FERNÁNDEZ: Bolero, Op. 1 No. 1. Habanera, Op. 1 No. 2. PALOMO: Madrigal and 5 Shephardic Songs. ADAM-FERRARO: Homenage a García Lorca. ARACIL: Kerzenlicht. CASAS: Margrupim. SÁNCHEZ-VERDU: Jardines de Adonis. LACASA: Tiento de Falsas
Ofelia Sala, soprano; Berlin German Modern Ensemble
MEMBRAN NCA 60177 TT: 71:09

KRENEK: Four Winds Suite, Op. 223. LIGETI: Two Etudes for Organ. HALFFTER: Ricercare for Organ. SCHNITTKE: Two Little Pieces for Organ. DURKÓ: Andromeda. BISCHOF: Cadenza for Organ.
Martin Haselböck, organ
MEMBRAN NCA 60160 TT: 61:01

SADLER: 2 Intermezzi for Seven Bassoons and Contrabassoon. MIURA: Cherry Blossom Album. DAN: Sonata for Bassoon Quartet. NÄTHER: Four Aphorismen, Op, 44. ISHII: Bassoon - Rhapsody, Op. 107. NATUSCH: Tokyo-Berlin. STÖCKIGT: Introductiuon and Scherzo Capriccioso.
Octetto Tokyo-Berlin (Berliner Fagottquartett/Tokyo-Fagottiade)
MEMBRAN NCA 60168 TT: 64:44

Here are three more compelling issues in Membran's NCA series; it is unfortunate they are premium-priced. The first features the Berlin German Modern Ensemble, all members of the Berlin Opera Orchestra, in a wide-ranging collection of Spanish music. The accent is on contemporary Spanish music, which may not be to the taste of many listeners. But there is something for the average listener. The SACD begins with a delightful Bolero and Habanera by Enrique Fernández Árbos (1863-1939) and continues with five charming vocal works by Lorenzo Martínez Palomo (b. 1938) written in the style of early madrigals, beautifully sung by soprano Ofelia Sala. After that, we move up several decades for Homenage a García Lorca composed in 2005 by Bernard Adam-Ferraro (b. 1942), a pleasant tribute to the great poet. The remainder of the disc challenges the listener. Kerzenlicht by Alfredo Aracil (b. 1954), a leader on the avant garde scene, is for soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and harp, to a text taken from Pappenheim's Erwartung. It is followed by Margrupim by Pete Casas (b. 1957) scored for five instruments and solo marimba, and Jardines de Adonis by José María Sánchez (b. 1968) written for soprano and nine instruments. This is part of an opera by Sánchez which I would not want to experience in its entirety. The final contemporary work is Tiento de Falsas by José Peris Lacasa, 6:43 of discords before dissolving into nothingness. Soprano Sala admirably negotiates the manifold difficulties of the Aracil and Sánchez works, and throughout we have superb playing by the orchestral players. Sonic quality is as good as it gets, but for most listeners I imagine only the earlier tracks will be of interest.

The second disc features performances on the organ in the concert hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Grosen Schuke-Konzertsaalorgel der Philharmonier zu Warschau in Poland. The organist, in this case the esteemed Martin Haselböck who already has to his credit recordings of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Liszt, shows he has a diabolical side to his artistry. On this superb SACD you will hear stunning performances of rather maniacal works by the composers listed above. The music is darkly impressive and imaginative, and has been wonderfully recorded in spacious surround sound. A terrific disk!

The Tokyo-Berlin Octet, formed in 1986, gave their first concert in 1992 and since has appeared often in concerts and radio. All of the bassoonists are members of leading Berlin and Japanese orchestras, and for this unusual ensemble a number of composers have written music, seven of which are featured on this unusual disk. Of course the playing is perfection, and the sound of eight bassoons has been warmly captured by the engineers. Most of the works were written for 7 bassoons and contrabassoons. One work, Natusch's "Tokyo-Berlin," is scored for 7 bassoons, contrabassoon and percussion, played by Thomas Döringer. A most unusual repertory, beautifully played, should the repertory interest you.

R.E.B. (March 2010)