<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Gurrelieder / Mendelssohn quartets / Prokofiev Piano Concertos / Olliui Mustonin

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat, Op. 10. Piano Concerto
No. 3 in C, Op. 26. Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat, Op. 53.
Olli Mustonen, piano. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/. Hannu Lintu,
ONDINE SACD ODE 1244 TT: 69:36

SCHONBERG: Gurre-lieder
Alwyn Mellor (Tove). Anna Larsson (Waldtraube). Stewart Skelton
(Waldemar). Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Klaus-Narr). Sir Thomas
Allen (Sprecher). Bergen Philharmonic Chorus and
Orch/Edward Gardner, cond.
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5172 (2 disks) TT: 102:58

MENDELSSOHN: Quartet No. 5 in E flat, Op. 44 No. 3.Capriccio in E minor. Fugue in E flat. Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80.
ERscher String Quartet
BIS SACD 2160 TT: 71:17 min.

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Prokofiev's piano concertos are receiving more recordings and this disk (with aniother to follow) offers Concertos 1, 3 and 4 in vivid performances by leading Finnish pianist Olli Mustonin (b. 1987). He is enjoyiung a successful career as a pianist composer and conductor, and has to his credit a fgine set of the Beethoven concertos. Every phrase is carefully measured but still exciting and the manifold virtuoso passages are tossed off with the greatest of ease. A definite plus is the detailed accompanimenty from conductor Hannu Lintu and the superb orchestra. Recordings were made in Helsinki's Misic Center early last year, and it is a pleasure to hear every note Prokofiev wrote. This is an outstnding release in every way!

Schoenberg's massive Gurre-lieder is seldom played as it requires huge forces, a large chorus,6 soloists (one a narrator), and a huge expanded orchestra. This cantata is based on poems by Jena Peter Jacobsen, Danish novelist and tells of love of the Danish king Valdemar
Atterberg for his mistress Tove.She is murdered by Valdemar's jealousy wife, Queen Helwig. Gurre-lieder (Songs of Gurre) was written at the beginning of the 20th Century and is typical of Schoenberg's early Romantic approach to music. The premiere took place in Vienna in 1914 in Vienna conducted by Franz Schreker, and the American premiere took place in Philadelphia in 1932 with Leropold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, a performance available on recordings.

This site has a 2002 review of Simon Rattle's Berlin recording (REVIEW), and a few years ago the superb video with Mariss Jansons conducting was covered(REVIEW). There also is s superb audio recording from Amsterdam with Riccardo Chailly conducting.

This Chandos issue is a live performance recorded December 2015 in Bergen;s Grieghallen an occasion to commemorate the orchestra's 250th anniversary (it was founded in 1765) and it was a festive occasion involving about 350 performers. Apparently these included all instruments the score asks for: in particular, e 10 horns, 7 trumpets, doubled or tripled woodwinds, 4 harps, and iron chains!. All of the soloists are firsts-rate, and conductor Edward Gardner is an impassioned leader. The Chandos engineers have done their work very well, capturing the massive sounds with clarity and impact. The concluding rising of the Sun has never sounded more radiant. This is a deluxe presentation with an 88-page booklet. Recommended.

The fine Escher String Quartet (Adam Barnett-Hart and Aaron Boyd, violins; Pierre Lapointe, viola, and cellist Dane Johansen) continue their Mendelssohn series with this third issue on BIS containing Quartet No 5 and Quartet No. 6, along with two of the Four Pieces, Op. 81. This site praised previous issues in this series: Quartets 2 and 3 (REVIEW) and Quartets 1 and 4 (REVIEW). Again the Quartet's virtuosity and finesse are displayed, and the recording, made in May 2015 in London's Potton Hall in Suffolk is excellent in every way, although not particularly "surround,"

R.E.B. (()ctober 2016)