GLINKA: Ruslan and Lyudmila
Taras Shtonda (Ruslan); Ekaterina Morozova (Lyudmila); Vadim Lynkovsky (Svetosar); Aleksandra Durseneva (Ratmir); Panfilov (FinnVitaly); Maria Gavrilova (Gorislava); Bolshoi Theater Chorus and Orch/Alexander Vedernikov, cond.
PENTATONE PTC 5186 034 (3 SACDs) ( 5 channel) TT: 3 hrs. 32 min.

MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano; San Francisco Symphony Chorus & Orch/Michael Tilson Thomas, cond.
SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY 821936 0006 (2 SACDs) (5 channel) TT: 88:02

MOZART: Flute Concerto No. 1 in D, K. 314. Flute Concerto No. 2 in G, K. 313. Symphony No. 41 in C, K., 551 "Jupiter."
Jacques Zoon, flute; Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman, cond.
TELARC SACD 60624 (5.1 channel) TT: 77:07

Glinka's opera Ruslan and Lyudmila is a rather odd choice for Pentatone to choose for an audio surround recording, particularly as this performance, recorded April 2003, can't match the Philips recording made in 1995 issued on stereo CD shortly thereafter (456 248) and now available on DVD in 5.1 sound. The sumptuous Bolshoi production is beautifully captured on DVD, and recorded with remarkable surround sound presence. The 1995 video features a very young Anna Netrebko as Lyudmila in a knockout performance; it's easy to understand why she is now a major figure on today's operatic scene. As the DVD is a better performance, offers finer sound—and costs about $10 less than the Pentatone release—the choice is obvious.

After his recent lethargic Mahler Fourth, Michael Tilson Thomas continues his San Francisco Symphony Mahler series with this fine account of the Resurrection. It's a grandiose interpretation a little short in tension but filled with wonderful moments. The soprano soloist disappoints, but mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is outstanding and the surround engineering successfully reproduces the sound of large performing forces in a good hall; there are some mighty torrents of sound to be heard, with sizzling cymbals and rich bass. Producer Andreas Neubronner made no attempt to have off-stage brass in the finale come from rear speakers which would have been effective. It's unfortunate there is no filler—88 minutes isn't much playing time for two disks .Actually the set is two SACDs for the price of one, except that the one costs considerably more than most SACDs. The recent DGG recording of the latest critical edition of the music conducted by Gilbert Kaplan has 42 tracks (admittedly more than necessary!), 22 for the finale.The new MTT recording has no track listings per se. Movements are listed with timings but there are no track listings. There's one track on CD I containing the first movement, five tracks on CD II containing the final four movements with two for the 37-minute finale (the second—track 5—begins with the chorus entrance—but you won't know this from CD booklet information). And it is strange that on both CDs of the MTT recording music doesn't begin until 11 seconds into the disk.

Telarc continues their distinguished series of recordings with the first-class virtuoso ensemble Boston Baroque conducted by Martin Pearlman. This well-filled SACD contains expert performances of the two flute concertos (the second actually written for oboe) plus the Jupiter symphony. Jacques Zoon, principal flute with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is soloist. The sound is superb, orchestra and soloist in front, ambient sound elsewhere. Recommended!

R.E.B. (January 2005)