SCHMIDT: Symphonic Fantasy and Allegro, Op. 20. ANDERS KMOPOPEL: Concerto Piccolo. MARTIN LOHSE: In Liquid... PER NORGARD: Recall.
Bjarke Mogensen, accordion; Danish National Chamber Orch/Rolf Gupta, cond.
DA CAPO SACD 6.220592 TT: 57:19

HARVEY: Concerto Incantato. ARNOLD: Concerto for Recorder and Orchestra, Op. 133. JACOB: Suite for Recorder and Strings.
Michala Petri, recorder/City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Hong/Jean Thorel, cond.
OUR RECORDINGS SACD 6.220606 TT: 59:02

RACHMANINOFF: Morceau de Fantaisie, Op. 3 (Elegie. Prelude Op. 3 No. 2. Prelude Op. 3 No. 3. Polichinelle. Serenaqde in B flat miinor. Etudes Tableaux, Op. 33. Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42.
Noreh Arghamanyan, piano
PENTATONE SACD 5186 390 TT: 62:46

RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45. STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements.
London Symphony Orch/Valery Gergiev, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD 0688 TT: 58:33

DaCapo's disk of accordion concertos is fascinating. Danish composer Ole Schmidt (1928-2010) disliked the accordion intensely until he met Mogens Ellegaard, a virtuoso player of the instrument. He then decided to write his Symphonic Fantasy and Allegro for Ellegaard, collaborating with the soloist so he could explore the accordion's full potential of sound. The premiere shocked many Danish audiences as they thought the accordion was just for "pop" and dance music, but they soon came around and recognized its effectiveness in more serious music. In all of the music on this SACD there is a touch of humor and whimsy. Anders Koppel's "Piccolo" concerto is so labeled because it is written for a high "piccolo" register of the instrument and because the orchestra consists only of strings. Martin Lohse (b. 1971) wrote his In Liquid... for Mogensen and it, like all the other works on the CD, contains a cadenza with much improvisation. Per Norgard (b. 1932) was influenced by Balkan folk music when he wrote Recall for Danish accordion virtuoso Lars Bjarne; there are three movements ending with a lively Rondino. Performances are expert, the "surround sound" isn't particularly "surround," but adequate. It's unfortunate the SACD doesn't contain some other performances by Mogensen—with a playing time of well less than an hour, there's plenty of room. If you;re looking for something different, try this.

In November 2010 this site mentioned a superb recording of Chinese recorder concertos played by Michaela Petri (REVIEW). Now we have another terrific recording by this remarkable artist, on a new label, OUR Recordings. It is a total delight in every way, featuring three generations of English composers. Richard Harvey (b. 1953) has written music for many films. His Concerto Incantato written in 2009 for Petri is a delightful 5-movement suite. Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) wrote his concerto in 1988 for Petri, and it is given a stunning performance (this is Petri's third recording of it). A delightful close to the program is the Suite for Recorder and Strings composed in 1957 by Gordon Jacob (1896-1984), 7-movements ending with a dazzling Tarantella. Petri is in top form, the orchestra is wonderful, audio excellent if not particularly "surround." A quality issue, highly recommended!

Nareh Arghamanyan is a young (b. 1989) Armenian pianist .who has won a number of competitions, particularly first prize at the 2008 Montreal International Music Competition. She has given many solo recitals and a number of orchestral appearances as well. Arghamanyan makes her recording debut with this Pentatone CD of music of Rachmninoff, excellent performances by any standards, beautifully played and well recorded, but up against countless recordings of this repertory by many major pianists. Only a small tab pasted on the the jewel box advises us there are actually 2 disks, the second a DVD that contains only the C# minor prelude and the first 7 of the Corelli variations. From this it is obvious Arghamanyan is physically highly emotive in her performances although, fortunately, not to the extent of Lang Lang's exaggerated mannerisims. The remainder of the 45-minute DVD is devoted to a rather boring interview with the pianist.Again one might question why more music wasn't included—playing time is but 62:46. Audio is of the high quality associated with Pentatone.

The London Symphony continues their live performances on their own label with this Russian disk conducted by Valery Gergiev who since 2005 has been their principal conductor. Already issued are superb performances most of which were recorded in London's Barbican Hall, a problematic venue for engineers who often find it difficult to place mikes to attempt to eliminate audience sound and still retain some sense of hall presence. Results have been variable. This new issue is one of the most disappointing sonically, the dry acoustic unflattering to Rachmaninoff's soaring melodies, less so in the Stravinsky. This is a surround sound recording but the engineers use back channels minimally. There are many recordings of Symphonic Dances superior to this, notably those by Mikhail Pletnev, Charles Dutoit and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Likewise, the Stravinsky is better served sonically by many older versions including Ashkenazy, Dutoit and the composer.Skip this one.

R.E.B. (April 2012)