GRIEG, E.: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 (arr. for violin and orchestra) (Kraggerud, Tromso Chamber Orchestra)
These are superbly made arrangements.
Violinist Henning Kraggerud is more than just an able transcriber (along with colleague Bernt Simen Lund). He is the excellent soloist and leader of the very fine Tromsø Chamber Orchestra. They sound lovely together—by turns robust, delicate, and always sensitively balanced. The result couldn’t be more natural.
This beautifully recorded release has to be accounted one of the most successful projects of its type ever realized, and this is certainly one of the best discs of the year.
By David Hurwitz © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
SCHNITTKE, A.: Chamber Music, Vol. 2 - Piano Quartet / String Trio / Piano Quintet (Molinari Quartet, Bessette)
(ATMA Classique: ACD22669)
That any group could play this music better than the Montreal-based Quatuor Molinari is inconceivable. They take a line, have an angle. ‘Happy birthday to you’ is no wry skit, no postmodern prank. Schnittke squeezes all the kindly associations away. Haunted by its own distorted presence, a faded glory caricature, it’s a bitter pill refused any artificial sweetener by Quatuor Molinari. Their perspective is stark and unnerving. Mozartian minuet figurations emerge not as comfort listening but, like all Schnittke’s markers, are in freefall disintegration.
By Philip Clark© 2013 Gramophone
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: String Quartets Nos. 9-12 / WEINBERG, M.: String Quartet No. 6 (The Soviet Experience, Vol. 3) (Pacifica Quartet)
The previous two releases in this series have been superb, and this release continues the high level of recording and performing excellence that makes the Pacifica Quartet’s renditions of Shostakovich’s quartets one of the best available today.
The Pacifica Quartet plays these works like the symphonic quartets they are: emotionally expressive, brilliantly executed with a wide, close but reverberant soundstage that communicates the feelings in the music. I can’t wait for their final installation in this series.
By Robert Moon© 2013 Audiophile Audition
HOLMBOE, V.: Chamber Music, Vol. 2 - Eco / Aspekter / Cello Sonata / Quartetto medico / Sextet (Ensemble MidtVest)
The Viola Concerto (1992) is a lithe and energetic affair… That this is one of the finest viola concertos ever penned I have not the slightest doubt, and it is thrown off with dazzling virtuosity by Tomter and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra under Russian-born, Finnish-resident Dima Slobodeniouk, who displays a real affinity for Holmboe’s idiom.
Ensemble MidtVest’s follow-up to their very well-received first chamber music disc…is equally impressive. Ensemble MidtVest provide an even more subtly nuanced account of the Op 114 Sextet, for wind and string trios, than their rivals on Rondo… Recommended.
By Guy Rickards © 2013 Gramophone
MESSIAEN, O.: Preludes / SAARIAHO, K.: Prelude / Ballade / Je sens un deuxieme coeur (The Edge of Light) (Gloria Cheng, Calder Quartet)
(harmonia mundi: HMU907578)
This is such a wonderful piano disc and I cannot recommend it enough! First of all, Gloria Cheng is one our greatest interpreters of contemporary music with many such recordings to her credit. She plays with amazing sensitivity to the style and a flawless blend of touch, phrasing and technique. Second of all, this is a creative and highly attractive program coupling two of Messiaen’s earliest “mature” masterworks with two works by the brilliant Kaija Saariaho, whose music bears some resemblance to the post-Impressionist French milieu.
Gloria Cheng and the members of the Calder Quartet perform with style and conviction and all music on this disc is spectacular. This is really one of the best recent contemporary piano releases I have heard!
By Daniel Coombs © 2013 Audiophile Audition