NATHAN: Paestum for Orchestra. Omaggio a Gesualdo. The Space of a Door. Timbered Bells. Missing Words I. Icarus Dreamt. Paestym For Sinfonietta.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project / Gil Rose, cond
BMOP SACD 1971 TT: 60:08

FORD: Mr. Jericho. SULIVAN: Haddon Hall. CELLIER: Captain Billy
BBC Singers / BBC Concert Orchestra / John Andrews, cond.
DUTTON EPOCH SACD 2CDLX 7372 (2 disks) TT: 2:30:31

KALEIDOSCOPE - Beethoven Transcriptions
SAINT-SAËNS: 2nd movements of String Quartets 6 and 7. BALAKIREV: third movement of Quartet No. 8. fifth movement of Quartet No. 13. MUSSORGSKY: Second and Third movements of Quartet No. 16. BEETHOVEN: Theme and Variations on the Fourth movement of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet
Mari Kodama, piano
PENTATONE SACD 5186 841 TT: 56:02

American composer Eric Nathan (b. 1983) has captured the imagination of the musical world. This SACD contains nine brief works composed 2008 - 2016, all with unusual titles as listed above. The Space of a Door was commissioned by the Boston Symphony and the premiered it with Andris Nelsons on the podium took place November 8, 2016. Their recording of the piece is available on Naxos 8559874. Program notes state it was written to open a Brahms concert, and in it there are glimpses of that composer (which I did not recognize). All of these works have rather odd but imaginative titles which to me seem to have little to do with musical content. Nathan's orchestrations are complex often with loud bursts of dissonance. Program notes give details of each work. Gil Rose and his superb Boston Orchestra surely do what can be done for this music The recording was made 2017-2018 and engineers have captured a very realistic multi-channel audio picture. A intriguing release for adventurous listeners.

Japanese pianist Mari Kodama (b. 1967) has had a successfu career in Europe, the United States, and Japan She seems to specialize in Beethoven and has recorded all of his concertos with her husband, Kent Nagano, on the podium. I additionto the concerted works, she has recorded all 32 of Beethoven'ss sonatas, for Pentatone, a fine set in every way. On this fasinating new CD called Kaleidoscope she returns to Beethoven in a different and unusual way. Featured are movements of various string quartets arranged for solopiano by others as detaied above. Yukihisa M Miyama , who specializes in unearthing rare lost scores, discovered these unusual arrangements by major composers. Mari Kodama's interest in Beethoven is detailed in CD program notes; unfortunately no where does it explain why these composers chose to make their transcriptions. Also we have Beethoven's 10-minute Theme and Variations on the fourth movement of Mozart's of Mozaert's Clarinet Quintet, another rarity. Beautiful performances by Kodama, and the resording captures her rich sound in excellent multi-channel audio.

If you enjoy Gilbert & Sullivan operettas you must investigate this unique SACD that offers first-class performances of some rarities. Arthur Sullivan was at the height of his fame in 1892. Gongoliers was a smashing success when he wrote Haddon Hall in 1882 to a libretto by Sydney Grundy. The operetta, set at the eponymous hall, dramatists the legend of Dorothy Vernon's elopement with John Manners, resetting the tale in the 17th century. The silly plot is described in detail in program notes. There are 31 tracks of typical G & S music. Apparently at the time it was the custom to preface an operetta with a shorter one-act work as a curtain-raiser. Two of them are here, musical comedy works by Ernest Ford (1858 - 1919) and Françoise Cellier (1849 - 1914). Both of these were composers and conductors associated with the D'Oyly Carte Theatre. Ford's Mr. Jericho is about the love affairs of a famous maker of jam. Christopher Jolly, trying to find his identity, is the main character in Cellier's Captain Billy .Extensive program notes provide information about all these convoluted plots. The performances are right in the spirit of operetta. The multi-channel recording is highly effedtive. Hereare premiere recordings, a first-cass presentation of delightful music.

R.E.B. (June 2020)