“Visions Fugitives” – Music for Strings – PROKOFIEV / BARTOK/ WEBERN – Camerata Nordica/ Terje Tønnen – BIS multichannel SACD 2126, 68:35 (10/14/14) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
What a delightful disc this is! It is said that contemporary composers often expressed much of their emotions in string music, and this collection of string music is an excellent case in point.
It is a collection of music, some not well-known or often-played by some of the giants of the 20th century. Many of the composers spanned the 19th and the 20th century, but no matter. This is modern music through and through.
The title of the disc, Visions Fugitives is taken from the first work on the program, by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Originally short plain pieces, Prokofiev premiered them in 1917. He named the pieces “Mimolyotnosti” from lines in Balmont’s poem: “In every fleeting vision I see worlds, Filled with the fickle play of rainbows.” A French-speaking friend at the house, Kira Nikolayevna, immediately provided a French translation for the pieces: Visions Fugitives.
The disc also features the Hindemith 5 Stücke, Op 44; the Webern Five Movements for String Quartet, Op 5 and Bartok’s Divertimento for String Orchestra.
The performances here by the Swedish Camerata Nordica are excellent. I hadn’t heard any of these compositions except the Bartok, and hearing it so well played was like hearing it for the first time, although I must admit his tempi are different than other interpretations I’ve heard. It works for me.
From an audiophile standpoint, the 5.0 disc is very well-recorded. This is a large ensemble of musicians, and the recording could easily have become muddy due to microphone placement or the way it was mixed. That’s not the case here, the instruments are spread out nicely across my front speakers, with the surrounds offering a low level ambiance that does not distract. Although there is no separate bass channel, the low end of the strings comes through nicely.
This is an excellent disc with an uncommon program. Lovers of string music should seek it out. I have played the disc multiple times, first for this review and after, and never tired of it. Recommended!