RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27
London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD LSO 0841 TT: 58:50}

FRANCK: Three Pieces for Large Organ Three Chorales for Large Organ.
Pétur Sakari, organ
BI SACD 2349 TT: 80:37

WEBER: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C. Piano Cncerto No. 2 in E flat. Konzzertstück in F Nubir
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano. Kölner Akademe . Michael Alexander Willems, cond.
BIS SACD 2384 TT: 56:18

About a decade ago this site praised a DVD of a Europakonxzert by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle presented in Madrid's Teatro Real that featured Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 (REVIEW). Rattle was Music Director of the City of Birmingham Orchestra 1980 -1998. He also was Principal Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic 1981 - 1984, and during that time made his first recording of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, still in the catalog. After leaving the BPO in 2018 he became Music Director of the London Symphony. This new performance of the Rachmaninoff Symphony is sensitive as well as dramatic. It was played in London's Barbican, September 2019. Andrew Cornall produced the recording and it seems Classic Sound Ltd. and Jonathan Stokes have solved the manifold problems of recording in that venue. This is the finest SACD sonically I have heard in the LSO Live series, a well-balanced audio picture with rich string sound and wide dynamic range. There are numerous recordings of this popular symphony, but this new SACD version ranks among the finest.

Young Finnish organist Pétur Sakari (b. 1992) already has to his credit a fine recording of French music for BIS. Now this second release for the label, he concentrates on six of the greatest works written for the instrument: Franck's Trois Pieces (Fantasie / Cantabile / Piece Heroique), and the three grand Chorales. These are played to perfection on the mighty 1880 Cavallé-Coll Organ of the Cathedral Sainte-Croix, Orleans. The BIS engineers have done their usual impressive sonic magic. This SACD has a total playing time of 80:37. There are numerous recordings of these Franck masterpieces including some historic performances, but this new one surely deserves attention.

Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam has enjoyed a distinguished career. He has many excellent recordings of varied repertory, many mentioned on this site. Latest is his set of Beethoven Conceertos (REVIEW). Brautigam's latest is this disk of all of Weber's works for piano and orchestra, the two concertos and the famous Konzerrtstücke. He plays them with ultimate virtuosity and is given appropriate period-instrument support from the period instrument orchestra conducted by Michael Alexander Willems. These Weber masterpieces are appropriately performed on a forte-piano, even though this smaller instrument cannot produce the brilliant sound of a modern instrument. Excellent audio, and recommended.

R.E.B. (May 2021)