Music in the Round #37 Recordings In The Round

Sidebar 2: Recordings In The Round

J.S. BACH: St. John Passion, BWV 245 (1725 version)
Soloists, La Furia vocal ensemble; Concerto D'Amsterdam, Nico van der Meel
Quintone Q08001 (2 SACD/CDs)

Here is a lovely SACD from a new label, Quintone (www.quintone.nl), based in the Netherlands. The things that impress me about it include the warm yet detailed sound of these small ensembles, recorded in a Rhoon church. The ambience is rich and almost pervasive, but with no loss of immediacy in the voices and instruments. The performance is similar to and can be contrasted with the different but excellent St. Matthew Passion by John Butt and the Dunedin Consort (SACD, Linn CKD 313), one of John Atkinson's "Records To Die For" for 2009 (See February, p.56). The St. John is less theatrical than the St. Matthew, but each of these excellent recordings seems entirely appropriate for the music. Welcome, Quintone!

GIULIANI: Guitar Concerto 3
With: Gran Quintetto for Guitar & Strings; Three Sets of Introductions and Variations for Guitar & String Quartet, Opp.101–103
Edoardo Catemario, guitar; Wiener Akademie, Martin Haselböck
Arts Music 47689-8 (SACD/CD)

The booklet states that these charming and entertaining works are "performed with original instruments," so it might be reasonable to think that this refers to the Wiener Akademie, a period-instrument ensemble founded by conductor Martin Haselböck. However, the phrase applies to the two 19th-century guitars played by Edoardo Catemario. In fact, the one used in this performance of the Grand Quintet is identical to an instrument used by composer Maura Giuliani himself. Authenticity aside, these are fine performances captured in Arts Music's consistently clear, balanced sound.

PHIL KLINE: Around the World in a Daze
Phil Kline, electronics, vocals, guitars, boombox orchestra, field recordings
Starkland S-2015 (DVD-A, DVD-V)

In June 2003, in my very first "Music in the Round" column, I mentioned Starkland's first DVD-A, the appropriately titled Immersion (Starkland S-2010), as a glowing example of new music composed specifically for multichannel recording. One of the many outstanding works on that disc was Phil Kline's†The Housatonic at Henry Street. Here are two full discs of Kline's ear-opening adventures, beginning with a reprise of that very piece. Listening to this adventurous music is no sterile or abstract experience. Kline's music ranges widely from ambient recordings that are surprisingly musical, to complex constructions that emerge as lyrical. Though images accompany the pieces, I found them inessential. The accompanying DVD offers live video for one work, Meditation, and a fascinating interview with Kline. Dolby and DTS tracks provide access to the multichannel music for those without DVD-A players, as stereo simply will not do: This music must be experienced as much as heard.

ARA MALIKIAN: No Seasons
Grundman: Four Sad Seasons Over Madrid. Piazzolla: Cuatro Estaciones Portenas. Valent: Quatre Estacions a Mallorca.
Ara Malikian, violin; Susana CordÛn, soprano; Daniel Del Pino, piano; Non Profit Music Chamber Orchestra
Non Profit Music NPM 0903 (SACD/CD)

With this disc we welcome Non Profit Music (www.nonprofitmusic.org), a new SACD label from Spain that has partnerships with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the Music Conservatory of Madrid, and the Ministry of Education and Science, and which annually donates profits from its concerts to the emergency fund of Doctors Without Borders. Of the three works here, only the Piazzolla is somewhat familiar, with its flashes of Vivaldi embedded in tango, and Malikian's crew gives it an appropriately high-voltage performance recorded close-up. In Joan Valent's Quatre Estacions a Mallorca, based on a poem by Macu Sunyer, I hear the influence of Philip Glass in the rhythms of these colorful depictions of the seasons. The lovely piece by Jorge Grundman traces the four seasons in a single sad and lovely movement. Written on an English text in memory of a friend, it lacks the emotional range of the other two works, but compensates with senses of longing and remembrance that linger in the mind. Those who want only ambience in the surround channels are cautioned, but I was thrilled with these intense and immersive aural experiences.—Kalman Rubinson

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