Music of Johann Hermann Schein, Johann Sebastian Bach, Tarquinio Merula, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Piet Swerts, Jan Van der Roost, Frans Geysen, and Anonymous
Flanders Recorder Quartet
AEOLUS SACD AE 10156 TT: 80:48

TCHAIKOVSKY: Excerpts from The Nutcracker Ballet
Cincinnati Pops Orch/Erich Kunzel, cond.
TELARC SACD 60674 TT: 73:12

MALIPIER0: Six Piano Concertos. Variazioni senza tema.
Sandro Ivo Bartoli, pianist; Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orch/Michele Carulli, cond.
cpo SACD 777 287 (2 disks) TT: 100:23

The Flanders Recorder Quartet, consisting of Bart Spanhove, Han Tol, Joris Goethem and Paul Van Loey, offers an attractive program in which they hope to "tickle your palate with a musical banquet in which we get out our best silver service, recorders of the highest quality in all shapes and sizes, and use them in 1001 different ways. To live up to the title, we're even performing on beer and wine bottles from our own cellars!" The program roughly is divided into different sections: German Aperitif, Italian Antipasti, An English Sorbet, Specialty of the House: Flemish Virtuoso, I Continenti, and two Desserts. Everything is described in whimsical fashion, and in several selections the FRQ is joined by percussionist Frédéric Malempre. Many different instruments are used all described in detail in this handsome CD's program booklet. The recordings were made last year in Stiftskirche St. Johannes, and the warm acoustics enhance the instruments. A quality issue!

Telarc already has a fine complete Nutcracker with Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Symphony. Here is their first SACD version of music from Tchaikovsky's ballet, a single well-filled (73:12) disk of "favorite selections" with the Cincinnati Pops directed by Erich Kunzel. Indeed, most of the ballet is here although the music stops rather abruptly just before the battle with the mice and those waiting for the expected pistol shot (which doubtless would have been recorded with Telarc's usual impact) won't hear it. The recording was made in September 2006 and sonically is one of the finest Cincinnati Telarc recordings. .As with other Telarc SACD recordings, performers are in front. Recommended, although those who wish the complete ballet surely should investigate Antal Dorati's famous 1975 Amsterdam recording now available at budget price (see REVIEW)

Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973) was an important figure in resurrecting neglected music of Monteverdi; he produced his own edition of all of the composer's work, and many of Vivaldi's as well. Malipiero's output includes more than 2 dozen operas, many symphonies, 3 ballets, music for various chamber instrument combinations, and many works for voice. Much of his music remains unrecorded and cpo, a label that always has focused on lesser-known music, here provides all six of Malipiero's piano concertos, plus the brief Variations without a Theme. There's nothing memorable in any of this music although it does have its own quiet charm, and the allegros that open and close each concerto are lively if forgettable. Pianist Sandro Ivo Bartoli, conductor Michele Carulli and the fine orchestra do what can be done for this music, and sonic quality is excellent—however it is unlikely many will return often to this recording. I'm surprised Bartoli approved the rather comic picture in this set—he looks like a Mona Lisa on a bad day.

R.E.B. (November 2007)