Francesco Piamontesi, piano. Suisse Romande Orchestra / Jonathan Nott, cond.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 848 TT: 57:11
UPC/EAN: 827949094965

KLAS TORSTENSSON: Lantern Lectures I-IV for sinfonietta

Norrbotten NEO / Christian
Karlson, cond.
BIS SACD 2516 TT: 71:06
UPC/EAN: 7318599925165


Christopher Hartmann, oboe. Matthias Racz, bassoon. Anna Kirichenko, piano
ARS SACD 38 302 TT:54 min.
UPC/EAN: 4260052383025

Pentatone's new issue focuses loosely on the American influence on three varied composers, Ravel, Messiaen and Schoenberg. Ravel's Concerto (1932) shows traces of American Jazz, Schoenberg's Concerto (1942) surely doesn't sound "American" although it was composed in Los Angeles when the composer was in exile. Messiaen's Exotic Birds (1956) was inspired by a group of gramophone recordings of American birdsongs. All three are presented in virtuoso fashion by young pianist Francesco Piemontesi with perfect accompaniment from the Suisse Romande Orchestra of which he is now permanent Music Director. The recordings were made 2020 and 2021 in Geneva's Victoria Hall, and engineers have provided perfectly balanced multi-channel audio, particularly effective in the Messiaen. An unusual coupling, brilliantly presented.

Swedish composer Klaus Torstensson (b. 1951) spent most of his life in The Netherlands. He has won numerous awards and is a major figure on the contemporary music scene. This new disk offers the world premiere recording of Lantern Lectures 1-1V Sinfonuetta composed 1999-2002. There are four sections: Solid Rocks 1, Slid Rocks11, Aurora Borealis, and Giant's Cauldron. Each is preceded by a "Brass Link." In the four lectures the composer portrays fundamental elements and phenomena in Nordic nature. The composer describes his music in the program notes. In 2006 he composed a fifth section, a large-scale percussion concerto called Self Portrait with Percussion, which would not fit on this disk. I find Torstensson's music overly abrasive.This recording surely is what the composer intended. It was made December 2018 in Sweden's Studio Acusticum, and engineers have captured the dissonance with amazing clarity and impact. Approach with extreme caution.

ARS has issued this delightful SACD of chamber music featuring the bassoon, a unique instrument that has fascinated many composers including Berlioz and Richard Strauss. Here we have two works for oboe, bassoon and piano: a trio by Françaix composed in 1994, and Poulenc's Trio written in 1926. A "symphonic suite" by contemporary composer Daniel Schnyder written in 2019 is for oboe and bassoon. This has four brief sections: Arabesque, Berceuse, Humoresque, and Fugue & Rondeau. The program ends with Duo for Oboe and Bassoon composed in 1957 by Villa-Lobos. All three performers are masters of their instruments. Engineers provided perfectly natural balanced multi-channel audio. An intriguing issue!

R.E.B. (August 2022)