Reference Recordings is a small, boutique audiophile company which produces some of the greatest recordings you’ll hear on CD (and, previously, on LP). Produced by Tam Henderson (with much behind the scenes work by the tireless Jan Mancuso) and engineered by Prof. Keith Johnson, Reference Recordings (RR) is true to its name. As such, their catalogue is the Gold Standard by which others are judged.
Through clever scheduling and budgeting, and the needs of excellent provincial orchestras and ambitious conductors, Reference has continued to record where other, much larger companies have cut schedules back drastically or closed shop. Bravo! That said, this new recording can be counted as another engineering and artistic triumph.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest has oft been used as a starting point for music and painting. Here, we have Sibelius: Music for The Tempest by William Shakespeare, op. 109 (1925-26) and The Tempest incidental music, twelve movements for Shakespeare’s play composed by Arthur Sullivan in 1861-62. The former is one of Sibelius’ last orchestral works and one of his most admired. The latter, Sir Arthur Sullivan’s grad piece from the Leipzig Conservatoire. And a superb ingenue work it is. Both pieces receive performances worthy of inclusion into your library.
Conductor Michael Stern (son of the great violinist, Isaac Stern) and his KC charges do a good job with the storm and stress portrayed in the subject matter. Solo and ensemble work are first rate. As usual with RR, the recording is the star. It highlights the orchestra in the loveliest of spaces where the music can breathe, attack and dissipate. Once again, another winner from the professor and team. And so nice to hear another US provincial orchestra in such good shape.