STRAUSS: Am Alpine Symphony
Frankfurt RadioOrchestra / Andrés Orozco-Estrada, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 4186 628 TT: 55:32

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43. Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 95.
Russian National Orchestra/ Mikhai Pletnev, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 586 647 TT: 74:47 / 57:45

"Improvisations for two organs in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City"
CYBELE SACD 060801 TT: 60:08

This Pentatone SACD of Strauss's An Alpine Symphony is stunning. The performance is by the first-class Frankfurt Radio Symphony; you can experience many of their fine videos on You Tube where you will find many fine videos of this music by major conductors. Andrés Orozco-Estrada shows total command of this huge symphonic poem, and there is plenty of excitement where appropriate. A major plus here is audio quality. Recorded October 13 - 14, 2016 in the Frankfurt Opera House, the engineers have provided a truly impressive multi-channel recording, even capturing the softest cymbals with shimmering brilliance. Pentaatone easily could have included another Strauss symphonic poem which would have been welcome, but let us be thankful for what we have.

Mikhail Pletnev and his Russian National Orchestra already have recorded Shostakovich's symphonies 11 and 15, both highly impressive. They continue their cycle now wi this 2-disk set offering two more block-buster performances, symphonies 4 and 10. Both of ese are among the finest you'll hear of these problematic works. Recordings were made February 9 - 16, 2017 in Moscow's Philharmonia-2 , and the engineering staff headed by Renaud Loranger, has provided an impressive, multi-channel listening experience. Recommended! Symphony No. 4 has major competition from the recent Andres Nelsons Boston Symphony version (REVIEW), but Pletnev has the advantage of multi-channel sound.

Cybele has an unusual disk featuring performances in the huge Cathedral Metropolitana, the largest cathedral in Latin American, in Mexico City. Two of the organs in the cathedral are heard on the disk. Jürgen Essl plays the 1735 Evangelien Organ built by Joseph Francisco Nassarre; Jeremy Joseph plays the Epistel Organ created by Jorge de Sesma, 1695 and J. Fr. Nassarre, Cimorra, 1736. Both organists are presented in a . one-hour program of "Improvisations for Two Organs." There are eleven separate selections: Inertia, Crossing the Unknown, Torrent, Impact I, Voladores, B Ritual, Fire Planet, Impact II, For J-P.L., Pasaje, and Flowers Beyond the Unknown. The titles often seem to have little to do with the music. Those who love the organ might wish to investigate this unusual disk of music they probably have not heard before. Sounds of the two organs are separated in stereo, but the overall effect is rather undefined sound in a highly resonant acoustic. I found it quite boring; this is not a disk I shall return to.

R.E.B. (September 2018)