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WILHELM PETERSON-BERGER (1867-1942): Symphony No. 1 "Baneret", Symphony No. 5 "Solitudo". This month Sterling presents two world-premiere recordings of symphonies by a composer best known in his native Sweden as a music critic and for his songs and piano miniatures. The first symphony, subtitled "Banner" - like the banner which a talented young composer runs up to announce his arrival and to define his philosophy - was composed over a period of 14 years between 1889 and 1903 and then revised in 1933. Each movement has a subtitle also: "When We First Set Out" is a confident opening statement in late 19th century romantic musical language, "Between Battles" a surprisingly elfin scherzo of Mendelssohnian provenance, "At the Hero's Bier" a lament which attains considerable eloquence and "Towards New Springs" a folk-tinged and enthusiastic finale which is the most "Nordic" of the four movements. From 1932-33, the fifth symphony, subtitled "Solitude", is wholly different stuff: the thoughtful, deeply-felt and well-considered work of a composer whose life's work has neared its completion. Much in this symphony recalls the sense of wide-open expanses and severely beautiful landscapes of Sibelius and Nielsen. The early symphonies of Holmboe are not far off either. The first movement - by far the longest of either of these works - is a "song of solitude" but a solitude that is familiar and welcome. A brief scherzo is a cheerful, boisterous and thoroughly enjoyable interlude before a slow movement, using Swedish folk style melodies, which again evokes a solitary mood and which rises to a pathos-laden song before fading into silence. The finale begins with tarantella rhythms which eventually give way to a peaceful, summer-like calm and the symphony ends in a mood of relaxed tranquillity. This is the finest of Peterson-Berger's symphonies and deserves its place in the honors list of Scandiavian symphonies in general. Royal Opera Orchestra Stockholm; Leif Segerstam. Sterling CDS 1006 (Sweden) 10-001 $15.98

HAKON BØRRESEN (1876-1954): Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Violin Concerto in G, Op. 11. Børresen was a student of Svendsen and remained throughout his life dedicated to the ideals of musical Romanticism. He was a natural melodist and each of the four works here and below contains the sort of themes which are instantly memorable and demand rehearing. The first symphony was a student work (1901) and is influenced in form by Tchaikovsky's Pathetique (its final movement is an adagio lamentabile which is marvellously realized) and in much else by the Norwegian tradition represented by his teacher and Grieg. The violin concerto (1904) postdated a European journey and shows a more personal style with a high degree of virtuosity required for both soloist and accompaniment. Its meltingly beautiful adagio and high-spirited finale attest to Børresen's inexhaustable fund of melody. Rebecca Hirsch (violin), Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224059 (Denmark) 10-002 $14.98

HAKON BØRRESEN (1876-1954): Symphony No. 2 in A "The Sea", Op. 7, Symphony No. 3 in C, Op. 21. Written in the same year as his violin concerto, the second symphony is a long and large-scale programmatic description of the sea which was so much a part of Børresen's life (he often worked at a house at Skagen, the northernmost point of North Jutland). Dedicated to Svendsen and showing both his and Grieg's influence, the work is in four movements, each with a descriptive heading: "Surf", an alternation of stormy waves and calmer waters, "Summer", a vivacious scherzo, "Tragedy", a lament depicting the aftermath of an event caused by the sea's destructive power, and "Cruising", a happy and optimistic celebration of the sea as part of the Danish soul. The third (and last) symphony comes from 23 years later. Like Sibelius' Seventh, it is through-composed, falling into the traditional four sections but played without break. Although "pure music", Nordic Romanticism still remains Børresen's currency in this sweeping work which closes with a large rondo that turns into a massive fugue that works its way to a fortissimo conclusion. Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224061 (Denmark) 10-003 $14.98

JOHANN SVENDSEN (1840-1911): String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 1, Octet in A, Op. 3. Svendsen's student quartet of 1865 makes its CD debut here, coupled with the large-scale, quasi-symphonic octet of the following year. The quartet's adventurous, Wagnerian harmonies excited the conservative German critics (Svendsen was studying under Reinecke in Leipzig). Today, we just enjoy a well-crafted piece of music in the central European tradition: unlike his compatriot Grieg, Svendsen did not use the Norwegian folk style in most of his works. Nearly twice the quartet's length, the octet offers a dazzling array of bold harmonies and melodic and rhythmic ideas in a work of almost orchestral tonal amplitude. Kontra Quartet et al. BIS CD 753 (Sweden) 10-004 $17.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): Chamber Concerto No. 7 for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 37, Chamber Concerto No. 8 for Orchestra, Op. 38 "Sinfonia concertante", Chamber Concerto No. 9 for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, Op. 39. This amazing series of instantly appealing works continues with three works written between 1944-46. Luminous, finely woven, with clear textures, these pieces provide a wealth of delight for both the mind and the ear, especially the wonderful oboe concerto with its mood shifts from calm stillness to dancing gaiety and the long, variation movement of Concerto No. 8 whose inspiration must have been Nielsen's Chaconne for piano. Max Artved (oboe), Mikkel Futtrup (violin), Tim Frederiksen (viola), Danish Radio Sinfonietta; Hannu Koivula. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224086 (Denmark) 10-005 $14.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): String Quartet No. 7, Op. 86, String Quartet No. 8, Op. 87, String Quartet No. 9, Op. 92. Oddly enough, like their same-numbered brethren above, these quartets were also written within a two-year span, 1964-66. Somewhat less lyrical than the chamber concertos, these quartets show the inspiration Holmboe received from Bartók and Nielsen. The slow movements retain the calm stillness of this composer's orchestral works while the fast ones abound with rhythmic complexities, abrupt dynamic shifts and other devices which test the virtuosity of all four player. Kontra Quartet. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8. 224073 (Denmark) 10-006 $14.98

NIELS ROSING-SCHOW (b.1954): ... sous les râles du vent d'Est, Meeting, Double, Echoes of Fire, Canon and Chorale. The "New Simplicity" in Danish music, a principle to which both Rosing-Schow and Gudmundsen-Holmgreen subscribe, at least in part, may be described as post-Webernian in origin, with a great concern for clarity of instrumental textures, and a delicate, pointillistic approach to sound. Thus when a bolder stroke of color, or a repetitive pattern is briefly introduced into the texture, its arrival is all the more telling. All these works for various ensembles share these qualities of concision and economy. Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen; Jan Latham-Koenig. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224055 (Denmark) 10-007 $14.98

PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (b.1932): For Cello and Orchestra, Frère Jacques, Concerto Grosso for String Quartet and Symphonic Ensemble. A self-confessed "outsider in Danish music", Gudmundsen-Holmgreen acknowledges the visual arts as his original source of inspiration, and this provides the best analogy by which to describe his music. The music is an aural collage, in which sounds, or groups of sounds, are treated as "objects", and made to interact according to, or sometimes in defiance of, their nature. So, for instance, the cello soloist in "For Cello and Orchestra" is treated not in the traditional concertante style, but as a contributor to this process, producing sounds both conventional and otherwise to be woven into the texture. Morten Zeuthen (cello), Kontra Quartet, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Michael Schønwandt. Marco Polo /Da Capo 8.224060 (Denmark) 10-008 $14.98

PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (b.1932): Statements, The Creation - The 6th Day, Examples, Je ne me tairai jamais. Jamais, 3 poèmes de Samuel Beckett. These works for voices and instruments show a composer well versed in the advanced techniques utilised by Ligeti, Berio and Stockhausen, but with a thorough sense of how to use traditional harmony as well. The Creation - The 6th Day contains a concertante violin part of formidable complexity, while the chorus plays an accompanying role. The works for unaccompanied choir are gently dissonant, but pay obvious homage to traditional models. The works inspired by the composer's preoccupation with Samuel Beckett use microtones and dissonance extensively, to conjure an absurdist universe illustrating Beckett's ambiguous texts. Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen; Flemming Windekilde. Vocal Group Ars Nova; Ivan Hansen Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224056 (Denmark) 10-009 $14.98

HARRI VIITANEN (b. 1954): Images d'oiseau for Organ, Firmamentum - Concerto for Organ and Symphony Orchestra, Voyager for Tape. "Bird Images", as one might expect, takes its point of departure from Messiaen though it stands quite well on its own. Firmamentum depicts the cosmos through the device of a large-scale organ concerto whose proportions are calculated from astronomical measurements. The musical vocabulary also resembles that of Messiaen, at least in the organ writing - the orchestral timbres are quite different, more decorative and abstract, with the organ painting in bold strokes in the foreground. Voyager, named for the space shuttle, is an ingenious and sonically spectacular electronic composition. Harri Viitanen (organ), Avanti! Chamber Orchestra; Hannu Lintu. BIS CD 887 (Sweden) 10-010 $17.98

RUED LANGAARD (1893-1952): 3 Choral Songs, Rose Garden Songs, 16 Motets and Hymn Melodies. Langgaard was a Romantic throwback who maintained a position defiantly at odds with the prevailing musical movements of his time, especially in his native Denmark. Most of his output for unaccompanied chorus is on this CD, and he is thus shown to be a composer with a real feeling for writing for the human voice, using lush Romantic harmonies and an unfailing sense of timbre in the interaction between parts. Vocal Group Ars Nova; Tamás Vetö. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224058 (Denmark) 10-011 $14.98

HANS-HENRIK NORDSTRØM (b. 1947): Carnac, String Quartet No. 1 "Space", String Quartet No. 2 "Faroese", To Pass By..., M 31. The composer abandoned the Danish music scene after early successes, and only returned to prominence in his fortieth year; all his extant works are thus recent - all on this disc were composed within the past 6 years. Nordstrøm has a preoccupation with the mysteries of ancient, prehistorical sites and their relation to the cosmos - hence here we have musical depictions of the standing stones in Carnac, the mysterious Faroe islands, the Andromeda galaxy, and space itself, as delineated by the relations between the planets of the solar system. Music of texture, using subtle, sophisticated instrumentation, tonal references and a surprising melodic sense, albeit in the context of a vocabulary that includes quarter-tones, clusters and mathematically-determined note-rows; an eloquent language in which to express the composer's views of time and space. Det Jyske Ensemble, Lin Ensemble, Moyzes Quartet, Anna Klett (clarinet). Classico 166 (Denmark) 10-012 $14.98

TORU TAKEMITSU (1930-1996): Autumn for Biwa, Shakuhachi and Orchestra, A Way A Lone II for Strings, I Hear the Water Dreaming for Flute and Orchestra, Twill by Twilight for Orchestra. World premiere recordings of four major orchestral works by Takemitsu, whose improvisatory music, like free jazz in the vocabulary of the Second Viennese School, took Schoenberg's innovations in directions that the master himself would never have anticipated. Part of the reason for this is, of course, Takemitsu's own ethnic heritage - although there is little that sounds explicitly oriental in his music, apart from the occasional use of Japanese instruments, the new perspective on the European tradition that came from Schoenberg is a fascinating and fertile one. Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; Ryusuke Numajiri. Denon CO-18032 (Japan) 10-013 $16.98

JACOB TER VELDHUIS (b.1951): String Quartet No. 3 "There Must be Some Way Out of Here", String Quartet No. 2 "Postnuclear Winterscenario", String Quartet No. 1 "Versailles". Highly expressive and emotional, almost anti-intellectual music, clear of texture and architectural in form, highly organised and basically tonal, though betraying no inclination towards any neoclassical procedures. A kind of non-repetitive minimalism, brooding and powerful. The most striking work is probably "Postnuclear Winterscenario", an uncompromisingly bleak vision of the possible ecological aftermath of a war, conceived after the outbreak of the Gulf War: Sibelius' 4th symphony reconceived as a contemporary string quartet. Netherlands Quartet. Emergo 3937 (Netherlands) 10-014 $19.98

AVET TERTERIAN (1929-1994): Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 4. The Armenian composer Avet Terterian, a major symphonist of our century, was highly honoured and regarded during his lifetime. He thought on a large, epic scale; his music is full of the sonic equivalents of the vertiginous landscapes of the Caucasus; his themes are the states of the human soul, the cosmos, infinity and eternity. He has written (echoing Mahler): "My symphonies are about everything, they awaken genetic memories". To this end, the presence of ancient ethnic instruments in addition to the large symphony orchestra is a necessary component of his evocative sound-world. The Third Symphony begins with a massive percussion tattoo which gives way to a free and vigorous exposition of thematic material. The second movement is of still, unearthly beauty, while the third conjures the trance-state visions of the whirling dervishes in an abandoned dance to the accompaniment of skirling Armenian folk instruments and frenzied percussion, which suddenly collapses into a strange, ambiguous coda, terminated by a life-affirming orchestral cry. The Fourth Symphony begins with a curiously archaic feel, using a taped Russian bell and fragments of a harpsichord chorale to establish a mood of historical formality, on which the orchestra, playing Penderecki-like sustained clusters comments, like the passage of time flowing through human existence. This ominous music, impersonal and full of foreboding, eventually builds to a massive climax, again recalling Penderecki, after which a more dynamic element enters the music, and light begins to appear in this dark cosmological landscape, sometimes in flickering lightnings, at others the scintillations of suggested tonal fragments. Ultimately, in the last third of the piece, harmonic order and rhythmic pulse (like a heartbeat) assert themselves from the chaos of the whirling atoms of creation in this unique composer's universe. Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra; Loris Tjeknavorian. ASV DCA 986 (England) 10-015 $16.98

RODION SHCHEDRIN (b.1932): Old Russian Circus Music (Concerto for Orchestra No. 3), Symphony No. 2 (25 Preludes for Orchestra). Those of us who have treasured Rozhdestvensky's pioneering recording of Shchedrin's vigorous and cohesive Second Symphony, which owes much to Shostakovich, particularly that composer's 4th Symphony (a high compliment), will welcome this new release, which re-establishes this as one of the most striking symphonic achievements of the Soviet years, with its themes of conflict and contrast, its human drama and forthright expression. Old Russian Circus Music was written in 1989 as a virtuoso showpiece for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and is a colourful, even showy, optimistic work, full of energy and good humour. BBC Philharmonic; Vassily Sinaisky. Chandos 9552 (England) 10-016 $16.98

LIBBY LARSEN (b.1950): Symphony: Water Music, Overture: Parachute Dancing, Symphony No. 3 "Lyric". Energetic, athletic and vibrant, Larsen's orchestral music is an all-American breath of fresh air in the contemporary music scene. She writes: "Here we speak American English, an inflected, complex, rhythmic language . . . language shapes melody . . . what is lyric in our times?" The answer is, Ms. Larsen's music most emphatically is; rhythmically vital and always accessible, it belies the complexity of its construction and multitudinous antecedents in its joyous celebration of a musical language as all-embracing and polycultural as America. London Symphony Orchestra; Joel Revzen. Koch International Classics CDA 66905 (U.S.A.) 10-017 $16.98

LOU HARRISON (b.1917): Concerto in Slendro for Violin, Celeste, 2 Tack Pianos and Percussion, Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, Labyrinth No. 3 for 11 Percussion Players. Lou Harrison was composing "World Music" long before that now over-used term gained acceptance. Fascinated by the complex rhythms and percussive timbres of the music of the East, his music achieves a full fusion between two musical traditions. This is especially striking in the concerto, in which a soaring, melodic and virtuosic violin line is accompanied by an orchestra of percussion, mostly of indeterminate pitch; a fascinating sound, and one that highlights the remarkable results that can accrue if two cultures, each keeping its own identity, co-operate fully. Labyrinth No. 3 is very exotic-sounding, rhythmic and exciting, primitive and sophisticated at the same time. Antonio Núñez (violin), Basle Percussion Ensemble; Paul Sacher. Pan Classics 510103 (Switzerland) 10-018 $17.98

WILLIAM THOMAS MCKINLEY (b.1938): Viola Concerto No. 3, WILLIAM WALTON (1902-1983): Viola Concerto. McKinley's Third Viola Concerto, here receiving its premiere recording, is a big, vigorous Romantic work, full of sturm und drang and passion. From the somber processional with which the first movement begins to the prestissimo e diabolico perpetuum mobile of the finale, the work carries one along by its sheer dynamism and the music's ability to carry the listener along with its drama. Karen Dreyfus (viola), Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra; Jerzy Swoboda. MMC 2047 (U.S.A.) 10-019 $17.98

JOHN DAVID EARNEST (b.1940): Chasing the Sun, ELLIOTT MILES MCKINLEY (b.1969): An Overture for a Film, JOHN HUGGLER (1928-1993): Ecce Homo, JOHN FRANKLIN (b.1964): An Overture of Dunces, KAREN TARLOW (b.1947): Kavanah, HELEN STANLEY: Passacaglia, GAMMA SKUPINSKY (b.1946): Obscene Limericks, STEPHEN KEMP (b.1947): Divertimento for Strings. Three generations of American composers are represented here in Volume Two of MMC's valuable "Orchestral Miniatures" series. These works are tonal, mostly bright and cheerful and many offer much opportunity for orchestral virtuosity. The one non-native American, Russian emigré Skupinsky, offers the most striking piece: a brash tour-de-force influenced by American popular music designed to put a thumb in the eye of the Soviet society he escaped in 1979. Slovak Radio Symphony, Warsaw National Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra; Robert Stankovsky, Jerzy Swoboda, Alexander Titov. MMC 2024 (U.S.A.) 10-020 $17.98

JOSEPH BOHUSLAV FOERSTER (1859-1951): Violin Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 98, Cyrano de Bergerac, Op. 55. Lovers of Czech music are well aware of the prodigious amount of compositions Foerster left behind after a very long life - and equally aware of how few of them have been recorded. At last, a significant addition to the catalogue: the first CD appearance of his first violin concerto. Composed in 1911, it is firmly in the tradition from Brahms through Dvorák but also quite original in its handling of the solo part: the violinist takes charge seconds into the piece and plays nearly constantly throughout. The large first movement is mostly lyrical rather than dramatic while the brief, elegiac slow movement belongs almost entirely to the soloist before leading attacca into a rondo-finale in which, for the first time, Bohemian national colors appear. Collectors new to Foerster will be happy to enjoy the five-movement tone poem depicting Ronsard's unattractive lover and his unrequited love in imaginative and sensitive fashion, free from Straussian bombast; others will regret the opportunity missed to offer one of Foerster's unrecorded tone poems! Andrea Duka Löwenstein (violin), Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Gerd Albrecht. Orfeo C403 971 (Germany) 10-021 $18.98


CARL SMULDERS (1863-1934): Piano Concerto in A Minor, WILLEM PIJPER (1894-1947): Piano Concerto, KEES VAN BAAREN (1906-1970): Piano Concerto, HENK BADINGS (1907-1987): Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra. Smulders' 1892 concerto is in a late Romantic idiom, aptly characterised by his good friend Alphons Diepenbrock: "Your melodies grow like roses around the mighty tree of masters (Franck, d'Indy, Grieg, Wagner's Tristan)". Pijper's 12-minute, single-movement work of 1927 employs his typical "germ cell" technique with habanera rhythms appearing several times; van Baaren's 1964 concerto combines clear, crisp structures and a pronounced playful aspect to belie its composer's reputation as "the Dutch Schoenberg" while Badings' piece, also from 1964, is a dramatic work which shows influences both of Bartók's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and the composer's work in electronic music Ivo Janssen, Ronald Brautigam, David Kuyken, Ellen Corver & Sepp Grotenjuis (pianos), Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra; Kees Bakels, Jac van Steen, Alexander Vedernikov. NM Classics 92058 (Netherlands) 10-022 $16.98

AUGUST DE BOECK (1865-1931): Symphony in G, EDGAR TINEL (1854-1912): Polyeucte - Overture. Surprisingly, De Boeck's example of late Romantic Flemish symphonic music has now been recorded three times in the past ten years, here in a rather broader, weightier reading than either of its predecessors (Marco Polo and Discover International). Its discmate is the world premiere recording of Tinel's work based on Corneille's 17th century tragedy. Influenced by Tchaikovsky but also using chorale melodies to emphasize the Christian aspect of its hero's suffering and martyrdom, this 20-minute long tone poem (1878) can stand with most of its coevals in the genre. The Symphony Orchestra of Flanders; Fabrice Bollon. Cyprès 1605 (Belgium) 10-023 $17.98

JOSEPH GUY ROPARTZ (1864-1955): Croquis d'eté, GABRIEL PIERNÉ (1863-1937): 3 Pieces for Orchestra, VINCENT D'INDY (1851-1931): Karadec Suite, Op. 34, GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924): Masques et Bergamasques, ERIK SATIE (1866-1925): 2 Préludes Posthumes et une Gnossiene, CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918): Sarabande, Danse. World premiere recordings of Ropartz' "Summer Sketches" (En barque, Danse sentimentale, Petite ronde française), a little trio of pastoral musical postcards and Pierné's even briefer set of three character-miniatures join other attractive, turn-of-the-century French music for moderate sized orchestra. Also a premiere recording is the Satie set, orchestrated characterfully in 1939 by Francis Poulenc. The second in a series of "French Orchestral Miniatures 1850-1950". Chamber Philharmonic of Bohemia; Douglas Bostock. Classico 168 (Denmark) 10-024 $14.98

FRANZ SCHMIDT (1874-1939): Concertante Variations on a Theme by Beethoven, Piano Concerto "No. 2" in E Flat. Here is the CD premiere of Friedrich Wührer's two-hand version of Schmidt's concerted works for piano originally commissioned by one-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein. The latter jealously guarded his exclusive performing rights to his commissions but Wühher's persistence paid off and he premiered the two-hand versions of both works in 1940. Changes are small although there is some additional orchestral fabric added in addition to the purely pianistic necessities enjoined by the extra hand. Daniela Varinska (piano), Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra; Ludovit Rajter. Opus 91 2182-2 031 (Slovakia) 10-025 $10.98

JOSEPH JOACHIM (1831-1907): Overture Heinrich IV, Op. 7, Violin Concerto in Hungarian Style, Op. 11, Overture Hamlet, Op. 4. Originally released back in 1991, this recording remains the only digital version of the concerto and the only version of the two substantial overture cum tone-poems - 75 minutes of music in richest Brahmsian style, and it returns to the catalogue at budget-price! Elmar Oliveira (violin), London Philharmonic Orchestra; Leon Botstein. IMP Classics 30367 02092 (England) 10-026 $8.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Responsories and Antiphons, S30. This is one of the more unusual volumes in Hyperion's complete Liszt piano survey. These are settings of plainchant from the Liber Usualis to which Liszt added simple harmonies. Listed in Grove as choral, Leslie Howard has taken the view that various notations in the manuscript indicate that Liszt envisaged keyboard performance. The resulting music is contemplative in mood, the items being quite short (109 track points on the two discs) but grouped into five sections as the chant pertained to Christmas, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and The Office for the Dead, they follow one another with a mesmerizing, minimalist kind of quality. The booklet contains all the chants with Latin texts and translations. 2 CDs. Leslie Howard (piano) Hyperion CDA 67161/2 (England) 10-027 $35.98

HENRI VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881): Violin Concerto No. 2 in F Sharp Minor, Op. 19, Violin Concerto No. 3 in A, Op. 25. Naxos' invaluable series of "Romantic Violin Concertos" continues with the only CD recordings the two least known concertos of this Belgian virtuoso. Part of the reason for No. 2's neglect is that it is really "No. 1" - written by the 16-year-old composer before he'd had a lot of technical composition instruction. The work overflows with violin fireworks, the orchestral fabric being merely a backdrop à la Paganini. No. 3 dates from 1844 and Ysaÿe saw it as a great poem, influenced by Beethoven's violin concerto. Similar in scale to the Beethoven, it marries drama and majesty to the ever-present consideral technical demands. This music epitomises the Romantic violin style, full of lyricism and bravura. Misha Keylin (violin), Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra; Dennis Burkh Naxos 8.554114 (Hong Kong) 10-028 $5.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): 7 Walzer, Op. 11, Improvisationen, Op. 18, 5 Humoresken, Op. 20. Markus Becker (piano). Thorofon CTH 2311 (Germany) 10-029 $16.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Telemann, Op. 134, 6 Morceaux, Op. 24. Markus Becker (piano). Thorofon CTH 2312 (Germany) 10-030 $16.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): 4 Sonatinas, Op. 89, Perpetuum mobile (1905), Scherzo (1906), "Ewig dein!", Op. 175/23, Caprice (1906). Markus Becker (piano). Thorofon CTH 2313 (Germany) 10-031 $16.98

Thirty opus numbers are assigned to Reger piano works and in addition to those, there are at least 33 other pieces (as well as 111 canons!) in the works list. Thorofon and Markus Becker have embarked on a mission to record these works complete. Volume 1 contains youthful works written between 1893 and 1898 and which show the composer gradually gaining his own voice. These works often lie awkwardly under the fingers since Reger was always a brilliant pianist and did not give performers any quarter, even this early. Volume 2 offers a striking contrast with the late, large-scale Telemann Variations (1914) coupled with the six morceaux of 1898: 5 quasi-salon like miniatures followed by an extended Brahmsian rhapsodie over half the length of its predecessors together. Volume 3 brings CD premieres of the four sonatinas, the first two of which were composed in 1905 as a sop to his irate publishers who demanded easier material to sell and which show Reger's ability to write delightful "easy" music; the second pair date from 1908, also written to order. All are transparently written, not too difficult technically and partake of the undemanding and educational character of the Classical sonatina.

GUIDO ALBERTO FANO (1875-1961): 4 Fantasies, Op. 6, Sonata in E. Born in Padua, Fano was a composition student of Martucci, whom he followed in his classical instrumental style and Italianate melody. The fantasies, composed in the final years of the 19th century but not published until 1906, are mainly quiet, delicate, sometimes gently perfumed with a profound sadness in the third and, finally, some quick, virtuoso behavior in the fourth. Composed between 1895-99 the sonata, a large-scale, 40-minute work was the beneficiary of Busoni's appreciation in 1913. In four movements, the young composer puts the material of 19th century Romanticism through its paces in a thoroughly enjoyable if not earthshakingly original way. Roberto Bertuzzi (piano). Phoenix Classics 96204 (Italy) 10-032 $16.98

GUIDO ALBERTO FANO (1875-1961): Piano Quintet in C, String Quartet in A Minor. Fano's piano quintet dates from 1917 yet is the most Brahmsian of all the works here and above. It is also unusual in its use of a muted trumpet, quite effectively too, in the build-up to the climax of the final movement. A most enjoyable and impressive work. The quartet, from 1942 when Fano was a refugee from the Fascist government is quite a bit more laconic and has an unusual form: after a sonata-form allegro and a jaunty presto, a brief slow movement (andante, con intimo e profondo sentimento - shades of late Beethoven!) leads into a fourth movement fugue titled Elevazione. What has been a predominantly sober and meditative work ends with a brief fifth movement of capering high spirits. Aldo Ciccolini (piano), Turin String Quartet, Fabiano Cudiz (trumpet). Phoenix Classics 96202 (Italy) 10-033 $16.98

CARL GOTTLIEB REISSIGER (1798-1859): Flute Sonata in B Minor, Op. 45, Sonata Brillante in A Minor, Op. 185, Grande Sonate in B Minor, Op. 190. Reissiger's sonatas typify the sort of well-crafted, gracious - gemütlich - chamber music of the Biedermeier period. Weber comest to mind and even Schubert contributed works of this nature. Short on conflict but long on amiable good spirits, these three works are violin sonatas in arrangements for the flute (the B minor sonata's arrangement is contemporaneous). Carlo Jans (flute), Daniel Blumenthal (piano). Pavane 7392 (Belgium) 10-034 $10.98

NICOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): 3 Duets for Violin and Bassoon, Cantabile in D, GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): Un mot à Paganini for Violin and Piano. Discovered in manuscript in 1990, these three duets were probably written around 1800 for a Swedish bassoonist who complained to Paganini about the lack of difficult material for his instrument. Like mini opera overtures, they are melodious and offer both instruments ample opportunity for display Salvatore Accardo (violin), Claudio Gonella (bassoon), Bruno Canino (piano). Dynamic CDS 184 (Italy) 10-035 $16.98

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Die Zauberharfe. Schubert wrote the music for this melodrama in 1820; it was the second and last of his stage works that he would see in his lifetime. Outside of solo passages for the tenor, all the vocal music here is choral and brackets extended sections of melodrama, i.e. recitation by actors accompanied by music. The convoluted plot contains, knights, fairies, huntsmen and magic and offered Schubert the opportunity to create much dramatic music, practically all of which (save the overture) is almost never heard in its entirety. This is a live recording from 1983. German-English libretto. 2 CDs. Thomas Moser (tenor), József Németh (bass), Chorus and Orchestra of the Szeged National Theatre; Tito Gotti. Bongiovanni GB 2019/20 (Italy) 10-036 $33.98

CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826): Silvana. Weber's first operatic success, now on CD for the first time, was composed between 1808-10 and premiered in the latter year. Like many operas of the period, its complex plot involves a pair of lovers' trials and tribulations. The title character is mute and mysterious but her identity is discovered late in the third act and allows the run down the stretch to the obligatory general-rejoicing finale. The forest scenes have some of Weber's most inspired music, suggesting a inspiration by nature which reached its climax in Der Freischütz; though the music is that of a very young composer, many glimpses of the mature Weber are on view in some sensitive and colorful orchestration. Alexander Spemann (tenor), Angelina Ruzzafante (soprano), Volker Thies (tenor), Stefan Adam (baritone), Hagen Opera Chorus, Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra; Gerhard Markson. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Marco Polo 8.223844-45 (Hong Kong) 10-037 $29.98

EDOUARD DUPUY (c. 1770-1822): Ungdom og Galskab (Youth and Folly), Flute Concerto in D Minor. One of Dupuy's biographers called him "The Don Juan of the North" - an excellent choice for two reasons: he had a marvellous voice and both sang the title role and directed Mozart's Don Giovanni in Copenhagen and because his amorous affairs (some with royalty) led to several noctural escapes from the many countries in which he worked. Until now, though, none of his music has been widely heard. The lively tunes from the singspiel recorded here assured his continuing fame in Denmark. Produced in 1806. The action concerns a dashing captain (who is in love with a woman he has never seen) and his faithful servant who resort to trickery to gain access to the former's love interest in spite of her aged, flinty guardian. Dupuy has written a startling variety of music, from aria to male quintet ensemble, from delicate romance to boisterous and virutosic drinking-song, all of which are tied together remarkably well into a coherent whole with delicately orchestrated accompaniments and delightful current of joie de vivre running through it all. Indeed, this work paved the way for such composers as Weyse to continue the Danish singspiel tradition in the 19th century. Included as a coupling is a half-hour long flute concerto published in 1814 of fine early-Romantic type with elegantly virtuosic outer movements and a romance-like middle one. Djina Mai-Mai (soprano), Peter Grønlund (tenor), Ulrik Cold (bass), Toke Lund Christiansen (flute), Collegium Musicum Copenhagen; Michael Schønwandt. 2 CDs. Danish-English libretto. Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224066-67 (Denmark) 10-038 $29.98

GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848): Pia de' Tolomi - Selections. This tragedia lyrica from 1837 may have owed its relative lack of success to the fact that the best music is for the two male roles, even though the soprano was the same one for whom Donizetti wrote Lucia di Lammermoor! This recording of excerpts, made for Swiss Radio in 1968 allows for an appreciation of this odd little problem since the soprano's appearance here is brief and rather inert while the tenor and baritone have chunks of top-rate Donizetti all to themselves. Jolanda Meneguzzer (soprano), Franco Pagliazzi (baritone), Giuseppe Baratti (tenor), Chorus and Orchestra of Italian-Swiss Radio TV; Bruno Rigacci. Nuova Era 1021 (Italy) 10-039 $17.98

GIOVANNI BATTISTA VIOTTI (1755-1824): Violin Sonatas, Op. 4, Nos. 1-4. Volume One of Viotti's complete violin sonatas brings us adaptations with piano of four three-movement works originally written in the even-then (c. 1788) obsolescent "violin and basso" genre. The flowing and virtuoso violin writing seems to be drawn straight from Viotti's violin concertos. They are polished in composition, formal in balance and solidly "classical" in affect with much brilliant writing in the rondo finales. Felix Ayo (violin), Corrado de Bernart (piano). Dynamic S 2002 (Italy) 10-040 $16.98

JOHANN ABRAHAM PETER SCHULZ (1747-1800): Christi død (Death of Christ), Overture to Høstgildet, Denk ich gott an deine Güte, Allegretto in C, Andante sostenuto in A, Op. 1/2, Songs: An die Natur, Abendlied, Neujahrslied, Mailied. Born in Germany but fated to make his career in Denmark, Schulz was a disciple of C.P.E. Bach, whose influence is evident in the two early fortepiano pieces included here. Schulz is most known today for his lieder; he chose poetry by leading authors, emphasized the vocal line and ended up influencing the European lied tradition well into the 19th century. The four examples presented here are obviously part of the tradition which Schubert and Schumann inherited. Schulz was also a great admirer of Haydn and this shows especially not only in the cantata Denk ich.. which sets a text to the slow movement of the Sym. No. 104 but especially in the half-hour long Passion Oratorio from 1792, a harmonically and dramatically bold response to an intense Danish text which will delight anyone familiar with late Haydn. The program is rounded off with a bustling, compact overture to the one-act opera "The Harvest Feast" of 1790. Inger Dam-Jensen (soprano), Johannes Mannov (bass), Danish National Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Christopher Hogwood (fortepiano). Chandos 9553 (England) 10-041 $16.98

BALSASSARE GALUPPI (1706-1785): Il caffè di Campagna. For all Galuppi's importance as a composer of comic operas through most of the 18th century and his influence, especially in ensemble finales on Haydn and Mozart, there is currently not a single example of one of his works in this genre in the catalogues. "The Country Café", from 1761, has seven roles, none of which predominate; the characters, from local nobility to denizens of the café, become involved in the usual buffo business; arias and ensembles offer grateful opportunities for all concerned and there are two ensemble act-finales. A valuable addition to our knowledge of early classical dramma giocoso. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Mónika González (soprano), Mihály Kálmándi (baritone), Bernadette Wiedemann (mezzo), András Laczó (tenor). Capella Savaria; Fabio Pirona. Hungaroton HCD 31658-59 (Hungary) 10-042 $33.98

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788): Complete Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 5: Concerto in D, H. 414, Concerto in A, H. 422, Concerto in E, H. 417. These concertos are all from the mid-1740s, the first two receiveing here their world premiere recordings, of which the D major is the most imposing, opening in stirring martial fashion with hammering timpani and the orchestral fabric sliced through by horns and leads to the typical alternation between stormy and quiet sections; quite a long adagio non molto follows, somber and grave while high spirits are restored with a festive and ceremonial finale. The A major is more mild-mannered, concentrating on cultured conversation between soloist and tutti in the allegretto first movement, offering a serene, flowing andante and finishing with an amiable finale. Miklós Spányi (fortepiano), Concerto Armonico; Péter Szüts. BIS 785 (Sweden) 10-043 $17.98

LEOPOLD MOZART (1719-1787): Symphonies in G, F and B Flat, Sinfonia di caccia in G, Sinfonia pastorale in G. The latest issue in Naxos' "The 18th Century Symphony" series turns to Mozart's father and three symphonies for strings, well-crafted, attractive and thoroughly representative of the early Classical period. The sinfonia di caccia is a raucous production using authentic hunting-horn calls in the parts for the orchestras four horn players which manages admirably to convey the excitement of the chase. The pastorale, from the mid-1750s, imitates bagpipes, a hurdy-gurdy and other peasant instruments in its homely depiction of country life. Edward Allen (horn), New Zealand Chamber Orchestra; Donald Armstrong. Naxos 8.553347 (Hong Kong) 10-044 $5.98

JOHANN HEINRICH ROLLE (1716-1785): Christmas Oratorio. Rolle wrote more than a dozen oratorios on Biblical subjects which were avidly awaited by admirers all over Germany. Today, his name is absent from the record catalogues. Though titled "oratorio", sacred-meditative vocal works such as this were quite popular at the time. Arias and duets occupy themselves with religious reflections on the times before and after Christ's birth; the music is simple but colorful, using forms rooted in North German Protestant tradition and recalling at times similar works of Graun. Gundula Anders (soprano), Britta Schwarz (alto), Wilfried Jochens (tenor), Dirk Schmidt (bass), Michaelstein Chamber Choir, Telemann-Kammerorchester Michaelstein; Ludger Rémy. CPO 999 514 (Germany) 10-045 $15.98

BENEDEK ISTVÁNFFY (1733-1778): Missa Sactificabilis Annum Quinquagesium (Missa Sancta Dorotheae). Only in the last 15 years has Istvánffy been appreciated and studied for his role as the most important native Hungarian composer of the second half of the 19th century. In fact, he was virtually the only Hungarian composer employed by largest churches in the country. Influenced much by Haydn's predecessor, Gregor Werner, Istvánffy produced an unknown number of works, only ten of which survive. Two are festive masses and the one recorded here, from 1774, uses a concertante organ to achieve a charming, naive pastoral quality in such quiet sections as the credo while opening out into majestic, Haydnesque splendor at moments in the text like the et resurrexit Nicholas Clapton (countertenor), Schola Hungarica, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra; László Dobszay. Hungaroton HCD 31723 (Hungary) 10-046 $16.98

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782): Overtures to Gioas, re di Giuda; La clemenza di Scipione; Adriano in Siria; Zanaida; Carattaco; Orione, Symphony in D Major, Op. 18/1. Volume 2 of cpo's recording of J.C. Bach's complete overtures offers world premieres of the first two listed above and Carattaco. All are in the typical three-movement format which is indistinguishable from the early symphony save for La clemenza which dates from 1778 whose relentless forward movement and sharp dynamic contrasts seem to depict the fighting between Romans and Carthaginians. Two marches from the opera are appended to the overture (as also in the case of Carattaco). The symphony is a curious concoction produced by a contemporary publisher which yokes the La clemenza overture (this time with trumpets and drums) with an andante from Amadis de Gaule's overture and a reprise of the clemenza overture second half as a final movement. Much delightful music for lovers of the classical "symphony". The Hanover Band; Anthony Halstead. CPO 999 488 (Germany) 10-047 $15.98

ANTONÍN VRANICKY (1761-1820): Concertante Quartets in E Flat, C & G. MartinÛ Quartet. Studio Matou MK 0038-2 131 (Czech Republic) 10-048 $16.98

ANTONÍN VRANICKY (1761-1820): Concertante Quartets in D, F & A. MartinÛ Quartet. Studio Matou MK 0039-2 131 (Czech Republic) 10-049 $16.98 Probably written not long before 1800, these are string quartets which distribute both musical ideas and technical difficulty to all four instruments equally (unlike the later concertante quartets of Spohr in which the first violin dominates the proceedings). The style is high Classical but here and there there are also hints of the Romanticism just around the chronological corner. A great find for collectors of the Classical Bohemians... all world premieres!

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Symphony in D Major, D615, Symphony in D Major, D708A, Symphony No. 10 in D Major, D936A (all completed/realized by Brian Newbould). Neville Marriner first recorded the Tenth, in Newbould's completion, 15 years ago next month (not currently available). Barely eight months later, Pierre Bartholomée did the same on the Ricercar label using the scherzo of D708A as a third movement and moving the original third movement to the place of finale. Marriner treated the work in mid-Schubert fashion, jaunty and quick; Bartholomée, not satisfied with Newbould's adherence to Classicism, added enough touches to the finale to suggest Schubert knew his Mahler and Bruckner. Mackerras, however, positions the work between these two poles making it sound more than either of his predecessors like the symphony that would naturally have followed the Great C Major. The SCO also use natural horns and narrow-bore trombones, playing with historically-informed panache which makes this disc a must have. Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Sir Charles Mackerras. Hyperion CDA 67000 (England) 10-050 $17.98

GIOACHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): Aureliano in Palmira. This was one of the last works written for the last star castrato (G.B. Velluti) and here receives its first recording using a male soprano. The character, the Persian prince Arsace who is in love with Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, benefits from at least knowing (if not seeing) that the singer is male; the voice is of a quality quite close to a mezzo-soprano with very little of the artificiality associated with falsettists. Velutti had an off night at the premiere in 1813, leading to the opera's failure but this cast, recorded at a performance during the festival "Rossini in Wildbad" last summer, provides much enjoyment in this historical drama. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Donald George (tenor), Tatiana Korovina (soprano), Angelo Manzotti (male soprano), Czech Chamber Chorus, I Virtuosi di Praga; Francesco Corti. Bongiovanni GB 2201/2 (Italy) 10-051 $33.98

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759): Alexander Balus. Composed in 1747 to a libretto by Morell (who had also served Handel with Judas Maccabaeus and Joshua), this work, like the latter two concerns splendidly warlike and bloodthirsty deeds in Old Testament history, namely the wars between Judas Maccabaeus' successor, Alexander Balus and the Syrian king Demetrius and Ptolemy of Egypt. Not merely a chip from the master's workbench, there is much top-drawer Handel here: a meltingly beautiful aria for Cleopatra at the start of Act 3 was duly celebrated in its time. First CD recording. 2 CDs. English libretto. Lynne Dawson (soprano), Catherine Denley (mezzo), Charles Daniels (tenor), Michael George (bass), Choir of New College, Oxford, The King's Consort and Choir; Robert King. Hyperion CDA 67241/2 (England) 10-052 $35.98

GIUSEPPE MARIA ORLANDINI (1675-1760): Il marito giocatore e la moglie bacchettona, 6 Arias from La Griselda. Il marito is an intermezzo in three parts from 1715 which tells of a gambler, his wife who wishes to divorce him and the means by which he humiliates her and they reconcile. Its natural Italianate vivacity and its simple arias with their wide vocal leaps made it a hit all over Europe with revivals in England and in France as late as 1752. Gloria Banditelli (mezzo), Antonio Abete (tenor), Il Viaggio Musicale; Alessandro Bares. Bongiovanni GB 2198 (Italy) 10-053 $16.98

JAN DISMAS ZELENKA (1679-1745): Capriccio No. 2 in G, ZWV 183, Hipocondrie à 7 in A, ZWV 187, Concerto à 8 in G, ZWV 186, Capriccio No. 3 in F, ZWV 184. cpo and this new German period-instrument orchestra embark here upon a complete recording of Zelenka's orchestral works. Given the admiration he earned from such admirers as Bach and Telemann and given the delightful quirkyness of his works with their resonant sounds, eccentricities and harmonic caprices, it's only possible to give a joyful welcome to this first offering and to look forward to the rest of the series. Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre; Jürgen Sonnentheil. CPO 999 458 (Germany) 10-054 $15.98

JOHANN ROSENMÜLLER (1619-1684): Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, Kernsprüche, 5 Trio Sonatas. Along with Pachelbel and Buxtehude, Rosenmüller was one of the most important composers of the generation between Schütz and Bach. This release contains his monophonic (with instrumental accompaniment) setting of the Lamentations, interspersed with trio sonatas as well as the Kernspüche - small sacred concertos in the style of Schütz' Symphoniae sacrae. Ingrid Schmithüsen (soprano), Parnassi musici. CPO 999 387 (Germany) 10-055 $15.98

HEINRICH IGNAZ FRANZ BIBER (1644-1704): Violin Sonata in C Minor, CARL HEINRICH BIBER (1681-1749): Sonata à 3 in G, Sonata à 3 in E Minor, Sonata à Pastorale, GEORG MUFFAT (1653-1704): Violin Sonata in D, Toccata Undecima, GIUSEPPE FRANCESCO LOLLI (1701-1778): 2 Sonatas in B Flat, LEOPOLD MOZART (1719-1787): Für den Merz, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791): "Church Sonata" K. 68 in B Flat. This delightful concert traces the musical paths that led to Mozart in both sacred and secular works connected with the Salzburg court. Included are CD premieres of three sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber's son: two "church sonatas" and a musical painting in the line which his father achieved such notoriety (i.e. his Sonata representativa) and which continued with such works as Leopold Mozart's Musical Sleighride. Salzburger Hofmusik; Wolfgang Brunner. CPO 999 469 (Germany) 10-056 $15.98

PIETRO MASCAGNI (1863-1945): Lodoletta. Mascagni's 1917 production, telling the story of a Dutch orphan girl, the libertine Parisian painter who loves and abandons her and her death in the snow not far from his New Year's revels, marked a return to the sentimental lyrical genre in which he competed with Puccini. Charges of tear-jerking sentimentality cannot be dismissed but there is much characteristic melody to reward fans of this composer. 2 CDs. Italian libretto. Giovanna de Liso (soprano), Orfeo Zanetti (tenor), Orchestra Camerata Strumentale, Coro Cooperative Artisti Associati; Massimo de Bernart. Foné 95 F 03 (Italy) 10-057 $33.98

PIETRO MASCAGNI (1863-1945): I Rantzau. Produced in 1892, this was the composer's third opera, after Cavalleria rusticana and L'amico Fritz. Mining a Romeo-and-Juliet-like tale (only with a happy ending) of two brothers locked in implacable hatred who are reconciled by the love of one's son for the other's daughter, the work contains several typically gorgeous lyrical arias. If quite a ways from being a masterpiece, it will serve well admirer's of Mascagni's lyrical inspiriation. 2 CDs. Italian libretto. Barry Anderson (tenor), Giancarlo Boldrini (bass), Ottavio Garaventa (tenor), Rita Lantieri (soprano), Orchestra del C.E.L. - Teatro del Livorno; Bruno Rigacci. Foné 93 F 13 (Italy) 10-058 $33.98

ANDRÉ CAPLET (1878-1925): Légende for Saxophone and Strings, MARIUS CONSTANT (b.1925): Musique de concert for Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra, MARC PATCH (20th cen.): Magic Spell for Alto/Soprano Saxophones and String Quartet, DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): Scaramouche, La Creation du Monde. Classical music for saxophone spanning 86 years, from Caplet's impressionist-tinged piece of 1903 here receiving its world-premiere recording via arrangements of Milhaud's famous works and Constant's colorful and virtuosic suite, to Canadian composer Patch's 1988 exercise in modern compositional techniques. Daniel Gauthier (saxophones), L'Ensemble St.-Louis-de-France; Bernard Jean. SNE 555 (Canada) 10-059 $16.98

EMMANUEL CHABRIER (1841-1894): Complete Mélodies. Chabrier was a buoyant, colorful, lively composer and he could not follow entirely in the footsteps of such traditional mélodistes as Fauré. He himself declared "What I do not want are those eternal flower beds in three couplets where one picks rose hips and chrysanthemums..." He wrote only 23 mélodies and only four were published during his lifetime: 4 "zoological romances" which may have influenced Ravel's Histoires naturelles. Most instructive here, perhaps, is Chabrier's setting of LInvitation au voyage to which he delightfully adds an obbligato bassoon! French-English texts. Agnès Mellon (soprano), Franck Leguérinel (baritone), Françoise Tillard (piano). Timpani 1C1038 (France) 10-060 $17.98

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949): Sonatina No. 1 "Aus der Werkstatt eines Invaliden", Sonatina No. 2 "Fröhliche Werkstatt", Serenade in E Flat, Op. 7, Suite in B Flat, Op. 4. Strauss' complete works for winds bracketed his long life: the suite and serenade from his late teens and the two sonatinas from his 79th and 81st years. This re-release offers the finest performances now available of all these works and at a bargain price. 2 CDs for the price of 1. London Winds. Hyperion Dyad CDD 22015 (England) 10-061 $17.98

JOSEPH-ERMEND BONNAL (1880-1944): String Trio, Legende, Sur le lac triste and Improvisation for Violin and Piano, Petit Poême for Violin, Viola and Piano, Bosphore for Cello and Piano. Born in Bordeaux, Bonnal was a fellow composition student of Ravel and Schmitt. He had a life-long love of the Basque region which is given voice in his string trio, from 1934, which is in three movements subtitled Bidassoa, a vaguely impressionistic portrait of the border river between Spain and France, Navarra, an evocation of Spanish warmth punctuated by an exotic Basque "scherzo", and Rapsodie du sud, a sultry capitulation to hedonistic Andalusian delights. Legende (1910) bears the superscript "In the ruins of a mediaeval castle, a poet dreams..." and has the quality of a Gallic Bax about it. Trio Seraphin, Jean-Pierre Lecaudey (piano). Pavane 7389 (Belgium) 10-062 $10.98

ALMA MAHLER-WERFEL (1879-1964): Complete Songs, ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY (1871-1949): Songs, Op. 7. Master and pupil are coupled here: Alma's songs sound like those of a talented pupil of Zemlinsky. Wolf and Schumann are also dim influences in the first set (5 songs - 1910) while Schoenberg's presence is acknowledged in the second set (4 songs - 1915) but Alma's own personality shows most in the third set (5 songs - 1924) which are bigger, bolder and stand comparison with the songs of any of her contemporaries. Zemlinsky's Op. 7 songs (c. 1899) are an excellent coupling not only because he was Alma's teacher - they were written by a man head over heels in infatuation with his student which is evident in their feverish intensity and arching melodies. Ruth Ziesak (soprano), Iris Vermillion (mezzo), Christian Elsner (tenor), Cord Garben (piano). CPO 999 455 (Germany) 10-063 $15.98

FRANZ SCHMIDT (1874-1939): String Quartet in A, String Quartet in G. Schmidt's only two quartets are rich in highly chromatic, dense part-writing and show both a nobility like that of Elgar or Suk and an affinity also with his contemporary Reger. Available for the first time at budget price in this new recording. Moyzes Quartet. Opus 91 2601-2 131 (Slovakia) 10-064 $10.98

JOAQUIN TURINA (1882-1949): Cuentos de España, 1st series, Op. 20, 2nd series, Op. 47, Miniaturas, Op. 52. The fourth of this 16-volume set includes two sets of "Songs of Spain", the first from 1918. These are impressions of geographical locations rather than musical paintings; more stereotypically "Spanish" music comes with the second set (1928-9). "Miniatures", from 1929, depicts the daily cycle of village life in eight short pieces. Antonio Soria (piano). Moraleda 6404 (Spain) 10-065 $16.98

LUCIANO BERIO (b. 1925): Passagio for Soprano, 2 Choruses and Instruments, Visage for Voice and Tape. Passaggio is a theatre piece utilising Berio's familiarly innovative vocal writing and insistence on vocal acrobatics, and the incorporation into a work of art of sounds of the street, of real people, of real life, the more vividly to illustrate the central theme of the work; that of the individual as a victim of intolerance, oppression, of unjustified aggression by the masses or the state. Visage is an electronic composition, based on vocalisations by Cathy Berberian, originally intended for radio performance " . . . as a tribute to the radio as the most widely used means of spreading useless words." Elise Ross (soprano), Chorus of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Chamber Orchestra "Nuova consonanza"; Marcello Panni, Kathy Berberian (soprano). BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1017 (Italy) 10-066 $18.98

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)/LUCIANO BERIO (b. 1925): Rendering (Completion of Symphony No. 10), LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990): 3 Meditations from Mass for Cello and Orchestra, JEAN-CLAUDE RISSET (b. 1938): Triptyque for Clarinet and Orchestra. Half of this disc is taken up with Berio's highly individual completion, or rather restoration, of Schubert's 10th symphony. What Berio has done is to orchestrate the piano sketches that exist in a solid, conservative Romantic style, but for sections that do not exist in Schubert's manuscript, rather than produce pastiche Schubert to fill in the gaps, he has created interpolations which are subtle, otherworldly commentaries on this and other Schubert works, reminding us eloquently that we are in the presence of a reliquary, but are denied direct contact with the great figure thus commemorated. Bernstein's Mass was very much a product of its time, and a reflection of its flamboyant creator, but these three meditations stand up as striking concert pieces in their own right. Risset is principally known for his work with computer music, but "Triptyque" is a purely instrumental piece, highly structured and using all the resources of traditional and modern compositional and instrumental techniques in a highly effective synthesis of styles. Gary Hoffman (cello), Michel Lethiec (clarinet), Orchestre Régional de Cannes; Philippe Bender. Sonpact SPT 97020 (France) 10-067 $16.98

SALVATORE SCIARRINO (b. 1947): Vanitas. "Vanities" in 17th-century painting were a genre of still life of allegorical significance, intended to comment on the transitory nature of existence. Through the static medium of a grouping of living, but by their nature, decaying, objects, the artists sought to comment on the emptiness and impermanence of human life. This rarefied composition invokes the same ephemeral imagery most effectively, accompanying the texts with little wisps of sound, like the textures of dreams. Sonia Turchetta (mezzo), Rocco Filippini (cello), Andrea Pestalozza (piano). BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1015 (Italy) 10-068 $18.98

BRUNO BETTINELLI (b. 1913): Sinfonia breve, Piano Concerto No. 1, Varianti per Orchestra. This CD contains three mature orchestral works from the central part of the composer's career. The music is rigorously constructed, with great emphasis on counterpoint, leavened with great creative invention and rhythmic vitality, in a freely tonal, somewhat Bartókian language. This is a composer who is unquestionably modern, yet is so firmly grounded in musical history as to seem to belong to a continuing trend, in which style, substance and intensity of utterance are paramount. The fact that the performances (live concert recordings in decent broadcast-quality sound) are conducted by such major artists - Bernstein (1954 recording), Kletzki(1955 recording) and Muti (1972 recording) - is a bonus. Orchestra del Teatro la Fenice; Leonard Bernstein, Ornella Puliti Santoliquido (piano), Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala; Paul Kletzki, Riccardo Muti. Mono. BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1026 (Italy) 10-069 $18.98

FRANCO DONATONI (b. 1927): Rima, Ala, Alamari, Spiri, Flag. Donatoni's characteristic fragmentary musical language appears to great advantage here in this collection of chamber works. The transformation of minute cells via continuous processes of infinitesimal permutations lead to the construction of pseudo-ostinati; the antithesis of minimalism, in a sense, eschewing literal repetition and conventional harmony in favour of a "molecular vitality" - Brownian motion in music. Carme. BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1013 (Italy) 10-070 $18.98

LUIGI NONO (1924-1990): A Pierre, dell'azzurro silenzio, inquietum, Quando stanno morendo, diario polacco 2, Post-prae-ludium per Donau. These three late works, from the 1980s are all for ensemble and live electronics, and are particularly representative of Nono's work in his last decade. They conjure an unquiet shadowy realm, in which resonances and harmonics are more important than actual pitches and rhythms, using new methods of playing conventional instruments, compounded by the alchemy of electronic transformation. The austere melancholy of the Polish Diary, dedicated to the composer's vanished colleagues in Poland, is especially moving and evocative. Roberto Fabbriciani (flute), Ciro Scarponi (clarinet), Christine Theus (cello), Giancarlo Chiaffini (tuba), Alvise Vidolin (live electronics). BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1003 (Italy) 10-071 $18.98

GÜNTER NEUBERT (b.1936): Choral-Metamorphosen, Concerto Ritmico, Orchestermusik I. Concerned to find a musical vocabulary with which to express something of our turbulent times, Neubert has succeeded in creating a music in which a collage of unmistakably tonal elements creates an impression of something wholly modern, either through the use of driving rhythms or by overlaying the basic material with improvisation or dissonant, non-functional intrumental "texture". Even without associating the music with the social and political events by which the composer has been affected - the recent and current history of Eastern Europe and his native Leipzig in particular - the expressive power of the music is always evident. The booklet contains a full listing of the composer's works. Andreas Pistorius (piano), Leipzig Radio Orchestra; Horst Neumann. Querstand 9502 (Germany) 10-072 $18.98

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992): María de Buenos Aires - Opera Tango. This is Piazzolla's only stage work. Those intrigued by the concept of the master of the contemporary tango tackling a large-scale operatic structure will not be surprised that, given his subject matter, the work succeeds magnificently. The story is ambiguous, shadowy, metaphorical; as mysterious as the Argentine capital itself. It uses the fictitious life and death of a young woman, a tango singer and prostitute, as the starting point for a rich tapestry of allegory in which the colorful and unsavory characters who populate the slums of a port city move freely through dream, reality and nightmare, against a background of drunkenness, sexual fulfilment and abuse, and violence. Given that Piazzolla's familiar ensemble pieces are like short stories about facets of the opera's real central character - the city between the pampas and the ocean - the opera itself is satisfying in the way that a full-length novel on the same subject would be satisfying. Spanish libretto. 2 CDs. Marina Gentile, Nestor Garay, Paolo Speca, Massimiliano Pitocco, I Solisti Aquilani; Vittorio Antonellini. Dynamic CDS 185-1/2 (Italy) 10-073 $33.98

MIKIS THEODORAKIS (b.1925): Alexis Zorbas: Ballet Suite. Theodorakis' ballet on the character of Kazantzakis' archetypal "common man" of Greek society, who lives life as it comes, whose philosopy is utterly lacking in sophistication and yet is self-sufficient and complete, successfully integrates the two aspects of Theodorakis' musical personality. Using material from his decades of writing "contemporary folk song", but in full symphonic dress, the work is a colourful and vivid portrait of this most beloved and envied character in Greek fiction. 2 CDs. Sophia Michaelidi (mezzo), Hungarian Radio Choir, Hungarian State Orchestra; Mikis Theodorakis & Lukas Karytinos. Intuition 3163 (Germany) 10-074 $33.98

ANTHONY GIRARD (b.1959): 24 Preludes for Orchestra, Pour la paix for Violin, Oboe and Strings, Double Concerto for Piano, Cello and Chamber Orchestra, A ciel ouvert for Orchestra. A sort of "contemporary person's guide to the orchestra", the 24 preludes explore many different instrumental combinations and compositional methods in presenting 24 different tonalities in sequence - 12 minor, then 12 major. The young composer draws on a wide range of vocabularies - one minute the music sounds like Hovhaness, then Panufnik, Sallinen, "process" music . . . Surprisingly, perhaps, these divergent strands add up to a convincing and cohesive whole. The Double Concerto is less eclectic, more romantic, using light textures and lively, ostinato-driven processes to propel the engaging, tonal music forward. Geneviève Girard (piano), Philippe Pennanguer (cello), Hubert Chachereau (violin), Daniel Arrignon (oboe), Orchestre Bernard Calmel; Bernard Calmel. Pavane 7384 (Belgium) 10-075 $10.98

FAZIL SAY (b.1970): Piano Concerto No. 2 "Silk Road", Chamber Symphony, 2 Ballades, 4 Dances of Nasreddin Hoja, Fantasy Pieces. Fazil Say is a Turkish composer-pianist who has studied, peformed, and had his music performed widely in Europe and the U.S. His musical language is that of Bartók and Shostakovich, though he is not afraid of simplicity, even sentimentality, in his folksong settings, nor of some unconventional instrumental effects in his serious and thorny Piano Concerto No. 2. He is also a formidable performer, which is especially evident in the brief Four Dances and Fantasy Pieces for solo piano. Fazil Say (piano), Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra; Scott Yoo. Troppe Note/Cambria 1404 (U.S.A.) 10-076 $16.98

GOFFREDO PETRASSI (b.1904): Sonata da camera for Harpsichord and 10 Instruments, Beatitudines for Baritone and 5 Instruments, Grand Septuor, Sesina d'autunno. Four contrasting works by a remarkable composer who has been around almost as long as the century, and whose output charts the course of history of contemporary European music. Although a devotee of Stravinsky, who is commemorated here by the subtle and ethereal Sestina d'autunno, Petrassi's music never sounds like that of a lesser composer trying to emulate his hero. Whether acknowledging the past in his Sonata da camera of 1948, with its harpsichord solo and tonal basis (which is constantly modified in unexpected directions) or looking to the future in the more "advanced" Grand Septuor, Petrassi's voice is obstinately individual and compelling. Gregor Hollmann (harpsichord), Günter Kiefer (baritone), Edmondo Tedesco (clarinet), Compania; Andrea Molino. Stradivarius 33347 (Italy) 10-077 $16.98

GIANCARLO MENOTTI (b.1911): The Medium. Menotti's supernatural opera finally arrives on CD! The work, in which a fake medium encounters something she does not understand and descends into madness and murder, has stood the test of time in the half-century since it was written. The composer's readily accessible style makes his stage works especially eloquent, and their dramatic effectiveness and melodic memorability are shown to great advantage in this, his first major success, premiered in 1946. Joyce Castle (mezzo), Patrice Michaels Bedi (soprano), Ensemble of Chicago Opera Theater; Lawrence Rapchak. Cedille 90000 034 (U.S.A.) 10-078 $16.98

IVAN KARABYTS (b.1945): 24 Preludes. This Ukrainian composer's music is firmly rooted in tonality. These pieces, alternating major and minor in the traditional circle of fifths, contrast strongly with each other; in vocabulary they are recognizably Slavic, with echoes of Stravinsky, Shchedrin, Sviridov, yet with a distinct and personal voice. The performances are divided between two prizewinners in the Kiev International Piano Competition. Oleksiy Temtsov, Oleksiy Koltakov (piano). Troppe Note/Cambria 1406 (U.S.A.) 10-079 $16.98

WILLIAM GRANT STILL - Premieres of Works for Piano and Orchestra

WILLIAM GRANT STILL (1875-1978): Afro-American Symphony, Kaintuck' for Piano and Orchestra, Dismal Swamp for Piano and Orchestra, OLLY WILSON (b.1937): Expansions III. The Afro-American Symphony was Still's first, an extended symphonic treatment of a blues theme of Still's own, which occurs in various guises throughout the symphony. Kaintuck' and Dismal Swamp are atmospheric tone poems, again with a strong sense of history, of time and place. This is deeply felt, evocative music, unmistakably drawing on spirituals and blues, but using the resources of symphonic texture and form impeccably. Wilson's Expansions III is cast in a more modern idiom, a quarter of an hour of music that develops, as the title suggests, by combining and expanding brief motifs heard at the outset. Richard Fields (piano), Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra; Jindong Cai. Centaur 2331 (U.S.A.) 10-080 $16.98

FREDERIC RZEWSKI (b.1938): Night Crossing with Fisherman, Ludes - Books 1 and 2, Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. Himself a formidable pianist, Rzewski is unusual among contemporary composers in writing for the piano with a full appreciation of its epic qualities, narrative abilities and tremendous historical legacy - all without sacrificing his unmistakably twentieth-century voice. His music often sounds like highly structured, written-out improvisations, and so it is here. Night Crossing. . . transfers the musical argument from one soloist to the other via an extended "crossing" section for both, based on a strict formal layout, and sounding wholly spontaneous. The two books of brief Ludes explore many musical techniques, as they might be used in an improvisational context. And Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, with its demonic depiction of the droning, ominous machinery of North Carolina textile mills, is a two-piano arrangement of one of Rzewski's most striking character-pieces. Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens (pianos). Music & Arts 988 (U.S.A.) 10-081 $16.98

PERCY GRAINGER (1882-1961): The Widow's Party, The Sea-Wife, The Running of Shindand, We have Fed Our Sea for a Thousand Years, Tiger-Tiger, The Love Song of Har Dyal, Country Gardens, The Immovable Do, Mock Morris, Colleen Dhas, Scotch Strathspey and Reel, Dreamery, Colonial Song, My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone, Harvest Hymn, Handel in the Strand, Lord Maxwell's Goodnight, The Lost Lady Found. Chandos' comprehensive survey of music's most unconventional composer continues with his relatively unknown choral works with instrumental accompaniment, including some premiere recordings of arrangements of better-known works in unfamiliar guise. Kipling was a poet whose works, with their emphasis on strength of character in the face of internal and external adversity alike, touched a strong sympathetic resonance in Grainger, and the those settings here touch emotional depths which will surprise those who know only the "folk-music" associations of the composer. Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo), Mark Padmore (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Geoffrey Tozer (piano), Joyful Company of Singers, City of London Sinfonia; Richard Hickox. Chandos 9554 (England) 10-082 $16.98

LEOPOLD GODOWSKY (1870-1938): 12 Schubert Song Transcriptions, Passacaglia. Godowsky was one of the most complete masters in the golden age of pianism that flourished over the decades surrounding the turn of the century. So far in advance of contemporary technical thinking were his demands that it hasn't been until recently that his remarkable music has come to be appreciated for its sheer quality of invention, apart from its unvarying insistence on the very highest standards of technical execution. Grante has been foremost in this revival, most notably through his wholly extraordinary interpretations of the formidable Studies after the Etudes of Chopin, on Altarus and also in recitals worldwide. The Schubert transcriptions are elegant and beautiful, adding a sophisticated luster of chromaticism which only the most misguided would claim detracts from the delightful character of the originals. The Passacaglia is a tour de force, placing Godowsky's inexaustible invention in the context of that most inventive of forms, variation. Carlo Grante (piano). Music & Arts 984 (U.S.A.) 10-083 $16.98

GEORGE ROCHBERG (b.1918): String Quartet No. 1, Contra mortem et tempus, Symphony No. 2. Rochberg's intensely personal journey through the uncertain and turbulent musical history of our century has resulted in a body of music of great expressive range and quality, which has never been afforded its real worth. His determination to preserve the qualities of lyricism and emotional utterance even as he moved through atonality to a position as one of America's leading exponents of serialism in the 1950s marks him out as a composer of unparalleled strength of character, and the music that resulted proves beyond a doubt that passionate intensity is not incompatible with dodecaphonic techniques. The first quartet may recall Bartók in its dissonant, free tonality - not yet serial, but moving in the direction of his wonderful second symphony, a Romantic work composed using the full chromatic pallette in serial formation, a quite remarkable achievement. Concord String Quartet, Aeolian Quartet, New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Werner Torkanowsky. CRI 768 (U.S.A.) 10-084 $16.98

GEORGE ROCHBERG (b.1918): Slow Fires of Autumn for Flute and Harp, Duo concertante for Violin and Cello, Ricordanza for Cello and Piano, String Quartet No. 2. Volume 2 moves on to more recent works, in which the composer, feeling constricted by the intense pressures of serialism towards exclusively expressionistic utterance, increasingly adopted a new tonality in his shift towards "neo-Romanticism". Slow Fires and the seminal second quartet (with soprano) of 1959-61 have a profoundly Romantic sensibility, despite their uncompromising harmonic language, and the other two works, highly expressionistic, nevertheless already show the composer's increasing preoccupation with organic growth and personal dialogue. Carol Wincenc (flute), Nancy Allen (harp), Mark Sokol (violin), Norman Fischer (cello), George Rochberg (piano), Janice Harsanyi (soprano), Philadelphia String Quartet. CRI 769 (U.S.A.) 10-085 $16.98


IGOR MARKEVITCH (1912-1983): Rébus, Hymnes. Hailed by many as the "second Igor", Markevitch was persona non grata with Stravinsky after the premiere of Rébus in 1931. Intended as a ballet but never performed, the work is in six sections which contain much frenetic, powerfully rhythmic music which leads to an ever-more intense fugue and a final Parade which, building from an inaudibly soft opening, barrels relentlessly to a powerful conclusion. Hymnes is in five sections, the first three of which date from 1932-3 and the last, Hymne à la Mort from 1936. Markevitch's most experimental work, Hymnes is close to the mood of the machine-age, materialistic Le Nouvel Âge. The "Hymn to Death", originally one of three songs for voice and piano - a young man's meditation upon death, closes with almost Boulezian sounds, courtesy of piano, tubular bells, triangle and tam-tam. Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra; Christopher Lyndon-Gee. Marco Polo 8.223724 (Hong Kong) 10-086 $14.98

ANTONIO SANTANA: A Song for the Planet. As the millennium approaches we are probably going to see an increasing number of large, ambitious works of art attempting some sort of spiritual-cosmological synthesis. This Brazilian composer and pianist has attempted nothing less than a portrait of our planet, with sections depicting the creation, deserts, rain forest, man and nature, culminating in a heartfelt plea for the human race to nurture, rather than destroy, the environment. The music covers a disconcertingly large range of styles, all tonal, and some close to popular music. Some sections sound like Orff, others still, like David Fanshawe; there are reminiscences of Tchaikovsky, a samba - get the idea? So, is it an eclectic new-age mélange? Why, certainly. But just as you're getting ready to write it off, it does something so infuriatingly memorable that you end of loving it in spite of yourself. Claudine Sylvestre (sorpano), Jacques Perroni (baritone), Choirs, Orchestre Français d'Oratorio; Jean-Pierre Loré. Erol ER 96002 (France) 10-087 $18.98

MANUEL SAUMELL (1817-1870): 42 Piano Pieces, IGNACIO CERVANTES (1847-1905): 30 Piano Pieces. This disc consists of 72 exceedingly brief, concise piano compositions by the two most important Cuban composers of the 19th century. Cervantes in particular has quite a pedigree; he studied with Alkan and was admired by Liszt and Paderewski. All the pieces are light and colorful, Cervantes being more typically "Cuban" in style. Saumell's pieces have a simple elegance; the equivalent of miniature Chopin Mazurkas but written by a Cuban, with as strong a feeling for his native music as the Pole for his. "The Cuban Ethelbert Nevin" would certainly do as a glib description of Cervantes. Charming and appealing throughout. Sergio Alejandro (piano). Centaur 2341 (U.S.A.) 10-088 $16.98

RODOLFO HALFFTER (1900-1987): Complete Piano Works: Apuntes, 3 Hojas de álbum, Sonatas 1-3, 11 Bagatelas, Laberinto - 4 Intentos para encontrar con la salida, Homenaje a Rubinstein, Para la tumba de Lenin, 2 Sonatas de El Escorial, Homenaje a Antonio Machado, 2 ensayos, Secuencia, Facetas, Preludio y fuga, Minué de La Traviesa Molinera, Escollo, Danza de Avila. Whether Halffter was writing music in a chromatic, polytonal, or serial vocabulary - and he did all of these in his long life - what is remarkable is the degree to which his own style is clearly discernable, and the way in which the vigorous rhythms and overriding melodic character of Spanish music are allowed to predominate. The music is always easy to listen to, and it is also easy to forget that the composer is often using methods that are "supposed" to be "difficult"! In other words, the compositional method is always completely subservient to the eloquently expressed musical intention - this is in its way music as strongly "nationalistic" as any other you may have heard. 3 CDs. Edison Quintana (piano). Urtext 010/012 (Mexico) 10-089 $50.98

JEAN FRANÇAIS (b.1912): 8 Danses Exotiques, ANDRÉ JOLIVET (1905-1974): Hopi Snake Dance, JACQUES IBERT (1890-1962): Escales, DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): Le Buf sur lel toit. Four unmistakably French views of exotic locations, full of elegance and charm. Milhaud's jazzy score is the most familiar here, but Jolivet's eerily evocative Hopi Snake Dance is well worth discovering, as are Françaix's explorations of mostly South American dance-forms, "popular" yet sophisticated. Here also is the first recording of Ibert's four-hand version of Escales, his Debussyian reminiscence of the Mediterranean. Gisèle & Chantal Andranian (pianos). Koch Discover 920313 (Belgium) 10-090 $6.98

FRANCO MARGOLA (1912-1992): Violin Sonata No. 1 in D, Piccola Suonata, Sonata breve, Violin Sonata No. 4, Op. 32/1. A violinist himself, Margola wrote skilfully and eloquently for his instrument in a clear, Neoclassical style strongly overlaid with Romantic expressiveness. If this sounds hopelessly reactionary (Margola's teachers deplored the avant garde excesses of Italian music in the 30s), the compelling nature of the music speaks for itself; it simply doesn't sound out of date. Filippo Lama (violin), Silvia Bertoletti (piano). Koch Discover 920444 (Belgium) 10-091 $6.98

WILLIAM STERNDALE BENNETT (1816-1875): Piano Trio in A, Op. 26, LENNOX BERKELEY (1903-1989): Sonatina, Op. 17, BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976): Suite for Violin andPiano, Op. 6. The remarkable Lengyel siblings are showcased in this continuing series of chamber music recordings drawn from the radio archives of Europe. This, the second volume, couples three British works which they adopted as their own: Sterndale Bennett's refined and elegant trio, full of restrained Romanticism; Berkeley's violin sonatina, exquisitely crafted, and the 21-year-old Britten's early suite, brilliantly conceived for the violin and full of memorable ideas and expression. Trio Lengyel. le joueur LJD 002 (France) 10-092 $18.98

PETER MAXWELL DAVIES (b.1934): String Quartet, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame. The quartet, a student work, written when the composer was 18, is his earliest to have been published. Rhythmically vital, almost jazzy, it hints strongly at the prodigious musical imagination which was to emerge in the composer's mature works. "The Juggler of Notre Dame" (1978) is a theatre piece, based on a mediæval French story, full of the ironic transformations, expressionistic language, sharp, percussive sounds, and instrumental virtuosity common to Davies' music of the time, but turned to lighter, more playful ends than in some of the more famous works of the 1970s, making this an approachable and highly entertaining spectacle. Arditti Quartet, Edward Albert (baritone), Opera Sacra Buffalo; Charles Peltz. Mode 59 (U.S.A.) 10-093 $16.98

STEFAN WOLPE (1902-1972): Quartet (Piece) for Oboe, Cello,Piano and Percussion, Cantata for Voice, Voices and Instruments, String Quartet. The quartet of 1954 marks the beginning of Wolpe's fully mature style, an intricate construction deftly assembled out of the wide diversity of sounds available from the unconventional ensemble. The cantata (1963) is a good deal more rhythmically straightforward, and has a strong dramatic element. The late string quartet (1969) is tough and concentrated, much more linear in construction than the earlier quartet, and more assured in its compositional technique. Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo), Silesian String Quartet, Gruppe Neue Musik "Hanns Eisler" Leipzig. CPO 999 090 (Germany) 10-094 $15.98

MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987): Flute and Orchestra, Cello and Orchestra, Oboe and Orchestra, Piano and Orchestra. Feldman's abstract, static constructions in sound invite the listener to contemplate the relationships generated by the juxtaposition of panels, or blocks, of slowly mutating sound. The quality of sound was, to Feldman, the most important element of music, as color, and the relationships between colors were central to the works of the graphic artists he admired and whose work he attempted to emulate in his own medium. In these four concertante works , the solo instrument contributes much of the thematic material, against textured backgrounds supplied by the orchestra. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Roswitha Staege (flute), Siegfried Palm (cello), Armin Aussem (oboe), Roger Woodward (piano), Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 483 (Germany) 10-095 $15.98

GIACINTO SCELSI (1905-1988): 4 Pezzi per orchestra, Pranam, HANS ZENDER (b.1936): 5 Haiku for Flute and Strings, Zeitströme for Orchestra, Cantata after Words by Meister Eckhardt for Alto, Alto Flute, Cello and Harpsichord. Scelsi's preoccupation with writing music centred on a single note (and its octave transpositions) developed, so the composer said, as an antidote to twelve-tone technique. Each of the "4 Pieces" is thus woven around one note, to hypnotic, meditational effect. Another preoccupation was the human voice, particularly that of the soloist on this recording, which inspired a series of works, also exploiting timbres and textures around minimal pitch resources. Zender's own music completes this CD, complex interweavings of streams of musical material in precisely determined rhythmic structures. Michiko Hirayama (soprano), Roswitha Staege (flute), Hanna Aurbacher (alto),Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 485 (Germany) 10-096 $7.98

HANS ZENDER (b.1936): Shir Hashirim. Zender here conducts parts 1 and 2 of his large-scale cantata (of approximately 2 hours duration, and of which any of the parts may be performed independently) setting texts from the Song of Solomon for soprano, tenor, solo instruments (treated with some subtle electronic effects) choir and orchestra. The beautiful, erotic text is illuminated by the music, which blends sonic exoticism with lyrical word-setting and instrumental colour in a wholly appropriate fashion. Julie Moffat (soprano), Martyn Hill (tenor), Kamerkoor Nieuwe Muziek, Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 486 (Germany) 10-097 $7.98

BERND ALOIS ZIMMERMAN (1918-1970): Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre en forme de "pas de trois", Antiphonen for Viola and 25 Instrumentalists, Impromptu for Orchestra, Photoptosis: Prelude for Large Orchestra. An uncompromising modernist, Zimmermann received his early training in Darmstadt and composed music utilising every technique available in our century - serialism, aleatoric techniques, collage (integrating quotations and references to many different styles as components of his work), electronics and mixed media. Many of his works have a strong theatrical component, and so it is with the cello concerto and "Antiphons", which uses spatial layout as a component of the musical structure, as well as a spoken part to texts chosen for their phonetic structure as much as for their meaning. Siegfried Palm (cello), Eckart Schloifer (viola), Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 482 (Germany) 10-098 $7.98

PIERRE BOULEZ (b.1925): Rituel -In Memoriam Bruno Maderna, HELMUT LACHENMANN (b.1935): Harmonica: Music for Large Orchestra and Tuba, ROLF RIEHM (b. 1937): Gewidmet for Large Orchestra. Boulez' Rituel, one of his most frequently performed works, opens this disc, demonstrating that given sufficient emotional impetus (in this case, the death of the composer's friend and colleague), even the most devoted adherent of serialism can produce music of profound emotion. The Riehm is "dedicated to" Hanns Eisler, and paradoxically offers an accessibility reminiscent of Eisler (aided by fragmentary quotations from his music) amidst its far more modern idiom. Lachenmann's music, despite its complexity, produces the same sort of visceral impact as that of Xenakis. The order of the pieces on the CD is not as listed on the traycard and booklet; the Riehm and Lachenmann have been reversed. Richard Nahatzki (tuba), Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 484 (Germany) 10-099 $7.98

BERND ASMUS (b.1959): malang mujur, LEJAREN HILLER (1924-1994): Quadrilateral, GIUSEPPE GAVAZZA (b.1957): Natura morta con specchio, LUIGI NONO (1924-1990): ...sofferte onde serene.... Four contrasting works for piano and electronics, displaying the diversity of sonorities available to the composer working with electroacoustic techniques. Asmus' piece transforms the live sounds of the piano using conventional analogue devices; delays, pitch shifting, ring modulation and the like. Hiller uses a tape part as a non-participatory backdrop to the pianist's cycle of permutations of groups of notes laid out in intersecting graphic notation. Gavazza depicts the principle of the artist's "still life" through frozen sounds, subtly transmuted to endow them with an otherworldly quality. Nono's work is the composer's only one for solo piano and tape. It uses Maurizio Pollini's playing, electronically modified, as the tape part, in conjunction with live sound to evoke a resonant sound-world in which bell sounds take on a multitude of significant yet ambiguous meanings. Sven Thomas Kiebler (piano). 2e2m 1014 (France) 10-100 $19.98

DONALD MARTINO (b.1931): Violin Sonata, Op. 16, Clarinet Sonata, 12 Preludes for Piano, Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Piano Fantasy, Impromptu for Roger. These compositions chart the progress in the creative life of one of this country's leading serialists. The early works - the sonatas for violin and for clarinet - show the young composer absorbing the influences of Jazz and Bartók, in music that is highly expressive, expressionistic, and intense. The Piano Fantasy (1958) is a twelve-tone work, rhythmically free and very economical of material, and the Trio from the following year moves further along the same path, fully representing the composer's mature style. Rolf Schulte (violin), Jean Kopperud (clarinet), Eliza Garth (piano). Centaur 2321 (U.S.A.) 10-101 $16.98

SAMUEL ADLER (b.1928): String Quartets Nos. 4, 5 & 8. German-born, Adler has led a full and active life in the United States, in the academic world, as composer, and as conductor. These string quartets show a rigorous and imaginative mind at work. The 8th quartet is a portrait and elegy for a friend of the composer, the other two function as "pure" music, freely using serial and tonal techniques in a variety of forms, including a freely improvised cadenza on predetermined pitches in the 4th quartet. Sonata form, fugue, and parodistic approaches to traditional stuctures also put in an appearance, as the composer investigates many aspects of musical form and delights in his compositional virtuosity. Charleston String Quartet. Gasparo GSCD-307 (U.S.A.) 10-102 $16.98

SOUND DOCUMENTS OF ITALIAN FUTURISM: Works by ANTONIO RUSSOLO (1885-1947), FRANCESCO BALILLA PRATELLA (1880-1955), GIAN FRANCESCO MALIPIERO (1885-1973), ALFREDO CASELLA (1883-1947) and GIACOMO BALLA (1871-1958). The "futurist" movement that flourished in Italy after the turn of the century now seems rather quaint, in the light of all that has followed since. Slightly more surprising is the fact that its output does not, on the whole, sound like bad music or point-proving. The spectre of Busoni looms large (but nebulous and largely inaudible) behind the movement, which took speculations in his "sketch for a new æsthetic of music" and ran with them in ways that have very little to do with Busoni. A preoccupation with mechanically produced sounds (the sounds of machinery, as well as mechanical instruments such as the pianola) and post-Le Sacre primitivism are the main characteristics to be heard here. Luigi Russolo ("The Noisemaker") is represented by some machine sounds interpreted as music, which may be regarded now as a piece of experimental music history, but the bulk of the music here is well worth listening to in its own right. Archive recordings and piano rolls, well restored and reproduced. Fonoteca FT-95.08.02 (Italy) 10-103 $16.98

ERNÖ VON DOHNANYI (1877-1960): 3 Waltz Transcriptions for Piano, Violin Sonata in C Sharp Minor, Op. 21, THOMAS RAJNA (b.1928): Music for Violin and Piano, String Quartet. Rajna, familiar to record collectors for his complete Granados recordings and an eloquent account of Messiaen's Vingt Regards here showcases works by fellow Hungarian Dohnányi along with his own music. Dohnányi is represented by three Lisztian paraphrases of waltzes by Delibes and Johann Strauss and his romantic, almost Brahmsian Violin Sonata. Rajna's musical antecedents are plainly Bartók and Prokofiev, the music pungent and vigorous, tightly organised and expressive. Claremont GSE 1550 (South Africa) 10-0AA $16.98

SIGISMUND THALBERG (1812-1871): Fantasia su temi dell'opera "Mosè" di Rossini, Op. 33, HENRY HERZ (1803-1888): Variazioni concertatne sulla Marcia favorita del "Philtre" di Auber, Op. 70, CARL CZERNY (1791-1857): Fantasia elegante sulla "Norma" di Bellini", Op. 247/25, Introduzione e variazioni sulla Cavatina favorita "So anch'io la virtù magica" dall'opera "Don Pasquale" di Donizetti, Op. 398/17, JOHANN PETER PIXIS (1788-1874): Fantasia drammatica su temi degli "Ungonotti" di Meyerbeer, CHARLES VALENTIN ALKAN (1813-1888): Grande fantasia sul "Don Giovanni" di Mozart. The tradition of transcribing themes from popular operas into virtuosic piano fantasias was a staple of the 19th-century pianist-composer's activity. The most famous examples of the genre are, of course, Liszt's, but many of the other great piano virtuosi also tried their hand at the art of operatic paraphrase; thus we have Czerny's skilful and cohesive fantasia on Norma - less showy than Liszt's, but no less musically convincing, and Alkan's breathtaking Grande Fantasia - actually a set of bravura variations - on Don Giovanni, full of the kind of stunning keyboard pyrotechnics that one would expect from the master of pianistic diablerie, in a varied and fascinating programme that proves that Liszt did not by any means have this form all to himself. Duo Alkan. Agorá Musica AG 105.1 (Italy) 10-0AB $16.98

CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826): Adagio and Rondo, Op. posth. 15, CLIFFORD DEMAREST (1874-1946): Fantaisie for Organ and Piano, CÉSAR FRANCK (1822-1890): Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18, MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886-1971): Variations sur deux themes, Op. 35, FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Etude de concert No. 3, ERNST KRENEK (1900-1991): Little Concerto for Piano, Organ and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 88, ALEXANDER GUILMANT (1837-1911): Final alla Schumann pour Orgue et Orchestre sur un Noël Languedocien, Op. 83. An interesting, extremely varied, collection, ranging from Weber's Beethovenesque composition, originally for a now-obsolete instrument (a kind of sustaining piano), here approximated successfully by the organ, to Krenek's Little Concerto, a piece of chamber music, unmistakably of our century, acerbic, serious and moody. The Dupré is the most substantial work here, making creative and exciting use of the unusual combination of organ and piano, while American composer-organist Demarest's Fantaisie is a kind of miniature piano concerto, with the organ substituting ably for an orchestra, bearing a similar relationship to the Tchaikovsky First Concerto as the Warsaw Concerto does to Rachmaninov's 2nd. The Liszt, by the way, is Un Sospiro, in the piano original, not involving organ or orchestra in any way. Irmtraut Friedrich (piano), Felix Friedrich (organ), Leipzig Radio Orchestra; Horst Neumann. Querstand VKJK 9601 (Germany) 10-0AC $18.98

JÜRGEN GOLLE (b.1942): Partita über "Es ist ein Schnitter, heißt der Tod", GÜNTER NEUBERT (b.1936): Meditation über eine Tonreihe aus dem letzten Choral der Matthäus-Passion von J.S. Bach, PER HJORT ALBERTSEN: Chaconne (Crucifixus) und Fuge, Op. 43, TERJE BJØRKLUND (b.1945): ANIMA, KURT ANTON HUEBER (b.1928): 1. Fantasie für Orgel über "Mitten wir im Leben sind, von dem Tod umfangen", EBERHARD BÖTTCHER (b.1934): Toccata Innovata, LUDVIG NIELSEN (b.1906): Orgelfantasie "Die Glocken der Nidaros-Kathedrale, Op. 37b. An interesting aspect of this varied programme of contemporary organ music is the extent to which the composers have eschewed the highly chromatic language of Messiaen - the yardstick by which 20th-century organ music tends to be measured - in favour of a contrapuntal vocabulary whose origins can be traced back at least as far as Bach; a development on contemporary keyboard writing that would have delighted Busoni. All these works are unmistakably of our time, and yet all pay eloquent tribute to the traditions associated with the "King of Instruments". Felix Friedrich (organ). Querstand VKJK 9603 (Germany) 10-0AD $18.98

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46, 5 Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16, Beglieitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, Op. 34, OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992): Poèmes pour Mi, second book, Hymne au Saint Sacrément. Given that Zender's career has involved the championing of twentieth-century music, it seems entirely appropriate that this CD edition should include his interpretations of music by the composer with whom many of the trends in contemporary music began - Arnold Schoenberg. The powerful A Survivor from Warsaw emerges with extraordinary clarity in Zender's composer's-eye-view of the work, as do the seminal Five Orchestral Pieces, which ushered in atonality with an eloquence unheard of in 1909. Messiaen's two ecstatic and highly colourful early works are also excellently performed, making this disc a highly desirable way to acquire an important slice of 20th-century music history. Roland Hermann (speaker), Judith Beckmann (soprano), Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 481 (Germany) 10-0AE $7.98

THE CRIMSON PIRATE - Swashbucklers of the Silver Screen Captain Blood - Main Title (Korngold), Hook - Main Theme (John Williams), The Crimson Pirate - Overture (William Alwyn), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad - Main Title (Bernard Hermann), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Suite (Miklos Rozsa), The Buccaneer - Prelude (Elmer Bernstein), The Sea Hawk - Suite (Korngold), The Adventures of Don Juan - Suite (Max Steiner), Cutthroat Island - Main Title (John Debney), Overture to The Crimson Permanent Assurance from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (John Du Prez). City of Prague Philharmonic; Paul Bateman. Silva America SSD 3009 (U.S.A.) 10-0AF $13.98

THE MARK OF ZORRO - Swordsmen of the Silver Screen The Mark of Zorro - Main Title (Alfred Newman/Hugo Friedhofer), The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex - Overture (Korngold), Willow - Willow's Theme (James Horner), The Duellists - Suite (Howard Blake), The Swordsman of Siena - Prelude (Mario Nascimbene), Robin Hood - Suite (Geoffrey Burgon), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Prelude (Michael Kamen), Robin and Marian - Suite (John Barry), The Adventures of Robin Hood - Love Theme and "March of the Merry Men and Battle in the Forest" (Korngold). City of Prague Philharmonic; Paul Bateman. Silva America SSD 3010 (U.S.A.) 10-0AG $13.98 (NOTE: Enhanced CD. Can be played on standard audio CD players and in most multimedia computers (Mac and PC).