TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. Sérenade mélancolique, Op. 26. Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34. Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42, for violin and piano.
Julia Fischer, violinist; Russian National Orch/Yakov Kreizberg, conductor-pianist
PENTATONE SACD 5186 095 TT: 68:25
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Overture solennelle "1812." Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture. SIBELIUS: Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49. Valse triste. Karelia Suite, Op. 11
Boston Symphony Chorus and Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 164 TT: 74:34
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WAGNER: Prelude to Act I and Elsa's Dream from Lohengrin. Prelude and Love-death from Tristan and Isolde. Elisabeth's Prayer from Tannhäuser. "Du bist der Lenz" from Die Walküre. Wesendonck Lieder.
Charlotte Margiono, soprano; Limburg Symphony Orchestra Maastricht/Ed Spanjaard, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 077 TT: 59:23
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Pentatone's new SACD of Tchaikovsky featuring their super-star violinist Julia Fischer is a knock-out. She plays impeccably with remarkable sensitivity and abundant virtuosity, abetted by the fine orchestra conducted by Kreizberg. We also have the Souvenir d'un lieu cher for violin and piano, the first moverment of which, Méditation, was originally going to be the slow movement of the violin concerto. Kreizberg is the pianist, as superb at the keyboard as he is on the podium. Orchestral works were recorded in Moscow in April 2006, the violin/piano pieces in Hilversum during the same period. This is one of Job Maarse's finest achievements as a producer—sonic quality is stunning. Highly recommended!

Sir Colin Davis made a series of fine recordings with the Boston Symphony for Philips in the late '70's, including a complete set of Sibelius symphonies all of which have been reissued at budget price in the Philips Duo series. A specialist in music of Sibelius, about two decades later Davis would record all of the major symphonic works with the London Symphony for RCA, and we also have some live performances with the same orchestra in their LSO Live series. These earlier Boston Sibelius recordings are superb in every way, richly capturing the BSO's sonority in Symphony Hall. Perhaps other Davis Sibelius recordings were recorded in multi-channel and eventually will appear on Pentatone. The two Tchaikovsky works were also recorded in April 1979 and once again we have fine sonics. 1812 is heard with the opening sung by the Boston Symphony Chorus in an effective arrangement by Wilhelm Hellweg, and the chorus also sings the final hymn. Cannnon in the final section disappoint. They seem to be artificially produced and are blurred with little impact—not the sonic spectacular I had expected considering previous releases in this pioneering multi-channel series.

The Wagner collection also disappoints, but not sonically. The recording was made in Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht in The Netherlands in the summer of 2006, produced by Wilhelm Hellweg (the same individual who made the choral arrangement of 1812?). Audio is among the best of recent Pentatone multi-channel recordings. Dutch soprano Charlotte Margiono is featured in Wesendonck Lieder as well as music from Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Die Walküre and Tristan. Her voice has more vibrato than I care to hear. The program is less than an hour. Not one of the recommended issues in the fine Pentatone series.

R.E.B. (January 2007)

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