RACHMANINOFF: Piano Cobncerto No, 1 in F Sharp minor Op, 1, Piano Concerto
No 2 in C minor, Op 18. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op 30. Piano DConcerto
Nol 4 in G miknor, Op 55. Rhapsody on a Thgeme by Paganini, Op. 432.
WAGNER: Das Rheingold
WAGNER: Das Rheingold
BERNSTEIN: Missa Brevos (1988). Symphony No. 3 "Kaddish" (original
version 1963). The Lark (1955/2008/2012).
SIBELIUS: SScaramouche, Opl. 71 (complete ballet)
The focus on this new set of Rachmaninoff's concerted works seems to be more on conductor Fabio Luisi than on the pianist, Lisa de la Salle. His name is listed above hers in all of the credits. Of course he is a superb conductor and his many recordings include a number of Metropolitan Opera productions, particularly the recent Macbeth (REVIEW).Ms. de la Salle has received many awards and appeared with many major orchestras and conductors. Currently she is artist-in-residence with the Zurick Orchestra of which Luisi is music director. These Rachmaninoff performances were recorded live 2013 - 2015 in Zurich's Tonhalle, and the stereo presents a well-balanced concert presence. The performances are excellent. The pianist elects to play the lighter first-movement cadenza in Concerto No. 3. All of these performances are acceptable indeed, but cannot compete with many other complete sets including Earl Wild's 1965 recordings with Jascha Horenstein on the podium, or, more recently, Stephen Hough with Andrew Litton. This new set is no bargain; the three disks sell for the price of two premium-priuce disks.
Here are two new recordings of Wagner's Das Rheingold, and both are of great interest. The Naxos has many sterling qualities, particularly the leadership of Dutch conductor JaaJaap van Zweden, who has been muisic director of the Hong Kong orchestra since 2012. The quality of the orchestral playing is remarkable. The performance was recorded live in January 2015 in the Hong Kong Concert Hall. The cast is uniformly strong, and the audio quality is superb. This recording also is being issued on Blu Ray audio — which I have not heard —and the budget price is just about the same. It is not clear if the remainder of The Ring will eventually be issued; if so, it surely would be worth while, although not equalling the many already available. No libretto is provided, but you can find it on the Naxos website. The Rattle Rheingod is a gem. The concert performance was presented in Munich's Hercules Hall in April of this year. This is a magnificent performance in every wayt, a superb cast, and orchestral playing that could not be bettered. Surely if you love this music you will want to investigate this performance. It is a deluxe presentation in a small cardboard box that contains the jewel box and with the complete libretto.
Marin Alsop again shows her affinity for music of Leonard Bernstein with this new Naxos issue in their American Classics series featuring Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Missa Brevis and The Lark.Bernstein wrote his Kaddish symphony in 1963 and revised it in 1977. There are a number of recordings of the revised version; for this one, the conductor returns to the original. This "symphony" never appealed to me, with its long stretches of narration (here spoken by Claire Bloom) and limited musical ideas—a pretentious unsatisfying theater experience. This performance was recorded in Baltimore's Meyerhoff Hall in September 2012. The Lark is scored for mixed chorus, counter-tenor, bells and percussion. It was composed in 1955 and premiered successfully in Boston. 33 years later, Bernstein adapted the music into his Missa Brevis. Both of these are heard here with players from the São Paulo Symphony and their Choir, recorded in São Paulo in November 2012. Complete texts are included;ided. Engineering is first-class vividly capturing the many percussive effects.
Here's yet another important CD of music of Sibelius in the recent Naxos group of lesser-known works of the composer. He wrote incidental music for 11 plays, and this CD offers his complete incidental music for the tragic pantomime Scaramouche about the evil hunchbacked dwarf. Sibelius found it difficult to write music for this pantomime, but completed the score in 1913. It wasn't premiered until 1922 and was quite successful. It isscored for small orchestra and consists of 21 interludes mostly of a pastoral nature. Lovely music indeed, that should be heard by those who love larger-scale music of Sibelius. The performance conducted by Leif Segerstam is sensitive and wonderful, as is the audio. Recommended!
R.E.B. (Decemmber 2015)