orchestral music

GRANADOS - ORCHESTRAL WORKS        NAXOS 8503295

GranadosPianist and composer Enrique Granados was born in Lérida, Spain, in 1867 pianist and composer. He made his debut as a pianist at the age of 16 and studied composition in Barcelona with Felipe Pedrell, the father of Spanish music nationalism. Granados also studied in Paris before returning to Barcelona, where he established himself one of the leading pianists of his day. He wrote extensively and for the piano in a Romantic style, his masterful Goyescas inspired by Francisco de Goya’s paintings and tapestries. They were adapted into an opera that received its premiere in New York City in 1916. Returning home from this performance, Granados drowned when his ship, the Sussex, was torpedoed by a German submarine. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Enrique Granados’s birth, three internationally admired CDs of his orchestral music have been brought together in this excellent box set from Naxos. Volume 1 (Naxos 8.573263) features the cinematic Marcha de los vencidos, evoking the painful trudging of ‘the defeated’ in an unspecified battle, while the incidental music for the play Torrijos demonstrates Granados’s talent for lyrical writing and his love of the stage. The ambitious Suite sobre cantos gallegos uses Galician folk melodies and dance rhythms to reflect the landscapes of the region. Characterised as ‘affectionate and characterful’ by Gramophone, Volume 2 (Naxos 8.573264) includes one of the greatest pieces in all Spanish music, the intensely lyrical Intermezzo from Goyescas, as well as much that is exceptionally rare. The gypsy-tinged orientalism of Danza de los ojos verdes and Danza gitana contrast with the sombre and epic La nit del mort and the splendid large-scale symphonic poem Dante, one of the most ambitious and exciting Spanish orchestral works of its time. Volume 3 (Naxos 8.573265) is devoted to Granados’s orchestral music, with two very different compositional strands explored. The early Suite oriental reveals his sense of vivid orchestral colour and melodic imagination, couched in the exotic language of the time. Written in a more pared-down style, the one-act ‘lyric poem’ Liliana, a collaboration with the writer Apel·les Mestres, is a four-movement suite in which Granados conjures up a mythical world. Elisenda is another impressionistic score, both emotive and ethereal, here performed in its arrangement for piano and chamber orchestra.

RAVEL - COMPLETE ORCHESTRAL WORKS      DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4795524

Ravel - Complete Orchestral WorksThe Basque French composer and pianist Joseph-Maurice Ravel is famous for the subtlety, richness and poignancy of his melodies and of his orchestral and instrumental textures and effects. His piano music, chamber music, vocal music and orchestral music have become staples of the concert repertoire, and his one-movement orchestral piece Boléro, which premiered in 1928, was originally composed as a ballet. Ravel’s incomparable skill in orchestration and command of orchestral colour is evident both in his own works and in his orchestrations of music by other composers. This excellent 4-CD box set features Ravel’s complete orchestral works and solo concertos, performed by the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich under the baton of the young French conductor Lionel Bringuier. The music was largely recorded live, and the soloists are pianist Yuja Wang and violinist Ray Chen. According to the conductor: ‘For my first recordings with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich I’ve opted for Ravel. We all know his Daphnis et Chloé, Boléro and La Valse. A complete cycle allows us to get to know some lesser-known works as well.’ Bringuier brings a freshness and vivacity to the famous Bolero, which he first conducted at the age of 15, and there is the full score of Daphnis et Chloé — with wordless chorus. Yuja Wang gives spectacular accounts of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand) and as well as other favourites such as the beautiful Pavane pour une infante défunte and Rapsodie espagnole there are rarities such as the Fanfare from ‘L’Eventail de Jeanne’ and Menuet antique. Highly recommended.

LENNART HEDWALL - CANTO         PHONO SUECIA PSCD144

CANTO CDThe Swedish composer Lennart Hedwall was born in Gothenburg in 1932 He studied at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm and as well as being an organist and piano accompanist, he is the music director of several theatres and the Örebro Orchestral Society, and has been guest conductor with many orchestras in Sweden and abroad. He was among the avant-garde of young Swedish composers in the early 1950s, but with time his expressive register broadened and his music has become more linear and freely tonal, often with a lyrical bent. He has produced music in most musical genres over the past 50 years, including over 300 songs (mostly to texts by Swedish writers), two operas, orchestral works, solo concertos for oboe, cello and flute, works for string orchestra and works for different types of solo ensembles. This new album from Phono Suecia features excerpts from a wide range of Hedwall’s music, providing a ideal introduction to this ambitious Scandinavian composer.

THE ART OF DIMITRI MITROPOULOS, VOL 1   MUSIC & ARTS CD1213

The Greek conductor, pianist and composer Dimitri Mitropoulos was born in 1896 in Athens, where his father owned a leather goods shop. Dimitri (originally called Dimitris) was musically precocious, and from the ages of eleven to fourteen he would preside over informal musical gatherings at his house every Saturday afternoon. He studied music at the Athens Conservatoire as well as in Brussels and Berlin, with Ferruccio Busoni among his teachers. From 1921 to 1925 he assisted Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera and then took a number of posts in Greece. At a 1930 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, he played the solo part of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard, becoming one of the first modern musicians to do so. Mitropoulos made his U.S. debut in 1936 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and later settled in the country, serving as principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and later of the New York Philharmonic. He recorded extensively with the Philharmonic and sought reached new audiences through appearances on television and conducting performances at the Roxy Theatre in New York. Mitropoulos was a champion of modern music, such as that by the members of the Second Viennese School, and wrote a number of pieces for orchestra and solo works for pianoThis 4 CD collection includes an interesting and varied selection of Mitropoulous’s work during the forties and fifties, featuring the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and outstanding soloists such as Joseph Szigeti (in Berg’s Violin Concerto) and Jean Casadesus (Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto). Other works are by Vaughan Williams, Chausson, Stravinsky, Schumann, Richard Strauss, Mozart and Busoni. Music & Arts has also released another 4 CD box set, THE ART OF DIMITRI MITROPOULOS, VOL. 2, featuring broadcast performances from 1945 to 1955. The music here includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, two marvelous piano concertos by Prokofiev, and Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony. Following his death in 1960, Mitropoulos’ recordings largely vanished from sight but with the gradual re-issue of broadcast recordings such as these his importance as a musician has become more fully appreciated.

RAVEL - ORCHESTRAL WORKS     ANDANTE AND1978

This three-CD set of historic recordings from the 1920s to the 1940s features Maurice Ravel's complete orchestral works, performed by some of his most persuasive advocates. These include conductors Pierre Monteux, Charles Munch and Serge Koussevitzky and pianists Alfred Cortot and Marguerite Long. Ravel himself conducts a rarely heard 1930 recording of his most famous piece, Boléro. Rare 78s have been digitally remastered so that we are able to hear Ravel's works - including Pavane pour une infante defunte, Alborada del gracioso, Rapsodie espagnole, the two suites from Daphnis et Chloe, the two piano concertos and his brilliant orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition - in a way the composer would have wished. The 96-page companion book has some rarely seen photographs of Ravel and the performers, as well as an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tim Page, an essay by New York Times critic Paul Griffiths and artist biographies from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. All texts appear in English, French and German. This is an outstanding collection of recordings featuring the music of one of the greatest arrangers and most consistently popular of all composers. ‘There's much to enjoy in Andante's new release, presented in good sound... exhilarating velocity with first-rate soloists... this is a reading of great interpretative breadth, committed and passionate’ - Fanfare.

SCHUBERT & DVORAK - MUSIC FOR STRING ORCHESTRA   TELARC CD-80610

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Charles Rosekrans perform Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet in D minor (in Gustav Mahler’s sensitive transcription) as well as Dvorák’s beautiful and sometimes melancholy American Quartet scored for string orchestra. It was common around the turn of the twentieth century for conductors to adapt established classical works and Mahler made detailed notes for transposing the music from Schubert's famous quartet to a string orchestral arrangement. After criticism he abandoned plans for a complete performance and the score was not published until 1984. The work's title, Death and the Maiden, derives from the source of the theme of its second movement, a song inspired by the Matthias Claudius poem. Dvorák's poignant ‘American’ Quartet includes lyrical melodies and a lively rondo finale based on folk-dance.

JOSEPH-GUY ROPARTZ - ORCHESTRAL WORKS      TIMPANI 1073

The aristocratically-born French composer and conductor Joseph Guy Ropartz (1864 - 1955) originally trained as a lawyer before studying composition with Massenet and subsequently César Franck. He spent much of his career in Nancy and then in Strasbourg, before retiring to his native Brittany, a region that was a constant influence on his music. This engaging CD features five of his early works: La Chasse Du Prince Arthur (drawing on Brittany’s rich heritage of legend); Quatre Odelettes for soprano (with soloist Cécile Perrin); La Cloches Des Morts (‘Bells of the Dead’); Quatre Poèmes for baritone (inspired by Heinrich Heine, with soloist Vincent Le Texier); Soir Sur Les Chaumes (‘Evening on the Chaumes’). The Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxemburg is conducted here by Emmanuel Krivine.

BAX - SINFONIETTA, OVERTURE, ELEGY & RONDO    NAXOS 8.555109

Arnold Edward Trevor Bax was born to an affluent family in London in 1883, and while growing up was able to pursue his artistic aspirations freely, influenced by Strauss, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov and Scriabin. The First World War ended what he described as ‘the ivory tower of my youth’ and a succession of personal crises resulted in his life being totally changed. Soon after the War he became one of the leading British composers of the day, and this CD features two of his least-known works. The  one-movement, three-sectioned Sinfonietta, which he called a ‘Symphonic Phantasy’ dates from 1932 but was not performed until the BBC’s Bax Centenary programmes. The Overture, Elegy and Rondo was written five years earlier, between Bax’s Second Symphony and the Northern Ballads and Third Symphony. He described the opening passage as ‘suggestive of an 18th-century concerto’, but the long dreamy middle-section melody is pure Bax. The central Elegy opens in a ‘spectral’ mood and after a climax leads to quiet music played ‘in the manner of a cradle song’. The extrovert finale uses the orchestral style favoured by British light-music composers of the period, such as Bax’s friend Eric Coates. On this recording, made in 1987, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Barry Wordsworth.

AMERICAN ORCHESTRAL COMPOSITIONS (1890-1916)    BRIDGE 9124A/C

This exhilarating three disc set (for the price of two) features several American orchestral masterpieces available for the first time on CD. The recordings were made for the Society for the Preservation of the American Musical Heritage in the 1960s by the British Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Karl Krueger, and have been expertly re-mastered by the Grammy winning engineer/producer, Adam Abeshouse. The music included is by Edward MacDowell (his ‘Indian’ Suite and the rarely heard Suite No. 1), Horatio Parker (the Gothic symphonic poem, Vathek), Victor Herbert (Hero and Leander), Arthur Farwell (his exotic Gods of the Mountain Suite, based on incidental music for a play by Lord Dunsany) and Henry Hadley (the Second Symphony from 1901 and brilliant Salome, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s sensational play).

SIBELIUS - RONDO OF THE WAVES    BIS CD-1445

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Osmo Vänskä, perform an intriguing selection of music by the great Finnish composer Johan (Jean) Christian Julius Sibelius, including several previously unheard scores. The 'Waves' of the title are those of Sibelius's tone poem 'The Oceanides', perhaps the finest evocation of the sea that has ever been produced in music. This CD includes two early versions of this work as well as an excellent performance of the final version. The other rarely heard music on this invaluable album includes Cassazione, Op.6 (first version); Musik zu einer Scène; Coronation March; Morceau romantique sur un motif de Monsieur Jakob de Julin; Porilaisten marssi (arranged by Sibelius in 1900); Cortège; and Spring Song (1895 version).

ALFRED REED LIVE! - VOL. 4: ACCLAMATION!       KLAVIER K 11130

Alfred Reed conducts the Senzoku Gakuen Symphonic Wind Orchestra of Japan in performances of seven of his own polished compositions, dating from 1979 to 2001. These include premiere recordings of Music in the Air!, Canto e Camdombe (featuring the songs and dance rhythms of Brazil), Children's Suite (with the brilliant saxophonist Shin-Ichi Iwamoto, for whom it was written) and Acclamation! Also included are The Hounds of Spring (inspired by an Algernon Charles Swinburne poem evoking a magical picture of young love in springtime), Joyeux Noel and Suite No. 2 for Band (also based on Latin-American rhythms). The CD also features the Otonowa Wind Symphonica, conducted by Tporo Ito, playing one of Reed’s earliest successful compositions, A Festival Prelude.

SEA SKETCHES - WARLOCK/WALTON/WILLIAMS.WALTERS     CBC SMCD 5227

The inspiration for this ‘single letter’ compilation came from a collection of the favourite music of Roy Goodman, who here conducts the fine Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Goodman was appointed conductor of the Youth Orchestra in Reading, England, in the 1970s was always on the lookout for accessible pieces for strings. The Divertimento by Gareth Walters and Sea Sketches by Grace Williams made a strong impression on him and both pieces are played here. Also included are works by Peter Warlock (Serenade for strings) and William Walton (Sonata for Strings, and two short pieces from Henry V: ‘Death of Falstaff’ and ‘Touch her soft lips and part’).

JOSEPH JONGEN - ORCHESTRAL WORKS    CYPRES CYP 1634

Joseph Jongen (1873-1953) is perhaps best known for his charming Symphonie concertante for organ and orchestra, but like other Belgian late-romantic composers he was a prolific symphonist. This CD covers the first part of his career and includes his impressive Cello Concerto (a premiere on disc) as well as two symphonic works: Impressions d’Ardennes and Fantaisie sur deux noëls populaires wallons. These compositions reveal the strong influence of French music on Jongen’s work. The fine young cellist Marie Hallynck perfoms here with the National Orchestra of Belgium, conducted by the excellent Ukrainian-born conductor, Roman Kofman.

GLIERE - SYMPHONY NO. 3            TELARC CD-80609.

Born in Kiev, capital of the Ukraine, Reinhold Mortizevich Gliere (1875-1956) is known mainly for his nationalistic works, including the magnificent Hymn for the Great City, from his ballet The Bronze Horsemen. He was one of the most innovative and evocative Russian composers of the late Romantic period and his works combine European form with Eastern folklore. Influenced by Tchaikovsky, Gliere’s third and last symphony, Ilya Murometz, is his most ambitious work, linking the tradition of Borodin and Glazunov (to whom the symphony is dedicated) with hints of figures and voices from late European Romanticism. His subject, Ilya Murometz, is one of the central figures of the old Russian bylini, or heroic chants. Episodes from the legend of Ilya are recounted in detail in the preface to Gliere’s score and form the basis for each of the four movements. on this exemplary recording, Leon Botstein conducts the London Symphony Orchestra.

THE BARBIROLLI ELGAR ALBUM      DUTTON  CDSJB1017

Sir John Barbirolli was a fervent champion of Sir Edward Elgar’s work, and in 1947 he and the Hallé Orchestra recorded the Elegy for Strings, the second (‘Lullaby’) of the Three Bavarian Dances, the Introduction and Allegro for Strings and the Enigma Variations. These marvellous performances are now available here for the first time since their issue on 78rpm discs. The double-CD also features a 1956 recording of Elgar’s First Symphony as well as alternative performances of the Elegy for Strings (1970) and the Introduction and Allegro for Strings(1958). The richness of the Hallé strings is spellbinding and the intimate Elegy makes touching contrast with the exciting and lyrical Introduction and Allegro. These are historical recordings of great merit and poignancy.

CENTENAIRE EUGEN JOCHUM, VOLS 1,2 & 3 TAHRA TAH 466/9, TAH 470/3, TAH 474/7.

These three splendidly produced box sets (4 CDs each) have been issued to celebrate the centenary of the great German conductor, Eugen Jochum, who was born on November 1, 1902, in Babenhausen. This represents a wonderful sound biography, featuring recordings made between the years 1933 and 1986 with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. The tracks on these albums reveal a truly outstanding conductor, especially of Wagner, Reger, Brahms, Schubert and Beethoven. Other composers here include Mozart, Mussorgsky, Debussy, Berlioz, Franck and Bach

ETERNA COLLECTION       BERLIN CLASSICS  ETERNA 0034212BC-0032462BC.

Eterna, the classical label of the former GDR, provides a window on the musical life of East Germany from 1945. This latest series of remastered reissues incorporates the cover designs from the original LPs and offers some most interesting titles that feature internationally renowned soloists, choirs, orchestras and conductors, such as the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, the Orchester der Komischen Oper, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig or the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Leipzig under Kurt Masur, Heinz Rogner or Vaclav Neumann. Among the composers are Brahms, Bizet, Charles Ives, Janacek, Mahler, Dvorak and Mikis Theodorakis.

SKOLD - SYMPHONY NO. 2       PHONO SUECIA PSCD 719.

Yngve Skold (1899-1992) showed remarkable talents as a pianist and composer from an early age. His Second Symphony was widely acclaimed as the most important Swedish symphony of its time but the composer’s withdrawn disposition resulted in his gradual disappearance from the concert halls. This excellent recording gives us a chance to re-apraise the Symphony No. 2 as well as Skold’s virtuosic Violin Concerto. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Tuomas Ollila and the brilliant violin soloist is Tobias Ringborg.

CARMINA BURANA - CARL ORFF       BERLIN CLASSICS    ETERNA 0032312BC.

This recording by Herbert Kegel and the Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester of Orff’s thrilling Carmina Burana was made in the 1960s and released in East Germany on the famous Eterna label. It is one of a valuable and exciting new collection of releases on CD, each reviving the the cover designs of the original LPs and featuring acclaimed soloists, choirs, orchestras and conductors. Among the other releases now available is an outstanding version of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony by Franz Konwitschny and the Staatskapelle Dresden (0032332BC) and Smetana’s Ma Vlast played by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, conducted by Vaclav Neumann (0032342BC). A must for all collectors!

THE FALL OF BERLIN - SHOSTAKOVICH      MARCO POLO 8.223897.
This illuminating CD features the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Adriano, in recordings of two of Shostakovich’s many film scores. The Fall of Berlin (Padeniye Berlina) is a monumental two-part Mosfilm production of 1949 and 1950 (in black-and-white and in colour), directed by Michail Chiaureli. The Fall of Berlin was made when Stalin was at the height of his power but The Unforgettable Year 1919 (Nyiesabyuvajemyi 1919 God), released in 1951 and also directed by Chiaureli, is the last picture in which the dictator was unrestrainedly glorified. The stirring concert suite of The Unforgettable Year 1919 contains a mini-piano concerto, in the enjoyably Hollywood-like style of Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto. The soloist in this recording is the fine young Russian pianist, Ellena Alekseyeva.

DELIUS - NORWEGIAN MASTERWORKS     DANACORD DAOCD 592.

The wonderful Danish soprano Henriette Bonde-Hansen, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and Aarhus University Choir perform some of Frederick Delius’s lesser known works, all inspired by the composer’s admiration of Norway’s scenic splendours and love for its people. The works include Eventyr (dedicated to Henry Wood), Sleigh Ride, Five Songs from the Norwegian (Søvnens Engler, Syng, syng Nattergal du, Jeg reiste en deilig Sommerkvæld, Længsel, Solnedgang) and The Song of the High Hills. The conductor and chorus master is Bo Holten. ‘In short this is a completely recommendable version of Delius's visionary dream of the high mountains and of the awed immediacy of mortality and transience that these high realms provoke’ - Classical Music Web. ‘Editor's Choice’ - Gramophone.

RACHMANINOFF - SYMPHONIC DANCES   REFERENCE RECORDINGS  RR-96CD.
Sergei Rachmaninoff was one of the most popular composers of the twentieth century and his music is redolent of his Russian homeland, full of lush melodies that define the term ‘romantic’. This sumptuous recording by the brilliant Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Eiji Oue, features three lyrical and dynamic works: The Symphonic Dances (one of the composer’s most-performed scores), five Ètudes-Tableaux (orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi from the originals for piano) and Vocalise (one of the great classical melodies). ‘...the finest orchestral recording I have ever heard’- Soundstage.com.

THE FILM MUSIC OF GEORGE DREYFUS, VOL. 2       MOVE MD 3238.
This most welcome CD showcases the film scores of the gifted Australian composer George Dreyfus, from his poignant music of John West in Power Without Glory (1976) to the multicultural mix of Waterfront (1983). Film music collectors will be particularly interested in the premiere appearance of a short score to the award-winning Bruce Beresford film Tender Mercies, which was ultimately replaced by silence. Also included are excerpts of music for A Descant for Gossips (1983), Outbreak of Love (1980), Great Expectations (1986) and a version of the theme from Rush (1974), performed by flautist James Galway.

AN AMERICAN REQUIEM - DANIELPOUR      REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-97CD.
Carl St.Clair conducts the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and awesome 150-voice Pacific Chorale in this premiere recording of an moving new work by American composer Richard Danielpour. An American Requiem is dedicated to the lives lost on September 11 and was commissioned and premiered by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale. This recording was made with the original cast in Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, California, with soloists Stephanie Blythe (mezzo-soprano), Hugh Smith (tenor) and Mark Oswald (baritone). A spell-binding experience. ‘This new composition is a musical masterpiece, a powerful and moving work’ - International Audio Review.

HOLMBOE - REQUIEM FOR NIETSCHE       DACAPO 8.24207.
The Danish composer and teacher Vagn Holboe (1909-96) had a highly influential career lasting more than sixty years. His luminously clear and precise music is striking in its lines and rhythms and often influenced by folk songs. On this excellent recording of his symphonic Requiem for Nietsche, the Danish National Orchestra and Choir are conducted by Michael Schonwandt, with soloists Helge Ronning (tenor) and Johan Reuter (baritone). ‘A marvelous issue...Buy it’ - Gramophone.

WILLIAM WALTON - THE QUEST       NAXOS 8.555868.
William Walton’s characterful and highly theatrical score for his only original ballet, The Quest, is based on Spenser’s allegorical poem, The Faerie Queene. The conflict between good and evil represented in this compelling work was intended to boost morale during the Second World War. In this, the first recording to use Walton’s original orchestration, the excellent English Northern Philharmonia is conducted by David Lloyd-Jones. Also include on this CD are two other unjustly neglected pieces by Walton - Siesta (for small orchestra) and The Wise Virgins (commissioned by the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1940). ‘The liveliness and the atmospheric colours of the work completely outweigh any dilution of inspiration, and this new recording will delight anyone who responds to Walton's characterful style’ - Gramophone.

DEBUSSY - LA MER       TELARC CD-80071.
Claude Debussy had a lifelong fascination with the sea and his masterpiece La Mer magically captures its colour, light and fluidity by the use of waves of melody, rhythm and harmonic shapes. This outstanding CD also features his erotic fantasy, the Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune, as well as Danses sacree et profane for harp and strings(solist Frances Tietov). The excellent Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

REVERIES       REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-99.
On this delightful CD the Minnesota Orchestra is conducted by Eiji Oue in a selection of music that is a balm for jangled nerves. The pace of the human heartbeat has appealed to many composers and they have often harnessed their music to it. There are transcendental performances here of works by Gounod (Le Sommeil de Juliette), Debussy (Reverie), Faure (Pavane), Satie (Gymnopedies Nos. 1 and 2), Ravel (Pavane for a dead Princess), Tchaikovsky (Andante Cantabile), Sibelius (The Swan of Tuonela), Grieg (Solveig’s Song from Peer Gynt), Massenet (The Last Sleep of the Virgin) and Wolf-Ferrari (Intermezzo - The Jewels of the Madonna).

KOMPONISTENPORTRAIT - FRIEDRICH CERHA   COL LEGNO WWE 2 CD 20006.
On this fascinating double-CD, the assured Orchester Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien (conducted by Michael Gielen) and Klangforum Wien (conducted by Michael Gielen), perform intense, individualistic works by the composer Friedrich Cerha. These consist of Spiegel (1960-61), Monumentum für Karl Prantl (1988) and Für K (1993). A most valuable addition to the recorded repertoire.

SCHNITTKE - ORCHESTRAL WORKS         COL LEGNO  WWE 1CD 20510.
This welcome recording brings together four orchestral and chamber works by the challenging composer Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998). The works are Prelude in memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich for two violins or one violin and tape (Vladimir Spivakov, violin), Concerto Grosso No.1 for two violins, harpsichord and strings (Gidon Kremer and Tatiana Grindenko, violins and Ensemble- Soloists, directed by Yuri Bashmet), Two Short Pieces for organ (Ludmilla Golub, organ) and Trio-Sonata for chamber orchestra (Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, directed by Dennis Russell Davies). Striking music throughout.

THE MUSIC OF ALAN SHULMAN        BRIDGE 9119.
The NBC Symphony Orchestra gives outstanding performances of rarely heard works by the neglected composer Alan Shulman. These include his lushly orchestrated Theme and Variation for Viola and Orchestra (Emanuel Vardi, viola; Frank Black, conductor), Rendezvous for Clarinet and Strings (Alfred Gallodoro, clarinet; Samuel Antek, conductor), A Nocturne for Strings (Milton Katims, conductor), Hatikvah (Leonard Bernstein, conductor), Waltzes for Orchestra (Milton Katims, conductor), A Laurentian Overture (Guido Cantelli, conductor), Minuet for Moderns (Don Gillis, conductor) and The Bop Gavotte (Don Gillis, conductor).

BACH - ORCHESTRAL MUSIC                   ANDANTE 69948 71986 2 3.
Before the early-music movement of the late 20th century, legendary interpreters such as the great Serge Koussevitzky, Felix Weingartner and Leopold Stokowski brought their own sensibility to Bach's music. Through inspired and often inventive renditions, these recordings provide the present day listener with illuminating examples in the history of musical interpretation. The masterly works here include Bach’s four Orchestral Suites and the Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-6.

THE BARBIROLLI ENGLISH MUSIC ALBUM         DUTTON CDSJB 1022.
On this double CD, digitally remastered from the original masters and 78s by Michael J. Dutton, Sir John Barbirolli conducts the Halle Orchestra in a selection of much loved music by English composers. There are inspired performances of works by Bax (The Garden of Fand), Butterworth (A Shropshire Lad), Ireland (Mai-Dun), Vaughan Williams (Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves, Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis), Elgar (Enigma Variations) and Purcell (Suite for Strings, arranged by Barbirolli).

THE BALLAD OF GAME AND DREAM - RASMUSSEN       DACAPO 8.224203-04.
These recordings were produced between the years 1975 and1987, when the Danish composer Karl Aage Rasmussen’s ensemble The Elsinore Players was particularly active. These are crucial, watershed works, several having attained classic status in Danish and international contemporary music. Rasmussen’s music traces effective links between intense nostalgia and the spirit of play in what is sometimes almost a circus-like expressive idiom. The composer himself conducts, and was responsible for the production of these unique recordings.

CHRISTUS APOLLO - JERRY GOLDSMITH         TELARC CD-80560.
The phenomenally successful film score composer Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Poltergeist and Chinatown, among many others) conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices in world premiere recordings of his concert music. The main work is Christus Apollo: Cantata Celebrating the Eighth Day of Creation and the Promise of the Ninth, set to a text by world renowned science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. The piece consists of four sections separated by narration, read here by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Goldsmith composed the compelling score using the 12-tone system and the wonderful mezzo-soprano Eirian James brings great beauty and drama to the contralto solos. Also included on this CD are Goldsmith’s emotional Music for Orchestra (another 12-tone piece) and the life-affirming Fireworks (A Celebration of Los Angeles).

A CELTIC SPECTACULAR           TELARC CD-80571.
This new recording by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra features some of the best loved songs and dances associated with Ireland. The rich heritage of Celtic, Christian, Scottish, Scandinavian and English music is also performed by traditional and popular Irish musicians, including the Grammy Award winning Chieftains, the brilliant flutist James Galway and internationally renowned tenor John McDermott. Other guests include violinist Liz Knowles and the Irish-American bagpipe player Kieran O’Hare. The pieces include music from Lord of the Dance and the film Titanic, as well as the inevitable Danny Boy.

HERBERT KEGEL - LEGENDARY RECORDINGS  BERLIN CLASSICS 0002332CCC.
This magnificent 15 CD set showcases the fascinating conductor Herbert Kegel, who was born in Dresden in 1920. He was a passionate advocate of the music of his century and was Leipzig Radio’s choir and orchestra director before becoming principal conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. Kegel’s range of expertise was phenomenal, from excelling in nineteenth century opera to promoting avant garde works, and this fabulous collection fully demonstates his achievements. Highlights include Britten’s War Requiem, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, as well as music by Mahler, Schoenberg, Webern, Hindemith and Stravinsky.

PORTRAIT OF EUGEN SZENKAR           TAHRA TAH 423.
The conductor and pianist Eugen Szvenkar (1891-1977) gives exemplary performances of Handel’s Concerto Grosso and the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz in these performances with the North West German Symphony Orchestra. The quality of the music-making and the transcription to CD make this a valuable addition to the historical recordings catalogue.

A NIGHT IN THE TROPICS        VANGUARD VSD 500.
Maurice Abravanel conducts the Utah Symphony Orchestra in sensuous interpretations of highly evocative works by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (A Night in the Tropics) and Morton Gould (Latin American Symphonette). These splendid SACD recordings have been expertly extracted from the original analogue masters.

BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC - PHILIP LANE    MARCO POLO 8.225185.
The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, directed by Gavin Sutherland, perform a selection of music that ably represents the work of British composer Philip Lane. Pieces include his London Suite, Cotswold Dances, Three Christmas Pictures (featuring his popular Sleighbell Serenade), Prestbury Park (inspired by Cheltenham racecourse), Diversions on a Theme of Paganini and Divertissement for clarinet (commissioned by and performed here by the excellent Verity Butler).

THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS           VANGUARD VSD 501.
Virgil Thomson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1896, and his music successfully combines traditional American melodies and rhythms with a clarity and directness that are distinctively his own. These definitive recordings by the Symphony of the Air, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, include Thomson’s suite from his score for the film The River and his wonderfully evocative tone poem in six movements, The Plow that Broke the Plains.

DAG WIREN - SINFONIETTA   PHONO SUECIA PSCD 716.
Exciting music by the Swedish composer Dag Wiren includes his youthful Sinfonietta, Cello Concerto, Romantic Suite (for Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice) and post-Nordic Symphony No. 3. The SAMI Sinfonietta is conducted by Stefan Solyom and the fine cello soloist is Mats Lidstrom.

NEW MUSIC FOR ORCHESTRA     VIENNA MODERN MASTERS VMM 3049.
This wide-ranging and vital contribution to modern music for orchestra includes works by composers from Ireland, Japan, the USA, England and Azerbaijan. They include Gerry Murphy (Good Friday: Belfast 10-4-98), Akira Kobayashi (Constellation), Stephen Parker (Dance the Magic Isle) and Andrey Kasparov (Perestroika). The Moravian Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Jiri Mikula.

THE ORPHEUS ORACLE        VIENNA MODERN MASTERS VMM 3046.
The three Orpheus works on this disc can perhaps best be understood as meditations on the idea of Orpheus - highly personal, intimate examinations of the meaning of the Orpheus myth, as seen through modern eyes. The two composers are Darrell Handel and Gerhard Samuel, who also conducts the excellent Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The works are Orpheus Left His Heart and Orpheus Oracle (Handel) and Remembering Orpheus (Samuel). The CD also includes Samuel’s Hyacinth from Apollo and Requiem for Survivors “and suddenly it’s evening...”.

THE BEST OF BACH         TELARC CD-80591.
This engaging selection of fourteen baroque masterworks by J S Bach includes choral and instrumental pieces, ranging from the Allegro from the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 to the sounds of the solo harp in Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. The magnificent solemnity of the Sanctus from the Mass in B Minor is joined by the Air on a G String and the delightful Largo from the Concerto in F minor for harpsichord. Among the fine performers are the Boston Baroque ensemble, playing on period instruments, Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, organist Michael Murray, pianist John O'Conor, trumpeter Rold Smedvig and Erich Kunzel conducting the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. An excellent introduction to the works of this musical titan.

VIVALDI - FOUR SEASONS   ESS.A.Y C101.
Conductor Richard Kapp, together with the brilliant violinist Paul Peabody and the Philharmonia Virtuosi, bring real freshness and vigour to Antonio Vivaldi’s most popular work, written almost 300 years ago. The other soloists are Bonnie Hartman (cello) and Edward Brewer (harpsichord).

HOLST - HAMMERSMITH        REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-39.
The excellent Dallas Wind Symphony ensemble, conducted by Howard Dunn, gives sensitive and intelligent performances of relatively unknown works by Gustav Holst. These include Hammersmith, Suites 1 & 2, and A Moorside Suite.

HOLST - THE PLANETS               NAXOS 8.555776.
Gustav Holst's The Planets has been recorded many times but this version by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, incorporates the movement for Pluto that was composed by Colin Matthews in the year 2000. The planet Pluto was still undiscovered when Holst composed his famous suite. Matthews called his new movement ‘Pluto the Renewer’ and it starts quietly before the strings suggest a turbulent surface and sudden violent storms engulf the whole. The effect on the whole suite is to give it new life and ‘Pluto the Renewer’ is a sensitive addition that will only displease purists. This excellent disc also features a fine recording of Holst's rarely performed solo cantata The Mystic Trumpeter, with soprano Claire Rutter singing the words of Walt Whitman.

WEBERN - ORCHESTRAL WORKS    NAXOS 8.554841.
The excellent Ulster Orchestra, under their conductor Takuo Yuasa, perform some of Anton Webern’s most beautiful and complex works. These include his early Passacaglia (1908), Five Movements for Strings (originally written for string quartet), Symphony and Variations, op. 30 (one of Webern’s last major pieces, written in 1940). An essential CD for anyone interested in twentieth century music. ‘...truly a revelation’ - BBC Music Magazine.

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV - SCHEHERAZADE     REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-89.
Jose Serebrier and the London Philharmonic Orchestra give thrilling performances of two supremely romantic Russian scores. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s delightful Scheherazade suite is followed on this CD by the same composer’s Russian Easter Overture, a rousing piece based on liturgical themes. The violin soloist is Joakim Svenheden. ‘Golden Ear Award’ - The Absolute Sound.

SEREBRIER CONDUCTS SEREBRIER     REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-90.
This is the first CD devoted entirely to Jose Serebrier’s prize-winning compositions, conducted by Serebrier and played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. These include his Latin-influenced Partita (Symphony No. 2), the thrilling Fantasia (for strings), Winterreise (for full orchestra) and the Sonata for Violin Solo, in which the British violinist Gonzalo Acosta excels. ‘..a musical Armageddon you’re not likely to forget’ - CDNow.

BOLERO! - ASTRAL FIREWORKS       REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-92.
Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra give superb performances exciting orchestral showpieces. These include favourites by Ravel (Bolero), Brahms (Hungarian Dance No. 3), Dvorak (Slavonic Dance) and Chabrier (Habanera), as well as less well-known but equally spectacular pieces by Kabalevsky, Dinicu and Otto Klemperer (Merry Waltz). A delight throughout. ‘The recording is breathtakingly vivid’ - The Yorkshire Post.

TCHAIKOVSKY - LIFE AND WORKS       NAXOS 8.558036-39.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky is undoubtedly one of the most popular composers of all time, with many of his melodies familiar to people who may never have heard his name. This boxed set of four CDs makes an ideal introduction, since the recording is well illustrated with quotations from the composer and his contemporaries, including extended extracts from representative works. The excellent 106 page companion booklet has essays and notes about the composer and his times, vividly reflecting the suffering and confusion of his emotional life in his music, letters and diaries to provide a satisfyingly rounded portrait. The narration is written and spoken by Jeremy Siepman and Malcolm Sinclair is the voice of Tchaikovsky.

TURINA AND DEBUSSY              TELARC CD-80574.                           The internationally renowned Spanish conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform wonderfully evocative music influenced by the landscape and culture of Spain. Works include Joaquin Turina’s dashing Danzas Fantasticas (written in 1920), his tone poem Sinfonia Sevillana and La Procesion del Rocio (inspired by a religious festival in the composer’s native Seville). Also included on this recording is a fine perfomance the exotic Iberia from ‘Images for Orchestra’ by Claude Debussy.

ADOLPHE ADAM - LA FILLEULE DES FEES   MARCO POLO 8.223734-35.
On this double CD set, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Mogrelia, give a delightful and spirited performance of the complete score for Adolphe Adam’s ballet La Filleule de Fees (The Fairies’ God-Daughter). First staged at the Paris Opera in 1849, the story takes place in an idealised countryside and centres around the amorous affairs of the god-daughter Ysaure and the intervention of good and wicked fairies. This vivacious music contains many memorable themes and is brilliantly orchestrated throughout.

PETER AND THE WOLF WITH BORIS KARLOFF     VANGUARD SVC 150.    

In 1936 Sergei Prokofiev composed the music to Peter an the Wolf, a children’s story he had written himself, and the work has been an international favourite ever since. On this recording from 1957 the narrator is the splendid English actor Boris Karloff. The other works on this CD are ‘Haydn’s Toy Symphony’ (believed to have been written by Leopold Mozart) and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet Suite. The Utah Symphony Orchestra is conducted in fine style by Maurice Abravanel.

 

[new classics]