PIAZZOLLA: El Desbande. Buenos Aires. Tango No. 2. Fuga y Misterio. Leijia's Game. Vibraphonissimo. Soledad. Anxiety. Milonga del Angel. Muerte del Angel. Resurrección del Angel.
Per Arne Glorvigen, bandoneon; Carrefour Marimba Quartet
NORTHWEST CLASSICS NWC SACD 205275 (F) (DDD) TT: 52:08

HAYDN: Concerto in F (Hob. XVIII: 3). Concerto in G (Hob. XVIII: 4). Double Concerto in F (Hob. XVIII: 6).
Godelieve Schrama, harp; Elisabeth Perry, violin; Netherlands Radio Chamber Orch/Anthony Halstead, cond.
NORTHWEST CLASSICS NWC SACD 206241 (F) (DDD) TT: 59:29

KEULEN: Horn Concerto (2001). LOEVENDIE: Clarinet Concerto (2002). JETHS: Flugelhorn Concerto - al fondo per l'oscuro (2002).
Jacob Slagter, horn; Geert Van Keulen, clarinet; Peter Masseurs, trumpet; Royal Concertgebouw Orch/David Robertson/Ingo Metzmacher/Markus Stenz, cond.
NORTHEST CLASSICS NWC SACD 109206 (F) (DDD) TT: 58:26

MOZART: Sonata in E flat, KV 302 (293b). Six Variations on the French song Hélas, j'ai perdu man amant, KV 374b (360). Sonata in C, KV 296. Sonata in E minor, KV 304 (300c). Twelve Variations in G on the French song La Bergère Célimène, KV 374a (359).
Fabrizio Cipriani, violin; Sergio Ciomei, piano
NORTHWEST CLASSICS NWC SACD 303136 (F) (DDD) TT: 79:34

Here are four of the first releases of a new label, NorthWest Classics, based in Holland. As of this writing these CDs are not distributed in the United States, so for more information and to order them, contact their web site: www.northwestrecords.com or contact http://www.superaudio-cd.com/advanced_search.jsp

There are some treasures here. For me, prime interest is the CD called Three Concertos for a New Century. This offers three concertos by Dutch composers commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for their principal players heard on this disk in their world premiere performances. Geert van Kulen's Horn Concerto features Jacob Slagter, whose artistry on this difficult instrument is legendary; I remember a performance some years ago when the Concertgebouw was on tour under Bernard Haitink, when Slagter tossed off the demanding solos of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with uncommon virtuosity, tonal beauty and assurance. Here he plays a concerto composed in 2001 by Geert van Keulen, who for some years has been a bass clarinetist for the RCOA. This foreboding concerto is challenging for both performers and soloist, not music I wish to spend time with in spite of the splendid performance. It just seems to go nowhere, ending with an Adagio which is balm after the cacophonous interludes that precede it. Theo Loevendie's clarinet concerto, composed in 2002, is another matter. In two parts of equal length, it balances lyric, imaginative interludes with touches of jazz, all colorfully orchestrated. This could easily become a major work in concerted music for the instrument. George Pieterson, who has been principal clarinetist of the RCOA for more than a quarter-century, plays it brilliantly. The Flugelhorn Concerto by Willem Jeths also was composed in 2002. Right from the beginning, with its ominous downward bass figure punctuated by percussion, one can tell this is going to be provocative, even ominous listening. The 22-minute work ends softly and mysteriously. It would have been very helpful if CD notes were more informative about the music—it does state you can get more information from their web site. However, checking their web site, I find it is under construction and this information isn't posted yet. Let us hope it soon will be. A word about the sonic quality of this CD. It is extraordinary in every way. Gert Altena is listed as recording engineer, but could it be that these are Radio Nederland master tapes? The Loevendie concerto was included in last season's Radio Nederland broadcast series Live! at the Concertgebouw.

The two chamber music CDs are a delight. One is a Mozart program by violinist Fabrizio Cipriani and fortepianist Sergi Ciomei. These artists previously have recorded the KV. 302 and 204 sonatas for the Cantus label; why re-record them when there are so many other Mozart sonatas available? The brief CD notes state Cipriani and Ciomei are attempting "to create a 'living authenticity' in performance." Cipriani plays with a minimum of vibrato, Ciomei uses two different period fortepianos. Sergio Ciomei is a regular accompanist for mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli on her concert tours. While this CD offers near-maximum playing time, (79:34), the CD of Haydn is not as generous (59:29). It offers arrangements for harp and orchestra of two concertos originally written for harpsichord, and one written for violin and harpsichord. CD notes to not indicate who made these arrangements; presumably they are by the soloist, Godelieve Schrama who is quoted in the few notes provided as saying she wishes to "dust off the existing image of the harp by extending the musical literature available to it....providing new musical views of well known pieces." Schrama plays this music with expertise, her sound, and the sound of Elisabeth Perry's solo violin in the Double Concerto, are perfectly balanced against the splendid chamber orchestra under Anthony Halstead's direction. But why wasn't another concerto included?

The fourth CD called Buenos Aires features music of Astor Piazzolla performed by the marimba ensemble Carrefour assisted in four selections (El Desbande, Fuga y Misterio, Soledad and Anxiety) by bandoneon virtuoso Per Arne Glorvigen. A recognized master of his instrument, Glorvigen has performed extensively with violinist Gidon Kremer, premiered a new concerto for bandoneon and orchestra by Willem Jeths (who wrote the flugelhorn concerto mentioned above), and soon will be touring with the Alban Berg Quartet premiering a new work by Kurt Schwertsik for bandoneon and quartet. This varied program of works of Piazzolla is a total delight in these imaginative arrangements so beautifully recorded. Carrefour in this recording uses a new musical instrument called the "Grubbophone," a marimba-like instrument that uses tightly stretched bands of brass over large resonators "creating a sound color between that of a marimba and a double bass, but with a much lower range." The sound is impressive indeed. Producers also have also provided the bandoneon's extreme left-hand / right hand separation of sound production, to great effect. The only debit of this recording is its limited playing time (52:08).

All of these are SACD recordings, but not multi-channel. They are hybrid discs, which means they can be played on any CD player, but if you have a SACD player you'll enjoy the superior audio quality of the SACD tracks. Audiophiles will not be disappointed. I look forward to future releases on this enterprising label.

R.E.B. (February 2004)http://www.superaudio-cd.com/advanced_search.jsp