MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C miinor "Resurrection."
Lisa Milne, soprano; Birgit Remmert, alto; Hungarian Radio Choir; Budapest Festival Orch/Iván Fischer, cond.
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCD SA 23506 TT: 31:50 & 50:31
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PÄRT: Da Pacem. Salve Regina. Psalms 117 & 131. Magnificat. An den Wassern zu Babel. Nunc dimittis. Littlemore Tractus.
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organist; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Paul Hillier, cond.
HARMONIA MUNDI SACD 807401 TT: 64:33
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MUSSORGSKY: Night on Bald Mountain (original version). BARTÓK: Miraculous Mandarin Suite. STRAVINSKY: Le Sacre du Printemps.
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orch/Esa-Pekka Salonen, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON SACD 477 6198 TT: 64:11
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Mahler's mighty Resurrection already is very well presented in high-end audio. Included are superb DVD videos by Haitink/BPO (REVIEW), Bernstein/VPO (REVIEW), and Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra (REVIEW). Riccardo Chailly's Amsterdam performance (REVIEW), Zubin Mehta's from Israel (REVIEW), and Maurice Abravanel's Utah version (REVIEW), all are available on DVD audio. Leonard Slatkin's St. Louis version isn't surround, but a SACD. And we already have in surround on SACD Gilbert Kaplan VPO (REVIEW), Michael Tilson Thomas's San Francisco set (REVIEW), and Andrew Litton with Dallas forces. To add to these riches, we have this magnificent release with Hungarian forces directed by one of today's leading conductors, Ivan Fischer. Both soloists are superb, the Budapest orchestra is a superb group, and sound is the finest Channel Classics has achieved with large symphonic forces. Brass is glorious, and the concluding pages are shattering. An outstanding release by any standards.The two SACDs sell for the price of one.

Paul Hillier continues his series of recordings of music of Arvo Pärt with this fine issue of nine sacred pieces by the composer, combining early and late works all sung beautifully by the first-class Estonian Choir. Christopher Bowers-Broadbent is organist in three of these lovely works . Excellent sound, and complete texts. A quality issue.

DGG's issue of Mussorgsky, Bartók and Stravinsky was recorded during live concerts in the new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in January 2006 repeating the same program they had played during the site's inaugural concerts in October 2002. CD notes make reference to the fact that the Mussorgsky and Stravinsky were used by Disney in his magnificent 1940 Fantasia—and it does seem rather odd that other music from the film wasn't played instead of Bartók's macabre ballet, here presented in a shortened version. Neither the Mussorgsky or Stravinsky are presented the way they were in the film. The Mussorgsky was there presented in a Rimsky-Korsakov/Stokowski version that blended into Schubert's Ave Maria. This new recording, fine though it is, doesn't erase memories of Claudio Abbado's first recording, with the London Symphony for RCA, fortunately still in the catalog. Stravinsky's masterpiece was shortened to represent a story line of prehistoric earth replete with dinosaurs and erupting volcanos; this new recording of course presents it complete This recording was produced for DGG by Valérie Gross and Sid McLauchlan. The sound is very wide-range with a bass drum to shake the rafters, but there's little resonance to the sound to add weight to orchestral textures, and performers are in front. There are 8 sections to the Bartók, inexplicably not separately tracked, although producers do provide the 14 tracks for Sacre.

R.E.B. (October 2006)

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