MOZART: Quartet in D, K. 285. Quartet in G, K. 285a. Quartet in C, K. Anh. 171. Quartet in A, K. 298.
Ulf-Dieter Schaaff, flute. Philipp Beckert, violin, Andreas Willwohl, viola. Georg Boge, cello.
PENTATONE SACD 5186567 TT: 57:45
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PETERSON: Transformations.(1985). And the Winds Shall Blow. (1994). The Face of the Night, the Heart of the Dark (1990).
Prism Quartet. Boston Modern Orchestra / Gil Rose, cond.
BMOP SACD 1064 TT: 57:08
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VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Songs of Travel. Romance for Viola and Piano. REBECCA CLARKE: Sonata for Viola and Piano. BRITTEN: Third Suite for Cello, Op. 87. Lachrymae for Viola and Piano.
Eileen Nisbeth, viola. Bengt Forsberg, piano
BIS SACD 2182 TT: 80:18
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Ulf-Dieter Schaaff, principal flute with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, always wanted to record Mozart's flute quartets, and Pentatone gave him a chance to do so. He formed a chamber group featuring other players from the orchestra: violinist Philipp Beckert, violist Andreas Willwohl, and cellist Georg Boge. Recoding sessions were in May 2016 in Berlin's Studio Britz, and Pentatone's engineering staff has captured the music with uncommon, natural fidelity and balance. These flute quartets might not be among Mozart's best works, but they are charming throughout, played here to perfection.

American composer Wayne Peterson, born 1927 in Minnesota, has enjoyed a highly successful career as a composer on the cutting edge of American music. His career received a major boost in 1958 when Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony premiered and recorded his Free Variations. He has won the Pulitzer Prize and many other awards, and composers profusely: chamber, solo, choral and orchestral music. Little of his orchestral music has been recorded, and here we have a disk of three of his later works listed above. And the Winds Shall Blow is a fantasy for saxophone quartet, winds, b brass and percussion. The Face of the Night, The Heart of Dark was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and won a Pulitzer Prize. Transformations, also commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, scored for chamber orchestra, is about conflict and resolution, ending quietly .Program notes provide detailed information about the music. This music mostly consists of micro-snippets of sound, usually repeated by other instruments. It must be incredibly difficult to perform, and is a challenge for artists and audiences. On this BMOC SACD this music is played superbly under Gil Rose's firm direction. Engineers have captured the kaleidoscope musical sounds effectively in multi-channel sound. A fine disk for the enterprising listener. You can sample Wayne Peterson's music on Youube. Approach with caution.

Compared with other instruments, the viola is rather neglected by composers. On this BIS SACD prize-winning Swedish violist Eileen Nisbeth (b. 1987). In 2012, she won the Royal Academy of Music solo award, the first violist ever. Nisbeth olves the repertory problem by recording this lovely collection of works arranged for viola and piano. We have all of Vaughan Williams' five Songs of Travel, two works of Britten including his Third Suite for Cello, and a major work in the repertory, the Viola Sonata composed in 1919 by Rebecca Clarke. This is a three-movement 24-minute work, the only piece on this disk originally written for viola and piano. CD notes include texts for the Vaughan Williams songs, even though they are not sung. Beautiful music throughout, perfectly played, recorded in Stockholm's Grünewalasalen Konserthuset May 2016. A well-filled (80:18) SACD.

R.E.B. (September 2017)

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