MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection"
Ruby Hughes, soprano. Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano. Minnesota Chorale. MNinesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä, cond.
BIS SACD 2296 TT: 84:38
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SHOSAKOVICH: Symphony No. 11, Op. 103 'The Year 1905"
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgards, cond.
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5278 TT: 66:45
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BENNETT: Troubadour Music. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Aubade. Counry Dances. Anniversaries
Michael McHale, piano. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / John Wilson, cond.
CHANDOS CHAS 5244 TT: 65:452
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Osmo Vänskä continues his M Mahler series with this splendid performance of mighty Resurrection. Already he has recorded Symphonies 1, 4, 5 and 6. The performance of Symphony No 2was recorded June 2017 in the orchestra's Symphony Hall. Engineers are to be commended for their superb multi0channe work. Sonically this is among the finest ever made of this symphony, and another plus is that the entire work is contained on a single disk with a playing time of 84:38. This is a handsome presentation that includes complete texts and translations. This is a major addition to the Mahler discography. How unfortunate that the recent DGG recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orhestra doesn't have audio of this quality (REVIEW)

Many of conductor John Storgards recordings have been praised on this site, particularly his Antheil series on Chandos along with the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen and many works by Finnish composers. He already has recorded the two Shostakovich violin concertos(with Christian Tetzlaff)and now he turns to the composer's Symphony No. 11. This is a large-scale tribute to the "victory" of the Great October Revolution of 1917, composed on the 40th anniversary of the occasion. The demonstration of 1905 ended in the brutal slaughter of thousands of peaceful peasants and workers rising against the rule of Nicholas II. A dramatic subject indeed and for it Shostakovich wrote some of his most powerful music. Leopold Stokowski gave the American premiere in Houston in 1958 and made his remarkable Capitol recording made at that time. There are two SACD versions available, the finest is Mikhail Pletnev's Russian National Orchestra Pentatone issue (REVIEW), and the London Symphony version with Mstislav Rostropovich on the podium (REVIEW). There also is a superb video with V Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (REVIEW). This new recording is a magnificent addition o the Shostakovich discography. The BBC Philharmonic is in top form, and Storgard builds mighty climaxes. The recording was made August 2019 in Manchester's MediaCityUK, Salford. Engineers have provided outstanding multi-channel sound. I look forward to future Shostakovich recordings by this conductor and orchestra.

Chandos continues their series of orchestral music of British composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936 - 2012). This is the fourth disk and it features the world premiere recording of his seldom-heard Piano Concerto. Some months ago this site praised the SACD disk that featured Bennett's Marimba Concerto and Symphony No. 3 (REVIEW). Now we have another group of works that probably will be new to most listeners. This is the premiere recording of the Piano Concerto composed in 1968. There are four movements to this 25-minute work, the second a brilliant Presto, the third a somber Lento. The concerto is dedicated to pianist Stephen Kovacevich (b. 1940) who after 1975 was known as Stephen Bishop. The British pianist made numerous recordings for major labels including all of the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms, and was respected as a chamber musician. Bennett's concerto only had two performances and although it was well received, it was ignored afterwards, perhaps for good reason. We also have Aubade written in 1975 to commemorate conductor John Hollingsworth, a nine-minute appropriately somber work. Anniversaries dates from 1982 commissioned to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the BBC, an appropriately festive theme with variations. We also have his setting of English folk tunes called Country Dances, and Troubadour Music, a bright piece commissioned by conductor John Mauceri to celebrate his sixteenth and final season with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. All of this music is played superbly by the excellent BBC Scottish Orchestra, and conductor John wilson, an expert n in this repertory. The recordings were made May 2019 in Glasgow's City Halls, and engineering is excellent. A fine collection of music by a major British composer, perfectly presented.

R.E.B. (May 2020)
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