POULENC: Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra. Concert Champetre for Harpsichord and Orchestra (arr. for harpsichord, organ and percussion)). Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani.
Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen, piano; Peter Kofler, harpsichord; Babette Haag, percussion and timpani; Bach Collegium München/Hansjörg Albrecht, organ & conductor
OEHMS SACD OC 637 TT: 67:13
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BORODIN: String Quartet No. 2 in D. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Quintet in B flat for Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon
Wolf Quartet/Chamber Ensemble of Berlin German Opera
MEMBRAN NCA 60175 TT: 62:04
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NORGARD: The Divine Circus
Bernd Gebhardt, bass-baritone; Fabienne Jost, soprano; Steffen Kubach, baritone; Jianeng Lu, tenor; Tadahiro Masujima, tenor; Sandra Rohrbach, mezzo-soprano;Simone Tschöke, contralto; Andrea Stadel, soprano; Daniel Szeili, tenor; Hubert Wild, baritone/Dorian Heilhack, cond.
DACAPO SACD 6.220572-73 (2 disks) TT: 125:07
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Francis Poulenc's delectable concertos have been well represented on recordings. The definitive versions are available on a single EMI disk, with Aimée Van de Wiele as soloist in the harpsichord concerto, Maurice Duruflé organist in the organ concerto, and the composer and Jacques Février the two soloists in the double concerto, all recorded 1961-1962 but very fine sonically. This Oehms release is intriguing as the first two concertos are heard in transcriptions for the solo instruments plus organ and percussion. I don't like the results, at least as here recorded. The organ sounds gargantuan in this resonant acoustic, and clouds solo instruments except in the softest passages. The G minor organ concerto fares much better, with Albrecht both as soloist and conductor, and would be the only reason to acquire this SACD. And it does seem odd that there are no separate tracks for the different sections of the concerto.

Membran's NCA label has a series of SACDs devoted to different countries, each usually containing a varied program of shorter chamber works. This "Russian" issue contains but two works, Borodin's Quartet No. 2, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Quintet all performed by members of the Berlin German Opera soloists. Excellent performances, richly recorded, but the premium price might deter some collectors.

DaCapo already has issued two SACDs of music by Danish composer Per Norgard both reviewed on this site: Seadrift/Nova Genitura/Fons Laetitiae (REVIEW), and symphonies 3 and 7 (REVIEW). Now we have a much more challenging work, The Divine Circus which is called an opera although it really is a theater piece similar to some works of Carl Orff—but without the melody. It is based on the writings of Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930), a disturbed man who was abused in his childhood, arrested of child molestation, and spent many years in mental hospitals. We have a prelude and three brief prologues followed by two acts, with an extended soft ending. The Divine Circus features six singers, six percussionists, cello and a synthesizer. There are detailed program notes and a track by track explanation of the protagonist's trip through lunacy. The performance was recorded live at Stadttheater Bern September 19, 2008, and has been vividly captured by producer Preben Iwan. In spite of its excellence, this set will be of limited interest to most collectors.

R.E.B. (March 2010)

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