WAGNER: Der Ring Des Niebelungen
Soloists. Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/Marek Janowski, cond.
PENTATONE 5186 581 13(13 disks + book)
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16.
Denis Kozhukhin, piano. Berlin Radio Symphony/Vassily Sinaisky, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 566 TT: 64:37
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GRIEG: Peer Gynt Suites 1 and 2. Four Norwegian Dances, Op. 35.
English Chamber Orch/Raymond Leppard, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 251 TT: 50:05
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Pentatone has gone all out for Wagner in a major way. They have issued all of the major operas in concert performances recorded in Berlin's Philharmonie. Distinguished singers, chorus and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra are conducted by Marek Janowski. These are available in a deluxe set, separately as well. All of these performances were recorded multi-channel with state-of-the-art sonics, rich and detailed if not particularly "surround."Casting is strong throughout. Now they have produced a luxury huge set featuring just The Ring, the same recordings although packaged differently. This is a handsome boxed set, one ft. square, 1 1/2 inches thick. A separate four-faced inner jacket contains all 13 disks. There is a beautifully printed 254 page book with stories about The Ring, singers, numerous photographs and the complete libretto in German/English. It is a handsome set, and quite heavy—it weighs more than five pounds. This is a mid-price issue, an imposing addition to any library.

Young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin has won many prizes in the competition world, and received countless endorsements from major figures. On this his first Pentatone release he plays two of the most familiar of all piano concertos; there are numerous recordings of each by just about every major pianist. Kozhukhin cannot meet this competition. His performances are leisurely (particularly the Tchaikovsky) and without excitement.Pentatone's engineers have provided excellent audio; it is unfortunate more isn't going on at the keyboard. Both of these concertos should be exciting listening experiences; these new performances are not.

This fine Grieg collection is another in Pentatone's reissues of of original four-track Philips recordings made in 1974. Like others in this series, we hear a remarkably full and satisfying multi-channel sound. It is unfortunate more of today's engineers could not learn from techniques of four decades ago. This site has praised previous issues in this series most recently the stunning Stravinsky Le sacre du printemps recorded in by Michael Tilson Thomas and the Boston Symphony (REVIEW). Those interested in effective multi-channel audio surely should investigate the entire series.

R.E.B. (June 2016)

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