MENDELSSOHN:  Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64.  SHOSTAKOVICH:  Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77
Hilary Hahn, violinist; Oslo Philharmonic Orch/Hugh Wolff (Mendelssohn) and Marek Janowski, cond.
SONY SS 89921 TT:  63:50 (5 channel)
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Another impressive recording by Hilary Hahn to add to her previous superb versions of concertos of Barber, Beethoven, Brahms and Stravinsky (as well as Bernstein's Serenade).  Her playing of Mendelssohn's concerto is cool, elegant perfection - but the real prize of this disk is her dazzling performance of the Shostakovich which apparently is one of her favorite works.  Premiered in 1955 with David Oistrakh as soloist, this concerto has been reviewed twice on this site (Oistrakh  with Mitropoulos conducting (REVIEW); another version by Vladimir Spivakov with James Conlon on the podium  (REVIEW).  Recorded in 2002 in the Oslo Concert House with Thomas Frost as producer and Arne Akselberg as engineer, Sony's sound picture is rather distant, clear and resonant with Hahn not overly prominent, the rear channels providing unobtrusive ambient sound.

 

"Far More Drums"
Traditional music; works of Rouse, Hohner, Peck, Nishimura and Tanaka
Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble
DMP SACD 10 TT: 45:52 (5.1 channel)
 


This impressive issue has the rather strange title Far More Drums.  There are 26 performers involved; it would have been helpful if a list of  all percussion instruments used in the recording were identified -  although some are listed for each track.  Thus we know that Lift-Off, composed by Russell Peck,  features three percussionists performing on three identically tuned sets of three bass drums, producing a rather awesome and varied sonic panorama.  Ogoun Badagris by Christopher Rouse is a violent Voodoo dance with conga drums, metal plates, sleigh bells and a casaba.  All eight tracks offer stimulating listening, with an astonishing range of percussive sounds,  beautifully recorded in multi-channel with most of the action in front, ambience from the sides.  Much of this might be too cacophonous for some listeners, but it surely will show off your sound system.  It's unfortunate the playing time of the CD is so short.