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Louis Glass

Symphony No. 2

Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra

LOUIS GLASS (1864-1936): Symphony No. 2 in C Minor for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 28, Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 47. This symphony, premiered in 1900, is the first in this series in which the often-described Brucknerian influence is plainly evident. A four-movement work lasting 48 minutes, it has a 19-minute first movement whose construction and peroration have the same granitic, cathedral-like majesty of the Austrian master. The scherzo continues the Bruckner suggestions with its heavy gait; the brief adagio (only seven minutes) uses a chorus which sings nocturnal verses from 1875 by the Danish poet J.P. Jacobsen while the finale (which brings in an organ) is a polyphonically-driven march-like movement with a colorful Russian feel to parts of it and which ends in another Brucknerian, hymn-like apotheosis. The Fantasia dates from 1913 when Glass was under the influence of Theosophy and its adherents and Scriabin's influence can be heard in its nervous, constantly changing variety of rhythms. Philippopolis Choir, Romeo Smilkov (piano), Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra; Nayden Todorov. Danacord DACOCD 543 (Denmark) 09D001 $16.98


CHRISTIAN SINDING (1856-1941): SymphonyNo. 1 in D Minor, Op. 21, Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 83, Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 121, Symphony No. 4, Op. 129 "Winter and Spring". These are all large-scale, big-hearted, expansive, richly orchestrated works which, unlike the symphonic works of Sinding's contryman Svendsen, remain firmly in the school of German Romanticism. Sinding discovered his personal style in the late 1880s and never saw a reason to revise it; Liszt, Wagner and Richard Strauss are the models and the use of recurring motifs and themes throughout the works is typical. The only thing not typical for a follower of the above-named trio is the use of classic symphonic form (the first (1890) and third (1920) are in the traditional four movements, the second (1904) in three while the fourth (1936) is a single-movement work in several sections - a rhapsodic style which still contains most of the usual symphonic parts except for a scherzo. The Third and Fourth have never been on CD while the Second is still very rare. All four are works to warm the heart of Romantic symphony collectors. Thanks to the strong dollar, they are relatively affordable too! Special European Import. 2 CDs. Norwegian Radio Orchestra; Ari Rasilainen. Finlandia 8573-82357-2 (Finland) 09D002 $42.98


GIOVANNI SGAMBATI (1841-1914): Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 15, Overture Cola di Rienzo, Berceuse-Rêverie, Op. 42/2 (orch. Massenet). The size and length of the two major works here identify the young, eager-to-please, idea-crammed young virtuoso: the concerto of 1878 is in the usual three movements but the first one stretches to over 23 minutes, opening with a Lisztian motive and meandering through five minutes of orchestral ideas before the soloist enters. The work is in predominantly moderate tempos, the soloist with plenty of High Romantic motives to caress, thunder and cast out with glittering virtuosity, with a dreamy Romance for a slow movement and the final movement the most animated of the three. Cola di Rienzo was probably the first complete orchestral work of Sgambati (1866) and it clocks in just over 20 minutes which would seemingly bely its Mendelssohnian/ Schumannian pedigree, yet that is just what we have here - a multi-motivic work which breathes the same air as the concert overtures of those German predecessors. Francesco Caramiello (piano), Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra; Fabrizio Ventura. ASV DCA 1097 (England) 09D003 $16.98

JULIUS KLENGEL (1859-1933): Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 4, Cello Concerto No. 4 in B Minor, Op. 37, Double Cello Concertoin E Minor, Op. 45. Klengel was the most renowned cellist and teacher of cellists of the last half of the Romantic era. Feuermann and Piatigorsky and Ludwig Hoelscher were among his students; he was principal cellist with the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1881-1924 and at the same time was cellist in the Gewandhaus Quartet (until 1930!). As can be expected, Klengel's works are fully Romantic, never obviously backward-looking but not breaking new ground either. The first concerto of 1880 uses Mendelssohn's violin concerto as a formal model and there are hints of Schumann's cello concerto here and there. The fourth, from 1903, may be the best cello composer by a German Romantic since Schumann's and exhibits a gift for flowing, memorable melodies which now and then suggest Tchaikovsky. The double concerto (1912) differs in having the instruments play off each other rather than soloist off orchestra, offering many opportunities for counterpoint which lend the work a slightly baroque air. Xenia Jankovic, Christoph Richter (cellos), Hannover Radio Philharmonic; Bjarte Engeset. CPO 999 714 (Germany) 09D004 $15.98

CARL REINECKE (1824-1910): Symphony No. 1 in A, Op. 79, Overture, Romanze, Prelude to Act V & Ballet Music No. 2 from King Manfred, Op. 93. A timely re-release for this recording as it fills out Reinecke's symphonic cycle whose second and third installments were such a delight on the Chandos recording we offered in April (04C036). Dating from 1858, its themes and harmonies recall Schumann and the orchestration Mendelssohn. The opera dates from 1866 and the 26-minute long sequence of excerpts are characterized by melodic fluency and colorful orchestration. Original 1988 Marco Polo release. Rhenish Philharmonic Orchestra; Alfred Walter. Naxos 8.555397 (New Zealand) 09D005 $5.98

HEINRICH VON HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900): 3 Legenden, Op. 62, FRIEDRICH KIEL (1821-1885): 3 Romanzen, Op. 69, ROBERT FUCHS (1847-1927): 6 Phantasiestücke, Op. 117, HANS SITT (1850-1922): 6 Albumblätter, CARL REINECKE (1824-1910): 3 Phantasiestücke, Op. 43, JOSEPH JOACHIM (1831-1907): Variations, Op. 10, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Sonatas in F Minor and in E Flat, Op. 120, Nos. 1 & 2. Another "Brahms and Friends" type of collection, this release brings91 minutes of viola pieces by both friends, acquaintances and even people Brahms may not have known (pedagogue and violinist Hans Sitt, for example). Everything here is in the Schumann/Mendelssohn vein of richly Romantic character pieces which mostly appear in the form of solo piano pieces. The autumnal sound of the viola is well-used in the slower, reflective, often gently melancholy sections of these works but plenty of youthful fire and passion appear as well. The Brahms sonatas are analogue reisssues from 1980; the rest are brand new. 2 CDs. Bernard Zaslav (viola), Naomi Zaslav (piano). Music & Arts CD-1087 (2) (U.S.A.) 09D006 $33.98

JOSEF STRAUSS (1827-1870): Edition, Vol. 20 - Liechtenstein-Marsch, Op. 36, Delirien, Op. 212, Pêle-mêle, Op. 161, Pariser Quadrille, Op. 209, Flattergeister, Op. 62, Künstler-Caprice, Op. 135, Dithyrambe, Op. 236, Vélocipède, Op. 259, Actionen, Op. 174, Cupido-Polka, Op. 81, Frauenherz, Op. 166, Wiener Bonmots, Op. 108. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra; Christian Pollack. Marco Polo 8.223622 (New Zealand) 09D007 $14.98

GEIRR TVEITT (1908-1981): A Hundred Hardanger Tunes, Op. 151 - Suites Nos. 1 (1-15) and 4 (46-60). First: many of the tunes are by Tveitt or belong to the Tveitt family. That said, every one of them is drenched in authentic Hardanger feeling; the first suite consists of fifteen tunes creating miniature tone pictures which are unconnected but the fourth suite tells the tale of a wedding from wooing to a bridal voyage in a boat across a fjord to the raucous (and often obscene if we could have the words) post-wedding celebration (one segment is titled "Drunken Talk - Homage to Atonality"). The orchestration is very varied and extremely colorful; sure to appeal to lovers of Bartók and Kodály and Vaughan Williams. Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Bjarte Engeset. Naxos 8.555078 (New Zealand) 09D008 $5.98

GEORGE ANTHEIL (1900-1959): Ballet Mécanique, Serenade for String Orchestra No. 1, Symphony for Five Instruments, Concert for Chamber Orchestra. Well, here it is: one of 20th century music's most notorious pieces (in the 1953 revision which uses only four pianos two electric bells, two airplane propellers and a battery of percussion) which made and ruined Antheil's career in 1926-7. Of course, it seems relatively harmless today, not far from a slightly manic Satie but it is still possible to understand the sensation it caused with its fragmented themes, jazzy ostinatos and percussive pianos. The Symphony (1924) is full of Stravinskian high spirits and the Concert (1933) is another avant-garde work with bristling dissonances, lean and disjointed. By contrast, the 1948 serenade is a richly tonal work which, nevertheless, is full of sly references to popular music and closes with a Shostakovich-at-a-barn-dance waltz finale. Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra; Daniel Spalding. Naxos American Classics 8.559060 (U.S.A.) 09D009 $5.98

ERNST TOCH (1887-1964): String Quartet No. 11, Op. 34, String Quartet No. 13, Op. 74. Toch wrote 13 quartets but the first five were those of a teenager self-teaching through reading Mozart quartet scores and those are lost anyway. The eleventh dates from 1924 and was commissioned by Hindemith for the Donaueschingen Chamber Music Festival; it is a very pleasing, serious but not heavy neo-classical work in a free tonal idiom. Its discmate dates from thirty years later and is Toch's only work in twelve-tone form - an accident really since he discovered that his chosen theme was almost dodecaphonic and decided to follow through with it in a very un-Schoenbergian way in what is identifiably his own voice. Buchberger Quartet. CPO 999 687 (Germany) 09D010 $10.98

MALCOLM ARNOLD (b.1921): Symphony No. 7, Op. 113, Symphony No. 8, Op. 124. The Naxos Arnold series, recorded in the presence of the composer, concludes with the energetic, tragic and defiant Seventh of 1973 and the 1978 Eighth which combines the upbeat character of the Arnold's lighter music with pensive and questioning passages. Arnold collectors should also note that a 2-for-the-price-of-one Chandos release which will be in next month's catalogue will contain the Symphonies Nos. 7-9 as well as the Oboe Concerto. National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; Andrew Penny. Naxos 8.552001 (New Zealand) 09D011 $5.98

BERNARD HERRMANN (1911-1975): The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 5 Fingers. Both these scores came from 1952, the former film allowing Herrmann to use a wide pallet to convey the mystery of Africa, action scenes and tragic love in Paris while the amorality of every character in the noirish 5 Fingers produced one of the composer's darkest scores to that point, full of pointers to the scores of his later work for Hitchcock: there are pre-echoes of music from Psycho and North by Northwest and a major theme which appears later in Vertigo. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William Stromberg. Marco Polo 8.225168 (New Zealand) 09D012 $14.98

BENEDETTO FERRARI (1603/04-1681): Il Sansone, Musiche e poesie varie, Book 3 - 3 Songs, Final duet from Il pastor regio. "Samson" is a 1680 oratorio, Ferrari's last work, whose powerfully dramatic characterizations will shock collectors who think Monteverdi was miles above his contemporaries. In fact, the final duet from Ferrari's Il pastor fido of 1641 is only slightly different in text from the final duet of Monteverdi's Poppea and it's unsure who the original author was! Italian-English texts. Carlo Lepore (bass), Dalila Roberta Invernizzi (soprano), Furio Zanasi (baritone), Il Complesso Barocco; Alan Curtis. Virgin Classics 5 45412 2 (England) 09D013 $17.98

ARNOLD MATTHIAS BRUNCKHORST (c.1670-1725): Weinachts-Historie Sonata in A for Harpsichord, Oster-Historie, Prelude in E Minor for Organ. Here are all of Brunckhorst's surviving works; yet they have much more importance than their number suggests. There are textual and structural parallels between the Christmas piece and Bach's Christmas Oratorio; the prelude is halfway between the old north German style and Bach's prelude-and-fugue and Bach apparently owned a copy of the one-movement harpsichord sonata. German-English texts. Ensemble Musica Poetica Freiburg; Hans Bergmann. Hännsler Classic CD 98.364 (Germany) 09D014 $16.98

JOHANN LUDWIG KREBS (1713-1780): Clavier-Übung, 2 Chorale Preludes. Krebs' Clavierübung, recorded in its entirety for the first time, consists of 39 pieces based on 13 standard German chorales. Each has a praeambulum followed by either a bicinium or tricinium and colcludes with a figured bass harmonization of the chorale. Pehr Schiörlin (organ of Gammalkil, Sweden). Loft Recordings LRCD 1026 (U.S.A.) 09D015 $17.98

LEONARDO LEO (1694-1744): Miserere mei Deus, Parebe Virgo, Judica me Deus, Eripe me, Domine, Hos Corpus, Quod pro vodis tradetur, All' Offertorio for Organ, Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Tribulationis cordis mei, Intellege clamorem meum, Christus factus est pro nobis, Heu nos miseros. Leo's Miserere of 1739 was to greatly impress both Wagner and Verdi. Written for double choir in the stile antico, this impressive and majestic piece looks back to the polyphony of Palestrina. At the other end of the spectrum is the Praebe Virgo which, looking forward to the emerging Classical style, is set like a secular cantata with alternating virtuoso arias and recitatives. The Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; Geoffrey Webber, Timothy Uglow, Gavin Roberts (organs). ASV GAU226 (England) 09D016 $16.98

GEORG VON PASTERWIZ (1730-1803): 300 Themata und Versetten zum Präambliren und Fugiren (selection). Based for the most part on Gregorian melodies and German hymns, this collection of short pieces were to be used for the making of preludes and fugues - a wealth of raw material for the keyboardist to choose from. Clemencic uses a great organ positiv and a small organ positiv in addition to clavichord and harpsichord. Special European Import. Budget-price. René Clemencic (organ, clavichord, harpsichord). Arte Nova 74321 51637 2 (Germany) 09D017 $7.98

Polish Harpsichord Music

BARTLOMIEJ PEKIEL (d c.1670): Fantasia, JAN PODBELSKI (17th cen.): Preludium, PIOTR ZELECHOWSKI (fl. c. 1650): Fantasia, ANON. (17th cen.): Lectio, HYMNAL OF TERESA O. FABIANSKA (17th cen.): Aria in C, HYMNAL OF JADWIG DYGULSKA (17th cen.): Fugue in C, Andante in E Minor, TABULATURA OF JAN OF LUBLIN (16th cen.): 9 selections, ANNA MARIA SASKIEJ (18th cen.): Polonaise in F, JÓZEF KOZLOWSKI (1757-1831): Polonaise Larghetto Espressivo in F Minor, 2 Contradanses, JÓZEF DESZCZYNSKI (1781-1844): Fantasia a la Polacca in D, ANON. (19th cen.): Sonata in C, TOMASZ GREM (19th cen.): Andante and variations, JÓZEF ELSNER (1769-1854): Polonaise in E Flat, Rondo a la Mazurek in C, EMILIA POTOCKA (19th cen.): Andante and variations, Mazurka. Predominantly dance music here, from the Renaissance selection of pan-European dance-types of the Jan of Lublin entablature to the polonaises and mazurkas which predated Chopin. A few Italian-style baroque pieces of the ricercar type also occur. A 16th century virginal and two harpsichords (from the 17th and 18th centuries) are used. Urszula Bartkiewicz (virginal, harpsichords). Dux 0243 (Poland) 09D018 $16.98

NIKOLAUS ADAM STRUNCK (1640-1700): Ich ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, JOHANN FRIEDRICH MEISTER (c.1637-1697): Sonata in G Minor for 2 Violins and Basso continuo, DIETRICH BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707): Herzlich tut mich verlangen, JAN ADAM REINKEN (1623-1722): Suite in E Minor for Harpsichord, ULRICH JOHANN VOIGT (1669-1732): Sonata in B Flat for Violin and Basso continuo, CHRISTIAN AUGUST JACOBI (1688-after 1725): Christus der is mein Leben, ANON. (17th/18th cen.): Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut. This collection of sacred and secular music from North and Central Germany in the late 17th century demonstrates the somewhat fragmented variety of influences then extant as French and even Italian styles were being assimilated into a musical mixture whose ultimate distillation was J.S. Bach. German-English texts. Ensemble Musica Poetica Freiburg; Hans Bergmann. Hännsler Classic CD 98.336 (Germany) 09D019 $16.98

JOSÉ DE NEBRA (1702-1768): Principio de Maitines de Navidad, Responsorium I, FRANCISCO COURCELLE (1705-1778): Responsorium II, Responsorium III. This recording presents a hypothetical Matins celebration at the royal court of Spain around 1752, using material from the two principal composers of the Spanish court. Nebra's is the more conservative music (his innovations were in the zarzuela) with block choral sounds and orchestral doublings of strings by winds. Courcelle's is more polyphonic, with expressive melodies, brilliantly orchestrated and pervasively syncopated. Unpublished and unrecorded until now, this is an indication of the riches yet to be discovered in the Spanish archives. Tamara Matthews (soprano), Scot R. Cameron (alto), Eduardo Santamaria (tenor), Gregorio Poblador Fuente (bass), Kym Amps (soprano), Madrid Barroco; Grover Wilkins. Dorian DOR-93237 (U.S.A.) 09D020 $17.98GEORG MUFFAT (1683-1704): Concerti Grossi, Vol. 1 - No. 1 in D Minor "Bona nova", No. 2 in A, "Cor vigilans", No. 3 in B "Convalescentia", No. 4 in G Minor "Dulce somnium", No. 5 in D, "Saeculum", No. 6 in A Minor "Quis hic?". The last of Muffat's collectons of concertos (1701) is another fine example of his synthesis of French and Italian styles as exemplified by Lully and Corelli. The first two movements of each concerto are in the Italian style and the remainder are French courtly dances. Musica Aeterna Bratislava; Peter Zajícek. Naxos 8.555096 (New Zealand) 09D021 $5.98

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759): Deidamia. Handel's last opera is also his last to receive a recording. Having only three performances in 1740, Deidamia is based on a late classical tale about the young Achilles' attempt to avoid his (foretold) fate at try by disguising himself as a girl. The libretto is wry, occasionally cynical and far from the intense opera seria of the period of Handel's operatic peak yet the master has still supplied a score with attractive music and several dramatic arias, making for a clear-eyed farewell to the genre which made his fortune. 3 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Julianne Baird (soprano), John Cheek (bass), Brenda Harris (soprano), D'Anna Fortunato (soprano),Peter Castaldi (baritone), Palmer Singers, Brewer Chamber Orchestra; Rudolph Palmer. Albany TROY 460 (U.S.A.) 09D022 $50.98

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782): 6 Piano Sonatas, Op. 17. Although first published in 1774, most of these sonatas seem to date from the early 1760s except, perhaps for No. 2 - unusual for its minor key and forward-looking andante - and No. 6, which demands an instrument of five octaves and which is the most technically demanding. The others are early Classical pieces of the type which the child Mozart heard and emulated in London. Harald Hoeren (fortepiano). CPO 999 788 (Germany) 09D023 $10.98

ALEXANDER ERNST FESCA (1820-1849): Septets for Piano, Oboe, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass in C Minor, Op. 26 & in D Minor, Op. 28. Fesca's two septets fall into the short-lived genre of piano-and-mixed-ensemble pieces which were pioneered by Beethoven's Op. 20 and continued (to name just the prominent ones) by Ries, Kalkbrenner, Hummel and Moscheles. Both are four-movement works from the early 1840s and will appeal to collectors of the above-mentioned composers or of early Romantic piano chamber music. Linos-Ensemble. CPO 999 617 (Germany) 09D024 $10.98

LUDWIG SPOHR (1784-1859): Violin Concerto No. 7 in E Minor, Op. 58, Violin Concerto No. 12 in A Minor, Op. 79. CD premieres fifteen years ago when they first appeared (who'd have thought we'd have them all now?), the 1814 seventh is in a conservative classical style looking back to Mozart while the twelfth, from fourteen years later, is highly operatic in style with abundant melody and a vocal-soloist part for the violinist. Original 1986 Marco Polo release. Takako Nishizaki (violin), Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Bratislava; Libor Pesek. Naxos 8.555101 (New Zealand) 09D025 $5.98

NICOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): Violin Concerto No. 0 in E Minor, Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 7. Orchestra da Camera Italiana; Salvatore Accardo (violin). EMI 5 57150 2 (Italy) 09D026 $17.98

NICOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 6, Violin Concerto No. 3 in E . Orchestra da Camera Italiana; Salvatore Accardo (violin). EMI 5 57151 2 (Italy) 09D027 $17.98

NICOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Minor. Orchestra da Camera Italiana; Salvatore Accardo (violin). EMI 5 57152 2 (Italy) 09D028 $17.98

A brand new cycle, Accardo's second, recorded in 1998-99 and carrying a 2000 copyright by EMI Italy. Brings back fond memories of Italian EMI LPs, doesn't it? And we thought that EMI had killed regional autonomy...

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847): Violin Sonata in F, Violin Sonata in F Minor, Op. 4, Violin Sonata in F, Fugue in D Minor, Fugue in C Minor, Allegro in C, Andante in D Minor, Movement in G Minor. The complete works for violin and piano: two early sonatas from Mendelssohn's teens (1820 and 1823) and the more mature F minor sonata of 1838 which comes at the beginning of the period of his finest works. The five short pieces, like all the rest, are attractive and melodious although necessarily lacking some of the subtle atmosphere which characterizes this composer. Nomos Duo. Naxos 8.554725 (New Zealand) 09D029 $5.98

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-1856): Romances and Ballads for Mixed Choir, Opp. 67, 75, 145 & 146, Romances and Ballads for Women's Choir, Opp. 69 & 91. Less-known than the choral works of his contemporaries Brahms and Mendelssohn, Schumann's contributions to the genre show a characteristic seriousness in response to the latent political tone of the mixed choir works and a more simple, charming and folk-influenced style in the pieces for female voices. SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart; Ruper Huber. Hännsler Classic 93.002 (Germany) 09D030 $16.98

ALBERT LORTZING (1801-1851): Monolog und Gnomenszene from Don Juan und Faust, Ali, Pascha von Janina, Szenen aus Mozarts Leben. This reissue of two single CDs from 1989 and 1991 offers us the unusual 1833 "vaudeville" "Scenes from Mozart's Life" using Nissen's Biedermeyer biographical sketch of the great composer with Lortzing's arrangements of a dozen and a half Mozart borrowings (mostly from what would have been obscure chamber and instrumental works) to provide the music. Ali Pascha (1823) is a 63-minute one-act opera which shows a talented young composer using all the sources and influences which one might expect from its period. German texts. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Soloists, Choruses, Cologne Radio Orchestra; Jan Stulen, Karl Wesseler. MD&G 609 1059-2 (Germany) 09D031 $17.98

JOSEPH ACHRON (1886-1943): Hebrew Melody, Op. 33, Dance Improvisation, Op. 37, Hebrew Lullaby, Op. 35/2, Fairy-tale, Op. 46, Scher, Op. 42, Canzonetta, Op. 52/2, Stempenju: Suite, ALEXANDER VEPRIK (1899-1958): Suite, Op. 7, JOEL ENGEL (1868-1927): Freilechs, Op. 20/2, LAZARE SAMINSKY (1882-1959): Hebrew Rhapsody, Op. 3/2, ALEXANDER KREIN (1883-1951): Aria, Op. 41, Caprice hébraïque, Op. 24, Second Aria. Everything here but the Achron works are world-premiere recordings. Achron is the most well-known of these Russian Jewish composers but they all knew each other in Russia and the Soviet Union and generally agreed on using Hasidic melodies - melodies from the Jewish liturgical services - as the basis for their compositions since secular Jewish folk music was felt to have too many foreign influences. If you know and like Achron's famous Hebrew Melody, you will be delighted by the works of his colleagues and by his other, less well-known pieces recorded here. The notes adumbrate a whole culture of music-making which existed first in Russia, then in Germany where many Jews emigrated in the 1920s before being lost in the Diaspora. Ingolf Turban (violin), Jascha Nemtsov (piano). Hännsler Classic CD 93.028 (Germany) 09D032 $16.98

ALEXANDER VEPRIK (1899-1958): Rhapsody, Op. 11, Totenlieder, Op. 4, Kaddisch (Poem), Op. 6, Chant rigoureux, Op. 9, MIKHAIL GNESIN (1883-1957): Spielmannslied, Op. 34, Lied der Marianne, Op. 37/2, GRIGORY GAMBURG (1900-1967): 2 Pieces from The Song of Songs, Op. 5, ALEXANDER KREIN (1883-1951): Ornaments, Op. 42, ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Suite for Viola and Piano. This companion album to the one listed above provides another wealth of unknown Jewish music, this time for viola and piano, from the members of the Russian Jewish musical community of the turn of the century. Except for the Bloch and Krein's Ornaments, all are world-premiere recordings. Tabea Zimmerman (viola), Jascha Nemtsov (piano). Hännsler Classic CD 93.008 (Germany) 09D033 $16.98

Rachmaninov Piano Concertos - Orginal Versions

SERGEI RACHMANINOV (1873-1943): Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 1, Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 40. The first concerto was written while Rachmaninov was still a student and he followed his teachers' orders - to model the first work in a new genre on a pre-existing piece (as Aleko was based on Cavalleria Rusticana). Thus, the young composer took the Grieg concerto as a vessel and poured his own music into it and its 1892 premiere at the Conservatory was a great success. By 1917, however, Rachmaninov had long since refused to let the score and parts and set about on a wholesale revision which is the one generally performed today. The fourth concerto is a slightly different story: probably finished by the time Rachmaninov emigrated to the west in 1917, it lay unperformed and unpublished for a decade. Its overwhelming sense of despair, anxiety and fear (the Dies Irae is wound almost throughout the work) no longer resonated for the composer in the world of the U.S. in 1926 and he made huge cuts - over 100 bars - before its publication and unsuccessful Philadelphia premiere in 1927. This is the world-premiere recording of its original version. Alexander Ghindin (piano), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir Ashkenazy. Ondine ODE 977-2 (Finland) 09D034 $17.98

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Piano Music, Vol. 3 - 10 Pieces, Op. 58, 3 Sonatinas, Op. 67, 2 Rondinos, Op. 68. Dating from 1909-12, the piano pieces on this collection are in a late Romantic idiom which now and again is tinged with Impressionism. Sibelius' piano works were usually written for commercial purposes and nothing here is virtuosic (or even particularly pianistic) although the usual range of romantic moods and impressions is faithfully represented. Håvard Gimse (piano). Naxos 8.554814 (New Zealand) 09D035 $5.98

JOSEPH GUY-ROPARTZ (1864-1955): Le Miracle de Saint Nicolas for Mixed Choir, Soloists, Children's Voices, Piano, Organ and Orchestra, Psaume 136 for Mixed Choir, Organ and Orchestra, Dimance for 3 Female Voices and Orchestra, Nocturne for Mixed Choir and Orchestra, Les Vêpres sonnent for 3 Female Voices and Orchestra. This reissue of a 1994 Marco Polo recording covers thirty years in the Breton composer's career, from the Franckian Psaume 136 of 1897 which uses an organ in addition to a full orchestra in its depiction of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon to the impressionist atmosphere of the 1926 Nocturne and the limpid serenity of the 1927 Vêpres. The longest work here is the 1905 Miracle, whose innocent simplicity and luminous pastoralism contrasts with the Psalms rich polyphony. French-English texts. Vocal Soloists, Chur Régional Vittoria d'Ile de France, Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy; Michel Piquemal. Naxos 8.555656 (New Zealand) 09D036 $5.98

WILLIAM WALTON (1902-1983): String Quartet, String Quartet in A Minor. This is only the second recording of Walton's early, 1922, quartet (the first was on Chandos 10 years ago). The influence of Bartók and, especially, Berg is great here although the lyricism of the later Walton is audible alongside the inchoate atonality and the work makes the 1947 quartet, punchy and lyrical with contrasting biting sarcasm and warm expressiveness typical of the mature composer, seem almost like the work of a different composer. The Emperor Quartet. Black Box BBM 1035 (England) 09D037 $17.98

DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC (1872-1921): Complete Piano Works - En Languedoc, Cerdaña (5 Études pittoresques, Le Chant de la terre (Poème géorgique), Baigneuses au soleil (Souvenirs de Banuyls sur Mer), Les Naïades et le faune indiscret (Danse nocturne), Le Soldat de plomb (Histoire vraie en trois récits), Pipperment-get (Valse brillante de concert), Stances à Madame de Pompadour, En vacances, Valse romantique, Sous les lauriers roses ou "Soir de Carnaval sur la Côte Catalane". Recorded over the years between 1968 and 1977, only one of these three discs has ever had some sort of U.S. distribution. Séverac's lovely, evocative music is generally insipired by the people and the landscapes of his native region, the Midi, and is in a late Romantic idiom with such strong pictorial associations that Impressionism is near as well. A quote by Pierre Lalo describes Séverac's music perfectly when it speaks of it as redolent of "the pains and joys of rustic life" and that will give you a good idea of what to expect from this delightful set. 3 CDs. Mid-price. Special European Import. Aldo Ciccolini (piano). EMI 5 72372 2 (France) 09D038 $26.98

Collection musique française from ACCORD

HENRY BARRAUD (1900-1997): Symphony No. 3, ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869-1937): Piano Concerto, Bacchus et Ariane - Suite No. 2. The French know Barraud first as a musicologist (especially for his work on Berlioz) and as an administrator (music director for the ORTF radio channel from 1945-66), but Grove shows a significant body of composition as well and some collectors will recall this 1961 Vega recording of his third symphony. Its four tightly constructed movements have a rough, rugged austerity which uses polytonality, atonality (even serialism if you know where to listen) and modal lyricism to produce a sense of drama, mystery, tension and stress (not unlike much of Honegger's orchestral output) which works itself out into a finale of dynamic catharsis. The Roussel concerto is of great historical interest, dating from March 1957. Special European Import. Mid-price. Orchestre National de la RTF; Charles Munch, Claude Helffer (piano), Orchestre des Cento Soli; Serge Baudo. Accord 461 174 (France)09D039 $14.98

MAURICE OHANA (1914-1992): Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias for Speaker, Baritone, Women's Chorus and Orchestra, Sarabande for Harpsichord and Orchestra. This reissue of Club Français du Disque recordings (not bad sounding, but a bit dim) presents two works of Ohana from 1950, in which the spirit of Spanish nationalism is writ large in a fairly uncomplicated musical idiom, with less of the complexity which became a trademark of his music in later years. There are many references to folk and chant in the large-scale cantata, which sets texts of Lorca in an elegy for a famous bullfighter and cultural hero. Brooding and somber, a work of shadows of the intensity that can only be cast by the Mediterranean sun, not only is this a work of powerful national character, but a major, if untypical, work in the composer's output in its own right. Special European Import. Mid-price. Spanish-French texts. Mauricio Molho (speaker), Bernard Cottret (baritone), Denyse Gouarne (harpsichord), Orchestre des Cento Soli; Ataulfo Argenta. Accord 461 743 (France) 09D040 $14.98

DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): Symphony No. 3, for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 271 "Te Deum", Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 228, Divertissement en 3 parties for Wind Quintet, Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 255, Les quatre saisons: Concertino de printemps for Violin and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 135, Concertino d'automne for 2 Pianos and 8 Instruments, Op. 309, Concertino d'été for Viola and 9 Instruments, Op. 310, Concertino d'hiver for Trombone and String Orchestra, Op. 327. A rich collection of historically important recordings: the "Four Seasons" (1958) and violin concerto (1967) are old Philips recordings while the remainder are Vega records from 1961. Although not all written at the same time, the "Seasons" (1934, two in 1951, and 1953) were intended as a group and their very varied orchestration (from chamber orchestra to eight instruments as accompaniment) and variety of emotional and instrumental colors make for a delightful 45 minutes listening. The symphony and second violin concerto both come from 1946 but the former is a work of victory while the latter seethes with agitation and despair. Special European Import. 2 CDs. Mid-price. Ina Marika, Geneviève Joy (pianos), Chorale Elisabeth Brasseur, Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire; Darius Milhaud, Ensemble instrumental à vents de Paris, Claire Bernard (violin), Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Edouard van Remoortel, Szymon Goldberg (violin), Ernst Wallfisch (viola), Geneviève Joy & Jacqueline Bonneau (pianos), Maurice Suzan (trombone), Soloists ensemble from the Orchestre des Concerts Lamoreaux; Darius Milhaud. Accord 461 767 (France) 09D041 $24.98

FLORENT SCHMITT (1870-1958): Sonate libre en deux parties enchainées for Violin and Piano, Op. 68, Ombres, Op. 64 for Piano. Schmitt's aesthetic owed more to Wagner and Richard Strauss than to his French Impressionist coevals and it would be difficult to find anything particularly Impressionistic in most of his works. These works, both written between 1917 and 1920 and thus, under the influence of the catastrophic Great War, are direct, expressively emotional and sound like no other French composer of Schmitt's generation. The sonata is new to CD - a 1959 Musidisc recording - while the piano recording (Accord) dates from 1984. Special European Import. Mid-price. Jean Fournier (violin), Ginette Doyen (piano), Werner Bärtschi (piano). Accord 461 759 (France) 09D042 $14.98

ALBÉRIC MAGNARD (1865-1914): Violin Sonata, Op. 13, 3 Pièces for Piano, En Dieu, mon espérance, Suite dans le style ancien, Op. 2 for Piano Four Hands. Unavailable for several years since Accord's demise as an independent label, this 1983 recording brought collectors a large-scale (42 minutes) late-Romantic work from 1901 of great technical difficulty for the soloist and a magnificent sweep of moods and emotions, from the fervent and passionate to a smiling resignation at the end. Its couplings are early, enjoyable but rather uncharacteristic piano pieces from the mid 1880s. Special European Import. Mid-price. Robert Zimansky (violin), Christoph Keller (piano), Katharina Weber (second pianist). Accord 461 760 (France) 09D043 $14.98

ROBERT CASADESUS (1899-1972): Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 9, Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 34, Suite for 2 Violins, Op. 39, Hommage à Chausson for Violin and Piano, Op. 51. These are pianist/composer Casadesus' complete works for violin: the first sonata from 1927 (its 10-minute length more sonatina-like) is freely modal and fairly chromatic with likeable themes and tight construction while the pianist in Casadesus comes out strongly in the virtuosic piano part. The second (1941) was dedicated to the composer's frequent recital partner, Zino Francescatti, and revels in virtuosity although its dreamy adagio may be the most striking movement. The 1944 Suite (in the form of the baroque suite) celebrates Fauré's centenary with six movements of Gallic charm and gravity while the 1955 Hommage is another dedication to Francescatti which uses the musical letters of Chausson's name for an eight-minute virtuosic romp. Fritz Gearhart (violin), John Owings (piano), Kathryn Lucktenberg (second violin). Koch International Classics 7528 (U.S.A.) 09D044 $16.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): Preludes for Sinfonietta, Vol. 2 - To the Seagulls and the Cormorants, Op. 174/6, To the Calm Sea, Op. 187/9, To a Pine Tree, Op. 164/1, To the Pollution of Nature, Op. 180/7, To a Willow Tree, Op. 170/4, Sonata for Trombone and Piano, Op. 172a, Music with Horn for Violin,Horn and Piano, Op. 148. Like the five from the first volume of Preludes, here are more evocative, flowing works which are not so much miniature tone-poems - musical descriptions - as musical metaphysics, suggesting a mood, a concept but also being that mood or concept and, thus, standing alone, not really preludes to anything else in the strict sense of the title. Standing out is To the Pollution of Nature which is utterly different from its nine brethren in its churning string parts which march inexorably to a brutal conclusion. The two 10-minute-long chamber pieces, seemingly unassuming, are typical of Holmboe in their ability to reveal more to the listener upon each hearing. Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen; Giordano Bellincampi, Jesper Juul Sørensen (trombone), Thomas Ekman (horn), Anne Mete Stæhr (piano). Marco Polo/DaCapo 8.224124 (Denmark) 09D045 $14.98

LEIF KAYSER (1919-2001): Kirkeruder, Hymne til hertug Knud, Concerto per Organo. A prolific composer with much sacred music to his credit (he was in fact a priest for 15 years), Kayser seems to have a serious and individual voice in these striking organ works. There is a certain austerity to his language, which seldom approaches Messiaenic opulence, but the sense of devotional sincerity is common to the two composers, and other compositional elements will also strike some listeners as familiar. A great deal of this music is based on traditional forms, even when not actually incorporating hymn tunes and plainchant, from which it may be deduced that it is based firmly in tonality, though the composer is not afraid of striking dissonances. Again as one might expect, the polyphonic writing is ingenious and takes full advantage of the potential of the organ. The mastery of the instrument is very apparent, and the virtuosity of the concerto for solo organ provides a thrilling experience. There are said to be symphonies and many other instrumental works, and on the basis of this CD they will be well worth investigating as and when they become available. Jørgen Ellegård Frederiksen (organ). Marco Polo/ DaCapo 8.224167 (Denmark) 09D046 $14.98

ARSHAK IKILIKIAN (b.1948): Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra, The Courageous Nazar - Ballet in One Act, Superpulse for Percussion and Computer, Success for Violin and Computer, Crash for Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Computer. Many composers can be said to have evolved their musical styles over the course of their careers - some, like Schoenberg, Krenek or Rochberg, embracing very different vocabularies at different stages in their development. But there can be few examples as drastic as that of Ikilikian, whose early orchestral works sound like big, muscular Soviet-era Armenian works as one might expect from a student of Khachaturian. Then he moved to Denmark, and appears to have reinvented himself completely, embracing the computer as a compositional tool, and introducing colliding elements of the avant-garde, electronica (sometimes of a suspiciously non-'classical' variety) and pre-romantic musical models (such as some of the music played by the solo violin in Success which pits the violin against antagonistic elements in the electronic score in a deliberately allegorical piece of story-telling). The common element is that all the pieces are warmly appealing, however diverse their technical methodology, and this valuable disc provides an enjoyable cross-section of what would appear to be a most individual uvre. Nairy Grigorian (piano), Armenian National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Gevork Muradian, Thomas Sandberg (percussion), Birgitte Bærentzen Pihl (violin), Fritz Berthelsen (clarinets). Marco Polo/DaCapo 8.224181 (Denmark) 09D047 $14.98

HANS PETER STUBBE TEGLBJÆRG (b.1963): Iliou Persis, MORTEN CARLSEN (b.1949): Iliad 5-8, JØRGEN TELLER (b.1958): Four Encounters, HANS SYDOW (b.1968): Entropy 1, GUNNAR MØLLER PEDERSEN (b.1943): Iliad 17-20, WAYNE SIEGEL (b.1953): Burning River. In 1999, a reading of Professor Otto Steen Due's new translation of the Iliad into Danish was read over a period of six weeks in live 'performance' to celebrate its publication. T he Danish National Arts Foundation commissioned six computer-music works to be played on these occasions, one for each week. Given the bloodthirsty and violent nature of Homer's epic, it is scarcely to be wondered at that these sound-sculptures seem to evoke the teeming violence and brutality of the ancient world and its terrifying heroes. Sometimes a mechanistic panting as of biomechanical wild beasts seems to be suggested; at others, processed sounds seem to allude onomatapically to elements in the story. The vocabulary of computer-generated and transmogrified sound is given full rein here, and the results are not easy listening, but viewed not so much as pieces of music but as scene-setting to generate the appropriate mood in which to listen to tales of antic cruelty and superhuman passions, they are remarkably successful. Computer Music. 2 CDs. Marco Polo/DaCapo 8.224198-99 (Denmark) 09D048 $29.98

URMAS SISASK (b.1960): Starry Sky Cycle, Op. 52 - Southern Skies. In 1993, Finlandia released the first volume of this Estonian composer's astronomically inspired cycle composed between 1980 and 1987. Those 29 pieces had a magical sonority derived from Debussy and Scriabin where timbre allied with rhythm to create ecstatic ruminations on the constellations above us all. Melody mixed with primitive ostinato to produce a sense of timeless ritual which was both enthralling and compelling. This addition to the cycle, recorded in1998 but only released this year, has 26 pieces which last 20 minutes longer than the 29 of the first set which is explained by a bit more relaxation into a "mini tone-poem" state of mind. Almost everything here is inspired by Australian Aboriginal astronomically-inspired mythology (with the exception of a set based on the Greek myth of the Argonauts). If you know the first cycle, you will like this one just as much; if you don't know either but love phantasmagorically colorful piano music, this is a good place to start. And - there are still 33 constellations left up there... Special European Import. Lauri Väinmaa (piano). Finlandia 8573-84537-2 (Finland) 09D049 $21.98

PEHR HENRIK NORDGREN (b.1944): Symphony No. 2, Op. 74, Symphony No. 4, Op. 98. Nordgren is a very eclectic composer. Among other things he has been known to use dodecaphony, Ligetian Field technique, free-tonality, minimalism and folk music from his native Finland as well as Japan in his works. The result is some very dramatic music with a sense of timelessness and adamantine structure, which makes it seem almost geological in character. Also, these symphonies have that dark foreboding quality so often found in Scandinavian music. In this regard, they may occasionally remind you of Sibelius in one of his more pensive moods. This is the type of music that no matter how many times you hear it, you will always discover new thematic elements, structural associations and emotional surprises. Excellent performances and superb sound make for a challenging listening experience. Special European Import. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Juha Kangas. Finlandia 3984-29720-2 (Finland) 09D050 $21.98

PEHR HENRIK NORDGREN (b.1944): Concerto No. 3 for Cello and String Orchestra, Op. 82, Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra, Op. 92, Concerto for Horn and Strings, Op. 95. Nordgren acknowledges the profound influence of Shostakovich on his compositional style, though with the exception of occasional deliberate quotes (like the potentially copyright-infringing phrase lifted complete from the opening of the 12th Symphony that separates the slow section of the last movement of the cello concerto from the final impassioned allegro) this is more an influence of mood than of actual material. The brooding atmosphere and long phrases that one associates with Shostakovich, especially the slow movements, definitely have their counterparts here, though the presence of Ligetian clusters and dodecaphony, as well as other compositional techniques that would have been frowned upon under the Soviet regime, form part of the vocabulary of the compositional autodidact and highly original voice that is very much a part of what Nordgren is all about. Concertos are important to the composer - he has written about twenty - and these three were all written in close succession in the mid 1990s. A common feature is that the soloist occupies center-stage almost thoughout, with a great deal of the narrative content of these highly dramatic works being carried by the virtuoso solo material. Special European Import. Marko Ylönen (cello), John-Edward Kelly (sax), Sören Hermansson (horn), Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra; Juha Kangas. Finlandia 3984-23392-2 (Finland) 09D051 $21.98

BRONIUS KUTAVICIUS (b.1932): Last Pagan Rites for Choir, Organ and Horns, Epitaphium temporum pereunti for Chorus and Orchestra. Trance-minimalism writ large, these two works will appeal to anyone who enjoys Arvo Pärt and has wondered what the same idea carried to more grandiose, less ascetic extremes might sound like. The music is basically made up of small cells, which in themselves are (or sound) related to plainchant and traditional church music, and these are built up in overlapping layers to produce vast washes of consonant sound with a mesmerising effect, over which solo lines (of a very recognisably central-European character) are floated. The resultant whole is of a beautiful and mystical character - not complex musically, but shimmering with fascinating texture and escaping any potential charge of excessive simplicity through the emotional thrust of the music and its sense of connection with antiquity and spiritual profundity. Leopoldas Digrys (organ), Choir of the Vilnius Ciurlionis Art School; Romas Grazinis, Kaunas State Choir, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra; Robertas Servinikas. Ondine ODE 972-2 (Finland) 09D052 $17.98

OLLI MUSTONEN (b.1967): Triple Concerto for 3 Violins and Orchestra, Nonets Nos. 1 & 2, Petite Suite for Cello and String Orchestra, Frogs Dancing on Water Lilies for Cello and String Orchestra. This is going to sound a bit glib, and it isn't at all intended to be dismissive, but if Sibelius had felt moved to write a series of pieces in homage to Vivaldi, Bach and Purcell, the results might well have emerged sounding quite a lot like this. Now, Sibelius was one of the very greatest composers of the 20th century, so this amounts to a major accolade - and since he never actually did anything of the kind, these works cannot legitimately be accused of unoriginality. Other romantic models are quite noticeable too - Bruckner, for instance (and the Bloch Concerti Grossi also come to mind). One interesting point is that none of the influences has anything much to do with the piano, which given Mustonen's parallel career as pianist is perhaps as surprising as it is vaguely gratifying. Tonal and with occasional suggestions of minimalism (but the connection between baroque accompanimental figurations and minimalism has alwyas been there, as Michael Nyman, tongue firmly in cheek, was demonstrating years ago), these are fine and highly appealing works with a great deal to recommmend them. Pekka & Jaakko Kuusisto, Elisabeth Batiashvili (violins), Marti Rousi (cello), Tapiola Sinfonietta; Olli Mustonen. Ondine ODE 974-2 (Finland) 09D053 $17.98

LEONARDO BALADA (b.1933): Piano Concerto No. 3, Concierto Mágico for Guitar and Orchestra, Music for Flute and Orchestra. Unlike his earlier works, these contain Spanish folk elements, and call to mind de Falla and Turina: but, make no mistake about it, Balada has his own unique style. His fast movements are very mercurial, and feature brilliantly orchestrated, staccato passages. His slow movements are quite meditative and even mysterious in places due to his use of medieval, Andalusian music from Southern Spain and Northern Africa. The guitar concerto is in the spirit of Andalusian gypsy music, with the guitar sounding almost flamenco-like at times. The work for flute features a Catalan folk melody, and attempts to recreate the sound of folk instruments from that area. If you like Spanish music you'll love this release. Rosa Torres-Pardo (piano), Eliot Fisk (guitar), Magdalena Martínez (flute), Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra; José Serebrier. Naxos 8.555039 (New Zealand) 09D054 $5.98

EMMANUEL NUNES (b.1941): Quodlibet for 6 Percussionists, 28 Instruments and Orchestra. This piece was first performed in 1991 but its twelve sections use various earlier works by Nunes dating back as far as the mid 60s as fodder for what is spatial music - conceived for a particular venue and using three different and differently located groups of musicians. The result is a series of constantly shifting blocks of sound ranging from diaphanous with rippling percussion to thunderous with hammering percussion. Color is everything and the juxtaposition of instrumental groupings and imaginative use of all the instruments, not just the percussion, makes for the sort of "sound happening" which might appeal to collectors of Ligeti's and Xenakis' orchestral works. Pulse Percussion Ensemble, ensemble modern, Gulbenkian Orchestra Lisbon; Kasper de Roo & Emilio Pomàrico. Montaigne MO 782143 (France) 09D055 $13.98

IANNIS XENAKIS (1922-2001): La Légende d'eer for 8-channel tape. Composed for the 1978 opening of the Pompidou Centre and written specifically for the size, space and acoustics of the pavilion in which it was performed (itself designed by Xenakis - based on hyperbolic paraboloids if you want to know), this work takes its name from the episode from the final pages of Plato's Republic although other inspirations were Pascal's contemplation of Infinity, Hermes Trismegistus, Jean-Paul Richter and a magazine article on supernovas (each of these texts is printed in full in the booklet). The work itself is violent, aggressive, intimidating and, literally, irritating. Its single, unbroken arch begins and ends in scurrying insect sounds which surround a kind of mythic journey through various aspects of an apocalyptic inferno. Sure to separate the men from the boys and to drive the neighbors stark raving mad! Electronic Studio Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln. Montaigne MO 782144 (France) 09D056 $13.98

GYÖRGY KURTÁG (b.1926): String Quartet No. 1, Op. 1, Hommage à Mihály András - 12 Mikroludes for String Quartet, Op. 13 Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánsky, Op. 28, WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1993): String Quartet, SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b.1931): String Quartet No. 2. Kurtág's works are made up of small sections in which a wide variety of techniques may be encountered, including much insect-like scurrying and gestures in the extreme high registers; there is nonetheless a feeling of tonality pervading much of this music, however fragmentary and aphoristic it might at first appear. The Lutoslawski is a rare bird indeed - a work based on aleatoric principles (the four parts are basically unconnnected, and there can be no full score) which sounds as a cohesive whole, and this for nearly half an hour. Such is the strength of the material that it brings to mind models from the classical and romantic eras. The Gubaidulina is a 10-minute arch from silence into silence, with long sustained notes forming its architectural foundations, around which fluid elaborations are built. Arditti String Quartet. Montaigne MO 782147 (France) 09D057 $13.98

MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987): Words and Music for 2 Speakers, 2 Flutes, Vibraphone, Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello. Feldman and Beckett might have been made for each other, both with their oblique and ambiguous approach to meaning and fragmentary and pointillist techniques of expression. With subtle and slight interjections by the instrumental ensemble, two narrators intone Beckett's portentous, and often resonant and praeternaturally meaningful texts, and in both words and music, sound and silence achieve equal status and importance. Omar Ebrahim (voice - croak), Stephen Lind (voice - words), Ensemble Recherche. Montaigne MO 782145 (France) 09D058 $13.98

WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): Morphonie for Orchestra with Solo String Quartet, Klangbeschreibung I for 3 Orchestra Groups, Klangbeschreibung II for 4 Women's Voices, 5 Brass Instruments and 6 Percussions, Klangbeschreibung III for Large Orchestra. These two works demonstrate very clearly the impact wich Rihm had on the European contemporary music scene when he first exploded into prominence as a very young composer full of radical ideas in the 1970s. Morphonie employs the compositional techniques that one might have expected to hear in Donaueschingen at the time, but in keeping with Rihm's philosophy of presenting emotion in music no matter the vocabulary used, the piece sounds like a perfectly natural progression in a tradition traceable from Mahler to Berg and perhaps then to Pettersson, and indeed it is a powerful and moving experience in precisely the way these romanticism-based composers would have recognised. Thirteen years later, the massive tripartite Klangbescheibung exhibits the composer's evolving mastery of large and complex forms and instrumental media, framing a central movement of essential economy, setting fragments of a desolate text by Nietzsche, with two huge orchestral movements, economically and sculpturally scored, with less Sturm und Drang than the earlier work, but no less extrovert emotional content. 2 CDs. Gabrieli Percussion Quartet, Vocal Soloists, Southwest German Radio Orchestra; Ernest Bour, Michael Gielen. Hänssler Classic Faszination Musik CD 93.101 (Germany) 09D059 $28.98

WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): Deus Passus: Passions-Stücke nach Lukas. Rihm's newest work chooses a genre whose history stretches from Schütz to Penderecki and he manages to mix evocations of Handel and Hindemith with his (acknowledged) influences of Feldman, Lachenmann and Nono. More fragmentary in its treatment of the Passion than Penderecki, Rihm is also cooler, shunning pathos although the music moves convincingly between expressiveness and austerity. The very brevity of hammering percussion outbursts enhances their impact. Jarring in its juxtaposition, the work ends with a setting of Celan's Tenebrae which does full justice to the angry sorrow and gravity of the texts. 2 CDs. German-English texts. Juliane Banse (soprano), Iris Vermillion (mezzo), Cornelia Kallisch (contralto), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Andreas Schmidt (baritone), Gächinger Kantorei, Stuttgart Bach Collegium; Helmuth Rilling. Hänssler Classic Exclusive Series CD 98.397 (Germany) 09D060 $28.98

ANDY PAPE (b.1955): Leonora Christine Dronning af Blaataarn. This is the story of a Danish princess of the 17th century, who went from a life of immense privilege to that of a prisoner for 20 years. With three characters only, Pape's opera explores the play of personalities and power struggles between the intelligent and manipulative princess, an uneducated peasant girl who beomes her attendant and the jailer, who is ostensibly in the greates position of power in the situation, but may in fact not be. The two women's parts were written for two very different voices - classically trained operatic mezzo-soprano, and cabaret-style 'popular' singer - which heightens the difference between the two characters. Musically, many styles are in evidence in the manner popularly known as post-modern, with suggestions of early music (in character and instrumentation), folk music, and 20th-century tonality of various kinds (Shostakovich and recent Maxwell Davies) as well as strident music-theatre (earlier Maxwell Davies). So the work is a compelling and approachable modern opera, certainly more readily accessible and 'popular' than the operatic works of Schoenberg and his immediate followers, though unmistakably of our time and never lapsing into 'easy' simplicity. 2 CDs. Danish-English libretto. Edith Guillaume (mezzo), Maria Stenz (contralto), Jens Bruno Hansen (bass), instrumental ensemble conducted by Kaare Hansen. Marco Polo/DaCapo 8.224171-72 (Denmark) 09D061 $29.98

MAURICIO KAGEL (b.1931): 5 Stücke der Windrose for Salon Orchestra, Phantasiestück for Flute and Piano with Accompaniment. The "5 compass pieces" - for Salon orchestra, yet! - come as near to 'light music' as anything from a Darmstadt composer is ever likely to. Disturbingly tonal-sounding, though in actual fact, not, the pieces take off from the idea of 'ethnic' folk musics, but seen from different perspectives than that usually associated with the term. So there are tangos and tarantellas, South American and Spanish rhythms, "African" drumming, and so on - but all transmogrified into an imaginary georgraphy which is all Kagel's own. As is far from uncommon with this composer, there is a distinct humorous element, as well as underlying shades of the sinister (as puppet shows can be both absurd and horrific simultaneously). The Phantasiestück starts off innocuously enough, but soon reveals itself to consist of two distinct layers; the foreground flute and piano piece, and the 'accompaniment" of an instrumental group (which in performance may actually be hidden from the audience), which sometimes seems to be participating in the performance, sometimes trying to disrupt it with irrelevant and irreverent comments, and sometimes simply doing something altogether unrelated, in a kind of World Music gone mad. Govert Jurriaanse (flute), Marja Bon (piano), Schönberg Ensemble; Reinbert de Leeuw. Montaigne MO 782140 (France) 09D062 $13.98

MAURICE OHANA (1914-1992): Si le jour paraît, Cadran lunaire, Tiento. This disc collects together Ohana's complete music for guitar - that is, the deeply resonant and powerful-sounding 10-string guitar, the sonorous properties of which lend themselves ideally to the composer's vocabulary of contrasts and abrupt juxtaposition of light and shade. At times violent, even suggesting screaming rather than singing, this is guitar music that is closer to flamenco and narrative accompaniment than to the genteel classical guitar to which we are more accustomed in the concert hall. Indeed, there is the sense of a dramatic monologue, spoken in expostulatory tones by a storytelling actor. At times the guitar is used as a percussion instrument (though not in a gratuitously 'extended' fashion); at others, microtonal glissandi and clusters extend its vocabulary while remaining very recognisably in the southern Mediterranean tradition of the instrument. Stephan Schmidt (10-string guitar). Montaigne MO 782138 (France) 09D063 $13.98

MAGNUS LINDBERG (b.1958): Clarinet Quintet, BENT SØRENSEN (b.1958): Angels' Music for String Quartet, KAIJA SAARIAHO (b.1952): Nymphea (Jardin secret III) for String Quartet and Electronics, JUKKA TIENSUU (b.1948): Arsenic and Old Lace for Microtonal Harpsichord and String Quartet. This is a really interesting disc - the superb Arditti Quartet augmented by clarinet, electronics, microtonally tuned harpsichord (a really strange sound), and on their own, in four works that could hardly be more different from each other. Tiensuu uses the strange temperament (24 pitches to the octave) to produce a weird dreamlike commentary on Baroque performance practices. Odd, hallucinatory textures also characterise Saariaho's work, in which string sounds and electronics seamlessly intertwine. Sorensen uses the quartet in fragmentary melodies, amid a shimmering aura of sound that sounds electronic, but isn't, while Lindberg's typically energetic and virtuosic piece is the closest thing here to a conventional piece of chamber music. Kari Krikku (clarinet), Jukka Tiensuu (harpsichord), Arditti String Quartet. Montaigne MO 782141 (France) 09D064 $13.98

CONLON NANCARROW (b.1912): String Quartet No. 1, ELLIOTT CARTER (b.1908): Elegy, CHARLES IVES (1874-1954): Scherzo, JAY ALAN YIM (b.1958): Autumn Rhythm, MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987): Structures, ALVIN A. LUCIER (b.1931): Fragments pour cordes, LA MONTE YOUNG (b.1935): On Remembering a Naiad, JOHN CAGE (1912-1992): Four. Not only is the large cross-section of American quartet music on this disc fascinating in its own right, it is also highly instructive to hear music by well-known 20th-century figures which doesn't do what they are famous for at all. So Nancarrow, Mr Player-Piano, is represented by his three-movement 1945, rather Bartókian, and not very experimental quartet. Carter's lovely and haunting Elegy could be passed off - sort of - as a work by an English composer of the Moeran type (no, really!). The Ives is more the sort of thing one might expect, though light and amusing in mood - all accents and cross-rhythms and quick-fire popular songs for all of about a minute and a half. The Lucier is spiky and dissonant, the Cage slow and meditative, almost Feldmanesque (in a way that the early Feldman piece is too, showing how early on Feldman developed his pointillistic style of string writing), and so on. A disc as educational as it is enjoyable. Arditti String Quartet. Montaigne MO 782139 (France) 09D065 $13.98

ERNST KRENEK (1900-1991): Violin Concerto, Op. 29, Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 140, Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra, Op. 124. These three concerti are strikingly contrasted, as one might anticipate from a composer whose output forms almost a history of 20th-century music in itself. The first violin concerto is rather romantic, and relatively light in both texture and mood. The second, of 30 years later, is a work of larger gestures (and more extravagant orchestration), and seems more closely allied to the Second Viennese School (especially Berg's concerto) than its earlier cousin. By this stage in his career, Krenek's use of dodecaphony was so completely absorbed into his personal vocabulary that it is really far from apparent exactly what techniques are used to produce the effects in this impressive, quasi-symphonic canvas. The smaller Double Concerto uses reduced forces and strict and elegant compositional principles in a work permeated throughout with reminiscences of Austrian folk rhythms. Peter Rosenberg (violin), Gabriel Rosenberg (piano), Bamberg Symphony; Florian Merz. Koch Schwann 3-6408-2 (Germany) 09D066 $16.98

EDGARD VARÈSE (1883-1965): Arcana, Octandre, Offrandes for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, Intégrales, Déserts. It is a sign of the times when a Varese collection appears on Naxos at budget-price; one must consider the French/American avant-gardist as just another figure in the musical history of the 20th century one supposes! From our vantage point we can see how many of the works here which demonstrate Varèse's novel developments in the field of rhythm, form and timbre and which feature richly colored ensembles of winds and percussion, acted as a model for such composers as Stockhausen, Xenakis and Birtwistle. How long until the first Xenakis collection on Naxos? Maryse Castets (soprano), Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Christopher Lyndon-Gee. Naxos 8.554820 (New Zealand) 09D067 $5.98

TORU TAKEMITSU (1930-1996): Romance, Distance de Fée, Hika, Piano Pieces for Children, Rain Tree Sketch, From Far Beyond Chrysanthemums and November Fog, Orion, Litany, Rain Tree Sketch II, Between Tides. These mostly brief chamber works, for piano trio or elements drawm therefrom, perhaps form one of the best introductions to Takemitsu's delicate and subtle musical world available on disc. Arranged in chronological order, they reveal the fact that his earlier compositions were most influenced by western music - especially the obvious examples of Messiaen and Debussy - and it is only rather later that suggestions of Japanese music become more apparent. The earliest couple of pieces here, and the two small children's pieces, are really rather good Debussy and Messiaen; the works from the 80s and 90s are extremely good Takemitsu, and the haunting cello and piano nocturne Orion alone is worth the price of the disc (at 12 minutes, one of the most extended works here). Fujita Piano Trio. ASV DCA 1120 (England) 09D068 $16.98

MARK ADAMO (b.ca.1968): Little Women. This is a very good example of what contemporary opera can be at its best, assuming that the basic tenets of the operatic tradition (storytelling, the intertwining of the psychologies of interesting characters, strongly characterised vocal parts with extensive and grateful material to sing) are to be adhered to. This piece breaks no particularly new ground musically, but the composer has chosen an ideal subject for operatric treatment, allowing for music of different character (incorporating different techniques of the 20th century, within a predominantly tonal framework), and the interplay of the principal characters' voices in a traditional structure of solo arias, duos and other combinations, commented on by the skillfull counterpoint of orchestral textures, now light and folklike, now romantically tragic, now as much a part of the narrative as the text. So this is a 'new' opera that continues the tradition that may be traced from Mozart through the 19th-century Italians to Janacek and the 20th-century Scandinavian tonalists (Sallinen especially), and if this is an idea that appeals to you, you won't go wrong with this one. Libretto included. 2 CDs. Stephanie Novacek, Chad Shelton, Margaret Lloyd, Houston Grand Opera Orchestra; Patrick Summers. Ondine ODE 988-2D (Finland) 09D069 $35.98