TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. PROKOFIEV: Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 16
Kirill Gerstein, piano/Berlin German Symphony Orch/James Gaffigan, cond.
MYRIOS SACD 16 TT: 65:25

TCHAIKOVSKY: Serenad for Strings in C, Op. 48. SHOSTAKOVICH-MORTON: String Quartet , p. 68 No. 2
Scottish Chamber Orch/Scottish Ensemble/Jonathan Morton, leader/conductor
LINN SACD CKD 472 TT: 65:00

MOZART: Serenade in E Flat, K. 375. Divertimento in D, K. 253. Divertimento in B Flat, K. 270. Divertimento in E Flat, K. 250/240o . Divertimento in BFlat, K. 240
Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Woloists
LINN SACD CKD 479 TT: 67:00

The highly-hyped claim to fame of this new recording of the most popular piano concerto of all is that it is the first recording of the "scholar edition by the Tchaikovsky Archives and Museum in Moscow." supposedly the version conducted by the composer. The major change is that the opening piano chords are played as arpeggios, and there are several minor changes in the third movement as well. This is not the firs recoding of the original version. The brilliant American pianist Jerome Lowenthal recorded it in 1979-1980 with Sergiu Comissiona and the London Symphony, reissued now on Bridge in a 2-CD set that also includes the original version of Concerto No. 2 and the Concert Fantasy along with its alternate ending to the first movement of the latter. All of these are given virtuoso performances by Lowenthal, and recorded sound is rich and satisfying. Check the comments on this site (REVIEW). This new recording is rather broad; there are no pianistic fireworks here. Prokfiev's brilliant Concerto No. 2 completes the disk; it is unfortunate the original version of this was lost shortly after the premiere. The composer had to reconstruct it. It is fascinating to conjecture what the first version sounded like, but we will never have that opportunity. Gerstein's performance is adapt but cannot match the stunning displays of Kissin, Gavrylyuk, Bronfman,and Wang (all reviewed on this site) all of which are quite dazzling. Engineering on this new release is oddly balanced with piano sound that is sometimes brittle, orchestral sound often exaggerated. If you're interested in this music, check the Lowenthal, which is a budget reissue.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, formed in 1974, has a distinguished history, and presents countless concerts. They have made many acclaimed recordings, and here are two more. The first featured a lively account of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings with a fascinating partner, Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 2 in this transcription by Jonathan Nortoni. Several other conductors, in particular Rudolf Barshai, have made string orchestra arrangements of some of the quartets, all feeling that the epic scope of the music warranted a fuller sound. Quartet No. 2 is a long quartet (almost 40 minutes), one of only two quartets by the composer with the usual four movements, here labeled Overture, Recitative and Romance, Waltz (a gloomy, macabre interlude), and Theme and Variations. This is a rather monumental listening experience. Needless to say, performances are first-rate, and engineering captures the Scottish orchestra's rich sounds with uncommon clarity. A great issue!

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra already has made many Mozart recordings including symphonies and several operas coMYRnducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Here we have this delightful disk of the E flat Serenade, K. 275 and five Divertimentos in which they are joined by wind players from the group: Maxmiliano Martin and William Stafford, clarinets; Peter Whelan and Alison Green, bassoons, and Alec Frank-mmill and Harry Johnstone, horns. Committed performances of spirit, and they have been recorded with splendid multi-cannel realism. Another winner.

R.E.B. (March 2015)