JUHANI NUORVALA: Solo for Viola da Gamba (2008). MESSIAEN: L'Ascension. OLLI KORTEKANGAS b. 1955): Offertorium. On Crossing the Five Rivers (Hommage a Messiaen).
Varpu Haavisto, viola da gamba. Kari Vuola, orgn
ALBA SACD ABCD401 TT:78:51
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BACH: St. John Passion
James Gilchrist (Evangelista). Neal Davies (Christus). Sophis Bevan (soprano arias & Ancilla). Iestyn Davies (altoi aruas). Ed Lyon (tenor arias). Roderick Williams (bass arias & (Pilatus).Benedict Kearns (Petrus). Toby Wad (Servus). Choiur of King's College, Cambridge. Academy of Ancient MNusic / Stephen Cleobury, cond,
KING'S COLLEGE SACD KGS018 (2 disks) TT: 54:03 / 55:20
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Oo. 60. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92.
Beethoven Orchester Bonn / Stefan Blunier, cond.
MDG SACD 937 1995 TT: 73:35

This SACD called Crossings offers music that doubtless well be new for most listeners, and perhaps exciting. It opens with Juhanu Nuorvala's 2008 Solo for Viola da Gamba. The composer gives detailed information about the unusual tuning process that permits the instrument to make sounds seldom heard before. Program notes give detailed information about the unusual tuning system. You will experience sounds you never thought possible from the instrument.

The featured work is the organ version of Messianic's L'Ascension descriptive of Christ's ascending into the heavenly realm. The rich textures of the score are magnificent played on †he organ. Offertorium was commissioned for the Heta Music Event in Lapland Varpu Haavisto premiered it in 2012. It is based on an old Laestradian hymn, about the message of Easter. Korterkangas's Crossing The Five Rivers, written in 2008, was his hommage to Messiaen. Scored for the unlikely combination of viola da gamba and organ, it was commissioned by the Paramien Oran Festival. The five movements are musical expressions of the five rivers and crossing them.

The recordings were made October 7-8 2013 in Finland's Central Pari Church. Engineers have captured a vivid audio picture that captures the remarkable sounds created by viola da gamba and organ. This is a most unusual, and welcome, addition to the SACD catalog.

First class all the way! The famed King's Choir of Cambridge and director Stephen Cleobury already have to their credit a number of superb recordings of varied repertory including Mozart, Duruflé, Fauré´and Britten along with many Christmas holiday presentations. Now we have this performance of one of the greatest choral masterpieces, Bach's St. John Passion, recorded during two live performances March 21 - 22, 2016. The spacious acoustics of their Chapel have been captured in a most realistic way. Complete texts and translations are included, and another plus is that these SACDs sell 2 for the price of one. An outstanding issue!

Stefan Blunier (b. 1964) has been music director of a number of European orchestras including the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, which he led from 2008 - 2016, He has made many fine recordings 3ith this excellent orchestra including music of Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Schmidt and Schrecker. This new release of Beethoven symphonies 4 and 7 is superb in every way—vital, high spirited, perfectly played, and the recording is rich, warm and detailed. This seems †o complete†e the conductor's Beethoven series, although some of the others do not seem to be generally available. There is keen competition for this, and there are many competing versions in surround sound. However, you can't go wrong with this one.

R.E.B. (May 2017)

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