GILBERT & CELLIER: The Mountebanks. CELLIER: Suite Symphonique.
Soloists. BBC Singers. BBC Concert Orchestra / John Andrews, cond.
EPOCH SACD CDLX 7349 (2 disks) TT: 2:18:07
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MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Trgic "
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänska, cond.
BIS SACD 2266 :TT: 86:16
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GOLDBERG: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor. Harpsichord Concerto in Eflat
Alina Ratkowska, harpsichord / conductort / Goldberg Baroque Ensemble
MDG SACD 901 2061 TT: 61:48
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Epoch has a treasure here! Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas will welcome this premiere recording of a major work by Alfred Cellier (1844 - 1891). Celliar was a famous conductor of his time and led the premieres of many of Gilbert and Sullivan's most famous works, actually writing the overtures for some. He composed more than a dozen operas nd other works. His best known work, the 1886 comic opera Dorothy, became the longest-running piece of musical theatre in the nineteenth century. His major symphonic work was the 1878 Symphonic Suite, the finale of which was used for the overture for his comic operetta The Montebanks. This was Cellier's last work and he did not finish the orchestration which was completed by Ivan Caryl, for the premiere January 4, 1892. The plot is the most convoluted of all G&S operettas, but filled with delightful tunes. Detailed program notes are included. The second disk is filled out with Suite Symphonique. The performances are dedicated, first-class soloists, chorus nd orchestra led in spirited fashion by John Andrews. Audio is exceptionally fine. The recording was made in London's Watford Colloseum January 18 - 22, 2017. Dutton Epoch's executive Michael J. Dutton was involved, a guarantee of high quality sound. The multi-channels present the performances most effectively. A major issue in every way!

Osmo Vänska and his fine Minnesota Orchestra began their Mahler series with Symphony No. 5 unenthusiastically mentioned recently on this site (REVIEW). Now we have this live recording of Symphony No. 6 made in Minnesota's Orchestra Hall November 2016. There are many magnificent recorded performances of this mighty work, particularly the famous Chicago Symphony / Solti Decca recording, and a number of outstanding nulti-channel versions as well. The new Vänska version does not match them, and audiophiles will be disappointed by the infamous "hammer blows" which here are insignificant. A disappointing issue.

MDG continues their exploration of rare baroque repertory with this disk of two major harpsichord concertos by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727 0 1756). He is virtually forgotten today , known primarily as writer of a theme used by J. S. Bach as the basis of his famous "Goldberg Variations." It seems young Johann Gottlieb was a favorite student of Bach. Apparently he wrote only two concertos heard on this disk. Both are major in scope lasting respectively 34:20 and 27:26. Each has three movements with a largo for the second, in contrast to the sometimes fiery imagination of opening and closing movements. Harpsichordist Alina Ratkowska is a great admirer of Goldberg;s music and or some years has directed the Danzig Gottlieb Festival. She is a fine artist indeed and plays these commanding works with great authority, leading the baroque ensemble from th3e keyboard. The recording was made October 16 - 17 , 2017 in †he Church of Erhöhung des Heiligen. Engineers have captured a very realistic, natural sound. This is an important issue.

R.E.B. (May 2018)

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