VERDI: Requiem Mass
Eva Mei, soprano; Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano; Michael Schade, tenor; Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, bass; Arnold Schoenberg Choir/Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.
RCA RED SEAL SACD 61244 (2 CDs) TT: 47:15 & 40:28

"Moving Mozart"
Quintessence Saxophone Quintet
cpo SACD 777 134 TT: 55:14

BEETHOVEN: Sonata in F, Op. 5 No. l. Sonata in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2. Sonata in A, Op. 69. Sonata in C, Op. 102 No. 3. Sonata in D, Op. 102 No. 2. Twelve Variations in F, Op. 66. Twelve Variations in G, WoO 45. Seven Variations in E Flat, WoO 46.
Pieter Wispelwey, cellist/Dejan Lazic, pianist
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCD SA 22605 (2 CDs) TT: 65:45 & 69:51

Harnoncourt's new recording of Verdi's Requiem utilizes musicologist David Rosen's recent critical edition of the score published in 1990, and "observes Verdi's typically thorough instructions about how he wished this work to be performed - instructions frequently ignored by performers and conductors who sing the work as if it were a Verdi opera....the phrasing, dynamics, accents and style of the new recording reflect the composer's insistence that theatrical flourishes are not what the composer wanted." Harnoncourt also uses a bass valve trombone instead of the usual tuba, reflecting his concern about blending of orchestral low brass. The work, with a total playing time of about 88 minutes, is on two CDs which sell for the price of one, the break coming after the Lacrymosa, the usual place for this in a live performance—if there is an interruption to this masterpiece—which there should not be. For the double chorus in Sanctus the chorus has been divided as indicated by Verdi. This performance was recorded live in Vienna's Musikverein December 6-10, 2004. The soloists are adequate, the chorus superb, but this performance misses much of the grandeur of the score. Producer of the recording was Friedermann Engelbrecht who has done an excellent job—there's plenty of space around the performers, with appropriate impact in Dies irae, and a mild attempt was made to have extra brass in this section heard from the rear. Still, this is primarily for Harnoncourt fans.

The Quintessence Saxophone Quintet has made SACD recordings of Bach, Beethoven, a Christmas album and several jazz disks, none of which I've heard. This "Moving Mozart" SACD offers jazzy treatments of Mozart staples including abbreviated versions of two symphonies an excerpt from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and various operatic/choral works. If you like this sort of thing, here it is done to perfection, and very well recorded; all of the performers in front with ambient sound from the rear. Playing time is quite short (55:14); It's odd the QSQ didn't add a few more numbers

Channel Classics has a winner in their release of Beethoven's sonatas and variations for cello and piano in masterful performances by Pieter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazic. Wispelwey recorded these sonatas on a period instrument more than a dozen years ago, and for seven years has been performing them with Lazic. Apparently a concert of these works given with enormous success in the Concertgebouw in the summer of 2004 prompted these recordings which were made December 2004 in a Philips studio in Eindhoven. The cellist's informative notes point out that of the 17 movements of the cello sonatas 11 are fast, five are slow—actually introductions to faster sections—and only one is actually a "slow" movement. Beethoven's brilliant writing for the cello is superbly played by Wispelwey with Lazic a dynamic collaborator. The sound is typical of Channel Classics—very resonant, but clear, with performers in front.

R.E.B. (December 2005)