J.C. BACH: Quartet in B flat, Op. 8 No. 6 for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello. MOZART: Quartet in F, K. 370 for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello. BRITTEN: Phantasy, Op. 2 for Oboe and String Trio. PROKOFIEV: Quintet in G minor, Op. 39 for Oboe, Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Double-bass. J.S. BACH: Adagio from "Easter Oratorio" for Oboe and Strings.
Keisuke Wakao, oboe; Thomas Martin, clarinet; Malcolm Lowe, violin; Victor Romanul, violin; Cathy Basrak, viola; Sato Knudsen, cello; Edwin Barker, double-bass.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 018 (5 channel) TT: 66:00

KHACHATURIAN: Violin Concerto in D minor. PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19. GLAZUNOV: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82.
Julia Fischer, violinist; Russian National Orch/Yakov Kreizberg, cond.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 059 (5 channel) TT: 79:24

CORELLI: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6. Sonata a Quattro in G minor. Fuga a Quattro Voci.
Chamber Orchestra of the New Dutch Academy/Simon Murphy, cond.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 031 (5 channel) TT: 63:25

LEBRUN: Oboe Concerto No. 3 in C. Oboe Concerto No. 5 in C. Oboe Concerto No. 6 in F. BEETHOVEN: Largo from Oboe Concerto in F.
Bart Schneemann, oboe; Radio Chamber Orch/Jan Willem de Vriend, cond.
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCS SA 21404 (5 channel) TT: 72:02

Pentatone's SACD featuring oboist Keisuke Wakao is a beauty. Wakao, assistant principal oboe of the Boston Symphony, has an active career as well in concerts and teaching. Here he is with other superb musicians associated with the Boston Symphony in a varied program featuring Mozart's Quartet K. 370 and Prokofiev's Quintet Op. 39. These recordings were made in September/October 2002 in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Mass, produced by Everett Porter, who did a fine job in capturing the sound of the ensembles. Performers are in front; no effort is made to spread them around the listening area, an approach used effectively by the Tacet label on their surround sound recordings.

Still in her very early '20s, German-born violinist Julia Fischer already has concertized world-wide appearing with many famous conductors and orchestras. This appears to be her first audio recording, a generously filled SACD of Russian violin concertos. She and conductor Kreizberg had played the Khachaturian in Philadelphia and were eager to record it—and Pentatone provided them with the opportunity. Khachaturian's violin concerto, composed in 1940, is a work of little substance except for the lovely second movement, with plenty of opportunities for the soloist to show off in the outer movements. Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1, dating from 1916/17, is of much more interest, as is Glazunov's highly romantic concerto, which dates from 1904. These are worthy performances, but I find the sound disappointing. Recorded at DZZ Studio 5 in Moscow May 12/13, 2004 with producer Job Maarse, there is little "concert hall" sound. The antiseptic dryness diminishes tonal beauty of the soloist and all of the strings, although it does produce brilliant percussion effects.

Pentatone's SACD devoted to music of Archangelo Corelli was recorded during concerts at the Vredenburg, Utrecht in January 2003, produced by Carl Schuurbiers with Erdo Groot as recording engineer. This disk has superb, full-bodied sound with sonorous string textures (unheard on the previous SACD). Conductor Simon Murphy points out there is a similarity between jazz and Corelli's music as in the Corelli's' music performers are expected to improvise and add elaborate ornamentation. The result is Corelli with a vibrant sound not to be heard in most other recordings of the composer's music. Recommended.

Ludwig August Lebrun (Manheim1752-Berlin1790) was a distinguished oboist and composer during his brief life. His father was oboist at the Mannheim court ; Ludwig August studied with his father and soon became a respected member of the court orchestra. and gave many concerts and solo appearances. His playing was praised for its exquisite sound as well as virtuosity. It's reported he extended the upper range of the instrument beyond the standard of the day. His compositions include incidental music; concertos and chamber works with oboe. Several years ago oboist Bart Schneemann recorded three of Lebrun's oboe concertos and now we have this second disk that contains the other three. The music is enchanting, performances are outstanding, and the recorded sound warm, spacious and clearly defined. A plus is enclusion of a slow movement of an oboe concerto supposedly composed by Beethoven, the score of which has been lost. The fact that Beethoven composed an oboe concerto early in his career has been proven; the work had its premiere about 1970 (possibly with Lebrun as soloist), but the score has been lost. Two Dutch musicologists, Cees Nieuwenthuizen and Jos van der Zanden, have reconstructed the second movement from fragmentary sketches that have been discovered. A fine SACD.

R.E.B. (January 2005)