> Bliss: The Lady of Shalo†t /Kullervo / Madetoja / Klami / Pylkkanen / Benedict Sheehan

BLISS: The Lady of Shalot (Ballet in one act) (1938). Rout for Soprano Voice and Orchestra (1920).. Polonaise (1925). One-Step (1923).. Amswering You (1944). Heritage of Britain (1950). Two Contrasts for String Orchestra (1950). March of Homage in Honour of a Great Man (1965).
Ilona Domnich, soprano. BBC Concert Orchestra / Martin Yates, cond.

MADETOJA: Kullervo, Op. 15. KLAMI: Kalevala Suite, Op. 23. SIBELIUS: Lemminkainen in Tuonela,Op.23 No. 2 (1897 version). PYLKKANEN: Kullervo Goesto War
Lahti Symphony Orchestra /Dima Slobodeniouk, cond.
BIS SACD 2374 TT:70:43

SHEEHAN: Vespers
Saint Tikhon Choir / Benedict Sjeejam. cpnd.

Dutton/Epoch continues to explore forgotten English music with this SACD devoted to Sir Arthur Bliss (1891 - 1975). The composer's best-known works are available on disk; check CD INDEX and SURROUND SOUND REVUEWS. Here is a well-filled SACD (77:38) of lighter fare featuring the 43-minute ballet The Lady of Shallot composed in 1958, a frothy collection of dances and interludes. The disk is filled out with short works several written for the BBC, and a brief scene for soprano and orchestra suggesting sounds that might be heard at carnival. Performances throughout are superb, and the recordings made in BBC studios has well-balanced multi-directional sound. Several of these pieces are world premier recordings—beautiful presentations of light-hearted repertory.

The Kaleva;a 19h Century epic of poems cmpiled by Elias Lönnro, ia a story about the creation of the earth. Many composers have set it to music, particularly Sibelius; there are many recordings of his masterpiece on this site (REVIEW). Now we have this itriguing disk with music by three other Finnish composers, Leevi Madetoja (1887 -m1947), Uuno Klami (1900 - 1961). and Tauno Pylkkänen (1918 - 1980). Matoja's Kullervo is a tense 14-minute symphonic poem depecting the tragic heroe's life. Iino's Suite has five descrptive eisodes, and the third Finnish composer, Pylkänen, offers a rousing Kullervo Goes to War. And of particular interest is the world premiere reording of the original vversion of Sbelius's Lemminkâinen in Tuonela. All of this music is well payed by the Lahti Orchestra, and the BIS engineers have done their usual fine job in multi-channel audio. Highly recommended!

Composer/conductor Benedict Sheehan is a major figure on today's choral music scene. Hi is Director of Music at Saint Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary, and Artistic Director of their Choir. ¹his SACD called Vespers, contains music inspired by Rachmaninoff's famous work of the same name. It is sung in English , thirteen psalms described as as "vocal concertos." Soloists are soprano Fotina Naumenko, mezzo-soprano Helen Karloski, countertenor Timothy Parsons, tenor Paul D'Arcy, baritones Jamal Sarikoki, and Michael Hawkes, bass Jason Thomas and Glenn Miller, basso profundo. It is choral music on a grand scale performed to perfection under the composer's direction. The recording conveys the rich choral sonorities of a resonant acoustic Complete texts are provided A fine, unusual release!

R.E.B. (December 2021)