Just in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Marlboro Festival in Vermont comes a trio of new recordings, each recorded in concert and never before released. Together these document a festival known for bringing together top musicians in one-of-a-kind ensembles.
Marlboro has been recording its concerts throughout much of its history but it only now is it making a concerted effort to release many of them to the public (Sony Classical previously issued a number of concert recordings in the 1980s and early 90s, now being re-released).
Admirers of the thoughtful and iconoclastic pianist Mitsuko Uchida have much to enjoy on a collection celebrating Viennese composers, a specialty of hers. The Beethoven Archduke Trio is given a gregarious 2006 performance with Soovin Kim, the violinist, and David Soyer, the longtime cellist of the Guarneri Quartet who passed away last year. The album features the same musicians in a 2008 reading of Schubert’s E-flat Major Piano Trio, plus a 2005 version of the Mozart Quintet in D Major anchored by Soyer.
An all-French collection is another gem. The set opens with a 2002 performance of the Debussy String Quartet in G Minor, recorded on tour at the Gardner Museum in Boston, and continues with two Ravel pieces: the Introduction et Allegro and the String Quartet in F Major. The lineups are too numerous to mention here but contain some of today’s busy chamber music players including violinist Soovin Kim and cellist Soo Bae.
More esoteric, though also worth hearing, is an album of vocal music containing Shostakovich’s Songs on Hebrew Folk Themes, for soprano, alto, tenor and piano. Soprano Benita Valente leads this 1967 reading of songs that range from the tragic ("The Lament for a Dead Baby") to the darkly ironic ("The Abandoned Father") to the fantastical ("The Good Life"). Set in the Jewish folk idiom (and performed here in German), the tunes are also full of infectious rhythms and sweet-and-sour harmonies. Rounding out the album are two other gems: Respighi’s Il Tramonto for voice and string quartet, and Der gayst funem shturem by American composer Robert Cuckson, both starring mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson.
Live from the Marlboro Music Festival
Marlboro Recording Society/Arivmusic.com
Available at Arkivmusic.com