TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. Sérenade mélancolique, Op. 26. Excerpts from Swan Lake , Eugene Onegin.
Guy Braunstein, violin. BBC Symphony Orchesra / Kiril Karabits, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186747 TT: 70:23

"Reason in Madness"
Music of Brahms, Schumann, Richard Strauss, Koechlin, Debussy, Duparc, Wolf, Saint-Saéns, Chausson and Poulenc
Carlolyn Sampson, soprano Joseph Middleton, piano
BIS SACD 2353 TT: 74:50

Music of Leleu, Jobin, Weill, Gardel, Satie, Hahn, Brahnms, Kosma, and others.
Thomas Leleu Trio
ARS SACD 06900 TT: 66 min

Perhaps we don't really need yet another recording of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto; but this one is very special. Soloist is Guy Braunstein, known for his solo appearances and for chamber music as well. In 2000 he was appointed by Sir Simon Rattle to be concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, a post he held until 2013 when he elected to concertmaster on his solo career. Of course he is a stunning musician with impeccable technique and beauty of tone. In addition to the familiar Sérénade mélancolique and Valse Scherzo, Braunstein also plays his own arrangements for solo violin and orchestra of excerpts from Swan Lake and Eugene Onegin. These carry on the tradition of great violinists of the past who have made similar virtuoso transcriptions. The BBC Orchestra offers strong accompaniment throughout. Conductor Kirill Karabis is an ideal partner in this repertory. This site recently praised a Chandos recording of him leading the Bournemouth Symphony in a program of his father's music (REVIEW). The recording was made June 2018 in London's famous Walthamstow Assembly Hall, and the Pentatone engineers have produced a most realistic audio picture Recommended, even if you have any of the many other SACD recordings of the featured work.

The tuba is featured on this SACD with master of the tube Thomas Leleu (b. 1987) featuring a wide variety of music. The program of 21 brief works includes some of the artist's own music. Leleu has formed a trio; other members are Kim Barbier, piano, and Kai Strobel, vibraphone. This disk focuses popular music, particularly music of Kurt Weill, and you'll also find Satie, Hahn and Michele Legrand. All of this music is heard in arrangements by Laurent Elboz. Performances are impressive, and the audio has captured the unusual instrumental combination very effectively.

Here is another unusual SACD, a collection of music of many composers all descriptive in a rather gentle way of heroines caught up in tragic situations that challenge their mental stability. These include Ophelia, Mignon, Bilitis ad 'La Dame de Monte-Carlo,' all vulnerable women who captured the imagination of many composers, whose works are featured here. These are beautifully sung by English soprano Carolyn Sampson (b. 1974) who has enjoyed a successful career particularly in baroque music. She has made many recordings, and this is a welcome addition, Recordings were made January 2018 in Suffolk's Potton Hall, Westleton, and the BIS engineers have done their usual expert work technically. Complete texts and translations are provided.

R.E.B. (May 2019)