STRAVINSKY: Chant funebre, Op. 5. Feu d'artifice, Op 4. Scherzo fantastique, Op. 3. Le Faune et la Bergeree, Op. 2. Le sacre du printemps.
Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly, cond.
DECCA 483 2562 TT: 70:19

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor."
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano. Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Sir Georg Solti, cond.
DECCA 483 2579 (3 CD / one Blu Ray audio)

Arias from Aida, Il trovatore, La forza del destino, Don Carlo, and Otello
Joseph Calleja, tenor. Angela Gheorghiu, soprano. Vittorio Vitelli, baritone. Oruestra de de la Comunitat Valenciana / Ramón Tebar, cond.
DECCA 483 1539 TT: 65:15

More than three decades ago Riccardo Chailly, then at the beginning of his now legendary career, made a Decca recording of Stravinsky'sLe sacre du printemps when guest conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. This recording was highly praised for its outstanding sonics. Now Chailly has made another commercial recording of this masterpiece for the same label, this time with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. This is an orchestra of international musicians, and Chailly is now their music director. These new Stravinsky recordings are live made August 2017 at the Lucerne Festival. Five people are identified as producers/engineers on this recording, and they did their work most effectively. The audio picture is rich and detailed with strong, powerful bass. Although these are live performances, there is no applause and not a trace of audience sounds., Of particular interest here is inclusion of a newly discovered early work by Stravinsky, Funeral Song, his Opus 5, discovered in St. Petersburg in 2015. Stravinsky wrote this in 1908 in honor of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, who had died that year. It was performed that year, and then disappeared. It is a somber (10:30) dirge with hints of The Firebird, composed shortly afterwards. This is the world premiere recording, and admirers of Stravinsky surely will wish to have it. It is coupled with several other early works, and the mighty Sacre. An intriguing disk indeed! Many of Riccardo Chailly's live performances during his tenure as music director of the Royal Concertgerbouw (1988 - 2004), have been issued in a 13 CD set (REVIEW). There is an extra disk, a DVD that contains videos of Stravinsky: a suite from Firebird, Pulcinella and Sacre du printemps. The latter is particularly impressive, well recorded in stereo with superb video—exciting indeed

Vladimir Ashkenazy's first recording of all five Beethoven concertos was with Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony. These were made in Krannetr Center of the University of Illinois in May 1971 and May 1972. Producer was David Harvey, engineering was by the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson. Dynamic performances all, and beautifully recorded. They have been around for a long time, as well as the pianist's later recordings with Zubin Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic, and with the Cleveland Orchestra where he also conducted. Now we have these memorable first recordings in an expensive deluxe set, all remastered occupying three stereo disks, and a fourth Blu Ray audio contains all five remastered at 24-bit 96KHZ technology. A handsome 60-page booklet contains essays about the music in tthree languages.

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja (b. 1978) won the Enrico Caruso Competition in 1998 and the Plácido Domingo Vocal Competition a few years later. Since that time he has enjoyed an international career and made many recordings and videos, as well as a 2013 film The Immigrant in which he played Caruso. He is at his best in lighter repertory, and here he turns to Verdi including many roles he has yet to perform on stage. He is an excellent lyric tenor and sings all of the music accurately and is always on pitch. I suspect engineers assisted him on the dimuendo on †he final note of Celeste Aida. For many, including the writer, Calleja's voice has too much vibrato. If this does not bother you doubtless will enjoy these familiar arias. His sound has been captured accurately and he is given strong support from the excellent orchestra under Ramón Tebar, assisted by soprano Angela Gheorghiu and baritone Vittorio Vitelli in Otello and Forza del destino excerpts. The CD booklet begins with "a personal note" by Andrea Bocelli, which adds nothing to the presentation.

R.E.B. (February 2018)