MOHAMMED FAIRODZ: Tahra (in B flat for clarinet and orchestra). Symphony No.3 - Poems and Prayers
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; David Krakauer (clarinet). David Kravitz (baritone). UCLA Choruses and Orch/Neal Stuberg, cond.

BEETHOVEN: Complee Works for Solo Piano, Volume 13
Ronald Brautigan, forte piano
BIS 1892 TT: 68:28

BACH: Concerto in C minor, BWV 1002. Concerto in C, BWV 1001. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C, BWV 1060 (arr.Suzuki). Concerto in C minor, BWV 1060.
Bach Collegium Japan. Matsaaki Suzuki ad Masato Sazuki, harpsichords.
BIS SACD 2051 TT: 71:08

UCLA has a remarkable arts program that includes an orchestra and chorus. In December 2013, they presented a festival on their campus called " Listening to the other: Mideast Musical Dialogues." This featured performances by about 250 members of their chorus and orchestra, plus soloists, all conducted by UCLA Professor Neal Stuberg, and two of the works can be heard on this new disk. Music is by Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz. Born in 1985, Fairouz studied with Gunther Schuller and György Ligeti. He has composed prolifically for the voice as well as solo instruments. The third of his four symphonies, called Poems and Prayers sets texts by Arab and Israeli poets, and prayers such as the Aramanic Kaddish. Commissioned by the Northeastern University Middle East Center for Peace. Culture and Development, the symphony was premiered to great acclaim in New York in February 2012. It surely is an impressive musical statement of considerable power, and the performance received here obviously is dedicated. The orchestra and chorus are superb, and the rich recording captures the big sound impressively. The disk opens with a clarinet concerto entitled Tahru composed for David Krakauer, a wild group of dances that must be extremely. It is a wild, highly rhythmic piece with exciting dance interludes. It must be very difficult to play. It, too, is given a rousing performance. This is a most unusual recording, highly recommended.

Having already recorded all of Beethoven's numbered sonatas, plus several without numbers, distinguished Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigan now turns to other works of the master in volume 13 in his BIS series. He plays on a forte piano,and we have 5 rondos including the most famous, The Rage Over a Lost Penny, as well as 7 ecossaise (with a total playing time of less than 2 1/2 minutes), and several other shorter works—including Für Elise. A number of fine pianists arerecording or have already recorded all of the sonatas and other works on a modern piano; should you wish to hear them on forte piano, this is for you. The BIS sound is rich and remarkably clear.

Bach on the harpsichord is featured on another BIS SACD, with Matsaaki Suzuki and his son Masato playing three double concertos accompanied by a quintet of players from the superb Bach Collegium Japan. The elder Suzuki already has numerous solo recordings on BIS both as harpsichord soloist, and as conductor of all of the Bach cantatas. Impeccable playing of the concertos, and as an extra we have the conductor/harpsichordist's arrangement for two harpsichords of Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 1. Matsaaki claims Bach made such arrangements, although they no longer exist—so he made this one. It works well. Beautiful playing, and excellent sound as always from BIS.

R.E.B. (July 2014)