VERDI: Otello
Nikolai Schukoff (Otellol). Melody Moore (Desdemona). Lester Lynch (Iago). Junho Yu (Cassio). Carlos Cardoso (Roderigo). Kevin Short (Lodovico). Luis Rodrigues (Montano). Helena Zubanovich (Emilia). Gulbenkian Orchestra and Chorus / Lawrence Foster, cond,.
PENTATONE SACD 5186562 (2 disks) TT: 70:19 / 72:37
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CHOPIN: Preludes, Op. 28. Etude in E flat minor, Op. 10 No. 6. Three Waltzes, Op. 69 Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 34 No. 2. Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31.
Nino Gvetadze, piano
CHALLENGE CLASSICS SACD 72768 TT: 66:53

ADÉS: Arcadiana , Op. 12. (1993). Piano Quartet (2000). The Four Quartets, Op. 28 (2010).
Doelenkwartet Rotterdam. Dimitri Vassiliakis, piano
CYBELE SACD 261605 TT: 58:10

Otello has been a challenge for tenors since its premiere at La Scala in 1887. Many tenors have recorded it , the most successful of which are those by Mario Del Monaco, Plácido Domingo, Jon Vickers and Ramon Vinay. This Pentatone issue is among the finest. It fgfeatures Nikolai Schukoff in the title role. This young tenor already has made a number of recordings in a wide range of repertory, from music of Beethoven, Mahler (soloist in Symphony No. 8), Janacek (Jemifa), operetta and music of Getty. He impresses in this vivid performance of Otello, with the power and range for this demanding role, and sensitivity as well. He surely is preferable to Aleksandrs Antonenko featured in two recordings conducted by Riccardo Muti. also heard recently at the Met. Pentatone has assembled a superb supporting cast with cast, with Lester Lyhch a menacing Iago and the exciting new soprano Melody Moore as Desdemona. American conductor Lawrence Foster has been around for a long time (b. 1941) and has enjoyed a distinguished career. Early in his career he made many recordings with leading prominent soloists of the time including Itzhak Perlman and Alicia de Laroccha. He obviously is a fine conductor of Verdi.This is a studio recording, and the engineers have provided a natural, wide-range opera house audio picture. The recording was made July 2016 in Lisbon's Grande Auditorium of the Gulbenkian Foundation. This deluxe presentation includes many photos and the complete libretto.

Georgian-born pianist Nino Gvetadze has won a number of prestigious prizes. Already she has recorded music of Mussorgsky, Debussy and Liszt, and now urns her attention to Chopin with this SACD featuring the Preludes, Op. 28. CD notes by the pianist describe the preludes as representing all aspects of Chopin's life and suggests that it "a ghostly journey." The recordings were made June 2017 in Philips studios in the Netherlands. Excellent audio. Intriguing concept perhaps, but this really doesn't challenge the countless extant recordings of this music by just about every great pianist of the past—and present.

British composer Thomas Adés (b. 1971) is a leader in avant garde music and has enjoyed remarkable success. Well-known conductors have championed him (including Sir Simon Rattle), and his opera The Exterminating Angel was a hit at at the Metropolitan Opera this season. His style is unique, his imagination endless and he taxes instrumentalists and singers with his demands on instruments and voices. In 2004 S.G.S. reviewed his Ameriuca: A Prophecy and found little merit in it (REIVIEW). And I was not impressed by his Asyla, with Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic on a DVD (REVIEW). Now we have this SACD containing three major chamber works composed from 1994 to 2010. They must be very difficult to play, but the result is nothing I would wish to experience again. Prolific program notes are included, and the audio exceptionally fine placing you right in the concert hall next to the performers. There are many recordings of Arcadiana—obviously it appeals to some. You can view a peformance on YouTube. Approach with caution!

R.E.B. (January 2018)

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