ENESCU: Pieces Impromptues, Op. 18. Suite No. 2, Op. 1-. Regrets.
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Dona Nobis Pacem. BERNSTEIN: Chichester
AHO: Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra. Quintet for Oboe,
Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn anbd Piano. Solo I for Violin.
The recording industry seems to have renewed iunterest in music of Georges Enescu. There have been many recent CDs of symphonic and chamber works, and now we have this SACD of the Rumanian composer's seldom-heard piano music. This site recently mentioned MDG's disk of piano music of Bizet (REVIEW), and now they do the same for Enesco. He had a multi-faceted career as a composer, violinist and conductor. On this disk we have his Suite No. 2, Op. 10 which has four movements: Toccata, Sarabande, Pavane and Bourée There are five Impromptus, Op. 18 varied in style including Mazurka mélancolique and Burlesque. The program ends with one of the composer's earliest works, the lovely Regrets, described as "a rapturously late-Romantic work." All of this music shows another side of the great composer, and the superb pianist Sina Kloke plays them with style and tonal beauty. This gifted pianist seems to specialize in unusual repertory: she already has a Naxos disk of music of Vaughan Williams (Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra / 6 Short Piano Pieces) (Naxos 8573530) . These Enescu recordings were made early this year in Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster. Excellent audio.
The King's College of Cambridge label has a new SACD of two major choral works. This site praised their recent recording of Bach;s St. John Passion (REVIEW). Now they turn to later works, two masterpieces both relating to peace, Vaughan Williams was 80 when Oxford University Press asked him to write a brief segment of music to put on a Christmas card promoting Peace. It ended up as the cantata Dona Nobis Pacem ("Grant Us Peace.), a large-scale six-movement work with a baritone soloist/ Much of the text is by Walt Whitman. This is coupled with Leonard Bernstein's Chichichester Psalms commissioned in 1965. This is perhaps an appropriate coupling, although it has little to do with war and peace. Performances are outstanding, and the recording, made in King's College Chapel last year, accurately captures the rich sounds. There is a bonus for those who purchase this disk. The Road Home, a work by American composer Stephen Paulis s who died in 2014, is available for download; details are in the SACD booklet, that also contains exemplary program notes by Edward Allen. Complete texts and tanslations are also included.
BIS continues their fine series of music of Finnish composer Kalevi Aho with this intriguing disk of music that doubtless will be new to most listeners. Some time ago, this site mentioned an outstanding recording of the compose's Symphony No. 12 (REVIEW), and another SACD of music for the oboe (REVIEW). The Concerto for Soprano Saxophone was written for Anders Paulson, commissioned by the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, premiered in February 2015. It is a strange concerto, which one would expect with a solo instrument such as this, with moments of drama and serenity, ending softly. The Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Piano was written slightly before the Concerto, with the intention that it be programmed on the same concert as Mozart's Quintet for the same instruments. Again the composer's love of wind instruments is apparent Technical challenges abound, particularly in the second of the four movements, a dazzling Toccata. The violin is Aho's favorite instrument and he wrote a major sonata for the instrument in 1973. Two years later, he began a second sonata, but it ended up being a shorter work, Solo I for Violin, which completes this disk. Excellent, dedicated performances from all in these recordings made November 2015 in Finland's Rovaniaiemi House of Culture.
R.E.B. (December 2017)