DAMASE: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra. Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra. KOECHLIN: Poème for Horn and Orchestra. DUKAS: Villanelle. SAINT-SAËNS: Concert Piece for Horn and Orchestra. MARSHALL-HALL: Fantasy for Horn and Orchestra.
Ben Jacks, horn; Orchestra Victoria/Queensland Orchestra/Barry Tuckwell, cond.
MELBA SACD MR 30117 TT: 71:11

SCHUBERT: Winterreise
Steve Davislim, tenor; Anthony Romaniuk, piano
MELBA SACD MR 30119 TT: 79:46

BRAHMS: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1. String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2. String Quartet in B flat, Op. 67
Auryn Quartet
TACET DVD AUDIO D115 TT: 102 min

Here are two more winners from the enterprising Australian label Melba, all featuring that country's artists. Although Barry Tuckwell's career was primarily in London, he was born in Australia and has recorded most of the French horn repertory as soloist; here he conducts the Queensland and Victoria Orchestras for his compatriot, Ben Jacks, a leading contemporary horn virtuoso. Dukas' Villanelle is heard in a new orchestration, and both the concerto by Damase and Marshall-Hall's Phantasy here receive their first recordings. Spectacular performances, and beautifully recorded with rich natural sound. Australian tenor Steve Davislim (who began his career as a horn player) is an extraordinary artist who has it all. Now at the beginning of his career, he has enjoyed particular success in Mozart, but contemporary opera also plays an important role. This recording of Schubert's Winterreise is outstanding displaying the same qualities that distinguished his recent disk of Strauss lieder (REVIEW) Complete texts in German and English are provided. Both of these Melba issues have their usual luxurious packaging.

Tacet's approach to surround sound is intriguing. They take the term at face value. As they state in their CD notes, their aim is to use the whole acoustic space for the musical experience. Thus in this music for string quartet we hear the first violin from left front, viola from right front, second violin from left rear, and cello from left right. I find it to be a stimulating listening experience—this is only one of many DVD audio disks Tacet as issued, and as these are DVD audio, it is possible get all three Brahms string quartets on one disk, with a total playing time of 102 minutes. Tacet also has some outstanding SACD issues—check their Beethoven symphony series, the latest of which is a coupling of symphonies 5 and 6 (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (March 2009)