BIZET: L'Arlésienne Suites 1 and 2. FAURÉ: Masques et Bergamasques. GOUNOD: Ballet music from Faust.
Suisse Romande Orch/Kazuki Yamada, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 358 TT: 69:56

MacMILLAN: Choral music (Missa Dunelmi. St. Patrick's Magnificat. mihi. Cum vidisset Jesus. I am your Mother. Invocation. Domine non secundum peccota nostra. Alpha and Omega.
Cappella Nova/Alan Taverner. Madeleine Mitchell, violin
LINN SACD CKD 439 TT: 66:41

PIAZZOLLA: The Four Seasons. ROTA: Divertimento Concertante for Double Bass and Orchestra. FALLA: Seven Popular Spanish Songs
Rick Stotijn, double bass; Malin Broman, violin; Lavinia Meijer, harp; Swedish Radio Symphony Orch.

The young Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada has created quite a stir in the conducting world. Principal guest conductor of the Suisse Romande Orchestra, he also holds that position with the Japan Philharmonic. Here we have the first of three recordings for Pentatone of "dance" music, and it is a winner. These are vigorous performances of these familiar works, and the Swiss orchestra is in top form. In addition, we have Pentatone's superb engineering which, if not particularly "surround," is full-bodied and resonant. I look forward to future releases in this series.

More than a dozen years ago, S.G.S. reviewed a superb Hyperion CD of choral works of James MacMillan performed by the Choir of Westminster Cathedral directed by Martin Baker (REVIEW). Choral music continues to be of major importance in MacMillan's vast output, and on this superb Linn disk we have more of it, none duplicating what was on the earlier issue. We have premiere recordings of all works listed except Missa Dunelmi and Invocation. Macmillan had a long association with this splendid chorus, and he conducts Missa. The composer's intricate ensemble writing is beautifully performed by the superb chorus, and the engineering richly captures the warm resonance of Church of the Holy Rule, Sterling, UK recorded in November 2012. Performers are in front, but rear speakers provide a warm acoustic perfect for the music. An unusual work is Domine non secundum peccota nostra, a setting of the Tract for Ash Wednesday commissioned by the Master and Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the founding of the college. This features a solo violin representing a wordless commentary on the text; this is beautifully played by Madeleine Mitchell. Complete texts are provided.

Rick Stotijn, young Dutch master of the double bass, started to play his chosen instrument when only 8, and soon won a number of important competitions. He has given numerous concerts both as soloist and in chamber music, often with his sister, mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn. He currently is principal double bass with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Stotjin's busy schedule currently includes performances at the Lucerne Festival with Claudio Abbado conducting. This superb new SACD, Stotijn's second for Channel Classics (the first was a collection of virtuoso showpieces by Bottesini), is a delight. This new disk opens with Astor Piazzolla's take on Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, here played by a trio of double bass, violin (Malin Broman), nd harp (Lavinia Meijer). Then we have Nino Rota's tuneful Divertimento composed when he was director of the Bari Conservatory written for Franco Petracchi, professor of double bass. Actually a concerto, it includes some of Rota's loveliest music, even an aria composed for Doctor Zhivago. And of course, there are countless opportunities for virtuoso display. The program ends with Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs, originally for soprano and piano, here arranged by Marijn van Prooijan for double bass and harp. Audio is close-up and resonant. This is an admirable issue; we hear three superb artists obviously having a great time.

R.E.B. (January 2014)