Music in the Round #43 Recordings In The Round

Sidebar 3: Recordings In The Round

710mitr.starv.jpgSTRAVINSKY: Le Sacre du Printemps, The Firebird
Valery Gergiev, St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra & Ballet
BelAir Classiques BAC441 (BD)

Finally—completely satisfying performances of two of Stravinsky's three great ballets on Blu-ray! Captured during performances at the Mariinsky Theater in dts HD Master Audio, the sound is powerful and detailed, and despite the orchestra being situated in the pit, there is more than ample shimmer and space. Gergiev is at his best here, standing toe-to-toe with the best available on SACD. His approach is more vigorous than Janson's similar pairing (RCO Live 08002), and better recorded than Salonen's Rite (Deutsche Grammophon 477 619-8). Dorati's Firebird remains unequaled, but it is more tone poem, and Gergiev's is more choreographic. Dance, choreography, direction, and video quality are outstanding as well, but the music stands on its own.

710mitr.bremel.jpgBERMEL: Voices
Dust Dances, Thracian Echoes, Elixir, Voices (Clarinet Concerto)
Derek Bermel, clarinet; Gil Rose, Boston Modern Orchestra Project
BMOP/sound 1008 (SACD/CD)

Wonderful new music, all of it. Dust Dances is charming and jazzy, and reminiscent of Bernstein at his most relaxed. Thracian Echoes is exotic and atmospheric, conjuring up visions of John Fowles' The Magus. Elixir is a moving and soothing interlude with wonderful antiphonal effects. Voices, a conversational concerto, features a range of interchanges between the composer's solo clarinet and the orchestra, with an almost raunchily bluesy conclusion. Performances are tip-top, and the sound clear and immediate. One of the most refreshing discs in a while.

710mitr.hauke.jpgMARKUS HAUKE: schlagArtig
Music for percussion by Ishi, Hauke, Wolf, Cage, Xenakis
Markus Hauke, percussion
NCA 60171 (SACD/CD)

Reading the list of composers, one might think this a drily serious event. No way. Each work is distinctive in character and scoring, and none, including Bryan Wolf's 25-minute ". . . and our words mingle like tears and our tears whisper like fire . . . ," ever begins to sound repetitive. In fact, I found schlagArtig highly entertaining, much in the way of the Blue Man Group, but without the pandering to the audience. Add to that the visceral pleasure of a very close-up yet uncongested recording of bangs, bashes, tingles, and sizzles, and this disc is self-recommending to card-carrying audiophiles.

MOZART: Symphonies 29, 31, 32, 35, 36
Sir Charles Mackerras, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Linn CKD 350 (2 SACD/CDs)

ALBéNIZ: Iberia
GRANADOS: Goyescas

Artur Pizarro, piano
Linn CKD 355 (2 SACD/CDs)

Two more marvelous sets from Linn Records. The Mozart is the follow-up to Mackerras's recording of Mozart's Symphonies 38–41, which I recommended in May 2008. There's little to add to what I said then: "Linn's entire SACD series with the SCO is consistently outstanding musically and technically, but they—or anyone—will have difficulty topping this one." Well, still not topped, but now equaled.

Pizarro's essay into Spanish territory is as warm, wonderful, and touching as were his visits to France (Linn CKD 290 and CKD 315). His touch is less delicate than de Larrocha's, but not so cool as Hamelin's. In the Granados, this endows his playing with an ineffable sadness and longing. In the Albéniz, that is melded with charm and more than a few smiles. Beautiful music, beautiful playing, beautiful recording. —Kalman Rubinson

stereomag's picture

Purchased a Cambridge Audio DVD player new (DVD89), right out of the box after 6 weeks of use unit was returned for repairs. 9 months later player slowly began to fail, first by not playing DVDs, then by not playing CDs, finally not playing any discs at all.

Will never buy a Cambridge Audio product again.