lesser known composers find their works vanishing into oblivion. But there are times when some of the most recognized and celebrated composers find some of their works being underperformed. The latter category is the theme of this Azica disc from the ATOS Trio. Formed in 2003, the relative newcomers to the concert stage are already sweeping many of the world's most prestigious chamber music awards. The group opens with Beethoven's E flat Trio, Op. 70/2, the "Cinderella" of the pair of trios that includes the vastly more popular "Ghost" Trio of Op. 70/1. ATOS was spot-on in choosing this vastly underappreciated, magnificent trio.
Read the rest of the review by Mike Brownell
 
ATOS Trio - Beethoven: Piano Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 70 No. 2 - 3. Allegretto ma non troppo

ATOS Trio - Schubert: Adagio in E flat "Notturno", Op. posth. 148, D 897

 
 
Haydn: Complete Songs
Elly Ameling, soprano; Jörg Demus, piano
HaydnThe audiophile Netherlands label PentaTone has carved out an interesting niche, reissuing albums from the 1970s and 1980s that at the time were top of the line both artistically and sonically. This album by the great Dutch soprano Elly Ameling was originally recorded in 1980, in quadraphonic sound. Justly well known, it has already been reissued several times, but never until now remastered into hybrid SACD surround sound as it is here. Even played in conventional stereo on a good system, the sound is pristine and strikingly detailed. But best of all are the performances by Ameling and her accompanist, German Classical-era specialist Jörg Demus. Demus deserves some of the credit: he also worked with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and this recording has some of Fischer-Dieskau's slightly miraculous ability to find the nugget of greatness in a fairly workaday song by one of the masters.
Read the rest of the review by James Manheim
 
Elly Ameling, soprano; Jörg Demus, piano - Despair, Hob.26a:28

Elly Ameling, soprano; Jörg Demus, piano - Abschiedslied, Hob. 26a:F1

 
 
West of the Sun: Piano Music of the Americas
Joel Fan, piano
FanThe idea of doing a piano recital of music from the Americas is not new, yet American pianist Joel Fan promises a "fresh look" in this disc. He doesn't specifically say what the fresh look consists of, and his rather broad characterization of the New World's music as marked by "seductive Latin rhythms, sophisticated European compositional techniques, American enterprise, and the powerful currents of colonialism, black and white, male and female" gives only a vague idea of what to expect. But Fan's music-making can speak for itself. His piano textures are worth hearing in themselves, for he is an exceptionally fluent, lyrical player with a fine sense of mystery in the slow movements of the piano sonatas by Ginastera and Barber. And the program he offers here is a really fascinating thing on several levels. He includes some fairly unusual pieces, and there's a reason for each one.
Read the rest of the review by James Manheim
 
Joel Fan, piano - Piazzolla: Flora's Game, Milonga Prelude

Joel Fan, piano - Bonds: Troubled Waters

 
 
Alfred Schnittke: Symphony No. 9; Alexander Raskatov: Nunc dimittis
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, cond.
SchnittkeThis 2009 ECM disc containing the world premiere of Alfred Schnittke's Ninth Symphony, the composer's final work, will be mandatory listening for fans of post-modernist Russian music, or contemporary music in general. Begun after the premiere of Schnittke's Eighth Symphony in 1994 and unfinished at the composer's death in 1998, the Ninth existed only as three movements of manuscript (and indecipherable manuscript at that: a stroke had paralyzed Schnittke's right side, forcing him to write with his left hand) until composer Alexandr Raskatov deciphered the manuscript and conductor Dennis Russell Davies presented its premiere. As presented in this January 2008 recording, Schnittke's Ninth continues and extends the austere sound world of the Eighth into ever more severe zones. There's no denying this is the authentic voice of Schnittke: the etiolated textures, abrupt gestures, timeless tempos, and haunting themes have clear roots in the composer's preceding works.
Read the rest of the review by James Leonard
 
Dennis Russell Davies, cond. - Schnittke: Symphony No. 9 - 1. [Andante]

Dennis Russell Davies, cond. - Schnittke: Symphony No. 9 - 3. Presto

 
 
The Berlin Recital
Gidon Kremer, violin; Martha Argerich, piano
leftViolinist Gidon Kremer and pianist Martha Argerich are two of the greatest living virtuosos on their instruments and, though they are wholly individualistic players, they get along extremely well together. German Romantic Robert Schumann and Hungarian modernist Béla Bartók don't have much in common at first blush: one is dreamy and poetic, the other brutal and cerebral. But as Kremer and Argerich's recital reveals, one thing Schumann and Bartók have in common is passionate expressivity; the two players bring that quality out no matter which composer's music they're playing. Schumann's ardent lyricism and Bartók's searing lines are both equally articulated here.
Read the rest of the review by James Leonard
 
Gidon Kremer, violin; Martha Argerich, piano - Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 121 - 4. Bewegt

Gidon Kremer, violin; Martha Argerich, piano - Bartók: Violin Sonata No. 1 - 1. Allegro appassionato

 
 
Josef Suk: Symphony in C minor, "Asrael"
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir Ashkenazy, cond.
AsraelAlong with the increasing frequency that Josef Suk's Symphony in C minor, Op. 27, "Asrael," is performed and recorded, it's great to see it has finally been released as a hybrid SACD. Though the legendary 1952 recording by Vaclav Talich remains the ne plus ultra for devotees of this searing symphonic requiem, it was recorded in mono, and by virtue of its technology has become a historical document that will be sought out mostly by aficionados. Newcomers to Suk's towering work will be aided in appreciation by the fact that Ondine's DSD recording is as clear and deep as always, and none of the details of the elaborate score are lost. Whether Vladimir Ashkenazy's 2008 interpretation seems as hard-earned and profound as Talich's is another matter, for the two conductors' approaches are different: Talich was steeped in the Czech tradition, while Ashkenazy has always been more cosmopolitan in outlook, so there are clear differences in phrasing, rhythmic emphasis, orchestral sonority, as well as nuances of expression.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Vladimir Ashkenazy, cond. - Symphony in C minor, "Asrael," 1. Andante sostenuto
 
 
Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Philharmonia Orchestra of London; Benjamin Zander, cond.
Bruckner 5In the 1990s, Benjamin Zander achieved a high degree of fame through a series of recordings he made of Gustav Mahler's symphonies for Telarc, which combined elegant performances with bonus discs featuring the conductor's enlightened commentary. This 2009 release of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 in B flat major follows suit and delivers a remarkably clear and cogent reading of Bruckner's most skillfully wrought symphony, along with a moving account of how Zander came to conduct this work so late in his career. One has to respect Zander's intelligence in analyzing the symphony and sincerity of his views on the work's deeper meanings, but it may be a stretch for some listeners to buy the programmatic explication he gives for particular themes, sections, and the overall structure of the work. Included in the package is a diagram of the symphony's form, laid out like the floor plan of a cathedral, obviously tying into the work's unofficial nickname, "Church of Faith," an appellation Bruckner did not give the work. From this, it seems Zander extrapolates certain meanings behind the tonal scheme of the expanded sonata form, the inter-connectedness of thematic shapes, and the spiritual dimensions of Bruckner's work, all explained with lucidity and conviction. Yet another view of this work is that it, like all the rest of Bruckner's symphonic output, is pure music, and that the religious and spiritual ramifications people are so eager to find in it are not necessary for appreciation.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Benjamin Zander, cond. - Symphony No. 5 in B flat major - 1. Adagio

 
 
J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier
Angela Hewitt, piano
Well-Tempered ClavierAcclaimed as one of the most creative and thoughtful performers of J.S. Bach's keyboard music since the innovative performances of her compatriot, Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has certainly matched her usual exquisite playing in this 2008 set of The Well-Tempered Clavier, an anticipated follow-up to the 2007 reissue of her 1997 recordings. Having both sets would be ideal for Hewitt fans, but for listeners who can choose only one, either is an excellent option and sure not to disappoint. While no one should expect vast differences in her interpretations here, which are rich in the variety of tone colors, moods, and nuances, Hewitt's maturing appreciation of Bach is not a radical overhaul, though there are necessarily changes in the particulars of accentuation, phrasing, dynamics, and emphasis due to the passage of time, as well as to the spontaneity of Hewitt's expression and the fluidity of the moment.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Angela Hewitt, piano - Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 - Prelude in E flat major
 
 
Leonard Bernstein: Mass
Tonnkünstler-Orchester; Absolute Ensemble; Kristjan Järvi, cond.
MassAs an artifact of the 1970s, Leonard Bernstein's theater piece, Mass, is freighted with subject matter that may seem remote today, and which is framed in musical styles that are for the most part quite passé. The then-current issues of the Viet Nam war, protest politics, social pressures, sexual mores, theological crises, and ecumenical outreach that are the grist of this poly-stylistic work -- all couched in an elaborate setting of the Latin text of the Roman Catholic liturgy -- speak to the relative innocence of the time, for they were considered shocking in some quarters, especially for being placed in the context of a sacred ritual. But as dated as Mass is by its once-controversial material, its pastiches of popular musical styles really locked it into its time period: with brassy pop-rock, electric urban blues, Broadway show-tunes, acoustic folk, and circus music all competing to be heard alongside chorales, tape collages, instrumental meditations, and an extended stream-of-consciousness mad scene worthy of Lucia di Lammermoor, Mass almost sinks under its excess of musical references and its composer's heavy-handed ambition to use every style he could lay his hands on. But Bernstein's charisma, along with his special artistic gifts, made Mass a unique experiment that continues to fascinate, even while it evokes nostalgia for fans and causes critical bemusement. For a piece so dependent on its era to be understood, it has surprising staying power.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Kristjan Järvi, cond. - Mass - In nomine Patris

 
 
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G major
Miah Persson, soprano; Budapest Festival Orchestra; Ivan Fischer, cond.
Symphony No. 4Fans of Gustav Mahler's joyous Symphony No. 4 in G major will relish this buoyant performance by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, featuring soprano Miah Persson, for it is wholly in keeping with the light tone and merry spirit of the score and is as delightful as any other recording on the market. Along with the Second and Third Symphonies, this is one of the so-called Wunderhorn symphonies, because of its radiant setting of the German poem, Das himmlische Leben in the Finale, and because of the incorporation of related themes from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn; it expresses the youthful energy and magical sweetness of the first period in Mahler's symphonic style, and is the culmination of this charming phase, before the onset of darker things in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies. Fischer and his musicians are in a light and playful mood, and their reading is cheerful, energetic, and irresistibly gemütlich in its warmth and happiness.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Ivan Fischer, cond. - Symphony No. 4 in G major - 1. Bedächtig, nicht eilen
 
 
Igor Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps, Symphony in Three Movements
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Nott, cond.
Le Sacre du printempsThis exciting presentation of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps and the Symphony in Three Movements is one that audiophiles should snap up for its splendid sound, and fans of Stravinsky's music will enjoy for its thrilling energy and the organic flexibility of the interpretations. Jonathan Nott and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra recorded both works in multi-channel surround-sound, and the orchestra is spacious and vibrant on this hybrid super audio CD, with absolutely clear details and wonderful sonorities. As a showcase for what technology can offer and for how good Tudor's state-of-the-art reproduction can be, this recording is first rate. But the music matters most, and Nott's account of Le Sacre is decidedly one of the finest to appear on SACD. This work is famous for its stabbing rhythms and brutal dissonances, so it takes an original mind to conceive of this ballet linearly, and Nott's fluid, connected approach lends it a unique coherence and beauty. This is not to suggest that any of the violence is lost -- for instance, the hammered polychords of "Augurs of Spring" are as fierce as any -- but in quiet passages where Stravinsky clearly intended his dissonant counterpoint to be played smoothly and heard clearly, Nott's unerring sense of line carries the day and makes sense of the interlocking parts and complex harmonies.
Read the rest of the review by Blair Sanderson
 
Jonathan Nott, cond. - Le Sacre du printemps - Part 2, The Sacrifice, Introduction

Jonathan Nott, cond. - Symphony in Three Movements - First movement