BERIO: Cio per voci e instrumenti. Cries of London for ight Voices.
Norwegian Soloists' Choir / Norwegian Radio Orchestra / Grete Pedersen, cond.
BIS SACD 2391 TT: 73:26

BACH: The Toccatas
Masaaki Suzuki, harpsichord
BIS SACD 2221 TT: 69:04

PARRY: Judith or thrthe Regeneration of Manasseh.
Toby Spence, tnor (Manasseh). Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano) (Meshullemeth). Sarah Fox (soprano) (Judith). Henry Waddington (bass baritone) (High Priest of Moloch / Messenger). Crouch End Festival Chorus. London Mozart Players. William Vann, cond
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5268 (2 disks) TT: 131:12 ).

This Berio SACD will be a challenge for most listeners. Berio is best-known for his brilliant Sinfonia, composed in 1969 and scored for orchestra and eight amplified voices. The work, dedicated to Leonard Bernstein had is premiere October 10, 1988 with the composer conducting and the Swingle Singers. Sinfonia is an audience friendly work and there are many recordings. This cannot be said of the two works on this new disk. Cries of London written in 1974-1976 for The King's Singers, heard here in its revised version. The "cries" are the sounds made by street vendors to attract customers, and some of them are quite humor. With a playing time of about 14 minutes, there are seven sections. mostly very brief. Coro for voices and instruments is on a much larger scale, for 40 voices and and and orchestra of 44 including an electronic organ. . There are specific instructions as to placement of performers, beautifully reflected in this superb multi-channel recording. There are 31 brief secuibs with a total performance time of almost an hour. The music often is raucous and usually dissonant. Complete texts and translations re provided. The recordings were made 2018 / 2019 in Oslo concert venues, and the engineers have captured all of the unusual sounds most effectively. Approach with caution!.

This site has praised many recordings by Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki, most recently his second recording of he St. Matthew Passion(REVIEW). Now he turns his attention to keyboard music and we have this splendid collecion of all of Bach's toccatas written throughout his careers. Musicianship of the highest order here, and Suzuki's harpsichord by Wihlem Willem Kroesbergen produces glistening sounds. The recordings were made February 2018 in Japan's Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel, and engineering paces the performer right in front.

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848 - 1918) was a leading British composer at the turn of the century. He composed prolifically, incidental music varied orchestral works including five symphonies. and he is famous for his countless choral works. In particular Jerusalem (1880), and his 1903 choral setting of I Was Glad . We are indebted to Chandos for this premiere compete recording of a major work, the oratorio Judith. Parry wrote the libretto himself focusing on the characters \Manasseh, the aberrant king of Judah, and Judith who saves Manasseh t's kingdom. This is the Old Testament story of Judith, who saved the Israelites by seducing enemy general Holofernes and then hacking off his head,This was premiered in Birmingham in 1880 to great success. It is lengthy and in two acts with many major chorus and solo sections. In spite of this favorable reception, the oratorio has been neglected until now. Today's audiences will be able now to evaluate this major choral work by a leading British composer. This performance was recorded April 25 - 27, 2019 in London's Church of Saint Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, and the engineers have achieved a perfect balance of the large forces involved. This is a class production in a slipcase with a 76-page booklet that contains the complete text. Thank you, Chandos!

R.E.B. (March 2020)