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 Recording of the Week  BIS - Maxim Rysanov, Sibelius and a special offer

Being a cellist, part of me thinks I should be slightly grumpy about viola players stealing our repertoire. Furthermore when someone like Maxim Rysanov comes along and makes it sound so natural on the viola, I’m not sure whether that makes it better or worse! For his second disc for BIS (his first was transcriptions of three of Bach’s ‘cello’ suites!) he is performing his own transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations.

Maxim Rysanov
Maxim Rysanov

Some people may remember that he performed it at last year’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’. He doesn’t change Tchaikovsky’s orchestration and simply shifts the solo part sometimes up an octave. His rich warm tone is common throughout, but with brilliance in the high passages, agility in the faster ones and joy and cheekiness in the quirkier movements it is entirely convincing, and I think far more successful than some of the other cello repertoire which violists have tried to steal in past (for example the Elgar Concerto).

It is paired here with another work which is most often heard on the cello – Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata – but with the instrument Schubert wrote for (a sort of cross between a guitar and a cello) becoming obsolete a few years after composition, it has a long history of also being performed on the viola. Not so in this version though, with solo viola being accompanied by string orchestra rather than the normal piano. As far as I know this is the first recording of Dobrinka Tabakova’s orchestration and while sceptical at first I have to say it has been very sensitively done with lovely instrumental colours and simple, yet effective, melodic distribution.

The final piece on this disc is the lovely Romance by Bruch, which has one of those gorgeous melodies which you never tire of hearing.

Rysanov is accompanied throughout this disc by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under Muhai Tang, who are sensitive and supportive throughout and clearly relishing performing with a soloist as gifted as Rysanov.

You can listen to the usual sound samples below and it is a good time to buy it as it is currently included in out 25% off BIS special offer (which only runs until 7th September).

While mentioning the BIS special offer I must also mention the final volume of the New Sibelius Complete Edition. No other label has done more for the cause of Sibelius than BIS, and volume 13 (released 12th September but still at the 25% off price) completes the series of box sets begun four years ago to present for the first time a uniform edition of all the composer’s works. Comprising over 60 CDs, it is a monumental effort but full of terrific recordings it is undoubtedly the first choice place to go.

But just because BIS have recorded all the composer’s works (sometimes two or three times) doesn’t mean they’re stopping and indeed one of the pick of the new releases this week is a disc of music from the Tempest, the Bard and Tapiola from the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Okko Kamu. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra became synonymous with the music of Sibelius under their previous Principal Conductor Osmo Vänskä, and it is a tradition which Okko Kamu is very much building on. These are exciting, vivid recordings, wonderfully played and superbly recorded, which if you have the SACD option sound even better.

You can browse full details of the BIS special offer here, or explore the three discs mentioned above in more detail via the links below.

Maxim Rysanov plays Schubert, Tchaikovsky & Bruch

Maxim Rysanov (viola), Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Muhai Tang

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Sibelius: The Tempest Overture and Suites

Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Okko Kamu

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

The Sibelius Edition Volume 13 - Miscellaneous Works

lume 13 of the Sibelius Edition focuses on the Masonic Ritual Music for tenor and organ and the complete music for solo organ, but also includes orchestral fragments and a recording of the bells from Helsinki’s Kallio Church, for which Sibelius composed the melody in 1912.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC