PICKARD: Eden for Brass Band. Symphony No. 4 "Gaia Symphony."
Eikanger-Biorsvik Musikklag/Andreas Hanson, cond.
BIS SACD 2051 TT: 81:07

GUBAIDULINA: Repentane. Serenade for Solo Guitar. Piano Sonata. Sotto Voce for Violin, Double Bass and two Guitars
Wen-Sinn Yang, cello; Franz Halasz, Lucas Brar and Jacob Kellermann, guitars; Philippe Steubenrauch, double bass; Debora Halasz, piano; Hariolf Schlichtig, viola;
BIS SACD 2056 TT: 70:07

REGER: Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-HJ, Op. 46. Suite in E minor, Op. 16. Erste Sonate, Op. 33. Aud: Zwöll Stücke, Op. 80. Zweite Sonate, Op. 60.
Gerhard Weinberger, organ
CPO SACD 777 717-2 (2 disks) TT: 134:34

In March 2013 this site mentioned a remarkable le recording of music of British composer John Pickard (REVIEW). Now we have another issue of Pickard's music, this one on SACD. This is an engrossing collection of music for brass and percussion, composed for a huge brass orchestra consisting of soprano cornet, nine or ten cornets, flugelhorn, two tenor horns, two baritone horns, three trombones, two euphoniums, four tubas, plus timpani and percussion. Eden was commissioned as a test piece with a scenario based on Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, and describes episodes from it; a detailed scenario is included in CD notes. Pickard worked on Gaia Symphony for more than a decade. It is mightily impressive,a massive ork divided into 7 sections (Tsunam, Window I "Water/Fire"),(Wildfire, Window II ("Fire/Air"), (Aurora, Window III (Air/Earth), and Men of Stone (Avebury, Castlerigg, Barclodiad, Stonehenge). Detailed CD notes by Pickard describe each in detail. This intriguing music is a test for the performers, and the Eilanger-Biorsvik Musikklag ensemble plays with amazing brilliance. You will hear sounds produced from brass instruments that will surely be new to you, and the virtuoso players, under Andreas Hanson's poiwerful direction, is remarkable indeed. This recoding was made in June 2013 in /Eudevzuag Church in Bergen. The warm acoustics of the venue are perfect for this music, and the BIS engineers here provide a sonic spectacular indeed. Highly recommended!!

The Grand Lady of Russian composers, Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931) continues to amazing the musical world. This site has mentioned her fantastic orchestral/oran piece The Ride of the White Horse, available with the Royal Concerrtgebouw Orchestra (REVIEW), a video about composition of her remarkable violin concerto (REVIEW). Now we have this CD of various chamber works for unusual combinations of instruments. This new disk features two earlier works, Serenade for solo guitar written in 1960, and the Piano Sonata dating from five year later. The latter is particularly intriguing as the pianist achieves unique sonorities and effects sometimes by strumming the piano strings. Repentance was written in 2008 on a commission from players of the San Francisco Symphony who premiered it the following year.Sotto voce was written for the composer's friend double-bassist Alexander Suslin, and in it she explores the darker textures of the instrument. All of this music is engrossing, with these excellent performances captured with uncommon intimacy by the BIS engineers. This is another recommendation for the adventurous. as was John Pickard's disk, did in his writing for brass, both composers creating new sound textures from their chosen instruments.

Max Reger (1873-1916) composed profusely throughout his life and was well known in his time as a conductor and pianist. He wrote profusely for the organ, and his best known works are his orchestral variations some of which have been mentioned on this site (REVIEW).His concertos for piano and violin are now being recognized but we can be sure neither will ever become standard repertory. Reger's music for organ is voluminous and CPO has started an immense program to record all or most of it. This 2-disk set surely is a fine start, offering masterful performances by Gerhardt Weinberger who already has to his credit many recordings of organ music of Bach and Schumann. Hisstoric instruments from the composer's time are used, the first disk recorded on the Wilhelm Sauer organ of Thomaskirsche, Leipzig, the second on the Furtwängler & Hammer organ in Marienkirsche, Salzwedel. Both instruments produce massive sound, and the resonant acoustics of the venues are perfect for this music. This surely is not music I would care to listen to often, but for those interested, here it is done to perfection.

R.E.B. (August 2014)