GERSHWIN: Highlights from Porgy and Bess
HOLLIGER: Drei Kleine Szenen. GERHARD: Chaconne. PAUSET: Kontrapartita
interspersed with BACH: Movements from Partitas for Solo Violin
BYSTRÖM: A Walk to Schubert. A Walk to Bruckner A Walk
to Strauss. Infinite Rooms. TUBIN: Concerto for Double Bass
and Orchestra. NORDIN: Trio for Double Bass, Violin and Piano. Mallmlof-Forssling's
In Memoriam, tramscrobed for double bass
Pentatone here offers a recording of the last concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra before Covid 19 forced cancellation of all concerts. The date was recorded live in March 2020 in Kimmel Center. The performance of excerpts from Porgy and Bees is excellent. Marin Alsop already has a superb Decca recording of Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Baltimore Symphony. The 48-page booklet contains profuse program notes, and a complete libretto. No mention is made of how this concert, collaborating two major cities, came to be. Audio is excellent, better than what usually is heard from the Kimmel Center.
The "chaconne" according to definition is "a composition in a series of varying sections in slow triple time, typically over a short repeated bass theme." It is the subject of this latest SACD by the exciting young violinist Ilya Gringolts. It includes a number of works by Bach interspersed with music of thee other composers. The program opens with a bizarre work by Heinz Holliger. This distinguished oboist has made acclaimed recordings of most of the works for oboe and orchestra, but he also is a prolific composer, although his music is seldom heard. It is said that Holliger has a great sense of humor, not obvious in his 10-minute Drei Kleine Szenen written in 2014 for Isabelle Faust. Scored as well for a wailing vocalist, it offers some of he ugliest sound ever herd from a string instrument There is no explanation of what the brrief vocal addition represents. Other works by Gerhard and Pauset are also heard; they are equally astringent.This site has praised many concerto recordings by Gringolts, most recently a group of Locatelli concertos (REVIEW). The recordings were made in Switzerland July 2020, and the engineers have captured every bit of the cacophony. If you enjoy the beautiful sound of a violin I suggest you avoid this solely because of its repertory.
Many unusual sounds are featured on this new BIS SACD called Back to Sweden. Young Swedish classical composer Britta Byström (born 1977) has received many awards and obviously has a great imagination. This SACD gives us the opportunity to hear a number of her works including three excerpts from a series she described as paying tribute to past composers. All three are written for viola and double bass. These are called "walk throughs." The first is Schubert (Symphony No. 5), the second Bruckner (Symphony No. 3), the third Richard Strauss (Don Quixote). Her major work here is called Infinite Rooms, for violin, viola double bass and orchestra. Infinite Rooms is of particular interest to me as it was inspired by the amazing work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama who is famous for her "infinity mirrors." I also work with mirrors; check on You Tube "Bob Benson - Mirror Art." Infinity Rooms has seven sections and as one would expect musical ideas are reflected in many unique ways. In 2020 it was awarded the most important Swedish musical prize, Stora Christ Johnson-priset. ideas. Also included is a major work for double bass and orchestra, a concerto written in 1948 by Eduard Tubin.The disk ends with two other unusual works, Jasper Nordin's Trio for the unusual combination of violin, double bass and piano, and In Memoriam by Mamlos-Forssling arranged for double bass. All of these are live recordings made 2018 - 2020, and audio is superb capturing these unusual sounds most realistically.
R.E.B. (July 2021)