SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. Symphony No. 9 in E flat, Op. 70.
Kirov Orchestra, Marinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg/Valery Gergiev, cond.
DECCA SACD 470 651 (5.1 channel) TT: 73:58

Arias from Verdi's La traviata, Macbeth, and Rigoletto; Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Lucia di Lammermoor; Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur and L'arlesiana; and Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
Joseph Calleja, tenor; Giuseppe Verdi Chorus and Orch/Riccardo Chailly, cond.
DECCA SACD 470684 (5.1 channel) TT: 52:57

BRUBECK: Beloved Son. Pange Lingua Variations.
Voice of the Holy Spirit
(Tongues of Fire). Regret for Strings and Solo Piano.
Alan Opie, baritone; Thomasin Trezise, soprano; London Oratory School Schola (Beloved Son);
Alan Opie, baritone; London Voices (Voice of the Holy Spirit); Dave Brubeck Quartet; London Symphony Orch/Russell Gloyd, cond.
TELARC 2SACD 60621 (2 CDs) ) TT: 2 hrs. 12 min

Valery Gergiev's Shostakovich SACD was recorded in two locations, Symphony No. 5 June 30, 2002 in Mikaeli-Martti Talvela Hall in Finland, Symphony No. 9 May 14-18, 2002 in Marinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg. Andrew Cornwall was recording producer for both, Philip Siney the balance engineer. Supposedly these are live concert performances although there are no audience sounds or applause. The pickup in both halls is quite close up and clinical with some spotlit detail. I don't hear the sound of a large symphony orchestra playing in a good hall. Surely the impressive eight bass drum fortissimo whacks at the conclusion of Symphony No. 5 will test your woofers. There are some unconvincing interpretive quirks in Gergiev's performance of Symphony No. 5, particularly his superfluous treatment of the end of the scherzo. There's no question that Gergiev's performance is far superior to the only other multichannel issue, a DVD audio disk with Oleg Caetani and the Verdi Grand Symphony Orchestra Milan (REVIEW). Symphony No. 9 is more successful, marked by outstanding woodwind and brass in the third and final movements.

Tenor Joseph Calleja's recital disk debut was mentioned earlier on this site (REVIEW). In multi-channels the bright sound of his voice is emphasized, with welcome added ambience from back speakers. As stated before, it's unfortunate the disk doesn't have a longer playing time. Telarc's CD of Dave Brubeck's "classical" music recordings also has been reviewed on this site, by Steve Schwartz (REVIEW), who found considerable merit in these large-scale ventures by this major figure in the world of jazz. Telarc's engineers have done their usual fine work (James Mallinson was producer). Performers are in front with ambient sound from the rear. The only questionable balance is the overly prominent piano. Surprisingly no texts are provided. The two CDs are sold at a special price, not two-for-one but two for one-and-a half.

R.E.B. (July 2004)