BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." STRAUSS" Horn Concerto No. 1, Op 11.
William Caballero, horn. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck, cond.

ZEITLER: Veni Sancte Spiritus
Soloists / Ensemble 383 / Ulrich Zeitler, cond.
MDG SACD 902 2045 TT: 71:00

KLEIBERG: Mass for Modern Man
Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Choir / Eivind Gullberg Jensen, cond.
2L 136 (one SACD, one Blu Ray audio)

William Caballero has been principal horn wih the Pittsburgh Symphony since 1989. His artistry matches oher massters of this difficult instrument including Dennis Brain and Barry Tuckwel. Caballero's performance of Strauss's Horn Concerto No. 1 is included on his fine new Pittsburgh Symphony SACD. Founded in 1896, the Pittsburgh Symphony had a long line of distinguished music directors: Fritz Reiner (1938 - 1948), William Steinberg (1952 - 1976), André Previn (1976 - 1984), and Lorin Maazel (1984 - 1996). Since 2006, Manfred Honeck has been Music Director, and he has brought new fame to the orchestra now recognized as among the finest in the country. They have many recordings, mostly on the Reference label, a few on Exton, symphonies of Beethoven, Dvorak, Mahler and Tchaikovsky, and symphonic works of Richard Strauss—many of these have been praised on this site. Their latest is this superb performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 recorded in October 2017, and the Strauss Horn Concerto mentioned above, recorded in September 2012. Perfect playing as one would expect when edited from several performances, but I doubt producers had to do much editing.

Ulrich Zeiler (b. 1967) is on the cutting edge of contemporary music. He has organized Ensemble 333, which is both a choir and an instrumental ensemble. Together they create a totally new approach to religious ceremonies, powerful in its own way. His Veni Sancte Spiritus is scored for 12 soloists and 4 - 20 part choir,r accompanied by violin viola, B flat clarinet, contralto clarinet in E flat, accordion, and piano. An odd combination indeed, and they create sounds that surely will be new to most listeners. The composer leads this dedicated performance which was made September 2017 in a resonant church. Program notes by the composer describe his music, and complete Latin texts are provided with translations. This is a unique release!

Religion also is the subject of another new multi-channel release, a large-scale mass scored for two soloists, choir and orchestra. It was composed by Norwegian Stale Kleiberg (b. 1958). The label 2L already has issued several super-audio disks of his work, and now we have this 67-minute work Mass for Modern Man. British writer Jessica Gordon wrote texts for three sections: Loss of a Homeland: The Refugee; Loss of a Child, and Loss of Faith and Hope for the Future. Five sections for choir and orchestra are based on liturgical texts. Kleiberg's music is tonal, and quite beautiful—nothing musically adventuresome here.. The performance here surely is what the composer wished, and the recording made in the spacious acoustics of Olavshall in Norway, Trondheim has a big, well-balanced sound. The two disks contain the same program, and I doubt many listeners will be able to notice any difference in the audio; both are first-rate. Complete texts are provided.

R.E.B. (September 2018).