TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker
Bergen Philharmonic Orch/Neemi Järvi, con.
CHANDOS CHSA 5144 (two disks) TT: 84:35

JANACEK: Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen. Sinfonietta. Capriccio for piano left hand, flute, piccolo, two trombones, three trumpets and tenor tuba.
Jean-Efflam Bavourzet, piano. Bergen Philharmonic Orch/Edward Gardiner, cond.
CHANDOS CHSA 5142 TT: 64:05

Nordwestdeutsche Philharmononie Orch/Daniel Klajner, cond.
COUVIELLO SACD COV 91417 (2 disks) TT:41:2 & 49:53

There are dozens of recordings of The Nutcacker, and this latest has much to offer. The Bergen Philharmonic is in virtuoso form, and the audio is superb, not very "surround" but very satisfying. Dynamc range is very wide; audiophiles will delight in the impact of the gunshot in the battle scene (8 seconds into track 6). This is a consistently exciting performance with a total playing ime of over 84 min. requiring two disks—howeve, they are sold for the price of one. A handsome detailed booklet accomanies this issue. My favorite Nutcacker remains he magnificent Concertgebouw/Doati 1975 recording, with a special bow to the unique London Symphony/Charles Gerhardt recoding issued some years ago as a special product release, in which the imaginative American conductor out-Stokowskis Sstokowski in interpretive freedom.(unfortubaely no longer available).

Chandos seems to be compeing wih itself with this first issue in a new series of Janacek orchestral music; they already have some fine recordings of his music with Jiri Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmnic. There are man fine recordings of the famos Sin fonietta but this is the onl one in SACD, and it is a winner—a brisk, brilliant reading with every orchestral detail vividly captured by the Chandos engineers. More magic is found in the suite from The Cunning Little Vixen listed here a verson further finalized by Charles Mackerras , but I doubt most listeners will notice any difference. It seems a bit odd to include the delightful Capriccio on a disk of symphonic music as it is scored for left-hand piano, flute and six bras nstruments. Hoever, the performance could not be bettered and it does make an attractive addition to the catalog. Throghout the Bergen Philharmonic is in virtuoso form, with superb if not particularly "surround" sound. Recommended!

A number of musicins have made orchestral transcriptions of Wagner operas. Leopold Stokowski recorded excerpts from the Ring with the Phladelphia Orchestra in the '30s (althouh he did include a soprano in the Immolation Scene), In 2008, this site mentioned a fine Chandos SACD of the arrangement by Henk de Vilieger's arrangement (REVIEW), About a ear ago, there was another fine recording on BIS (REVIEW). Lorin Maazel made his own arrangement""The Ring Without Words") and recorded it for Telarc in 1990 with the Berlin Philharmonic, and more recently a video was issued of another performne with the Berlin Philharmonic, a remarkable DVD (REVIEW). Now we have this SACD version of another arrangement, this one by German composer Andreas Tarkmann, well-known in the msical world as an arranger and editor. He also has written many works for children. His idea in his arrangement of the Ring was to include all of the important music but arranged for somewhat smaller orchestral forces, which would make it possible for many orchestras that might not have all players Wagner asked for. This recording features Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie directed by Daniel Klajner. and it is wonderful. The orchestra is of highest quality, and under Swiss-born Klajner the music is vividly presented. Klajner recently has had great success at several opera houses including La Scal, and obviously we will hear much more from him. Engineering on this release is outstanding, warm, full and wide range with a very pleasing presence.It is unfortunate this is not a "two for one" priced set. It is well worth hearing, but I would recommend the magnificent Maazel/Berlin DVD mentioned above for the full orchestra treatment.

R.E.B. (Janiary 2015)