CHERUBINI: Requiem in C minor. Marche Funèbre. BEETHOVEN: Elegaic Song, Op. 118.
Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman, cond.
TELARC SACD 60658 TT: 50:00

TANNER: Boy with Goldfish
Leon Siu and Malai Elliott, vocal soloists; Nigel Brooks Chorale; London Symphony Orch/Lee Holdridge, cond.

MUSSORGSKY-CARPENTER: Pictures at an Exhibition CARPENTER: New York City Sessions
Cameron Carpenter, organist
ORGAN ARTS CD/DVD SMD 61 (2 disks) TT: CD: 60 min. DVD: 60 min. + 29 min. documentary/Virgil Fox

All of Boston Baroque's recordings for Telarc have been outstanding, and this new one featuring Cherubini's C minor Requiem is no exception. Performing on period instruments, the 40-member orchestra plays with consistent tonal beauty, and the 23 members of the chorus are first-rate. Recorded in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts May 7-8, 2006, we have the superb sonic quality we have come to expect from Telarc when recording this group. The only possible debit is the short playing time: 50:00 isn't much for a full-priced disk.

Boy with Goldfish was recorded digitally at Watford Town Hall in London in July 1979. When initially released it attracted considerable attention from audiophiles for its superb sonics, and now in this remastering it sounds better than ever. The "surround sound" is artificially but effectively produced. The score is "a heroic fantasy for soloists, chorus and orchestra based on the Hawaiian legend paintings of John Thomas." Tanner's music is pleasant enough, and richly scored. The final section, "Desire, Seduction and The Battle," is where the sonic fireworks occur. The booklet includes a detailed explanation of how this the surround sound processing was accomplished. This is a budget-priced disk: it costs about one-third as much as the original issue, and sounds better..

The Cameron Carpenter set is a knock-out! It features the young organist, who received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Juilliard last year when this recording was made, playing the huge Marshall & Ogletree Organ of Trinity Church in New York. There are two disks, the first a regular stereo CD featuring Carpenter's vivid transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition as well as his own 7-movement suite called New York City Sessions. This CD is impressive sonically, but the DVD is absolutely spectacular in many ways. You have a choice of PCM stereo, 4.0 surround or 5.1 surround. Again we hear Pictures—in surround sound it is even more stunning, and on the DVD is accompanied by a highly imaginative kaleidoscopic show of numerous works of art. There is a a fascinating documentary whimsically narrated by "fractal artist" Marshall Yaeger who developed the Kaleidoplex system used on the DVD. Carpenter explains how he made some of the effective sound effects used in his New York City Sessions. At the conclusion of the documentary we see Carpenter improvising on the organ—an astounding display of imaginative virtuosity as Carpenter plays the three keyboards of the massive organ creating sounds that will delight audiophiles—and are assured speed of the film was not altered. And that's not all. Virgil Fox's performanceof Bach's Trio Sonata No. 6—recorded more than four decades earlier—is "played" via "note recognition software" and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) on the Trinity organ. The accompanying booklet contains a list of artwork used for the visuals displayed during Pictures. This is a fascinating release that I have enjoyed immensely—you probably will as well.

R.E.B. (March 2007)