c Mahler: Symphony No.7 / Minnesota Orchestra/Vanska / Bach harpsihord oncertos / Masato Suzuki / Frank Symphony in D minor / Gustavo Gimeno / enis Kozhukhim

MAHLER: Symphony No. 7 in E minor
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä, cond.
BIS SACD 2386 TT: 77:30

BACH: Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor BWV 1052. Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor BWV 1045. Harpsichord Concerto No. 8 in D minor BWV 1059R. Harpsichord Concerto No. 2 in E BWV 1053.
Bach Collegium Japan / Masato Suzuki, harpsichrd/conductor
BIS SACD 2401 TT: 66:34

FRANCK: Symphony in D minor. Symphonic Variations for Piano and Ochestra.
Denis Kozhukhin, piano. Luxumbourg Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Gimeno, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186771 TT: 54:01

Tbe superb Minnesota Orchestra has already made acclaimed recordings of Maher's Symphonies 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. They continue their series with this powerful performance of the enigmatic Symphony No. 7. This dfive-movement symphony, often called Song of the Night combines the sublime and the macabre perhaps more than any other Mahler symphony, particularly in the three central movements. There are dozens of recordings along with superb videos particularly those with Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (REVIEW), and Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw (REVIEW). Many recordings are available on SACD. so this new one has keen competition but it is surely among the finest. The recording was made during live performances November 2018 in Minneapolis's Orchestra Hall, and the sound picture is rich and impacful. This is a fine addition to the Mahler discography.

This site has praised numerous recordings of the amazing Masato Suzuki both as conductor and keyboard artist. He specializes in music of Bach and has made dozens of superb recordings, most recently the Bach Toccatas played on the harpsichord (REVIEW).On this new disk we have the first volume in a series of Bach harpsichord concertos. It contains concertos 1, 2 and 5 as well as Concerto No. 8 which actually has been reconstructed by Suzuki using music from Cantata No. 35. Suzuki leads the period-instrument Bah Collegian of Japan from the keyboard and as always performances are outstanding. The recordings were made July 2018 in in Tokyo's Yamaha Hall, and the well-balanced engineering presents this music with utmost clarity. Another fine SACD from Suzuki and his forces!

Dozens of conductors have recorded Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor. For many collectors the definitive version is the 1961 Chicago Symphony / Pierre Monteux RCA recording. Now we have another excellent performance, this one apparently the only one on SACD. The performance features the first-rate Luxembourg Philharmonic under young Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno. Gimeno (b. 1976) began his musical career as a percussionist joining the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2001; the following year he became the Orchestra's principal percussionist. With encouragement from Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado and Mariss Jansons, he studied conducting, and led several smaller Dutch orchestras. HisGus career devekioed quickly and today is much in demand in concert halls. and beginning in 2015 became conductor of the Luxembourg Philharmonic with a four-year contract. He also recently was appointed Music Director of the Toronto Symphony with a five-year contract. Obviously he will be a major figure on the conductor scene. He surely shows his control in this wonderful performance of Franck's Symphony in D minor, and t.he orchestra is in top form. A plus is the performance of Franck's Symphonic Variations with young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhim as soloist . I was not impressed by his first Pentatone recording, Tchaikovsky and Grieg concertos(REVIEW), but he plays this Frank masterpiece with sensitivity as well as virtuosity. It is unfortunate Franck's other major work for piano and orchestra, Les Djinns, wasn't included—playing time for this disk is only 54:00. The recording was made 2019 in Luxembourg's Philharmonic Hall, and the multi-channel audio is totally satisfying.

R.E.B. (June 2020)