PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 1 in D "Classical." Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63. Five Melodies for Solo Violin and Strings.
Scottish Chamber Orch/Joseph Swensen, violinist-conductor
LINN SACD CDK 219 TT: 54:51
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DURUFLÉ: Requiem. Notre Père. Messe cum Jubilo. POULENC: Quatre Petites prières de Saint François d'Assise. Ludes de Saint Antoine de Padoue. MESSIAEN: O Sacrum Convivium.
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano; Mattijs van de Woerd, baritone; The Gents/Peter Dijkstra, cond./Erwin Wiersinga, organ; Quirine Viersen, cello.
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCS SA 22405 (2 SCDS) TT: 41:06 & 44:21
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RAVEL: Daphnis and Chloé Suites 1 and 2. Ma Mère l'Oye. Valse nobles et sentimentales.
Minnesota Orch/Staniskav Skrowaczewski, cond.
MOBILE FIDELITY SACD UDSACS 40008 TT: 78:49
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Linn's Prokofiev SACD is another fine release from the label, with only one negative feature—the brief playing time: 54:51 isn't much for a premium-priced disc. This account of the Classical Symphony is bright and vivacious, beautifully played. Swenson has a major task playing the demanding solo part and conducting the Violin Concerto No. 2 with its tricky syncopation in the finale, but he manages very well indeed. Usually this concerto is played with more strings than heard here, but Prokofiev's scoring is for smaller forces than usual, with pairs of most instruments, plus strings. The 40-member Scottish Chamber Orchestra (with added bass drum) isn't far from what the composer intended—but I would prefer more strings. The gem of this release is Swenson's orchestration and performance of the Five Melodies originally written in 1921 as vocalises for soprano Nina Koschetz, who was very close to Rachmaninoff. Four years later this music was arranged for violin and piano by Polish violinist Paul Kochanski, for whom Prokofiev wrote his first violin concerto. Swensen's recent arrangement for violin and string orchestra is a welcome addition to the Prokofiev discography. As usual with Linn, sonics are superb.

Channel Classics' marketing department could use some common sense. This 2-CD set has a total playing time of less than 86 minutes. Omitting 6 minutes of music (i.e. Poulenc's Laudes de Saint Antoine de Padoue) would have made it possible for all to have been contained on a single SACD. At a list of about $48, this issue is too pricey for most, in spite of the superb performances. The Gents, a first-class male chorus of 16 members, needed sopranos for some of this music so they imported seven of them for these performances (although Kees de Groot, Frank Hermans and Patrick Pranger surely are not "female guest singers" as identified in CD notes). They also have the required soloists for other works as required. As usual with Channel Classics, the surround sound, recorded in Kirche St. Gudula, Rhede, Germany, is wide, spacious yet sufficiently detailed, with the organ and cello well-blended. Complete texts and translations are provided.

Mobile Fidelity continues their reissues of original mid-70's four-track Vox recordings with this second release of music of Maurice Ravel played by the Minnesota Orchestra directed by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (the first, containing Boléro, Pavane for a Dead rincess, Rapsodie espagnole, La Valse, and the second suite from Daphnis and Chloé already was REVIEWED on this site). The latter was included on the previous SACD as a "bonus" along with a 5.0 mix from original tapes. Now we have both standard suites from the ballet, plus the complete Mother Goose and Noble and Sentimental Waltzes. These are superb transfers from the original recordings engineered by the Nickrenz/Aubort team. Recommended!

R.E.B. (August 2005)

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