<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Ligeti concertos / Nordgren / Risto-Matti Marin

LIGETI: Cello Concerto (1966). Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments (1968-1970). Melodien for Orchestra (1971). PianoConcerto (1985 - 1998).
Christian Poltéra, cello. Joonas Ahonen, piano. BIT20 Ensemble/ Baldur Brtönnimann, cond.
BIS SACD 2209 TT: 71:30
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NORDGREN: Concerto No. 2 for Piano, Strings and Percussion, Op. 112 (2001).Concerto for Piano Left Hand and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 129 (2004). Song Cycle to Poems by Edith Södergram. Op. 123 (2003).
Henri Sigfridsson, piano. Monica Groop, mezzo-soprano. Ostrobothnian Chamber Orch/ Juha Kangas, cond.
ALBA SACD ABCD 399 TT: 63:17

BACH-LISZT: Fantasy and Fugue in G minor BWV 542. SCHUBERT: Impromptus, Op. 90. LISZT: Sonata in B minor.
Risto-Matti Marin, piano
ALBA SACD ABCD 398 TT: 75:51

György Ligeti (1923 – 2006), a towering figure on the 20th century musical scene, constantly explored and invented the new. He did it his way, for sure. He first came to world-wide attention with his choral work Lux aeterna composed in 1966 and featured in 2001: A S[pace Odyssey. Three of his works composed during that period are featured on this superb new BIS SACD. The Cello Concerto is unlike any other, with a soloist more a part of the orchestra. Chamber Symphony is written for 13 players (flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, horn, tenor trombone, harpsichord, piano, celesta, 2 violins, viola, violoncello, double bass). It is an established favorite, and there are a number of recordings Piano Concerto No. 2 dates from 1985 - 1988 and has five movements. There are jazzy interludes and moments of quiet repose; the work ends softly and mysteriously. This is hardly the hype of concerto a major pianist would wish to perform..The disk also includes Melodien for Orchestra written in 1971. All of this music is challenging both for audiences and performers and it is played to perfection here. The BIS engineers have captured this complex music with the greatest clarity. An outstanding release for the adventurous collector!

Pehr Hendrik Nordgren (1944-2008) was a prolific Finnish composer whose works include two operas, eight symphonies, various orchestral works, chamber music, and 31 concertos for various instruments. Three of these are for the piano, and two of them are included on this new Alba release. Concerto No. 2 is for left hand only. Both are odd, rather mystic works with little in the way of melodic lines. Neither is a virtuoso showpiece, and I cannot imagine any pianist would wish to add them to their concert schedule. The cover illustration and album title "Storm - Fear" relates to the third of the four songs in the cycle to texts by Edith Södergram. The titles are: Where do the Gods live?, The Gods are coming, The Storm, and Transformation. I found this far more interesting than either of the concertos, but it would have been more effective if sung by a mezzo with more vocal control: Monica Groop sang the premiere in 2007 and she is heard ion this recording All of this music is scored for chamber orchestra, played by the Ostrobothian ensemble;' we can assume they do what can be done for this music. Many of Nordgren's works can be heard on YouTube. I suggest you sample it there before getting this new SACD.

Finnish pianist Risto-Matti Marin (b. 1976) has aa distinguished career, particularly in his native land. He has made a number of recordings and seems to have a particular interest in music of Franz Liszt; he has recorded all of the Hungarian master's symphonic poems arranged for piano. His latest disk is called Gateway and contains music of Schubert, Liszt and List's transcription of Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in G minor. In his program notes, the artist connects some of these works as they begin with a single note. There is much fine playing here, but this performance of the mighty B minor sonata cannot match those by titans of the keyboard. The recording was made September 2014 in Kuusankoski's Kuusaa Hall. The venue is quite resonant, and engineers have not been able to tame the reverberant sound resulting in occasionally blurred detail.

R.E.B. (February 2017)

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