BRITTEN: Variations on a Theme of Frank Briedge. , Op. 10. BRIDGE: Lament for String Orchestra BERKELEY: Serenade for Strings Op. 12. BLISS: Music for Strings /BACH-RESPIGHI: Transcriptions. RACHMANINOFF-RESPIGHI: Etude Tableaux
Sinfonia of London/ John Wilson, cond
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5264 TT: 64:35
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BACH-RESPIGHI: Prelude and Fugue in D. Passacaglia in C minor. Tre Corali . RACHMANINOF: Cinq Etudes-Tableaus
Liege Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / John Nesching, cond.
B IS SACD 2350 TT: 59:08
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SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 9 in E flat, Op. 70. Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93
London Symphny Orchestra / Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
LSO LIVE LS00828 TT: 79:05
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John Wilson continues his fine series of recordings on the Chandos label with this superb SACD of English string music. After the great success of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Vaughn Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, three other major British composers wrote music for strings. Britten was only 24 in 1937 when he wrote his set of variations on a theme written by his teacher and mentor, Frank Bridge based on the second of Bridge's Three Idylls for String Quartet. Berkeley's Serenade comparatively is a somber work ending on a pensive note. Bliss's Music for Strings dates from 1935, a 24-minute work in four sections ending with a dazzling presto. The recordings were made London's Church of St. Augustine, Kiburn, and the Chandos engineers have, as usual, done their work to perfection; the rich sounds of the hand-picked Sinfonia of London convey string virtuosity at its best.

Ottorino Respighi is known for his richly orchestrated symphonic poems and there are numerous recordings of his most famous, The Pines of Rome, Roman Festivals nd Fountains of Rome. And collectors also should investigate his other lesser-known music, particularly the big-sale Sinfonia Dramatica (REVIEW). He shows his mastery of orchestration with this new recording that featured works of Bach and Rachmaninoff. The Bach Prelude and Fugue, and Passacaglia are given rich colors as did Stokowski; the three chorales are given more sedate, gentler transcriptions. Of particular interest are the six Rachmaninoff Étude-tableaux. He composed 17 of these, his Op. 33 and Op 39. Serge Koussevitzky suggested that Respighi orchestrate five of them, a project enthusiastically endorsed by the composer. The five selected are The Sea and the Seagulls, The Fair Funeral March, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and a final March. Program notes provide the composer's description of each of these colorful pieces. All of this music is played to perfection by the Liège Philharmonic conducted by John Neschling. The recordings were made September 2017, and the multi-channel sound could not be bettered. A delectable SACD!

Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda (b. 1964) has a distinguished career, particularly with British orchestras. He now is Music Director of Washington's National Symphony. He also is co-principal conductor of the London Symphony. This site has praised his Chandos BBC recordings, fine performancess beutifuly presented in multi-channel audio. For the LSO Live label he has recorded Shostakovich symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6 snd 8, and he continues that series with Symphony No. 9 recorded live February 2020, and Symphony No. 10 recorded June 2018. All were recorded during live concerts in London's Barbican Hall notorious for its poor acoustics. This new release is one of the least successful sonically. Orchestral sound is pallid, poorly balanced. Bass is tubby and undefined, high frequencies are blurred. There are countless superb performance of these Shostakovich symphonies that capture Shostakovich's magnificent music in state-of-the-art sonics, not to be experiences on this issue. For sure, skip this one.

R.E.B. (February 2021)

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