MENDELSSOHN: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49. Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66.
Julia Fischer, violin; Jonathan Gilad, piano; Daniel Müller-Schott, cello
PENTATONE SACD 5186 085 TT: 59:04

GLINKA: Excerpts from A Life for the Czar. DARGOMIZHSKY: Excerpts from Rusalka. TCHAIKOVSKY: Excerpts from Iolanthe, Pique Dame, and Mazeppa. RACHMANINOFF: Excerpt from Aleko. BORODIN: Excerpts from Prince Igor.
Vladimir Matorin, Alexander Naumenko, Taras Shtonda, basses; Mikhail Gubsky,Taras Shtonda, tenors; Elena Zelenskaya, soprano; Yuri Nechaev, baritone; Bolshoi Theatre Moscow Chorus and Orch/Alexander Vedernikov, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 089 (F)TT: 75:59

SCHMITT: Symphony in D, Op. 1 No. 1. Symphony in B flat, Op. 6 No. 2. Symphony in G. Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello in E minor, Op. 3 No. 2. Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello in G, Op. 3 No. 6. Symphony in E flat "The Hurdy Gurdy."
New Dutch Academy Chamber Soloists and Chamber Orch/Simon Murphy, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 039 TT: 78:15

Pentatone has another winner in this issue of Mendelssohn's two piano trios. Their star violinist Julia Fischer is joined by two other major young artists, pianist Jonathan Gilad, and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott in vivid performances of these delightful Mendelssohn works. Wolf Werth and Job Maarse produced this recording which was made in a radio studio in Cologne in February 2006. Excellent sound, with the performers in front, ambient sound from the rear.

Less successful is Pentatone's SACD called Highlights from Russian Opera with soloists, chorus and orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre conducted by Alexander Vedernikov, recorded in Moscow in November 2005 and February 2006. Highlights from Russian Opera and not a note of Mussorgsky, or even mention of him in the program notes? Instead we have excerpts from operas by Glinka, Dargomizhsky, Tchaikovsky and Rachmanninoff, plus the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor. There are a number of arias for various male singers as well as an aria from Pique Dame poorly sung by soprano Elena Zelenskaya. Conductor Vedernikov joined Job Maarse as producer of this recording which offers clear sonics but is hardly the sonic blockbuster it could have been.

Simon Murphy and the New Dutch Academy Chamber Soloists and Chamber Orchestra continue their exploration of early music with a disk devoted to Joseph Schmitt (1723-1791), considered to be "The Dutch Haydn." Schmitt, born in Germany, moved to Amsterdam in 1771 continuing his activities as composer, performer, conductor, teacher, theorist and publisher. He also was involved in building the first official concert hall in the Netherlands, the "Felix Meritis," which still exists today. Murphy and his fine ensemble give superlative performances of a wide range of Schmitt's work including his first Dutch composition, the Symphony in G, and two of his quartets. The program ends with the Symphony in E flat subtitled "The Hurdy Gurdy," but there is no explanation of why it has this title, and the music surely doesn't suggest it. Performances, on "authentic instruments" are dynamic, the recorded sound exemplary. Recommended!

R.E.B. (August 2006)