> Haydn The Creation / Pieter Wispelwey / Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante / Tcherepnin / Crumb

HAYDN: The Creation.
Sally Matthews, soprano; Ian Bostridge, tenor; Dietyrich Henschel, baritone; London Symphony Chorus and Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD LSO0628 (2 dsks) TT: 37:42 & 65:07

PROKOFIEV: Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 125. TCHEREPNIN: Suite for Cello Solo. CRUMB: Sonata for Cello Solo.
Pieter Wispelwey, cello; Rotterdam Philharmonic Orch/Vassily Sinaisky, cond. (Prokofiev)

TELEMANN: Sonata in E minor, TWV41:e5. Sonata in A minor TWV51:a6. Sonata in F miinor TWV 41:f1. BACH: Sonata in E minor, BWV 1020. Sonata in A minor BWV 1034. C. P. E. BACH: Sonata in D minor, Wq.132.
Matthew Wilkie, bassoon; Neal Peres Da Costa, harpsichord; Kees Boersma, double bass
MELBA SACD MR 301124 TT: 73:23

Throughout his career Sir Colin Davis has been recognized as a fine interpreter of music of Haydn; his recordings of more than a dozen of the symphonies, made with the Concertgebouw Orchestra 1977-1986, are still available on Philips at budget price, and two of them—Nos. 88 and 99—have been issued in splendid four-channel sound on Pentatone (REVIEW). Here, on the LSO's own label, we have an outstanding live performance of The Creation recorded in October 2007 in London's Barbican Hall, sung in English with three first-class soloists. Producer James Mallinson has conquered the rather dry acoustics of the venue, and the two disks sell for the price of one premium-priced disk. The complete text is provided in German and English.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) wrote his Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 125 for his good friend Mstislav Rostropovich who played the premiere February 18, 1952 in Moscow (with Sviatoslav Richter making his first appearance as a conductor).This work actually is a revision of Prokofiev's Cello Concerto No. 1 written about two decades earlier, poorly received at the time. In its new form, it is an incredibly difficult work on which the composer and Rostropovich collaborated, and you can be sure every possible (or impossible) technical demand on the soloist is included. It has been somewhat neglected by cellists although there are recordings by Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky and Janos Starker (among others), and Rostropovich made several, including a DVD video. You also can see his live performance recorded Jan. 12, 1970 with the Monte Carlo National directed by Ollu Kamu on YouTube. Peter Wispelwey's new live recording with the Rotterdam Philharmonic conducted by Vassily Sinaisky was made November 2007 in Rotterdam's De Doelen Hall. Again the young cellist shows he is a master of the instrument. The two sonatas for solo cello, early works by Tcherepnin and Crumb are attractive if ungenerous fillers (total PT for the disk is less than an hour). Tcherepnin's suite, composed in 1946, shows the Oriental influence in his music, and consists of four brief movements, two of which are played pizzicato. Crumb's sonata, written in 1955 when the composer was a student in Berlin, is more substantial, showing the influence of Bartók. Excellent, resonant sound from the engineering staff.

Melba's latest disk is called The Galant Bassoon, a title that hardly suggests contents: music of Telemann, J. S. Bach and C. P. E. Bach. Only one work was written originally for the instrument: Telemann's Sonata in F minor—although the composer indicated it also could be performed on a recorder two octaves higher. The two other Telemann works originally were written for viola da gamba, those by the Bach family for flute. All of these transcriptions are played masterfully by Matthew Wilkie, principal bassoonist with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Sydney Symphony, assisted by harpsichordist Neal Peres Da Costa and double bassist Kees Boersma. Lovely performances, warmly recorded with the sonic beauty we have come to expect from Melba.

R.E.B. (August 2009)