"Cantata" - Secular and sacred cantatas by Handel, , Vivaldi and Bach
Bejun Mehta, countertenor / Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin
PENTATONE SACD 5186 669 TT: 71:51

MESSIAEN: Catalogue d'Oiseau (complete)
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
PENTATONE SACD 5186670 (3 disks & DVD) TT: 60:16 / 31:37 60:58

SCHUBERT: Lied aus der Ferne. Hirtenmelodien from Rosamunde. String Quartet in B flat, D112. Lachen und Weinen. Die Götter Griechlands. Wanders Nachtlied. String Quartet in A minor D. 804. Du bist die Ruh.
Signum Quartet.
PENTATONE SACD 5186673 TT: 79:31

Bejun Mehta is one of the finest countertenors on the operatic scene today. Son of legendary conductor Zubin Mehta, he adds luster to the family name, and has appeared in many leading opera houses to great acclaim. His sound is impressive and his coloratura exemplary. He has made a number of acclaimed recordings and now we have this deluxe Pentatone set called Cantata that offers arias and scenes by Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Melchior Hoffmann, Johann Christian Bach, and Vivaldi. He is accompanied on period instruments by the fine Berlin Akademie Für Alte Musik.

The recording was made in May 2017 in Berlin;s Nikodemuskirche, and engineers have captured his distinctive sound in a natural balance. Complete texts and translations are provided.

Olivier Messiaen wrote his Catalogue d'Oiseaux (Catalogue of Birds) between October 1956 and September 1958 and dedicated it to his second wife, Yvonne Loriod. Each of the thirteen pieces has the title of a French province and reflects the types of birds that inhabit them. He didn't intend to simply recreate the sounds of the b birds, but the atmo changing atmosphere of each region. Yvonne Loriod gave the premiere in Paris April 15, 1959 in Paris, and recorded them as well. There are several other recordings but all are challenged by Pentatone's superb complete set featuring distinguished pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. ¹he recording was made August 2017 in Berlin's Saal I, Funkhaus, Nalepostrasse. Engineers have captured a most realistic, shimmering piano sound, and the digital process perfectly captured the manifold moments of absolute silence written into the score. Three disks contain the performance, and a plus is an extra disk, a DVD in which the pianist explains the music in detail with performance excerpts, and an interview with him. A terrific set!

The Signum Quartet has enjoyed a major impact on the musical world since 2016 and already has made a number of acclaimed recordings of varied repertory. Members are Florian Donderer and Annette Walther, violins; Xandi van Dijk, viola, and Thomas Schmitz, cello. This new disk is devoted to music of Schubert and includes an early Quartet (D 112) and a later one (D 804). Imaginatively, they have also included vocal works as listed above, all arranged for string quartet by Xandi van Dijk. Mastertful performances. Excellent audio in a recording made April 2017 in the Emmanuel Church, Wupperttol. A delightful 80 minutes of Schubert chamber music!

R.E.B. (April 2018)