DE MANCHICOURT: Requiem Mass. Motets: Audivi vocem de coelo, O Intermerata.
Puer qui natus est. Laudate Dominum omnes gentes.
GREENBERG: Symphony No. 5. Quintet for Strings.
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 100. TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo
and Juliet Fantasy Overture.
Arsis is doing their best to introduce listeners to music of Pierre de Manchicourt (1510-1564) who was a leading composer during the Renaissance. Here we have a major work, his Requiem Mass, along with four of his many motets in assured, beautifully sung performances by the 17-member professional Choir of The Church of the Advent in Boston directed by Edith Ho who has directed the choir for about thirty years.The recording, engineered by Edward J. Kelly, wonderfully captures the warm church acoustics. Complete texts are provided.
Sony Classical really is pushing young composer Jay Greenberg (born 1991) as "the next Mozart." Based on what is heard on this CD, they are sadly mistaken. There's no question Greenberg is incredibly gifted and composes prolifically, but there's nothing in either work that justifies all the hype. Obviously the publicity departments are working hard, and obviously knowing the right people can be very important in a fledgling career. And did they chose a photo of Greenberg in which he resembles Mahler on purpose? It's hard for me to believe the distinguished conductor José Serebrier truly believes this symphony to be a major, important work, but his recording does add lustre to Greenberg's career. The performance is superb as is the Juilliard Quartet's of the quintet, and the surround sound is as natural as it could be. However there is no question whatever that sonic quality of this issue far exceeds its musical content.
Recently on this site we reviewed Audite's SACD of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 played by the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony conducted by Arnold Katz, a poor performance dismally recorded. This new Audite SACD, the first surround sound recording of the Prokofiev, is another matter. Thomas Sanderling (son of Kurt), who conducted the superb issues of piano concertos of Saint-Saëns on the same label, elicits superb performances and tonal beauty from this provincial orchestra in both the symphony and Tchaikovsky's familiar overture. You won't find the heft and sonority of the world's great orchestras, but these are very fine. Sonically, too, this is up to Audite's usual standards. Recommended!
R.E.B. (October 2006)