MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of a Thousand"
Manuela Uhl, Michaela Kaune, Marisol Montalvo (sopranos). Janina Baechle, Lioba Braun (altos). Stefan Vinke (tenor). Michael Nagy (baritone). Albert Dohmen (bass-baritone). Bamberg Symphony Choir/Czech Philharmonic Choir. Windsbacher Childrens' Choir/Bamberg Symphony Orch/Bavarian State Phlharmonic Orch/Jnathan Nott, cond.
TUDOR SACD 7191 TT: 78:36
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MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Tragic"
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Bavarian State Philharmonic Orch/Jonathan Nott, cond.
TUDOR SACD 7191 TT: 80:34
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MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat, K. 450. Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat, K. 595
Martin Helmschen, piano/Netherlands Chamber Orch/Gordon Nikolic, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 508 TT: 55:17
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Jonathan Nott's two latest Mahler symphony recordings, which complete his cycle for Tudor, are among the finest you'll ever hear of these massive works. I found earlier releases in the series disappointing sonically, but that surely is not the case here. Symphony No. 6 is from concerts January 27-31, 2008 in Bamberg's Joseph Keilberth Concert Hall, No. 8, July 21-26, 2010. It can be seen from the photo in the Mahler Eighth booklet that although the choruses are large, they surely were far from what the composer intended; still they do make a splendid big sound. The fine Bamberg orchestra is in top form, and soloists are excellent and have been blanched ideally in the mass of sound. The overall sonic picture in both recordings is broad and spacious. Engineers missed their opportunity to have the balcony brass in the final pages of No. 8 come from the rear. Although these reportedly are concert performances, no applause is heard. Here are two excellent additions to the Mahler catalog.

Young German pianist Martin Helmschen (b. 1992) already has established himself as a solid musician in both chamber music, as recitalist and orchestral soloist. Now under an exclusive contract with Pentatone, his first recording for the label was about five years ago, a coupling of Mozart's Concertos 13 and 24 also with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra directed by Gordon Nicolic (REVIEW). Since that time, he has made a number of recordings of solo and chamber works including an outstanding performance of D'Indy's Symphony on a French Mountain Air (REVIEW). Now Helmschen has returned to Mozart with these beautiful performance of two of the composer's liveliest concertos, Nos. 15 and 27. Crystalline pianism throughout, with splendid accompaniment from the fine Dutch orchestra and conductor Nikolic. Well-balanced audio, with natural balance between soloist and orchestra are another plus. Another Mozart concerto easily could have been included; playing time is rather brief.

R.E.B. (January 2014)

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