GRIEG: Peer Gynt Op. 23. Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16.
Soloists, choruses, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano. Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Edward Gardner, cond.

SCHNITTKE: Psalms of Repentance. PÄRT: Magnificat. Nunc Dimittis
Estonian Philharmoniuc Chamber Choir/ Kaspars Putnins, cond.
BIS SACD 2292 TT: 59:51

WILLIAM BYRD Lute Music for the Virginals. ORLANDO GIBBONS: Pavan and Gailliard.
Aapo Häkkinen, harpsichord Benedetto Floriani (1570) / virginal Joannes Ruckers (1604)
ALBA SACD ABCD 405 TT: 67:31


The two suites from Grieg's incidental music for Ibsen's play Peer Gynt are often recorded. However, here we have a new recording of the complete score, with vocal soloists and chorus. There is another SACD version available with the Bergen Philharmonic directed by Ole Kristian Ruud; that recording also includes all of the dialogue (BIS 1441/2). Now we have a new recording with the same orchestra but there is no dialogue (the BIS required two disks). It is exciting to hear In the Hall of the Mountain King with the chorus interjections. There are three sopranos: Lise Davidsen, Ann-Helen Moen and Victoria Nava., and baritone Johannes Weisse. There are three chorses: Edvard Grieg Ungdomkor, Edvard Grieg Lprt and the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, all directed by Edward Gardner The Hadanger fiddle is played by Hakon Hogemo. The recording was made made in June 2016 in Bergen's Grieghallen. All of this sounds very authentic indeed. The engineers have captured a very clear sonic picture; I wish more use had een made of rear channels‚giw effective it would have nbeen in the choruses came from the rear! The disk also contains an excellent performance of the Grieg piano concerto with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet as soloist. There are dozens of superb recodings of this warhorse, this is among the finest.The prime reason for owning this SACD is Peer Gynt.

Connoisseurs of choral music should investigate this this new recording of
three unusual, challenging and beautiful works by Schnittke and Pärt. Performances are by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir directed by Kaspars Putnins. Some time ago, this site praised their recording of Baltic Songs when they were directed by Paul Hillier (REVIEW).t Schnittke's Psalms of Repentance, written in 1988, is a 12-part setting of texts from a 16th century anonymous collection of poems for Lent. The premiere took place that year as part of a celebration for the millennium of Christianity in Russia. The two works by Pärt were composed in 1989 and 2001, and both display he composer's unusual approach to choral music. Program notes give detailed information about the music, and the complete text and translations are included. The recording was made in Estonia's St. Nicholas Church in January 2017, and engineers have provided a most realistic if rather distant choral sound.

There is no lack of recordings of keyboard music of William Byrd, but few are available on SACD. Now we have this disk featuring Aapo Häkkinen. He plays two different instruments: the harpsichord was made by Benedetto Floriani, c. 1570, and the Virginal was by Joannes Ruckers, c. 1604. He plays 18 brief works of Byrd, ending with Orlando Gibbons' Pavana and Gailliard. The recording was made in Italy's Sacrestia di Sant'Ignazio June 2016, and the delicate sounds of the instruments are heard clearly.

R.E.B. (February 2018)