NORGARD: The Organ Book. Canon.
Jens E. Christensen, organ
DA CAPO SACD 6.220656 TT: 70:54
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BORENSTEIN: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 60 (2015). The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe, Op;. 52 (2008-09). If You Will It, It Is No Dream, Op. 58 (2012)
.Irmina Trynkos, violin. Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimirt Ashkenazy, cond.
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5209 TT: 56:45
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BEETHOVEN: Quartet No. 11 in A minor, Op. 55. SCHUBERT: Quartet No. 15 in G Major, Op. 161.
Oslo String Quaet
2L135 ( Blu Ray Audio / SACD) TT: 65 min.
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This site has praised many orchestral works of Danish composer Per Norgard (b. 1932) including symphonies 3 and 7 (REVIEW). symphonies 1 and 8 (REVIEW), and choral works (REVIEW). The composer loved the organ and wrote music for it throughout his life. This fine new SACD affords the opportunity to hear much of it. 17 preludes and choral fantasies all composed 1955 - 2014, are collectively called The Organ Book. Most of the pieces are quiet brief. The major work was composed 1970 - 1971 and is called Canon. This consists of seven large parts or "cycles" which are divided into eight smaller "stages." The organist is a friend of the composer, Jens E. Christensen playing the instrument at Our Saviour's Church, Copenhagen, in June 2017. The engineers have captured the organ sound with remarkable clarity and solidity. Profuse program notes are included giving details of all of the music. Organists should welcome this opportunity to hear music that most likely will be new to them.

Chandos has devoted a disk to premiere recordings of music by British-French-Israeli Nimrod Borenstein (b. 1969. His music has been championed by Vladimir Ashkenazy who conducted the premiere of If You Will It, It Is No Dream, and conducted other works in major concerts.The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe, Op. 52, has three sections: Light, Peace and Adam & Eve. It was commissioned by philanthropist Zvi Meitar and had its premiere in 2009, The 9-minute energetic If You Will It, It Is No Dream, Op. 58 also was written for Meitar. When Borenstein wrote his violin concerto he intended to create a "large-scale work similar to those by Brahms, Sibelius and Shostakovich" (he didn't even come close!).There are four movements, with countless technical difficulties for the soloist. I find the popularity of Borenstein's music puzzling. He surely is in no way a "modern" composer. His music is melodic and pleasant, and incorporates countless pizzicato strings. But it also is forgettable, more like background rather than concert music. . Don't look for a "big bang" in the work with that title, and creation of the universe surely is not a major event and doesn't amount to much. The violin concerto sounds more like a study exercise than a serious work. The recordinsg were made in London's Henry Wood Hall December 2016. The Chandos sound is rich but, unfortunately, not very "surround," and the solo violin is recorded quite distant. Profuse program notes explain the composer's intent in these scores, but this is music I find totally unchallenging.

The 2L label continues their series of chamber music performances issued in to formats: one SACD, and the same program on Blu Ray Audio. The multi-channel version is 5.1, and the program also is available in regular stereo. The Oslo String Quartet, founded in 1991, currently consists of violinists Geir Inge Lotsberg and Liv Hilde Klokk, violist Are Sandbakken, and cellist Oystein Sonstad.They have a high reputation in the musical world and have made a number of recordings of diverse repertory. This is their second recording for 2L (the first, issued several years ago, featured quartets of Schubert and Greg. The new recordings were made 2015 in Norway's Jar Church, and the engineers have captured a most realistic, natural sound. This album was recorded in what the producers call Audio3D, wthi separate channels containing information to provide "height" to the performance. I doubt if any listeners have audio equipment that could accommodate this, but in regular 5.1, the sound is just fine. An unusual release, for sure, that the ultimate audiophile might find intriguing.

R.E.B. (October 2017)

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