WAGNER: Die Walküre
Tomasz Konieczny (Wotan). Iris Vermillion (Fricka). Robert Dean Smith (Siegmund). Melanie Diener (Sieglinde). Timo Riihonen (Hunding) Petra Lang (Brünnhilde). Anja Fidelia Ulrich, Fionnuala McCarthy, Heike Wessels, Kismara Pessatti, Carola Höhn, Wilke te Brümmelstroete, Nicole Piccolomini, Renate Springler (Valkyries). Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/Marek Janowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 (4 disks) TT: 3:36:29

TOMASI: Concerto for Trumpet, Strings and Piano. PLANEL: Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra. JOLIVET: Trumpet Concerto. DESENCLOS: Incantation, thrčne et danse
Ole Edvard Antonsen, trumpet; São Paulo Symphony Orch/Lan Schui, cond.
BIS SACD 1778 TT: 71:32

SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 6 in C, D. 589. Music from Rosamunde, D. 797
Swedish Chamber Orch/Thomas Dausgaard, cond.
BIS SACD 1987 TT: 62:46

This new Walküre, the second in Pentatone's new Ring series, is admirable. Prime interest here is Thomasz Konieczny's superb Wotan. He was excellent in the just-released Rheingold (REVIEW). Wotan in Walküre is a much more complex figure emotionally, and Konieczny admirably conveys this—and his voice is powerful and assured. Doubtless Konieczny will appear often on today's Wagner scene. Robert Dean Smith, not a true heldentenor, is in fine form here in much better shape vocally than he was in the wretched 2005 Bayreuth production of Tristan (REVIEW). The only weak link among principal singers is soprano Petra Lang, who has been singing Brünnhilde for several years and recently recorded the Immolation Scene with Iván Fischer and Budapest forces (REVIEW). Lang impresses most in the more intimate scenes of the opera, but she lacks the power and security so necessary for this demanding role. Overall, this is an exciting Walküre particularly because of Janowski who again shows he is a master of Wagner, powerful, always sensitive, and the big moments are exciting indeed. The Berlin orchestra is magnificent, and engineering could not be bettered. Hard to believe that this performance was recorded live in one take - no audience sounds whatever - and there is no applause. Whatever the behind-the-scene mechanics, this surely is an outstanding release! A complete libretto is supplied, and the 4-disk set sells for a somewhat reduced price.

Norwegian trumpet virtuoso Ole Edvard Andersen (b. 1962) has a wide-ranging career in classical, pop, jazz and electronic music. He made a number of intriguing recordings of classical music including the Concerto No. 1 of Shostakovich with Mariss Jansons and the Berlin Philharmonic. Unfortunately most of his other recordings apparently have been deleted, so this brilliant new disk of French concertos is very welcome. For me, most interesting is a work by Alfred Desenclos (1912-1971), Incantation, Thrène and Danse which actually is a trumpet concerto in three movements. Desenclose didn't compose very much and often when he did it featured the saxophone. We clearly hear the influence of Debussy and Ravel, particularly in the second movement, a jazzy piece with a muted trumpet. The finale is a scintillating dance of incredible difficulty for the soloist. Andersen plays all this musi in spectacular fashion, with perfect accompaniment from the Brazilian orchestra under young Chinese conductor Lan Shui, who also can be heard doing what can be done with two boring Goldmark symphonies recently mentioned on this site (REVIEW). Audio is excellent. Let us hope this fine disk will remain in the catalog for a very long time.

Chalk up another winner for conductor Thomas Dausgaard and his superb Swedish Chamber Orchestra. This wonderful new disk is a contiuation of their Schubert series for BIS. This coupling of the charming Symphony No. 6 and music for Rosamunde sounds elegant indeed when played by a smallish orchestra, and conductor Dausgaard misses none of the humor in his spirited approach to this msic. Superb orchestra, excellent sound. A fine recording!

R.E.B. (July 2013)