“Horizon 7” – Royal Concertgebouw Orch. with multiple composers and conductors “Horizon 7” – Royal Concertgebouw Orch. with multiple composers and conductors – RCO Live – RCO Live

Horizon 7” – Royal Concertgebouw Orch. with multiple composers and conductors. (See TrackList below) RCO Live multichannel SACD RCO 16003 TT: 74:00 (5/6/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Contemporary music superbly played and well-recorded.

The seventh release in RCO Live’s Horizon series features world premieres recorded during three concert seasons. Magnus Lindberg’s Era – a birthday present from the Concertgebouw to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – dates from the 2012-2013 season. Both Tan Dun’s double bass concerto The Wolf and Richard Rijnvos’s fuoco e fumo about the 1996 destruction by fire of the Venetian opera house La Fenice, are from 2015. The program opens with a recording made in September 2015, when composer George Benjamin himself conducted his song cycle Dream of the Song.

All these contemporary works are densely composed and all will demand attention from the listener.  The Benjamin work, Dream of the Song is a nice mix of vocal and orchestral. It deals with themes both mundane and cosmic. As a whole, it’s a satisfying and emotional piece.

Era, by Magnus Lindberg has some elements of Sibelius, but it’s an original, emotional, and at times a thrilling work. Finally, we have two shorter works, the first by Richard Rijnvos’ fuoco e fumo, which is a meditation on the Venetian Opera House fire, as mentioned above. A difficult work to perform, it has a wide dynamic range and moments that are unsettling and effective. The disc closes with The Wolf, a double bass concerto written for the Concertgebouw by Tan Dun.

The recordings are all very good, with a natural sound and without individual instruments being over-accented. The image of the orchestra stretches nicely across the front speakers, with the 5.0 surround mix providing a subtle ambient sound giving us a taste of the recording venue. The string sound is realistic, and the mix provides plenty of deep bass from the percussion.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is never hesitant in dealing with difficult rhythms and entrances, and each composition is a compelling listen in terms of musicality and musicianship.

This is a fine CD for lovers of contemporary music, and these pieces can’t be heard on disc elsewhere.

TrackList and details:

George Benjamin – Dream of the Song
George Benjamin, conductor
Bejun Mehta, countertenor
Nederlands Kamerkoor
Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 25 and 26 September 2015

Magnus Lindberg – Era
David Robertson, conductor
Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 17 and 18 January 2013

Richard Rijnvos – fuoco e fumo
Daniel Harding, conductor
Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 12 June 2015

Tan Dun – The Wolf
Tan Dun, conductor
Dominic Seldis, doublebass
Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 29 and 30 January 2015

—Mel Martin

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