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Review

JOHN WILLIAMS:

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin. Boston Symphony Orchestra / John Williams, cond.
DGG B 0035442 TT: 50:59
UPC/EAN: 00028948616985
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MADE FOR OPERA: NADINE SIERRA
Arias from Verdi's La Traviata, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Gounod's Romeo and Juliet

Nadine Sierra, soprano. Raolo Fanale, tenor. Veta Pilipenko, mezzo-soprano. Capella Craciviensis. Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale de RAI / Riccardo Frizza cond.
DGG B0035915 TT: 61:15
UPC/EAN: 00028948609420
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STRAUSS:

Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst, cond.
CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA SADS THR6907921048 TT: 46 min.
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John Williams has composed numerous concertos for various instruments, many for first-desk players of the Boston Symphony. His Violin Concerto No. 1 dates from 1976 and has been recorded with Gil Shaham and the Boston Symphony led by the composer. His Violin Concerto No. 2 was written last year for Anne-Sophie Mutter, with whom he has collaborated many times. There are four movements to this concerto which lasts 35:02: Prologue, Rounds, Dactyls,and Epilogue. For the most part, Williams here is in a subdued introspective mood, and the soloist has the opportunity to improvise on occasion. It is a somber work, far removed from the tumultuous sound of music heard in mamy of the composer's film music, ending softly. It is an impressive work that ends softly and mysteriously. Throughout we hear Williams' mastery of orchestration. Needless to say the performance is definitive. It was recorded last year in Boston's Symphony Hall, and audio beautifully captures the Williams sound world. Three bief excerpts from Williams film scores, also arranged for Muter, are a bonus. A superb, important issue in every way, and a major addition to the violin concerto world.

Young American soprano Nadine Sierra (b. 1988) is at the beginning of what promises to be a spectacular career. Already she has won many major competitions. Her voice is totally controlled and she easily easily can manage those stratospheric high coloratura roles in which she specializes. Deutsche Grammophon certainly believes in her. This second disk offfes major scenes from three operas as listed above. All are complete scenes, and DGG has provided Sierra quality singers for other roles as necessary for complete scenes. The recording was made in October 2020 in Turin's RAI Auditorium, and audio is bright and satisfying. Complete texts and translations are included. If you love opera, surely you should investigage this fine disk.

Collectors cherish the many Richard Strauss recordings made by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell, all fortunately still available. This Cleveland Orchestra Strauss program is an oddity. The three symphonic poems are played with virtuosity by this great orchestra. But it appears to be a vanity release for the Clevelanders. Like the previous releases in this new series, the packaging is luxurious. The set is eight inches in diameter and includes a 40-page book with program notes and pictures of the orchestra and current conductor. Producers label this as SACD although it is not multi-channel. The two-channel sound is ultra-clear, but plauing time is only 46:00.

R.E.B. (June 2022)