Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Terry Barfoot,  Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Gerald Fenech,  Lewis Foreman, David Frieze, Malcolm Galloway,  Ian Marchant, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Richard Whitehouse, Reg Williamson, Peter Grahame Woolf, David Wright. A complete list of contributors can be seen here


August 2000 part 3

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Tryst for orchestra
Adam's Rib for brass quintet
(world premiere)
They saw that the stone had been rolled away
I (A Meditation on Iona)
(world premiere recording).
Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Joseph Swenson
 BIS-CD-1019 (DDD) [58.43] [DW]

In Tryst, the composer shows again his excellent gift for orchestral sonority and how he can successfully bridge the gap between the traditional and the modern. Adam's Rib is a work lacking coherence for this musician and stunted by the absence of a natural flow. The composer's religious faith is behind They saw that the stone had been rolled away. I is another good piece. Stark it may be but powerful it certainly is.

Symphony No.2 in C minor "Resurrection"
Ileana Cotrubas (Soprano) Christa Ludwig (Contralto)
Vienna State Opera Chorus,Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Zubin Mehta
Decca Legends 466 992-2 [81.11] [TD]

His Second is a contender in a very crowded market not least for this re-issue being at medium price on a single disc....The placing of Mahler's directional effects - offstage horn calls and band music - is brilliantly done in this movement with great care taken to create an aural stage between our speakers that adds lustre to Mehta's performance.

Symphony No.2 in C minor "The Resurrection"

Stele op 33 for large orchestra

Kol Nidre op 39* for speaker, choir and orchestra
James Johnson (Speaker)*  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Cornelia Kallisch (Alto) EuropaChorAkademie
SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiberg
Conducted by Michael Gielen
Hänssler Classic CD 93.001 [107.28]

For consistency of vision and for delivering his very modernist and individual view of Maher's Second Gielen has to be congratulated, even though this may not be most people's idea of how this work should be played. Ultimately it's just too cool and detached to endear itself. But if you are looking for an alternative to the more conventional conductor-involved ones, Gielen is your man.

Symphony No.5 in c sharp minor

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Andrew Litton
Dorian DOR-90193  [71.00] [TD]

This is a lacklustre, dull and pedestrian recording that should have been quietly forgotten about and from which no one emerges with much distinction.

DVD Review

Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim
Arthaus Musik 100 032, 75 minutes.

Daniel Barenboim is not the most natural of Mahler conductors, but this Chicago performance, caught on camera during the orchestra's visit to Cologne, is actually very fine.

Symphony No.7 in E minor

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken
Conducted by Hans Zender
CPO 999 478-2 [78.40] [TD]

A superb performance full of fascinating things. One which is excellently played and recorded and deserves to be considered alongside the very best versions such as those by Bernstein, Horenstein, Gielen, Scherchen and Abbado. Zender's Mahler Seventh is that good and I recommend it enthusiastically.

Symphony No. 9
Symphony No. 8 Unfinished
Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Guilini
recorded 1977, Medinah Temple, Chicago (Mahler) and 1978, Orchestra Hall, Chicago, (Schubert).
DGG Originals 463 609-2 (2 discs nas) [115.43] [JP]

A welcome return to the catalogue of this version of Mahler's 9th Symphony, now coupled with Schubert's 8th, magnificently performed and recorded.

Das Lied Von Der Erde
Waltraud Meier (Mezzo-soprano), Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Lorin Maazel
RCA Red Seal 74321 67957 2 [62.30] [TD]

Maazel's is a well recorded, played and sung account of Mahler's late masterpiece and you can certainly do worse. But you can also do a whole lot better and at a lower price.

Bohuslav MARTINU
String Quartet No. 1 (1918)
String Quartet No. 2 (1925)
Tri jezdci (Three Horsemen)

Martinu Quartet - Lubomir Havlak, Petr Macecek,(violins) Jan Jisa (viola) and Jitka Vlasankova (cello)
recorded 23-25/6/97,(Quartet No. 1) and 18-19/2 1997 (remainder) in the Marinek Studio Prague. DDD
Naxos 8.553782 [71.41]

An excellent, well performed disc of two of Martinu's String Quartets in an excellent recording at budget price. Roll on Volume Two.


A Lyric drama in four acts and five scenes after Goethe.
Sung in English in the translation by Norman Tucker.
Recorded live by the BBC at the London Coliseum on 13 December 1977.
English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

The real star of this version is the silent contributor. Of course, I mean Sir Charles Mackerras. John Brecknock has a lyric, clear voice reminiscent of the finest British tenor of them all, Wilfred Brown. A truly great and moving experience. Not to be missed despite some flaws one expects from a live performance.



Venite exultemus, Regna terrae, In decachordo psalterio, De profundis, Benefac Domine.
Gillian Fisher, Charles Daniels, Stephen Varcoe, Choir of New College Oxford London Baroque Edward Higginbottom conductor/harpsichord
Hyperion Helios CDH55038 61m DDD. [GF]

These are straightforward compositions written just preceding the French Revolution. They breathe the celebratory pomp and pageantry evident in the grand courts of the French kings

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Symphony No 41 in C Major, K551. "Jupiter" [36.11]
Symphony No 39 in E Flat Major. K543. [29.54]
Si mostra la sorte. K209* [ 4.19 ]
Per pieta, non ricercare, K420* [ 6.54 ]
English Chamber Orchestra
Peter Pears (tenor)*
Benjamin Britten.
Recorded Blythburgh Church, Suffolk. 14 June 1966 (K551) BBC Studios June 10 1962 (K543, K209, K420) ADD K551 STEREO Rest of disc MONO
DECCA 466 820 - 2 [77.24]

This is a long way short of what we would expect from Britten and Mozart. The non-specialist collector should look elsewhere for versions of this pairing of two of the last three great Symphonies.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Piano Concerto No 12 in A Major [25.01]
Joseph HAYDN
(1732 - 1809)
Symphony No 55 in E Flat Major "Schoolmaster" [21.47]
Symphony No 45 in F Sharp Minor "Farewell" [24.14]
Benjamin Britten (pno)
Aldeburgh festival Orchestra Directed / Conducted Benjamin Britten
Recorded Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh June 1956 (Live concert) ADD MONO
Decca 458 869-2 [71.52]

The only reason not to buy this is the recording quality. Sample first - then buy!

Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K.525 (1)
Serenade in D, K.320 - "Posthorn" (2)
Serenade in D, K.239 - "Serenata Notturna" (2)
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult (1)
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra/Victor Desarzens (2)
MCA MCD 80105 [73:41]

A disc that allows us to hear Sir Adrian Boult in Mozart



Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Duets, Volume 1.
Sonatas - C, K521; D, K381; C, K19d.
Andante with Five Variations in G, K501.
Fantasia in F minor for Mechanical Organ, K608.

Jenö Jándo, Zsuzsa Kollár (piano duet).
Naxos 8.553518 [DDD] [68'58] [CC]

Doubts creep in during the D major Sonata, K381, however. Accents seem forced, the Andante is faceless and the finale is over-heavy.

Richard Lewis, Leopold Simoneau, Sena Jurinac, Lucille Udovick.
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and Orchestra John Pritchard.
EMI Double Forte CZS5 73848-2. [GF]

It is a delight to see this once famous set available once again as the Glyndebourne magic of the Fifties has rarely been surpassed.

Georg MUFFAT (1653-1704)
Organ Works, Volume 1:
Apparatus musico-organistus (1690), Part 1 - Toccatas 1-8.
Martin Haselböck (organ).
Naxos 8.553917 [DDD] [54'31] [CC]

..... there is a heady mix of Italianate emotionalism, French sensibilité and German discipline that is most appealing.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Complete Concertos:
Violin Concerto, Op. 33/FS61;
Clarinet Concerto Op. 57/FS129;
Flute Concerto, FS119.
Jonathan Carney (violin); Kevin Banks (clarinet); Gareth Davies (flute); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kees Bakels.
 Naxos 8.554189 [DDD] [78'59]

These performances (the only such coupling at super-budget price) are guaranteed to provide pleasure. The three Naxos soloists each capture the essence of their respective concertos and the orchestra throughout is idiomatically supportive, with particularly characterful woodwind contributions.

Symphony No. 3 in C Major, Op. 22
Hjortholm, Tone Picture, Op. 53

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra - Frank Cramer
recorded 19-23/7/99, in the Sinfonie an der Regnitz,Bamberg. DDD
Dacapo 8.224098 [67.20] [JP]

World premiere recordings of two rarely played orchestral works by a forgotten Danish composer overshadowed by his well known namesake.

Maurice OHANA
Livre des prodiges; Anneau de Tamarit; Synaxis
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/ArturoTamayo with Anssi Kartunen (cello) & other soloists
timpani 1C1056 [66.10] [PW]

Recommended unreservedly.

Piano Trio in E minor.
Piano Quartet in A flat.

Deakin Piano Trio with Yuko Lnoue (viola).
Premiere Recording. Meridan CDE 84248 (DDD) (61.31) Volume 1.

Piano Trio no 3 in G ;
Piano Trio no. 2 in B minor.

Deakin Piano Trio.
Premiere Recording.Meridian CDE 842555 (DDD) (61.44) Volume 2.[DW]

...the unprejudiced listener can easily see and hear that his music is sincere. It is never overloaded. Its message is direct and. therefore, all the more enjoyable.

Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949)
Violin Sonata (1918) 28.45
Piano Trio (1896) 41.13
Benjamin Schmid (violin)
Clemens Hagen (cello)
Claudius Tanski (piano}
rec 1-4 June 1999, Wuppertal  
MDG GOLD MDG 312 0934-2   [69.58] [RB]

Here the MD&G 'regulars' turn back the dust-cloths on two thumpingly confident works. A recommendable disc for those wishing to open out their Pfitzner collection.

WALTER PISTON (1894-1976)
Symphony No. 6 (1955) 25.34
Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1937) 12.34
Concerto for Orchestra (1933) 12.48
Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments and Percussion (1976) 10.00
Moscow Radio SO/Alexander Gauk (rec 1962)
Marjorie Mitchell (piano) Göteborg SO/William Strickland (rec 1963)
Polish National Radio Orchestra/William Strickland (rec 1969)
Emerson Quartet/Juilliard Orchestra/Sixten Ehrling (rec May 1978)
all stereo recordings ADD CITADEL CTD 88134 [61.55] [RB]

You never hear that much about Citadel. I am not at all sure why that should be. Their catalogue is at ease in spanning both classical and film worlds. Much of their classical side comprises reissues of rare repertoire. The label hosts a high proportion of 'gold standard' Americana as this and other discs demonstrate.....Strongly recommended. Citadel and Tom Null have done an invaluable job in collecting together this Piston 'Reader'.

Complete Chamber Music, Volume Three.
Capriccio d'après Le bal masqué. Sonata for two pianos. Elégie. L'embarquement pour Cynthère. Sonata for piano duet. Sonata for two clarinets. Sonata for clarinet and bassoon. Sonata for horn, trumpet and trombone.

Alexandre Tharaud, François Chaplin (pianos); Ronald Van Spaendonck, André Moisan (clarinets), Laurent Lefèvre (bassoon); Hervé Joulain (horn); Guy Touvron (trumpet); Jaques Mauger (trombone).
Naxos 8.553613 [DDD] [62'24]

Recorded in Poulenc's centenary year (1999), this disc provides a satisfying balance between well-known and more obscure works. It's a good idea to have an (almost) all-Gallic line up of musicians (the clarinettist André Moisan is French-Canadian) and as a result they feel fully at ease in Poulenc's attractive vernacular.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Ivan the Terrible*.
Alexander Nevsky†

*Irina Arkhipova (mezzo-soprano); Anatoly Mokrenko (baritone); Boris Morgunov (narrator), Ambrosian Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Muti
† Anna Reynolds (mezzo-soprano) London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by André Previn.(with Sergei Rachmaninov's The Bells).
Sheila Armstrong (soprano); Robert Tear (tenor); John Shirley-Quirk (baritone)
London Symphony Chorus; London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn
EMI double forte 2 CDs CZS5 73353 2 [152:23] [IL]

This is a very clever idea to package Prokofiev's two major film scores together in this budget presentation and I urge all adventurous lovers of film music who are unfamiliar with this music to invest in this 2CD album. However I would add one caveat. Budget prices often mean sacrifices; and the sweeping marketing policy of EMI to pare down the notes for their mid-price/budget albums is a grave mistake as far as this reissue is concerned for no librettos are given.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Semyon Kotko - opera in 5 acts (1938)
Semyon Kotko - Viktor Lutsiuk
Semyon's mother - Lyudmila Filatova
Frosya, Semyon's sister - Olga Savova
[and many others]
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Maryinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
rec live by Austrian Radio, Vienna, 19-21 Nov 1999
PHILIPS 464 605-2 [58.15] [78.31] 2CDs [136.46] [RB]

For aficionados of Russian lyric opera. Lovingly sung. Handsomely presented. A discovery for those already captivated by Romeo and Juliet or War and Peace.

Double Bass Music of Frank Proto
SONATA 1963 for Double Bass and Piano [13.04]
FOUR ROGUES, a Mystery for Double Bass & Piano [18.00]
Audition 1 / 20 / 87 [1.31]
CADENZA and DANCE [2.41]
CAPRICE [4.27]
DUETS for Double Basses [13.24]
John Ebinger (double bass)
Roy Hakes (piano)
Recorded Arizona State University 1/ 94 - 6/ 94 DDD
Soundset SR1003 [53.07]

Probably would appeal to a double-bassist - others may want to hear before deciding.

DVD Opera Review

La Bohème
Mimi…………………………………………Mirella Freni
Rodolfo………………………………………Luciano Pavarotti
Musetta…… ……………………..………… Sandra Pacetti
Marcello…………………………....……… .Gino Quilico
Colline……………………………………….Nicolai Ghiaurov
chaunard………………………….....……… Stephen Dickson
Chorus and Orchestra of the San Francisco Opera
conducted by Tiziano Severini
Recorded at the San Francisco Opera in 1988.
ARTHAUS 1000 046 [116 mins] [IL]

In short, a splendid production which in this DVD format is a feast for the ear and the eye.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836)
Wind Quintets - C minor, Op. 91 No. 6; F, Op. 88 No. 6.
Michael Thompson Wind Quintet.
Naxos 8.554228 [DDD] [68'41] [CC]

The Michael Thompson Wind Quintet relish the virtuosity of these pieces (Thompson himself is jaw-droppingly agile in the Minuetto of Op. 88 No. 6). Most importantly, they maintain interest throughout by careful attention to the inner parts, which always have a good deal of life to them.

Fischer-Dieskau, Bayerisches Chor & Staatsorchester/Albrecht
Deutsche Grammophon 463 480-2 [PW]

.....The idiom is dodecaphonic and prevailingly dissonant and harsh, more so than any other opera which comes to mind; or harshly beautiful, depending upon your ears. Reimann builds massive climaxes, using microtones and clusters, and long passages for the singers are not precisely notated. According to Fischer-Dieskau, who found it necessary in his introduction to refute 'a number of biased critics', these are 'of a flawlessness rarely achieved in the history of recitative'.

Antar - Symphonic Suite (1868) 29.19

Caucasian Sketches (1894) 22.02

Russian Sailors' Dance (1927) 3.26
Utah SO/Maurice Abravanel rec 1967, Salt Lake City, Utah

Abravanel is very good in this music - crackling with energy tempered with a tender way with the great melodies.....The orchestra is brilliant, hoarse and visceral in the brass, flighty and impetuous wind section and only among the strings which could have benefited from a shade more warmth and tonal allure are there the slightest reservations....As an inexpensive single disc collection of less obvious Russian repertoire this is difficult to top. I recommend it strongly.

Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 - 1908)
Scheherazade. Op 35*a [46.29]
(1840 - 1893)
Capriccio italien Op.45b [16.51]
Overture 1812. Op 49c [15.29]
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Schwalbé (violin)*
Herbert von Karajan
Recording details. Berlin. Jesus-Christ-Kirche Jan 1967a, Oct 1966b, Dec 1966c ADD
DG The Originals 463 614-2 [79.05]
[HD] [AB]

Just two stars for Karajan? Sadly, not one of his best says Harry but Arthur thinks mor highly of it.

Flute Concerto No.1
Symphony No. 2
Concerto for Saxophone(s).

Pierre-Yves Artaud (flutes)/Emil Sein (saxophones)
University of Huddersfield New Music Ensemble & Symphony Orchestra
Barrie Webb (conductor).
MPS CD007 55'21" [PW]

This extremely interesting and successful CD emanates from Barrie Webb's association with Romania and the leading Romanian composer Doina Rotaru, who was featured in the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music in 1990. These are excellent professional productions and you would be hard put to it to suspect that they are student forces.

Miklós RÓZSA
Concertos for Violin and Cello
Robert McDuffie, violin / Lynn Harrell, cello
Yoel Levi conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
TELARC CD-80518 [71:52] [GD]

If you love the film music of Miklós Rózsa you will be thoroughly at home here.

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