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Berio Realisations: Schubert, Brahms & Mahler

Roderick Williams/Michael Collins/Bergen PO/Gardner

Chandos: CHSA 5101

For later 20 C, Berio's Sequenzas for many solo instruments are essential study for instrumentalists, and importantly have contributed to developing instrumental playing towards its amazing state nowadays, where virtuosi proliferate amongs the young who can cope with whatever is thrown at them.

But these "realisations" of music by other composers have something cogent to say to our present century.

They are not straightforward transcriptions, like Newbould's turning Schubert's sketches into his "10th" symphony, or Swensen's worth-while note-for-note orchestration of Brahms earliest Op 8 piano trio (the original version) into a "Sinfonia Op 8"; rather they are dialogues with his three composers, often melding between additions of music in Berio's own style and language, and with instrumentation which often sounds not quite "right". Each one is valuable and more than a novelty.

Edward Gardner's disc has Brahms's F minor Clarinet Sonata becoming fit for a symphony concert, magnificently "rendered" by Michael Collins. The Six Early Songs - not his very earliest - that Mahler didn't get around to orchestrating, gain thereby. They are sung for us in an intimate manner by Roderick Williams, who does not try to simulate how he'd maybe need do them in a large concert hall.

Rendering Schubert is closer to Berio, melding between one composer and the other, "teasingly commuting between the 19th and 20th centuries" (Andrew Clements). with Berio's own music moving in and out of focus as the symphonic structure emerges.

Warmly recommended.

Peter grahame Woolf