PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 4 in B-flat Op. 5 4, Piano Concerto No. 5 in G, Op. 55,
Symphony No. 4 in C, Op. 112. Symphony No. 6 in E-flat minor, Op. 111. Symphony No. 7 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131.
Alexei Volodin, piano (Concerto No. 4). Sergei Babayan, piano (Concerto No. 5). Mariinsky Theatre Orch/Valery Gergiev, cond.
MARIINSKY SACD MARO577 (2 disks) TT: 81:02 & 77:22
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MEIJERING: Concerto Movements for Eagle Recorder and Strings.
Dan Laurin, recorder. 1B1 Ensemble Bjergsted 1/ Jan Bjoranger, cond.
BIS SACDF 2145 TT: 57:43
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ROMAN: Six Sonatas. AGRELL: Sonata II in C.
Anna Paradiso, harpsichord
BIS SACD 2135 TT: 76:34
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Valery Gergiev and his brilliant Mariinsky Orchestra continue their Prokofiev series. Over the yers the fiery Russian conducto has recorded a ll seven symphonies with the London Symphony, and many other works, Including the 5 piano concertos with Alexander Toradze and the Kirov Orchestra. He also has recordings or videos of the operas War and Peace, Betrothal in a Monastery, Kotko, The Love for Three Oranges, The Fiery Angel, The Gambler, Ivan the Terrible. and , of course, Alexander Nevsky. There are videos of the ballets Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. On these superb new SACDs Gergiev is redoing much of this repertory for SACD. He alredy has a superb recording of Piano Concerto No. 3 with Denis Matsuev (REVIEW) . Now we have Piano Concerto No. 4 for the left hand, with Alexei Volodin (b. 1977), abd Concerto No. 5, with Armenian-American Sergei Babayan (b.1961). Both pianists have won a number of important prizes and and given many concerts in Europe. Volodin surely impresses on this recording of Concerto No. 4 challenging Leon Fleisher who virtually owns it and has played it countless times over the past 3 decades and recorded it with Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Last season Babayan appeared at the BBC Proms with Gergiev and the LSO playing two Prokofiev concertos. He gives a powerful convincing performance of the craggy Concerto No. 5, the least performed of the five. Tthe challenging the famous 2 Richter recordings of 1958 and 1970.
Also included are symphonies four, six and seven. Gergiev is the perfect conductor emphasizing the sardonic episodes as well as the often lush romantic tunes—and the occasional touches of humor.. Symphony 7 and Concerto 5 were recorded live in 2012; other works were recorded in 2015. Wonderful performances, very well recorded. An important addition to any multi-channel library.

The recorder has been around for centuries. The unique sound has attracted many composers inclyuding Bach, Monteverdi, Handel, Hindemith, Britten and Berio. There are different sizes, and each has a slightly different sound. Adriana Breukink loved the recorder but wanted an nstrument with a wider range and more sonority. After much experimentation, this resuoted in a larger instrument with more keys and a richer sound. Of course she need to have music that would displayl the possibilities of this new instrument which was called the “eagle recorder.” She approached Dutch composer Chiel Meijering (b. 1954) and he who specialized in music for small ensembles, and agreed to write a major work for her. His Concerto Movements for Eagle Recorder and Strings actually is a 15-movement suite. The composer’s sense of humor is evident in some of the titles:
Soprano’s Lament, In the Happiest, The Darkest, The Pied Piper, Rock that Flute,Sweet and Crazy, and Pentatonic Insomnia, All are lively—and forgettable. This is pop background music. However, it is played to perfection by Dan Laurin , a major figure in the world of the recorder, particularly in Sweden. We can be sure what is heard on this new CD is what the composer intended. The accompaniment by Ensemble 1B1 directed by Jan Bjoranger are just fine. Audio is clear but little advantage is taken of rear speakers. Perhaps some time in the future major classical works will be written for the Eagle Recorder?
Johan Helmich Roma 1694-1798) is considered to be“The Father of Swedish Music.” He was active on the Royal Court scene and was an ambassador for Swedish music throughout Europe. Composing profusely, his works include concertos for violin and oboe, instruments he studied, but his music mostly was for harpsichord including—many suites and sonatas. Master Italian harpsichordist Anna Paradiso had not heard of Roman until she moved to Sweden, and now is recording many of his works for BIS. Her second SACD includes six of his sonatas along with a five-moment sonata by the German/Swedish composer Johann AhgAgrell (1701-1765). If you have an interest in rarely-performed earlyt harpsichord music, this is for you. Excellent audio, with the soloist in front..

R.E.B. (February 2016)

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