VALEN: Sonate ,Op. 3. STRAVINSKY: Duo Concertante. LUTOSLAWSKI: Partita.
Bard Monsen, violin. Gunnar Flagstad, piano.
2L 136 (two disks: one SACD / one Blu Ray audio) TT: 52:00

Music for Six Voices.
Nordic Voices

"Meeting of the Spirits" - jazz milestones re-imagined for a big band of cellos.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 659 TT: 51:06

Interactions is the title producers have given this new 2L release. They state this music "opens windows into a dramatic century from the late Romantic/expressionistic Valen, through Stravinsky's neoclassical period, to Lutoslawski's more modernistic style." This is an excuse to coupe these three works, the most interesting of which is the Valen Sonate (sic). The Norwegian composer started to write in 1912, but didn't finish until 7 years later. The brief work has but two movements, the second a set of variations. This hardly is a major work in the repertory; there is only one other recording currently available. All three works are very well played by the young artists, but this is a rather odd program to present in such deluxe audio fashion (SACD / Blu Ray audio). A negative feature is that it has very limited playing time (52:00). If you wish to show off sonic splendor, surely an orchestral work would be preferable. Program notes indicate this recording was made in a new process called Auro 9.1. Nine different discrete channels were recorded to give the effect of audio coming from all sides including the ceiling. I know of no audio equipment that would be able to play this back as recorded, and it surely does seem like sonic overkill. In the audio setup mode, one can select the format desired: 5.1 DTS surround, 9.1 Dolby Atmos, 2.0 stereo, and 9.1 Auro-3D. It reminds me of many decades ago when Decca issued their Birgit Nilsson recording of Salome saying their new recording technique lets you hear John the Baptist's voice coming from under the stage! Impossible, of course, but some listeners were gullible enough to believe it was true. Later Decca admitted it was a hoax and a sales gimmick.

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548 - 1611) was the major figure on the Spanish musical scene for most of his life both as a choirmaster and a composer, as well as a priest. He wrote only relicious music incuding 44 motets. His music is reverent, highly respected, and there have been numerous recordings. Now we have this new one featuring the remarkable a cappella ensemble Nordic Voices. Members are Toe Elisabeth Braaten and Ingrid Hanken (sopranos), Ebba Rydh, (mezzo-soprano), Per Kristian Amundrod (temor), Framk Havroy (baritone), and Rolf Magne Asser (bass) .All are fine singers, and their collaborative sound has been captured in a most natural way in the resonant acoustics of Ris Kirke in Oslo on two dates in 2015 and 2016. Complete texts and translations are provided. Highest quality here.

Matt Haimovitz is on the cutting edge of the world of cellos. He has recorded many classical works including concertos as well as the Philip Glass cello concerto. And he has recorded many modern works by composers that might be new to you—he is an innovative,solid and often inspired musician. On this Pentatone disk he offers 9 jazz staples, with works by Mingus, Gershwin, Ornette Coleman, John McLaughlin and Miles Davis, all in special arrangements by David Sanford. Matt Haimovitz is featured with Jan Jarczyk, Fender Rhodes and Mark II (keyboards), John McLaughlin (electric guitar), Matt Wilson (drums). Uccello is an ensemble of eight cellists, all Haimovitz students. Audio is excellent, with the rich sound of multiple cellos effectively spread throughout the listening area. If this sort of program appeals to you, here it is superbly presented. It is unfortunate the program isn't longer. 51:06 isn't much playing time for a full-priced disk.

R.E.B. (July 2017)