"Vers la lumière"
Jens Harald Bratlie, piano. David Bratlie, , electroacoustics.
2L 132 (one SACD/ one Blu r Ray disk) TT:56 min.

"On My Journey Now" - Spirituals and Hymns
Lester Lynch, baritone. John Charles Britton, acoustic guitar. Phil Berkowitz, harmonica. Victor Simonson, piano, Brian Farrell, organ. ART Singers. Chris Barnes, trumpet. Oakland School of the Arts Ensemble
PENTATONE SACD 5186 571 TT: 74:58

BRAHMS: Variations on s Theme by Paganini. Ballades, Op. 10. Two Rhapsodies Op 79, Piano Pieces, Op. 119.
Jonathan Plowright, piano
BIS SACD 2137 TT: 82:08

Two contemporary avant garde Norwegian composers/performers are featured on this unusual 2L disk. Jemd Harald Bratlie (b. 1948) for years has had a highly successful career as a pianist and chamber music performe. He h as a keen interest in Norway's contemporary music scene. Here he collaborates with his son, David Bratlie (b. 1972) who also is important on Norway's contemporary music scene as a composer and performer. He focuses on acoustic and electronic music, and on this recording we hear father-son collaborating on a series of works dealing with darkness, light, despair and hope. The album is called Vers la lumière ("Towards Light") written by David, and there are three versions. The program opens with Piano Sonata No. 2, 16-minutes of mostly soft wisps of notes, surely one of the most boring pieces of music ever written. We also have the Bratlie treatment of two major piano works by Liszt and Messiaen; you would not recognize either as presented here. There are some intriguing electronic effects, but I found little of lasting interest. All of this has been recorded in ultra-clarity, and the same program is on both disks. Investigate carefully before buying this!

Young Americana dramatic baritone Lester Lynch has already made his mark on the operatic world, appearing with many leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle. He specializes in Verdi and Puccini, as well as Gershwin and Getty. As he states in CD notes for this release, he always wanted to record this group of spirituals in these special arrangements with accompaniment provided by piano .(Victor Simonson), John Charles Briotton (acoustic guitar), Phil Berkowitz (harmonica), Igor Pikayzen (violinj), and Chris Barnes (trumpet). These performances were recorded September/October 2015 in Skywalker Sound, Rafael,California. Excellent audio, with natural balances. Complete texts are provided.

British pianist Jonathan Plowright (b. 1958) has enjoyed a career both on the concert stage, on recordings and as an educator (he currently is teaching at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He has made many recordings, mostly of lesser-known repertory including works by Bortkiewicz, Balakirev, Labunski, Rathaus, Rozycki, and Stojowski. For the Hyperion label he has made several disks in their Romantic Piano concerto series.He is dealing with standard repertory the BIS label, the fourth disk in their series of the complete solo piano music of Brahms. It features some of the composer's better-known works, in particularly the blockbuster two books of Paganini Variations. Plowright is a powerful pianist and offers strong performances, beautifully captured by the BIS engineers in this recording made January 2016 in Potton Hall, Westleton, Suff, England. A fine, important series; I look forward until to the fifth disk.

R.E.B. (February 2017)