DVORÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World." TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam/Yakov Kreizberg, cond.
PENTATONE PTC 5186 019 (F) (DDD) TT: 67:22 (5 channel) (HYBRID)

Russian Orthodox Cathedral Choir, Paris, with tenor Nicolai Gedda
PENTATONE PTC 5186 115 (F) (DDD) TT: 43:23 (5 channel) (HYBRID)

The Dvorák/Tchaikovsky CD was recorded live in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in January 2003 (Dvorák) and June 2003 (Tchaikovsky). I can't hear a single trace of audience sound and, fortunately, there is no applause at the end—not that the performances don't deserve it. Kreizberg continues to impress as one of the leading younger conductors on today's music scene, and the Netherlands Philharmonic plays beautifully for him. This sound is quite superior to what is heard on the NPO/Kreizberg Schmidt recordings made in Amsterdam in August 2002, in the Yakult Hall of the 'Beurs van Berlage,' (Pentatone 5186015) and Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with Hartmut Haenchen and the NPO which was recorded live in the Concertgebouw in March 2001 (Pentatone 5186004). String tone on the newer recording is rich, woodwinds are well-balanced, brass has burnished beauty and that little cymbal clash in the fourth movement (1:51 into track 4 on this recording) is heard with just the right bit of muted zing. This is a superb surround sound recording with plenty of hall sound from rear speakers.

Russian Orthodox Church Music is a bit of a disappointment. Recorded in Paris in February 1975, it contains fourteen selections of sacred church music but none written by well-known Russian composers who wrote for this purpose including Arensky, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Nicola Gedda (b.1925) is perfect to participate in these performances; during Gedda's early days in Leipzig his father was cantor for the Russian Orthodox congregation and he still was in fine condition vocally. Unfortunately he sings only in four of the pieces. CD playing time of 43:23 is decidedly short, even for the LP on which these were originally issued. Evetz and his Paris Choir of the Orthodox Cathedral are excellent and they have been recorded with an appropriately broad sonic perspective, choral sound here superior to that afforded Rachmaninoff's Vespers recorded in 2002 recently issued on Pentatone (see REVIEW), another CD of limited playing time (49:25). On the new release texts are provided in Russian, English, German and French. Intriguing repertory and fine sound; too bad there isn't more of it.

R.E.B. (October 2003)