Some things you just can’t get away from. Over the years I’ve acquired a rather silly number of recordings of Mussorgsky’s Night On A Bare Mountain (orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov) and Pictures at an Exhibition (orchestrated by Ravel). They get included with other works a lot. And I do mean a lot! Then there’s Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Many fine recordings exist as I’m sure you know – Beecham and Reiner for example. My first classical Stereo LP was Scheherazade conducted by Ansermet, and Pierre Monteux’s stereo recording is good to hear anytime at all.
All of that leads up to a pair of very fine albums conducted by Carlo Ponti – a man who probably will never get away from the fact that he is the son of the ever amazing Sophia Loren and film producer Carlo Ponti (Senior).
Ponti’s Scheherazade is played quite expansively, but beautifully by the Russian National Orchestra. And “beauty” is the key word here. Some will wonder about the pacing, and I would be the last to suggest that this recording will replace all of the older recordings. But if you want a majestic performance, wonderfully recorded, this is one you will love. Oh yes – the Capriccio Espagnol has all these same qualities.
Russian National Orchestra
Ponti’s Musorgsky set is quite fine. Ponti and the Russian National Orchestra show off Rimsky’s colorful orchestrations of Pictures and Night very well – along with selections from Khovanshchina. Although I’ve got a marvelous recording of the opera with Mussorgsky’s own orchestration that makes me wish he had done his own orchestration of Pictures. But back to these albums – They are beautifully recorded by Pentatone and are demonstration class.
Russian National Orchestra
Flute & Friends is a really wonderful set from Emily Beynon, Principal Flute with the Royal Concertgebouw. She and seven other musicians make some less familiar pieces by Hiliary Tann, Amy Beach, Sally Beamish, Thea Musgrave, and Louise Farrenc absolutely glow. This is a remarkable set for being foreground music that works just fine in the background as well. A couple of listens will capture you. The recording is by Channel Classics – you are there!
Now let’s move to some less familiar stuff which I’ve really enjoyed “discovering”..
Then there’s Pieter Wispelwey, a magician with the cello with some delightful, off the beaten track pieces from Prokofiev, Alexander Tchrepnin, and (!) George Crumb. He’s backed on Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vassily Sinaisky. I love this piece! It starts off with a march that immediately identifies who the composer is, but then takes you to many different places. Even feelings of Pictures At An Exhibition toward the end. Wispelwey makes the Cello sing, as usual, and it’s beautifully recorded.
Speaking of Cellos. Here’s an album I was delighted to discover: Boyd Meets Girl. It is a set of duets featuring Australian guitarist Rupert Boyd and American Cellist Laura Metcalf. Back in the late 50’s guitarist Laurindo Almeida made an album with his wife, Salli Terri, called Duets With the Spanish Guitar. It was exceptionally popular and has remained in the catalog in one form or another to the present. Boyd Meets Girl has the same charm and quality of musicianship. Exquisitely beautiful music from Bach, Fauré, Falla, and even Arvo Pärt make this something to cherish. As with the other Sono Luminus recordings I’ve heard, the recording is excellent. Please listen to the samples. This is very highly recommended.
Rupert Boyd, Laura Metcalf
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One last thought… Don’t forget to check the new DSD releases at the NativeDSD Music store each week!
There’s always some new and amazing DSD albums that you can add to your music collection! You can’t get away from THAT.