PAWASSAR: Sculpture. KAISER: Hurricane's Eye. SCHMITT: 3 Skizzen. ROSAURO: Variations Over Evelyn Glennie's "A Little Prayer." ABE: Kzuk Lullaby. Reflections on Japanese Children's Songs II. REICH: Nagoya Marimbas. IGNATOWICZ: Toccata.
Katarzyna Mycka, Franz Bach and Eckhard M. Stromer, marimbists
AUDITE SACD 92.511 (5.l channel) TT: 57:10

BENNETT: Sea Change. A Farewell to Arms. A Good-night. Verses. Missa Brevis. Five Carols. Lullay Mine Liking. What Sweeter Music. Puer Nobis.
Cambridge Singers/John Rutter, cond.

SCHUBERT-LISZT: Fantasy in C, D. 760 "Wanderer." LISZT: Sonetto del Petrarca No. l23. Après une Lecture de Dante - fantasia quasi sonata. Gondoliera. Canzone. Tarantella. Les jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este.
Luiza Borac, pianist
AVIE SACD AV 2061 (5 channel) TT: 74:14

Polish-born (1972) Katarzyna Mycka is master of her chosen instrument. She has won numerous major prizes in the percussion world and is recognized for her solo appearances and awards, and serves on many juries for percussion players. On this fine SACD she performs a wide variety of music for one, two or three marimbas, with the assistance of Franz Bach and Eckhard M. Stromer. Even though percussive, the marimba basically is a gentle instrument and even in the turbulence of Hurricane's Eye there's nothing to startle the listener. This is a challenging program of considerable beauty very well recorded. If the marimba intrigues you, you'll find much of merit in this recording. It's unfortunate playing time is less than an hour

British composer Richard Rodney Bennett (b. 1936) is best-known for his film scores which include Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974); excerpts from both can be heard on a fine Chandos CD (9867) with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Rumon Gamba.  Bennett's wide-ranging output includes solo, chamber and orchestral music as well as jazz, songs and opera. His considerable output of choral music has been largely nelected on recordings so this Collegium recording is more than welcome. The major work, Sea Change, to texts by Shakespeare, Andrew Marvell and Edmund Spenser, is a virtuoso chamber choir work written in 1983 for the Donald Hunt Singers—and indeed it is that, incredibly demanding for the singers, particularly in the third section, The waves come rolling, and use of gentle tubular bells heard in each of the four sections sets the perfect mood. All of this music is of major importance, beautifully performed by the Cambridge Singers under John Rutter's knowing direction. Recordings were made in LSO St. Luke's in London in August 2004 produced and engineered by Tim Handley. My copy of this SACD would not play in surround sound on three different players. I was able to listen in Dolby surround and found audio quality disappointing—the chorus is recorded somewhat distantly in a resonant acoustic and in louder passages has a tendency to distort. Complete texts are provided in a booklet that is, inconveniently, glued to the jewel box.

Recorded August 2004 in the Stadttheater, Lindau (Bodensee), Germany, and engineered by John Barnes, Avie's Schubert-Liszt SACD offers some of the most natural piano sound you'll ever hear, larger than life—as are most SACD piano recordings—but with plenty of brilliance in the upper register, satisfying warmth with definition in the lower register. Roumanian-born Luiza Borac has won a number of prestigious competitions, and based on what is heard on this SACD, for good reason. Liszt's four-movement arrangement of Schubert's 1816 song, Der Wanderer, is a knuckle-buster easily tossed off by Borac, as are the varied Liszt pieces. Recommended!

R.E.B. (June 2005)