THOMAS HAMPSON "Serenade"
PENTATONE SACD 5186 681 TT: 57:36
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SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op. 47. BARBER: Adagio for Strings,
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck, cond.
REFERENCE RECORDINGS SACD FR 724 TT: 60:17
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BIZET: Piano Music
Johann Blanchard, piano
MDG SACD 904 2018 TT: 77:07
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Baritone Thomas Hampson is featured in a lieder recital focusing on music by French composers: Gounod, Bizet, Chabrier, Chausson, Massenet and Saint-Saëns, plus Siciliene by German composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. It is a delightful program with the great baritone at his best. The recordings were made September and October 2015 in Berlin's Siemens Villa and Teldex Studios, and the engineers have captured a most realistic, intimate sound. Of particular interest to many will be inclusion of Saint-Saëns' Danse macabre in this brief version for voice and piano. Fine program notes and complete texts are included.

Here is yet another winner from the Pittsburgh Symphony under its dynamic music director Michael Horneck. They present this brilliant performance of Shostakovich's mighty Symphony No. 5, recorded live in Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall June and October 2013. Audio is outstanding, the multi-channel sounds provides much presence, there also is remarkable clarity and impact, and those final bass drum whacks of the finale come over with maximum solidity. The Barber Adagio is an appropriate encore, also beautifully played. There are dozens of historic recordings of Shostakovich's masterpiece; this surely is one of the finest.

M,DG has a charming disk of piano music of Georges Bizet played by Johann Blanchard (b. 1988) who has enjoyed a successful career in both solo and chamber music. He has yet to become a household name, and this disk should help remedy that. These delightful Bizet miniatures and the composer's sense of humor is ever apparent. Most of this music will be new to listeners, but this well-filled disk (77:07) also contains four excerpts from L'Arlesienne. The recording was made October 2016 in Konzerthaus der Abtei, Marienmünster. Excellent audio, and issued at a low price.

R.E.B. (October 2017)

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