HAYDN: Sinfonia Concertante in B flat for violin, cello, oboe, bassoon and orchestra, Op. 84. Divertimento (Capriccio) in A, originally for keyboard, violin and cello Hob. XV 353. Concerto in C for oboe and orchestra
Alexi Utkin, oboe; Hermitage Chamber Orchestra
CARO MITIS SACD cm 0042006 TT: 55:14

OBUCHOV: Invocation. Deux pièces.Conversion. Icone. Crèation. Aimons-nous les uns les autres. La paix pour les réconciliés - vers la source avec le calice. Le Temple est mesuré, l'Esprit est incarné. Adorons Christ - Fragment du troisème et dernier Testament. WYSCHNEGRADSKY: Deux preludes for piano. Etude sur le Carré Magique Sonare, Op. 40. PROTOPOPOV: Sonata, Op. 5.
Thomas Günther, piano
CYBELE SACD 160.404 TT: 66:39

MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of a Thousand."
Viktoria Yastrebova, Ailish Tynan, Liudmila Dudinova, sopranos; Lilli Paasikivi, Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo-sopranos; Sergey Semishkur, tenor; Alexey Markov, baritone; Evgeny Nikitin, bass; Choir of Eitham College; Choral Arts Society of Washington; London Symphony Chorus; London Symphony Orch/Valery Gergiev, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD LSO 0669 TT: 77:22

Here's another delectable SACD from Caro Mitis—oboist Alexi Utkin playing music of Haydn, one of his favorite composers. The Oboe Concerto actually wasn't written by Haydn although attributed to him, the oboe plays a relatively insignificant part as one of four soloists in the well-known Sinfonia concertante, and the oboe d'amore here replaces the cello in the Divertimento. Exquisite performances, beautifully recorded. The only negative feature is the relatively short playing time of the disk (55:14).

Nikolai Obuchov (1892-1954), Ivan Wyschnegradsky (1893-1979), and Sergei Protopopov (1893-1954) are composers new to most listeners and subject of the first issue on the enterprising Cybele label in their series of Piano Works during and after Russian Futurism. All three composers were strongly influenced by Alexander Scriabin, although this is hardly discernable in music on this disk. Aside from the sole work by Protopopov, his Sonata No 5 which is 13 minutes duration, the music on this SACD is brief, a collection of miniatures. Profuse program notes by Mark Ziegler and the performer, Thomas Günther, explain the political atmosphere at the time of composition and what the composers were trying to express. Excellent sound, as always from this label, but this music probably will be unrewarding for most listeners. Don't expect Rachmaninoff—there's not even a trace of it.

Gergiev's Mahler Eighth is superlative in most ways. Recorded during performances July 9-10, 2008 in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, it was surely a technical challenge for producer James Mallinson and balance engineer Jonathan Stokes, but they did their tasks effectively and managed to tame the 13-second reverb of the venue. Doubtless there were numerous microphones, everything sounds well-balanced and the soloists are in perspective. There is a surprising amount of orchestral detail in this recording. There is no explanation of details of participation of Washington's Choral Arts Society in this performance. Along with the LSO Chorus, the choruses sounds much larger than they are because of the acoustics. The concluding "Alles Vergängliche" mystic chorus is on a grand scale although the final pages are a bit rushed with minimal brass accents. The excellent soloists are all Russian. This is the most successful of Gergiev's Mahler series with the LSO. I'm sure when listening to this recording we hear the performance far better than anyone in St. Paul's Cathedral did. Obviously the final pages were from a rehearsal as there is no applause, and we can hear the very long reverberation in the church—another testimonial to the engineering crew. .

R.E.B. (June 2009)