MARTINU: Memorial for Lidice. Concertino for Piano Trio and String Orchestra. Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. Concert for Piano Trio and String Orchestra.
Trio Wanderer (Vincent Coq, piano; Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabedian, violin; Raphael Pidoux, cello); Tabea Zimmermann, viola; Gürzenich Orchestra of Köln/James Conlon, cond.
CAPRICCIO SACD 71 053 (5 channel) TT: 71:12

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MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Tragic."
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Claudio Abbado, cond.
DGG SACD 00294775684 (5.l channel) TT: 79:37
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RAMEAU: Une symphonie imaginaire (Excerpts from Zaïs, Castor et Pollux, Les Fetes d'Hébe, Dardanus; Le Temple de la Gloire, Les Boréades, La Naissance d'Osiris, Platée, Concert No. 6 en sextuor, Hippolyte & Aricie; Naïs, Les Indes galantes.
Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski, cond.
DGG ARCHIV SACD 002894775578 (5.l channel) TT: 56:25
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Music of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) is seldom heard in today's concert halls, although it is fairly well represented on recordings. Charles Munch championed the composer's sixth and last symphony ("Fantaisies symphoniques") which was commissioned by the Boston Symphony, premiered by them in 1955, and recorded for RCA the following year. Capriccio's SACD offers the relatively familiar Memorial for Lidice composed in 1943 to commemorate mass-murder by German troops of a small Czech village in revenge for the assassination of Gen. Heydrich, Nazi governor of Czechoslovakia the preceding year. The remainder of the music on this fine disk is lighter fare exemplifying the composer's wish to convey in his music"a little of the positive nature of peaceful, happy life." Both the Concertino and Concerto for piano trio and string orchestra were composed in 1933, the viola Rhapsody Concerto in 1952, all three welcome additions to the concerto catalog. Performances on Capriccio's new recording are superb, the surround sound natural and well-balanced.

Claudio Abbado's performance of Mahler's Tragic symphony was reviewed by R.D. in July 2005. I agree with his favorable comments about this outstanding performance recorded during Abbado’s return to the Berliner Philharmoniker in June 2004 for the first time since his resignation in 2001. Now this is available on SACD and there's no question the sonic picture is improved by advantages of the new format. The regular CD issue was on one disk; this SACD version takes two but they sell for the price of one.

Marc Minkowski's Rameau disk is a constant delight. The composer (1683-1764), was considered to be the greatest opera composer of his time as well as the greatest orchestral genius in France before Berlioz. Rameau never wrote a symphony so Minkowski created one comprised of excerpts from the works listed above, beginning with the overture to Zaïs which vividly depicts "the disentangling of Chaos and the shock felt by the elements as they are distilled." All of the music in this "imaginary symphony" is delightful and played to perfection by Les Musiciens du Louvre. Sonically, too, this is a winner, with performers in front, ambient sound from other speakers.

R.E.B. (September 2005)

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