DEBUSSY: Pelléas et Melisaande
Magdalena Kozena IMelisande). Christian Gerharer (Pelleas). Gerald Finleyh (Golaud). Franz-Josef Sel;ig (Arkel). Bermarda Foml )Gemevieve). London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.Sir Simon Rattle, cond.
.LSO LIVE SACD 4 disks (3 SACDs, 1 Blu Ray)

DEBUSSY: Sonata for Cello and iano. BRIDGE: Sonata for Cello and Piano. FAURE: Sonata No. 1 in DE minor for Cello and Piano. , Op. 109. WEBERN: Drei Kleine Stücke, Op. 11. SAINT-SAËNS: The Swan. PARRY: Jerusalem .NOVELLO: Keep the Home-Fires Burning. Traditional: God Save the King.
Steven Isserlis, cello. Connie Shih, piano
BIS SACD 2312 TT: 65:38

PAGANINI: 24 Caprices
Sueye Park, violin
BIS SACD 2282 TT: 82:41

Debussy's Pelléas and Melisande has had many recordings since the premiere in Paris in 1902. There are many recordings of this subtle opera, by Claudio Abbado, Herbert von Karajan and Pierre Boulez, and there are "historic" recordings directed by Jean Fournet, Ernest Ansermet, Serge Baudo and Roger Désormière. Now we have this version which is very special. Two performances were given in London's Barbican Hall January 9 - 10, 2016, commemorating the distinguished conductor's appointment as Music Director of the LSO beginning this year. The cast could not be bettered, with Christian Gerhaher an ideal Pelléas and Czech soprano Magdalena Kozema, Rattle's wife, equally impressive. This recording has the advantage of SACD and the engineers have captured Debussy's radiant sounds with remarkable clarity. The opera requires 3 disks, with a fourth Blu Ray disk. This is a luxurious package with many photos and the complete libretto. The four disks sell for the price of two.

Master cellist Steven Isserlis mas has made numerous recordings for various labels; his site praised a recent BIS release of sonatas of Martinu and Olli Mustonen, the latter with the composer at the piano (REVIEW).His latest disk, oddly is called The Cello in Wartime. The major works by Debussy, Fauré, Bridge and Webern seem to have little to do with the war except that is the era in which they were composed. Also there are two short pieces that are associated to wartime, and appropriately they are played on a unique instrument designed by Harold Triggs to be taken into the trenches during the war. These are Keep the Home-Fires Burning, and God Save the King. Sound of the historic cello is not as rich as today's modern instrument, but both are played to perfection by Isserlis and his fine accompanist Connie Shih. Excellent, natural audio.A lovely recording in every way.

Paganinis 24 Cap[rices are the ultimate test for any violinist. The set ends with the famous Caprice No. 24, one of the most famous tunes in classical music, that inspired numerous composers to write variations on it. Many famous violinists have recorded all 24 including Michael Rabin, Itzhak Perlman, Salvatore Accardo and, more recently, Rachael Barton Pine, Julia Fischer, James Ehnes and Midori. Now we have this new version by the remarkable 17 year old South Korean Sueye Park. She started playing the violin when only 4 and already has a remarkable career. She tosses off these Paganini gems with total technical finesse and beauty of tone as well. The recording was made in Sweden's Acusticum Studio Pitea September / October 2016. Excellent audio, as usual from BIS.

R.E.B. (December 2017)