MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K. 216. Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K. 218. Adagio in E, K. 261. Rondo in B flat, K. 269.
Julia Fischer, violinist; Netherlands Chamber Orch/Yakov Kreizberg, cond.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 064 (F) TT: 60:45

Sequentia/Dialogos; directed by Benjamin Bagby and Katarina Livljanic

"Stay In Tune With Pentatone"
Excerpts from Pentatone SACDs plus test tones and surround sound effects
PENTATONE SACD 5186 086 TT: 70:04 + 23:40 bonus

Julia Fischer's career is developing in high gear—the young violinist has played with many major orchestras to highest critical acclaim and already has to her credit recordings of solo Bach, concertos of Khachaturian, Prokofiev and Glazunov (see REVIEW), and a DVD video of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Here she begins what promises to be an impressive set of Mozart's works for violin and orchestra, a recording dedicated to Professor Ansgar Janke who was Fischer's piano teacher. Surely the exquisiute Adagio from Violin Concerto No. 3 has never sounded more elegant than it does here. Fischer plays her own cadenzas in all of the works on this SACD. An entire page of the booklet is devoted to a statement by Yakult, a company that produces the healthy fermented milk drink with that name. Yakult apparently was important in funding the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Ms. Fischer, making these recordings possible. Good for them! I look forward to future issues from this superb young violinist.

According to Sony Classical's publicity, "Chant Wars" is the legendary 'battle' of medieval musical traditions," recreating "the first instance of 'globilization' in European Music. Two major medieval music ensembles are involved—Sequentia and Dialogos—all a cappella except for a solitary lyre in one selection, a program first presented in July 2003, often repeated since then. Much research went into this project and it would be impossible to question the authenticity of these reconstructions. Selections are divided into five sections: The myth of Gregorian Chant, Traces of oral chant traditions from Rome and Gaul, Germanic voices, A new Roman chant tradition?, and Chant in Frankish books and memoiries. It's difficult to imagine this repertory presented better than it is here, and if this interests you surely must investigate this well-filled SACD. The surround sound recorded in the Abbey of Fontevraud in France richly captures warm acoustics of the site.

"Stay in Tune With Pentatone" actually is a sampler for the label with 70 minutes of excerpts from a variety of recordings but not including any of the RQR "Remastered Quadro Recordings" which are so impressive even though recorded decades ago. If you'd like to sample those, there's another Pentatone sampler (PTC 5186 044), although that one is full price, while "Stay in Tune" is mid-price. A feature of the new SACD is a series of 24 minutes of sound effects, test tones and a clear explanation of how to use the latter to set up your surround system. I found Pentatone's "sound effects" disappointing. There is a 5-minute scene outside early in the morning on the shores of Loch Lomond in which one hears only gentle sounds.A 4-minute steam train journey recorded at the Bluebell Railway in Sheffield Park, U.K, is moderately impressive as the train passes by, but not nearly as stunning as some earlier demonstration recordings of this mighty experience, and the 5-minute Edinburg Military Tattoo recorded in the Esplanade Castle in Scotland isn't quite the sonic spectacular it should be, in spite of the wide dynamic range.

R.E.B. (December 2005)