MESSIAEN: Chronochromie. Les offrandes oubliées. DALBAVIE: La source d'un regard. DUKAS/GEERT VAN KEULEN: La plainte, au loin, du faune. ZUIDAM: Adam-Interludes
Royal Concertgebouw Orch/George Benjamin, cond./Ingo Metzmacher, cond. (Zuidam)
RCO LIVE SACD 09003 TT: 72:31

VASKS: Te Deum. Viatore. Canto di forza. Musica seria. Cantus ad pacem.
Tuomas Pyrhönen, organ
ALBA SACD ABCD 325 TT: 76:24

NIELSEN: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7. Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia semplice."
London Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.

Pure enchantment can be heard on this splendid Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra disk in their Horizon series, a tribute to Olivier Messiaen. It features two of his best-known earlier works, Les offrandes oubliées (1930) and Chronochromie (1959-1960). The program begins with Dukas' La plainte, au loin, du faune, the composer's tribute to Debussy originally written for piano, orchestrated by Dutch composer Geert van Keulen, a commission by the RCOA; we hear the premiere, from concerts in November 2007. La source d'un regard composed by Marc-André Dalbavie, a 16-minute shimmering piece opening with the sound of bells, an appropriate work that separates the two Messiaen masterpieces. Finally we have three orchestral interludes from Adam in Exile, an unfinished opera by Dutch composer Rob Zuidamm suggestive of Messiaen's style. The second section is taken from the love duet between Adam and Eve when they saw their Creator, and shimmering textures in the final interlude describe the beauty of paradise. Ingo Metzmacher conducts this; other music on this SACD is conducted by George Benjamin. All are from live performances in the Concertgebouw in 2007-2008. Audio is rich and satisfying. This is a major release in every way.

Organ music of Latvian composer Peter Vasks (b. 1946) is heard on this superb Alba issue containing five of his major works for the instrument. He feels the organ is the most expressive of all instruments, and wrote all of these works to be performed on the magnificent Riga Cathedral Walcker Organ, which dates from 1884. Cantus ad pacem actually is a virtuoso organ concerto in which we experience, according to the composer, "the powerful sound of the majesty of nature but also of the frailty of man." The other works include two hymn (Te Deum/Canto di forza), the story of a wanderer (Visions), and Musica seria written at the in 1988 when Latvia no longer was under Soviet rule, described by Vasks as "a picture with a black sky with a thin ray of light." Tuomas Pyrhönen plays this music superbly and obviously is dedicated to the music written by his compatriot. The SACD engineering places you right in the center of Riga Cathedral in a most realistic way. Highly recommended! Collectors might wish to investigate other music of this important composer, particularly his orchestral and choral works.

This site mentioned Sir Colin Davis' London Symphony Orchestra recordings of Carl Nielsen's Symphonies 4 and 5 from concerts in 2009-10 (REVIEW). Audio quality was adequate to convey the performances. Davis is a fine interpreter of Nielsen, and now we have the composer's first and last symphonies recorded last year, Symphony 1 from concerts October 2011, Symphony No. 6, May/June. For whatever reason, audio disappoints. Dry acoustics of the Barbican are ever apparent, strings are thin, and the distant pickup doesn't flatter the orchestra. Davis and the LSO deserve better. As the "surround sound" effect is minimal, you'll find superior sound on other two-channel recordings that offer richer textures. And if you are a Nielsen fan, you surely must investigate the remarkable DaCapo DVD set with Thomas Schonwand and the Danish Radio Symphony which includes a valuable documentary on Nielsen all beautifully recorded (REVIEW)

R.E.B. (February 2012)