PROKOFIEV: Four Portraits and Dénouement from The Gamblerr, Op.59. Autumnal Sketch, Op. 8. Suite from The Tale of the Stone Flower
Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Dima Slobodeniouk, cond.
BIS SACD 2301 TT: 62:42

20th Century Guitar Music
Music of Fagerlund, Aho, Mustonen, Dun,Tiensuu, and Alakotila
Ismo Eskelinen, guitar
BIS SACD 2395 TT: 60:42

Music of Elgar, Sarasate, Kreisler, Dvorak, Milstein, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, Rachmaninoff, De Falla, Grasse, Ernst and Brahms.
Sueye Park, violin. Love Derwinger, piano
BIS SACD 2382 TT: 58:32


Prokofiev's opera The Gambler, based on Dostoyevsky's short novelwas written in 1915, was one of his earliest works. . The young composer wanted to dispense with all standard operatic conventions. He succeeded - this is an aggressive,dynamic score that would shock audiences. It didn't have its premiere until 1930 when a French production (Le Joeur) was given in Brussels, the only production during Prokofiev's lifetime. He arranged the orchestral suite of music from the opera used for each of he four principal characters. The plot centers on Alexis who is waiting for his old aunt Babulenka to die so he can inherit her vast fortune only to find that she is well; she then gambles away all of her fortune to Alexis dismay.The 26-nubute suite is filled with dramatic, colorful outbursts, and this performance is superb. We also have a 30-minute suite from one of the composers last works, the ballet The Tale of the Stone Flower, which was not premiered until 1954, a year after Prokofiev's death. It is a colorful score with numerous brilliant dances and gypsy interludes. Delightful music indeed. And we also have one of the composer's earliest works, the impressionistic Autumnal Sketch. These recordings were made 2016 - 2018 in Finland's Laahti Sibelius Hall, and the engineers have provided a very impressive multi-channel audio experience A terrific addition to the SACD catalog!

Young Finnish guitarist Ismo Eskekubeb is at the beginning of his career, and here he offers a stimulating prigra if 20th century music for guitar. Of interest here is that the artist has commissioned or collaborated with all of the composers except Tan Tun. Sebastian Fagerlund (b. 1972) wrote his Kronos for Solo Guitar in 2011. Kalevi Aho wrote Solo XI in 2013, and Olli Mustonen (b. 1957) wrote Sonata No 2 in 2018. Jukka Tiensuu (b. 1948) wrote his eight-part Daydreams for guitar and electronic guitar in 2016. Eskelinen made his own transcription of Psalm written in 2015 by Timo Alakotila (b. 1959). Tan Dun;s Seven Desires was composed in 2002 by Tan Dun (b .1957). Most of this music is quietly reflective. In Daydreams the electronic guitar is used sparinglty, mostly for echo effects. Performances are excellent and the recording made made April 2018 in Finland's Hyvinkääsal. and audio is excellent. This is an essential release for those who love guitar music and want to hear something quite different.

South Korean violinist Sueye Park impressed with her BIS recording of the Paganini Caprices mentioned on this site some months ago (REVIEW). Now we have this disk of familiar encore showpieces for the violin. You'' find Sarasate's Introduction and Tarantelle, Elgar's Salut d'amour (the title of this album), two pieces by Kreisler: La Gitana and Tambourin chinois, Dvorak's Songs My Mother Taught Me, Milstein's Paganiniana, Tchaikovsky's Melodie, Op. 42 No. 2, Wieniawski's Scherzo-Tarantelle, Contemplation by Brahms and works of Falla, Grasse, snf Rachmaninoff. Love Derwinger is the sensitive accompanist. The recording was made August 2017 in Sweden's Studio Acusticum, and audio is excellent. If you're looking for a disk of bonbons for the violin, here it is.

R.E.B. (April 2020)