"MASTERS AND COMMANDERS"
TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Symphony No. 6 in B
minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique."
ELGAR: Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1 and 4. DAVIES: An
Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. TURNAGE: Three Screaming Popes. MacMILLAN: Britannia.
BRITTEN: Sinfonia da Requiem.
Three SACDs from Telarc, all of which boast the label's usual high sonic quality. Produced by Robert Woods, all offer state-of-the-art sonics, ultra-clear definition and wide dynamic range. Masters and Commanders is a collection of "music from seafaring film classics" all recorded in one day (June 5, 2007) in Cincinnati's Music Hall. These enthusiastic performances don't match the spirit of Charles Gerhardt's recordings of the Korngold and Newman scores, but for movie music buffs there is enough of interest here. The Tchaikovsky works were recorded January 21-22, 2007. Järvi's fine Tchaikovsky is a welcome addition to the catalog, and the Cincinnati Symphony is in top form. Donald Runnicles' Britannia combines the old and the new, beginning and ending with two of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The major work is Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem, and for more contemporary music we have Davies' An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise (complete with bagpipes), Three Screaming Popes by Turnage, written for Simon Rattle and the Birmingham Symphony (which probably will be the least-listened to work on this disk), and MacMillan's 10-minute Britannia, an orchestral fantasy based on "patriotic themes" including music of Elgar, Arne as well as an Irish reel, a Cockney drinking song, and marches. Scoring includes auto horn, klaxon (a loud horn used in vehicles), police whistle, whip and a duck call.
Sonic quality is consistently fine on all three SACDs, but little imagination is used in utilizing all available channels. Everything is in front with ambient sound from the rear; even the splashing waves in Windjammer are in front. The close-up recording of Britannia great for percussive effects, but more resonance would be welcome.
R.E.B.( November 2007)