VASKS: Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra "Distant Light." Summer Dances for Two Violins. Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano
Vadim Gluzman / Sandis Steinbergs, violins. Ilze Klava, viola. Reinis Birzieks, cello. Angela Yoffe, piano. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu, cond.
BIS SACD 2352 TT: 84:36

SCHOENBERG: Pelleas und Melisánde, Op. 5. Erwartung, Op. 17. Erwartung, Op. 17.
Sara Jakubiak, soprano. Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Edward Gardner, cond.
CHANDOS CHSA 5198 TT: 67:36

PICKARD: The Gardener of Aleppo. Daughters of Zion. Snowbound. Serenata Concertanta. Three Chicken Studies. The Phagous of Afranio. Ghost-Trainl
Nsh Ensemble / Martin Brabbins, cond.
BIS SACD 2461 TT: 79:22

Recently this site mentioned a fine BIS recording of music of Peteris Vasks for viola (REVIEW). Now we have this relaese of music ficysubg ib the violin beginning with the Concerto for Violin and String Orchestrta cinoised 1996-1008, subtitled Distant Light. amd is dedicated to Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer who recorded it for Telde two decades ago. . \Tthe 33-minute concerto has five sections played wiouyt pause. Therea re three cadenzas, the mood is mostly darkly seren, and the work opens and closes quietly. Summer ances for Two Violins iwas composed in 2018. There are seven brief lively movements and it shows Vasks in a light mood. The 38-minue Piano quartet dates from 2001. It is a bold six-movement work that alreay has been reforded often. Surely can assume that these performanes are what Vask intnded, and the recording, present this unusual music in fine multi-channel sound. Producers warn that as SACD playing time is very long, some players might have diffiult playing the final track-and they rovide a solution for this. A intriguing disk!,

Two of Schoenberg's major works are featured on this Chandos disk. The large-scale symphonic poem Pelleas and Melisande was composed 1902 - 1903. Its rich orchestration shows influence of Richard Strauss. This score has been recorded by numerous famous conductors, and now we have this score in splendid multi-channel audio. There is only one other SACD, with Jac Van Steen and the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra on MDG, coupled with Three Orchestral Pieces of Berg. Pelleas now is coupled with another Schoenberg masterpiece, Erwartung, composed in 1909. This is one pf the composer's atonal works. Erwartung (Expectation), Op. 17, is a one-act monodrama for soprano and orchestra in four scenes, to a libretto by Marie. Pappenheim. A woman looking for her lover in the darkness finally finds him but he is dead, and she wanders off into the darkness. Many major sopranos have recorded this, but the new one is very special. The soprano is amazing Sara Jakubiak, her beautiful voice totally controlled and expressive. This site recently praised her performance in a Berlin Deutsche Opera production of Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane(REVIEW).The Bergen Philharmonic is in top form, and the recording made in Bergen's Grieg Hall June 2019, captures Shoenberg's rich scores in outstanding multi-channel sound. The complete text and translation of Erwartung is provided. An outstanding release!

BIS is to be commended for their interest in music of British composer John Pickard This site has praised their issues of Symphony No. 5 (2014), Sixteen Sunrises (2013), Concertante Variations (REVIEW) and Eden for Brass Band and Symphony No. 4 "Gaia Symphony." (REVIEW). This new disk features chamber music in Pickard's unique style of creating new sounds from various combinations of instruments. First we have two serious works, The Gardener of Aleppo focusing on the war in Syria. Daughters of Zion sets a text reflecting on anti-Jewish aspects of certain early Christian celebrations. Lighter moods are presented in the remaining works: Snowbound for bass clarinet, cello and piano, the four-movement Serenata Concertante for flute and chamber ensemble, Three Chicken Studies (brief works for solo oboe), The Phgagotus pf Afranio for bassoon and piano, ending with a romp called Chost-train, which includes the famous Dies irae. Mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley is soloist in Daughters of Zion, and members of the famous Nash Ensemble, all virtuosos, are featured throughout. This is a disk of unusual music perfectly performed, recorded September 2018 in London's All Saints' Church, East Finchley. The multi-channel audio is excellent. A fascinating issue!

R.E.B. (May 2020)