DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975): October, Op. 132, Suite on Words of Michelangelo for Bass and Orchestra, Op. 145a, 6 Romances on Verses of English Poets for Bass and Orchestra, Op. 140. A late work from 1974, written after the composer had learned of the incurable heart condition which would kill him the next year, the Michelangelo suite's eleven settings are quite emotionally charged and range from darkly lyrical to violently protesting. The late opus number for the "English poets" cycle was assigned to the 1971 orchestration of an original 1942 work whose selection allowed Shostakovich to make veiled references to current problems by using texts centuries old. October, written for the 50th anniversary of the Revolution, is a 13-minute tone poem of vibrant color which shares its general tone (and "Partisan's Song" in particular) with the "Ninth of January" movement of the Eleventh Symphony. English texts (op. 140), Russian-English texts (op. 145a). Ildar Abdrazakov (bass), BBC Philharmonic; Gianandrea Noseda. Chandos 10358 (England) $17.98

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975): Suite from The Adventures of Korzikina, Op. 59, 2 Choruses after A. Davidenko for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 124, Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35, Symphony No. 9 in E Flat, Op. 70. We offer this for the rarities of the nine-minute film suite (available only here) from a 1940 comedy which uses five of the ten preserved numbers from the family archives, put together by conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and the two four-minute choruses by composer Alexander Davidenko (1899-1934) - one bleak and menacing, the other wildly jubilant - which Shostakovich first heard in 1959 and arranged for chorus and orchestra in 1963. Russian-English texts. Tatiana Polyanskaya (piano), Russian State Symphonic Cappella and Orchestra; Valery Polyansky. Chandos 10378 (England) $17.98

ARTHUR KAMPELA (b.1960): Nosturnos, STEFANO GERVASONI (b.1962): Studio di Disabitudine, RANDY NORDSCHOW (b.1969): Detail of Beethoven's Hair, JAMES TENNEY (b.1934): Chromatic Canon, ELLIOTT SHARP (b.1951): Suberrebus for Piano and Computer Processing, CLAUDE VIVIER (1948-1983): Shiraz, GYÖRGY LIGETI (1923-2006): Études Nos. 16-18. This recital is the result of the pianist's interest in extending the possibilities of piano performance, of taking the pianist out of the pianistic routine and creating sounds which neither she nor anyone else would have heard before; she even suggested such works as might require her to develop new playing techniques or an "eleventh finger" (the disc's title). All but the Ligeti and Vivier were written specifically for Lin and run a wide gamut of sound worlds and compositional techniques and ideas - sufficiently wide to make it easier to just note that collectors of avant-garde piano music will not want to miss out on at least some of them. Jenny Lin (piano). Koch International Classics 7670 (U.S.A.) 09I0 $17.98

CAREY BLYTON (1932-2002): Dracula! or The Vampire Vanquished, Op. 87, Sweeney Todd the Barber, Op. 79. Part of a series of "Victorian melodramas" which Blyton wrote for, apparently, a mix of adult and young performers: the title page has it "for Narrator, Unison Voices and Piano plus Optional Instruments". Quite funny, these potted versions of two macabre tales come off like a vaudeville that might have been performed in a Victorian pub or a Western tavern - except for that children's chorus. Well, how about a Monty Python sketch about a troupe including a children's chorus performing macabre tales in a Victorian pub? Who could resist "Professor Van Helsing's Patter Song" and "Renfield's Dining-room Ballad"?. Texts included. Derek Wright (narrator), Soloists from New Decade Opera, The Redbridge Music School Singers and Instrumentalists; Edna Graham. Meridian CDE 84533 (England) $17.98


Peter Ruzicka (b.1948)

'Celan' Symphony: Erinnerung

Anne-Carolyn Schülter, soprano; Thomas Mohr, baritone; Sharon Kam, clarinet; NDR SO/Ruzicka

Ruzicka's 'Celan' Symphony is intimately related to his opera on the life of the poet, whose vividly expressive and haunted metaphors of the Holocaust (which claimed both his parents) resonated with the composer from his first encounter with Celan's poetry, and which have amounted to a compositional obsession ever since. The opera is divided into scenes which, rather than providing a biographical chronological sequence, reflect back and forth the powerful images of memory contained in Celan's poetry with details from his life, culminating in the approach of his suicide (in 1970, shortly after Ruzicka met him), and incorporated material that Ruzicka had already written in other, prefatory works; the Symphony continues this approach by distilling scenes from the opera. Several movements, in fact, feature two voices in texts derived from the libretto. From its foreboding opening, abruptly exploding into violence, the first movement, entitled 'presentiments' , suggests that this is to be a work of epic scope and uncompromising emotional intensity, and so it proves. Ruzicka's involvement with Celan's work comes through in an almost obsessional, neo-expressionistic manner; there is little relief from the tension and oppressively dark hues of the work throughout - far from easy listening, then, but entirely successful in achieving the atmosphere of brooding intensity appropriate to its subject. Ruzicka's musical vocabulary is very clearly a post-late Mahlerian one, a trend that seems to have become fashionable among currently active German and Austrian composers including Wolfgang Rihm and Detlef Glanert in recent works; more freely dissonant material incorporated into the argument says something of the troubled 20th century that followed, perhaps, but the underlying Romantic preoccupation with the human condition is clearly the basis for this 'new æsthetic'. Similarly effective, and similarly shadowy and uneasy, the clarinet concerto (in all but name) employs some unmistakably modern elements (a subtly introduced tape part, for example) in a work of wide expressive range and clear narrative thread woven through music of intriguing complexity. Thorofon CTH2490 $17.98 Ø


Georges Aperghis (b. 1945) In extremis

De-Qing Wen (b. 1972) Quatre poésies

Mela Meierhans (coy about her age) Souffle combattant

Marie Schwab, violas

Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain

Aperghis' piece is a kind of concerto grosso for an unorthodox instrumental ensemble, all members and subsidiary groupings of which are afforded ample opportunity for bravura display. Experimental and free in form, the work weaves clear, light and airy textures from quite complex material (with limited use of extended instrumental techniques), progressing through stages of energetic activity to an eventual calm. De-Qing Wen was inspired to these four instrumental fantasias by the poetry of Li Bai (701 - 762); they aim to capture the essence of Chinese poetry as read aloud, with allusions also to calligraphy and painting. Unsurprisingly then, the music emphasizes colour and timbre, and a theatrical sense of drama (not infrequently quite expressionistic and dissonant, not to say harsh), and incorporating a wide instrumental vocabulary from relatively conventional to the incorporation of 'noise' effects. Meierhan's work is an homage to, and extension of, 'Cordes plus' by Maurice Benhamou, an experimental work - in one version of 'Souffle combattant' (not the one recorded here) a recording of the earlier work is part of the texture of the new one. Her work was composed for, and is performed on, the 5- and 8-string custom-made violas for which Benhamou's piece was conceived and played. The work is theatrical, with suggestions of a hidden narrative hinted at by instrumental sound effects, the textures fragmented, though occasionally enlivened by jaunty driving rhythmic passages that serve to propel the music forward. Musiques Suisses MGB CTS-M97 $18.98 Ø


ETIENNE-NICOLAS MÉHUL (1763-1817): L'Irato ou l'Emporté. Challenged by Napoleon that, fine a composer as he was, he could not possibly write what the First Consul really liked - namely good, old Italian opere buffe like Paisiello or Cimarosa - Méhul produced this one-act buffo piece in 1801. Attributing it in a newspaper to a fictional Italian composer (dead at an early age), Méhul's authorship was only revealed after its gigantic success on the night of its premiere. This recording is the work's first performance since 1804 and features a fine cast of young singers and a new period-instrument orchestra which is an offshoot of Concerto Köln. French-English libretto. Pauline Courtin (soprano), Cyril Auvity (tenor), Miljenko Turk (baritone), Bonn Chamber Choir, l'arte del mondo; Werner Ehrhardt. Capriccio 60128 (Germany) $17.98 Ø

FRANZ ALEXANDER PÖSSINGER (1767-1827): Trio concertantes in E Flat, Op. 36/1 and in D, Op. 36/2, Serenata in Trio concertante, Op. 10. Only five months ago (04H048) Pössinger's name first turned up in these pages as the arranger for piano and string quartet of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Now, some original compositions: string trios of the Biedermeier (at least the latter two since the op. 10 may be earlier than 1815 when, arguably, the period started) era. Music for domestic consumption, yes, but outstanding in the genre for Pössinger's obvious joy in letting the instruments change and share registers while not being exactly parsimonious with melodic invention either. Kontraste Köln. Capriccio 67 162 (Germany) $17.98 Ø

MAURO GIULIANI (1781-1829): Grand Duo Concertante for Violin and Guitar, Op. 85, Sonatine for Guitar, Op. 71/3, 6 Ariette on poems by Metastasio for Soprano and Guitar, Op. 95, Grand Overture for Guitar, Op. 61, Serenata for Violin, Cello and Guitar, Op. 19, 6 Variations on La Folia for Guitar, Op. 45, 6 Variations for Violin and Guitar, Op. 63, Guitar Concerto in A, Op. 30, Rossiniana No.1 for Guitar, Op. 119. A generous selection of guitar music, on a c.1815 instrument, by the undisputed master of the instrument in the Classical period, much of it rather unknown, outside of the concerto, Rossiniana and Grand Duo (often performed with flute). Italian-English texts. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Richard Savino (guitar), Jennifer Ellis (soprano), William Skeen (cello), Portland Baroque Orchestra; Monica Huggett (violin). Koch International Classics 7591 (U.S.A.) $17.98

EDUARDO GAMBOA: Voces de tierra, JULIO CÉSAR OLIVA: Por siempre Sabines, SAMUEL ZYMAN (b.1956): Solamente sola, ISAAC SAÚL: Canción de ausencia, KAVINDU: 4 piezas devocionales. This attractive recital of songs by contemporary Mexican composers showcases melodic lyricism above all, in directly appealing vocabularies which, though varied, are all firmly tonal. Gamboa's three songs with ensemble accompaniment evoke Latin idioms the most strongly of the pieces here; the music is warmly sensuous, the third of the three having something of the feel of a refined popular ballad. The three by Oliva, with guitar accompaniment, are in a very Romantic, almost popular style and preserve a very Latin sense of atmosphere, while New York-Based Zyman's songs have a more cosmopolitan feel, remaining resolutely tonal and highly approachable. Isaac Saúl's work occupies a strange and somewhat harmonically ambiguous sound-world, over which the voice floats in a pure and austere lyrical line. The four songs by Kavindu (Alejandro Velasco) reflect the composer's adoption of Buddhism; reiterated piano figures like repeated mantras and straightforward harmonies recall 1980s Philip Glass. No texts. Irasema Terrazas (soprano), Yleana Bautista (piano), Marisa Canales (flute), Edward Spencer (english horn), Marcia Yount (oboe), Eleanor Weingartner (clarinet), Beata Kukawska (violin), Victor Flores (double bass), Gabriela Jiménez (percussion). Urtext JBCC 068 (Mexico) $17.98

MIGUEL BERNAL JIMENEZ (1910-1956): Cuarteto Virreinal, MANUEL M. PONCE (1882-1948): Intermezzo for Piano and Strings, Gavotta, ANA MARIA CHARLES (1888-1947): Vals "Piedad", ALEJANDRO MEZA (1888-1970): Andante religioso, for Piano Quintet, SAMUEL MAYNEZ PRINCE (1886-1965): 3 danzas for Violin and Strings, JOSÉ F. VELASQUEZ (1896-1961): 2 lieder for Soprano and Strings, JUVENTINO ROSAS (1868-1894): Danzón, Polka. This series of Mexican works for strings (or string quartet), with or without piano, is centered around the generation of composers born in the last ten years of the 19th century whose contributions recorded here are in a high-quality salon style, little atmospheric pieces which suggest the gracious atmosphere of the genteel upper class with a bit of melancholy thrown in for seasoning. Jimenez was a student of Maynez Prince and his string quartet is a tribute to their conservative Romanticism. Alauda Ensemble. Urtext JBCC 084 (Mexico) $17.98

HARALD GENZMER (b.1909): Double Bass Sonata, Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2, Fantasie for Double Bass and Piano, 6 Bagatelles for Cello and Double Bass. Genzmer's objectivity and emphasis on craftsmanship and structure put him into the same category as his teacher Hindemith and these works for low string instruments show him exploring the possibilites of polyphony and dissonance resulting from the melodic motion of various voices while still producing amply attractive melodic thematic material. All but the first cello sonata are late works (1976 to 1985), and the polyphony and fragmentation of thematic material is more present there; coming from 1953, the former has clearer and more easily comprehensible thematic shape. Martin Ostertag (cello), Nabil Shehata (double bass), Oliver Triendl (piano). Thorofon CTH 2529 (Germany) $17.98

NED ROREM (b.1923): The Auden Songs, The Santa Fe Songs. Rorem's characteristic elegance and refinement of expression coupled with deeply felt, passionate emotional content, rarely presented in an extrovert, heart-on-sleeve manner but always discernible, churning just beneath the surface, finds a perfect foil in the poetry of W.H.Auden, about whose flawlessly turned and polished phrases barely concealing all manner of uneasy, fractured layers, almost exactly the same might be said. Auden's poetry, which veers vertiginously from light camp to such dispassionate and dry-eyed examination of horrors and nightmare that one is compelled to re-read the line to be sure that one didn't misunderstand what was intended, is set in Rorem's familiar tonal yet harmonically astringent vocabulary (here ingeniously using the resources of the piano trio for accompaniment) in music that is alternately vehement, withdrawn, sardonic or warmly expressive, yet always clear-eyed and serving to amplify the texts without seeking to overpower them with bravura musical display. The mezzo cycle (piano quartet accompaniment this time) to poems of Wittner Bynner is a more genial work, in keeping with the poems' smaller-scale, more local aspirations, though not lacking in variety and exquisite underlining of little insights and shifts of perspective that suddenly illuminate some aspect of the human condition. Christopher Lemmings, tenor, Sara Fulgoni, mezzo-soprano, Chamber Domaine, Black Box BBM1104 $17.98

NED ROREM (b.1923): Works for choir and organ. Rorem has written a good deal of 'religious' music throughout his long and illustrious career to date - in fact, this disc contains the 19-year old composer's effective 'Op.1', 'The Seventieth Psalm' - explaining the deftness with which he has been able to turn his craft to the expression of beliefs which are not his own by his belief in the power of belief to engender art of the highest value, regardless of the intrinsic validity of the tenets of those beliefs. The early pieces show a young composer of immense fluency in the process of finding his own voice, and they are quite conventionally diatonic, even resembling hymn tunes (good ones!) a good part of the time. The bulk of the works, though, are from the 70s onward, and are wholly characteristic of Rorem's mature style, written for the voice with exquisite clarity and with just enough dissonance, modal inflection or harmonic ambiguity to prevent the music ever becoming predictable. The solo organ works placed throughout the recital (aiding the listener in hearing the CD through as though in concert) are taken from the composer's several volumes of short pieces for the instrument. Somewhat more harmonically adventurous, and here and there more emphatically extrovert, than the choral works, they further demonstrate Rorem's range, and the enormous versatility of his chosen vocabulary. The Harvard University Choir, cond. Murray Forbes Somerville, Appleton Wind Ensemble, Brattle Street Chamber Players, Carson Cooman, organ. Black Box BBM1102 $17.98

LUDWIG THUILLE (1861-1907): Violin Sonata, Op. 30, RUDI STEPHAN (1887-1915): Groteske, HANS PFITZNER (1869-1949): Violin Sonata in E Minor, Op. 30. Not previously available in this country, this recital provides a snapshot of the "Munich School" of composers, founded by Thuille, and broadly characterized as combining the solid form and harmonic proportions of Brahms and Rheinberger with the chromatic harmony of Richard Strauss and Wagner. Thuille's 1904 sonata is impetuous and driven in its outer movements, poetic in the central adagio molto while Pfitzner's 1918 work, in its opulence and surprisingly youthful exuberance, would never betray the fact that Europe lay devastated around the composer at the time. Like the Thuille, Stephan's little, seven-minute Groteske is otherwise unavailable on disc and, dating from 1911, looks ahead to the modernism of the Hindemith of the 20s. Christoph Schickedanz (violin), Berhard Fograscher (piano). 2000 release. Telos TLS 030 (Germany) $17.98 Ø

LEOPOLD GODOWSKY (1870-1938): Sonata in E Minor, Java Suite, 3 Klavierstücke, Passacaglia, Variations, Cadenza and Fugue on the Opening of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony. Only the second CD appearance of the Java Suite, in which that most pianistic of piano composers puts his unparalleled knowledge of his instrument at the service of picture-painting in what has to be one of the most evocative musical travelogues ever. These pieces are not primarily concerned with technique, unlike the Studies after Chopin; they paint the landscape that so impressed the composer on his travels in the 1920s in vivid, glowing colors. Most Godowsky collectors will be glad to have a third recording of the massive, five-movement sonata; the Passacaglia is rather well-served at the moment but the three piano pieces ("Adoration", "Capriccio Patetico" and "Elegy") are otherwise unavailable. 2 CDs. Michael Schäfer (piano). 2002 release. Telos TLS 052 (Germany) $35.98 Ø

PEETER VAHI (b.1955) Supreme Silence. Based on Tibetan Buddhist rituals, 'Supreme Silence' is at least as much a devotional exercise as a piece of concert music. It incorporates instruments used in a ritual context, such as the huge bass brass horn which opens the work and evocative temple drums and gongs, and much of the vocal writing resembles ritual chanting. Two Tibetan prayers are used, and the sung material ranges between folk-style singing and vaguely 'new age' serenity and meditativeness; some strongly rhythmic passages of choral chanting incongruously suggest moments from Orff's 'Carmina Burana'. The music is mostly harmonically uncomplicated and consonant, apart from the indeterminate pitch exoticism suggested by certain bell effects. The work culminates in five minutes of complete silence about 2/3 of the way through; leaving this aside, which those fully committed to the ritual aspects of the piece may not wish to do, the piece is a richly sonorous meditation of serious purpose, and stands several steps above much of what passes for 'world music' in the popular sense. Irén Lovász, vocalist, Estonian National Male Choir, English Handbell Ensemble Arsis, instrumentalists, cond. Kristjan Järvi. CCn'C (Germany) CCn'C 00182 $17.98

VLADIMIR MARTYNOV (b.1946) Night in Galicia. "Night in Galicia" is based on texts by Velimir Khlebnikov (1885 - 1922), a key figure in the early Russian avant-garde who was keenly interested in Slavic folklore. These songs and instrumental interludes evoke a primitive eastern-European folk music, setting poetry which anthropomorphizes natural forces - water, air, forest - suggesting a blending of ancient myth and actual pre-historic culture. Harsh, 'out-of-doors' sounds predominate, guttural vocalisations and chanted nonsense-syllables emulate some reconstructed primitive ritual, bypassing, so to speak, the perspective of western concert music in an act of imaginary musical palæontology. Ensemble Opus Posth., Fol-ensemble D.Pokrovsky. CCn'C (Germany) CCn'C 00802 $17.98

ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998): Film Music, Vol. 2 - Clowns and Children, The Waltz, Glass Harmonica and The Ascent. This is what put food on Schnittke's table while he wrote a lot of concert music for the drawer and this new release offers a wide variety of styles, from the music for a surreal cartoon (Glass Harmonica) which uses a theremin, an early Russian synthesizer called an "Ekvodin", an electric organ, electric accordion and electric guitar along with a big orchestra to a wistful sequence of waltz pastiches and transcriptions, bright and pungent circus music and, in The Ascent, eerie and brooding war music for a film about Soviet partisans. You don't need to know or to have seen any of these films for the scores to be thoroughly enjoyable. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Frank Strobel. Capriccio SACD hybrid 71 061 (Germany) $18.98 Ø

DOMENICO SCARLATTI (1685-1757): Cantatas: Con qual cor mi chiedi pace?, Fille, già più non parlo, Qual pensier, quale ardire, No, no fuggire and Ti ricorda, o bella Irene, Keyboard Sonatas K. 77, 215 & 277. The texts to these cantatas may be by Metastasio and they were probably written for Farinelli as he wound down his career in private service to the king of Spain. Rather on the cutting edge at the time, the emotions of the anguish of love dispensed with the baroque tradition of not mixing "affects" and the manner in which Scarlatti depicts the distraction and emotional turmoil of the protagonist would have sat well in C.P.E. Bach's contemporary world of Empfindsamkeit. In addition, since fortepianos by Cristofori and Ferrini were known to exist at the Spanish court, one is used for both the sonatas and as a continuo instrument. The accompanying DVD contains, as well as excerpts from two of the cantatas here, a portrait of the, um, shall we say, flamboyant? Cencic which is worth watching even if only for the home movie segments of him singing the Queen of the Night coloraturas as a five-year-old (yes, really!). Italian-English texts. CD and DVD included. Max Emanuel Cencic (countertenor), Maya Amrein (cello), Yasunori Imamura (theorbo, baroque guitar), Aline Zylberajch (fortepiano). Capriccio 67 173 (Germany) $23.98 Ø

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Missa solemnis, S 9, "Gran Festival Mass". If you are a Liszt completist and don't have the 30-year-old Hungaroton recording of this mass, written for the consecration in 1856 of the cathedral in Esztergom (where St. Stephen was crowned), this college orchestra recording from the late 90s does reasonable justice to this simple, fervent, utterly non-Romantic version of the mass. Anne-Marguerite Werster (soprano), Liliana Bizineche-Eisinger (mezzo), Guy Flechter (tenor), Johannes Schmidt (bass-baritone), Choir and Orchestra Paris-Sorbonne; Jacques Grimbert. Original 1997 release. Arte Nova ANO 654180 (Germany) $4.98

CHARLES-HENRI VALENTIN ALKAN (1813-1888): Andante du 8 Quatuor (K. 464), JOACHIM RAFF (1822-1882): Souvenirs de "Don Giovanni", Op. 45, IGNAZ FRIEDMAN (1882-1948): Romance from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Menuetto from Divertimento, K. 334, JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Fantasina on a Theme of "Figaro", Op. 124, MIKHAIL GLINKA (1804-1857): Variations on a Theme of Mozart, SIGISMUND THALBERG (1812-1871): Lacrimosa tiré du Requiem de Mozart, Op. 70, MAX REGER (1873-1916): Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Mozart, Op. 132 (arr. Karl Salomon). A very attractive new release for piano transcription collectors. Wish I could tell you more about the transcriber of the Reger but can find no more information on him. I'll make no claims to first recordings since, whenever I do, I'm always wrong. Petronel Malan (piano). Hännsler Classic 98.231 (Germany) $17.98

PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): The Voyage. Commissioned by the Met for the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in 1992, Glass produced a work in which the voyages of discovery take place in the mind of a paralyzed scientist (inspired by Stephen Hawking). Excerpts from Tim Page's 1992 article in Opera Grove: "...the densest, most contrapuntal and perhaps the most complicated score Glass has yet written... positively rococo compared with the early pieces written for the Philip Glass Ensemble... much use of polytonality, and pages go by without a repeat sign... the influence of Shankar and Rakha has not been so apparent in his music since the 1960s and there is a distinctly Latin quality to some of the scenes." 2 CDs. Libretto included. Soloists and Chorus of the Landestheater Linz, Bruckner Orchestra Linz; Dennis Russell Davies. Orange Mountain Music OMM 0017 (U.S.A.) $35.98

GUSTAV HOLST (1874-1934): 7 Scottish Airs for Piano and Orchestra, 6 Morris Dance Tunes, Lyric Movement for Viola and Small Orchestra, St. Paul's Suite, Op. 29/2, Brook Green Suite, A Fugal Concerto for Flute, Oboe and String Orchestra, Op. 40/2, In the Bleak Midwinter (arr. Malcolm Messiter). Yeah, yeah, another Holst small-orchestra compendium but: it's only $4.98 and how many of you have the Seven Scottish Airs? Michael Freyhan (piano), Edward Beckett (flute), Rachel Bolt (viola), Malcolm Messiter (oboe), London Festival Orchestra; Ross Pople. Arte Nova ANO 340220 (Germany) $4.98

JEAN ABSIL (1893-1974): Bestiaire, MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937): 3 chansons, FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963): Un soir de neige, 7 chansons, CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918): 3 chansons de Charles d'Orléans, PAUL HINDEMITH (1895-1963): 6 chansons. A couple of rare repertory pieces enliven this disc of French choral music: the Belgian Absil's 1944 setting of five of the Apollinaire poems which Poulenc used for a song cycle later on and Hindemith's setting of 6 Rilke texts (the poet's final years were spent in French-speaking Switzerland and he wrote in French at the time; Hindemith was also in Switzerland when he set them - in 1938, his first year of exile). No texts. EuropaChorAkademie; Sylvain Cambreling. Capriccio 67 151 (Germany) $17.98 Ø

CARLOS CHÁVEZ (1899-1978): String Quartets Nos. 1-3, Invention No. 2 for String Trio, Hommage a Goddard, Columbia for String Quartet and Double Bass. In origin, instrumentation, style and time period, Chávez' three quartets are all over the map. The first, from 1921 shows a New World composer trying to both work within and look beyond the German and French influences of the late 19th century while the second is schizophrenic temporally: the first two movements date from 1932 and the final two to 1963. The work may have had pedagogic origins along with the original desire of Chávez to flount tradition by using a double bass instead of a cello but he succeeds in making the whole work hang together, rooted in the 1930s language of mild dissonance and experimentation. The third's three movements are adaptations of music from a Martha Graham ballet commission, The Daughter of Colchis (1943), which explains the work's somber and tragic mood. Invention II (1965) is the most modern work here, tossing melodic fragments around in an atonal fashion during the course of its eventful 12 minutes. Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Victor Flores (double bass). Urtext JBCC 109 (Mexico) $17.98