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Carl Bauman
American Record Guide, November 2011

The chorus, orchestra, and soloist are all well balanced. Everything is highly atmospheric

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

V. Vasan, October 2011

Maris Jansons leads the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in this album of three unique orchestral works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Though they are composed as particular structures or forms, for the listener the experience is not to analyze their forms in depth, but rather to enjoy the various colors, moods, and experimentations by the composers. Lutoslawski’s Concerto for orchestra is a three-movement work that is an exercise in contrasts. There is a dramatic, menacing beginning but the texture thins out by the end, with a birdlike flute and then a violin, clarinet, and oboe. The second movement is at first a fascinating study in upper register instrumentation. The orchestra only enters in full later. The playful, lively music is often densely textured, with runs in the lower strings, punctuated winds, and pizzicato. The third movement is full of powerful brass and an orchestra that plays dotted rhythms with bullet-like, rapid-fire accuracy. Tension spins in each line, veering toward frenzy, but the shimmering colors at the end leave the listener with a sense of mystery. Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 3 is indeed a nocturnal work. There is a lyrical, mysterious line in the strings with tenor Rafal Bartminski singing at a fairly high register above, with sparkling timbres in the celesta and flute. Of note is the use of chorus, at first ethereal and distant, and then central to the music. The various lines of music weave in and out in the second movement: the voice, solo violin, horn, celesta, and here, Bartminski’s vibrato is rather wide. Quite thrilling is the apocalyptic passage in the third movement, with the brass and thundering timpani full of doom, but the tenor, chorus, and solo violin are the stars here. Alexander Tchaikovsky (who bears no relation to Piotr Ilyich) concludes the album with his Symphony No. 4 for orchestra and choir. It is perhaps best described as a musical pastiche where the composer plays with emotions, timbres, textures, moods, and colors. (The sound is a little bit weak on the recording here during soft passages.) There is a motif-melody in the winds that is playful and lively; Mahler-esque strings, lush and full; a cello solo; wild percussion; voices that slide up and down like sirens with frenzied violins; even what sounds almost like a quote of Debussy’s Clair de lune in the piano. Naturally, some people might find this a bit difficult to listen to if they prefer more structured or tonal music. However, for those who are willing to take a musical adventure, this album is driven by highly skilled musicians and is quite a ride.

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