OPp. 18 No. 5 and Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Tacet / Palmgren / Beethoven Quartets t

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"
Bomi Lee, soprano. Agnieszka Rehlis, alto, Lrystian Adam Krzeszowiak, tenor. Tareq Nazmi, bass. Polish Chamber Choir Schola Cantorum Gedanensis. Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orch.Wojciech Rajski, cond.
TACET SACD S 219 TT: 61:09
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PALMGREN: Piano Concerto No. 2. "The River." Piano Concerto No. l. Piano Concerto No. 3 "Metamorphosis."Pieces for Violinand Piano.
Henri Siegfridsson,piano. Port Sinfonietta/Jan Söderblom, cond.
ALBA SACD ABCD 385 TT: 71:52
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BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A, Op. 18 No. 5. String Quartet in B flat, Op. 130.
Quartetto di Cremona
AUDITE SACD 04480 TT: 70:44
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Beethoven's symphonies have fared well on SACD, particularly the remarkable Leipzig Gewandhaus/Kurt Masur set recorded 1974 -1976 in quad and now released byPentatone (REVIEW). There are a number of other recordings of various symphonies (many mentioned on this site) , but none of them have the plus of Tacet;s "true surround sound." This site has praised previous issues in the label's Beethoven symphony cycle with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Wojciech Rajski. These are vital, dynamic readings, beautifully played and recorded in spectacular"true surround sound." Now the cycle is completed with the mighty Symphony No. 9 and it does not disappoint. It is a fine, energetic performance with an outstanding quartet of soloists. Hearing it in 5.1 audio is a thrilling experience. A diagram in the booklet shows location of all performers. The chorus is spread around the hall, with male voices in the rear. The four soloists are nicely spaced, women front left, men, front right. Low strings are very pronounced, and there always is a fine sense of being in a great concert hall. Surprisingly, cymbals, used only in the finale, are virtually inaudible. However, without question this is a major issue for those interested in multi-channel audio. This has been issued as a separate SACD, but if you don't have the other eight, surely the way to get it is on the Blu Ray set that contains all nine symphonies. If you already own the others, get the single disk Ninth. If you have a true interest in surround sound, you should not miss these unique recordings.

Finnish composer-pianist Selim Palmgren (1878 - 1951) was highly respected as a pianist, conductor and teacher (he taught at the Eastman School of Music 1922-1926). He is considered to be a leader in the development of Finnish nationalistic music. He wrote many works for solo piano and chorus, a few of which have been recorded. He is perhaps best=known for his miniature, May Night. Palmgren composed five piano concertos, and some have said they are reminiscent of Liszt. Indeed there is much agile finger display but, unfortunately little musical substance, rather like a Warsaw Concerto without tunes, sophisticated salon music. Concerto No. 2, subtitled The River, is the most popular. With countless cascades of piano filigree, it is said to musically represent the Kokemaki River flowing through the town of Pori, sort of like a Finnish Moldau. This concerto was popular at the time, premiered by no less than Ignace Friedman, who played it often. A strong case is made for these concertos by the splendid performances of Henri Sigfridsson and the excellent orchestra directed by Jan Söderblom. Recordings were made September 2014 in Promenadisali in Pori and the engineers have provided an excellent sonic picture. If you are seeking obscure piano concertos, here are three of them.

The Cremona Quartet (Cristina Gualco/Paolo Andreoli (violins), Simone Gramaglio (viola) and Giovanni Scaglioni (cello) has been praised on this site previously for their Audite recordings of of Mendelssohn (REVIEW) and Beethoven (REVIEW). Now they continue their Beethoven series (Volume 5) with two of the major quartets, the early Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2. and the later mighty String Quartet in E flat, Op. 127. Recordings were made November er 2015 in the Fondazione Spinola Banna per ;'Arte in Poirino, Italy, where the warm acoustics of the venue have been captured in a most natural way by Audite's engineering staff. There is much competition in this repertory, but this one is surely among the finest, and the SACD sound exemplary.

R.E.B. (September 2016)

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