SAINT-SAËNS: Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op. 28. La Muswe et le poete, Op. 132. ,Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78
Jan Kraybill, organ. Noah Geller, violin. Mark Gibbs, cello. Kansas City Symphony Orch/Michael Stern, cond.
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BIZET: Suites a from Camen and L'Arlesienne.
London Symphony Orch/Sir Neville Marriner, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186234 TT: 65:10
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MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414. Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, K. 453.
Alfred Brendel, piano. Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 236 TT: 55:47
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The Kansas City Symphony has come a long way since their founding in 1982 (two earlier efforts to have an orchestra failed). Now they have solid financial support, with a 42-wek season including many special and children's concerts. The current music director if Michael Stern, who has held the position since 2004. This impressive Saint-Saëns disk shows the Kansas Orchestra to be a first-rate ensemble. It is a pleasure to hear La Muse et le poeteis, a delightful work for violin, cello and double bass soloists, with the violin representing the muse. It also displays three of the orchestra's first desk players. The major work is the popular Symphony No. 3, here given a rousing performance recorded June 21 - 22, 2013 in Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Engineers have captured a very satisfying sonic picture, full, rich and detailed, with a mightily impressive organ. It is unfortunate more music wasn't included; easily another symphonic poem could have been included.

Here are two more gems from the remarkable Philips series of four-track recordings made many decades ago and now being released for the first time in multi-track thanks to SACD. Sir Neville Marriner leads both of these, and the combination of Marriner, Alfred Brendel and Mozart is just about perfect. The two Mozart concertos were recorded in London's Wembely Hall in September 1970. During that time period, Brendel and Marriner recorded all of the Mozart piano concertos. Several years ago these were reissued in a 12-CD budget Decca box set. But here we have Concertos 12 and 17 in quad sound, and they sound as natural as could be, surely superior to the stereo issues. Marriner and Bizet are not as compatible. The well-filled disk of suites from Carmen and L'Arlesienne with the London Symphony were recorded in June 1978 in London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall. Marriner is at his best in more classic repertory, and although this music is well played, there could have been more excitement in the Gypsy Dance and Farandole. The 4-track recording is more congested than other issues in this series, but there is very much of a surround sound effect. I wonder if any of the other Mozart concertos will be issued in quad? Hope so!

R.E.B. (September 2016)