MOZART: Sinfonia concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E flat, K. 364. Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C, K. 373. Concertone for 2 Violins and Orchestra in C, K. 190.
Julia Fischer, violinist; Gordan Nikolic, violin/viola; Netherlands Chamber Orch/Yakov Kreizberg, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 098 TT: 63:35

PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 100. Ode to the End of the War, Op. 105.
Russian National Orch/Vladimir Jurowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 083 TT: 57:32

BERLIOZ: L'enfance du Christ
Yann Beuron (Narrator/Centurion); Karen Cargill (Marie); William Dazeley (Joseph); Matthew Rose (Herod); Peter Rose (Father/Polydorus); Tenebrae Choir; London Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD LS 0606 (2 disks) TT: 41:05 & 55:29

Brilliant young violinist Julia Fischer continues her superb recordings on Pentatone with this disk of Mozart. She's joined by Gordan Nikolic who plays the viola in the Sinfonia concertante, and second violin in the Concertone. As with previous Fischer/Kreizberg collaborations on Pentatone (concertos of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Glazunov) performances are immaculate technically and Fischer's silky sound is always apparent. Excellent SACD sound, with performers in front and well-balanced with the orchestra.

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski already has to his credit outstanding performances of Rachmaninoff with the London Philharmonic on SACD (Symphonic Dances/Isle of the Dead—see REVIEW), and on DVD (The Miserly Knight—see REVIEW). For Pentatone he already has recorded with the Russian National Orchestra two symphonies of Shostakovich as well as music of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, and now we have this brilliant performance of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. A major and welcome bonus is a seldom-heard work of Prokofiev, Ode to the End of the War. This fascinating 14-minute piece is scored for the unlikely combination of 8 each of harps and double basses, 4 pianos, wind orchestra, and percussion. Written in 1945, a year after Symphony No. 5, is has been described as "Socialistic Jubilation Orgy" at the victory of the Soviet Union over Fascism. Is undoubtedly is one of Prokofiev's brashest scores, and the unique instrumentation provides unusual sonorites—hardly a major work of the composer, but it's good to have it available. Fine, bright sound from Pentatone.

Berlioz specialist Sir Colin Davis has already made two highly regarded recordings of L'enfance du Christ twice, in 1960 for Decca, and in 1970 for Philips, both versions remaining in the catalog. . Now we have a live performance from concerts December 2-3, 2006 in London's Barbican Hall. Everything about this performance is first-rate: soloists, chorus and orchestra. There are no orchestral fireworks in this gentle score, hence no sonic spectacle. Producer James Mallinson chose close-up miking, and sometimes soloists are overly prominent. It seems rather odd that other music of Berlioz wasn't included—surely it exists in live recordings with this orchestra and conductor—there's plenty of unused space on both disks, but the set sells for the price of two mid-priced CDs.

R.E.B. (November 2007)