* “Fiddler’s Spring” = HOLST: St. Paul’s Suite Op. 29 No, 2; RAUTAVAARA: The Fiddlers’ Op. 1; LARSSON: Folk Song Night; RANGSTRÖM: ‘Fiddlers’ Spring’; NORDGEN: Pictures of the Rural Past; WEINER: Divertimento No. 1 Op. 20; TOBIAS: Night Pieces – Ostrobothnian Chamber Orch./ Juha Kangas – Alba multichannel SACD ABCD 330, 67:41 (Distr. by Albany) [3/12/13] *****:

Fiddler’s Spring is an absolutely delightful collection of chamber music, with a theme of music derived from folk melodies. All the works contained here are from the early to late 20th century, with a variety of composers such as Gustav Holst, Rautavaara, Larsson, Rangström, Norgen, Weiner and Tobias. The pieces are performed by the Finnish Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra led by Juha Kangas.

Of all the works performed, the most familiar is the Holst St. Paul’s Suite. It is a rousing and precise performance, with the strings getting a boost from the excellent SACD 5.1 presentation. I’ve heard many recordings of this work, and my favorite had been the City of London Sinfonia performance on Chandos, but I think this new performance betters it in both the excellent performance and in terms of the sonics.

I also enjoyed the Rautavaara work, The Fiddlers, Op. 1. The chamber players are energetic, and the playing has wonderful dynamics. Although less familiar to me, I enjoyed the lesser known compositions on the disc, and as a complete program the selected works make for a very nice musical experience.

The disc is a hybrid disc, so is playable on any CD player. The soundstage is spacious, and the recording venue ambiance does not overwhelm the focus on the instruments.

Fiddler’s Spring is an excellent disc, with both familiar music and music you will likely have never heard before. I highly recommend a listen.

—Mel Martin