STRAVINSKY: Le Roi des Étoiles. Le sacre du printemps.
Men's Chorus of the New England Conservatory; Boston Sykmphony Orch/Michael Tilson Thomas, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 225 TT: 39:41
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RESPIGHI: Metamorphoseon. Ballet delle Gnomidi. Balkis, Regina di Saba Suite
Royal Liège Philharmonic Orch/John Neschling, cond.
BIS SACD 2130 TT: 72:14
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MENDELSSOHN: Quartet No. 1 in E flat, Op. 12. Quartet in E flat, MWV T 18. Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44.
Escher String Quartet
BIX SACD 1960 TT: 80:10>br
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Stravinsky composed King of the Stars in 1911-1912 to a text by Russian poet Konstantyine Balmont. It is seldom performed as it requires a huge orchestra and a large six-part men's chorus. It is very brief ( (5:29 inn this performance), and is an odd cantata that Stravinsky dedicated to Debussy who was very impressed by it. No explanation is given as to just what it is about, no text is provided, but it surel yit is it a rousing bit of early Stravinsky. Michael Tilson Thomas's recordings were made in l972 in Boston's Symphony Hall. His Rite was highly praised when originally issued and remains one of the great performances of this masterpiece. The recording always was praised for its sonic quality but now, in this first release of the multi-channel original, we can enjoy it in stunning audio. The engineers did a spectacular job of capturing the sound of a huge orchestra performing in an acoustically-perfect hall. The orchestra is spread out in front of you, instrument placement is precise, and rear speakers are utilized most effectively to create the sound of a live performance. Possibly today with improved digital technology engineers would have been able to capture low percussion with a touch more impact, but what we have is most impressive. Let us hope there are other MTT Boston recordings available multi-track. This is one of the finest SACDs I've ever heard. Thank you Pentatone!!

Here's something unusual - a disk of orchestral works of Ottoriino Respighi that doesn't include a title with the word 'Rome." The major work is Metamorphosen commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony who gave the premiere in 1930. It is a theme and variations and not one of Respighi's more ingratiating work. It is rather a somewhat subdued concerto for orchestra, and in the final section we do hear an organ This is not a rousing audience pleaserRelatively few rewordings have been made o it. This new recording with john Neschling and the fine Liège Philharmonic serves it up well.. . Both other works on the disk are, the colorful ballets Ballad of the Gnomes and Belkis, Queen of Sheba. Both receive rousing, colorful performances, and BIS' audio is, as usual, superb, although not very "surround." Don't miss Vladimir Ashkenazy's brilliant Dutch recording of Belkis (REVIEW).

The AMerican rather new Escher String Quartet (founded 2005), consists of violinists Adam Barnett and Aaron Boyd, violinists; violist Pier Lapoiinte and cellist Dane Johanson. With this fine disk they begin a series for BIS of all of Mendelssohn's string quartets. This well-filled SACD (80.10) contains early and late quartets plus an early unnumbered quartet.

R.E.B. (September 2015)

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