BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis. Op. 123
Regine Hangler (soprano). Elisabeth Kulman, (alto). Christian Elsner (tenor). Franz-Josef Selig, (bass). MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig. Berlin Rundfunk-Sorchester Berlin / Marek Janowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 565 TT: 75:04

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73. SEGERSTAM: Symphony No. 289, "When a Cat Visited.
Turku Philharmonic / Leif Segerstam, conductor/pianist
ALBA SACD ABCD 403 TT: 69:00

Brasilian Landscapes - music of Paulo Porto Alegre, Paulo Bellinati, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Daniel Murrat, Ernesto Nazareth, Egberto Gismonti, Herineto Pascoal, Antonio Ribeiro, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Michaela Petri, recorder. Marilyn Mazur, percussion. Daniel Murray, guitar
OUR RECORDS SACD 6.220618 TT: 71:11

It took Beethoven about five years to complete his mighty Missa Solemnis, written during a particularly tragic part of his life plagued by illness and deafness as well as numerous other problems. Yet this work remains a powerful, inspirational music considered by many, including the composer, to be his finest composition. Just about every major conductor has recorded this masterpiece, some multiple times. However, this performance recorded live in Berlin's Philharmonie in September 2016 is at the top of the list. Conductor Marek Janowski clearly understands this music and is as effective here as he was in numerous previous recordings ranging from contemporary music to Bruckner and Wagner. With a first-class quartet of soloists, the superb Leiipzig Chorus, and the Berlin orchestra he has worked with often, he leads a memorable performance. Pentatone engineers have captured this performance with perfect balances and rich, resonant audio. This is the only SACD of this amazing music, and highly recommended. It is surprising texts and translations are not included.

Some months ago this site reviewed an ALBA SACD of Symphony No. 1 of Brahms, and conductor Leif Segerstam's own Symphony No. 288, which is subtitled "Letting the FLOW go on." Please check that for comments about this remarkable conductor and his approach to music (REVIEW). Now we have another issue in what apparently will be a series, and again it is puzzling why Segerstam would pair his own symphony, supposedly about a cat, with the famous Brahms symphony, with which it has no connection whatever. Segerstam wrote the program notes and tries to explain some correlation, but it makes no sense to me. The music itself is a 19-minute excursion into dissonance. Scoring includes a brief part for the piano, played by the composer. Surely one would not acquire this disk for the Brahms symphony; there are countless others that are superior; likewise I cannot imagine anyone wanting to hear Segerstam's rather boring symphony. Excellent audio. An odd release.

Michaela Petri, master of the recorder, over the years has made countless recordings of varied repertory including some works composed for her available on a superb SACD (REVIEW). On her latest release she turns to lighter fare, a collection of Brazilian-coriented tunes, many written for her. She is joined by percussionist Marilyn Mazur and guitarist Daniel Murray who also made many of the arrangements. Most of the music is quietly atmospheric with the solo recorder soaring in the upper register creating a jungle-like exotic bird effect. Percussion is always gentle. All of these sounds have been captured with natural presence and beauty. This is a fascinating glimpse of the lighter side of the amazing Michaela Petri.

R.E.B. (July 2017).