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John CAGE (1912-1992) Four 4 (1991) Glenn Freeman (percussion) un-numbered [72.00] [RB]

By the side of the Cage Piano Concerto, Four 4 is a work of monastic abstinence in a single musical span (a single track as well). A single performer brings this, Cage's final work for percussion, to pristine life. This is its first available recording.

CARLOS CHAVEZ (1899-1978) Symphony No. 1 Sinfonia de Antigona (1932) [10.50] Symphony No. 2 Sinfonia India  (1935-36) [11.08] Symphony No. 4 Sinfonia Romantica (1953) [21.29] Stadium SO of New York/Carlos Chavez rec 1959 EVEREST EVC 9041 [43.47] [RB]

These recordings are significant documents in 20th century music. The composer conducts his own music but how well does these hold up as enjoyable musical events?..... is uproarious and spangled with strange percussion effects drawn from Indian drums, water gourd, rasps, rattle and cymbals on top of the usual orchestral complement.

CHOPIN Piano Works Vol 12 - Songs   Ewa Podles, contralto; Garrick Ohlsson, piano; Elizabeth Mann, flute. Arabesque Z6746 [57.35] [PB]

Good contraltos occur rarely on new releases these days, even more rarely than their male equivalent, the countertenor. Not since Kathleen Ferrier have I heard a contralto mine such quarries of feeling.

COPLAND Celluloid Copland - World Premiere Film Music Eos Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Sheffer Telarc CD-80583 [59:24]

But how to explain the fact that these four pieces by the composer widely regarded as the dean of American music have been ignored and unrecorded for well over half a century? ...Celluloid Copland certainly has the feel of being a labor of love.

Napoléon COSTE Guitar Works Volume 4   Jeffrey McFadden - Guitar Naxos 8.554354 Guitar Works Volume 5 Marc Teicholz - Guitar Naxos 8.554355 [AD]

Two superb artists but rather unimaginative music.

CRUSELL (1775 - 1838) Concertos for Clarinet and orchestra, op.11 in Bb, op. 5 in F minor, and op.1 in Eb Kari Kriiku, clarinet, Finnish Radio Symphony/Sakari Oramo Ondine ODE 965-2 [63:57] [GP-J]

I was hooked right from Kriiku's first entry, which happens about 12 seconds into the first concerto. Whichever way you look at it, he is an amazing performer....These are truly stunning performances, and Kriiku is superbly supported by Oramo and the excellent Finnish RSO. NOT TO BE MISSED!

Debussy (1862 - 1918) Préludes Livres I & II   Vladimir Viardo Pro Piano PPR224525 [JF]

We are treated to a whole gamut of sound qualities from this pianist. It is a nuanced performance in every way imaginable. This recording goes on my list of 'favourite performance' for these pieces

DEBUSSY String Quartet in G minor Maurice RAVEL String Quartet in F   New Zealand String Quartet Helene Pohl - violin Douglas Beilman - violin Gillian Ansell - viola Rolf Gjelsten - cello ATOLL ACD 399 [54.22] [SF]

On the evidence of this recording, The New Zealand String Quartet is not given to copycat renditions of European masterpieces. Both the Debussy and the Ravel are played for all their worth and the New Zealanders must have honed their interpretations for a considerable time before entering the studio.

DELIUS Symphonic Poem On the Mountains; Seven Songs from the Norwegian; Melodrama Paa Vidderne GRIEG orch. DELIUS  Norwegian Bridal Procession.   Jan Lund (tenor), Peter Hall (narrator) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Douglas Bostock. Classico CLASSCD 364 [79.52 ] [SL]

An important disc containing a number of premiere recordings: a MUST for all Delians

Frederick DELIUS
A Mass of Life -
Prelude (to Section 3 Part Two); An Arabesk; Songs of Sunset; 10 Songs.   Roy Henderson, Olga Haley, Dora Labbette, Nancy Evans, Redvers Llewellyn, London Select Choir, BBC Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham.   SOMM-BEECHAM 8 [SL]

These are unquestionably among the greatest Delius recordings ever made. But Stephen does have some reservations....

ELGAR Nursery suite, Dream Children, In Moonlight, Romance for Bassoon, Sospiri, Serenade for strings, Elegy Julie Price (bassoon) Stephanie Gonley (violin) William Bennett (flute) Osian Ellis harp) Paul Goodwin (conductor) English Chamber Orchestra Recorded 2000 Harmonia mundi HMU 907258 (59' 31") [CF]

....this one is worth hearing for the sheer musicality of the playing by all the members of the worthy English Chamber Orchestra.

ENESCU String Quartets nos 1 and 2 Quatuor Ad Libitum Recordings made in May 1999 Naxos 8.554721 [73:30]

These two quartets - completed in 1920 and 1951 - may be taken as fully representative of the composer. Quatuor Ad Libitum, a body founded in 1988 at the George Enescu Academy of Arts, has achieved considerable distinction in its relatively short life.

Donaueschinger Musiktage 1999  EÖTVÖS o HILARIO o MOCHIZUKI o PRUDENCIO o TABORDA  World Premiere Recordings col legno WWE 20075 2CDs [135.30] [PW]

Unique, accessible and haunting - delicious.

LORENZO FERRERO  La Nueva España Presagios, Memoria del Fuego, La Ruta de Cortés,
El Encuentro, La Matanza del Templo Major, La Noche Triste
, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine Takuo Yuasa Recording made in April, 2000 Naxos 8.555044 [71:33]  [AS]

The arresting opening bars (with vivid, razor-sharp percussion, which is an outstanding feature of the entire disc) raise expectations of a work of considerable originality which in the event are largely unfulfilled.

Carolus Antonius FODOR  Sonatas Op. 2 nrs. 1 & 2  Carolus Emanuel FODOR  Air du Tonnelier
Johann Wilhelm WILMS
Rondo-Polonaise Henri MESSEMAEKERS Jr. Grande Marche Funebre  
Arthur Schoonderwoerd (fortepiano)NM Classics 92103 [56.21] [PW]

A fascinating collection of rare 18th & 19th Century Dutch music played by a leading exponent of the fortepiano, lifted onto an altogether higher plane by the performances of Schoonderwoerd on his carefully chosen instrument - a recommended purchase for profit and pleasure - don't pass it by because of its apparent obscurity.

César FRANCK (1822-90) Violin Sonata in A. Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 18. Nikolai Madojan (violin); Elisabeth Westenholz (piano). Kontrapunkt 32311 [56'44] [DDD][CC]

Very disappointing. The drab presentation matches the dull performances.

WILLIAM HENRY FRY (1813 -1864) Santa Claus, Christmas Symphony, Overture to Macbeth, Niagara Symphony, The Breaking Heart Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tony Rowe NAXOS (American Classics) 8.559057 [61.13] [GP-J]

Despite some reservations, this disc is worth hearing, particularly for anyone with an interest in American music. Fry shows the same mixture of serious artistic intent and blatant populism that you find in many other American composers from Ives to Bernstein and beyond, so in that sense alone the music is of importance.

Louis GLASS (1864-1936) Symphony No. 3 (1901) Symphony No. 6 Skjoldungeæt (1924) Plovdiv PO/Nayden Todorov rec Plovdiv, June 2000 DANACORD DACOCD542 [72.25] [RB]

A Louis Glass cycle worth collecting but look for lower key strengths. There is little surface turmoil in these pages. Roll on volume 3

GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Suites and Overtures Orchestre de Bretagne conducted by Stefan Sanderling ASV CD DCA 1095 [70:20] [IL]

A delightful compilation full of charm and sharply observed wit. Calculated to cheer.

Jesús GURIDI Amaya Lyric Drama in three acts and an epilogue Basque libretto by Fr. José de Arrué after the novel by Navarro Villoslada Marco Polo CD box set: 8.225084/85 [2 hr 17 min] [TB]

The performance is Bilbao-based, and acquits itself well. The singing is generally good, though not outstanding, and Theo Alcántara directs with a sure sense of ensemble and line. The recording likewise is more than adequate, though it is by no means a sonic spectacular.

HANDEL L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed Il Moderato;   Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, John Nelson, conductor. Bach Choir, John Dickson chorus master. Christine Brandes, Lynne Dawson, David Daniels, Ian Bostridge, Alastair Miles   EMI 7243 5 45417 2 8 [117:59 minutes] [PB]

Tenor Ian Bostridge is stunning, particularly in the famous "laughing chorus" in which he evokes a polyphonic merriment that made me hold both my sides. The impetus he imparts to every aria is truly infectious.

HANDEL Italian Cantatas  Delirio amaroso: "Da quel giorno fatale", HWV99 La Lucrezia: "O Numi eterni!", HWV 145 "Tra le fiamme", HWV 170 Magdalena Kozená, mezzo-soprano  Les Musiciens du Louvre  directed by Marc Minkowski   DG Archiv 469 065 2 [67:42] [GD]

This issue gives Magdalena Kozená the opportunity to display her flamboyance. A rapidly rising star of the early music world, she has a clear, light voice which compares with the young Emma Kirkby. Kozená is a little more detached, but her musicianship is beyond doubt.

Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941) An Irish Symphony (1904: revised 1915 & 1924) With the Wild Geese (1910) In Ireland (1915) National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland/Proinssías O Duinn rec [National Concert Hall, Ireland April 1996] NAXOS 8.554732 [57.20] [AS]

This characteristically enterprising Naxos disc presents a strong case for the return to the concert hall not only of these pieces - especially With the Wild Geese - but also other and less overtly 'Irish' works such as his violin and piano concertos (both highly spoken of in the reference books).

PEGGY GLANVILLE-HICKS (1912-1990) The songs Profiles from China (1945) [6.29] Three Songs (1931) [1.20+3.12+2.03] Mimic Tree - Five Housman Songs (1944) [6.44] Harp Sonata (1952) [10.15] Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1948) [12.04] Letter from Morocco (1952) [15.25] Gerald English (tenor) Roland Peelman (piano) Tasmanian SO/Antony Walker rec songs Dec 1993, Canberra; Sonata, 1994, Sydney; 17 Sept 1993, Hobart. TALL POPPIES TP112  [58.17] [RB]

An extremely delightful disc of music in the English song tradition.

IVES (1874-1954) Complete Works for Violin and Piano. Pre-First Violin Sonata. Largo. Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-4. Nobu Wakabayashi (violin); Thomas Wise (piano). Arte Nova 74321 75495-2 (two discs] [DDD] [91'18] [PW]

Music which should find a place in every Ives enthusiast's collection, but this is definitely not the one to go for.

JACKSON Sir Nicholas Music for Trumpets and Organ Sonata da Chiesa*; Organ Mass; Suite from The Reluctant Highwayman*; Organ Sonata; Prelude, Fugue, Soliloquy and Caprice*; Concert Variations on Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Elevation and Toccata (from Four Images); Toccata in G minor; A Flourish for Rosemary*; Wedding March. * Pieces for trumpet(s) and organ, recorded in St John the Evangelist, Islington (September, 1999). The pieces for organ alone were recorded in Chartres Cathedral (October, 1999). Nicholas Jackson (organ)  Maurice Murphy and Rod Franks (trumpet) Naxos 8.554773 [76:34] [AS]

Jackson is a superb interpreter of his own music, and is well served by the distinguished principal trumpeters of the LSO. The sound of both organs and trumpets is faithfully captured.

KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Complete works for violin and piano: Violin Sonata Op. 6 in G  Tanzlied des Pierrot (Die tote Stadt) Marriettas Lied zur Laute (Die tote Stadt) Caprice fantastique, Serenade (Der Schneemann) Gesang der Heliane (Das Wunder der Heliane) Much Ado About Nothing suite Sonja van Beek (violin) and Andreas Frölich (piano) cpo 999 709-2 [72:05] midprice [IL]

A valuable addition to the Korngold discography that would have benefited more from more expressive playing.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) CD1 [78.17] Symphony No. 14 Suite: Morgenen (1947-51) [29.20] Symphony No. 4 Løvfald (Leaf-Fall) (1916) [27.45] Symphony No. 6 Det Himmelrivende (The Heaven-storming) (1919-30) [20.51] CD2 [66.13] Symphony No. 10 Hin Tordenbolig (Yon Dwelling of Thunder) (1944-45) [30.56] Sfærernes Musik (Music of the Spheres) (1918) [34.32] Edith Guillaume (sop) (Sfærernes) Danish National Radio SO and Choir cond; Michael Schønwandt (14), John Frandsen (4, 6, Sfærernes), Ole Schmidt (10) ADD   DANACORD DACOCD 560  2 CD [CD1 78.17+ CD2 66.13]

The one Langgaard set to have if you must limit yourself in that way. Once you have heard this you will want the rest.

LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Piano Music Peter Froundjian (piano) rec June 1995, Berlin. DDD DANACORD DACOCD 430 [72.05] [RB]

If this disc has a weakness it is in its concentration on the feminine side of Langgaard's muse. The variety, contrast and generosity of the Johnsson disc is to be preferred. Johnsson set down his versions on analogue tape but the sound is very good indeed.

LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Piano Music Bengt Johnsson (piano) DANACORD DACOCD 369 [78.25] [RB]

This has variety, contrast and generosity and is to be preferred in a head to head with the Froundjian Danacord. Both players are sensitive exponents. Johnsson set down his analogue tape. The sound is very good indeed.

Liza LEHMANN In a Persian Garden Thomas DUNHILL Songs of the River Cantabile Vocal Quartet Robin Sellati (Soprano), Sara Koulen (Mezzo), Roy Mazzacane (Tenor), Jack Sellati (Baritone) with Douglas Dickson (Piano) Quattro Voci Records [TD]

Cantabile Vocal Quartet's equal care for words as well as for music gives great pleasure, as does the atmosphere of intimacy they and their pianist convey.

György LIGETI Le Grand Macabre   Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen. Sibylle Ehlert, Laura Claycomb, Charlotte Hellekant, Jard van Nes   Sony S2K 62312 [102:27] [PB]

Thirty five years ago I must have anticipated hearing Le Grand Macabre for the first and only time, because I wrote: "Sometimes in the melting day/There are eons of hours to endure."

LISZT Ten Hungarian Rhapsodies Georges Cziffra (piano) Recorded 1972-75 EMI Great Recordings of the Century CDM 5 67554 2 [75.57] [CF]

In his hands the piano sounds like an orchestra, and these interpretations could well be the nearest we ever get to Liszt's own playing.

LISZT  Missa Choralis Via Crucis Elizabeth Atherton Soprano, Jane Bovell Soprano, Harriet Webb Mezzo-soprano, Jeanette Agar Contralto, John Bowley Tenor, Peter King Tenor, Leigh Melrose Baritone,
Nicholas Warden Bass, CORYDON SINGERS, Thomas Trotter Organ, Matthew Best Conductor, Hyperion CDA 67199 [HS]

This disc will not be everybody's cup of tea. However the quality and authenticity of the performance makes it especially valuable for those who wish to enrich their understanding of this key phase in the evolution of 19th century choral music. These are certainly works of a rare genius, combining (as they do) without inconsistency the ancient traditions of plainchant with the mould-breaking iconoclasm of mid-19th century romanticism.

LISZT  Organ Works played by Nicholas Kynaston Guild GMCD 7210 [PW]

If you are beginning to feel there has been too much Bach last year, try this for something completely different and of great distinction.

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[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Y] [Part 6 Misc]

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Arthur Baker, Terry Barfoot,  Peter Bates, Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Christopher Fifield, Lewis Foreman, Simon Foster, Christopher Howell, Stephen Lloyd, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott-Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Christopher Thomas, Richard Whitehouse, Peter Grahame Woolf, David Wright. A complete list of contributors can be seen here


Any opinions expressed in reviews or articles on this site are those of the author and  do not necessarily represent the views of the site owner, Len Mullenger or the Editors.  Reviewers and authors retain copyright in their work unless it has been paid for or commissioned by the site owner.

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