> American Song Book / Melody Moore / Haochen Zhang / Fantastic Symphony / Lelio

BERLIOZ: Fantasy on Shakespeare's The Tempest. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14.
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir / TorobToronto Symphony Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis, cond.

An American Song Album
Melody Moore, sopranio. Bradley Moore, piano
PENTATONE SACD 5186 770 TT: 82:38

TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minoir, Op. 23. PPROKOFIEV: Concerto N. 2 in G minor, Op 16.
Haochen Zhang, piano. Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Dima Slobodeniouk, cond.
BIS SACD 2381 TT: 66:29

Most interesting part of this new Berlioz SACD is inclusion of Fantasyt on Shakespeare's The Tempest which is the firstr part of his large-scale work Lelio, The Return to Life. This was composed in Italy in 1831, the year after Symphonie fantasque. The symphon describes the composer's tragic love affair with actresss Harriett Smithson. Lelio was inspired by the composer's unhappy love affair with Marie Moke, again about despair and a return to ife. Lelio has four sections. The final movement is this Fantasy which is scored for Chorus, Orchestra and Piano Four Hands. Orchestration is imaginative and colorful, harps and percussion are prominent, and the bass drum is kept busy. cularly the bass drum which isheard often. Interesting, but hardly one of Berliz's finer works. A strong case is made for it in this excellent performance. Symphonie fantastique has been recorded numerous times, occasionally on SACD, and this new one doesn't challenge the best of those. The recordings were made in Roy ThomsonHall in Toronto September 2018, and the Chandos engineers did their usual firest-class job. Complete texts and translations are provided for the Lelio finale.

Pentatone's new An American Song Album isn't quite what one might expect. This is because in addition to the usual repertory in such an album (Barber and Copland) we have 6 songs by by Jake Heggie, five by Carlisle Floyd, and six by Gordon Getty. Jake Heggie's engaged cycles These Strangers and How Well I Knew the Light, Carlisle Floyd The Mystery is an exploration of motherhood in. The Mystery . Gordon Getty's songs re set to Irish, Welsh, Chilean, German, Arabic and Afro-American poetry. All are welcome additions to the concept of "American" songs, and all are sung with the greatest beauty of tone and sensitivity by a new star on the vocal scene Melody Moore, accompanied by at the piano by Bradley Moore. Excellent, natural audio, and this generoiusly-filled disk (82:38) also contains complete texts. A fine, unusual release!

Young Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang won the Gold Medal at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Since then he has appeared with major orchestras. Some of his performances can be seen on You Tube. Several months go this site mentioned his first solo disk for BIS consisting of music of Schumann, Brahms and Liszt (REVIEW). Now we have his second disk for the label recorded last year in Finland's Sibelius hall., coupling of two of the most challenging of al piano concertos. This interpretation of the familiar Tchaikovsky is surprisingly docile—no virtuoso display here. Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2 is another blockbuster and in spite of the merits of Zhang's performance, it doesn't reach the heights of competing recordings, particularly the recent one by b Yuja Wang with Gustavo Dudamel and the huge Simon Bolivar Orchestra (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (August 2019)