VASKS: Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra. Symphony for String "Voices" (Balsis).
Maxim Rysanov, viola and conductor / Sinfonietta Riga
BIS SACD 2443 TT: 65:44

STENHAMMAR: Symphony No. 2 in G minor Op 34. Serenade in F, Op. 31
Gothenburg Symphony / Herbert Bloomstedt, cond.
BIS SACD 2424 TT: 83:31

A SIMPLE SONG - Music f Bernstein, Copland, Iv es, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Pärt. Duruflé, Messiaen, Pooulenc, Martin, Liszt, and Rodgers
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-sooprano. Bengt Forsberg playing the Marcussen organ of St. Jacobs Kyrka, Stockholm; Fabian Fredriksson, electric guitar. Sharon Bezaly, flute. Margareta Nilsson, harp. Nils-Erik Sparf, violin. Eileen Nisbeth, viola. Marie Mcleod, cello.
BIS SACD 2327 TT: 69:01

Several years ago this site mentioned a recording of music of Latvian composer Petris Vasks (b . 1946), Vox Amosism, music that equates the beauty of nature with love. Now we have this disk of two major compositions of this remarkable composer. Although Vasks' early woks wee rather aggressive, his later style is more serene, reflecting the sounds of nature and birds. The Concerto for Viola and String orchestras was composed 2014 - 2015 and is deducted to master violist Maxim Rysamov who is featured on this premiere recording. It is a rather long concerto (35:39) in four movements: Andante, Allegro moderato, Andante, and Adagio, ending quietly. The soloist has many serene passages along with plenty of opportunity for virtuoso display. Doubtless the world of the viola will welcome this major addition to their library. Also on this new release we have one of Vasks' major works, Symphony for Strings "Voices." This three-movement work was composed in 1991 and is dedicated to Finnish conductor Juha Kangas who led the premiere that year with the Ostrobothian Orchestra. The tense music reflects the troubled times when the Baltic States had to deal with Soviet invaders. The half-hour work has three movements: Voices of Silence, Voices of Life, and Voices of Conscience. This is an incredibly complex score, and the composer's unique style is ever apparent. There are surging dissonant climaxes, and it is rather like Verklärte nacht on steroids. A fascinating work, and it is played magnificently by the superb Sinfonietta Riga. The recordings we made October 2018 in Latvia's St. Johns Church, and the multi-channel sound is most impressive. This is a major release for collectors!

It was in 1953, 65 years ago, that Herbert Blomstedt conducted the Gothenburg Symphony for the first time. Since then he has been back on numerous occasions, performing a wide range of works - only not those by Wilhelm Stenhammar. Blomstedt has told of how an international career gave him little opportunity to study and conduct Stenhammar's music. At the age of 85, however, when he no longer had any obligations as a chief conductor, he thought 'now or never' and began to study the composer's major scores in earnest. And when the time came to perform and record them, what other orchestra could he choose but the Gothenburg Symphony - Stenhammar's 'own' orchestra which he conducted between 1907 and 1922. The works on this album are possibly the finest orchestral music that Stenhammar composed and he gave the premières of both with the orchestra, Symphony No. 2 in 1915 and the revised version of the Serenade in 1920. In fact, he even dedicated the symphony to the members of the orchestra, his 'dear friends'. Bloomsted and theexcellent Gothenbg Symphony offer dedicted performances recorded live in Sweden's Gothenbrg Concert Hall December 2013 (symphony) and June 2014 (Serenade). Excellent, totally satisfying multi-channel sound. Let us hope more of this conuctor's Gothenberg performances will be issued

Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie Von Otter has enjoyed a long distinguished career. A favorite of major conductors, she has recorded a wide range of her repertory especially in operas ranging from Handel and Mozart to Offenbach, Strauss and Berg. Here is her latest disk, proof that even though now 65, her voice still is beautiful and controlled. She begins with A Simple Song from Leonard Bernstein's Mass, and ends with Climb Every Mountain from Richard Rodgers' The Sound of Music. In between we have 15 songs by a variety of composers. These performances are unusual as accompaniment is by Bengt Forsberg playing the Martcuyssen irgan of St. Jakobs Kyrka in Stockholm, with occasional appearances from other instruments as listed above. This is the first time I have heard Mahler with organ accompaniment¡This is a highly entertaining disk. Recordings were made December 2016 in Stockholm's St. Jakobs Kyrka. A audio is well-balanced. Complete texts are provided. An important addition to the famed mezzo's discography.

R.E.B. (April 2020)