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Morton Gould

Show Piece . . . . Piano Concerto . . . . String Music

MORTON GOULD (1913-1996: Show Piece for Orchestra, Piano Concerto, String Music. Gould was one of America's wittiest composers and he was always able to write music which was both technically impressive and which appealed to wide audiences. Musicians loved to play his music as much as audiences loved listening to it. Such will be the case with these three world premiere recordings. Show Piece was commissioned by Columbia Records in 1954 as literally that - a demonstration piece to show off their orchestral recording techniques (Ormandy's recording of it was never released). It takes the form of a theme and variations (Scene, March, Serenade, Ballad and Toccata) in which Gould does his considerable best to spotlight every section and soloist in the orchestra in colorful, often dance-like, highly rhythmic music in the finest optimistic American style. The 1938 piano concerto apparently only ever had two performances; the first movement is full of note clusters and mixed rhythms and the second movement is a blues, the piece being wrapped up by a torridly virtuosic finale. There's nothing like a wildly talented 25-year-old composer just letting it rip! StringMusic won Gould the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. For strings only, its five movements (Prelude, Tango, Dirge, Ballad and Strum) are fairly self-descriptive; Strum means just that - played pizzicato except that the strings are strummed rather than plucked in a virtuosic, jubilant build-up to a fugato and a loud pizzicato snap ending a thoroughly fresh and invigorating work and recorded program. Randall Hodgkinson (piano), Albany Symphony Orchestra; David Alan Miller. Albany TROY 300 (U.S.A.) 09A001 $16.98

The Unknown Richard Strauss - Volume Two

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949): The Donkey's Shadow. This is a singspiel produced during the final two years of Strauss' life in response to a request by the headmaster of the convent school at which the composer's grandson Christian was studying. Left half complete at Strauss' death, it was completed by Karl Haussner, the convent's director of music. Lasting 75 minutes, it contains 34 minutes of music and 40 of narration - Ustinov doing all voices, recorded the narration in Strauss' beloved Garmisch-Partenkirchen and is hilarious. The story is set in 5th century Thrace and involves a lawsuit over the use of a donkey's shadow for the purpose of shade and is based on a novel by C.M. Wieland. The witty, sparkling, buffo style is in keeping with Strauss' love of Mozart. Sung in German, narrated in English, the sung roles are provided only in English translation. Also included are excerpts of 18 letters between Strauss and his librettists and the convent director, a note by Haussner, a note on Wieland's novel and full synopsis. A slight work to be sure, but thoroughly enjoyable, amusing and done with love all around. Andreas Kohn (bass), Eberhard Buechner (tenor), Mette Ejsing (contralto), Bodil Arnesen (soprano), Sir Peter Ustinov (narrator), Berlin Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Karl Anton Rickenbacker. Koch Schwann 365482 (Germany) 09A002 $16.98

ETHEL SMYTH (1858-1944): Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra, OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957): Concerto for Horn and Strings, Op. 65, CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Poème for Horn and Orchestra, Op. 70bis. Smyth's 1926 double concerto was her last large-scale work and makes a valuable addition to the late Romantic catalogue. A life-long admirer of Brahms (who had shown an interest in her chamber music), she did not allow her personal flaunting of social and political conventions to affect her music: the first movement is an immersion in the ripely golden good spirits of Brahms' maturity before the autumnal tones of his final years. Written probably for Aubrey Brain, the work continues with a brief, lyrical Elegy before plunging into a rhythmically infectious finale whose demands on horn technique include a cadenza with chords. Marie Luise Neunecker (horn), Saschko Gawriloff (violin), Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR; Uri Meyer. Koch Schwann 364122 (Germany) 09A003 $16.98

NIKOLAI TCHEREPNIN (1873-1945): Le Destin - 3 Symphonic Fragments on Ballad by Edgar Allan Poe, Op. 59, ALEXANDER TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977): Divertimento, Op. 90, IVAN TCHEREPNIN (b.1943): Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra. Three generations of the Tcherepnin family are represented here, most strikingly by Nikolai's ballet piece from 1911 based on Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" (recorded here in a later, three-movement concert version premiered by Koussevitzky in Boston in 1933). Scriabinesque harmonies, lush orchestration (via Rimsky-Korsakov, Tcherepnin's teacher), French Impressionism (Tcherepnin was once humorously called "Debussy-Ravelovich"), Russian folklore and a pinch of Lyadov make for a heady stew. Written in 1957 as a commission from Fritz Reiner, Alexander's Divertimento is tautly rhythmic in its first movement and wholly Russian (with a substantial whiff of Petrushka) in its whirling finale, the two fast movements separated by a gently nocturne. Ivan's work dates from 1995 and won the highly prestigious Grawemeyer Prize of the University of Louisville the following year. Tonal, although dissonances are frequent, the work is original though it enjoys quoting illustrious predecessors (16 of them according to the notes - can you find them all?) and highly enjoyable. Lynn Chang (violin), Alexander Rudin (cello), Musica Viva Orchestra; Alexander Rudin, Nikolai Alexeyev. Olympia OCD 640 (England) 09A004 $16.98

GEORGE ENESCU (1881-1955): Cello Sonata in F Minor, Op. 26/1, Cello Sonata in D, Op. 26/2. Composed as a study work in 12 days in 1898, the first sonata includes many Romanian folk-like themes and shows the influence of Brahms, Fauré and Saint-Saëns. From 37 years later (the sonatas were published together, explaining the same opus number), the second sonata is one of Enescu's most personal works, based on constantly changing tonal colors. Ctlin Ilea (cello), Nicolae Licare^ (piano). Olympia OCD 642 (England) 09A005 $16.98

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945): Viola Concerto, Sz 120 (compl. & orch. Serly), Viola Concerto (rev. & ed. Peter Bartók and Paul Neubauer), Two Pictures, Sz 46, TIBOR SERLY (1901-1978): Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra. In 1995, Peter Bartók, the composer's son, released the manuscript of his father's unfinished viola concerto with hundreds of small corrections to pitches and notes. In addition he deleted many of Serly's contributions, leading to a subtly yet substantially different version of the work. For the first time, this new work is recorded, alongside Serly's 1949 completion and the latter's Rhapsody, based on several pieces from Bartók's For Children. Hong-Mei Xiao (viola), Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; Janós Kovacs. Naxos 8.554183 (New Zealand) 09A006 $5.98

CARL NIELSEN (1865-1931): Complete Piano Music, Vol. 2 - Festival Prelude "Turn of the Century" FS24, Suite, Op. 45, 3 Piano Pieces, Op. 59, Piano Music for Young and Old, Op. 53. The second and final volume of Nielsen's piano music contains his finest work, the Suite, Op. 45, written for Schnabel in 1920 (originally subtitled The Luciferan), music of great originality and power which ends in a compelling, demonic allegro. The Piano Music for Young and Old, of 1930 is didactic material but entirely characteristic of Nielsen. At budget-price, it's especially easy to acquaint oneself with this small, still neglected corpus of work by this outstanding contemporary composer. Peter Seivewright (piano). Naxos 8.553653 (New Zealand) 09A007 $5.98

The Romantic Piano Concerto - 19 - Tovey & MacKenzie

DONALD FRANCIS TOVEY (1875-1940): Piano Concerto in A, Op. 15, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL MACKENZIE (1847-1935): Scottish Concerto, Op. 55. Tovey's concerto is Brahmsian, composed only a few years after Brahms' death, but it is also the concerto of a young man (1903) and the qualities of exuberance and heroic optimism inform its large first movement while a half-marching, half-dancing mood carries its irresistible finale. Between these two movements is a lovely F minor adagio, a lovely oboe solo tenderly expressive therein. Mackenzie's work (1897) is entirely Scottish: based on three well-known and old Scottish traditional melodies, named "Scottish" and composed by a Scot, this is a work of great wit, sentiment and panache. It even has a significant subtext which the note-writer teases out based on the various possible words which had been attached to the traditional melodies by various writers - the work turns out to be a paean to the power of all-consuming love and to the beauty of the female of our species. The melodies and their varied use are gorgeous, the orchestration brilliant and imaginative; this may be the finest work with Scottish associations ever produced... It's certainly the best one by a composer who knew intimately the traditions with which he worked. Steven Osborne (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins. Hyperion CDA 67023 (England) 09A008 $17.98

BORIS PARSADANIAN (1925-1997): String Quartet, Sonata for Violin and Cello, Flute Concerto, Symphony No. 7. Parsadanian appears in Antes Edition's series of Estonian composers due to the fact that he lived in Estonia from 1953 until his death and wrote all of his major works there. The quartet, from 1974, is perhaps inescapably in the vein of Shostakovich with an intense adagio framed by two tense, terse and nervously driven fast movements. The concerto (1978) is more lyrical, with a still central movement but a brisk finale; the seventh symphony, in a single movement, was intended as a tribute to Parsadanian's fellow-countryman Aram Khachaturian who had died in 1978. The latter's musical idiom is echoed throughout the score, which uses the massive forces of Khachaturian's Symphony No. 2, yet the work is predominantly slow and lamenting - a moving tribute to Armenia's most famous composer. Borodin Quartet, Jüri Gerrets (violin), Toomas Velmet (cello), Samuel Saulus (flute), Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Järvi, Peeter Lilje. Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9118 (Germany) 09A009 $16.98

Piano Concertos from the Movies

RICHARD ADDINSELL (1904-1977): Warsaw Concerto, MIKLÓS RÓZSA (1907-1995): Spellbound Concerto, BERNARD HERRMANN (1911-1975): Concerto Macabre, NINO ROTA (1911-1979): The Legend of the Glass Mountain, RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT (b.1936): Theme and Waltz from Murder on the Orient Express, LEONARD PENNARIO (b.1924): Midnight on the Cliffs, CHARLES WILLIAMS (1893-1978): The Dream of Olwen, JACK BEAVER (1900-1963): Portrait of Isla, HUBERT BATH (1883-1945): Cornish Rhapsody. This bright new Naxos release brings together the two most famous movie-piano concertos - Addinsell's wildly popular piece from the 1941 film "Dangerous Moonlight" and Rózsa's atmospheric work from Hitchcock's 1945 "Spellbound" - and adds one which should have always stood with those two: Herrmann's mad-composer's work from 1945's Hangover Square, a Gothic melodrama of Lisztian style. The most striking CD premieres here are Rota's brief piece from a 1948 film "The Glass Mountain" and pianist Leonard Pennario's darkly extravagant concoction from the 1956 Doris Day-Louis Jordan feature "Julie". Philip Fowke (piano), RTE Concert Orchestra; Proinnsías Ó Duinn. Naxos 8.554323 (New Zealand) 09A010 $5.98

MICHAEL NYMAN (b.1944): The Piano Concerto, Where the Bee Dances for Saxophone and Orchestra. Nyman's grandly romantic concerto, reworked from themes used in the wildly successful independent film The Piano, uses several Scottish folk melodies to build a haunted, intense four-movement work in which the composer's personal brand of minimalism conveys a gripping sense of momentum and movement toward a climax. People who hate Philip Glass and who think that they hate Minimalism will be pleasantly surprised. Where the Bee Dances uses motifs from a song written for Peter Greenaway's film "Prospero's Books" in providing a virtuoso mini-concerto which is full of Nyman's typical rhythmic and melodic musical personality. John Lenehan (piano), Simon Haram (saxophone), Ulster Orchestra; Takuo Yuasa. Naxos 8.554168 (New Zealand) 09A011 $5.98

ALFREDO CASELLA (1883-1947): 9 Pieces, Op. 24, 11 Children's Pieces, Op. 35, 2 Ricercari on the name B-A-C-H, Op. 52, 6 Studies, Op. 70. The nine pieces of 1914 have been recorded before but anyone not familiar with them shouldn't miss this fabulous bargain. From the beginning of a period in which the composer experimented with modernism, this set of pieces (some dedicated to composers such as Ravel, Pizzetti, Schmitt and Stravinsky) traverses a musical territory as wide and remarkably colorful as their subtitles (all In modo...): funebre, barbaro, elegiaco, burlesco, esotico, di nenia, di minuetto, di tango, rustico. From Casella's late period, the six studies (1942-44) are homages to Chopin and Ravel. Luca Ballerini (piano). Naxos 8.554009 (New Zealand) 09A012 $5.98

CAMILLO CARLSEN (1876-1948): Symphonic Suite after Words from Psalm 42, Op. 28, 10 Chorale Variations on the Psalm "Auf meinen lieben Gott", PETER HEISE (1830-1879): 3 Chorales, RUED LANGGAARD (1893-1952): Toccata. Carlsen's mighty, 35-minute long suite is dark, expressive music, evocative of opulent sonorities and whose powerful dynamics make for a thrilling listening experience. Langaard's toccata is in memory of Niels Gade; it is backward-looking, evoking the models of mid-19th century music like the chorales of noted song-writer Heise. Eva Feldbæk (organ of the Sct. Matthæus Church, Copenhagen). Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224089 (Denmark) 09A013 $14.98

MORITZ MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925): Piano Concerto in E, Op. 59, From Foreign Lands, Op. 23. The fourth recording of Moszkowski's brilliant, virtuosic and sunny 1898 concerto (who would have thought that possible?) is also its first budget price digital one. Those collectors not yet familiar with its magical combination of fearsome acrobatics with grace and fluency will have no excuse now not to get acquainted. For those who already know the concerto, the coupling is the only available recording of the 1884 From Foreign Lands; originally written for piano duet, the suite contains six dance pieces representing Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and Hungary, each one a refined, graceful miniature full of charm and rhythmical buoyancy. Markus Pawlik (piano), Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice); Antoni Wit. Naxos 8.553989 (New Zealand) 09A014 $5.98

ARTHUR FOOTE (1853-1937): Piano Quintet in A Minor, Op. 38, String Quartet No. 2 in E, Op. 32, String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op. 70. Reading summaries of Foote's style in musical dictionaries can lead one to expect dry-as-dust sobriety in his chamber works but that is hardly the case in this new release containing the only available recordings of the piano quintet and second string quartet. The quintet, from 1897, has its echoes of Brahms and, especially, Dvorák in his "American" style, but the pervading lightness of its spirit and freshness of its invention is utterly refreshing. The second quartet, of 1893, has much attractive music in similar Dvorakian/Tchaikovskian vein with a particularly striking third movement set of theme-and-variations while the Third (1911) is remarkably forward-looking, with modern harmonies and gestures which verge on expressionism. James Barbagallo (piano), Da Vinci Quartet. Marco Polo 8.223875 (New Zealand) 09A015 $14.98

CHARLES-VALENTIN ALKAN (1813-1888): Allegro barbaro, 3 Petites Fantaisies, Op. 41, Préludes Op. 31, Nos. 14, 15 & 17, 3 Marches pour piano à 4 mains, Op. 40*. This interesting program appears to have been chosen to demonstrate that Alkan is not all about fiendish unplayability (though the Allegro Barbaro has its moments! and is well served here), but that subtle, teasing rhythmic and harmonic shifts, and a truly original approach to piano textures are very much the essence of the composer's unique compositional personality. Even at his most charming, Alkan is a little sinister - just as you think you're looking at a Schumannesque woodland scene, a gargoyle pops out and makes a face at you - and it is a treat to find relatively unknown Alkan that could so easily become regular concert fare. Hüseyin Sermet, Jean-Claude Pennetier* (piano). Auvidis/Valois V 4808 (France) 09A016 $18.98

STEPHEN HELLER (1813-1888): 3 Ständchen, Op. 131, Voyage autour de ma chambre, Op. 140, Variationen über "Warum" von Schumann, Op. 142, 7 Lieder, Op. 120, Tarantellas, Op. 85. A not-quite-forgotten Romantic (Marco Polo has issued two full CDs of this composer), Heller was a correspondance friend of Schumann; they never met and Heller lived almost all of his life in Paris. Schumann is, not surprisingly, the main influence in this series of late works dating from 1867-77 which draw from the same source of dreamy romanticism lit by flashes of morbid excitement and danger. An epigraph fromGoethe heads the op. 120 "songs" for piano while a French novel lies behind the program of op. 140. The Ständchen were published in France as "Nocturnes" and this sums up their style and content exactly. The Schumann variations make for a touching farewell to a bygone era, dating as they do from 1877. Andreas Meyer-Hermann (piano). CPO 999 574 (Germany) 09A017 $15.98

LOUIS MOREAU GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869): Viens O ma belle, O Loving Heart, Trust On!, La Colombe, The Mountaineer's Song, Berceuse, My Only Love, Good Bye!, Pastorella e Cavaliere, La flor que ella me envia, Ave Maria, The Battle-Cry of Freedom, Stay, My Charmer, O ma charmante, épargnez-moi!, I Don't See It, Mama, Canadian Boat Song, El Cocoyé, Rappelle-toi, Le Papillon. Gottschalk was not, as is now finally being acknowledged, exclusively a composer of extravagant virtuoso showpieces for the piano. He had a lifelong attraction to the human voice, and these charming songs - here interspersed with piano miniatures showing a delightful melodic sensibility - display his prodigious talents as a song composer very much in the European tradition (using French, Italian and English texts), with unobtrusively intricate and occasionally scintillating piano accompaniments; everything one might expect of a piano virtuoso like Gottschalk, but with a surprising degree of restraint and lyrical beauty. Pamela Hinchman, Carol Meyer (sopranos), Francesco Casanova, Steven Cole, Mark Marriott (tenors), Andrew Schroeder (baritone), Joseph Smith (piano). Premier PRCD 1063 (U.S.A.) 09A018 $16.98

LOUIS MOREAU GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869): Bamboula, Banjo, Le bananier, Manchega, Souvenir d'Andalousie, Danza, Le Mancenillier, Souvenir de la Havane, Berceuse, Grand scherzo, Morte!!, Pasquinade. Elegant and highly ornamented, and with sufficient of the exotic about them to avoid any suggestion of banality, these little dances and character pieces spin an uncanny magic in transporting the listener to an opulent and civilised world existing precariously in a tropical setting - a world which has no parallel in our time. Ludovic-Amadéus Selmi (piano). Pavane ADW 7396 (Belgium) 09A019 $10.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Complete Piano Music, Vol. 11 - MOZART/LISZT: Confutatis maledictis and Lacrymosa from Requiem, K.626, S550, À la Chapelle Sixtine (2nd Version), S461, LASSEN/LISZT: Löse, Himmel, meine Seele, S494, Ich weil in tiefer Einsamkeit, S495, FRANZ/LISZT: Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen, Op. 4/7, S488, 12 Lieder from Opp. 2, 3 & 8, S489, LESSMANN/LISZT: 3 Lieder aus Julius Wolff's Tannhäuser, S498, DESSAUER/LISZT: 3 Lieder, S485. In addition to the well-known songs of Schubert and the vocal works of Mozart which Liszt transcribed for piano solo, he also did yeoman work for composers unknown today, finding songs which he thought worthy of broader knowledge and knowing that his treatment of them would gain them such knowledge. The vast majority of this disc is taken up with such efforts on behalf of Eduard Lassen, Robert Franz, Otto Lessmann and Josef Dessauer. Even Liszt's transcriptions of these songs had dropped from sight and only Hyperion's and Naxos' ongoing complete series have rescued them from undeserved oblivion. Valerie Tryon (piano). Naxos 8.553508 (New Zealand) 09A020 $5.98


ERNST VON DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960): Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 9. A young man's work of 1900, this expansive, five-movement symphony shows Dohnányi flexing his composing muscles and reveling in the sounds which made up the "new music" of his time - Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. The scherzo comes third, surrounded by the slow movement and a brief intermezzo and the finale is a 17-minute set of variations topped by a fugue. Thematic material appears across movements, ingeniously reworked and developed using all the resources of a Mahlerian-sized orchestra. A major addition for collectors of romantic symphonies. London Philharmonic Orchestra; Leon Botstein. Telarc 80511 (U.S.A.) 09A021 $16.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): Lustspielouverture, Op. 120, Symphonic Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 147 (compl. Florizel von Reuter), Suite in A Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 103a (orch. Baransky), Scherzino in C for Horn and Strings. The main discovery here is the Symphonic Rhapsody, left incomplete at Reger's death. Planned as an "Andante and Rondo Capriccioso", only 82 bars of the opening andante and 48 of a rondo had been written down. American violinist von Reuter "completed" the work by abandoning Reger's structural plans and, instead, composing a "Symphonic Rhapsody" on the themes Reger left behind. Obviously, this can in no way be called Reger's composition but it is an extremely attractive, lyrically effusive work with more than a bit of Richard Strauss in it (note: von Reuter was a student of Reger's - this is not a modern completion!). On the other hand, the suite, Op. 103a, was originally written for violin and piano and Reger orchestrated the third movement (an Aria); violinist Adalbert Baransky did the same for its remaining five movements, providing a "new", neo-classically tinged work for violin and orchestra. Bracketing these large-scale pieces are the jollity of the 1911 "Comedy Overture" and the brief, lied-like scherzino from 1899, written for a local music society's orchestra. Walter Forchert (violin), Marie Luise Neunecker (horn), Bamberg Symphony; Horst Stein. Koch Schwann 314982 (Germany) 09A022 $16.98

ALF HURUM - A Forgotten Norwegian Late Romantic

ALF HURUM (1882-1972): Symphony in D Minor, Bendik and Aarolilja, Op. 20, String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 6. The most startling thing about Hurum is to learn that he spent the last 40 years of his live living in Honolulu where he specialized in Japanese and Chinese silk print painting! This multi-talented composer was the first Norwegian to incorporate French impressionism into his music; the 1912-13 effectively juxtaposes impressionism, classical-romanticism and Nordic Nationalism while the tone poem Bendik and Aarolilja, based on an old Norse sage, is a dark, raw, tragedy-stricken tale of star-crossed lovers. Written in Berkeley in 1927, the symphony has much of the same dark power, depicting in its three movements "The Great Forests", "A Winter Night on the Plains" and "The Viking Ship" - as compelling a depiction of the frozen north as one could possibly write in the mild climes of the Bay Area! Vertavo String Quartet, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Dmitriev. Simax PSC 3110 (Norway) 09A023 $19.98

EGON WELLESZ (1885-1974): Piano Concerto, Op. 49, Divertimento for Small Orchestra, Op. 107, 3 Skizzen, Op. 6, Eklogen, Op. 11, Triptychon, Op. 98. The first CD devoted entirely to the works of this great 19th century musicologist, composer and teacher gives a broad overview of his career with two early works (the solo piano Skizzen and Eklogen from 1911-12 which combine Schoenbergian dissonance and austerity with Debussian color), two late works (the Divertimento of 1969 and the Triptych for piano of 1968 are stylistically close again to Schoenberg's early style but demonstrate Wellesz' independently personal response to it) and the piano concerto of 1931 whose first movement recalls Bartók. Its slow movement is a dream-like nocturne and the finale a confident march-like movement not without a distant Mahlerian echo. A fine tribute, but Wellesz wrote nine (!) symphonies while living in England from 1938 to his death... Karl -Andreas Kolly (piano), Lucerne Symphony Orchestra; Howard Griffiths. Pan Classics 510 104 (Switzerland) 09A024 $17.98

JOSEF BOHUSLAV FOERSTER (1859-1951): Cello Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 45, Cello Sonata No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 130, 3 Nocturnes for Contralto, Cello and Piano, Op. 163, Melodie for Cello and Piano. Foerster's lack of exposure can be attributed to the difficulty in pigeonholing him stylistically; rooted in the national romanticism of Smetana, Fibich and DvoÞák, he also used Impressionist harmonies and comes close to a moderate form of Modernism. The opposite temperamentally of Janáãek, Foerster's music is predominantly introverted and lyrical as in the first sonata (1898). The second (1926) hints at neo-Classicism in its outer movements while the Nocturnes, from the composer's 80th year, are moody, precisely crafted miniatures. Erika ·porerová (contralto), Duo Moravia. Tudor 7071 (Switzerland) 09A025 $16.98

CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Violin Sonata, Op. 64, Viola Sonata, Op. 53. Composed respectively in 1916 and 1915, both these works are responses to the desolation and carnage in France during the First World War but they are polar opposites of each other. The viola sonata is dramatic and tormented whose two slow movements are calm but haunted, whose scherzo is bitter and whose finale somber andplaintive. In contrast, the violin sonata retreats into the world of the imagination, its first three movements suggesting a luminous forest, the dance of fairies and elves and a nocturne ("the night at the pond's shore" according to Koechlin) while the finale, with its chimes and hieratic processional, seems to suggest the soul longing for a world beyond the real world. Koechlin's originality and independence have never been better demonstrated than by this coupling. Marie Viaud (violin), Mireille Guillaume (piano), Michel Michalakakos (viola), Martine Gagnepain (piano). Skarbo D SK 1985 (France) 09A026 $18.98


CARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF (1739-1799): Symphony in A Minor "The Delirium of the Composers", Symphony in D, "The Battle of the Human Passions", Symphony in A, "Symphony in the Taste of Five Nations". Dittersdorf's delightful symphonies on the Metamorphoses of Ovid have gotten a surfeit of coverage on record but, after all , he wrote almost 100 symphonies and it was about time that more of these original, witty and surprising creations saw the inside of a CD player. The first work listed above, from the mid-1770s, seems to begin as a parody of the Sturm und Drang of Haydn and his contemporaries during the 1760s and 1770s but its last two movements appear to be a genuine tribute to that master. The D Major work, from c.1771, is in seven brief movements which paint various aspects of human behavior: pride, humility, madness, love, contentment, constancy, melancholy and vivacity. The final work (c.1766), more familiar in its form, parodies the musical tastes of the Germans, Italians, English, French and Turks. Here's hoping that Naxos' "The 18th Century Symphony" series brings us more unusual and welcome Dittersdorf! Failoni Orchestra; Uwe Grodd. Naxos 8.553975 (New Zealand) 09A027 $5.98

F.L.Æ. KUNZEN - Danish Classical Premieres!

FRIEDRICH LUDWIG ÆMILIUS KUNZEN (1761-1817): The Hallelujah of Creation, Symphony in G Minor, Overture on a Theme by Mozart. This second Dacapo release (the first was the opera Holger Danske) by the German-Danish Kunzen brings an astoundingly exuberant, brilliant and masterly cantata (1797) which explores the same territory (and predates) Haydn's The Creation. Using five soloists, chorus and orchestra, the work's felicities include a long, jubilant duet between Adam and Eve and a depiction of an earthquake; obligato instrumental accompaniments add to the beauties and delicacies that abound. Perhaps a Viennese critic put it best in 1808 (when musical Vienna was certainly spoiled for choice) when he called the Hallelujah: "...a splendid piece full of fire, sublimity and gentle enchantment, where the lustre of modern music is mot happily united with the simple power of older music". German-English texts. The 1790 symphony (one of two, the other being lost) is a dark-hued, taut exercise in motivic play comparable to several of Kraus' while the overture, from 1807, ingeniously conceals a motif from Die Zauberflöte's overture and varies it throughout a delightful nine minutes. Susanne Elmark, Susse Lillesøe (sopranos), Anna Larsson (contralto), Christian Voigt (tenor), Lars Arvidson (bass-baritone), Danish National Radio Choir, Danish Radio Sinfonietta; Peter Marschik. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224070 (Denmark) 09A028 $14.98

ANTHONY PHILIP HEINRICH (1781-1861): Hail to Kentucky, The Young Columbian Mid-Shipman, The Voice of Faithful Love, The Minstrel's March or Road to Kentucky, Epitaph on Joan Buff, Gipsey Dance, The Musical Batchelor, Irradiate Cause!, Barbecue Divertimento, Where is That Heart?, Bonny Brunnette. The "Beethoven of America", America's first professional composer, the Bohemian-born German Heinrich left behind an astonishing catalogue of hundreds of songs and piano pieces and dozens of large-scale symphonic works - none of them remotely normal by all accounts. Largely self-taught, Heinrich ignored European compositional standards, as is evidenced by the eleven pieces here excerpted from his Opus 1 - The Dawning of Music in Kentucky - of 1820 and from The Sylviad, Op. 3 (1823). The highlights are a 10-minute epitaph to a woman who sneezed herself to death using snuff, which begins as a mock-serious oratorio and finishes as a touching meditation on death; the Barbecue Divertimento with its Ivesian stream-of-consciousness, cramming a plethora of American musical types into 15 minutes and Hail to Kentucky, a six-minute song in strophic form which would be boring if it weren't for the fact that the piano takes off under the baritone in a flight of increasingly complex and chromatic variations. The term "an American original" may never have been more literally apt! This re-issue of a 1974 recording includes two songs never before released. American Music Group; Neely Bruce (piano). Vanguard Classics SVC-93 (U.S.A.) 09A029 $13.98

LEOPOLD HOFMANN (1738-1793): Cello Concertos in D, C, D and C. Like the Naxos disc containing Hofmann symphonies, this new release further testifies to the composer's remarkable talent. The quality of the writing, musical and structural subtlety and, in the case of the first D major work on this disc which may have been written for Joseph Weigl, dedicatee of Haydn's famous C major cello concerto, technically demanding writing with its extreme, high tessitura, bespeak a composer who deserves (as he was in his time) to be ranked next to the finest of his contemporaries. Northern Sinfonia; Tim Hugh (cello). Naxos 8.553853 (New Zealand) 09A030 $5.98

JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH BACH (1732-1795): 6 Sonatas for Flute and Basso Continuo. Dating from the 1780s, this set of sonatas (all in two movements: fast/moderate and minuetto/scherzo) by the Bückeburg Bach is still mainly in a rococo/late baroque style, perched on the edge of a then-prevalent classicism. The use of a theorbo to complement the usual continuo instruments adds to the conservative effect. 2 CDs. Accademia Farnese. Mondo Musica MM 96032 (Germany) 09A031 $37.98

GIOVANNI PAISIELLO (1740-1816): Il Re Teodoro in Venezia. This "heroic-comic drama" premiered in 1784 tells the tale of a penniless soldier-of-fortune who is crowned king of Corsica but must flee his debts. In Venice he becomes involved in the usual comic-romantic affairs; this was Goethe's favorite opera and was extremely popular in Vienna. Mozart recognized Paisiello as the standard he needed to beat in opera and this release will give collectors a valuable example of this now neglected 18th century master. 3 CDs. Italian libretto. André Cognet, Stuart Kale, Emanuela Barazia, Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro La Fenice; Isaac Karabtchevsky. Mondo Musica MFON 20121 (Germany) 09A032 $56.98

ROSSINI - RICCIARDO E ZORAIDE - Now available in the U.S.

GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): Ricciardo e Zoraide. Dating from 1818, Ricciardo e Zoraide had as its companions such works as Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, Otello, La donna del lago and Mosè in Egitto, yet, until now, had dropped from sight. The libretto has been blamed for this but it offers significant opportunities for Rossini to create characteristic and original musical responses to it. Upon its release in England in 1997, Richard Osborne of Gramophone found this recording "...born of a strong belief in the virtues of the music (with) meticulous preparation, direct theatrical experience and solid professionalism...". Opera Rara's lush and lavish packaging and documentation are as reliable as ever. 3CDs. Italian-English libretto. Bruce Ford (tenor), Nelly Mircioiu (soprano), William Matteuzzi (tenor), Alastair Miles (bass), Della Jones (soprano), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; David Parry. Opera Rara ORC 14 (England) 09A033 $56.98

Rare 19th Century Arias from Opera Rara

19TH CENTURY HEROINES - Arias from operas by: GIUSEPPE NICOLINI (1762-1842): I Baccanali di Roma, GIACOMO MEYERBEER (1791-1864): Il Crociato in Egitto, GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848): Alahor in Granata, CARLO COCCIA (1782-1873): Rosmonda, MARCO PORTOGALLO (1762-1830): La Semiramide, MICHELE CARAFA (1787-1872): Gabriella di Vergi. Scenes and arias from six little-known operas from the first third of the 19th century feature Kenny in recordings made between 1982 and 1992. The 76-page accompanying booklet is contains a tribute to the soprano,with many photos and much anecdotal material and thumbnail sketches of each opera, its composer and the scene recorded. Italian-English texts. Yvonne Kenny (soprano), Philharmonia Orchestra; David Parry. Opera Rara ORR 201 (England) 09A034 $18.98

MUZIO CLEMENTI (1752-1832): Piano Trio in F, Op. 27/1, BALDASSARE GALUPPI (1706-1785): Harpsichord Sonata in G, LUIGI ROSSI (c.1597-1653): Chi Consiglia un Dubbio Core, LUIGI BOCCHERINI (1743-1805): Sonata in D, Op. 12/4, MARIO SAVIONI (1608-1685): Didone Piangente, FRANCESCO GUERINI (fl. 1740-1770): Cello Sonata, Op. 9/4, ANON. (c.1640): Miro del mio bel. This collection of premiere recordings comes from the Frank V. De Bellis Collection at San Francisco State University (as did the Barsanti Concerti Grossi release in July's catalogue on the Dynamic label from Italy) which houses an extensive cache of Italian musical material from the 17th and 18th centuries. Boccherini's "sonata" is, of course, an accompanied piano work although (unlike Clementi's piece, in which the string parts have no independence from the keyboard), characteristically enough for this cellist-composer, the cello has an important role. Three 17th century solo cantatas and two early classical instrumental sonatas fill out this interesting program. Judith Nelson (soprano), The Streicher Trio. Music & Arts CD-1034 (U.S.A.) 09A035 $16.98

Piano music by Karlsrühe composers - classical era to modern

JOHANN WENZEL KALLIWODA (1801-1866): Sonata in E Flat, Op. 176, WILHELM KALLIWODA (1827-1893): Scherzo in A Minor, Op. 4, VINZENZ LACHNER (1811-1893): Canon in der 8va in A Minor, 12 Länder with Intermezzo and Finale, OTTO DESSOFF (1835-1892): 3 Klavierstücke, Op. 2, FRANZ DANZI (1763-1826): Allegretto in C, Polacca in F, JOSEPH ALOYS SCHMITTBAUR (1718-1809): Praeludium in D, Rondo in A, Presto in E Flat, CLARA FAISST (1872-1948): Präludium in gotischem Stil, Op. 28, FELIX MOTTL (1856-1911): 4 Austrian Dances for Piano 4-Hands, HEINRICH CASSIMIR (1873-1946): 2 Klavierstücke nach Versen aus Hermann Conradi's "Lieder eines Sünders", HEINRICH CASPAR SCHMID (1874-1953): So viel Stern am Himmel stehen, MARGARETE SCHWEIKERT (1887-1975): Scherzando in G Minor, GEORG MANTEL (1889-1975): 2 Klavierstücke, ARTHUR KUSTERER (1898-1967): Gavotte from Suite, Op. 16, Musette from the Dance Suite from the Opera Diener zweier Herren, HANS ERICH APOSTEL (1901-1972): Fantasie, Op. 31b, JOSEF SCHELB (1894-1977): 4 Pieces from 10 Klavierstücke, ERWIN GROSSE (1904-1982): Miniaturen - 10 kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 36, EUGEN WERNER VELTE (1923-1984): 4 Klavierstücke. 144 minutes of rare piano repertoire by composers who were born in, worked in or composed for the royal court in Karlsruhe. Highlights include J.W. Kalliwoda's only piano sonata (from 1851, it is in four movements - unusually all fast movements - in a brilliantly virtuosic style in which the notes come quickly and furiously), Lachner's Ländler (an 1876 Christmas gift to Brahms and a tribute to the latter's op. 39 Waltzes) and Cassimir's two late romantic nature pieces ("Evening Mood" and "Night's Unrest") of 1901. 2 CDs. Sontraud Speidel (piano), Joachim Draheim (second piano). Antes Edition BM-CD 14.9001 (Germany) 09A036 $33.98

NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): 3 Duetti concertanti for Violin and Cello, 60 Variations on "Barucabà" for Violin and Guitar. The three duets are possibly Paganini's first compositions, dating from 1795, in simple Classical style for private music-making. The variations date from 1835 and use a popular dance tune for ringing typically colorful and brilliant changes in Paganini's finest mature style. Ernö Sebestyén (violin), Martin Ostertag (cello), Boris Björn Bagger (guitar). Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9095 (Germany) 09A037 $16.98

JOHANN VALENTIN MEDER (1649-1719): Chaconne, AUGUST HEINRICH VON WEYRAUCH (1788-1865): 3 Lieder, JOHANN FRIEDRICH LA TROBE (1766-1845): 2 Lieder, ELLA ADAIEWSKY (1846-1925): Berceuse estonienne, 3 Rondels nach Charles d'Orléans, HEINRICH GREIFFENHAGEN (1857-1908): Gavotte, KULDAR SINK (1942-1995): 3 Looduspildid (Naturbilder), ESTER MÄGI (b.1922): Duos im Volkston. Possibly the only available disc of its kind, this is a collection of (mostly) vocal salon or chamber music written either in Estonia or by Estonian composers. Sink's and Mägi's songs take up almost half of the disc: Sink illustrating texts on winter in quiet melodies broken by exaggerated outbursts and Mägi superimposing chaotic counterpoints and bold imitations onto archaic forms. Leili Tammel (mezzo), Camerata Tallinn. Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9031 (Germany) 09A038 $16.98

JOHN FOULDS (1880-1939): Cello Sonata, Op. 6, ERNEST WALKER (1870-1949): Cello Sonata in F Minor, Op. 41, YORK BOWEN (1884-1961): Cello Sonata in A, Op. 64. Here are first recordings of three major cello sonatas by British composers of the same generation who are little-known today. Composed in 1905 and revised in 1927, Foulds' work is a powerful and original work which contains traces of old English Puritan tunes in three of its four movements. Walker, a "musical don" who was educated at Oxford and remained there his entire life, wrote his sonata in 1914 following a period of personal and spiritual crisis which is reflected in the music's tempestuously passionate first movement, calm adagio and alternately weighty and witty finale. Bowen is being rediscovered, at least by pianists, and his 1921 sonata exhibits a romantic nature clothed in advanced, impressionistic harmonies. Jo Cole (cello), John Talbot (piano). British Music Society BMS423CD (England) 09A039 $16.98

BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959): Czech Rhapsody, Arabesques, 5 Madrigal Stanzas, Rhythmical Etudes, Intermezzo. The son of the great Czech violinist offers a program containing three CD premieres: the Arabesques and Rhythmical Etudes date from 1931, the height of Martinu's immersion in Parisian musical culture. The 7 arabesques ascend in increasing order of technical difficulty, full of rhythmic wit and freshness while the etudes (7 also) show his increasing fascination with jazz. The Intermezzo (1937) is a four-movement suite built on characteristically colorful and infectiously rhythmic foundations. Jan Talich, Jr. (violin), Jaromír Klepáã (piano). GZ Classics L1 0305 (Czech Republic) 09A040 $6.98

The Hyperion French Song Edition

DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC (1872-1921): Mélodies. Considered by most distinguished critics in the first decade of this century as the third member of a musical triumvirate including Ravel and Debussy, Séverac has been all but forgotten now. Graham Johnson brings the same blend of scholarship and musicality to this newest volume of Hyperion's French Song Edition, making a clear case for this neglected composer in a wide-ranging selection of songs (25 for baritone, one for soprano and one for duet). The usual lavish Hyperion documentation applies. French-English texts. François Le Roux (baritone), Patricia Rozario (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano). Hyperion CDA 66983 (England) 09A041 $17.98

JOSEPH LAUBER (1864-1952): La Gentille Batelière for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, 5 Rondels Mignons for Voice and Piano, Sonata Fantasia in una Parte, Op. 50 for Flute and Piano, Le Dernier Souvenir for Voice and Piano, 3 Morceaux Caractéristiques, Op. 47 for Flute. Lauber, a teacher of Frank Martin and Richard Flury among others, wrote in a style mixing elements of German romanticism and French impressionism with roots in Swiss traditional music. The trio "The Pretty Ferry-woman" is a set of variations on a Swiss folk song in the style of Mozart, Verdi, Debussy, Chopin and Johann Strauss while more Swiss folk roots are explored in the five "Miniature Rondels"; Le Dernier Souvenir is expressive and dramatic. Elisabeth Mattmann (soprano), Trio Sorop. Musica Helvetica MH CD 97.2 (Switzerland) 09A042 $16.98

ERNEST CHAUSSON (1855-1899): Symphony in B Flat, Op. 20, Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25, Viviane, Op. 5. Recordings of Chausson's 1890 symphony are still not exactly thick on the ground, making this budget-price issue even more welcome. Inhabiting much the same portentous, dark, Wagnerian-influenced world of Franck's symphony (1889), Chausson's stands as one of the finest late Romantic symphonies from anywhere. His ubiquitous Poème is accompanied by the almost forgotten tone poem Viviane (1882) which weaves an atmospheric spell in its depiction of Vivian's seduction and enchantment of King Arthur's magician Merlin. Laurent Korcia (violin), Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy; Jérôme Kaltenbach. Naxos 8.553652 (New Zealand) 09A043 $5.98

CHARLES TOMLINSON GRIFFES (1884-1920): Roman Sketches, Op. 7, The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan, A Winter Landscape, Legend, De Profundis, Piano Sonata. Bulgarian pianist Kaltchev proves himself remarkably attuned to Griffes' idiom. A Winter Landscape appears not to have been recorded before; it is a most atmospheric Romantic tone-poem with echoes of Liszt (like Macdowell, and many others, the European influences in Griffes are very apparent). The rest of the recital consists of works with which we are already familiar; beautiful products of a slightly overheated Romantic imagination in a chromatically expanded harmonic language not that far from Skryabin. Ivo Kaltchev (piano). Gega GD 123 (Bulgaria) 09A044 $16.98

ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV (1865-1936): Scènes de Ballet, Op. 52, Scène Dansante, Op. 81, The Seasons, Op. 67. Seventy-nine and a half minutes of ballet music might seem like too much of a good thing unless its composer is Glazunov. In his symphonies incapable of writing a poor scherzo, his grasp of the character of various types of dances and his always vivid, imaginative orchestration turn practically every one of these 21 tableaux into a miniature gem. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Anissimov. Naxos 8.553915 (New Zealand) 09A045 $5.98

GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1 - L'Album pour les enfants adolescents. This promises to be a delightful series; Rossini's late series of small piano pieces known collectively as "Sins of Old Age" contain music which goes from the wildest exuberance to the subtlest understatement. This first set of 12 character pieces brims with irony, self-mockery, humor and memories of Rossini's youth. Opera is never far from the surface and a couple of these items come complete with descriptive texts ("First Communion" and a piece describing the 1861 Venetian rebellion against Austria). Watch out also for the Prélude convulsif and Ouf! les petits pois (Oh no! Peas again!)! Paolo Giacometti (1858 Pleyel piano). Channel Classics CCS 12398 (Netherlands) 09A046 $17.98

NINO ROTA - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

NINO ROTA (1911-1979): Symphony No. 1 in G, Symphony No. 2 in F "Tarantina - Anni di pellegrinaggio". Composed over a period of four years from 1935-39, the first symphony is Rota's first adult work. Its clarity of sound and stringency of form recall Casella and its melodies are brightly colored and distinctly Italian; utterly peaceful, it is impervious to the world-shaking events going on at the time of its composition - a signpost to the path Rota would pursue throughout his career. The second symphony, composed during the period 1937-41 and revised in 1975, bears a subtitle referring to the composer's working sojourn in Taranto where the utter isolation from outside musical influences allowed him to develop further his personal style. There is much of Rota the film composer in this work (he had spent a year at the Curtis Institute in the early 30s where he heard the first talkie-soundtracks). Simple, conservative and full of rich melody, the second symphony also demonstrates Rota's life-long attachment to musical models of the 19th and earlier centuries. Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Ole Christian Ruud. BIS CD 970 (Sweden) 09A047 $17.98

OSCAR BYSTRÖM - Another Swedish Romantic from STERLING

OSCAR BYSTRÖM (1821-1909): Symphony in D Minor, Andantino in D Minor, Overture in D, Overture to the Operetta Herman Vimpel, 2 Waltzes for Large Orchestra. Byström's career has parallels to that of another famous Swedish romantic composer - Franz Berwald. Both made their livings entirely away from music; Byström owned and operated a lime works (with Berwald as a partner!) and won a medal for inventing an instrument to measure temperatures in blast furnaces! Fortunately, he also found time to write music - his symphony (1870-72) is greatly influenced by Berwald in its melodies, harmonies and structure. The melancholy Andantino dates from 1876 and the operetta overture from 1873, the latter impressive in its minor-key drama. The other works are from the 1850s, the overture in a light, comic opera style and the two waltzes in the tradition of Lanner and the elder Strauss. Another thoroughly enjoyable resurrection from this remarkable little Swedish label. Gävle Symphony Orchestra; Carlos Spierer. Sterling 1025 (Sweden) 09A048 $15.98

FREDERICK CONVERSE (1871-1940): Piano Sonata No. 1, ARNE OLDBERG (1874-1962): Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor, Op. 28, AMY BEACH (1867-1944): Variations on Balkan Themes, Op. 60. Two holes in the catalogue are filled here: Oldberg taught at Northwestern for 41 years, wrote much orchestral music (most of which was performed by the Chicago Symphony) and this sonata (published in 1910). Oldberg admired Beethoven above all and this is evident in the sonata's lack of melodies; everything here comes from the intensive working-out of five motives which recur cyclically throughout the piece. Converse's sonata dates from 1935 and allies a romantic sensibility with impressionistic harmonies and dissonances. The finest piece is Beach's 1904 variations whose haunting melodies, full of a rare beauty and pathos are worked out in a multitude of colors and dynamics which convey a dramatic impact and earns Beach a place among the finest composers for piano of the 20th century. Mary Louise Boehm (piano). Albany TROY 293 (U.S.A.) 09A049 $16.98

SIR ARTHUR SULLIVAN (1842-1900): Arias, Duets and Ensembles from The Martyr of Antioch, Ivanhoe, Haddon Hall, The Chieftain, The Beauty Stone, The Rose of Persia and The Emerald Isle. This collection of numbers from various "non-Gilbert" operettas (except for Ivanhoe which was conceived as a serious romantic opera) is a useful sampling for G&S fans to see what S could accomplish without his regular partner. Most of these productions (during the 1890s) failed - although Ivanhoe ran for 161 performances - because of Sullivan's attempts to bring a more serious class of work to the stage when the public was addicted to musical comedy. Much of the music is still delightful and inspired; the librettos were the problem. This hardly matters in a collection of highlights such as this which is self-recommending. Arthur Davies, Gareth Jones, Gillian Knight, Valerie Masterson, Frances McCafferty, Richard Suart, National Symphony Orchestra; David Steadman. Jay CDJAY 1302 (England) 09A050 $16.98

EMILIO ARRIETA (1823-1894): Marina - Opera Española in 3 Acts. This 1855 zarzuela was Arrieta's most popular of the dozens he composed and it remains one of the few of its genre known well outside Spain's borders. A simple story of romantic misunderstandings in a Catalan village, its popularity led Arrieta to supply recitatives, add extra numbers and turn it into a three-act opera (premiered in 1871) which version is recorded here (without the recitatives). 2 CDs. Spanish texts. Chiara Taigi (soprano), Ignacio Encinas (tenor), Carlos Marín (baritone), Symphony Orchestra; Jose Maria Damunt. Moraleda 7481D (Spain) 09A051 $33.98

HAKON BØRRESEN (1876-1954): Symphony No. 2 in A, Op. 7 "The Sea", Symphony No. 3 in C, Op. 21. Who would have thought that we'd have alternate recordings of two Børresen symphonies within a year of each other? Schmidt's performances are tauter, crisper and much faster than Hughes on Dacapo (10-003); he knocks almost three full minutes off the first movement of the second symphony and seven over both works in total. It's like hearing Carlos Kleiber having a go after Klemperer... Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ole Schmidt. CPO 999 353 (Germany) 09A052 $15.98

JOSEPH JOACHIM RAFF (1822-1882): Ode to Spring in G for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 76, Piano Concerto in C Minor, Op. 185. The vernal Ode to Spring (spring odes should be vernal...) of 1857 opens with a longing motif in the violins preparing for the main body of scintillating cascades of notes and transparent filigree - just the sort of thing talented young composers were doing in the mid 1800s. The concerto, from 1873, combines Lisztian harmonies, Chopinesque lyricism and dashes of Tchaikovskian dreamy nostalgia. Mid-price. Peter Aronsky (piano), Basel Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jost Meier, Matthias Bamert. Tudor 7035 (Switzerland) 09A053 $12.98

HARALD LIE (1902-1942): Symphony No. 2, Op. 5, Elegy for Baritone and Orchestra, Op. 3, Symphonic Dance, The Bat's Letter for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 6. A student of Fartein Valen is likely to be of some interest in any case, and Lie also has the added piquancy of a tragically early death, at the age of 39. The music is big-boned and powerful, solidly orchestrated and unmistakably Nordic. The early Elegy is very beautiful, with suggestions of Grieg and some impressionist influence. The Symphonic Dance would have been the scherzo of the composer's unfinished third symphony, a big rustic dancing scherzo, like the second symphony resolutely tonal and purposeful. After a slow introduction the symphony gets under way with a rather conventional structure, in three movements, tautly argued and full of real musical argument and passion. The heartfelt slow movement is especially moving, and the finale, an almost Tchaikovskian allegro - or is there some Bruckner in there as well? - brings the work to a wholly satisfying conclusion. Anne-Lise Berntsen (soprano), Håkan Hagegård (baritone), Norwegian Radio Orchestra; Ari Rasilainen. Simax PSC 3114 (Norway) 09A054 $19.98

ÅSE HEDSTRØM (b.1950): Saisir, Flores, Voci, Bewegt, Chain for Solo Piano, Flow for Marimba. Powerful contrasts are at the heart of Hedstrøm's music. She studied with Sandström, and in her orchestral music it is possible to detect an affinity in the treatment of large blocks of dissonant sound. Cluster glissandi and threatening masses of sonorous texture collide with unpredictable results. In Flores the contrast is between a delicate piano texture and gathering storm-clouds in the orchestra, and this kind of fluid momentum is typical of the other works here too, especially Voci. In Bewegt and the piano work Chain the storm is unleashed more explicitly, while Flow is a subtle minimalist work, as suggested by the medium and the title, showing a different, gentler, less confrontational aspect of the composer's personality. Håkon Austbø (piano), Tomas Nilsson (marimba), Oslo Sinfonietta; Christian Eggen. Aurora ACD 4998 (Norway) 09A055 $17.98

PER HJORT ALBERTSEN (b.1919): Concerto Piccolo for Violin and Strings, STÅLE KLEIBERG (b.1958): Dopo for Cello and Strings, EBERHARD BÖTTCHER (b.1934): Concerto Ripieno for Strings, Divertimento Concertante for Violin and Strings, TERJE BJØRKLUND (b.1945): Cantio for Viola and Strings. Works for string ensemble by four composers from Norway, sharing a common characteristic of writing passionate, involving music. Kleiberg's work is especially impressive, a kind of miniature war requiem, uncompromising in its emotional intensity. Bjørklund and Albertsen also write in a fundamentally tonal language, the former's Cantio sounding like a cross between Arvo Pärt and Grieg. Böttcher uses dodecaphony, but with a rich harmonic overlay, and his music has a kind of updated classicism which may remind some of the Bloch Concerti Grossi. Elena Denisova (violin), Grigori Alumian (cello), Vladimir Stopichev (viola), National Quartet of Moscow, Collegium Musicum Carinthia; Alexei Kornienko. Hemera hcd 2926 (Norway) 09A056 $17.98

MARTIN BUTLER (b.1960): Fixed Doubles, O Rio. Fixed Doubles is an appealing toccata for full orchestra, using little thematic scraps canonically in a rhythmically propulsive framework in which there is little harmonic progression. O Rio is even more appealing, with the same sense of momentum, but here using Latin American rhythms and with more orchestral color. The work illustrates a colorful Brazilian creation myth, and the music is energetic and affirmative to match. A fun disc. BBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Tamayo, Martyn Brabbins. NMC D047M (England) 09A057 $14.98

PIERS HELLAWELL (b.1956): Sound Carvings from the Water's Edge, Truth or Consequences, Sound Carvings from the Ice Wall, Memorial Cairns, Sound Carvings from Rano Raraku. Much of Hellawell's music is driven by syncopated quasi-primitive, non-classical sounding rhythms derived from folk music, using as raw material dissonant clusters from which no real thematic development may be expected - not so much "carvings", these sonic structures suggest natural formations of ice or stone. Less harmonically straightforward than much minimal music (though also capable of less harmonic tension and resolution), these pieces do indeed suggest some rough-hewn primitive and ambiguous carvings from an ancient culture. Psappha, BT Scottish Ensemble. Metronome MET CD 1029 (England) 09A058 $18.98

RONALD PERERA (b.1941): Music for Flute and Orchestra, HOWIE SMITH: Songs for the Children, EDWIN LONDON (b.1929): una novella della sera primavera for Oboe and Orchestra, JOHN EATON: Songs of Desperation & Comfort for Mezzo-Soprano andOrchestra. Perera's work is a fine vehicle for the soloist, and affords ample opportunity for tender lyricism and virtuoso display in a conventional musical language. Smith's work, dedicated to the children in countries under inhumane regimes, is more ambitious, scored for saxophone and wind-activated synthesizer, keyboard synthesizers, organ and strings; it has a melancholy, jazz-inflected feel and incorporates some striking and unusual sonorities. London has written a little musical story with the oboe as central character, and whoever he is, he occupies our attention throughout. Bernstein might well have been pleased to have written this (and the accompanying program note). The Eaton song cycle is deeply felt and expressive, covering an almost operatic range of mood and characterisation. William Wittig (flute), Howie Smith (wind controller/alto saxophone), Harry Sargous (oboe), Nelda Nelson (mezzo), Cleveland Chamber Symphony; Edwin London. Albany TROY 298 (U.S.A.) 09A059 $16.98

MOISEI VAINBERG (1919-1996): Piano Sonatas No. 1, Op. 5, No. 2, Op. 8, No. 3, Op. 31, 17 Easy Pieces, Op. 34. The first of two CDs to contain all six of Vainberg's sonatas, this recording shows a rich variety of style, revealing the composer's tremendous talent for melodic and harmonic invention. The sonatas date from 1940, 1943 and 1946 respectively. Church bells and Orthodox chant pervade the first movement of the First Sonata - as long as the rest of its three movements together. The Second, also in four movements has an obstinate perpetuum mobile for a first movment and quotes Haydn in its finale while the Third is in more classical form, with counterpoint and fugue under the composer's investigation. Murray McLachlan (piano). Olympia OCD 595 (England) 09A060 $16.98

CRISTÓBAL HALFFTER (b.1930): No queda más qeu el silencio (Cello Concerto No. 2), Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles. The lives, or more explicitly, the deaths and artistic legacies of poets, resonate throughout the works on this disc. Halffter's second cello concerto is dedicated to the memory of Lorca, and the work is unsettling, shadowy and tinged with the awareness of violence and struggle. The "Elegies" also suggest the theme of the continuation of the poet's voice despite the privations visited upon, or the destruction of the poet himself. Emotionally wrenching and heartfelt, this music is not easy, but it provides a cathartic listening experience for anyone concerned with the confrontation between art and life. Boris Pergamenshikov (cello), Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra; Cristóbal Halffter. Auvidis/Montaigne MO 782111 (France) 09A061 $18.98

ERNESTO HALFFTER (1905-1989): Rapsodia Portuguesa for Piano and Orchestra, Deux Esquisses Symphoniques, Sinfonietta in D for Violin, Cello, Double Bass and Orchestra. One of Cristóbal's uncles, Ernesto wrote immediately appealing music in a Spanish/Impressionist vein (he was a life-long disciple of Falla). The rhapsody (1940) clothes Portuguese folk songs in Ravelian orchestration and the two symphonic sketches (1925) are indebted to Debussy while the Sinfonietta, from the same year, conjures up the spirit of Scarlatti via Stravinsky in a vigorous, neo-classical vein. Juh Hee Suk (piano), Alejandro Rutkauskas (violin), Peter Wolf (cello), Boguslaw Furtok (double bass), Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra; Muhai Tang. CPO 999 493 (Germany) 09A062 $15.98

FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941): String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, String Quartet No. 4. In his later works, such as the present fourth quartet from 1937, Bridge was the antithesis of the English pastoral school (if there ever had been such a thing, and there probably wasn't - most of the examples people cite turn out to be misunderstandings on closer examination). Densely chromatic and challengingly written both for performers and listener, there is more than a breath of air from the direction of some of the developments that were taking place in Austria especially in these years. The first quartet is a much more Romantic and opulent work, readily appealing if less original. Bridge String Quartet. Meridian CDE 84369 (England) 09A063 $16.98

JEAN PERRIN (1920-1989): Symphony No. 3, Op. 24, 3 deutsche Lieder, Op. 25 for Alto and Orchestra, Concerto grosso for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 6b, String Quartet. Taut and concentrated, polytonal rather than atonal, plumbing spiritual depths then relaxing into witty play of instruments, Perrin's Third must be many people's ideal of what a 20th-century symphony should be. The early Concerto Grosso shows the influence of Stravinsky, while his final work, the string quartet, premiered the day after the composer's death, is a highly charged and serious work whose pivotal slow movements recall similar movements in the Shostakovich quartets. A most impressive composer in every way. Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana; Jean Balissat, Verena Gohl (alto), Lausanne Chamber Orchestra; Victor Desarzens, Jean Perrin (piano), Orchestre Berumünster; Charles Dutoit, Quatuor Sine Nomine. Musikszene Schweiz CTS-M 45 (Switzerland) 09A064 $18.98

JEAN DAETWYLER (1907-1994): Symphonie de la liberté for Soprano and Orchestra, 3 Rilke Lieder for Soprano and StringQuartet, Divertimento for Flute, Violin and Cello. More than half the disc is taken up with the Symphonie de la liberté, in which the composer explores the idea of liberty and the fight for it. His conventionally tonal idiom and love of big orchestral effects puts the music slightly - but only slightly - to the Hollywood side of Respighi's tone pictures, and the soprano vocalise in the second movement is a very effective coloristic touch of which the Italian master might have been proud. The Rilke-Lieder set the brief poems like little subtle landscapes framed in broad wood surroundings; the contribution of the string quartet, solid yet subtle and unobtrusive provides just such a mount for these little poetic jewels. The little Divertimento is just that - extremely diverting, pastoral, uncomplicated though instrumentally virtuosic. Barbara Martig-Tüller (soprano), Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana; Jean Daetwyler, Ingrid Frauchiger (soprano), Reist Quartet, Verena Bosshart (flute), Hand-Walter Hirzel (violin), Nicolas Hartmann (cello). Musikszene Schweiz CTS-M 15 (Switzerland) 09A065 $18.98

NORBERT MORET (b.1921): Three Pieces for Orchestra, Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Chamber Orchestra, Tragiques for Orchestra. Moret studied with Messiaen, and from time to time some of the processes and timbres he employs show some affinity with those of the older composer. For the most part, though, Moret's idiom is more dissonant, his orchestration sparer and more Germanic, less lush than that of the French composer. Trois Pièces was written for, and first performed in, the city of Hiroshima. There is an austerity to Moret's style and a fondness for unsettling subject matter which makes this intense and concentrated music an experience not to be taken lightly, even though the composer's skill is such as to render every detail with devastating clarity. Lausanne Chamber Orchestra; Lawrence Foster, Romana Pezzani (violin), Luciano Pezzani (cello), Collegium Musicum Zürich; Paul Sacher, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Horst Stein. Musikszene Schweiz CTS-M 23 (Switzerland) 09A066 $18.98

MARTIN DERUNGS (b.1943): Violin Concerto, Giarsun - 5 Songs for Soprano, Recorder and Harpsichord, Concerto for Recorder, Double Bass, Harpsichord and Strings, Scene teatrali for Wind Octet. The composer is an organist and harpsichordist, and lives a dual professional life working with early music ensembles and composing in the company of the Donaueschingen "school". His own music fits pretty well into the latter category, though his use of recorders and harpsichord in music composed in so modern an idiom is a very individual characteristic. The concerto contrasts the lyrical soloist with a strident and somewhat chaotic orchestral part. The song-cycle makes use of sprechstimme and some extended singing techniques, while the octet is more conventional in texture. Tonhalle Orchester Zürich; Michael Stern, Katharina Ott (soprano), Matthias Weilenmann (recorder), Martin Derungs (harpsichord), Camerata Zürich; Räto Tschupp, Octomania. Musikszene Schweiz CTS-M 51 (Switzerland) 09A067 $18.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): Concerto for Recorder, Strings, Celesta and Vibraphone, Op. 122, Flute Concerto No. 1, Op. 126, Flute Concerto No. 2, Op. 147. The 1974 recorder concerto is like an icy drink on a hot summer's day, the sopranino, soprano and alto recorders combining with the bell-like sounds of the celesta and vibraphone to create a refreshing, playful, wintry landscape of delight. The first flute concerto (1975-6) has a generally pastoral atmosphere while the second (1984) is a bit more extroverted, both having delicate, transparent scoring in the accompaniment. Sheer joy, high spirits and pleasure all the way through. Dan Laurin (recorders), Manuela Wiesler (flute), Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes. BIS CD 911 (Sweden) 09A068 $17.98

CARL VINE (b.1954): Oboe Concerto, PETER SCULTHORPE (b.1929): Piano Concerto, DAVID LUMSDAINE (b.1931): A Garden of Earthly Delights for Cello and Orchestra. From the solemn repeated downward-moving scales of the opening, over which the oboe announces its presence like an actor on a shadowy stage, Vine's concerto is a compelling narrative which makes the best possible use of the resources of the instrument. Tonal, full of emotional appeal and dramatic incident, this work should appeal to anyone who doesn't find Vaughan Williams too modern. Sculthorpe's concerto, full of his familiar evocations of the vast and alien landscape of Australia (and colored by a series of personal tragedies endured at the time of composition) is another wonderfully involving work, intense and dramatic, yet finding time for surprising moments of melodic tenderness and pathos. Lumsdaine's work places strong emphasis on an element of fantasy, as befits a work inspired by Bosch, but the composer's touch is light and the presence of the lyrical solo instrument makes this essentially a melodic work, for all its occasional grotesqueries. David Nuttall (oboe), Ian Munro (piano), David Pereira (cello), Australian Youth Orchestra; Diego Masson. Tall Poppies TP113 (Australia) 09A069 $18.98

DIETRICH ERDMANN (b.1917): Réminiscenses for Orchestra, Serenade for Strings and Winds, Piano Concerto, Concerto for Bassoon, Contra-Bassoon and Orchestra. Erdmann, unknown to Grove and Baker's, had a difficult early life, his socialist father being murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp and he himself being drafted into the German army in1938. Yet the two earliest works here - the Serenade from 1952 and the piano concerto from 1950 (revised in 1976) - are compositions of brilliance, vigor and unclouded optimism, especially the Serenade, which stands in a proud tradition of Austro-German "outdoors music". Erdmann eschews compositional systems and dogmas, so that his Réminiscences (1996) communicates effectively and directly for its 14-minute length the non-specific but lyrical and dramatic memories of his 63 years of composition. From the same year, the double concerto takes two unlikely soloists and, with transparent orchestration, allows them to speak in their own natural voices with none of the cheap tricks or grotesquerie which others might be tempted to use for these much-maligned double-reed instruments. Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Marc Andreae, Berlin Bach Orchestra; Dietrich Erdmann, Lothar Broddack (piano), Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Ungar, Helge Bartholomäus (bassoon), Stanislav Riha (contrabassoon), Berlin Academic Orchestra; Hans Hilsdorf. Querstand VKJK 9806 (Germany) 09A070 $18.98

MIKIS THEODORAKIS (b.1925): Symphony No. 4 "Of the Choral Odes" for Soprano, Alto, Narrator, Mixed Choir and Orchestra without Strings. Theodorakis' apparent one-man quest for the ultimate expression of "Greek-ness" in music here produces one of his most satisfying works. Writing apart from his popular style as song-writer, the composer has produced a large-scale, serious choral symphony (1986-87) setting texts of Aeschylus and Euripides in a musical vocabulary which incorporates elements of Shostakovich, of Stravinsky, even John Adams, and which forms a musical tapestry as compelling and epic in scope as anything by this ambitious composer. Sung in Greek; German-English translations (no Greek text). Kiki Morphoniou (contralto), Aleka Drakopoulou (soprano), Lida Tassopoulou (narrator), Dana Chatzigeorgiou (cello), Athens Symphonic Orchestra and Chorus; Lukas Karytinos. Intuition 3136 2 (Germany) 09A071 $16.98

WILLIAM LLOYD WEBBER (1914-1982): 3 Spring Miniatures for Piano, A Song for the Morning for Piano, Mulberry Cottage for Flute and Piano, Sonatina for Flute and Piano, The Gardens at Eastwell (A Late Summer Impression) for Flute and Piano, Air and Variations for Clarinet and Piano, Frensham Pond (Aquarelle) for Clarinet and Piano, Fantasy Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, 8 Songs. A mini-Lloyd Webber revival seems to be occurring: first Chandos' release of choral and orchestral works (07A015), and now this sampling of chamber and instrumental works and songs. Most of Lloyd Webber's compositions date from the 40s and 50s, a period when his inherited English pastoralism and suave sophistication of the French school earned him the opprobrium of a musical establishment fascinated with the European avant-garde (but the Fantasy, from 1938, may have been intended for the Cobbett competitions and is a freely rhapsodic, single-movement work). This recording lets us again enjoy the lyrical, sometimes whimsical, sometimes wistful personality of this fine miniaturist. The Nash Ensemble, John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Ian Brown (piano). Hyperion CDA 67008 (England) 09A072 $17.98

LARS-ERIK LARSSON (1908-1986): Violin Concerto, Op. 42, Violin Concertino, Op. 45/8, Trombone Concertino, Op. 45/7, Double Bass Concertino, Op. 45/11, LILLE BROR SÖDERLUNDH (1912-1957): Oboe Concertino. One of the finest Nordic violin concertos, Larsson's 1952 work, highly lyrical and with a vein of gently melancholy is reiussed here in the fine performance by Leo Berlin from 1976. Accompanied by three of the twelve concertinos which Larsson wrote for most of the solo instruments in the orchestra and joined by the 1944 Söderlundh oboe concertino - elegantly conceived with Swedish folk roots - it makes for a fine program of newly remastered Swedish Society recordings which had been deleted from the catalogue for several years. Leo Berlin (violin), Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Stig Westerberg, Christer Torge (trombone), Örebro Chamber Orchestra; Lennart Hedwall, Luigi Ossoinak (double bass), Alf Nilsson (oboe), Filharmonins Chamber Ensemble. Swedish Society SCD 1056 (Sweden) 09A073 $17.98

STEPHEN HARTKE (b.1952): Violin Concerto "Auld Swaara", Symphony No. 2. Hartke's music is an eclectic mixture of 20th-century influences, which he skillfully blends and persuades to coexist. He acknowledges Stravinsky as his spiritual mentor, and occasionally sounds like the neoclassical and later periods ofthe older composer, with open, uncluttered textures and casual use of dissonance in fundamentally linear, thematically driven music. His rhythms are always lively and emphasized by creative and extensive use of orchestral percussion (so much so that the principal percussionist is credited in the symphony). Michelle Makarski (violin), Riverside Symphony; George Rothman. New World 80533 (U.S.A.) 09A074 $16.98

MIKLÓS RÓZSA (1907-1995): The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover - Original Motion Picture Soundrack, Lydia, Crisis - Suites from the Original Motion Picture Scores. Citadel's fine work on behalf of Rózsa continues with the soundtrack to the 1978 Larry Cohen film bio of the FBI's founder. The film was poorly distributed and hardly seen, making this a veritable "lost" score; in addition, 13 of the 23 cues here were previously unreleased. The music is a return to, as Rózsa himself put it, "my crime years" - hard-driving, frenetically intense scores like The Killers (1946) and The Naked City (1948) - making for a kind of recapitulation of his darkest work. Lydia, a 1941 film starring Merle Oberon, is represented by a suite of solo piano pieces provided as "compositions" by one of the film's major characters; amongst these seven cues will be found a waltz theme which later did sterling duty in Spellbound. Crisis, from 1950 and with Cary Grant as a surgeon in a revolution-torn South American country, is scored for solo guitar, predominantly flamenco in style. Symphony Orchestra; Miklós Rózsa, Albert Dominguez (piano), Darryl Denning (guitar). Citadel STC 77118 (U.S.A.) 09A075 $14.98

GUSTAVO BEYTELMANN (b.1954): 8 airs autour du Tango for Saxophone and Strings, ENZO GIECO (b.1937): Evocations d'Argentine for Flute, Saxophone and Strings, SYLVAIN KASSAP (b.1956): 52 Fils tendus (d'après Balkanique) for Saxophone and 13 Strings, ERIC FISCHER: Concerto No. 3 for Soprano Saxophone and Strings. A very appealing disc. Beytelmann's eight pieces take the tango firmly into the concert hall in the way that Piazzolla, for example, does not attempt to; but the smoky, sultry sound of the saxophone ensures that the music is always true to its origins. Gieco has also produced an evocative work, using Argentine popular melodies as inspiration. Kassap's piece sounds more like an extended jazz improvisation, unusually accompanied by string ensemble. The Fischer "Concerto" blends energetic minimalism and texture-driven string figuration with saxophone gestures that sound like free jazz. The whole emerges as a very listenable and approachable yet wholly contemporary concerto. Jean-Pierre Baraglioli (saxophones), Enzo Gievo (flute), Latvian Chamber Orchestra; Andris Veismanis. Dapheneo 9802 (France) 09A076 $18.98

RYOHEI HIROSE (b.1930): Violin Concerto, Shakuhachi Concerto, Clima II for Orchestra, 10 Nights' Dreams for Orchestra, Flute Sonata, Pundarika for Clarinet and Piano, Asura for Violin Solo, Potalaka for Alto Recorder, Cello and Harp, Élégie for Harp, Meditiation for Alto Recorder, Kalavinka for Recorder, Oboe, Strings and Percussion. Hirose's music does not, for the most part, suggest the orient so much as a thorough schooling in the techniques of 20th-century Western music. The notable exception here is also perhaps the most satisfying piece, the lovely Shakuhachi Concerto, in which the breathy, otherworldly sound of the solo instrument draws delicate brush-strokes of sound against a shadowy background landscape. The other works mostly eschew unusual playing techniques, and there is a great emphasis on color and instrumental texture, often producing ravishing results, especially in the smaller ensemble pieces. 2 CDs. Various Artists. Camerata 25CM 516-7 (Japan) 09A077 $37.98

NOËL LEE (b.1924): Caprices on the name Schönberg for Piano and Orchestra, Convergences for Flute and Harpsichord, Five Preludes Prolonged for Piano, Dialogues for Violin and Piano. In the notes the composer tells us, with tongue-in-cheek pride, that a critic once invoked Elliott Carter for comparison when describing Caprices on the name Schönberg. It's not a bad comparison, at least some of the time. This dodecaphonic piano concerto is complex, in the sense of many-layered, though there are extended passages of stillness and repose which make this, above all, a work of striking contrasts. The smaller works are also very striking, with complex compositional processes placed at the service of a truly original voice with something new and exciting to say. Noël Lee (piano, harpsichord), András Adorjan (flute), Ole Böhn (violin), Le Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique; Jean-Pierre Marty. CRI CD 798 (U.S.A.) 09A078 $16.98

GIANCARLO MENOTTI (b.1911): Help, Help, the Globolinks!. For this deliberately absurd story about an invasion of creatures from space who can only be driven away by music, Menotti wrote - well, just the sort of appealing, tonal music he always did, actually. The Globolinks are represented by electronic burps and squeaks; unfortunately it is not clear from the booklet whether these were "composed" by Menotti. Mostly what we hear is an appealing and lively score full of incident and charm. The libretto seems ripe for an operatic edition of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", though . . . Libretto included. Erin Windle (soprano), Paul Radulescu (baritone), Rachel Joselson (soprano), Madison Symphony Orchestra; John DeMain. Newport Classic NPD 85633 (U.S.A.) 09A079 $16.98

HENRY MOLLICONE: Coyote Tales. Based on native American folk tales about the exploits of Old Man Coyote, who symbolises human behavior - vanity, courage, trickery, despair and triumph over adversity - this lively score recalls Bernstein in its ready accessibility and witty unpredictability in a conventionally tonal idiom. Rhythmically and in instrumentation there are definite echoes of Bernstein's Mass and his other serious concert works. Not much here suggests Native American music - this is an entirely respectful and in-character interpretation of these legends from a modern American perspective. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Brian Steele, Michael Ballam, Suzan Hanson, Kansas City Symphony Opera Orchestra; Russell Patterson. Newport Classics NPD 85629/2 (U.S.A.) 09A080 $33.98

HEINO JÜRISALU (1930-1991): Three Estonian Dances, Three Serenades for Chamber Orchestra, Quintet for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano, Concerto for Flute andOrchestra, Forest Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, Symphony No. 2. The most obvious comparison that comes to mind when listening to Jürisalu's music is Bartók - alternately the folk-influenced Bartók and the composer of the Concerto for Orchestra. Here are the same dancing polyrhythms, and the bitonality which sometimes stretches the point a bit further, without ever sounding atonal. One might also detect some similarities with late Sibelius here and there. The Serenades and the somewhat Shostakovich-like symphony are especially striking. Latvian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Eri Klas, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra; Niyazi, Samuel Saulus (flute), Kalle Kauksi (horn), Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Eri Klas, Peeter Lilje, Paul Mägi. Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9119 (Germany) 09A081 $16.98

ESTER MÄGI (b.1922): Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola, Haiku for Baritone and Piano, Cantus for Guitar and Cello, Vana Kannel for Piano, Huiked for Voice, Guitar and Flute, Dialoge for Flute, Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Variationen for Piano, Clarinet and Orchestra. Elegant, introverted and expressive, and with a profound sense of historical perspective - many of the works suggest at least the ambience, and often the material of folklore and folk music - Mägi's music is harmonically colorful yet based in a rich tonality; rejecting the avant-garde, and transcending the bombast of much "Soviet Romantic" music, these pieces are very personal. At times there are suggestions of influences going as far back as Mussorgsky, at others, of the concentrated not-a-note-wasted techniques of the best of her Soviet contemporaries - Sviridov, for example. Underlying all, though, is a deeply personal expression of tradition and the individual's response to it. Very well worth getting to know. Various soloists including Alexandra Juozapenaite (piano), Alfred Sikk (clarinet), Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Järvi. Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9110 (Germany) 09A082 $16.98

RICHARD WERNICK (b.1934): Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto. Wernick is one of those 20th-century composers who is too individual to be labelled "eclectic" yet admitting too many influences to belong to a clearly recognisable school. Both the strongly, functionally tonal elements in his music, and the freely atonal ones, are there to play off each other gleefully, with no hint of point-proving. The big first movement of the piano concerto has a drive and verve worthy of Shostakovich, while the second radiates a mood of serenity rare in 20th-century music, and the brief finale is an unabashed virtuoso showpiece. The Violin Concerto is another wholly satisfying work, from its spiky, virtuosic, Bartókian first movement through the true heart of the work, thee impassioned, somewhat anguished slow movement (the work is dedicated to the composer's son, who died of cancer shortly after the premiere) to the questing, ambiguously resolved finale. Highly recommended. Lambert Orkis (piano), Gregory Fulkerson (violin), Symphony II; Richard Wernick, Larry Rachleff. Bridge 9082 (U.S.A.) 09A083 $16.98

PAUL LANSKY (b.1944): For the Moment, Chords, Now That You Mention It, Same Scene, Nine Years Later, Andalusia, Shadows. The cover of this CD is very apt; it shows a computer-altered image of a piano against a brightly lit background in flowing, abstract, self-luminous colors. And this is pretty much what we hear on the disc; the composer has achieved a synthesis of "background" glowing computer-generated textures with recordings of "foreground" musical material. "Chords" is mostly background, and has an Eno-like ambient atmosphere; the piano is central to the texture on much of the rest of the disc. The effect is of real life events - conversation, music - filtered through the abstracting process of memory, yet in a reassuring, confident, even affectionate manner. Bridge 9083 (U.S.A.) 09A084 $16.98

CURT CACIOPPO (b.1951): America: a prayer, ¡Angelus!, Old Petitions, Pawnee Preludes, Monsterslayer (Nayénûzgani). Cacioppo is an authority on Native American music and campaigner against the social injustices visited upon the indigenous American peoples. Thematic elements from Native American music recur throughout the music on this disc, as in the Pawnee Preludes which use Pawnee melodies as ground basses around which the composer weaves quasi-improvisational harmony and contrapuntal commentary. The string quartet Monsterslayer (after a Navajo legend) is a dramatic piece of musical narrative, sufficiently tonal and conventionally structured easily to be followed through its 35 minutes, yet full of strikingly graphic sound effects to heighten the almost cinematic vivdness of its story-telling. Curt Cacioppo (piano), Emerson String Quartet. Capstone CPS 8652 (U.S.A.) 09A085 $16.98

WILLIAM MATHIAS (1934-1992): Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 23, Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 46, JOHN PICKARD (b.1963): A Starlit Dome, Piano Sonata. Tough and sinewy, and with an unerring sense of the "long line" running from first note to last, both of Mathias' sonatas make for a highly concentrated listening experience. Tonal and sonorous, and always rhythmically vital, these are very fine works indeed; the more dissonant, rugged and slightly forbidding Second Sonata may be one of the finest British sonatas of recent years. Pickard studied with Mathias, and there is a similar sense of propulsive movement in his music, and a great deal of youthful energy. Raymond Clarke (piano). Athene STH CD 15 (England) 09A086 $18.98

GIACINTO SCELSI (1905-1988): Hyxos for Alto Flute and Percussion, PWYLL for Solo Flute, Cinque Incantesimi for Piano, Rucke di guck for Piccolo Flute and Oboe, Quays for Alto Flute Solo, Quattro Illustrazioni for Piano, Krishna e Radha for Flute and Piano*. All of these works date from 1953-57 at a time when the composer's focus was shifting from monophonic processes to his characteristic concentration on a single tone, varied in minute kaleidoscopically differentiations in color and pitch. This process can be heard underway in the wind pieces; the two sets of piano pieces offer something different - flowing sound processes over ostinati with extreme ranges and dynamics. Krishna e Radha is a home-made tape of an improvisation with Scelsi at the piano, made in 1986. Carin Levine (flutes), Kristi Becker (piano), Peter Veale (oboe), Edith Salmen (percussion), Giacinto Scelsi (piano)*. CPO 999 340 (Germany) 09A087 $15.98

VINKO GLOBOKAR (b.1934): Eisenberg for 16 Musicians, Airs de voyages vers l'intérieur for Eight Singers, Clarinet and Trombone, Labour for Symphony Orchestra. A good deal of Globokar's music is left to the performers - pitches, rhythms even texts to be sung, or chanted, shouted or screamed! But the composer is ingenious in prescribing a sufficient framework that each piece progresses along the lines he intended; this is not the chance collision of the sounds of everyday life. The big orchestral piece Labour (ploughing) contains some striking sonorities and suggests the unfolding of a vast chaos within which recognisable objects or landscapes can be glimpsed as though illuminated by lightning flashes. University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra; Vinko Globokar. Col Legno 20004 (Germany) 09A088 $18.98

TOSHIO KOSOKAWA (b.1955): Vertical Time Study I for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Sen V for Accordion, In die Tiefe der Zeit for Cello, Accordion and Strings, Melodia for Accordion, Vertical Time Study III for Violin and Piano. Japanese composer Hosokawa studied in Europe with Isang Yun and Brian Ferneyhough, among others. His music shares something of the elliptical, ambiguous quality of the oriental calligraphy which he acknowldges as an influence on his style; bold, deceptively simple strokes in strong relief represent layers of meaning. The three works for accordion make telling use of the unusual solo instrument to create unexpected sonorities which, without imitation, nonetheless manage to suggest the soul-shakingly stirring meditative procedures of Sufic and Tibetan myticism. Michael Rissler (clarinet), Werner Taube (cello), Yukiko Sugawara-Lachenmann (piano), Stefan Hussong (accordion), Julius Berger (cello), Kammerorchester Diagonal; Chosei Komatsu, Asako Urushihara (violin). Col Legno 20016 (Germany) 09A089 $18.98

MASATAKA MATSUO (b.1959): Phonosphere I, DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975): Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47. Matsuo's Phonosphere I is a striking large-scale concertante work for shakuhachi flute, "sounding board" (an untuned percussion instrument) and large orchestra. After an impressive orchestral introduction in the 20th-century western symphonic tradition, the soloist enters and the work takes on a remarkable cross-cultural ambience - dramatic and full of orchestral color, yet with a formalised, ritualistic element supplied by the otherworldly tones of the bamboo flute. Kifu Mitsuhashi (shakuhachi), Masataka Matsuo (tsukeuchi), Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe; Kazushi Ono. Antes Edition 31.9112 (Germany) 09A090 $16.98

PABLO ORTIZ (b.1956): Trazos en el Polvo, Vida Furtiva, ANDREW FRANK (b.1946): Range of Light, Autumn Rhythm, ROSS BAUER (b.1951): Octet. These very recent works - all were written in the 1990s - share a common thread in being atonal, but without making dissonance an end in itself, or possibly tonal, without being tied to conventional key relationships. And the use of dynamic rhythmic patterns to propel the music forward further heightens the impression of approachable works in which lyricism and emotion play a strong part. Especially appealing are the two works by Andrew Frank, which have an open, airy quality and a romantic sensibility which make the exact description of their musical langauge irrelevant. The Empyrean Ensemble; Ross Bauer. Centaur CRC 2386 (U.S.A.) 09A091 $16.98

GEORGI ARNAOUDOV (b.1957): The Circle of Rites for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble, Ritual I for Solo Piano, Incarnation dans la lumière (Ritual II) for Solo Piano, Borges Fragment (Ritual III), for Solo Cello, Kyrie (Summe Deus) for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble. Bulgarian composer Arnaoudov has absorbed the modes ind inflections of Bulgarian folk music and the orthodox church into a postmodern idiom that allows a great rhythmic and harmonic freedom while retaining a simplicity which makes it highly approachable, though with more "content" than certain of the European "slow minimalists". There are definite echoes of somewhere considerably further east than Bulgaria too. Sonorous and beautiful, this music seems to echo from archaic and archetypal depths. Emilia Maximova (soprano), Ensemble Musica Nova; Plamen Djourov, Boyan Vodenicharov (piano), Kalina Krusteva (cello). Gega 187 (Bulgaria) 09A092 $16.98

CHRISTOS TSITSAROS (b.1961): Blackbirds at Ueno, Autumn Sketches, The Bike Ride, Ballade, Nine Tales, Cyprian Fantasy, Echoes from an Arena. Tsitsaros' music is conventionally tonal, but incorporating atmospheric references to modal inflections of the folk and church music of his native Cyprus. Figurations and piano textures which suggest piano music of the romantic era place the composer - who is his own first-rate interpreter here - in the tradition of virtuoso pianist-composers, who have often been drawn to write vivid impressions of time and place like those contained in this appealing recital. Christos Tsitsaros (piano). Centaur CRC 2382 (U.S.A.) 09A093 $16.98

IANNIS XENAKIS (b.1922): Jalons, PIERRE BOULEZ (b.1925): Le marteau sansa maître, GÉRARD GRISEY (b.1946): Talea, ERIC TANGUY (b.1968): Un soleil rêve, EDGARD VARÈSE (1883-1965): Octandre. These live performances - according to the notes, really live, not the live-ish mosaics of different performances, rehearsals and "after hours" recording sessions frequently presented to us nowadays as concert recordings - succeed admirably in demonstrating how compelling this music can be in concert, freed from the sterility induced in the pursuit of note-perfection in "difficult" music in the recording studio. The Grisey and Tanguy works are the most unfamiliar here, and both hold their own in distinguished company here, the Grisey colorful, composed of fleeting glimpses of light and shadow, the Tanguy a broad, almost orchestral canvas on which quasi-impressionistic colors are laid out with modernist boldness. Xenakis fans will be glad to have his 1986 work Jalons ("Punctuation Marks") - not otherwise available on CD - an extremely rhythmically complex work whose scoring favors bass instruments and with the composer's characteristic compelling mix of loud, eruptive incidents and condensed, complicated textures. KammarensembleN; B Tommy Andersson. Caprice CAP 21581 (Sweden) 09A094 $16.98

JOSEF MATTHIAS HAUER (1883-1959): Nomos, Op. 1, Nomos, Op. 2, Nomos for Piano Two Hands, Op. 19, Phantasie, Op. 17, Tanz, Op. 10, Nachklangstudien, Op. 16, Atonale Stücke, Nos. 10 & 20, Klavierstücke mit Überschriften nach Worten von Freidrich Hölderlin, Etude für Klavier, Op. 22/1, Zwölftonspiel 4 for Piano Two Hands. Hauer was the composer who "discovered" 12-note technique independently of Schoenberg, who claimed prior discovery of the method, and who has been marginalised ever since by disciples of the Second Viennese School. Whatever the truth about who invented what first, his music is worth hearing. Full of emotional content, in an expressionist and perhaps rather disturbed or distressed vein, these works all carry on, in a sense, from where Scriabin left off, though Scriabin never formalised a note-row system to underpin his mystically-influenced music, as Hauer did. There are some real surprises here, and none of the music sounds at all academic or theoretical; the best is truly gripping (and, it has to be said, better conceived for the instrument than that of the acknowledged master of dodecaphony!). Elisabeth Klein (piano). Classico CLASSCD 178 (Norway) 09A095 $14.98

FRANCO MARGOLA (1908-1992): Sonatina a sei, Cammina Cammina, Poi che'l Cammin, 3 Pieces for Flute and Piano, Partita for Flute and Oboe, Sonata a tre for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon, La longobarda, Wind Trio, 3 epigrammi greci, 4 Bagatelles for Winds, 3 Pieces for Clarinet andPiano, 2 Duetti for Flutes, 3 Pezzi for Bassoon and Piano, 3 impressioni for Flute and Piano. All these chamber works - for a wide range of instrumental and vocal forces - share a common thread of spontaneity and refreshing directness and openness of expression. Influenced by Pizzetti and Casella, the composer wrote in a familiar harmonic language, with a neoclassical restraint tempered with a communicative urge and a precision and economy of means - many of the pieces here are very short (most of the movements of the Partita, for example, are under a minute and succeed admirably in setting a scene and telling a story even within this brief span). None of these little gems ever outstays its welcome, and there is always a delightful twist or turn around the corner to surprise and delight the ear. The Petruzzeli Ensemble. Rainbow Classics RW 98106 (Italy) 09A096 $16.98

CHARLES CAMILLERI (b.1931): Fantasie-bolero, Sonatina No. 1, The Spirit of Solitude, Sonata No. 1, The Edge of Silence, Scanzona, Fantasia concertante No. 4, The Frankfurt Prayer, 3 Maltese Folk Songs. Camilleri's pleasant modally inflected harmony and conventional writing within the European tradition, with a smatteriing of eastern mysticism to leaven the mix, are shown to good advantage in this collection of agreeable and very approachable works for violin and piano. Nothing here sounds like nothing you've ever heard before, but Camilleri is at his best in small forms and writing for smaller forces, and these works, especially the earlier ones, are most enjoyable. Susanne Stanzeleit (violin), Sophia Rahman (piano). ASV DCA 1040 (England) 09A097 $16.98

PIETRO ALLORI (1925-1985): Polifonia sacra, Le sette parole di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo in croce. Allori was first and foremost a clergyman; professionally his life revolved around the cathedral of Inglesias in Sardinia, where he was choirmaster with additional parochial responsibilities. He was in charge of the liturgical music for the church, and as a gifted composer wrote a large body of a capella vocal music expressly for use in the church services. He had made extensive study of the music of Bach, which assured a faultless compositional technique, but for the spiritual inspiration and actual sound of his music the roots lie further back in the history of sacred polyphony. These subtle, beautiful compositions, as cool and pure as the Gregorian chants from which they derive, add to the canon of church music stretching back to the sixteenth century, without imposing distracting disruptions on it in any way. Pro Cantione Antiqua; Mark Brown. Antes Concerto BM-CD 951036 (Germany) 09A098 $16.98