March 2007

David Chesky - Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Concerto for Orchestra; Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra
Love Derwinger, piano; Martin Kuuskmann, bassoon; Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlands Opera; Rossen Gergov, conductor
Chesky SACD326
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Released: 2006

by Mike Silverton

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

It’s the rare listener who will judge these high-energy, generally good-humored compositions as other than engaging. David Chesky wields a brilliant palette. Classical buffs will amuse themselves identifying quotes, along with stylistic turns deftly lifted from 20th-century masters. The excellent soloists appear at home with the music’s spirit and demands, as does the Swedish ensemble and its fine young Bulgarian conductor. Composer-supervised recordings, as this one is, bear the stamp of authenticity.

Nicholas Prout engineered these sessions with one SoundField microphone, its signature four-module array designed to capture events at a central point. If you’ve wondered about the advantages of minimalist technique, seek no further than Chesky’s Concerto for Orchestra. It is among the most lifelike recordings I have heard. The dynamic spread is astonishing, as is the sense of coherence and space. The music’s playfulness profits from the recording’s beautifully defined jack-in-the-box dimensionality.

However, relative to the Concerto for Orchestra’s jaw-dropping verisimilitude, the single-microphone protocol puts the solo instruments in too prominent a position should you want to elevate the orchestra’s participation to that of the Concerto for Orchestra, which easily tolerates loud playback levels. A minor cavil.