<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Enigma Variations / The Planets / Martinsson / Orjan Matre

ELGAR: Enigma Variations, Op. 36. HOLST: The Planets, Op. 32.
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Littonm cond.
BIS SACD 2068 TT: 82:42

MARTINSSON: Opening Sounds, Op. 94. Ich denke Dein...Op. 100. Tour de force, Op. 95. Into Eternity, Op. 103.
Lisa Larsson, soprano. Malmö Symphony Orchestra / Paul Mägi, cond.
BIS SACD 2323 TT: 66:44

ORJAN MATRE: Folk Song arrangements
Oslo Chamber Choir / Hakon Daniel Nystedt, cond
2L 153 (two disks) TT: 56 min.

This Elgar/Holst SACD is a major release. Andrew Litton has is a master in this repertory; he recorded both of these British masterpieces before, but here he leads the first-class Bergem Philharmonic of which he was Music Director 2003 - 2015. The previous Elgar was with the Royal Philharmonic, the Holst with the Dallas Symphony. On these new versions, he has the advantage of state-of-the-art audio from the BIS engineers. The Elgar was recorded June 2013, the Holst February 2017. On these recordings we hear multi-channel audio at its best. Orchestral textures are well-balanced, strings are resonant, brass and percussion have impact—and the organ impresses. An outstanding release with a total playing time of more than 83 minutes.

Recently this site praised a BIS SACD of music of Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson (b. 1956). This contained Open Mind, Orchestral songs on poems by Emily Dickinson, In Memoriam and Concerto for Orchestra (REVIEW). Now we have another welcome issue of his music. It contains four commissioned works and features soprano Lisa Larsson who was heard on the Emily Dickinson songs on the previous release. Here she sings a work written for her, five poems about love by Goethe, Rilke, and Eichendorff. These songs are welcome additions to the lieder catalog, and the composer's rich orchestration is a plus. Larsson also is featured in the other major work on this disk, Into Eternity that features settings of two poems by Swedish poet Karin Boyce. This is a fascinating 21-minute work and surekty what we hear is a definitive performance. The disk opens with a rousing Opening Sounds featuring brilliant brass and percussion, which has very much of a John Williams sound. The other purely orchestral work is Tour de Force called by the composer"a trial of strength for the composer, the players, and the audience" I found it the least interesting work on this disk. The recordings were made in 2017 at the Malmö Live Concert Hall in Sweden, and engineering is state-of-the-art. Complete texts and translations are provided. I look forward to future releases of music of this remarkable Swedish composer.

CD notes on this latest 2L issue are obtuse to say the least. We have 12 Norwegian folk songs that deal with hymns, mystical legends and bittersweet love songs. These have been arranged by one of Norway's leading composers Orjan Matre. It is stated that his treatment of these varied folk songs is more a sonic interretatopm of the music's identity. I'm not clear what this means, but the composer has treated 12 folk songs to his new world made possible by the engineers who have provided a wide-range, resonant sound with all 18 members of the chorus clearly identified. The recording was made in Norway's Ries Church on several days in 2017. The same program is presented on two disks in varied audio formats. Complete texts and trnslations are provided.

R.E.B. (August 2019)