GLIÈRE: Symphony No. 3 "Ilya Murometz"
Bffalo Philharmonic Orch/JoAnn Faletta, cond.

PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 1 in D, Op. 25 "Classical." Symphony No .2 in D minor, Op. 40. Dreams, Op. 6.
São Paulo Symphony Orch/Marin Alsop, cond.

SCRIABIN: Two Poems, Op. 32. Three Mazurkas, Op. 3. Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 19. KOSENKO: 2 Poems, Op. 12. Three Mazurkas, Op. 2. Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 14.
Violina Petrychen, piano.

This past April this site welcomed a fine new recording of Reinhold Glière's mighty Ilya Murometz, with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic (REVIEW). Now this recording has been issued on Blu Ray Audio, and I had high hopes, which were, unfortunately, not met. The recording, made in Buffalo's Klein Music Hall May 3-5 2013, was produced, engineered and edited by Tim Handley. The two-channel stereo edition offered very clear if rather distant sound with plenty of thundering bass, and a dynamic range so wide that some of the very soft passages, particularly in the second movement, were virtually inaudible. The multi-channel (5.1) recording does not add anything. Virtually no sound comes from rear speakers ( !!!), and this is supposed to be a "surround sound" recording. A golden opportunity missed, unfortunately; this vast tapestry of orchestral sound could have been a true sonic spectacular had the engineers used imagination. The other SACD recording of Glière's masterpiece with Leon Botstein and the London Symphony, is surel preferable (REVIEW). . Check this site's comprehensive feature on this Glider masterpiece (FEATURE).

About a year ago this site praised a Naxos Blum Ray issue of Proof's Symphony No. 5 and The Year 1941 with Marin Al sop and the São Paula Symphony (REVIEW). Now we have the second release in this admirable series, containing three early works, the famous Classical Symphony, Symphony No.2 and Dreams. Symphony No. 2 was composed in 1924-1925 when Prokofiev was living in Paris. He was determined to write someting entirely avant-garde, and surely succeeded. The smphony begins with a dissonant rhythmic movement in sonata form followed by a theme and variations. The composer said it was "iron and steel," and surely audiences at the premiere (conducted by Serge Koussevizky) were puzzled, as were critics. It is the least-performed of Prokofiev's seven symphonies; the there are many recordings of it. Alsop's is among the finest. Again she displays the qualities that make her in demand in orchestral world. Alsop has brought new life to the Baltimore Symphony of which she has been music director since 2007, and has had close associations with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony and the São Paulo Orchestra of which she has been principal conductor since 2012. The Brazilian orchestra is in spectacular form on this Prokofiev dick, and they have been recorded with vivid sonic impact. We hear the sound of a large orchestra in a warm acoustic with clear definition and brilliant high frequencies. Ulrich Schneider was producer, editor and engineer and he did a magnificent job. It is unfortunate he wasn't in charge of production for the Glière mentioned above.

Young Ukrainian pianist Violina Petrychen calls her first recording Slavic Nobility, and it features works of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) and his contemporary, Ukrainian pianist and composer Viktor Kosenko (1896-1939). The title promises much, but the result disappoints. Imaginatively, similarly titled pieces are interspersed: two Poèms by Scriabin followed by two by Kosenko, then three mazurkas by each composer, ending with each composer's Sonata No. 2. Kosenko's music has largely been forgotten, and for good reason. Currently there are only two recordings of his piano music listed on ArkivMusic. His style is very much like Scriabin, but not nearly as imaginative, and his sonata doesn't amount to much compared with Scriabin's. None of this music is technically demanding for the soloist. Petrychen's playing is adequate, but there is little here to challenge her. Audio is excellent, and the disk includes notes by the pianist about differences and similarities between each compose's music. Petrychen can be viewed on YouTube playing some of this music.

R.E.B. (Octobe 2014)