\ Semyon Bychkov WDR Orchestra / Mendelssohn Octet / Enescu Octet /Beethoen Piano Trios /

RACHMANINOFF: The Bells, Op. 35. Symphonic Dances, Op. 45. STRAUSS: Elektra. An Alpine Symphony Op. 64. Till Eulyenspiegel's Merrry Pranks, Op. 28. WAGNER: Lohengrin. VERDI: Messa da Requiem.
WDR Orchestra / Soloists / Semyon Bychkov, cond.
PROFIL PHL 8052 (9 CDs).

BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3. Piano Trio in E flat, Op. 70 No. 2. Allegretto in B flat Woo 39
Sitkovetsky Trio
BIS SACD 2239 TT: 66:17

MENDELSSOHN: Octet in E flat, Op. 20. ENESCU: Octet for Strings in Cm Op. 7
Gingolts Quartet / Meta 4
BIS SACD 2447 TT: 69:43

In 1997 Russian conductor Senyon Semyon Bychkov was appointed Music Director of the WDR Orchestra, a position he held until 2010. He has enjoyed a remarkable career and held major positions with the Orchestra of Paris and and frequently conducts other major orchestras.. He is also known for his many performances in leading opera houses. Bychkov has made numerous recordings. This new mid-price issue contains many of his major performances with the WDR Orchestra.in SACD format—although most of the audio is in front with ambient sound coming from the rear. All except one have previously been issued over the years with the exception of the Strauss orchestral works. The Alpine Symphony recorded in December 2007. A brilliant performance indeed, and this disk offers the most effective multi-channel audio in the set with the important hunting horns in the beginning perfectly placed. This performance is not available elsewhere. The opera recordings have sterling casts, although Deborah Polaski is not an ideal Elektra. However others in the cast are strong, an this is a true multi-channel recording (REVIEW). Lohengrin features Johan Botha in the title role, with Adrianne Pieczonka ss Elsa, Folk Struckmann as Telramund, and Petra Lang as Ortrud. Soloists in the Verdi requiem are Violeta Urmana, Olga Borodina, Ramón Vargas and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Soloists in the Rachmaninoff are Evgeny Akimov, Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Vladimir Vaneev. One wonders why this set did not include more performances never before issued.. A 20-page booklet gives com[complete recording information.

The Sitkovetzky Trio was formed in 2007. The members re Alexander Sitkovetzky, violin, Osang Enders, cello, and Wu Ooam, piano. Already they have BIS recordings of trios of Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Smetana and Suk, and now they urn their attention to Beethoven. This is the first disk n a project series, and it contains one of the earliest (Trio in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3) and one of the latest (Trio in E flat Op. 70 No. 2). The disk is filled out with one of Beethoven's final works, Allegretto in B flat, a short piece (6:02) which he wrote in 1812 for Maximilliane, the 12-year old daughter of friends of his, Franz and Antonie Brentano. It is a delightful miniature. All of this music is given sterling performances by the excellent trio in this recording made in Emglamd's Potton Hall, May 2018. Excellent, natural audio.

Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings composed in 1825 when only 17, remains a favorite and currently there are more than four dozen recordings. To these we can now add another excellent version which has the advantage of superb multi-channel audio. The performance is by the Gringolts Quartet, founded in 2008, consisting of violinists Ilya Gringolts and Anahit Kurtikyan, violist Silvia Simonionescu, and cellist Claudius Herrmann. They are joined by the Finnish Meta5, which consists of violinists Anti Tikkanen and Minna Pensolo, violist Atte Kilpeläinen, and cellist Tomas Djuposjöbacka. These rare fine performances, but I imagine most listeners will seldom visit the Enescu Octet, which was completed in 1900. The premiere was supposed to be that year but after a number of rehearsals the Octet was called "incomprehensibly modernist" and abandoned. Nine years later the premiere took place in Paris to a warmer reception, but the melodic elements of the composer's famous Roumanian rhapsodies is absent. The eight players do what can be done for the music The recordings were made December 2018 in Finland's Selloseli, Espoo, and engineering is up to Bis's usual high standard.

R.E.B. (Aptril 2020)