TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker
Los Angeles Childrens' Chorus. Los Angeles Philharmnic Ochestra / Guistavo Dudamel, cond.
DGG B0029360 (2 disks) TT: 45:39 / 44:05

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 10. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26. Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat for the Left Hand, Op. 53
Vadyn Kholodenko, piano. Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra / Miguel Harth-Bedoya, cond.
HARMONIA MUNDI 907632 TT: 70:33

Here is yet another recording of Tchaikovky's Nutcracker, this one a live performance recorded December 2013 in Walt Disn3ey Concertg Hall with Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Fhildren's horus and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. A lovely addition to the catalog, but it displace some historic older reordings, particularly Antal Dorati's 1975 Concertgebouw recording. Dudamel and is forces are in top form, and the stereo sound is excellent. Although described as a live recording, there is not a trace of one. DGG has provided this issue as a two for the price of one, so cost is reasonable. Dudamel collectors surely will wish to own it, along with his other superb Tchaikovsky recordings.

German conductor Herbert Kegel (1920 - 1990) was highly respected for his promotion of music by contemporary composers including Orff, Penderecki, Schoenberg, Nono, Dallapiccola, Dessau and Britten. From 1949 to 1978 he was associated with the Leipzig Radio Orchestra, and in 1977 was appointed principal conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic. It is sad that his life was plagued with depression, and in 1990 at the height of his career, he committed suicide, a tragic loss for the musical world. He made some major recordings including Carmina Burana and other works of Carl Orff, all of which, fortunately, are still available. This intriguing new budget-priced 8-CD set offers performances recorded during Kegel's final decade. We have all of the Beethoven symphonies plus the "Triple" concerto and Choral Fantasy, the Brahms German Requiem, and a collection of 13 varied, brief miscellaneous works. Names of the many soloists probably will be new to most listeners, but all are first-class. This is an important historic issue, and its super-budget price makes it even more attractive.

Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko (b. 1986) won the gold medal at the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Competition in 2013; prior to that, he had won other smaller competitions, After his triumph at the Van Cliburn competition Harmonia Mundi issued several CDs of prize-winning performances. He previously had recorded several disks for Melodiya. For HM, he recorded Grieg's concerto and Saint-Saëns Concerto No 2 in Norway with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who conducts on the pianist's recordings of Prokofiev concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony. This latest disk offers Prokofiev's concertos 1, 3 and 4. These are brilliant assured performances in every way, but competition is keen, and other versions have the advantage of first-class orchestras. Kholodenko has had a tragic personal life. His estranged wife, Sofia Tsygankova, now in a psychiatric hospital, killed their two young daughters. It will be interesting to follow the career of this superb young pianist.

R.E.B. (February 2019)