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Symphony in B Minor

Piano Concerto No. 3

EDWARD JOSEPH COLLINS (1886-1951): Piano Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, Symphony in B Minor "Nos habebit humus". BRUCKNER SOUND-ALIKE ALERT! Given that the 1942 piano concerto has the scale and feeling of Rachmaninov or even Tchaikovsky, we were startled (very pleasantly so!) to find that the symphony, Collins' only attempt at the genre and dating from 1929, joins the increasing list of symphonies by such composers as Richard Wetz, Louis Glass, Paul von Klenau and Martin Scherber who pay homage to the massive edifices of Anton Bruckner. The concerto keeps the soloist almost constantly busy throughout its four movements and 39 minutes and is a welcome addition to the romantic piano concerto repertoire. Even more remarkable than the fact that Collins is being rediscovered at all is the list inside the booklet of a projected 8 (!) further volumes of his music to come out on the Albany label between now and 2005. Already released back in 1997 was an orchestral disc containing the Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra in A Minor (actually the second concerto), Mardi Gras, Tragic Overture and Valse Elegante. William Wolfram (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Marin Alsop. Albany TROY 625 (U.S.A.) 09F001 $16.98

Preparations are underway to produce a CD of Xaver Scharwenka's Symphony in C, Op 60, Overture in G, Andante Religioso, and two pieces from his opera Mataswintha. A very respected label known for their excellent recordings of forgotten Romantic orchestral music is trying to make this recording possible. The conductor and orchestra have been selected and the orchestral parts obtained. Financing, however, is a serious problem and we are looking for individuals who would like to help sponsor this project.

Anyone interested should contact Bob Feigelson at 650-723-4007 or feigel@soe.stanford.edu

NOTE: We thought that this was going to be a very good month with a lot of very attractive titles and there were a lot of them but, unfortunately, around two dozen of them did not arrive in time to be included. Well, maybe next month...

ALEXANDER TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977): Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 26, Piano Concerto No. 4 "Fantaisie", Op. 78, Symphonic Prayer, Op. 93, Magna mater, Op. 41. This series continues with two early and two late works. The second concerto (1923) is a single-movement work of 17 minutes whose personality is that of untroubled insousiance with some of the percussive qualities of Prokofiev and the more obvious influences of such "Ecole de Paris" composers as Ravel, Stravinsky and Honegger. From four years later, Magna mater is a nine-minute orgiastic crescendo which begins with transparent woodwinds and works its way up to an ecstatic climax (with a section for solo percussion along the way). The fourth concerto (1947) is from Tcherepnin's "Oriental" period, full of pentatonic melodies, delicately scored but also with a firm sense of drama. Actually a set of three tone poems with piano obliggato, it tells three stories from Chinese folklore. Symphonic Prayer (1959) is a more austere, seven-minute piece with liturgical qualities if not actual content. Noriko Ogawa (piano), Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Lan Shui. BIS CD-1247 (Sweden) 09F002 $17.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1986): Chamber Concerto No. 8 (Sinfonia Concertante), Op. 38, Chamber Concerto No. 10 (Wood, Brass and Gut), Op. 40, Concerto giocondo e severo, Op. 132, Ballet Suite from The Ill-Tempered Turk, Op. 32b. The two chamber concertos have appeared as part of Dacapo's complete cycle (these are the only two which do not have soloistic elements) and for those who have not been collecting that cycle, this is a good sampler of Holmboe's often polyphonic, always imaginatively constructed work with the small orchestral forces he chose for the series. The Concerto giocondo (1977) is part of the series in all but name and number - a 10-minute exercise in transparent orchestration and a genially optimistic character. The ballet suite comes from an extensive score (1942-44) for a work which was never staged and consists of five scenes (19 minutes) of very vivid and colorfully orchestrated music which does credit to the exoticism suggested by its title. Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes. BIS CD-917 (Sweden) 09F003 $17.98

LADISLAV VYCPÁLEK (1882-1969): Czech Requiem (Death and Redemption) for Soprano, Contralto, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 24, OTMAR MÁCHA (b.1922): Variations on a Theme and Death of Jan Rychlík for Orchestra. Dating from the dark days of 1940, Vycpálek's Requiem was his third large-scale sacred cantata and its religious imagery has clear connotations with the hope of salvation and future freedom for Czechoslovakia. It can also be seen as a huge vocal symphony: its four movements (lasting 96 minutes) correspond to those of a symphony with the first (Vanity of Vanities) using texts from Job and Ecclesiastes to establish the transitoriness of life. The Day of Wrath is its scherzo - an awe-inspiring series of fugues or fugal sections on the Dies Irae which leads to Light in Darkness, the slow movement which sets a psalm which contains the seeds of hope in music of elegiac lyricism. The finale (He is Come to Save the World) is the most extended movement, setting various New Testament texts involving Christ's mission as messiah. Vycpálek writes in a predominantly diatonic, modal style with much polyphony and modernity shows through principally in the frequent use of polytonality. This work probably deserves to be on the shelves of anyone who owns the Glagolitic Mass and Martinu's Field Mass 2 CDs. Czech-English texts. Mariana ¤eháková (soprano), Marie Mrázová (contralto), Teodor ·rubaÞ (baritone), Prague Philharmonic Choir, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Karel Anãerl. Supraphon Karel Ancerl Gold Edition SU 3681-2 (Czech Republic) 09F004 $21.98

Bohuslav Martinu° (1890-1959): Orchestral Suites from the Operas Julietta, Theatre Behind the Gate and Comedy on the Bridge, Le Départ - Symphonic Interlude from the Opera The Three Wishes, Saltarello from the Opera Mirandolina. Supraphon is very good at this sort of thing, having provided a similar service to Janácek's operas. There is some very unusual material here, the 1936 Theatre Behind the Gate being a commedia dell'arte whose whole first act is a ballet mime, from which this 22-minute, five-movement suite was excerpted. Although Julietta is only a year later, its surrealist plot produces music more in the style which one would recognize as post-World War II Martinu. The remaining three items are not excerpts - just existing instrumental segments from their operas. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Václav Neumann, Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra; Frantiek Jílek. Supraphon SU 3742-2 (Czech Republic) 09F005 $10.98

ARAM KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978): Violin Sonata, Elegy (transcr. V. Mikhailovsky), Dance, Song-Poem, Dance No. 1, From Gayaneh: Lullaby (transcr. V. Mikhailovsky), Nuneh Variation (transcr. L. Feigin), Ayesha's Dance, Sabre Dance (both transcr. Heifetz), From Spartacus: Dance of Aegina (Transcr. K. Mostras), Grande Adagio (transcr. V. Mikhailovsky) Nocturne from Masquerade. Seven of the twelve works here are claimed as world premiere recordings. That's not actually true since much of what is here is also on a 1999 Edition Hera recording from Germany (which we'll offer if we can get enough copies - it also includes the solo Sonata-Monologue), they are mostly transcriptions of famous movements from ballets (although the Dance No. 1 of 1925, one of the composer's earliest compositions, already shows the familiar mixture of Armenian folk music and classical form which was to characterize his mature music) except for the two-movement, 16-minute sonata of 1932 which is a rather freely rhapsodic piece whose origins are betrayed by characteristic rhythms here and there. Hideko Udagawa (violin), Boris Berezovsky (piano). Koch International Classics 7571 (U.S.A.) 09F006 $16.98

GEIRR TVEITT (1908-1981): A Hundred Folk-Tunes from Hardanger, Op. 151 - Suites Nos. 4 "Wedding Suite" and No. 5 "Troll Tunes". This marvelously inventive, often wildly strange-sounding music was released by Naxos at budget-price also quite recently. We offer this for those of you who are collecting BIS' Tveitt series. There is a small bonus in the inclusion of the first version of Haringol from the Suite No. 4. Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Ole Kristian Ruud. BIS CD-1227 (Sweden) 09F007 $17.98

ALBERTO GINASTERA (1916-1983): Glosses sobre temes de Pau Casals, Op. 48, Pampeana No. 3, Op. 24, Overture to the Creole "Faust", Op. 9, Dances from Estancia, Op. 8a. Somehow, this recording, made in Berlin in 1994, has made its way to Argentina and back to England to be released only now and, though even its most unusual item, the Glosses (from 1976) has at least one other recording, it appears to be out-of-print and this 21-minute work is a marvellous example of its composer's late style in which folk music melds with some avant-garde inspired contrapuntal techniques to produce a virtuosic work which could be called Ginastera's "Concerto for Orchestra". Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Garbiel Castagna. Chandos 10152 (England) 09F008 $16.98

EINAR ENGLUND (1916-1999): Piano ConcertoNo. 1, Piano Concerto No. 2, Epinikia. As we know from the Naxos recording of the first concerto (1955), Englund's music is resolutely tonal (with Finnish folk-music providing an important theme in this concerto whichis also influenced by Bartók and Prokofiev). The second concerto, from 1974, is similarly powerful and more serious, even severe, but any influences are completely absorbed into Englund's own language while the form remains classical - a lovely, tranquil slow movement surrounded by big, dramatic outer ones - and the style always communicative, often urgently so. The coupling, a 1948 overture performed in competition at the London Olympics, is a brazen, outgoing piece characteristic of the genre. Matti Raekallio (piano), Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra; Eri Klas. Ondine ODE 1015-2 (Finland) 09F009 $17.98

NIKOS SKALKOTTAS (1904-1949): 5 Greek Dances from Op. 11 (arr. Walter Goehr [1903-1960], VARDAPET KOMITAS (1869-1935): 10 Armenian Folk Songs and Dances (arr. Sergei Aslamazian [1897-1978], BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945): Romanian Folk Dances (arr. Artur Willner [1881-1959]), JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Liebeslider-Walzer, Op. 52 (arr. Friedrich Hermann [1828-1907]), JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809): 12 German Dances, Hob. IX:12. The title of this disc is "Dances from the Heart of Europe" but it would probably be churlish to ask when Armenia moved to Europe since the ten-piece, 27-minute set of Armenian dances from the father of Armenian art music is the main reason for offering this new release. Apparently arranged for strings (and percussion in one dance) by the conductor from a string quartet version by the founder of the Komitas Quartet, these are sensitively set pieces with just the right dose of primitive vigor. Skalkottas' dances are string orchestra arrangements of string quartet versions arranged by the composer himself, Bartók's Romanian Dances were arranged on commission for his publisher while the most radical of these arrangements is that of Leipzig violinist, composer and teacher Hermann, who did the honors for Brahms' first set of waltzes, originally, of course, composed for choir and piano duet. I Musici de Montréal; Yuli Turovsky. Chandos 10094 (England) 09F010 $16.98

ROGER SESSIONS (1896-1985): Divertimento for Orchestra, Idyll of Theocritus for Soprano and Orchestra. Sessions' reputation for writing difficult, thorny dodecaphonic music is only partly earned - the 1959 Divertimento is certainly dodecaphonic but there is also room for a tense lyricism and its Toccata and Perpetuum Mobile are gripping fast movements no matter how they were composed. The 38-minute Idyll sets Theocritus' second Idyll and, although one might think of ancient Greek poetry and serialism making strange bedfellows, Sessions manages to convey the intensity of the scorned woman's love and the hypnotic quality of the spell she recites in music which has both sweep and quiet lyricism. Full texts available from First Edition web-site. Stereo-mono. Audrey Nossaman (soprano), Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, Peter Leonard. First Edition Music FECD-0012 (U.S.A.) 09F011 $17.98

PETER MENNIN (1923-1983): Symphony No. 5, Cello Concerto, Symphony No. 6. The cello concerto recording (1969 - stereo) is the same one which Albany licensed on a three-composer disc a few years ago. The (mono) symphonies, while existing in DDD recordings (also on Albany) have a certain historical value, especially that of the Sixth which was recorded in Jan. 1954, a few months after its composition. Janos Starker (cello), Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, Jorge Mester. First Edition Music FECD-0013 (U.S.A.) 09F012 $17.98

LOU HARRISON (1917-2003): Suite for Symphonic Strings, Strict Songs I-IV for 8 Baritones with Orchestra. The half-hour suite (1960) is a nine-movement work whose materials derive from medieval dances, Bartókian rhythms and many things chronologically in between; like everything Harrison wrote, melody is prominent and lyricism is dominant while the Strict Songs (1955) are inspired by Navajo thought. A delightful aspect of the presentation is the facsimiles of handrwritten letters from Harrison to conductor Whitney and to two other recipients which explain his thoughts about the works and the basis of the Strict Song texts. Texts included. Mono. Members of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Choir, Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney. First Edition Music FECD-0014 (U.S.A.) 09F013 $17.98

EDUARD TUBIN (1905-1982): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 4 - Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Symphony No. 8. Tubin's first symphony took parts of four years to write (1931-34) and it is what you might expect: a rugged, energy-filled three-movement work with the influence of Sibelius and other Scandinavian symphonists of the period. The eighth (1966) is more introspective than almost all of its predecessors and consists of an ominous, constant winding-up and relaxing of tension which finally fades into inaudibility. Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Arvo Vollmer. Alba ABCD 163 (Finland) 09F014 $16.98

JOHN WARD (c.1589-1638): Fantasias, Aires and other Consort Music. A selection from several genres by this English amateur composer: English madrigals with the viol consort given top billing over performance by voices, four In Nomines and ten more freely composed Fantasias and four Aires which come as close to dance music as Ward ever produced. Rose Consort of Viols. CPO 999 928 (Germany) 09F015 $15.98

PHILIPP FRIEDRICH BÖDDECKER (1607-1683): Sonata in D Minor, Sonata sopra "La Monica", JOHANN PAUL VON WESTHOFF (1656-1705): Sonata "la Guerra", GIOVANNI BATTISTA BOVICELLI (fl.1594): Diminutions sur "Io son ferito ahí lasso", ANTONIO BERTALI (1605-1669): Chiacona, GEORG MUFFAT (1653-1705): Sonata for Solo Violin, ANON.: Contrapunct sopra "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern". The name of the group which performs here also describes the repertoire they favor and this collection of unusual baroque material from Germany and Italy is remarkable for its range of styles, from the virtuosity of Böddecker and Westhoff to the beauty and expansiveness of the anonymous piece whose author is here argued to be Nicolaus Adam Strungk (1640-1700). The Rare Fruits Council. Naïve E 8840 (France) 09F016 $16.98

ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI (1660-1725): Il dolore di Maria Vergine. From the composer's high maturity (1717), this four-character representation of Christ's Passion is a relentlessly tragic, anxiety-ridden, often harrowing work with very few moments of lighter character. Mary demands a coloratura soprano; Nicodemus sings in halting, anxious tones while the high priest Onìa's part is hammered out through impetuous fast rhythms, often giving the oratorio a flavor of the stage. 2 CDs. Italian-English texts. Rosita Frisani, Anna Chierichetti (sopranos), Gianluca Belfiori Doro (alto), Mario Cecchetti (tenor), Alessandro Stradella Consort; Estevan Verlardi. Bongiovanni GB 2324/25 (Italy) 09F017 $33.98

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN (1681-1767): 24 Oden. cpo continues to explore the dawn of the German art song (a previous issue was devoted to C.P.E. Bach's efforts at the genre) with this setting of odes from 1741. The majority of the texts set are by the German Anacreontic poets and thus, the themes are love, wine, song, friendship and pastoral idyll. Telemann sets these with some austerity, ensuring that they can be sung even without accompaniment by the average voice in just that Anacreontic sort of setting which they celebrate. German-English texts. Klaus Mertens (baritone), Ludger Rémy (harpsichord). CPO 999 816 (Germany) 09F018 $15.98

CHRISTOPH GRAUPNER (1683-1760): Partitas for Harpsichord, Vol. 2 - No. 2 in C Minor, No. 8 in F, Excerpts from Partitas in G and in D Minor, Gigue in C, Aria in E Flat. Soly continues what promises to be a long series which makes the case for Graupner as one of the most important baroque writers for the harpsichord with two more of his 41 partitas, endlessly inventive both technically and stylistically, and several short pieces of equal interest. Geneviève Soly (harpsichord). Analekta FL 2 3164 (Canada) 09F019 $16.98

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1641): Sacred Music, Vol. 9 - Laudate pueri, RV602, Salve Regina, RV618, Ascende laeta, RV635, Gaude mater Ecclesia, RV613, Vos aurae per montes, RV634, Gloria Patri, RV602a. The latest issue in this long-evolving series includes one setting on a grand scale (the bright and innocent Laudate pueri of around 1716), a double choir work whose opening movement was borrowed from a violin concerto (the Salve Regina of the late 1720s or early 1730s) and a gentle, pastoral motet (Vos aurae) with several well-chosen shorter pieces, all featuring solo vocal parts of near operatic quality. Latin-English texts. Carolyn Sampson, Susan Gritton, Joanne Lunn (sopranos), Joyce Didonato (mezzo), Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), Choir of the King's Consort, The King's Consort; Robert King. Hyperion CDA 66839 (England) 09F020 $17.98

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788): Complete Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 12 - Concertos in F, H.454 and in C, H.423, Sonatina in D, H.456. As in the previous three issues in this series, we have here two works from the 1760s (the Sonatina - constructed out of solo keyboard character pieces and with added pairs of flutes and horns - and the F major concerto) and one from the 1740s but revised around the time the others were composed. As before, the newer works are rhythmically less complicated and more simple harmonically, presaging the Classical style. Miklós Spányi (tangent piano), Concerto Armonico. BIS CD-1127 (Sweden) 09F021 $17.98

JiÞí Antonín Benda (1722-1795): Der Dorfjahrmarkt. This first of two early examples of the singspiel which we offer this month dates from 1775 and treats characters and events in a village fair near the city of Leipzig. Cheerful and folksy, the music also does a good job of characterizing its protagonists in numbers ranging from a ditty and a lullaby to a grand scene and emotional coloratura aria for the soprano heroine. German-English libretto. Hans-Joachim Rotzsch, Jan Hlavsa (tenors), Renate Krahmer, Renate Hoff (sopranos), Prague Philharmonic Choir, Prague Chamber Orchestra; Hans von Benda. Supraphon SU 3737-2 (Czech Republic) 09F022 $10.98

ANTON SCHWEITZER (1735-1787): Alceste. Important for establishing from nothing a German seria-style operatic genre, this 1773 singspiel blends the Italian seria style aria with German harmonic-contrapuntal complexity. Its narrow emotional range is due to the famous librettist, Wieland, who believed that music could only express "warm feeling and glowing Affekt". Nevertheless, the lead soprano gets brilliant material (the singer was the same Josepha Hellmuth who took the main role in Benda's Der Dorfmarkt - above). German libretto, English synopsis. 2 CDs. Ursula Targier, Sylvia Koke (sopranos), Christian Voigt (tenor), Christoph Johannes Wendel (bass), Erfurt Opera Chorus, Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra; Stephan E. Wehr. Marco Polo 8.225261-62 (New Zealand) 09F023 $31.98

ANTONIO ROSETTI (c.1750-1792): Concertos for 2 Horns and Orchestra in E Flat, E and in E Flat, Notturno in E Flat for 2 Flutes, 2 Horns and Strings. First recording of the serenade-like Notturno which typically opens and ends with a march. The concertos are in typical form also - long, virtuosic first movements, short and atmospheric Romances and short, catchy rondo finales. Klaus Wallendorf, Sarah Willis (horns), Bavarian Chamber Philharmonic; Johannes Moesus. CPO 999 734 (Germany) 09F024 $15.98

FERNANDO SOR (1778-1839): 8 Seguidillas for Soprano and Guitar, For Guitar Solo: Moderato Op. 35/11, Variations on a Theme by Paisiello, Op. 16, Andantino lento, Op. 24/1, Andante maestoso, Op. 11/5, Ye Banks and Braes o'Bonnie Doon, Op. 40, Allegretto, Op. 35/8, Andante con moto, Op. 11/10, Allegro moderato, Op. 6/11, Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9, Andantino, Op. 6/8. Thoroughly enjoyable and tuneful miniatures (the seguidilla is the precursor to the bolero, whose subsequent development is concisely dealt with in the notes) mingle with some virtuoso solo guitar variations (Ye Banks and Braes is sung also before the performance of the variations). Spanish-English texts. Evelyn Tubb (soprano), David Parsons (1843 Panormo guitar). ASV Gaudeamus DCA 344 (England) 09F025 $16.98

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)/OTTO STANDKE (1832-1885): Des Müllers Blumen, Ständchen (D.889), Heidenröslein, Der Neugierige, Die Forelle, Ave Maria, Frühlingsglaube, Ungeduld, Frühlings-traum, Trockne Blumen, Am Meer, Das Wandern, Lob der Tränen, Morgengruss, Divertissement à l'hongroise (second movement), Moment Musical D.780/3, Scherzo in D, D.593/1, Rosamunde (Ballet), SCHUBERT/ THEOBALD BOEHM (1794-1881): Gute Nacht, Der Lindenbaum, Das Fischermädchen, Ständchen (D957/4), Die Taubenpost. The urge to turn song or opera into instrumental music has existed since at least the Renaissance, meaning that we should not look as askance as we often do at 20th century composers and performers who do it. Nevertheless, we offer this new release only because it is an example of the genre nearly contemporaneous with the transcribed songs, Standke collaborating with a flutist named Adalbert Grünwald and Boehm, of course, the father of the modern flute - all having their gently way with some of Schubert's most famous lieder. Benoît Fromanger (flute), Gilead Mishory (piano). Tudor 7106 (Switzerland) 09F026 $16.98 >

LUIGI CHERUBINI (1760-1842): 2 Sonatas for Horn and String Quartet, JOHANN GOTTLIEB GRAUN (1702/03-1771): Concerto a 4 for Horn, 2 Violins and Cello, WENZESLAUS LEOPOLD KOHL (1753-?): Quartet No. 3 for Horn, Violin, Viola and Cello, JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809): Divertimento a 3 for Horn, Violin and Cello, Hob.IV:5, GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): La grande fanfare (arr. Hermann Baumann/Allessio Allegrini), WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791): Horn Quintet in E Flat, K 407. The rarities for horn-lovers here include Graun's florid "concerto" in the galant style (transcribed from the flute original!), the mysterious Kohl's quartet whose last movement's theme is identical with that of Mozart's first horn concerto (but Kohl's work is probably earlier) and Haydn's little divertimento which was only published in 1957. Allessio Allegrini (horn), I Solisti della Scala Milano. Tudor 7101 (Switzerland) 09F027 $16.98 >

New Beethovenian Symphonies !

FRIEDRICH ERNST FESCA (1789-1826): Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 10, Symphony No. 3 in D, Op. 13, Overture to Cantemire. Yes, for those of you who've been happily slurping up the wonderfully Beethovenian symphonies of Ferdinand Ries on this label, these two Fesca symphonies fit right in - especially the third (1816) which employs the thematic economy so characteristic of the great composer. The second is not far behind but is obviously an earlier work (it could have been composed anywhere between 1809-13) while the opera overture (1819) has a gloomy atmosphere and a wild impetus befitting the work's Fidelio-like libretto. North German Radio Philharmonic; Frank Beerman. CPO 999 869 (Germany) 09F028 $15.98

Haydn/Salomon London Symphonies,Vol. 1

JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)/JOHANN PETER SALOMON (1745-1815): Symphony No. 93 in D, Symphony No. 94 in G "Surprise", Symphony No. 101 in D "Clock". At last, we are to have a complete set of these ingenious, quirky arrangements for string quartet, flute and fortepiano (on period instruments) by the enterprising London impresario who was responsible for Haydn having composed the original symphonies in the first place. Florilegium. Channel Classics CCS 19698 (Netherlands) 09F029 $17.98

FRANCESCO MORLACCHI (1784-1841): Saffo in Leucade for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra, La Rosa appassita for Soprano and Piano, Odi d'un uom che muore for Soprano and Piano, Lamento del conte Ugolino for Baritone and Piano, Venite a intender for Baritone and Piano. A Rossinian dramatic scena from 1809 is the main work here, followed by several drawing-room lyrics and, in the Lamento (which sets a scene from Dante), a sort of Italian equivalent to Carl Loewe's balladen. Italian-English texts. Patrizia Zanardi (soprano), Gioacchino Zarrelli (baritone), Orchestra and Complesso Vocale In Canto; Gabirele Catalucci (fortepiano). Bongiovanni GB 2333 (Italy) 09F030 $16.98

The Romantic Piano Concerto - 33

XAVER SCHARWENKA (1794-1870): Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 56, Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 80. This was one of Collins Classics' last releases before they went bankrupt and, unlike the other Scharwenka/Tanyel solo recordings which have been released at mid-price on Helios, Hyperion has appropriated this one for its Romantic Piano Concerto series. We assume that the vast majority of you will have the Collins version. But if you don't, we are stocking a limited number of this release. Seta Tanyel (piano), NDR Hannover Philharmonic Orchestra; Tadeusz Strugala. Original 1997 Collins Classic release. Hyperion CDA 67 (England) 09F031 $17.98

GIOACHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): "Messa di Lugo", "Vespro Luchese", 3 Arias from Messa di Milano. The Bad Wildbad Rossini Festival is the source for yet more premiere recordings of early sacred pieces. A complete gradual mass and an almost complete Vespers have been assembled from individual pezzi sacri which are contained in archives in the town of Lugo where they were composed between 1802 and 1808 and which prove once again the statement by a Rossini scholar that "he had no artistic infancy, but was immediately himself". 2 CDs. Latin texts. Eibe Möhlmann (mezzo), Cosmina Cordun (contralto), Pavol Brslik, Giovanni Botta (tenors), Teru Yoshihara (baritone), Dariusz Machej (bass), Czech Chamber Choir, Czech Chamber Soloists Brno; Gabriele Bellini, Matthias Rexroth (male alto), Czech Chamber Choir, Filarmonici di Stoccarda; Marc Andreae. Bongiovanni GB 2346/47 (Italy) 09F032 $33.98

Tchaikovsky on Period Instruments!

PETER TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893): Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36, Nutckracker Suite, Op. 71a. An orchestra of 32 strings, 21 winds and brass, 4 percussionists and a harpist playing with gut strings, wooden flutes, no vibrato (except sparingly for emotional effect), calfskin timpani covers and, in the Nutcracker, a 19th century celesta (so delicate and magical) allows us to hear this music anew. Each section leader in the orchestra contributes a note regarding his instrument during the last quarter of the 19th century while the composer's wonderful letter to Nadezhda von Meck, in which he pours out the feelings the symphony represents, is reproduced completely. Anima Eterna; Jos van Immerseel. Zig-Zag Territories ZZT 030102 (France) 09F033 $17.98

New from STERLING - German Romantics, Volume 5

AUGUST KLUGHARDT (1847-1902): Konzert-Ouvertüre in G, Op. 45, Konzertstück for Oboe and Orchestra, Op. 18, Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 59, Auf der Wanderschaft for Orchestra, Op. 67. A trove of shorter orchestral pieces which will delight the hearts of any German Romantic scoured from the radio archives of Hannover and Cologne in recordings from 1975-80. Klughardt was a determined follower of Wagner and the New German School but could not bring himself to forget the wonderful nature romanticism of Schumann either, so he filled his tuneful and colorfully orchestrated overtures, suites and concert-pieces with both styles, the best example on this disc being the 1884 concert overture with its Tannhäuser echoes. The oboe concert-piece (c.1870) is one of the finest things done for that neglected solo instrument in the 19th century, the cello concerto (again a single-movement "konzertstück"-like piece) combines gorgeously expressive cantilena with significant virtuosity and the suite from 1896 ("Wandering" or "On the Tramp" as cleverly, if potentially ambiguously, translated here) is a six-movement transcription of a suite of piano character pieces in which Schumann is practically omnipresent. North German Radio Philharmonic; Willy Steiner, Rolf-Julius Koch (oboe), Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra; Curt Cremer, Horst Beckedorf (cello), North German Radio Philharmonic; Hans Herbert Jöris. Sterling CDS-1054-2 (Sweden) 09F034 $16.98

D'Indy - Complete String Quartets

VINCENT D'INDY (1851-1931): String Quartets No. 1 in D, Op. 35, No. 2 in E, Op. 45 & No. 3 in D Flat, Op. 96, String Sextet in B Flat, Op. 92. The severity of form and rigor of application of cyclical form which distinguish d'Indy's music in the minds of most collectors was utterly abandoned in the two dozen or so late works composed during the composer's 70s. The sextet (1928) is wonderfully light, relaxed and charming while the third, and last (a fourth was left incomplete), quartet from the following year is full of peace and serenity in its few "slow" moments and brimming with gaiety, exuberance and joie de vivre elsewhere. The first two quartets, of course, are equally admirable for the rigor with which d'Indy applies the precepts of composition, which he took over and shared wholeheartedly in his own work and in his teaching, from his own teacher Franck. 2 CDs. Joachim Quartet, François Mereaux (viola), Michel Poulet (cello). Calliope CAL 9891.2 (France) 09F035 $35.98

EMIL SJÖGREN (1853-1918): Piano Sonata No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 35, Erotikon, Op. 10, Novelettes, Op. 14. Sjögren's music epitomized bourgeois, Romantic idealism and makes for a fine, sepia-tinged snapshot of a period which we may long for today but which was execrated by a younger generation while the composer yet lived. The sonata, from 1903, and the two sets of character pieces (1883-4) may be separated by twenty years but the style and the personality remain the same: lots of Schumann, a little of Mendelssohn and a touch of Nordic nationalism here and there. Anders Kilström (piano). Caprice CAP 21562 (Sweden) 09F036 $16.98 >

GABRIEL DUPONT (1878-1914): Poème for Piano and String Quartet, La Maison dans les Dunes for Piano. The Symbolist exaltation of youth, beauty and death hangs like a heavy, intoxicating perfume over these works by a young composer who had his first case of pneumonia by the age of 12 and was to die of tuberculosis at 36. "The House in the Dunes" (1910) is one of two sets of piano pieces which show the composer's fixation with death, his suffering and his dreams of an unclouded life (the other is Les Heures dolentes). Containing 13 pieces, this 42-minute suite moves metaphorically from morning brightness ("In the Dunes on a Clear Morning" and "Sails on the Water") to the darkness of the evening and the depths of the sea ("Starlight" and "Swells"). Coming a year later, the Poème moves in an emotionally opposite direction - the three movements are titled "Somber and Painful", "Clear and Calm" and "Joyous and Sunny" - and ends with a sense of triumph over adversity (which, obviously, was not to be). There is much of Franck in the music, also of Lekeu in the dark, emotionally stormy 15-minute first movement, impressive counterpoint and a piano part of Rachmaninovian nature. Premature death never sounded so good. François Kerdoncuff (piano), Quatuor Louvigny. Timpani 1C1072 (France) 09F037 $18.98

ALMA MAHLER (1879-1964): 5 Songs, 4 Songs, 5 Songs, Leise weht ein erstes Blühn, Kennst du meine nächte? (all orch. Panula). Those of you looking for a luxury buy this month should consider this orchestration of all of Alma Mahler's extant songs, given a careful, thoughtful, not-too-lush, partly-Mahler, partly-Zemlinsky orchestration by the recording's Finnish conductor. German-English texts. Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo), Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra; Jorma Panula. Ondine ODE 1024-2 (Finland) 09F038 $17.98

MARIO CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968): Naomi and Ruth for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 27, Sacred Service for the Sabbath for Baritone, Tenor, Speaker, Organ and Chorus, Op. 122, Excerpts from Prayers My Grandfather Wrote for Organ and from Memorial Service for the Departed for Tenor, Organ and Choir, Op. 192. The 46-minute Sacred Service dates from 1943, at a time when the composer was becoming most accutely aware of his Jewish heritage as he began his fifth year in exile from his native Italy. Written for performance in American Reform synagogues, it includes English segments as well as Hebrew and traditional, European musical language (he had originally thought of attempting to reconstruct ancient Jewish music). The 1947 Naomi and Ruth is a 10-minute cantata of a simple purity which suggests one of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's other employments - film music English translations. Ana María Martínez (soprano), Academy and Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields; Neville Marriner, Ted Christopher (baritone), Jeremy Cohen (tenor), Rabbi Rodney Mariner (speaker), Hugh Potton (organ), The London Chorus; Ronald Corp, Barbara Harbach (organ), Cantor Simor Spiro (tenor), McNeil Robinson (organ), New York Cantorial Choir; Neil Levin. Naxos American Classics Milken Archive 8.559404 (U.S.A.) 09F039 $6.98

KURT WEILL (1900-1950): Highlights from The Eternal Road. Originally composed in 1934-5 as Der Weg der Verheissung, to a libretto by Franz Werfel, this Biblical drama eventually premiered on Broadway in January of 1937 and earned its mention in Grove Opera by becoming one of the Great White Way's biggest financial disasters (even with critical acclaim and 153 performances). Set during an all-night vigil in a synagogue while a pogrom rages outside, the work consists of a series of flash-backs to biblical events: the four acts are titled "The Patriarchs", "Moses", "The Kings" and "The Prophets". Weill uses genuine Jewish liturgical material throughout, often in a neo-Baroque stylization. The copious notes tell you everything you'll need to know and make for fascinating reading. How much music is here? 73 minutes - amounting to, we are told, about one-third of the entire work. English libretto. Constance Hauman (soprano), Barbara Rearick (mezzo), Ian DeNolfo (tenor), James Maddalena (baritone), Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin Radio Children's Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz. Naxos American Classics Milken Archive 8.559402 (U.S.A.) 09F040 $6.98

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2. Bloch's two quintets are from opposite ends of his career (1923 and 1957) and the second is barely more than half as long as the first but the seething rhythmic energy of the outer movements of the first work, often nearing a barbaric intensity, and the Andante mistico slow movement (no Hebrew influences in either work although the dark, quiet intensity of some of Bloch's Jewish works is present) have their echoes in the more sober and abstract later work. Ivan Klánsky (piano), Kocian Quartet. Praga PRD 205 185 (Czech Republic) 09F041 $17.98

CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): 14 Pieces for Flute and Piano, Op. 157b, Sonata for 2 Flutes, Op. 75, Flute Sonata, Op. 52, L'Album de Lilian (first series) for Flute and Piano with Soprano, Op. 139, 4 Pieces from L'Album de Lilian (second series), Op. 149, Morceau de Lecture for Flute and Piano, Op. 218. A memorial tribute to the Alsatian composer from a French flutist described Koechlin's flute music as "This restrained emotion, always dignified, very French; without exaggeration, without affectation..." and this serves to encapsulate the pieces on this disc (all but two of which were premiere recordings at the time). But there is also wit and humor here in the two sets of tributes to film-star Lilian Harvey - the song "Keep that Schoolgirl Complexion", recommends Palmolive soap to the actress and rubs shoulders with some Satie-esque miniatures and some lovely vocalises. French-English texts. Fenwick Smith (flute), Martin Amlin (piano), Jayne West (soprano), Leone Buyse (second flute). Original 1990 Hyperion release. Helios CDH 55107 (England) 09F042 $10.98

JESÚS GURIDI (1886-1961): 6 Canciones Castellanas, 18 Canciones del Folklore Vasco, Todoi-os dias, Le Matin, 3 Melodías, Soledad, 6 Canciones Infantiles, La Novia del Rey. As a pendant to the fine series of Iberian art songs on the Columna Musica label which have been appearing frequently recently, we have imported this disc of similar material by this Basque composer. Containing almost all of his concert songs for voice and piano, it shows an interest similar to Nin, Nin-Culmell and Rodrigo in harmonizing collected folk songs (the Basque set is especially valuable since this culture's folk music is still under-investigated) with just a touch of the tradition of the Schola Cantorum in which Guridi was educated. Spanish and Basque texts. María Aragón (mezzo), Ángel Huidobro (piano). Tañidos SRD-274 (Spain) 09F043 $16.98 >

LENNOX BERKELEY (1903-1989): Missa brevis, Op. 57, Mass for Five Voices, Op. 64, A Festival Anthem, Op. 21/1, 3 Latin Motets, Op. 83/1, Crux fidelis, Op. 43/1, Magnificat and nunc dimittis, Op. 99, The Lord is my Shepherd, Op. 91/1, Loo up, sweet babe, Op. 43/2, Toccata for Organ. Berkeley's Gallic charm and elegance are also in evidence in his sacred music - a significant body of work which is familiar to both Anglican and Catholic churches. This collection includes his most important works including one composed for the choir here performing - the 3 Latin Motets of 1972. Jonathan Vaughan (organ), Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge; Christopher Robinson. Naxos 8.557277 (New Zealand) 09F044 $6.98

CARLOS CHÁVEZ (1899-1978): Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 1 - Invention I for Piano, Invention II for String Trio, Invention III for Harp, Suite for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and String Quartet, Upingos for Oboe. The three Inventions, spanning the decade from the late 50s, make an eloquent case for Chávez the 'pure' composer, without having to resort to his "Mexican-ness" to explain his significance in 20th-century music. There is really no resorting to "local color" in these tautly argued pieces - far less so than may be found throughout the output of Copland or Stravinsky, establishment favorites from among his more widely accepted peers. The incredibly concentrated string trio work - one keeps thinking of late Sibelius, even though the music doesn't really sound like him - is perhaps the strongest work here. Tough counterpoint and an extended though unmistakable functional tonality are the hallmarks of the music, even more so than in the challenging piano work that preceded it. The Byzantine complications that surrounded the Martha Graham commission that eventually ended up as the "Suite for Double Quartet" are expounded at length in the booklet, and make one wonder why any composer would ever get involved in writing for the stage. The music is relatively somber and restrained, and spare of texture, more neoclassical and tonal than the Inventions, even harmonically lush in places. A glimpse of a composer of considerably more substance than might be suggested by the deservedly popular and brilliant Sinfonia India; there was obviously much more to Chávez than that. Highly recommended. Southwest Chamber Music. Cambria CD 8850 (U.S.A.) 09F045 $16.98

WALTER PISTON (1894-1976): String Quartet No. 1, LEON KIRCHNER (b.1919): String Quartet No. 2, EARL KIM (1920-1998): Three Poems in French for Soprano and String Quartet, BERNARD RANDS (b.1935): String Quartet No. 2, MARIO DAVIDOVSKY (b.1934): String Quartet No. 5 "Dank an Opus 132". What's the connection? These are all Harvard composer-professors. As to why they're on a Swedish CD label is anyone's guess (the quartet was nine years in residence at Harvard, but still...). Collectors will know the Piston. Kirchner's 1958 piece is tonal, somewhat expressionist in its questing quality, Kim, from 1989, sets Verlaine and Baudelaire in a dreamy, freely tonal expressionism which helps its composer get past his stated fear of French. Rands (1994) contrasts simple ideas in its two movements and Davidovsky (1998) uses intervallic material from Beethoven's Quartet No. 15 as the generative cells for its 12-minute explorations. French-English texts. Mendelssohn String Quartet, Lucy Shelton (soprano). SACD Hybrid Disc. BIS CD-1264 (Sweden) 09F046 $17.98

KEES VAN BAAREN (1906-1970): Variazioni per orchestra, Musica per orchestra, Sinfonia, Cantata: The Hollow Men. Van Baaren was the first significant Dutch composer to become a fully-fledged serialist composer although that will not rule out this disc for those allergic to that form of musical expression since he began as a neo-classicist and half of these works are still in that tradition. The cantata, an emotional, almost romantic work, dates from 1948 and sets texts by T.S. Eliot in a style which will remind you of Poulenc and even of Britten while the Sinfonia (1957) has many neo-classical traits (and a Bartók quote in its finale) in its tonal-oriented handling of twelve-tone technique. The variations, from two years later, are rather Webernian in their energy-filled yet laconic style. Musica per Orchestra dates from 1966 and, like Dallapiccola, fuses serial principles with a melodiousness which produces a work of an approachable, Bergian style (the notes call it a "serial bel canto", which, upon hearing it, is not an oxymoron!) English texts. Monique Krüs (soprano), Maarten Koningsberger (baritone), Netherlands Radio Choir, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest Holland; Reinbert de Leeuw. Donemus Composers Voice CV 103 (Netherlands) 09F047 $18.98

ELLIOTT CARTER (b.1908): Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano with Two Chamber Orchestras, DAVID RAKOWSKI (b.1958): Locking Horns for Horn and Chamber Orchestra, THEA MUSGRAVE (b.1928): Lamenting with Ariadne for Viola and Chamber Orchestra, HAROLD MELTZER (b.1966): Virginal for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra. Largely athematic, Carter's double concerto is a study in contrasts - between the two soloists, and especially between the layers of constantly evolving and layered multiple meters, very much a Carter trademark. Meltzer has deliberately set out to write an anti-concerto, in which the soloist does not occupy a pre-eminent position. The work is attractive and lively, with ostinato excursions in the direction of minimalism and a far more tonal feel than the Carter. Rakowski also plays with expectations of the role of soloist in an ensemble work, but here the established form is more respected, and in every movement the same basic material is treated ever more as a vehicle for the virtuosic horn part. Musgrave's passionate, rhapsodic work (1999) is the closest thing to a conventional concerto here, with its programmatic scheme based on the Ariadne/ Theseus myth. Sara Laimon (harpsichord), Steven Beck (piano), Daniel Panner (viola), Daniel Grabois (horn), Sequitur. Albany TROY 607 (U.S.A.) 09F048 $16.98

JUAN ORREGO SALAS (b.1919): Partita for Alto Saxophone, Violin, Cello and Piano, FERNANDO GARCÍA (b.1930): Retrospecciones for Voice, Alto Saxophone and Piano, CARLOS SILVA VEGA (b.1965): Entorno II for Soprano Saxophone and Tape, HERNÁN RAMIREZ (b.1941): Divertimento for Saxophone Quartet, Op. 107, GABRIEL MATHEY CORREA (b.1955): 7 Estudiantinas for Alto Saxophone, ALIOCHA SOLOVERA (b.1963): Contraluz for Saxophone and Percussion, MARIO MORA (b.1967): Sax for Alto Saxophone and Tape, ANDRÉS FERRARI (b.1971): Zuytt for Saxophone Quartet. Saxophone aficionados will find a great deal to enjoy here, with various instruments presented in various instrumental and vocal combinations and a fairly wide range of musical styles from composers whose birth-dates span most of the 20th century. Some free-jazz type explosions aside - here and there in the Garcia, for instance - for the most part the music avoids any suggestion of the avant-garde, concentrating instead on rhythmically vital and appealing works in fairly conventional vein, of which the Salas and Vega are especially delightful examples. The Ramirez has echoes of Milhaud, the Solovera is a darkly dramatic tone-poem with jazz overtones, while the Mora, with its tape part, nonetheless presents mainly as a showcase for the sonorous possibilities of the solo instrument. Miguel Villafruela (saxes) and other artists. No label name, no number. (Chile) 09F049 $16.98 >

GEORGE ROCHBERG (b.1918): Clarinet Concerto, DOMINICK ARGENTO (b.1927): Capriccio for Clarinet and Orchestra "Rossini in Paris". Two wonderfully communicative clarinet concertos from American elder statesmen. Argento's is a regular, three-movement concerto, regardless of its Capriccio title and its movements have titles taken from Rossini's Sins of Old Age ("Une Rejouissance", "Une caresse à ma femme" and "Un Petit Train du Plaisir") although there are no quotes from the composer used. Argento rather conveys the spirit of the Italian master in music of sweet lyricism in the slow movement and of smiling charm and humor in the outer ones. Rochberg's concerto was written for the soloist here (who was principal clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 47 years) in 1995. A single-movement work of almost 26 minutes, it has a more clouded personality than Argento's with a tragic slow section (one of two - the other is a meltingly warm, romantic segment worthy of Mahler) and a grotesque march in which a theme from the Witches' Sabbath of the Symphonie fantastique gets quite a work-out. Conservative, tonal and deeply emotional, this is a concerto which should stand the test of time. Anthony Gigliotti (clarinet), Taipei Symphony Orchestra; Felix Chiu-sen Chen. Bravo 20125 (Taiwan) 09F050 $17.98

LEONARDO BALADA (b.1933): Cello Concerto No. 2 "New Orleans", Concerto for 4 Guitars and Orchestra, Celebració for Orchestra, Passacaglia for Orchestra. Three of these works are from Balada's late period, when he has developed an interest in folk music and finds various means of blending this with more avant-garde techniques. The cello concerto (2001), in two movements ("Lament" and "Swinging") uses Afro-American melodic fragments, tone clusters and aleatoric devices in the first one and a freely jazzy virtuosity in the second. The Celebració of 1992 takes a Catalan folk melody and transforms it usng various diatonic, polytonal and atonal devices while last year's Passacaglia takes a solemn "European" passacaglia and transforms it into a popular Spanish pasacalle. From 1976, the guitars concerto is wholly avant-garde, highly experimental, banishing all melody and harmony but nevertheless striking and dramatic in its impact. Michael Sanderling (cello), Versailles Guitar Quartet, Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra; Colman Pearce. Naxos 21st Century Classics 8.557049 (New Zealand) 09F051 $6.98

JOSÉ SEREBRIER (b.1938): Symphony No. 3 "Symphonie mystique", for Soprano and Orchestra, Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile for Accordion and Orchestra, Variations on a Theme from Childhood for Bassoon and Orchestra, Elegy for Strings, Momento psicológico, Fantasia, Dorothy and Carmine! for Flute and Orchestra, George and Muriel for Double Bass, Chorus and Orchestra. Afraid that this disc would not be long enough when the accordion soloist became ill, Serebrier took a week and wrote his third symphony (!), for strings and wordless soprano in the final movement. The first movement is the only fast one and has the driving, restless sound of many of the works written in the 1930s for Paul Sacher (Honegger comes to mind, for instance). The remaining three are all slow, the middle two rhapsodic and often haunting, the finale a passacaglia. The remaining works are no longer than the 11 minutes of the Fantasia and are all approachable - remarkable in the case of the doleful Elegy written by the 14-year-old Serebrier before he left his native Uruguay. The accordionist on this recording? The ill soloist's pupil... Carole Farley (soprano), Yi Yao (accordion), Laurent le Chennadec (bassoon), Sandrine Tilly (flute), Renaud Gruss (double bass), Xinum Choir, Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra; José Serebrier. Naxos American Classics 8.559183 (U.S.A.) 09F052 $6.98

HK GRUBER (b.1943): Cello Concerto, Timescapes, Manhattan Broadcasts. Gruber's works generally incorporate a "light music" manner or material in some ingenious way, often hidden by the compositional technique but in Manhattan Broadcasts, a 10-minute diptych from 1964, light music is 100% on offer, being a Viennese reflection of American popular music of the 20s and 30s. The concerto was written for Yo-Yo Ma in 1989 and contains plenty of jazz drumming, jaunty themes and riffs by the end of a progression which begins with chromatic tension and ends in almost pop diatonicism. The two movements of Timescapes (2001) are polar opposites: a glacially slow, slowly coalescing funeral march ("Nightdust") with a rather avant-garde profile and a fast, frenetic "Another Day" where metrical filtering and complex overlays turn 1920s dance music of the Benatzky/Stolz type into a fascinating, densely orchestrated transformation. Robert Cohen (cello), Swedish Chamber Orchestra; HK Gruber. BIS CD-1341 (Sweden) 09F053 $17.98

STEPHEN HARTKE (b.1952): Clarinet Concerto "Landscapes with Blues", The Rose of the Winds for String Octet, Gradus for Bass Clarinet, Vibraphone, Piano, Violin, Cello and Double Bass, Pacific Rim for Orchestra. Hartke's music is resolutely tonal and communicative, with the concerto's three movements employing musical elements from Senegal and Gambia, Mississippi Delta blues and urban blues. The Rose of the Winds evokes the still and timeless landscapes of northern New Mexico and Pacific Rim employs Asian elements in a prelude and fugue form. Richard Stoltzman (clarinet), The IRIS Chamber Orchestra; Michael Stern. Naxos American Classics 8.559201 (U.S.A.) 09F054 $6.98

CHEN YI (b.1953): Momentum for Orchestra, Chinese Folk Dance Suite for Violin and Orchestra, Dunhuang Fantasy for Organ and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Romance and Dance for 2 Violins and String Orchestra, Tu for Orchestra. Chen Yi's music is deeply influenced by Chinese operatic traditions and folk culture which lie behind most of the compositions on this disc. Chinese traditional instruments are imitated by the violin soloists in Romance and Dance while the Folk Dance Suite - a violin concerto in all but name - adapts fragments of folk tunes to Western string technique. Momentum ebbs and flows with striking use of winds and a large percussion section while Dunhuang Fantasy was inspired by a particular landscape and Tu's broad strokes and sweeping gestures close the disc with its tribute to the New York fire-fighters who died on September 11. Cho-Liang Lin (violin), Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (second violin), Kimberly Marshall (organ), Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Lan Shui. BIS CD-1352 (Sweden) 09F055 $17.98

JACQUES HÉTU (b.1938): Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 64, Flute Concerto, Op. 51, Clarinet Concerto, Op. 37, Bassoon Concerto, Op. 31. Practically unknown in this country, Hétu is celebrated in both France and Canada and his gift for writing directly communicative music while not pandering to post-modern or minimalist sensibilites should be celebrated everywhere. His own description of his style cannot be better put: "...neoclassical forms and neoromantic expressiveness, in a language containing techniques of the 20th century..." The last openly appears rarely and only with close listening while the former are everywhere apparent. The 1999 piano concerto has the dark elegance and urgency of Ravel or Prokofiev, the 1991 flute concerto is appropriately lyrical in its first two movements and as vigorous and virtuosic as you'd like in the finale and the clarinet (1983) and bassoon (1979) concertos follow in the same vein, alternating lyricism with rhythmic acuity with the last offering some difficult technical hurdles for its soloist in the finale. André Laplante (piano), Robert Cram (flute), Joaquín Valdepeñas (clarinet), Christopher Millard (bassoon), CBC Radio Orchestra; Mario Bernardi. CBC SMCD 5228 (Canada) 09F056 $16.98

JAMES MACMILLAN (b.1959): Into the Ferment for Ensemble and Orchestra, The Berserking for Piano and Orchestra, Britannia. While The Berserking, which expresses what the composer calls the "misdirected energy" of a Scottish soccer crowd, has had several recordings, the other two MacMillan pieces here are less familiar. Britannia (1994) is a surprisingly Ivesian collage of folk tunes, drinking songs and military band music (also snatches of Elgar's Cockaigne) whose coarse and violent progress turn out to be an anti-militaristic statement. Into the Ferment (1988, rev. 2002) was written for an ensemble of fourteen professionals and a youth orchestra and, suggested by a Burns poem, has some affinities with Malcolm Arnold's Tam O'Shanter as it describes three Scottish youths who get together for a night of whisky-tasting which, of course, gets slightly out of hand but which ends as a celebration of friendship through intoxication. Martin Roscoe (piano), BBC Philharmonic; James MacMillan. Chandos 10092 (England) 09F057 $16.98

GUNTHER SCHULLER (b.1925): Symphony No. 3 "In Praise of Winds" for Large Wind Orchestra, MICHAEL COLGRASS (b.1932): Déjà vu for Percussion Quartet and Wind Orchestra, Dream Dancer for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. Veering gleefully between the sophisticated energies and excitement of West Side Story, big-band Jazz of the Whiteman/Suesse/Ellington type and a rich vein of approachable yet unashamedly contemporary 'concert' idioms, Colgrass' eclectic percussion concerto achieves the rare distinction of being a work that crosses genres without short-changing either. Dream Dancer explores World Musical influences in a thoroughly organised vehicle for solo saxophone, juxtaposing an astonishing range of styles in an exciting and cohesive whole. Both works are refreshingly yet originally grounded in tonality and modality, which is also true of Schuller's tribute to the whole idea of the very American Symphonic Wind Orchestra genre. Alternating between music of mystery, wild rhythmic excitement and restrained and soulful lyricism, the piece explores many aspects of Schuller's musical personality, and while not eschewing the composer's thorough awareness of the trends of contemporary composition, even to a brief flirtation with aleatory methods, the piece must surely be one of his most readily appealing works. New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble; Charles Peltz. Mode 125 (U.S.A.) 09F058 $17.98

WLODEK GULGOWSKI (b.1944): Toccata, Intermezzo, Quasi Boogie, 3 Mazurkas, 2 Illusions, 3 Sonatas, Harlequin, Reflection, Romance, Fantasia du Jazz. A Pole who grew up listening to John Coltrane and Bill Evans, who then emigrated to Sweden and later spent a month each summer for several years studying with Lutoslawski... Does this tell us anything about his music? Well, Gulgowski employs what he calls "new polyphony" which is based more on rhthym than melody and which also employs some aleatoric elements, combined with experience from his jazz background. This produces short pieces which are often concerned with piano sonority yet are also rich in harmonic material and also not without tonal passages with melodies, making for an interesting brew which should appeal to collectors of contemporary piano music. Niklas Sivelöv (piano). Phono Suecia PSCD 065 (Sweden) 09F059 $16.98 >

XAVIER BENGUEREL (b.1931): Le Livre Vermeil de Montserrat. The "Llibre Vermell" is the oldest existing original manuscript of the Montserrat monastery and is a unique witness to medieval music in Catalonia. Benguerel, Barcelona-born and raised in Chile by artistic parents who fled Franco, has, in effect, created an original oratorio based on the music from the manuscript. Sometimes, the medieval music comes through relatively unadorned, more often it is clothed in the style of the 20th century (although nothing is more avant-garde than, say, Stravinsky). Eleven musical works from the manuscript are separated by the same number of "orchestral commentaries", in which we can assume that we hear the composer's own voice filtered through 600 years of Catalonian history, all striving for an immediacy of communication whose force is felt in this live recording featuring over 200 performers made in 1994 at a festival in Perpignan. 2 CDs. Latin/Catalan-English texts. Rosa Ma Ysas (mezzo), Eduard Giménez (tenor), Ensemble Polyphonique de Perpignan, Ensemble Mélopoia d'Agde, Ensemble Vocal de Castelnaudary, Maîtrise du Conservatoire de Pergignan, Ensemble Orchestrale Perpignan-Languedoc-Roussillon; Daniel Tosi. Solstice SOCD 204/5 (France) 09F060 $33.98 >

DOMINICK ARGENTO (b.1927): 6 Elizabethan Songs, SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981): Mélodies passagères, Op. 27, AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson. We had to go to Australia to get a recording of songs by Argento, one of our finest composers of vocal music whose music is always beautiful to the ear, as in these early (1958) songs to texts by Elizabethan poets. The long breathed lyricism of Barber is very evident in his 1951 setting of Rilke texts while Copland's well-known, direct and appealing Dickinson songs finish out a welcome recital. Texts included. Melanie Duncan (soprano), Claire Cooper (piano). Move Records MD 3212 (Australia) 09F061 $16.98 >

WILLIAM THOMAS MCKINLEY (b.1938): Symphony No. 6 "Prague" for Baritone and Orchestra, MARC W. ROSSI (b. around 1955): Moon-Mirror, Denying the Abyss, FRANK GRAHAM STEWART (b.around 1925): Scherzo for Orchestra, JOHN BIGGS (b.1932): Salutation. This disc was offered for its symphony by McKinley, a strong, characterful, four-movement work of 38 minutes whose vocal portion consists of the final, very dramatic, seven-minute, movement setting a poem dealing with dislocation and homesickness. It has a first movement reminiscent of the brooding, angst-ridden style of many 20th century Czech (and Scandinavian, it must be said) composers but its headlong scherzo and the first half of its slow movement contain only residual amounts of tension. But it is Rossi's 17-minute tone-poem which is the real find: through much of its muscular course, underpinned by a strong brass section, it is very reminiscent of the tone-poems (or some symphony movements) of Bax. Presumably the composer himself would not find the comparison odious as he describes his style as "progressive romanticism"! English texts. Roman Janál (baritone), Czech Radio Symphony; Vladimír Válek. MMC 2123 (U.S.A.) 09F062 $16.98

MICHAËL LÉVINAS (b.1949): Les Lettres enlacées II for Solo Viola, Les Lettres enlacées IV for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello, PAUL HINDEMITH (1895-1963): Viola Sonata, Op. 11/4, Sonata for Solo Viola, Op. 25/1. Lévinas' two pieces, which make up half of the disc's playing time, are intriguing little exercises in polyphony, the solo work consisting of a melody in a canon of micro-intervals on two strings at once and the other in what the composer calls "spiral polyphony" which constantly transposes modal scales and produces an agreeable effect which calls to mind a delicate little perpetual motion robot gently and inexorably making its way across an alien landsape. A wonderfully pretentious note ("...This music calls on my body; over and beyond my flesh and my spirit...") in the best French fashion accompanies the regular musical notes. Gérard Caussé (viola), Michaël Lévinas (piano), Quatuor Ludwig. Aeon AECD 0312 (France) 09F063 $18.98

BECKY LLEWELLYN (b.1950): Vladimir Illych on the Ladder of History for Orchestra, Milerum's Basket for Chamber Orchestra with Oboe Obbligato, Berceuse for Violin, Clarinet, Cello and Piano, O, Wonder! for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, Song Web for Bass Marimba, Whales Weep Not! for Chamber Choir, Crotales and Marimba. With their overtones of spiritual and environmental concerns and readily accessible, predominantly tonal, harmonically and metrically straightforward idiom, these works fall easily into the easily assimilable tradition of contemporary music, which is not to deny their individuality or undeniably involving musical content. Whether deriving their associations from Hildegard of Bingen, folk musics or the lessons of history, the pieces occupy an æsthetic realm in which Vaughan Williams rubs shoulders with Hovhaness, with a bit of Kabalevsky and Rachmaninov thrown in for good measure. Finely wrought and appealing. The CD boasts a Quicktime® bonus movie to accompany Berceuse, showing the moon sinking towards a tranquil ocean. Pleasant and unassuming, like the music, it worked fine on a modest Macintosh laptop. Adelaide Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, Nancy Davis Booth (soprano), other artists. Move Records MD 3261 (Australia) 09F064 $16.98 >

BRENTON BROADSTOCK (b.1950): Giants in the Land, Dying of the Light, STUART GREENBAUM (b.1966): New Roads, Old Destinations, But I want the harmonica, JOHANNA SELLECK (b. around 1961): Recantations, LINDA KOUVARAS: Secrets of the Amphitheatre, CHRISTINE MCCOMBE (b.1967): Songs of Truth and Loneliness. A pianist who seems to have made a good career of playing the established classical and romantic repertoire, Holtham here turns his attention to a nicely varied program of contemporary music from his native Australia, none of which strays far in from neo-Romantic toward any obvious modernism. The two Broadstock pieces are substantial and serious, harmonically engaging and, like most of the music on the disc, avoiding transcendental virtuosity in favour of musicianly content and argument. Greenbaum's use of gentle minimalism is restfully attractive, and the rhythmic quirkiness of the Ingram (faint reminiscences of Rzewski, probably coincidental) adds another level of variety and appeal. Pushing no boundaries, then, but thoroughly musical and all new; well worth a listen. Ian Holtham (piano). Move Records MD 3239 (Australia) 09F065 $16.98 >

MARK LANDSON (b.1973): Travels for String Quartet, Dreams on a Cirrus Sky for Cello and Piano, Vokante Heroa for Piano and Strings. An altogether attractive disc, mostly in an emotionally unabashed neo-Romantic vein than suggesting the slightly point-proving 'crossover' genre referred to as an aim of the group in their notes and publicity materials - though one can easily imagine the music posing no threat to listeners not overly familiar with 'classical' traditions. An eclectic mixture of European influences - English pastoral, classical traditions from Vivaldi to Schumann to Fauré provide a familiar backdrop to these finely crafted, tonal and eminently approachable compositions. Occasional echoes of Rachmaninov and even Sibelius further enliven the most sophisticated work here, Vokante Heroa, rounding out a bold and imaginative program in fine style. Vesselin Dmirev, Jamie Desautels (violins), Mark Landson (viola), John Landefeld (cello), Valeria Vetruccio (piano). Neo Camerata NR 4434 (U.S.A.) 09F066 $15.98 >

PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): Etudes Nos. 1-10. Exactly what you'd expect from Glass (given that solo piano etudes may not be exactly what you might expect from him genre-wise): lots of arpeggiated repetition with the usual hypnotic (or, depending on how you like this sort of thing, irritating) effect. As if a film score for a non-existent film; Glass wrote these between the mid-90s and now and is working on ten more... Philip Glass (piano). Orange Mountain Music OMM 0009 (U.S.A.) 09F067 $17.98

FRANZ LEHÁR (1870-1948): Overtures to Die lustige Witwe, Der Göttergatte and Clo-Clo, Altwiener Liebeswalzer, Wilde Rosen, Grützner-Walzer, Adria Waltzer. The eighth disc from cpo devoted to Lehár mixes some of his dance waltzes, most of them prior to 1902, with the overtures from three of his later operettas. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Michail Jurowski. CPO 999 891 (Germany) 09F068 $15.98

From Salon to Cabaret - Music of the Chilean Belle Epoque

Cuplés, Waltzes, Shimmies, Tangos, Habaneras and other popular music dating from 1889-1930. An atmospheric presentation of what the English would call "Palm Court Music" performed in period style (and costumes, as the photos in the booklet make clear) and recorded live last year. The orchestra consists of flute, clarinet, four violins, two cellos and double bass, in case you were wondering about the size. Conjunto de Jazz, Orquesta Tipica, Orquesta de Señoritas, Chorus and Vocal Soloists, Alejandro Reyes (conductor). Warner Music Chile 0927497502 (Chile) 09F069 $16.98 >

ANDRÉ JOLIVET (1905-1974): Concerto for Bassoon, String Orchestra, Harp and Piano, SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b.1931): Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings, HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959): Ciranda das sete notas for Bassoon and Orchestra, JEAN FRANÇAIX (1912-1997): Divertissement for Bassoon and String Quintet, KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN (b.1928): In Freundschaft for Solo Bassoon, JOHN COLTRANE (1926-1967): Giant Steps for Jazz Trio (transcr. R. Vernizzi), SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953): Humorous Scherzo for 4 Bassoons, Op. 12/9, IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971): Lied ohne Name for 2 Bassoons. The theme is "20th Century Bassoon" and practically everything one could do with (and to, in Stockhausen's case) the instrument is represented here, from Villa-Lobos' warm and seductive Ciranda and Françaix' typically witty Divertissement to Jolivet's modern, yet tonal language and Gubaidulina's avant-garde lyricism and drama. Rino Vernizzi (bassoon), New Music Studium; Antonio Plotino. Arts 47644-2 (Germany) 09F070 $12.98

MICHAEL FINNISSY (b.1946): Lost Lands for Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Violin, Guitar and Piano, Kulamen Dilan for Soprano Saxophone and Percussion, Dilok for Oboe and Percussion, Delal for Oboe d'Amore and Percussion, Moon's goin' down for Solo Oboe, Runnin' wild for Solo Oboe, Keroiylu for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano. These ensemble and solo works share an anthropological basis, being, as the composer eloquently expresses it, derived from "the detritus of musical cultures potentially obliterated by ethnic cleansing or styles and genres dismissed as obsolete or commercially unsustainable." Unmistakable elements of Islamic and ancient Indian Karnatic music are readily detectable in the trilogy Dilok - Delal - Kulamen Dilan, ingeniously transmuted into Finnissy's unmistakable transcriptive style, which seems to be emerging as one of his great strengths as a composer as more of his considerable output becomes readily available. The two solo oboe works allude to jazz without referring specifically to established works in the genre, apart from the appropriated titles. For the most part, these pieces eschew the more extreme manifestations of the much-mentioned 'complexicist' style, exhibiting a relatively approachable aspect of the composer's musical personality. Topologies. Metier MSV CD92050 (England) 09F071 $16.98

GIACINTO SCELSI (1905-1988): Action Music No. 1 for Piano, Suite No. 8 for Piano "Bot-Ba". The notes make the paradoxical point that, though Scelsi wrote for no instrument more than he did for the piano that he had to abandon it once he'd reached his mature phase because it was incapable of producing the fixed pitches, chromatics and rigid dynamics which he then required. However, his existing uvre for the instrument has hardly been thoroughly investigated and, though Bot-Ba (1952) has been recorded with its stylized evocation of Tibetan rituals, prayers and dances, I'm not familiar with another CD recording of 1955's Action Music No. 1, which is am 18-minute-long suite of massive sound-sculptures, a few of whose movement markings serve to describe the goods: "Lento dolce (tutto col palmo della mano)", "Martellato" ("Hammered"), "Violento"... Sure to disturb the neighbors and make the pets cringe! Bernhard Wambach (piano). Kairos 0012312KAI (Austria) 09F072 $15.98