VASKS, P.: Flute Concerto / Flute Sonata / Aria e danza / Landscape with Birds (M. Faust, S. Arnold, Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä, P. Gallois)
In his Concerto for flute and orchestra Vasks’ also has that precise quality for which the flute, with its bright, clear tone, is a perfect vehicle. This is a seriously brilliant work of almost indescribable beauty. It works its magic on the listener from the very opening and is so captivating it is difficult to leave it for another work without wanting to hear it again immediately. No one could fail to be mesmerised by its fabulous tonal quality. Also fascinating are the extraordinary abilities of flautist Michael Faust for whom the concerto was written.
The art of flute playing is again amply demonstrated in the Sonata for flute and alto flute solo. It’s in three movements, the central one for flute and the outer ones for alto flute. It is an object lesson in flute virtuosity in which Vasks has the instruments mimic the calls of animals or birds. None of this presents any challenge at all to Faust whose artistry seems boundless.
Aria e danza for flute and piano is less identifiable in terms of geographical origin. That in no way detracts from its qualities. It was written ostensibly for teaching purposes but I can imagine that any would-be flautist who could achieve a convincing performance of it would be considered as being on their way to achieving their aim.
The final work Landscape with Birds for flute solo is another composition that would test all but the most skilled musicians. It calls for almost every facet the instrument can produce.
The sound is superb. South Indian-born pianist Sheila Arnold is an utterly sympathetic partner for Faust in the Aria e Danza. The small 38-member Finnish Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä is exemplary in its performance of the concerto under Patrick Gallois who has been its music director for nine years up to 2013. After his tenure ends the orchestra’s artistic committee will take on the responsibility for deciding its programmes.
This is a wonderful disc of the most compelling music. Once again Naxos has come up trumps in presenting it to the public and at a price it can afford. All of this should help it to achieve the widespread recognition it deserves.
- By Steve Arloff © 2013 MusicWeb International
PROKOFIEV, S.: Symphony No. 4 (revised 1947 version) / The Prodigal Son (São Paulo Symphony, Alsop)
…this new installment is both intelligently programmed and very well played and conducted.
Alsop does a fine job characterizing the abundance of motoric material in the ballet, and she makes the lyrical moments in the symphony sound genuinely memorable. The orchestra plays very well throughout, and the sonics are naturally vivid… A fine disc.
- By David Hurwitz © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
BACH, J.S.: Mass in B Minor (Collegium Vocale 1704, Collegium 1704, Luks)
…perhaps the most telling thing about this recording is the way that Luks so brilliantly holds together this behemoth, stylistically varied and technically indulgent in so many Baroque forms and effects. His players and singers are readily enthusiastic about the enterprise, making this the most exciting version of the Mass I have ever heard. The singers in particular are sterling, almost as good as the all-stars on the Robert Shaw recording for Telarc, and the period players of the Collegium Vocale 1704 match the energetic orchestra of Phillippe Herreweghe’s astonishing recording on Harmonia mundi. Marietta Simpson (Shaw) shows how it should really be done, and perhaps the next step in the maturation process of the period movement is to cut these guys out—one can only hope.
In the meanwhile, this recording joins the ones mentioned as best of breed, and is most definitely worth acquiring.
- By Steven Ritter © 2013 Audiophile Audition
VIVALDI, A.: Estro Armonico (L'), Op. 3, Nos. 7- 12 / Cello Concerto, RV 414 / Concerto for Violin and Cello, RV 544 (Café Zimmermann)
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a new—and expertly done—recording of these iconic Vivaldi works…
…taking this collection at face value, fans of Vivaldi concertos will not be disappointed, owing as much to the responsive and energetic ensemble as to the extraordinary virtuoso solo violin performances by Pablo Valetti, David Plantier, Mauro Lopes Ferreira, and Nicholas Robinson.
There are reams of highlights on this program, but a listener looking for its vibrant heart should look no further than tracks 13, 14, & 15—the Allegro finale of Concerto No 9 and the first two movements of the Cello Concerto in A minor RV 414. Here is the essence of Vivaldi’s ingenuity and invention in this genre, later complemented by Pablo Valetti’s virtuoso display in the third-movement Allegro of No 12.
There are countless more delights, including the interplay between violin (Valetti) and cello (Petr Skalka) in the Concerto in F major for violin and cello RV 544 and in the opening Allegro of Op 3 No 10—as rhythmically infectious as a Vivaldian concoction can be…any Vivaldi aficionado looking for a worthy Op 3 addition to their library will need no further encouragement.
- By David Vernier © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
HOLST, G.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - The Perfect Fool / The Lure / The Golden Goose / The Morning of the Year (Hickox)
Make no mistake, this is a fine disc…
All four works on this disc are ballets. Hickox turns in a rousing performance of The Perfect Fool, with a particularly exciting Dance of the Spirits of Fire, while the Dance of the Spirits of Water must be accounted one of Holst’s most beautiful ideas.
…Hickox leads first-rate, vigorous performances… In sum, this is very enjoyable, and a touching exemplar of Hickox’s art. He will be missed.
- By David Hurwitz © 2013 ClassicsToday.com