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August Halm

Symphony in A

AUGUST HALM (1869-1929): Symphony in A. Known in musical encyclopedias primarily for his pedagogical achievements, Halm left a lot of chamber music, a piano concerto and a couple of symphonies. Although the work (written over the long period of 191 1-26) is of Brucknerian length (almost 54 minutes), the sunny first movement is most reminiscent of a Brahms serenade but the slow movement, after an equally relaxed, pastoral beginning, rises to a climax which will make you think of the Austrian symphonist. The third movement, just titled "Szene", opens with quite a bit of bird-song-inspired wind music before settling into a rustic kind of a scherzo with a few more hints of Bruckner and also of Mahler before heading, attacca, into a rondo-finale (at over 16 minutes, the longest movement of the work) which brings, in addition to more pastoral loveliness the most energetic and boisterous music of the symphony. Württemburg Philharmonic Reutlingen; Per Borin. Sterling CDS-1064-2 (Sweden) 02G001 $16.98


1. Naxos distributed labels: Since the 1st of February is a Tuesday, the Naxos street date was moved back to Feb. 22, meaning that I could have no sales at all until, at the earliest, Feb. 15. Wishing to stay in business, I've held the 30-odd February Naxos, cpo, Marco Polo, Dacapo, Analekta and Naïve titles (and two new First Editions, the label having moved from Harmonia Mundi to Naxos) until the March catalogue. The 1st of March is also a Tuesday, so the March NRs will be in my April catalogue.

2. Accord: Well, here's the first batch of around 30! By the way, they have six different price points; all the prices printed are correct. I hope to have a dozen or so Accords in each monthly catalogue, part new releases, part back-catalogue not available in the States for years.

3. The Aurora discs last month were gone 72 hours after the catalogue went up on the web-site. I hope that back-orders will begin to be filled in March since Qualiton only orders from Norway once a month and the pending order can first be delivered only with March new releases. If I were the Amazing Kreskin, I'd know how many to order without having heard the discs but that's one of many talents I don't have...

4. The Accord Lully release on Page 4 did not ship and will be automatically back-ordered.

HANS WERNER HENZE (b.1926): Symphony No. 10, 4 Poemi, La Selva incantata. It is reassuring to be able to report that the doyen of 20th century Austro-German symphonists still has what it takes. Composed at the boundary between the 20th and 21st centuries, in Henze's 76th year, the 10th Symphony is his most recent, and he has publicly announced that it will be his last. He was encouraged by Paul Sacher to proceed with its composition so as to beat the '9th symphony curse'; ironically it was Sacher who died before the work was complete. In four movements which conform to the familiar symphonic form but also bear evocative titles (Storm, Hymn, Dance, Dream), it is scored for huge orchestra which Henze treats masterfully, with extraordinary clarity and precision. In fact the central two movements are scored for sections - Hymn is for the strings alone, and Dance, for Brass and percussion. The symphony commences with a brooding introduction which soon gives way to turmoil - this seems to be an interior storm, and has led to speculation about the work's autobiographical subtext. No programme is explicit, but Henze's long-standing tradition of incorporating extra-musical and frankly political elements in his music - culminating in the direct confrontation of his country's Nazi past in the 9th Symphony - suggests that there probably is some autobiographical content in this intensely emotional score. "Hymn" starts in an atmosphere of restrained nobility, but throughout there is a sense of agitation and an underlying unease which in fact pervades the whole symphony. "Dance" is a high-energy toccata-scherzo, the tension heightened by the Totentanz rattle of percussion and piano. This gives way to the finale, the most complex and Mahlerian movement, opening with a sense of impending tragedy. The movement builds inexorably, by way of some short-lived harsh interjections which suggests that the 'dreamer' is stalked by nightmare. Nonetheless the final peroration admits the possibility of hope, and the work evaporates in a mood of resigned tranquility. Anyone who has followed and admired Henze's remarkable career will find this work compulsory listening. Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 476 7156 (France) 02G002 $17.98 >

KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI (b.1933): Piano Concerto "Resurrection", Concerto grosso for 3 Cellos and Orchestra. These two works have about as little to do with Penderecki's legacy as radical avant-gardiste of the 60s and 70s. They represent an extension of the neo-Romantic path on which he embarked from the Second Symphony and First Violin Concerto onward. There are those, your humble correspondent included - who miss the devastating intensity of works of the period of the St Luke Passion and Threnody . . . - but it has to be conceded that if you're going to take a sudden turn toward neo-Romanticism in a late stage of your career, you had better do it with this level of genuine conviction and un-ironic exercise of skill in your new chosen æsthetic, or not at all. The shades of Shostakovich and Prokofiev loom large over the Piano Concerto. Intricately and idiomatically written for the piano - an instrument hardly at all associated with Penderecki prior to this work - the concerto is emotionally extrovert (apparently the watershed events of 9/11 influenced the mood and evolution of the work, hence the subtitle). Whatever your view of Penderecki's stylistic volte-face, if you care about the evolution of the piano concerto in the 20th century from Busoni through the famous Russian exemplars of the form to Ronald Stevenson and beyond, you owe it to yourself to hear this piece. The Concerto Grosso is equally rich and founded in Romantic harmony (despite the title there is nothing neo-Baroque about it). Largely lacking the angst of the Piano Concerto, let alone the works of his earlier period, the work is surprisingly consonant, with much mellifluous writing for the three soloists. While running the gamut of emotion and mood - grounded in uneasy melancholy - the work is comparatively restrained, perhaps even heightening the underlying tension by understating it. Barry Douglas (piano), Andrzej Bauer, Bartosz Koziak, Rafal Kwiatkowski (cellos), National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Katowice; Krzysztof Penderecki. Polish Radio PRCD 040 (Poland) 02G003 $17.98 >

GRAZYNA BACEWICZ (1909-1969): Symphony No. 3, Serenade for Orchestra, Suite for Chamber Orchestra, Folk Sketches for Small Orchestral Ensemble, Krakowiak for Orchestra, Concert Oberek. Not surprisingly, the main work on this disc is the 3rd Symphony, which also turns out to be one of Bacewicz' finest works to make it to disc so far, and is certainly worthy to stand alongside much of the finest symphonic writing of the 20th century. Big-boned and of truly symphonic scope, the work seems modelled on Classical-romantic antecedents, but despite this formal and harmonic conservatism the composer's voice is unmistakable. Affinities with the Scandinavian and other northern-European and Russian tonal symphonists are certainly detectable, to the point at which it is safe to say that if your collection contains a representative sampling of Sallinen, Pettersson, Vaughan Williams, Shchedrin or Abeliovich, let us say, you may safely predict that this disc will also become a favourite. A dramatic first movement based on sonata form is followed by an expressive and warm-toned Andante. The energetic scherzo-and-trio is a sheer delight and the finale returns to a serious and dramatic mode driven by an ostinato figure of the kind much used by Panufnik or Pettersson. The other works are slighter and lighter, in a sentimental and somewhat folksy mood, but composed with equal attention to detail and exquisite craftsmanship - 'Song' from the Suite is especially lovely, but all these small pieces are delightful and immediately appealing, tinged with a gentle melancholy. Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jan Krenz. Polish Radio PRCD 180 (Poland) 02G004 $17.98 >

GRAZYNA BACEWICZ (1909-1969): Violin Concerto No. 1 (Krzysztof Bakowski [violin], Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jacek Rogala), Concerto for String Orchestra ("Amadeus" Chamber Orchestra; Agnieszka Duczmal), Music for Strings, Trumpet and Percussion (Sinfonia Varsovia; Krzysztof Penderecki), Piano Quintet No. 1 (Silesian Quartet, Wiaczeslaw Nowikow [piano]), Pensieri notturni for Orchestra (PRSO; Rogala). The relatively early violin concerto is somewhat Stravinskyan and neoclassical while the late 'sonoristic' Pensieri notturni, exploits changes in timbre and density of instrumentation form an integral part of the 'thematic' material in a much more abstract idiom. The composer's best-known work, the vital and highly appealing Concerto for String Orchestra of 1948 - also betraying its neoclassical origins but with a noticeably greater acerbity of harmonic vocabulary than the violin concerto - is also included. The piano quintet may contain the finest music here, not a million miles from the Shostakovich masterwork for the same forces. The Music for Strings is an early example of the composer's more 'advanced' and abstract later idiom, while retaining a propulsive rhythmic drive and kaleidoscopic interactions between clear and lucidly expressed material. Polish Radio PRCD 126 (Poland) 02G005 $17.98 >

PAUL CRESTON (1906-1985): Symphony No. 4, Op. 52, Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 78, Janus, Op. 77. Carrying on the traditions of the past but with calculated use of dissonances, always modulating tonal relationships, rhythmic inventiveness and shifting stresses, Creston produces music whose form is instantly recognizable as "classical" but whose sound is still 20th century. The 1951 symphony is one of the most genial, feel-good pieces of contemporary music you will ever hear, as one reviewer of its Washington DC premiere put it, "full-blooded, joyous, springing with vitality, racy in rhythm and rioutous in color". The concerto (1960) is equally lovely but a tad less brilliant in character with the most difficult and amazing cadenza reserved, unusually, for the slow movement, while Janus, a 1959 quasi-tone poem, is a slow-fast work of 12 minutes whose beginning evokes Respighi's Roman quiet moments while the second part is an rhythmically frenetic Bacchic dance. Gregory Fulkerson (violin), Albany Symphony Orchestra; David Alan Miller. Albany TROY 737 (U.S.A.) 02G006 $16.98

An Exotic Brazilian Audiophile Spectacular!

FRANCISCO MIGNONE (1897-1986): Sinfonia Tropical, Festa das Igrejas, Ballet Maracatu de Chico Rey. This is a bona fide sonic extravaganza, packed with music which fairly drips with color, which should appeal to any audiophile on sound alone. The earliest work here is the 28-minute ballet (1933), whose nine sections are based on authentic Brazilian folk music from all over the country. The orchestral splendor of Respighi's Brazilian Impressions come immediately to mind in the 1940 Festa das Igrejas, a four-movement suite depicting four cathedrals around the country while the single-movment Sinfonia, from 1958, is like Villa-Lobos of Forest of the Amazon mixed with Stravinsky of The Firebird; it, too, could have been the score for a lush, Technicolor epic set in the steamy jungles! São Paolo Symphony Orchestra and Choir; John Neschling. BIS CD-1420 (Sweden) 02G007 $17.98

Early Schulhoff - World Premiere Mahlerian Vocal Symphonies

ERWIN SCHULHOFF (1894-1942): Landschaften for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 26, Menschheit for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 28, Suite from Music for Le bourgeois gentilhomme for Piano, 7 Winds and Percussion. Each of these works is titled "Symphony for Middle Voice and Orchestra", Landschaften lasting 17 minutes and Menschheit ten minutes longer and both were written in 1918-9, during the period of intense suffering and disillusion on the losing side of World War I. People who think they know Schulhoff from his jazz/popular music pieces or his later Communist agitprop works will be shocked at the sheer sensual beauty of these scores, couched in the language of Mahler, Richard Strauss and Zemlinsky (i.e. his Lyric Symphony), setting texts of hopeless defeat and resignation in voluptuous, melancholy, yet comforting music. The 24 minutes of music from a 1926 Prague staging of Molière's play is far removed from this and well into Schulhoff's jazz and popular music period where, with the prominence of piano and trumpet, the composer most often called to mind is Shostkovich. German texts. Doris Soffel (mezzo), Michael Rische (piano), Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin; Gerd Albrecht. Orfeo C 056 031 A (Germany) 02G008 $18.98

FRANK MARTIN (1890-1974): Danse de la peur for 2 Pianos and Small Orchestra, Concerto for 7 Wind Instruments, Strings and Percussion, Violin Concerto. The rarity here is the 1936 "Dance of Fear", a 14-minute scene from an uncompleted ballet, which was an early example of Martin's use of twelve-tone technique adapted in a very personal style. The result is a tight, moody little piece full of tension and rhythmic energy. The violin concerto is well-known but the remaining work is still fairly rare, a 20-minute, three-movement piece from 1949 which uses one each of wind instruments from flute to trombone as both soloists and in groups and which has an overall quality of lightness and good humor. Adrienne Soós, Ivo Haag (pianos), Michael Erxleben (violin), Orchestra of the Winterthur Musikkollegium; Jac van Steen. MD&G 601 2380-2 (Germany) 02G009 $17.98

ARTHUR BLISS (1891-1975): String Quartet No. 2, Clarinet Quintet. The 1932 clarinet quintet contains some of the most beautiful music written for the instrument in the 20th century (Bliss' brother, Kennard, killed in World War I, was a clarinettist and parts of this work have an in memoriam feel to them) while the 1950 quartet is a powerful and rigorous piece of compositional skill while still having its fair share of instantly memorable melodic and rhythmic figures. Maggini Quartet, David Campbell (clarinet). Naxos 8.557394 (U.S.A.) 02G010 $6.98

PATRICK PIGGOTT (1915-1990): Fantasia quasi una sonata (Piano Sonata No. 1), Piano Sonata No. 2, 8 Preludes and a Postlude (Third Set). Yet another fine composer who fell unmarked by the obscure byways of 20th-century music history through no apparent fault of his own. Apparently from his considerable output for orchestra, piano, voice and chamber ensembles, only one 8-minute work is currently in print. His most important teachers were Benjamin Dale and Nadia Boulanger; from the first he inherited a post-Romantic sensibility that places him in the company of Ireland and Bax; from the second an elegant post-impressionist sense of colour and eloquent Gallic stylishness. The works share a restless feeling of harmonic motion - predominantly tonal despite occasional use of dodecaphony - and a clear and uncluttered use of the piano, harmonically rich without being overloaded with Romantic accretions. The emotionally intense second sonata (describing it as 'terrifying, violent and almost evil' as a student of a colleague of the composer supposedly did might be overstating the case a little - one senses a sheltered upbringing) is nonetheless a compelling and vital work of somewhat pessimistic mood. The final set of 8 preludes contain the most advanced music and piano writing, and certainly deserve to enter the repertory of our more enterprising concert artists. So let's have some more, please - the Piano Concerto would be a good start. Malcolm Binns (piano). British Music Society BMS 430CD (England) 02G011 $18.98 >

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): Chamber Concertos No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 17 (Noriko Ogawa), No. 3 for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 21 (Martin Fröst), No. 7 for Oboe and Orchestra (Gordon Hunt), Beatus Parvo for Choir and Orchestra, Op. 117 (Danish National Opera Choir). Although the chamber concertos have all been recorded by Dacapo, the 1975 Beatus parvo, a setting of Psalm 32, is a first recording. The stylistic gap between this work and the others on the disc is rather small for 30 years, due mostly to the fact that the chorus for which it was written was amateur, so collectors who enjoy their Holmboe will certainly enjoy this later piece also. Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes. BIS CD-1176 (Sweden) 02G012 $17.98

NINO ROTA (1911-1979): La notte di un nevrastenico, I due timidi. A 58-minute radio play from 1950, "The Two Timid Ones" is designed not to be staged and more musically heterogenous than one would otherwise expect. A slender tale of two lovers too shy to even speak to each other (and no happy ending although an ironic one), its score is even more like a film score than many other of Rota's non-film works, full of everything from tender lyricism to mordant humor. The other work, a 38-minute farce from 1959 about a highly-strung traveller who can't get to sleep in a noisy hotel, serves its clever and funny libretto with a true musical farrago of everything from Puccini to Prokofiev with a few doses of the blues thrown in as well. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretti. Sabrina Testa (soprano), Shin Young-Hoon (tenor), Paolo Drigo (bass), Chorus of the Teatro Sociale di Rovigo, Orchestra Filarmonia Veneta "G.F. Malipiero"; Flavio Emilio Scogna. Bongiovanni GB 2367/68 (Italy) 02G013 $33.98

BELLEROFONTE CASTALDI (1581-1649): 30 Capriccios, Arias and other pieces. The six Capricci come from a 1622 publication and are for two theorbos, one an octave-higher "tiorbino" which was specially recreated for this recording. The other 24 pieces come from a 1623 publication of vocal works for one to three voices and continuo, arranged here for various instruments including double harp, viola da gamba, theorbo and guitar, with harpsichord and positive organ continuo. Lauten Compagney. New Classical Adventure 9909843-215 (Germany) 02G014 $17.98 >

HEINRICH ALBERT (1604-1651): O der rauhen grausamkeit!, Letzte Rede einer vormals stoltzen und sterbenden Jungfer, Seelchen, habt ihr nicht gesehen, Der Mai des Jahres Herz, JOHANN KRIEGER (1649-1725): Mein Herz ich liebe dich, Abend-Andacht, Kommt wir wollen ausspazieren, Wol dem der sich vergnügt, Sonata in G for 2 Violins and Continuo, ANDREAS HAMMERSCHMIDT (1611-1675): Schönheit, du kanst zwar wol binden, Canzona 3 for 3 Voices in D Minor, PHILIPP HEINRICH ERLEBACH (1657-1714): Amor, eile und erteile treuen Rat, Unser Leben is mit viel Not umgeben, Fortuna, du scherzest mit mir, ADAM KRIEGER (1634-1666): Fleug, Psyche, fleug, JOHANN CHRISTIAN DEDEKIND (1628-1715): Alles Ding vergeht geschwinde, ERASMUS KINDERMANN (1632-1687): Gott sey dedanckt, der Fried steht noch, Ach Herr, wie lange haben wir. A useful reminder that not all baroque lied dealt solely with sacred material, this collection is split into five categories: "Love", "Precariousness", "Peace" (The Thirty Years War was quite recent for several of these composer), "Nature" and "Luck". German texts. Annette Dasch (soprano), Members of the Akademie für Alte Musik. Harmonia Mundi Les Nouveaux Musiciens HMN 911835 (France) 02G015 $17.98

JEAN-BAPTISTE LULLY (1632-1687): Lully Edition, Vol. 6 - Les Fêtes de l'Amour et de Bacchus, ROBERT CAMBERT (1628-1677): Pomone. World premiere recordings of the very first two French operas (i.e. wholly sung, not spoken-and-sung). Cambert's is only a fragment, about 31 minutes is all that is left but it came first, in 1671, and is a pastorale with shepherds and shepherdesses. Lully followed in the next year with another pastorale, with music from three of his finest Molière opera-ballets - La Pastorale comique, George Dandin and Les Amants magnifiques - stitched together by a new libretto. The first tragedy lyrique, Cadmus et Hermione, would follow and, perhaps, will follow in this series too. In the next several months, we will offer the first five volumes in this ongoing, invaluable Lully Edition. 2 CDs. French libretto. Françoise Masset, Isabelle Desrochers, Sophie Landy (sopranos), Renaud Tripathi (counter tenor), Howard Crook (tenor), Jean-Louis Georgel (baritone), Bruno Rostand (bass), La Simphonie du Marais; Hugo Reyne. Accord 476 2437 (France) 02G016 $28.98 >

GEORG BÖHM (1661-1733): Prelude, Fugue and Postlude in G Minor, Suites in A Minor, F, D Minor, E Flat and F Minor. A variety of international styles inform these suites, from Froberger to D'Angelbert with Italian styles audible as well. The lautenwerk (a harpsichord with gut strings instead of metal, in order to imitate the lute) was recreated especially for this recording. Geoffrey Thomas (lautenwerk). New Classical Adventure 60115-215 (Germany) 02G017 $17.98 >

NICOLAS SIRET (1663-1754): Pièces de Clavecin - Deuxième Livre de Clavecin. Published in 1719, the four suites in this book are indebted stylistically to François Couperin, to whom Siret's first Livre was dedicated and with whom he was a friend of decades' standing, and bridge the gap between the first French harpischord school which ended with Louis Marchand and that dominated by Couperin. A brief organ work - the only one by Siret extant - is appended at the end of this recording. Mid-price. Davitt Moroney (harpsichord). Accord 476 2542 (France) 02G018 $11.98 >

CHRISTOPH GRAUPNER (1683-1760): Partitas Vol. 4 - No. 4 in D Minor, No. 5 in E Flat & No. 7 in E Minor. The greatest baroque discovery in recent years continues with the latest set of partitas, two of them very French in style and the third, and longest, quite Italian in its emotional and sometimes vocal quality. Geneviève Soly (harpsichord). Analekta AN 2 9116 (Canada) 02G019 $16.98

JOHANN MELCHIOR MOLTER (1696-1765): Overture in C Minor for 2 Oboes, Bassoon, 2 Violins, Viola and Continuo, Overture in F for 2 Horns, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, 2 Violins, Viola and Continuo, Violin Sonata in F Minor, Flute Sonata in G Minor, Oboe Concerto in E Flat. Practically none of Molter's music is known beyond his numerous trumpet and clarinet concertos. This collection shows him ranging through his career from the very virtuosic, Italianate, violin sonata of around 1720 through the two overtures and oboe concerto of the late 1730s in which he is adapting the French overture style to Italian models and, finally, to the flute sonata of 1742, which is firmly in the early Classical style of C.P.E. Bach. Nova Stravaganza; Siegbert Rampe. MD&G 341 1279-2 (Germany) 02G020 $17.98

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788): Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin in B Minor, H.512, F, H.511 and C Minor, H.514. These sonatas, all dating from 1763, range from courtly elegance (looking back at the Baroque) to impassioned emotion (the Empfindsamer stil so characteristic of C.P.E.'s music of the decades in mid-century). Geoffrey Thomas (harpsichord), Laszló Paulik (violin). New Classical Adventure 60114-215 (Germany) 02G021 $17.98 >

JAKOB FRIEDRICH KLEINKNECHT (1722-1794): 6 Flute Sonatas, Op. 1. Published in 1748, these works belong to the galant, Rococo, Empfindsamer stil or whatever you want to call that period when baroque regularity and refinement gave way to the expression of emotion ranging from mere love to near madness (the latter evident in the sixth sonata in this collection). Each sonata has its own character and all make extravagant demands on the soloist in music of exceptional range and quality (they were still part of the flute repertoire into the early Romantic period). Ildikó Kertész (transverse flute), Nicholas Selo (cello), Geoffrey Thomas (harpsichord). New Classical Adventure MA 97 10 830 (Germany) 02G022 $17.98 >

CRISTIANO GIUSEPPE LIDARTI (1730-1793): Ester. Here's one of the more unusual items you're likely to find from the Classical period: a full-length oratorio with libretto in Romanized Hebrew written by a rabbi who based it on the libretto to the second version of Handel's Esther. The music dates from 1774 and is very conservative, its homophonic textures, dominance of simple melody and harmonies and still-present basso continuo site it in the galant style of decades earlier. World premiere recording (only discovered in 1998!). 2 CDs. Hebrew-English texts. Anne Lise Sollied (soprano), Ulrike Helzel (mezzo), Donald Litaker, Mario Zeffiri (tenors), Laurent Naouri (baritone), Latvian Radio Choir, Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 467 1255 (France) 02G023 $33.98 >

CHEVALIER DE LA LANCE (17??-??): Plaintes de Vénus sur la Mort d'Adonis for Soprano and String Quartet, LUIGI BOCCHERINI (1743-1805): Stabat Mater for Soprano, 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos, FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Salve Regina for Soprano and Strings, D.676. The oddity here is the ten-minute lament of Venus over the dead Adonis which comes from an unknown, probably pseudonymous composer - an operatically emotional little piece in ABA form which is more late Baroque than early Classical in style. Boccherini's better-known sacred work is heard here in the composer's original, 1781 chamber version. French-English texts. Ingrid Schmithüsen (soprano), Ensemble Les Adieux. New Classical Adventure 60110-215 (Germany) 02G024 $17.98 >

DOMENICO CIMAROSA (1749-1801): 6 Flute Quartets. Catchy melodies, sometimes redolent of folk music, and a gentle, salon quality inform these world premiere recordings of works half of which were only published in 1975 and the others still in manuscript. Mid-price. Loïc Poulain (flute), Members of the Dolezál Quartet. Accord 472 348-2 (France) 02G025 $11.98 >

FRANZ DANZI (1763-1826): Quintets for Piano and Winds in D Minor, Op. 41, in F, Op. 53 & in D, Op. 54. Dating from 1810 and 1821, these quintets (the later works substitute a flute for the horn) show Danzi's progress toward early Romanticism, the op. 53 work vacillating between piano as soloist and accompanist but op. 54 structured more like a piano concerto. Christine Schornsheim (fortepiano), Das Reicha'sche Quintett. New Classical Adventure 60102-215 (Germany) 02G026 $17.98 >

FRANZ DANZI (1763-1826): 3 Bassoon Quartets, Op. 40. The use of period instruments helps restore the unique colors which Danzi drew from the bassoon he knew and also accentuates his skilled blending of voices and the richness of his textures, making these quartets of 1813 more satisfying than they ever sounded on modern bassoon and strings. Island. Centaur CRC 2708 (U.S.A.) 02G027 $16.98

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): 14 Songs from Schottische Lieder, Op. 108, Piano Trio in B, WoO 39, Rondo for Piano in C, Op. 51/1. Dating from 1815-6, Beethoven's contribution to the harmonizing and publishing of collector George Thomson's Scottish folk songs sticks to basic tonic, dominant and subdominant in its harmony but which still allows for an imaginative response to the various texts involved. Texts included. Klaus Mertens (bass-baritone), Daniel Sepec (violin), Jaap ter Linden (cello), Richard Fuller (fortepiano). New Classical Adventure 9810839-215 (Germany) 02G028 $17.98 >

HYACINTHE JADIN (1769-1802): 3 String Trios, Op. 2. These trios are full of melodies which a hearer, listening blind, would naturally associate with Romanticism (even a couple which could be called Brahmsian!). Not at all in the brilliant style so dear to the French, these are all serious pieces with little room for soloistic virtuosity; indeed, Jadin uses double-stopping to make the three-part texture seem more harmonically adventurous. Collectors may want to know that the notes give odd dates for Jadin (1776-1800); mistake or result of new scholarship? Ensemble Les Adieux. New Classical Adventure 9912846-215 (Germany) 02G029 $17.98 >

SIGISMUND NEUKOMM (1778-1858): String Quintets "Une fête de village en Suisse" and "L'amante abandonnée". Written both in 1812, these highly unusual program music quintets are full of odd little delights. The longer of the two is the Swiss Village Festival, complete with a Beethovenian thunderstorm and hymn of thanksgiving but also filled with much Swiss local color. "The Abandoned Lover" is in three movements ("Love", "Infidelity" and "Despair") and is a bit more conventional in its manner of depicting the emotions of love but it does end nicely with the dagger-stroke of suicide stabbingly represented! Ensemble Les Adieux. New Classical Adventure 60122-215 (Germany) 02G030 $17.98 >

FRIEDRICH KALKBRENNER (1785-1849): Grande Sonate in F, Op. 28, Rondo brillant sur un motif de l'opéra "Le Serment", Op. 116, 3 Romances, Op. 54, Polonaise brillante in B, Op. 55, Les charmes de la Walse, Op. 73, La femme du marin. One of the earliest of the travelling European piano composer-virtuosos, Kalkbrenner has been quite neglected on record, making this collection of salon-style pieces, the virtuosic Rondo brillant and the 27-minute sonata (1818) with its evocations of everyone from Mozart and Haydn to Schubert, a must-have for all Romantic piano collectors. Michael Krücker (1836 Pleyel fortepiano). New Classical Adventure 60109-215 (Germany) 02G031 $17.98 >

IGNAZ MOSCHELES (1794-1870): Grosse Sonate, Op. 41, Sonate mélancolique, Op. 49, Les Charmes de Paris, Op. 54, Fantaisie dramatique sur une Cavatine de l'Opéra "Anna Bolena", Op. 86b, Fantaisie dramatique sur des Airs favoris, Op. 72/4, Nocturne, Op. 71, Rondo sentimental, Op. 82a, Rêverie mélodique, Op. 130. We offered this disc in October of 1998 and ran out, never having been able to reacquire it again until now, so check your collections. Straddling the classical and romantic eras (though firmly grounded in the former), this music, while breaking no bounds, is a perfect reminder of the first-rate fare available to the 19th-century concertgoer, much of which is eclipsed nowadays by history's perception of who was "important" and who wasn't. Michael Krücker (1844 Erard fortepiano). New Classical Adventure 9709829-210 (Germany) 02G032 $17.98 >

GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848): Elvida. This one-act dramma per musica, set in Spain during the reconquest and involving the usual noble Moor, his evil father and their beautiful Spanish princess/prisoner, was an 1826 commission for an event which already had a long ballet scheduled, forcing Donizetti to produce a short, tight piece with a few arias, a duet, terzetto and quartet linked by recitative - all in his best Rossini/Mayr early style. Italian-English libretto. Cristina Pastorello (soprano), Maria Pia Moriyòn (mezzo), Massimiliano Fichera (baritone), Città di Adria Chorus and Orchestra; Franco Piva. Bongiovanni GB 2370 (Italy) 02G033 $16.98

FREDRIK PACIUS (1809-1891): Incidental Music from The Princess of Cyprus. Among the first wave of art inspired by the publishing of the Finnish epic, the Kalevala, came this 1860 stage play introducing the hero Lemminkäinen into Greek myth (the improbability of it all is quite charming). Choruses, ballads, songs and two segments of melodrama accompany 11 minutes (in all) of narration, for a total of 71 minutes of very Germanic (on the Mendelssohn axis), never-before-recorded musical Romanticism. Swedish-English texts. Tom Wentzel (narrator), Tove Åman (soprano), Agneta Eichenholz, Riikka Rantanen (mezzos), Jubilate Choir, Tapiola Sinfonietta; Ulf Söderblom. BIS CD-1340 (Sweden) 02G034 $17.98

GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901): Les Vêpres Siciliennes. The original version of the opera as performed in Paris on June 13, 1855 in a BBC performance recorded May 10, 1969 before an invited audience at the Camden Theatre and broadcast the following year. The 271-page book containing the notes and libretto weighs three-quarters of a pound and is packed with all the information one expects from Opera Rara. 3 CDs. French-English libretto. Jean Bonhomme (tenor), Neilson Taylor (baritone), Jacqueline Brumaire (soprano), BBC Chorus and Concert Orchestra; Mario Rossi. Opera Rara ORCV303 (England) 02G035 $59.98

PERE TINTORER (1814-1891): 2 Etudes, NICOLAU MANENT (1827-1887): La marcha del rei Don Juan I, PRIMITIU PARDÀS (1828-1897): Nocturne, JOAN BAPTISTA PUJOL (1835-1898): Fantasia-Mazurka, JOSEP GARCIA ROBLES (1835-1910): Serenata, CLAUDI MARTÍNEZ I IMBERT (1845-1919): Homentage a Velázquez, MELCIOR RODRÍGUEZ D'ALCÀNTARA (1855-1914): Album Leaf, FRANCESC ALIÓ (1862-1908): Barcarolle, JOAQUIM MALATS (1872-1912): Serenata Española, FRANK MARSHALL (1883-1959): Suite Catalonia. High-class Romantic salon music of Catalan composers of whom practically no one will ever have heard (Marshall was a teacher of Alicia de Larrocha). Melani Mestre (piano). La Ma de Guido LMG 2058 (Spain) 02G036 $16.98

Il Salotto, Vol. 7

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): 3 Sonetti di Petrarca, GIACOMO MEYERBEER (1791-1864): Le ricordanze, Komm, komm, La Mère Grand, La fille de l'air, FEDERICO RICCI (18-18): Dirgli vorrei, Mi vuo, trasformar, Vieni voga, CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921): Thème Varié, Pourquoi rester seulette, PRINCE GIUSEPPE PONIATOWSKI (1816-1873): Cantami, cantami, Le Rosier, GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901): Prends pitié de sa jeunesse, CARLOS GOMES (1836-1896): Realtà, ANTONIO BUZZOLA (1815-1871): Tace il vento. Opera Rara's latest dip into the perfumed, intensely intoxicating experience of love as experienced in the hothouse drawing rooms of Europe in the Romantic era. French/German/Italian-English texts. Elizabeth Vidal, Laura Claycomb (sopranos), Bruce Ford, William Mateuzzi (tenors), Manuela Custer (mezzo), Roberto Servile (baritone), Alastair Miles (bass), David Harper (piano). Opera Rara OR230 (England) 02G037 $19.98

ADOLF VON HENSELT (1814-1889): 12 Études caractéristiques de concert, Op. 2, Poème d'amour, Op. 3, 12 Études de salon, Op. 5. Dating from 1837-8, these works all carry titles (the op. 2 in extravagant French are dedicated to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the op. 5 in short, to-the-point German are for Queen Marie of Saxony) which describe the content. Combining exquisite virtuosity with the charm and expression associated with the salon these pieces are perfect examples of Henselt's art at a time when Schumann considered him the greatest German composer of the time. Note: Several people remain back-ordered on the Henselt disc which we offered in October 2003 (10G034) which offered only 8 of the Op. 2 etudes and all of Op. 5. Since this disc is more complete and since we don't anticipate ever getting the Dontrie disc again, we are cancelling those back-orders. Piers Lane (piano). Hyperion CDA 67495 (England) 02G038 $18.98

LOUIS-JAMES-ALFRED LEFÉBURE-WÉLY (1817-1869): Marches in F, C & E Flat, Elévation in A Minor, Boléro de Concert, Op. 166, Morceau pour une mariage in F, Verset in G, Offertoires in D Minor & C, Noël varié in F, Sorties in E Flat & B Flat, Andante in F, Communion in F. All but three of these works come from L'Organiste moderne (1867) and, though they are technically liturgical pieces, they are shot through with the brilliant colors, melodies and harmonies which were so popular with the aristocratic audiences of Paris. Played on the organ in the church where the composer spent ten years as organist. Ben van Oosten (Cavaillé-Coll organ of Sainte-Madeleine, Paris). MD&G 316 12748-2 (Germany) 02G039 $17.98

PAULINE VIARDOT-GARCIA (1821-1910): Songs: Sérénade, Bonjour mon cur, Haï Luli!, L'enfant et la Mère, Havanaise, Les filles de Cadix, Des Nachts, Räthsel, Die Sterne, Die Beschwörung, Chanson de la pluie, Grands oiseaux blancs, Désespoir, Sylvie, Moriró, L'afflitta, Ta chevelure, Ti voglio amar, Songs after Chopin Mazurkas: Seize-ans, Aime-moi, La fête, Plainte d'amour. One of the most famous singers ever to mount the European stage, Garcia also wrote a few operettas and a batch of songs to poems in various languages, many of which are strongly folk-influenced. Also included here are four songs, to texts by the Frenchman Louis Pomey, which she adapted to Chopin mazurkas. French/German/Italian-English texts. Isabel Bayrakdarian (soprano), Serouj Kradjian (piano). Analekta AN 2 9903 (Canada) 02G040 $16.98

GIOVANNI BOTTESINI (1821-1889): Works for Double Bass, Vol. 5 - Concerto di bravura, Concerto in G Minor, Grande Allegro di Concerto alla Mendelssohn, Grande Concerto. First recording of the 1841 Concerto di bravura, reconstructed and orchestrated from sketches for this recording; the alla Mendelssohn is very rare too, and utterly winning in its combination of originality and its adduced namesake. Gergely Járdányi (double bass), Budapest Chamber Symphony; János Ács. Hungaroton HCD 32230 (Hungary) 02G041 $17.98

ANTON RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894): Octet for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, String Trio, Double Bass and Piano, Op. 9, Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op. 55. Think of the 1856 octet as Rubinstein's Piano Concerto No. 0 since, in fact, it is a reduction of an unpublished C major piano concerto dating back to 1849, as anyone listening to more than two minutes of it will immediately perceive. Lasting just over 37 minutes, it has all the fire and brio (and a very Mendelssohnian finale) one would expect from a 20-year-old flexing his pianistic and compositional muscles. Dating from 1860, the slightly longer quintet is pure chamber music, although with soloist work always given the piano, which should take its place alongside the Rimsky-Korsakov work in the same genre. Consortium Classicum. Orfeo C 422 041 A (Germany) 02G042 $18.98

EDWARD BACHE (1833-1858): Piano Trio, Op. 25, Romance for Cello and Piano, Op. 21, Duo Brillante for Violin and Piano, 6 Songs, Op. 16. The great English hope of his time, Bache died before reaching 225 (of tuberculosis) but the works recorded here show how much he might have accomplished had he lived longer. A student of Sterndale Bennett, his full length trio has a similar sunny disposition with effortlessly running piano figures and expressive melodies. The songs, to four texts by Uhland, one by Goethe and the other by Heine, show an apparent complete assimilation of the romantic German lied style. German-English texts. The English Piano Trio, Yvonne Howard (soprano). Dutton Epoch CDLX 7145 (England) 02G043 $18.98

GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924): Complete Songs, Vol. 1 - Les matelots, Op. 2/2, Seule!, Op. 3/1, Chanson du pêcheur, Op. 4/1, Barcarolle, Op. 7/3, Tarentelle, Op. 10/2, Au bord de l'eau, Op. 8/1, Les berceaux, Op. 23/1, Au cimetière, Op. 51/2, Larmes, Op. 51/1, 5 Mélodies "de Venise", Op. 58, Pleurs d'or, Op. 72, Accompagnement, Op. 85/3, La fleur qui ca sur l'eau, Op. 85/2, Mirages, Op. 113, C'est la paix, Op. 114, L'horizon chimérique, Op. 118. The first of four discs of Fauré's songs, each choosing a program from across the composer's four creative periods, receives the usual deluxe Hyperion treatment although this time, the booklets are small enough to fit into a regular jewel-box. French-English texts. Felicity Lott, Jennifer Smith, Geraldine McGreevey, Stella Doufexis (sopranos), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Christopher Maltman, Stephen Varcoe (baritones), Graham Johnson (piano). Hyperion French Song Edition CDA 67333 (England) 02G044 $18.98

JOACHIM ANDERSEN (1847-1909): Complete Works, Vol. 2 - Au bord de la mer, Op. 9, 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 24, Deuxième Impromptu, Op. 54, 5 Leichtere Stücke, Op. 56, 4 Morceaux de salon, Op. 51. A founding member of the Berlin Philharmonic and author of 188 flute etudes still used by students today, Andersen wrote music which exceeded salon quality for all that the titles above may make one doubt that. Au bord prefigures French Impressionism in many ways and the brilliance and virtuosity of the flute writing make these pieces definitely for the concert stage rather than the drawing room. Thomas Jensen (flute), Frode Stengaard (piano). Danacord DACOCD 617 (Denmark) 02G045 $17.98

SERGEI LYAPUNOV (1859-1924): Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 27, Fêtes de Noël, Op. 41, 6 morceaux faciles, Op. 59, Variations on a Russian Theme in D Sharp Minor, Op. 49. Lyapunov was one of the most conservative of composers so it comes as no surprise that his 1908 sonata is in Lisztian single-movement, cyclical form and language although its 27 minutes are sure to appeal to all Romantic sonata collectors. The Morceaux (1919) are quite Schumannian in their depictions of childhood activities, the Fêtes gentle meditations on Christmas hymns while only the virtuosic Variations of 1912 contain obvious nationalistic material. Karl-Andreas Kolly (piano). Novalis 150 177-2 (Switzerland) 02G046 $17.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): Voice and Organ - 12 Geistliche Lieder, Op. 137, Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, Heimweh, Passionslied, Op. 19/1, Ich sehe dich in tausend Bildern, Op. 105/1, Meine Seele ist still zu Gott, Op. 105/2, Wenn in bangen, trüben Stunden, Wohl denen, die ohne Tadel leben, Doch du ließest ihn im Grabe nicht, Op. 19/2, Solo Organ - Weihnachten, Passion, Ostern, Pfingsten (from Op. 145). Reger's complete organ-accompanied lieder, the Op. 137 set dating from 1914, simple, heartfelt and devout pieces which sold well during the war and which present a much different aspect of this master of contrapuntal complexity. German texts. Klaus Mertens (bass-baritone), Martin Haselbock (Sauer organ of the Stadthalle Görlitz). New Classical Adventure 60101-215 (Germany) 02G047 $17.98 >

MAX REGER (1873-1916): Volume 2 - 7 geistliche Volkslieder, 3 Choral Arrangements for Christmas, New Year's and Epiphany, Op. 79g, 12 deutsche geistliche Gesänge. Everything here dates from 1900, the two works without opus number, lasting 60 minutes in all, collections of sacred folk songs with the Seven written in a simple style for amateur choir and the Twelve rather more meaty, with active inner parts and chromaticism while the Op. 79g trio are brief, easy pieces written as inserts for music magazines. German texts. North German Radio Choir Hamburg; Hans-Christoph Rademann. Carus 83.155 (Germany) 02G048 $17.98

The Accord Operetta Series - First Five Offerings

This mid-price series (with 15 titles in the catalogue so far) consists of both stereo and historical mono recordings of fairly obscure examples of the genre. The notes are brief, French-only and there are no libretti but this will not deter seasoned collectors who may not have many of these recordings. We provide excerpts (in quotes below) from Raymond Walker's on-line reviews of this series at www.musicweb.uk.net for orientation.

CHARLES LECOCQ (1832-1918): Le Petit Duc. This 1878 confection "tells the tale of an aristocratic marriage, set in Versailles and of two lovers whom their parents think are too young to marry and engage in sex. The little Duke and his Duchess are determined in their intention and sing some of the nicest songs ever penned by Lecocq. The 'hot' book had to be watered down before offering The Little Duke to the British. ...good music, humorous activity and provides a spectacle full of colour and interest..."2 CDs for the price of 1. Eliane Thibault (soprano), André Jobin, Claude Cales (tenors), Orchestra and Chorus; André Grassi. Original 1969 Decca France release. Accord Opérette 472 874-2 (France) 02G049 $17.98 >

EDMOND AUDRAN (1842-1901): La Mascotte. "Some of the re-releases in the Accord Operette series are rare recordings and this is one of them ...interesting because it allows one to study this composer's style which rings the changes on Offenbach and other contemporaries...pleasant, unsophisticated melodies." 2 CDs for the price of 1. Mono. Geneviève Moizan, Denise Cauchard (sopranos), Robert Massard, Lucien Baroux (tenors), Orchestra and Chorus; Robert Benedetti. Original 1956 Musidisc release. Accord Opérette 465 877-2 (France) 02G050 $17.98 >

HENRI CHRISTINÉ (1867-1941): Dédé. "...characteristic of the style of 1920s stage shows..." and particularly notable for the presence of Chevalier, who played the same role on stage at the operetta's 1921 premiere. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Mono. Maurice Chevalier (baritone), Marina Hotine, Andrée Grandjean (sopranos), Raymond Girerd (tenor), Orchestra and Chorus; Jacques-Henri Rys. Original 1953 Musidisc release. Accord Opérette 461 961-2 (France) 02G051 $17.98 >

FRANZ LEHÁR (1870-1948): Rose de Noël. "No reference to this work will be found under a reference entry for Lehár for the work was conceived in the 1950s by Raymond Vincy (libretto). Lehár's music was adapted by Prof. Rekai and Paul Bonneau for a Paris production at the Châtelet Theatre. As the date suggests, it is more a musical than an operetta even though Lehár's music does fall squarely into the operetta period." 2 CDs for the price of 1. Nicole Broissin, Rosine Bredy (sopranos), André Dassary, Henri Chanaron (tenors), Orchestra and Chorus; Felix Nuvolone. Original 1959 Vega release. Accord Opérette 472 871-2 (France) 02G052 $17.98 >

HENRI GOUBLIER Fils (1888-1951): La Cocardede Mimi Pinson. Goubier is almost completely unknown outside France; this work dates from 1915 and "The music here is very much in the mould of a Lehárian style, not unlike The Merry Widow (1905)". 2 CDs for the price of 1. Peter Gottlieb (tenor), Liliane Berton (soprano), Orchestra and Chorus; Robert Benedetti. Original 1963 Decca France release. Accord Opérette 461 964-2 (France) 02G053 $17.98 >

JOSEF RHEINBERGER (1839-1901): Piano Trios No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 34, No. 2 in A, Op. 112, No. 3 in B Flat, Op. 121, No. 4 in F, Op. 191. Apparently out-of-print for a while, this 1992 set is restored to the catalogue and anyone who knows Rheinberger only for his organ music will be delighted at the youthful vigor which informs all of these Brahmsian/Mendelssohnian trios whether early or late. 2 CDs. Parnassus Trio. MD&G 303 0419-2 (Germany) 02G054 $35.98

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Complete Sibelius Edition, Vol. 55 - The Complete Piano Quartets: Quartet in D Minor, Ljunga Wirginia for Violin, Cello and Piano Four Hands, Scherzo in E Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano Four Hands, Andante cantabile in E Flat for Piano and Harmonium, Quartet in G Minor for Piano Trio and Harmonium, Quartet in C Minor. Collectors who own the disc of early piano trios will already know that this is music which sounds like Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, not like mature Sibelius and there is no change here, especially in the 33-minute D Minor quartet from 1884 (note that the quartets not specified instrumentally above are for two violins, cello and piano). Ljunga Wirginia (1885) is what survives of music for an intended opera - six short movements whose theatrical nature is not in doubt. Jaakko Kuusisto, Satu Vänskä (violins), Taneli Turunen (cello), Folke Gräsbeck (piano), Peter Lönnqvist (second player), Harri Viitanen (harmonium). BIS CD-1182 (Sweden) 02G055 $17.98

JOSEPH WILLIAMS (1795-1875): Pensées Fugitives, CHARLES OBERTHÜR (1819-1895): Sweet Dreams, Op. 300, ARTHUR SOMERVELL (1863-1937): Romance, Op. 4, CHARLES HARFORD LLOYD (1849-1919): Duo Concertante, EDWARD GERMAN (1862-1936): Pastorale, Bourée, RICHARD WALTHEW (1872-1951): 4 Meditations, ALFRED PRATT (1873-1959): Souvenir d'Ispahan, JOSEPH HOLBROOKE (1878-1958): Nocturne, Op. 55/1, RALPH GREAVES (1889-1966): Idyll, WILLIAM LOVELOCK (1899-1986): Romance, Waltz, ADAM CARSE (1878-1958): Happy Tune, C.R. YUILLE-SMITH (1904-1988): Gavotte, THOMAS DUNHILL (1877-1946): Phantasy Suite, Op. 91. Under the title "100 Years of the Simple-System Clarinet" (as opposed to the Boehm-system instrument which conquered English clarinettists last of all), this 80-minute disc offers a lovely group of Victorian and first half of the 20th century music, ranging from Williams' 1855 salon pieces to Dunhill's late Romantic suite from 1941. Colin Lawson (clarinet), Francis Pott (piano). Clarinet Classics CC0044 (England) 02G056 $19.98

Rare Operas from Accord

AMILCARE PONCHIELLI (1834-1886): Marion Delorme. This composer's last opera, based on a play by Hugo, was premiered in 1885 and, although the public enjoyed it, the mixed critical reaction was probably due to Ponchielli's decision to move away from the traditional grandeur of the Italian stage towards a lighter style in the manner of French opéra comique. Listeners may find evocations of both Gounod and of Bizet although, in the tragic final act, Ponchielli returns to the grand style. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Denia Mazzola-Gavazzeni (soprano), Francisco Casanova (tenor), Dalibor Jenis (baritone), Latvian Radio Choir, , Montpellier Opera Chorus, Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 472 613-2 (France) 02G057 $33.98 >

HENRI RABAUD (1873-1949): Marouf. Based on the Arabian Nights' tale "The Frenzied Honey Cake and the Cobbler's Calamitous Spouse", Rabaud's 1914 comic opera is just as tasty a confection. Unafraid to reach back to the late 18th and early 19th century French composers who wrote "oriental" music which was full of sinuous, not to say "hootchy-kootchie", melodies, the composer produced a five-act delight which could easily have been written 50 to 75 years before. Gaiety, lyricism and an attractive sensuality pervade every aspect of this work which, until now, has only been available on CD in a mono air-check from the 1950s (we offered it sometime in the last 18 months). Only a curmudgeon could not love this! 2 CDs. French-English libretto. Michel Lecocq (tenor), Anne-Marie Blanzat (soprano), Franz Petri (baritone), Nantes Opera Chorus, Orchestre Philharmonique des Pays de la Loire; Jésus Etcheverry. Original 1977 Musidisc release. Accord 472 142-2 (France) 02G058 $25.98 >

FRANCO ALFANO (1875-1954): Risurrezione. This, too, was offered in these pages (July of 2003) in a 1971 live mono pirate version. The third of Alfano's operas (1904), it was his last in the true verismo tradition (although the orchestral writing is much more dense than anything by the previous generation of verismists and the orchestra is often almost a character in its own right, far beyond being a mere accompaniment), based on Tolstoy's novel and known particularly for the highly melodramatic role for Katyusha, its ill-starred heroine. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Denia Mazzola-Gavazzeni (soprano), Antonio Nagore (tenor), Vladmir Petrov (baritone), Latvian Radio Choir, Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 472 818-2 (France) 02G059 $33.98 >

ERMANNO WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1946): La Vedova Scaltra. One of five operas to librettos based on Goldoni plays, this 1931 three-act comic opera is lyrical and gentle of spirit, bringing a Mozartian grace to the tale of four suitors, each from a different country, who are after the hand of a young widow. And the Mozartean qualities are more literal than you might think - there are two passages of secco recitative and an aria accompanied by harpsichord as Wolf-Ferrari makes us of many of the mannerisms of 18th century opera buffa. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Anne-Lise Sollied, Henriette Bonde-Hansen (sopranos), Francesco Piccoli (tenor), Franck Leguérinel (baritone), Montpellier National Opera Choir, Orchestre National de Montpellier; Enrique Mazzola. Accord 476 2675 (France) 02G060 $33.98 >

OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879-1936): La Campana sommersa. Based on a German Undine-like tale, this 1927 work deals with the well-used story of a female wood-sprite who lures a young man away from his wife with ultimate disastrous results for both the mortals. Much of the first two acts contains music of the richness and opulence one would expect from the Respighi of the tone-poems and a bit of the expressionist fervor of Schreker and Zemlinsky while the music dealing with purely human passions leans rather more toward Puccini. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Laura Aikin (soprano), John Daszak (tenor), Roderick Earle (bass), Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 476 1884 (France) 02G061 $33.98 >

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra in B Flat, Suite for Piano, Op. 25, The Book of the Hanging Gardens, Op. 15 for Mezzo-Soprano and Ensemble, Lied der Waldtaube from Gurrelieder. The Book of the Hanging Gardens, to poems by Stefan George, not terribly often recorded, dates from 1909 and is at the very edge of tonality, an intensely felt 27 minutes of erotic longing fully in keeping with the Expressionist modes of the day. The concerto is a recomposing of Handel's Concerto grosso, Op. 6/7 and, although punctuated by some wildly atonal passages, is nevertheless one of Schoenberg's most easily approached works while the Suite (1921-3) is his first true twelve-tone piece. Also included is a six-and-a-half minute conversation with the composer, made by Halsey Stevens in 1949, from Robert Craft's private collection. German-English texts (op. 15). Jennifer Lane (mezzo), Christopher Oldfather (piano), Fred Sherry String Quartet, Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble; Robert Craft. Naxos Robert Craft Collection 8.557520 (New Zealand) 02G062 $6.98

PAUL LE FLEM (1881-1984): Avril, Vieux calvaire, 7 prières enfantines, Par grèves, Par landes, Chants des genêts, Violin Sonata. Le Flem's first mature work, the 29-minute violin sonata of 1905 is shot through with the Celtic fantasy and dream-quality which one finds in works from the same period by Bax and Ireland. The 50 minutes worth of piano pieces (dating from 1907-11) recall Severac in their treatment of the piano but with much richer and more advanced harmony, and there are also reminiscences of Debussy and both subtle and more overt use of Breton folk music. Marie-Catherine Gierod (piano), Annick Roussin (violin). Accord 476 160-9 (France) 02G063 $11.98 >

CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Viola Sonata, Op. 53, Paysages et Marines for Piano, Flute, Clarinet and String Quartet, L'ancienne maison de Campagne for Piano, Op. 124, 4 Nouvelles Sonatines for Piano, Op 87, Danse lent for Piano, Op. 163/2, L'albume de Lilian, Op. 139 for Soprano, Flute and Piano, and Op. 149 for Harpsichord and Ondes Martenot, Vers le soleil for Ondes Martenot, Op. 174, Stèle funéraire for 3 Flutes, Op. 224. A fairly wide variety of fascinating music is brought together here, from the Franckian romantic melancholy of the 1915 sonata to the suite of seven pieces for solo Ondes Martenot of 1939, with Koechlin the miniaturist finely depicted in his suites of very brief pieces inspired by English actress Lilian Harvey 1934-5) and Koechlin the Impressionist glimpsed in the suites Paysages et Marines (1917) and L'ancienne maison (1933). 3 CDs. Mid-price. Christoph Keller (piano), Daniel Cholette (piano, harpsichord), Alexandra Gavrilovici, Urs Walker (violins), Christoph Schiller (viola), Elmar Schmid (clarinet), Kiyoshi Kasai, Philippe Racine (flutes), Christine Simonin (ondes martenot), Kathrin Graf (soprano). Original 1990-93 Accord releases. Accord 465 894 (France) 02G064 $26.98 >

PAUL LADMIRAULT (1877-1944): Suite for Oboe and Piano(s), CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): 5 Vocalises from 15 Vocalises dans tous les tons mineurs, CHARLES-MARIE WIDOR (1844-1937): 3 pièces, GABRIEL PIERNÉ (1863-1937): Pièce in G Minor. Lovers of the truly arcane will enjoy the 18-year-old Ladmirault's vigorous and joyous 27-minute suite with a rather bizarre instrumentation - a second piano joins the fray in the scherzo and finale, the latter being a wonderfully weird movement which begins with a Bachian fugue only to veer off into an Offenbachian can-can. The other pieces (Koechlin's in an arrangement for the oboe) are short, attractive and elegant. Lajos Lencsés (oboe), François Killian (piano), Alexandra Neumann (second piano). Bayer 100 351 (Germany) 02G065 $17.98

JACQUES IBERT (1890-1962): Escales for Orchestra (Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Paul Paray, 1962), String Quartet (Quatuor Parrenin - 1956, mono), 3 pièces brèves for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon (Paris Wind Quintet - 1956, mono), Entracte for Flute and Harp (Jacques Castagner [flute], Elisabeth Fanton-Binoche [harp], 1965), Divertissement for Chamber Orchestra (Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire; Jean Martinon, 1960), Histoires for Piano (Ginette Doyen - 1956, mono). Paray's famous Mercury recording of Escales shares a 78 minute disc with lesser-known Ibert. The quartet of 1942 is actually the latest piece here and fits right into the Debussy/Ravel French quartet tradition, while everything else here consists of suites of miniatures which show the composer's characteristic insouciance and joie de vivre with 1930's Divertissement, six excerpts from a film score, is particularly virtuosic and mischievous. Mid-price. Accord 472 320-2 (France) 02G066 $11.98 >

DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): Le Retour de l'enfant prodigue, Op. 42 (Bernard Demigney, Gabriel Bacquier [baritones], André Vessières [bass], Janine Collard [mezzo], Michel Caron [tenor], Soloists of the Orchestre du Theâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris; Darius Milhaud, 1960), String Septet, Op, 408 (Gérard Jarry, Jacques Ghestem [violins], Serge Collot, Michel Wales [violas], Michel Tournus, Michel Renard [cellos], Jacques Cazuran (double bass]), Aspen-Serenade, Op. 361 (Jean-Pierre Rampal [flute[, Pierre Pierlot [oboe], Jacques Lancelot [clarinet], Paul Hongne [bassoon], Pierre Thibaud [trumpet], Gérard Jarry [violin], Serge Collot [viola], Michel Tournous [cello], Jacques Cazaurnan [double bass]; Darius Milhaud [conductor] (both 1966 recordings). The early (1917) Le Retour is one of Milhaud's first examples of the use of polytonality, the orchestra consisting of 13 solo instruments and two string quartets, with every player getting an independent melodic or tonal line. The string septet (1964) contains an aleatory second movement while the better-known Aspen Serenade was a 1957 return to Milhaud's early polytonal days. Mid-price. Accord 465 783 (France) 02G067 $11.98 >

TADEUSZ PACIORKIEWICZ (1916-1998): Violin Sonata in F, Sonatina for 2 Violins, Fantasy for Violin and Piano, Andante for Violin and Organ, Andante for Violin and Viola, Impressions for Solo Viola, Aria for Viola and Organ. Unlike many of his better-known compatriots (but like many other newly discovered names on this enterprising Polish label), Paciorkeiwicz has nothing to do with avant-garde movements of the 20th century, with Stravinsky and Hindemith being about as far as his stylistic influences go. Expressivity and melody are most important to him and his works for two violins and the violin/viola duo are not about virtuosity but about conversation; an organist by training, the composer offers some unusual combinations here in which the keyboard instrument is never merely an accompanist. Katarzyna Duda (violin), Krzysztof Bzowka (second violin), Edward Wolanin (piano), Jerzy Dziubinski (organ), Artur Paciorkiewicz (viola). Acte Préalable AP0088 (Poland) 02G068 $16.98 >

HILDING HALLNÄS (1903-1984): Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-4, Triptych, Pas de deux, Short Suite, Epigram, 4 Preludes from En vintersaga, Largo from Pasteller. The works performed here cover a wide span of time (1930-83) and contain both early pieces inspired by Nordic Romanticism and, the majority, serial pieces which, through the composer's experimentation and unorthodox usage of the system, often appear tonal, with scraps of brittle melody and half-hidden lyricism. Jörgen Amsö (piano). Intim Musik IMCD 090 (Sweden) 02G069 $16.98

JOAQUIM HOMS (1906-2003): Piano Works, Vol. 3 - Piano Sonata No. 2, 3 Sardanes for Piano Four Hands, 9 Sketches, Toccata, Diptych II, Memory of the Sea, Suburban Waltz, Presences, Andante from Wind Quintet No. 1. This final volume of music by the Catalan composer covers the entire 70 years of his composing career with pieces ranging from the very folk-influenced Sardanes (1951) to such twelve-tone pieces as the early Sketches (1926, while studying with Roberto Gerhard) and the 1955 sonata with several pieces falling somewhere in between, the most striking, perhaps, being the Presences of 1967 - a seven-movement cycle of 21 minutes whose distilled emotion and expressive power belie its serial style. Jordi Masó (piano), Miquel Villalba (second player). Marco Polo 8.225294 (New Zealand) 02G070 $9.98

PETERIS VASKS (b.1946): Violin Concerto "Distant Light", Musica dolorosa, Viatore. World premiere recording of the 2001 Viatore, a 15-minute piece composed in an ascending and descending arc and which combines a meditative, quasi-spiritual mood with elements of minimalism. Collectors new to Vasks might want to start with his 1997 violin concerto, a single-movement work of half an hour which has three distinct sections, one of which resembles Latvian folk music styles and one of which employs an aleatory passage; listening to this work makes one understand Vasks' statement in the notes that Lutoslawski is one of the "most important composers ever", and it gives real spine to music which might otherwise seem too one-dimensional in its diatonic simplicity. Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Katarina Andreasson. BIS CD-1150 (Sweden) 02G071 $17.98

MALCOLM WILLIAMSON (1931-2003): Symphony No. 7 for Strings, ELISABETH LUTYENS (1906-1983): 6 Bagatelles, Op. 113, O Saisons, ô Châteaux for Soprano and Ensemble, Op. 13, JOHN MCCABE (b.1939): Red Leaves, ROBERT SAXTON (b.1953): Birthday Piece for Richard Rodney Bennett, Elijah's Violin. Saxton's pieces epitomise his succinct and direct approach to composition - basically tonal but full of pungent harmonic tension, and great reserves of motoric rhythmic vitality with Elijah's Violin a four movement work with a prominent violin obbligato, tense and edgy throughout. Lutyens is represented by two works; the recently rediscovered Bagatelles, typically mordant and elliptical of utterance, and extremely economical of gesture, and the brooding, haunting and extremely beautiful Rimbaud setting O Saisons. McCabe's Red Leaves is an evocative recollection of time and place, beautifully evoking the autumn mists and the soft air enshrouding the cool flames of color-saturated tree-tips. Via a very Sibelian passage we then experience the agitation of leaves swirling in the wind and the first icy threat of winter. Williamson's last symphony is economically scored and somewhat neoclassical in design, though harmonically acerbic. The witty scherzo and heartfelt slow movement are especially telling. Teresa Cahill (soprano), Brunel Ensemble; Christopher Austin. Signum Classics SIGCD053 (England) 02G072 $17.98

KLAUS FELDMANN (b.1951): Concerto for 2 Guitars and Chamber Orchestra, Concertino for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra, Concertino for Guitar and Strings, Dodeka-Suite for Flute and Guitar, Serenade for Oboe and Guitar, Hommage à Debussy for Viola and Guitar. All of these works date from 1978-84, when the composer was making his living as a performing guitarist in East Germany. Thus, it will surprise no one that all but two of them are deeply conservative; the double concerto is a five-movement work based on medieval sacred and secular melodies and produces a meditative, gently soothing effect while the Hommage and one Concertino could have been written by a French composer in the shadow of Debussy. However, the Dodeka-Suite and the other Concertino use tone-rows even if, in two movements of the former, Feldmann manages to make his material sound, oddly, like a Lalo Schifrin TV score from the 1970s. Arndt Werner Bethke, Klaus and Reiner Feldmann, Klaus Jäckle (guitars), Gudrun Reschke (oboe), Elisabeth Riessbeck (flute), Ederbard Wünsch (viola), Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg; Scott Lawton. New Classical Adventure 60119-215 (Germany) 02G073 $17.98 >

DAVID DEL TREDICI (b.1937): Ballad in Yellow, Virtuoso Alice, Wildwood Etude, Opposites Attract, Wedding Song, AARON JAY KERNIS (b.1960): Before Sleep and Dreams, Superstar Etude No. 1, Speed Limit Rag. These colorful and beautifully crafted piano works by two of America's most successful and widely known contemporary composers make an extremely appealing program, avoiding entirely any suggestion of complexicism while never 'talking down' to the audience - the level of compositional sophistication is, throughout, very high. Del Tredici's hyper-romanticism suggests popular classical American music of a century ago - Ethelbert Nevin, perhaps - though re-imagined from a largely un-ironic contemporary viewpoint. Kernis' two occasional pieces sound a lot more contemporary, and their catch-all eclecticism, incorporating elements such as ragtime and pianistic rock 'n' roll, add to their ready appeal and entertainment quotient, while the Suite expolits a gentle, Debussyan impressionism, at once haunting and moving. Anthony de Mare (piano). Koch International Classics 7553 (U.S.A.) 02G074 $16.98

LEE HOIBY (b.1926): Dark Rosaleen - Rhapsody on an Air by James Joyce, WILLIAM BOLCOM (b.1938): Piano Quartet, RICHARD WILLIS (1929-1997): Variants. Yes, the famous author left a little, original melody which Hoiby's father's room-mate gave to him as the basis for this rhapsodic, single-movement composition from 2000 which is produced with all the skill and ear for instrumentation that one would expect from a distinguished film score composer. Willis' 14-minute piece from 1990 is in the same form - freely elaborated from an initial theme - but couched in somewhat more modernistic language, while Bolcom's piece, commissioned for the American bicentennial, is a very dark, pessimistic and disturbing piece, freely tonal and often dissonant (with the exception of a sentimental Intermezzo which helps accentuate the general mood by its sheer conservative fantasy) - a work which, unfortunately, rings as true today as it did for the composer during the run-up to the pomp and splendor of 1976. Ames Piano Quartet. Albany TROY 730 (U.S.A.) 02G075 $16.98

PAQUITO D'RIVERA (b.1948): Aires Tropicales, LALO SCHIFRIN (b.1932): La Nouvelle Orleans, VALERIE COLEMAN (b.19): Concerto for Wind Quintet, JEFF SCOTT: Homage to Duke, ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992): Liber Tango (arr. Scott). Whether channelling Afro-Cuban music, Piazzolla's tango (a rare example of a Piazzolla arrangement lacking the composer's characteristic Bandoneon-centered lineup that actually works), or performing the ensemble's flautist's technically sophisticated but highly approachable new work for the ensemble, there is a sense that everybody involved is taking the utmost pleasure in what they do and would really not rather be doing anything else. The recording isn't all fun and fluff by any means; French horn player Scott's free exploration of Ellington's sacred music adds unmistakable gravity and eloquence to the delightfully varied program. Imani Winds. Koch International Classics 7599 (U.S.A.) 02G076 $16.98

WOJCIECH KILAR (b.1932): September Symphony, Lament for Choir. Kilar wrote his only symphony (he discounts two student works in the genre) in 2003 in memory of the September 11 terrorist attack in New York. A six-note motive at the very beginning of this 40-minute, four-movement work is present throughout and subjected to Kilar's characteristic consonances, ostinati and seductive harmonies. There is much repetition, but not in the minimalist style as the composer builds layers out of sound blocks of constantly changing orchestral colors. Two long slow movements are set off by a grim, motoric fast second movement and a moderato finale; America the Beautiful and melodies suggestive of popular American music appear in the third (again slow) movement. A Polish critic's review suggested that, with this work, Kilar had found a way for film music and "serious" music to permeate the wall which many find standing between them. Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Antoni Wit. CD Accord ACD 130-2 (Poland) 02G077 $16.98

JAMES MACMILLAN (b.1959): Symphony No. 3 "Silence", The Confession of Isabel Gowdie. The Confession" is, typically for MacMillan, a work with a strong social message - he has never shied away from displaying his religious and political beliefs as a subtext in his compositions. Isobel Gowdie was one of a disturbingly large number of Scottish women who was made to confess under torture to witchcraft after the Reformation, and brutally executed. MacMillan's tightly organised and emotionally direct score is 'the requiem she never had'. The symphony likewise treats themes of abandonment - one meaning of the subtitle is the silence of God in the face of the suffering of his mortal creatures, long a source of philosophical worry in religious thinking. The work has elements of an ingeniously evoked Far Eastern sound, on account of the source of the commission (NHK Japan) and the dedication to the memory of the Japanese novelist Shusaki Endo. Both works are representative of MacMillan's mature style, more subtle and reflective than the 'angry young man' pieces which first catapulted him into public recognition. Grounded in tonality while never sounding outdated or neo-anything, the works make a direct emotional appeal and deserve the highest recommendation. BBC Philharmonic; James MacMillan. Chandos 10275 (England) 02G078 $17.98

CHARLES WUORINEN (b.1938): Piano Concerto No. 3 (Garrick Ohlsson [piano], San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Herbert Blomstedt), On Alligators for Flute/Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and String Quartet (Tara O'Connor [flute, piccolo], Gerard Reuter [oboe], Charles Neidich [clarinet], Peter Kolkay [bassoon], Jennifer Frautschi, Sunghae Anna Lim [violins], Richard O'Neill [viola], Fred Sherry [cello], Charles Wuorinen [conductor]), String Quartet No. 4 (Brentano String Quartet), Natural Fantasy for Organ (Kevin Bowyer). Four distinctive and varied compositions by one of America's most energising and accomplished contemporary composers. The complex and mysterious Natural Fantasy, based on the shapes of fractals (one has the uneasy feeling that Wuorinen actually understands the mathematics underlying the principles involved, rather than being content with looking at the gorgeous pictures in coffee-table books like the rest of us) is an unusually-structured work in his output, but nonetheless wholly characteristic. The energetic and rhythmically vital concerto is simply stunning, a non-stop bombardment of ideas, as viscerally exciting as it is intellectually challenging and ultimately satisfying. The dark-hued slow movement, with its prominent harp solo, is surprisingly moving while never sacrificing formal elegance and sophistication for easy emotional manipulation. The quartet is Wuorinen in his best complexicist mode, rigorously structured and unashamedly atonal, though strangely approachable on many levels. Unless you believe that the listener is absolved from participating in the effort of contemporary music making - in which case you probably shouldn't be reading this catalogue - you will find this disc one of the more rewarding of our recent offerings. Tzadik TZ 8010 (U.S.A.) 02G079 $15.98

SIMON HOLT (b.1958): Feet of Clay for Solo Cello, For Ensemble: Kites, Eco-Pavan, Boots of Lead (w/mezzo-soprano), Lilith. These ensemble works (plus Feet of Clay for solo cello, expanded by whistling and an instance of scordatura tuning) inhabit a shadowy, slightly sinister world, in which Holt seems to feel most at home. Boots of Lead, an Emily Dickinson setting full of funereal imagery, is the bleakest work here, and should probably not be listened to casually if one has a predisposition to melancholy. It is also the most emotionally intense work on the disc, from a composer noted for his direct and quasi-expressionistic assault on the emotions and the singularly evocative vividness of his music. Holt's vocabulary is difficult to summarise briefly; while not conventionally tonal, and making use of extended playing techniques, there is an unmistakable sense of tonal reference and narrative almost throughout, and individual melodic lines clearly fit into a harmonic scheme which, while highly chromatic, is very far from flirting with atonality. This approach is well demonstrated in "Lilith", an exploration of the darker side of the Romantic imagination with its images of demonology and a genuinely chilling ghost story for adults, depicted in music of considerable dramatic tension. Ulrich Heinen (cello), Rolf Hind (piano), Rinat Shaham (mezzo), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Simon Rattle, Martyn Brabbins. NMC D094 (England) 02G080 $17.98

BORIS TCHAIKOVSKY (1925-1996): Chamber Symphony, 4 Preludes for Chamber Orchestra, Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra, Signs of the Zodiac for Soprano, Harpsichord and Strings. Although the Chamber Symphony was on a recent Hyperion release, the remainder of this disc (consisting of recordings made in St. Petersburg in 1978 and 1985) is apparently new to CD. The 24-minute song cycle is much more lyrical and relaxed than much of Tchaikovsky's tense, neo-classically oriented and often ironic music, of which 1984's 4 Preludes are another example but the early (1957) little clarinet concerto has a relaxed, almost pastoral quality. No texts. Adil Feodorov (clarinet), Margarita Miroshnikova (soprano), Grigory Korchmar (harpsichord), St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra; Edward Serov. Northern Flowers NF/PMA 9918 (Russia) 02G081 $16.98

JOSÉ LUIS TURINA (b.1952): Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto. Embracing dodecaphony and extended playing techniques, especially in the violin concerto (the piano concerto for the most part relies on the extreme virtuosic activity of the soloist to represent 'extended' technique), his music is unmistakably modern and original. However, there is a strong grounding in tonality (extended passages are shockingly consistently so for minutes at a time!), and his use of very recogisable traditional forms (both concerti divide into three distinct movements, contain cadenzas and make use of rondo form, theme and variations, clearly expressed canonic imitation and so on), thereby allowing the listener familiar territory to hold onto, even on first acquaintance. There is much innovative percussion writing in the violin work, and a strong theatrical element, as the soloist, pitted against the orchestra as protagonist is required to act out his part in the gestures of music theatre. Guillermo González (piano), Victor Martín (violin), Tenerife Symphony Orchestra; Victor Pablo Pérez. col legno WWE 1CD20241 (Germany) 02G082 $19.98

RAGNHILD BERSTAD (b.1956): Toreuma, JON ØYVIND NESS (b.1968): Beware of Darkness, ROLF WALLIN (b.1957): Phonotope 1, SVEN LYDER KAHRS (b.1959): Ein hauch um nichts. Toreuma's quartet is an exercise in surface texture, rustling and twittering with extended techniques and unfamiliar sounds. Ness derived material from a pop song by George Harrison, well hidden in complexicist textures, though lending a more conventional feel to the quartet writing than the most extreme examples of the Arditti's repertoire. Kahrs' piece returns to the familiar Arditti territory, negotiating, in the composer's words 'inconstancy, periodicity, suddenness, clarity, decidedness, silence, confusion, translucency, continuity and discontinuity', which he professes to have employed in the work. And finally, Wallin's IRCAM piece, which uses transmuted quartet sounds either in isolation or in electroacoustic partnership with the quartet's live playing. This is the most radical work here, and arguably the most interesting and challenging to listen to. Arditti Quartet. Aurora ACD 5035 (Norway) 02G083 $17.98

JOAN GUINJOAN (b.1931): Phobos for Accordion, Piano and Percussion, Jondo for Piano, Variacions for Vibraphone, Digraf for Piano, Cadenza - en homenatge a F. Mompou for Piano, Prisma for Piano, Vibraphone and Marimba. Guinjoan's highly distinctive and characteristic sonorities form one of the most immediately identifiable and individual characteristics of his music. Phobos is a good case in point - it simply doesn't sound at all like anybody else. Dígraf demonstrates that even restricting himself to a conventionally played solo piano, the composer is capable of much the same type of sonic alchemy, generating a kind of pre-minimalist heightened impressionism. His combination of serialism and sonority suggest one of the most unusual and unclassifiable composers of the 20th century. Ruth Lluis (piano), Pilar Subirà (percussion), Ricardo Llanos (accordion). Columna Musica 1CM0095 (Spain) 02G084 $18.98

GIACINTO SCELSI (1905-1988): Aion, Pfhat, Konx-Om-Pax, 4 pezzi per Orchestra, Anahit, Uaxuctum, Hurqualia, Hymnos, Chukrum. These three recordings contributed mightily to the rediscovery of Scelsi 15 years ago and their reissue at mid-price will delight anyone who has discovered the composer through the series of releases on the Mode label but never got the hard-to-find orchestral Accords. The most important work here is the 1959 4 pezzi, in which Scelsi established his later style of composing movements (or entire works) using single pitches. Everything, though, has a sense of powerful mystery and hieratic splendor which is accentuated by Scelsi's preponderant use of low-pitched instruments (lots of bass clarinets, bassoons, trombones, tubas, etc.). 3 CDs. Mid-price. Krakow Philharmonic Choir, Krakow Radio-Television Symphony Orchestra; Jürg Wyttenbach. Original 1988-90 Accord releases. Accord 476 1072 (France) 02G085 $26.98 >

Donaueschinger Musiktage 2003

PIERRE JODLOWSKI (b.1971): People/Time for Clarinet, Trombone, Violin, Cello, Piano, Percussion, 8-Channel Sound System and Interactive Video, ARNULF HERMANN (b.1968): Panorama for Ensemble, Live Electronics, Actor and Interactive Video (both ensemble mosaik, Berlin, STEAM; Robert HP Platz), ENNO POPPE (b.1969): Rad for 2 Keyboards (Benjamin Kobler, Ernst Surberg [keyboards]), SERGEI NEVSKY (b.1972): Fluss for Speaker and Large Ensemble (Klangforum Wien; Fabrice Bollon), GEORG FRIEDRICH HAAS (b.1953): natures mortes for Orchestra, ISABEL MUNDRY (b.1963): Penelopes Atem for Mezzo-Soprano, Accordion and Orchestral Groups, PETER ABLINGER (b.1959): 3 Minuten for Orchestra (Altar - Part 3) (all SWF Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden und Freiburg; Sylvain Cambreling), JAMES CLARKE (b.1957): Final Dance for Chamber Ensemble (Klangforum Wien; Fabrice Bollon). If you're into charting the progress of the European avant -garde then you already have the previous issues in this valuable series, and you're going to buy this one whatever we say about it - right? Multimedia compositions with sound projection and video components have become so much more accessible (to composers) and familiar (to audiences) now that anybody with a $1000 computer can do in a weekend what it would have taken Stockhausen or Zimmerman weeks a few decades ago, that this has become a major part of the presentations in festivals such as Donaueschingen. A 2-channel audio recording obviously gives only a flavor of what the audience heard in such cases. But for documentary value this set is essential. Disc one contains the most multimedia and microtonal experimentation; disc two, works by mostly slightly older composers, generally conforms more to the familiar conventions of European avant-gardism. Haas' work for large orchestra in particular has a decidedly 'retro' feel at this point, resembling nothing so much as a finely-judged derivative of Messiaen's large-scale orchestral works. Plenty to stimulate your curiosity throughout, anyway. 2 CDs. col legno WWE 2CD 20230 (Germany) 02G086 $39.98

THIERRY ESCAICH (b.1965): Organ Concerto, Fantaisie Concertante for Piano and Orchestra, Symphony No. 1 "Kyrie d'une messe imaginaire". The love-child of Poulenc's organ concerto and quite a lot of Messiaen, with Khachaturian's third symphony in the role of the slightly demented uncle, the organ concerto is a real find - a serious piece of music, the slow movement clearly the heart of the work, a vast cortege building to an apocalyptic climax - which is also exciting, approachable and admirable for its craftsmanship and originality. The Gallic incisiveness of the first half of the Saint-Saëns third symphony - not the bombastic finale - is also strongly recalled, especially in the quicksilver toccata of the vivacious third movement. The symphony - a five-section symphonic poem really - similarly presents a thoroughly worked argument and genuine emotional depth without ever straying towards portentousness. The quarter-hour Fantaisie is a taut and irrepressible perpetuum mobile - incorporating an attempt at a slower central section which actually heightens the tension and retains the propulsive anxiety of the music throughout - with more than a flavour of Prokofiev, especially once the piano enters with motoric insistence. You want to feel really good about being into contemporary music? Buy this disc. Olivier Latry (organ), Claire-Marie Le Guay (piano), Liège Philharmonic Orchestra; Pascal Rophé. Accord 472 216-2 (France) 02G087 $17.98 >

MAGNUS LINDBERG (b.1958): UR for 5 Instruments and Electronics, Corrente for Ensemble, Duo concertante for Clarinet, Cello and Ensemble, Joy for Ensemble and Electronics. These four works chart the progression in Lindberg's style in the watershed period of the late '80s and early '90s, when he was moving away from the strict and complex serial techniques of his earlier works toward a more tonal idiom and then away again into the richly lush sound-world of the 'spectralists'. Always present are the dynamic energy and propulsiveness common to all Lindberg's works from the very beginning to the present day, and the masterly control of complex instrumental forces, with which one is tempted to suspect that he was born, and never actually had to learn. "Joy" and "Corrente" are the most tonal works, the latter in particular having a quasi-symphonic structure and scope. Time spent at IRCAM was important to the composer during this period, and the subtly expanded instrumental textures afforded through the use of electronics (typically as part of the dynamics of the performing ensemble as one night expect of a composer of such visceral live-impact music) obviously originated in that environment, pointing to the timbrally-based harmonic structures of the works from succeeding years. Ensemble Intercontemporain; Peter Eötvös. Accord 465 308-2 (France) 02G088 $18.98 >

GEORGES APERGHIS (b.1945): Il gigante golia for Voice and Instruments, 280 mesures for Clarinet, 7 Crimesde l'amour for Voice, Clarinet and Percussion, 5 Couplets for Soprano and Contrabass Clarinet, À bout de bras for 2 Clarinets, Simulacre I for Soprano, Clarinets and Percussion, Simulacre III for Soprano, 2 Clarinets and Marimba, Simulacre IV for Bass Clarinet, Simulacre II for Soprano, Bass Clarinet and Marimba, 4 pièces fébriles for Marimba and Piano, Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Monomanies for Solo Voice. Aperghis' background was in the visual arts (via his parents; he embarked on an early career as a painter, later abandoned). Musically largely self-taught, early influences included serialism, Musique concrète and Xenakis, and later, Cage and Kagel. The music thus sounds much as one might expect, with a strong dramatic element - especially in the works with texts, the impression is of music theatre, and conventional musical development is less important. Throughout there is an experimental element and some use of extendecd vocal and instrumental effects. However, the overriding impression is less of the extreme experimentation of the avant garde than of a free and eclectic modern idiom employed in the service of an original and dramatic compositional sensibility. 2 CDs. Ensemble Accroche Note. Accord Una Corda 476 1635 (France) 02G089 $24.98 >

RENÉ EESPERE (b.1953): Trivium for Flute, Violin and Guitar, Evocatio for Guitar, JAAN RÄÄTS (b.1932): Allegro for Violin and Guitar, Op. 93, ERKKI-SVEN TÜÜR (b.1959): Drama for Flute, Violin and Guitar, TONU KORVITS (b.1969): To My Spiritual Brother for Alto Flute and Guitar, RAIMO KANGRO (1949-2001): Idiomen for Flute, Violin and Guitar, Op. 43, PEETER VÄHI (b.1955): Mystical Uniting for Flute, Violin and Guitar. These recent chamber works from Estonia exhibit a strong vein of tonality which runs through all, with quasi-minimalist textures probably stemming more from an extension of the ostinato-based dynamic binding that holds much northern-European 20th century music together (all those Scandinavian symphonists!) than from the American-style 'process' procedures. So all these pieces are tremendously approachable, beautifully crafted and conventionally appealing without lacking originality - a very easy disc to enjoy, in other words. Elisabeth Riessbeck (flute), Alexander Janiczek (violin), Klaus Jäckle (guitar). New Classical Adventure 60116-215 (Germany) 02G090 $17.98 >

HELMUT ZAPF (b.1956): approximation for String Trio (Finsterbusch Trio), KLAUS FELDMANN (b.1951): DANN UND NUR DANN, WENN for Theobino, Theorbo, 2 Guitars and Tape (Lautten Compagney), RAPHAEL HEINRICH (b.1959): Sonata for Solo Flute (Werner Tast), GERD DOMHARDT (1945-1997): String Quartet No. 1 (Kocian Quartet), MATTHIAS JANN (b.1971): mouvement du silence for Alto Flute, Clarinet, Cello, Congas, O-Daiko and Marimbaphone (Ensemble UnitedBerlin), LOTHAR VOIGTLÄNDER (b.1943): VOICI - Feuerklang for Chamber Ensemble, SEBASTIAN STIER (b.1970): MONOLITH for Viola, Clarinet, Trombone and Double Bass (Ensemble UnitedBerlin). This set gathers together a diverse group of works by more-or-less middle-aged composers working in a range of modern styles - somewhat like the Donaueschingen 'samplers' that have been released in recent years. Feldmann and Heinrich both incorporate somewhat traditional elements in their pieces, though also employing multiphonics (Heinrich) and tape (Feldmann). Domhardt's quartet is a dodecpahonic work which largely avoids the more avant-garde elements to be found elsewhere on the disc; a tense and dramatic work. Jann's Mouvement is in some respects the most musically unconventional, an abstract landscape of acoustical instrumental sonorities, while the Voigtländer achieves a similar result in the composer's chosen idiom, that of electroacoustic and electronic music, including spatial effects (some quite disorienting if you listen on headphones). This set will certainly be useful to anyone attempting to gain a full impression of the range of European modern music of the past several decades. 2 CDs. New Classical Adventure MA 98 09 838 (Germany) 02G091 $35.98 >

HUGUES DUFOURT (b.1943): La maison du sourd for Flute and Orchestra, Lucifer d'après Pollock for Large Orchestra. As in his other large-scale orchestral works, notably Surgir and Saturne, which we were enthusiastic in recommending more than five years ago, Dufourt uses enormous forces with a kind of economy, insofar as his textures evolve with tectonic slowness and are not intrinsically complex. Conventional musical material is almost entirely absent, but his rich textures, somewhat dissonant though surprisingly often arriving at resolutions of unmistakable tonality, create the impression of underlying themes, as the eye perceives meaning in Pollock's 'drip' paintings. The brooding textures of La Maison speak to the melancholy that underlies Goya's work and its origins in his own haunted life. Lucifer is the more active work, naturally enough, given the active surface of the painting's reference, and because of this resembles more closely a conventional symphonic work. But the layers of material overlain one on another - like layers of paint rather than representational figure and ground - suggest the depths of the unconscious mind, an appropriate comparison for both Dufourt and Pollock, and hint at barely acknowledged shadows of nightmare, rendering these works both powerful and subtly disturbing. Pierre-Yves Artaud (flute), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; Emilio Pomárico. Accord Una Corda 461 947-2 (France) 02G092 $16.98 >

GÉRARD GRISEY (1946-1998): Le noir de l'étoile for 6 Percussionists and Tape. Composers have long drawn inspiration from the natural world and the connection between physics and music is even more of the essence, as music wouldn't exist without the controlled vibrations of molecules excited in some manner or another. So now, astrophysics and music have finally collided. Electromagnetic radiation from space can be interpreted in a variety of ways, iincluding sonically, and while much of it 'sounds like' the background hiss of a mistuned radio, the emanations of a type of collapsed, dying star called a pulsar appear as a rhythmic pulsation, and depending on the type of equipment employed, sound a bit like synthesized percussion on an early Pink Floyd record. Grisey uses this as a point of departure for a quasi-improvisational work for percussion ensemble, incorporating the pulsar noise as an instrumental element. Given his studies in electro-acoustics it is unsurprising that the percussion sounds are spatially varied and transmuted as part of the composition. Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Accord SACD Hybrid 476 1052 (France) 02G093 $24.98 >

GÉRARD GRISEY (1946-1998): Les espaces acoustiques. A cycle of six pieces for successively larger forces, composed between 1974 and 1985, this is a large-scale exposition of the spectral techniques of which Grisey has long been a pioneer. No electronics are heard in the work, though the analysis to which acoustical sounds were subjected to provide the intervallic material of the composition was, of course, accomplished with the aid of spectrum analysis equipment, and latterly, computers. Because of the techniques employed the music is obviously microtonal, and some of the extended performance techniques give rise to sounds that in conventional terms would be thought of as 'noise' - a Cagean form of compositional material. Much of the music is slow-moving and structured organically, 'melodic' content being determined solely by the interaction of timbral consideration and the time it takes for the complex relationships between sounds to develop. The most remarkable single aspect of this music is the way in which it determines the listener's responses in terms of memory and the perception of time, which ceases to have any metrical significance whatsoever in this context. 2 CDs. Gérard Caussé (viola), Ensemble Court-Circuit; Pierre-André Valade, Frankfurt Museum Orchestra; Sylvain Cambreling. Accord Una Corda 465 386-2 (France) 02G094 $24.98 >

PASCAL DUSAPIN (b.1955): Roméo et Juliette. This is not a straightforward recounting of Shakespeare but rather a setting in operatic form of allegorical texts by Olivier Cadiot which treat philosophical concepts of change, revolution, co-operation and symbiosis. The lovers' meeting, love, effect on each other and loss is treated as a metaphorical journey to a new world, and the act of singing - the actual creation of an opera like this one - is the thread that binds the work together. The work plunges us in media res, and immediately establishes an atmosphere of tension and conflict which runs as an undercurrent through the entire work. Harmonically ambiguous - very Busonian - the music is highly chromatic but avoids any suggestion of actual atonality. Dramatically effective despite its sometimes convoluted and even obscure plot and the use of three languages, the piece functions as a real opera in a recognisable tradition. The structure is tellingly pivoted around a centrally-placed orchestral tone poem - "The Revolution" - which, dare it be said, would make an effective concert work in isolation. A fine work which repays close attention. Libretto included. Françoise Kubler (mezzo), Nicholas Isherwood (bass-baritone), Groupe Vocale de France, Orchestre Symphonique du Rhin-Mulhouse; Luca Pfaff. Accord Una Corda 472 726-2 (France) 02G095 $17.98 >

MARTIN MATALON (b.1958): Le scorpion for 6 Percussionists, 2 Pianos and Electronics. Matalon has composed a trilogy of works based on the Surrealist films of Luis Buñuel, of which this is the third part, referencing L'Âge d'or. The astonishingly varied percussion ensemble, incorporating many ethnic and traditional instruments, is used most imaginatively and is capable of a bewildering range of timbral possibilities. By the time two pianos and live electronics (the latter used both to transform instrumental sounds and for spatial distribution of both acoustic and transmuted events) have been added, the very least one can say is that the results are endlessly fascinating to listen to. As trends to be the way with percussion recordings, there is certainly a visceral, sonic spectacular element adding a basic, non-intellectual excitement to the proceedings. But it is also fair to say that - perhaps because of the work being based on a pre-existing sequence of images ('narrative' might be pushing things a bit given the film in question) - the composer has achived a sense of linear progression and dynamic thrust that prevents the piece ever sounding like a succession of interesting but unconnected sounds. Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Dimirti Vassilakis (piano). Accord SACD Hybrid 476 1280 (France) 02G096 $24.98 >

TRISTAN MURAIL (b.1947): Treize couleurs du soleil couchant for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Piano and Electronics, Winter Fragments for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano and Electronics, Bois flotté for String Trio, Trombone, Piano and Electronics. Well known as a leading exponent of the Ondes Martenot, Murail has been systematically exploiting the possibilities of electronics in conjunction with acoustic instruments almost from his earliest compositions. Murail is fond of evocative titles, and the quasi-onomatopic sounds made all the more possible through electronic manipulation heighten the impression of synæsthesia while listening to the "13 colors of the setting sun". An early work, this makes use of the once-ubiquitous ring modulator (see also: Stockhausen, Karlheinz) to enrich the harmonics of acoustic instruments. The other works make greater use of obviously 'artificial' sounds as 'instrumental' elements in the compositional process. Again, though, the emphasis is on color, the evocation of mood and immersion in the atmosphere of the music. Narrative drama in the Romantic sense is not the object here, though both in Winter Fragments and "Driftwood" a receptive listener is likely to supply their own 'story', so vivid is the evocation of time and place conjured by musical 'painting' of this degree of subtlety. Ensemble Les Temps Modernes; Fabrice Pierre. Accord Una Corda 472 511-2 (France) 02G097 $16.98 >

MAURICIO KAGEL (b.1931): Morceau de concours, Phantasie, Atem, Improvisation ajoutée. Apparently the idea of this assembly of four pieces of - well, music-theatre probably covers it as well as any single term - is to prove that there really isn't much that Kagel can't drag kicking and screaming into a composition. The most virtuosic piece of absurdist theatre is the Phantasie, a kind of 'day in the life of an organist', in which composed music sounding like a distorted half-remembered hallucination of 20th-century organ music - Messiaen, Alain, Eben, that sort of thing - is intercut and overlain with recorded sounds from the protagonist's everyday existence - rain on the roof, kettles whistling, toilets flushing and so on. Atem, peformed by Vinko Globokar, does the same sort of thing for wind players. Morceau, by contrast, is an exercise in tight co-ordination between two players. And what exactly is going on in Improvisation, with its electroacoustically transmogrified organ sounds, vocalisations, noises and just about everything else thrown into the mix, is best left to the perception of the listener. Aulos AUL 66075 (Germany) 02G098 $17.98 >

CLIFTON PARKER (1905-1989): Music from the Films Treasure Island, Western Approaches, The Sword and the Rose, Sea of Sand, The Blue Lagoon, Night of the Demon, Sink the Bismarck!, Blue Pullman, Virgin Island: A Caribbean Rhapsody. Less well-known to American collectors than many others in Chandos' film music series, this new release is also less bitty than the Goodwin title from last month. Two of these films are Disney pictures and the 1949 Treasure Island has over 23 minutes of music recorded here (the other is The Sword and the Rose) while the second longest will be new to most people anywhere - Blue Pullman (15 minutes), a 1960 train documentary only released widely in 2000. Two other titles consist of single-movement "rhapsodies" reconstructed and/or arranged, orchestrated and edited by Philip Lane (The Blue Lagoon of 1948 and Virgin Island of 1958). BBC Concert Orchestra; Rumon Gamba. Chandos 10279 (England) 02G099 $17.98

RUDOLF FRIML (1879-1972): The Vagabond King. First complete CD recording of the 1925 romantic-comic operetta set in medieval France during the reign of Louis XI. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Ohio Light Opera Chorus and Orchestra; Steven Byess. Albany TROY 738-39 (U.S.A.) 02G100 $33.98

RUDOLF FRIML (1879-1972): Twilight, ERNEST ADLER: Le Tribut de Zamora (Gounod), Le Roi d'Ys (Lalo), FREDERICK HALL: Lads and Lassies Gay!, JEAN SAROLA: In Golden Autumn, Alaskan Twilight, H.A. RASCH: Moorish Nightsong, DANIEL VAN GOENS (1858-1904): Romance sans paroles, JAN BLOCKX (1851-1912): Serenade (from Milenka), GABRIEL PIERNÉ (1863-1937): Serenade, LOUIS GANNE (1863-1923): Ecstasy, OSCAR STRAUS (1870-1954): Waltz Scherzo, CHARLES HUERTER (1885-1974): Told at Twilight, ANON.: 3 Folkmelodier. An appealing recital of unusual Palm Court-style repertoire for piano trio, divided between original pieces of gentle sentimentality or more energetic mood and transcriptions from operas or of popular folksongs, many by composers too obscure to have even left their dates. Ananda Trio. Pierian 0021 (U.S.A.) 02G101 $16.98