HANDEL: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 (Nos. 1 - 6.
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Bernhard Forck, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 51986 737 TT: 72:55

BRUCKNER: Nine Symphonies
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan, cond

DEBUSSY: String Quartet in G minor. RAVEL: String Quartet in F. TAILLEERRE: String Quartet
Stenhammar Quartet
ALBA SAD ABCD431 TT: 61:10

Pentatone's new SACD (the first of three) offers the fist six of some of the true masterpieces of the Baroque repertory. We have the first six of his Concerti Grossi, Op. 6. These are performed by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. This is a German chamber orchestra founded in East Berlin in 1982. Its concertmaster and leader is Bernhard Forck, and notes identify 20 players, all masters in the art of Baroque music. These are spirited performances recorded at the Nikodemusickirsche in Berlin September 2018 and February 2019. The scintillating sounds of these ancient instruments has been captured with uncommon realism. We look forward to the next two disks, and other repertory featuring these magnificent performers. You can see them performing on You Tube, in particular a concert in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in which they perform while standing

Herbert von Karajan's recordings of the nine Bruckner symphonies are legendary. Symphonies 4-9 are analog, 1975-1979. The first three are digital, recorded 1980 - 1981.Recordings were made in Berlin's Philharmonie and the engineering usually is very pronounced stereo. The big rich sound that Brucknerians love so much isn't there. Still, these are important and impressive. All have been digitally remastered, sounding better than ever. The nine CDs seem rather unnecessary if you have Blu ray audio equipment as that contains all tine in optimum audio; it is unfortunate original recordings weren't better. None of these are multi-channel, just two-channel stereo. This is a mid-price reissue. .

Program notes for this new Stenhammar Quartet group say it was founded in 2002, although on line it states they were formed in 1995. On the SACD jacket there is a picture of the four, but It seems odd program notes do not identify them. On line they are Peter Olofsson and Per Öman, violins, Tony Bauer, viola and Mats Olofsson, cello. They have made a number of rewordings for various labels including all of the string quartets by their namesake, Wilhelm Stenhammar, on the BIS label. Now they turn their attention to French repertory, and in addition to the familiar quartets of Debussy and Ravel, we have a relative rarity, one of the few recordings of the Quartet by a neglected French composer, Germaine Tailleferre (1892 - 1983). She was prominent on the French musical scene at the beginning of the 20th century, was a friend of Ravel, won some prizes—and composed profusely, mostly chamber works Little of her music has been recorded and it is easy to understand why. This 10-minute three movement quartet is inconsequential, even when played as well as it is here by the sterling Stenhammar Quartet. Excellent performances throughout, and the rich string sounds have been captured realistically.

R.E.B. (August 2019)