MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde. Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen.
Doris Soffel, alto; Wolfgang Müller-Lorenz, tenor; Roman Trekel, baritone; MDG Symphony Orch/Fabio Luisi, cond.

MAHLER: Symphony No. 5 in C# minor
MDG Symphony Orch/Fabio Luisi, cond.

CHÁVEZ: Piano Concerto (1940). Meditación. MONCAYO: Muros Verdes (1951). ZYMAN: Varitations on an Original Theme (2007)
Jorge Federico Osorio, piano; Mexican National Symphony Orch/Carlos Miguel Prieto, cond.
CEDILLE 90000140 TT:65:50

PETROV: The Creation of the World (ballet).The Master and Margarita (symphonic fantasia). Farewell to... (Symphonic fantasia).
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Symphony Orch/Yuri Temirkanov, cond; Alexander Dmitriev, cond. (Farewell).

The Queerstand label is issuing a series of recordings in their MDR Edition, recordings by the MDR Symphony Orchestra. This consists of the combined Leipzig Radio Orchestra and Leipzig Radio Philharmonic, an ensemble that gives many concerts and broadcasts. Fabio Luisi, now the chief conductor, assumed that position in 1999. He is a busy man in both opera and concerts; since 2011, he is principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. Luisi's Mahler credentials are impressive, but uneven. He was selected to perform Das Lied von der Erde in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's recent Mahler festival, and his performance, with Anna Larson and Robert Dean Smith as soloists, is admirable. This recently was issued on DVD in the RCOA Mahler set (REVIEW). Luisi is not as fortunate in his soloists on this Queerstand issue: tenor Müller-Lorenz is overly challenged by this music, and Doris Soffel is not at her best. A plus is baritone Roman Trekel's singing of the Wayfarer songs, but this would hardly justify acquiring this full-price disk. The performance of Symphony No. 5 is superb although Luisi, whose tempi in the Resurrection are overly rushed (REVIEW), here offers one of the longest Adagiettos on disk (12:35). The MDR orchestra is very, very good, the audio rich and satisfying. For whatever reason, these two recordings are stereo; the Resurrection is SACD and benefits from the format although the performance is severely rushed.

Mexico is the focus of an intriguing Cedille disk that features music of the country's best-known composer, Carlos Chávez (1899-1978). Chávez was respected not only as a composer, but as an educator, journalist, founder and director of the Mexican Symphony Orchestra, and as a conductor—I still vividly remember a unique broadcast many decades of Chávez rehearsing the Boston Symphony in Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. Highly influenced by Mexican folk music, Chávez's works are usually rather abrasive and percussive. His piano concerto completed in 1940 was premiered in 1942 with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic with Eugene List as soloist. In 1963, List recorded the work for Westminster with the composer conducting the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. The concerto also was recorded for RCA with Eduardo Mata and pianist Maria Teresa Rodriguez and the New Philharmonic Orchestra. Now we have this brilliant new recording of the concerto played by Jorge Federico Osorio who has a distinguished career in standard as well as unusual repertory; he seems perfectly at home in his countryman's highly percussive three-movement 30-minute concerto.He also plays three solos by Cháves, Moncayo and Zyman, the latter a 16-minute set of variations on an original theme which here receives its premiere recording. Most of this repertory will be new to most listeners and these authoritative performances are welcome. Recorded sound is bright and wide-range beautifully capturing the many percussion instruments in the concerto's scoring.

Russian composer Andrei Paviovich Petrov (1930-2006) has been neglected on the contemporary music scene—even though his music is imaginative, beautifully scored, often emotionally strong. Earlier in his career he was known for his many imaginative film scores, winning prizes for many of them. Later he composed ballet and symphonic music, and the esteem in which he was held in Russia is apparent—his name was given to a minor planet discovered in 1994, and in 1998 he was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of St. Petersburg. It is remarkable his music isn't better known and now we have an opportunity to hear some of it in terrific performances recorded over a period of time: The first two movements of The Creation of the World were recorded in 1971 with Yuri Temirkanov conducting, the remainder in 1979 with Edward Serov on the podium. The Master and Margarita was recorded in 1989 with Alexander Dmitriev conducting, Farewell to... in 2008 with Alexander Tchernushenko directing. Audio quality throughout is superb, bright and full, vividly capturing the colorful orchestration. The two large-scale symphonic poems (23:52/22:29) were recorded during a concert. Creation of the World, written in 1968, has six movements including He- and She-Devils and A Merry Chase, in which traces of Leonard Bernstein can be detected (West Side Story premiered in 1957). The Master and Margarita, composed in 1985, is a symphonic poem depicting the aching love story of the two characters including a fantastic ball. Farewell to..written two decades later, is a rather sad look at passing time often with the sound of a ticking clock, a wordless chorus suggesting scenes from the past—dancing, love, disappointment, ending with a lovely soprano lamenting solo before it fades into nothingness. Perhaps this superb disk will kindle more interest in music of this intriguing composer—I surely hope so!

R.E.B. (April 2013)