NIELSEN: Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 "The Four Temperaments." Symphony No.
3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia Espansiva."
BACH: Wachet auf, Ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140. Der Herr ist Mein Getreuer
Hirt, BWV 112. Wir Danken Dir, Gott, Wir Danken Dir, BWV 29.
HOWOKAWA: Silent Flowers for String Quartet. Landscape I for String
Quartet. Landscape V for Sho and String Quartet. Urbilder for String
Quartet. Blossoming for String Quartet
Collectors have welcomed Sir Colin Davis's return to music of Carl Nielsen; already released are four symphonies recorded live with the London Symphony, and now we have the final two, Symphony No. 2 "The Four Temperaments," and Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia Espansiva." Both were recorded in December 2011 in London's Barbican, a venue problematic for recording engineers. As with previous releases, audio disappoints with a lack of richness. The two vocal soloists in Espansiva sound as if they are in back of the orchestra, which is not a problem—they have an appropriate distant effect. If you are particularly interested in Nielsen conducted by Sir Colin, here it is. However, of far more interest is the recent DaCapo SACD of the same two symphonies in spectacular performances by Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic (REVIEW). Here Nielsen's rich scoring is heard in all of its glory—Gilbert and the NYP are recording the other symphonies as well, surely worth waiting for.
Recognized Bach interpreter Masaaki Suzuki and his period instrument group Bach Collegium Japan are recording all of Bach's cantatas for BIS as well as all of the composer's music for harpsichord. Bach composed more than 300 cantatas of which about 200 survive. Suzuki and his associates already have recorded most of these, and here is one of their latest issues containing the three listed above. As with the others, performances are dedicated and probably sound just as they would have when originally given almost 300 years ago. Audio is super-clear, but choral sound is somewhat edgy.Extensive program notes are provided in English, German and French, with texts in German and English. .
Neos has a challenging series of recordings featuring works by contemporary Japanese composer Toshio Kosokawa (b. 1955) who is considered to be the country's leading composer of avant-gard music—and rightfully so. Most of his music is inspired by Japanese poetry, usually about nature. This SACD contains flower and landscape subjects, although one would never suspect this from the music. Often the "music" is almost inaudible, with sudden violent outbursts of sound. Kosokawa has written a number of works on commissions from the Arditti Quartet, an ensemble that specialized in the genre. We can assume what is heard on this disk is what the composer intended, and the superb audio lets hear everything. This music does not interest me at all—it is often like listening to fingernails scratching on a blackboard. Approach with caution!
R.E.B. (February 2013)