<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Ensemble 94 / Jeremy Gill / Mhler Symphony No. 8 / Thuierry Fischer

MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat. "Symphony of a Thousand"
Orla Boylan, Celena Shafer, Amy Owens, sopranos. Charlotte Hellekant, Tamara Mumford, mezzo-sopranos. Barry Banks, tenor. Markus Werba, baritone. Jordan Bisch, bass. Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Choiristers of the Madelene Choir School. Itaj Symphony Orchestra / Thierry Fischer, cond.
REFERENE RECORDINGS SACD FR 725 (2 disks) TT: 22:07 + 57:34
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GILL: Before the Wrestling Tides. (201). Serenada Concertante (20:13). Notturno Concertante (2014).
Ching-Yun Hu, piano. Marsh Chapel Choir. Erin Hannigan, oboe. Chris Grymes, clarinet. Bostobn Modern Orchestra / Gil Rose, cond.
BMOC SACD 1055 TT: 56:44
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Songs about Love by Torbjørn Dyrud, Nina T. Karlsen & Mari Skeie Ljones. Karlheinz Stockhausen,l Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur: La Voix Du Bien. and Frank Havrøy performed by Emsemble 96 directed by Nina T. Karlsen with Mari Skeie Ljones, fiddle.
2L 140 two disks (one SACD, one DVD audio) TT: 44 min.
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The Utah Symphony, founded in 1940, was directed by Maurice Abravanel 1947 - 1979. During his tenure he made many recordings for the Vanguard label. These included a complete set of Mahler symphonies, recorded from the mid-60s - mid-70s. These were fine performances, very well recorded in stereo, and they are still available. Thierry Fischer has been conductor since 2009. He already has presented all of the Mahler symphonies in concert, and some time ago this site praised his SACD of Symphony No. 1 (REVIEW). There are dozens of recordings of Mahler's mighty available in all formats including historic performances conducted by Leopold Stokowski (REVIEW), Jascha Hotenstein (REVIEW), and Dimitri Mitropoulos. This new Utah version surely is among the best. Recorded during performances February 19/20, 20116 at the Salt Lake Utah Tabernacle, it has seven outstanding soloists (particularly the sopranos), and the superb Mormon Tabernacle Choir is impressive. Judging from the photo, it seems the choruses aren't quite as large as Mahler intended, but they surely produce a thrilling, full sound. Thierry Fischer again shows he is a master of Mahler in this perfectly paced performance that builds to a thrilling conclusion. Another plus is the recorded sound. Dirk Sobotka was the producer, John Newton the recording engineer, and they have provided a most natural sound picture/.Solo voices are clear but not overly prominent. This is a multi-channel recording, but rear speakers provide only ambient sound. How impressive it would have been had the extra brass of the finale been placed in the rear. Complete texts and translations are provided for the symphony along with identification of all members of the orchestra and chorus. This is a superb addition to the Mahler discography. Those who love this symphony surely also will wish to investigate the videos conducted by Riccardo Chailly and Gustavo Dudamel's recording, the only one that actually uses the huge chorus Mahler wanted. This new Reference Recordings issue occupies two disks; it seems odd they didn't put it on a single disk, as with today's technology it would have been possible.

BMOC continues their important series of premiere recordings of music by American composers with this disk devoted to Jeremy Gill. He is at the beginning of an exciting career. The New York Times described his music as "wildly colored," and they surely gave an apt description. Gill obviously is a master of orchestration, and his music often is challenging for the average listener, with blaring discords. This SACD contains three recent concertos. Before the Wrestling Tides was written to be performed as a companion piece to Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. The premiere was given February 2013 featuring pianist ChungYun and the Mendelssohn Choir. The work really is a piano concerto. an odd one at that. .The chorus is heard only in the final five minutes of the work singing a text by Hart Crane from Voyages II. Serenada Concertante is a concerto for oboe and chamber orchestra, and Notturno concertante is a clarinet concerto with large orchestra. Each of these features the soloist who gave the premiere: Erin Hannigan, oboist, and Chris Grymes, clarinetist. Both are wizards of their instruments—you will hear sounds you never thought the instruments could make. All three pieces are compelling listening and recorded with natural, wide-spread sound that captures the distinctive sonic picture perfectly. A remarkable SACD, highly recommenced!

Previous recordings by the superb 24-member choral group Ensemble 94 have been praised. Now we have another disk, his one devoted to a variety of songs about all aspects of love. Music of composers listed above is featured in these songs about different facets of love: passion, lust, prayer, longing, humour, playfulness, and joy. The recording was made in Norway's Uraniemborg Church April and September 2016, and engineers have captured a totally natural sonic perspective in the multi-channel audio. Complete texts and translations are provided. The only debit is that the program is so brief (44 min), not much for a premium-price issue. There are two disks with the same program, one SACD, the other Blu Ray audio.

R.E.B. (November 2017)