RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30.
Yevgeny Sudbin, piano. BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo, cond.
BIS SACD 2338 TT: 75:12

KARLSSON: Seven Songs for Baritone and Orchestra (2010- - 2012). Clarinet Concerto (2013 - 2015
Gabriel Suovanen, baritone. Christopher Sundqvist, clarinet. Lapland Chamber Orchestra / John Storgards, cond.
BIS SACD 2286 TT: 54:44

WALLIN: Under City Skin (2009 - 2017) "for violin, string orchestra and surround sound." Appearances (2003 - 2007) version for 15 musicians. BUENE: Miniatures (2009 - 2016) for ensemble.Violin Concerto (2013 - 2016)
Peter Herreesthal, violin. Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra / Sinfoniuetta / Oyvind Bjora, cond,
BIS SACD 2242 TT: 84:00

I was looking forward to this latest recording by the remarkable pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. He already has mae fine recordings of concertos by Beethoven, Mozart, Medtner, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin. Already he has recorded Rachmaniunoff Concertos 1 and 4 and the Paganini Rhapsody. Now he concludes his Rachmaninoff series with Concertos 2 and 3. The disk gets off to a prosaic start when he first eight chords of Concerto No. 2 are played rapid-fire, losing all of their majesy.His playing, although technically secure, is rather subdued and there are no pianistic fireworks, or rich romantic outbursts. To hear these two mighty concertos in truly inspired readings, check out Arcadi Volodos or Denis Matsuev.

Finnish composer Lars Karlsson (b. 1953) has been called a "modern romanticist." He has composed profusely, for soloists, orchestras and vocalists. There are few recordings of his music so this intriguing new disk is welcome. It offers two of his major later works opening with Seven Songs to texts by Swedish Nobel Prize laureate Pär Lagerqvist, composed at the suggestion of baritone Gabriel Suovanen. The poems chosen deal with the human struggle through the journey of life. Titles are: Anguish, anguish is my heritage, Nothing is like you, It is fairest during twilight, All is given, Like a burning ship, and Like a wave washed up onto the beach. The cycle is dedicated to Suovanen, who sings them with great sensitivity. We also have an extraordinary clarinet concerto which written for Christoffer Sundqvist. In three movements, it is brilliant display piece for the soloist and it must be diabolically difficult to play. There are endless snippets of themes, with the second movement Andante providing the only serenity. Sundqvist plays it with stunning virtuosity. Surely these are definitive performances, with the conductor John Storgaard and the superb Lapland Chamber Orchestra at their best. Excellent audio. It is unfortunate another work of Karlsson wasn't included; there is plenty of room for more.

Peter Herresthal is an imaginative violinist specializing in contemporary works for his instrument. Already he has made several recordings that have been praised by some critics, and now we have his latest, a disk of music by two of Scandinavia's major composers: Rolf Wallin (b 1957) and Eivind Buene (b . 1975). Wallin's Under City Skin features pre-recorded sounds of the city, bells, trains, crowds, walking high heels etc. all spread about in multi-track sounds, impressive in its own way. Over this we have the sound is a violin and some string instruments scraping away. This goes on for almost a half hour, and then we have Appearances in a version for 15 instrumentalists. This cacophony continues for almost 24 minutes, and is followed by two works of Buene: 9 minutes of Miniatures followed by his violin concerto. The latter is indeed avant garde, with the soloist playing little skittering sounds to a discordant background. I cannot imagine any major violinist wishing to perform this, or any audiences that would wish to experience it. Playing time for this disk is 84 minutes—about 84 minutes too long. An unusual, frustrating disk only for those who wish to be severely challenged and have a very open mind about what music is.

R.E.B. (February 2018).