Rysanov’s ONYX debut is of two extraordinarily beautiful and haunting works for viola and chorus/orchestra: both written for Bashmet, and the Tavener is a world-première recording! Giya Kancheli’s Styx is already renowned as a choral masterpiece for the 21st century, The River Styx in Greek mythology separates the living from the dead and the solo viola mediates between the two. John Tavener’s The Myrrh-Bearer is another epic, this time based on the Troparion of Cassiane, a Byzantine poet and composer. Here the viola represents the sin of Mary Magdalen. Both works were recorded in the amazing Dome Cathedral in Riga, Latvia, the largest medieval church in the Baltics, has just the right expansive acoustic for this music.
Co-chief conductors Riccardo Minasi and Maxim Emelyanychev take turns on the podium leading this period-instrument band in a rousing collection of concertos by Haydn. Il Pomo d'Oro has been hailed "a wonderful ensemble, and Minasi an outstanding musician" capable of "bringing the house down with his virtuosity" (The Guardian). Emelyaychev's award-winning harpsichord joins Minasi's violin in the soloists' spotlight, along with the distinguished natural horn of Johannes Hinterholzer. The concertos are complemented by Haydn's Symphony No 83 (known as The Hen, because of the ‘clucking’ figures on the strings in its second movement) and his Keyboard Fantasia Hob.XVII:4.
Maxim Vengerov now confronts - and conquers - one of the supreme challenges all great violinists must face: The Brahms violin concerto. This beautiful, virtuosic work has defined careers from Heifetz to Perlman. Vengerov's turn has come, and his rich, burnished tone and impassioned phrasing make this one of the standout concerto CDs of the year. The soulful partnership of Vengerov and Barenboim (one of his most important mentors) is also a strong selling point.