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Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Lied et Scherzo (1910) Suite en Rocaille (1934) Á Tour D'Anches (1947) Chants Alizés (1952-55) Prague Wind Quintet members of the Czech Nonet rec Prague, Domovina Studio, 24-30 April 2000 PRAGA DIGITALS PRD 250 156 [55.02] [RB]

For the growing league of Schmitt enthusiasts as well as those who still prize astutely written music for wind ensemble.

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG Verklärte Nacht PAVEL HAAS Study for string Orchestra (1943)
Overture for Radio Op 11 (1931) Psalm 29 Op 12 (1932) Tomas Komarek, Miroslav Drabek, Martin Hlavac, Igor Chmela speakers Viktor Bycek, Jiri Tomaschko tenors Jaromir Belor baritone Vratislav Vinicky bass Dalibor Tolas baritone Bambini di Praga New Czech Chamber Orchestra Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Jiri Belohlavek conductor Rec: Domovina Studios and the Rudolfinum, Prague 1994 SUPRAPHON SU 0010-2931[63.34] [JW]

One feels an occasional want of conviction. Elsewhere the playing is good, and Belohlavek directs the disparate forces well.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) The Eight Symphonies Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Böhm Recorded in the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin. Recording dates: June, 1963 (no 9); February & March, 1966 (Nos. 5 & 8); May, 1971 (Nos. 1 & 2); November, 1971 (nos. 3, 4 & 6) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 307-2 (4 CDs) [249.30] [JQ]

Böhm’s performances are completely free from any eccentricities and are cultivated, sensible and thoroughly musical. A most attractive bargain.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) The Piano Masterworks Vol.1 Allegretto in C minor, D.915; Four Impromptus, D.935; Sonata in Bflat, D.960; Sonata in A, D.664; Fantasie in C, D.760 ("Wonderer"); Sonata in G, D.894 Anthony Goldstone piano (Recorded 1999 & 2000) THE DIVINE ART 2-1202 –2CDs [77.28] & [73.36] [AB]

Altogether this is an excellent set, well recorded and presented which can be fully recommended. Goldstone that his stands up very well amid exalted competition.

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) The Six Symphonies
Symphonies No 1 and No 2 Recorded Prague, September 1993 (No 2) and May 1994 (No 1) SUPRAPHON 112160-2 031 [42.47]
Symphonies No 3 and No 5 Recorded Prague, June 1994 (No 3) and November 1994 (No 5) SUPRAPHON 112161-2 031 [52.41]
Symphonies No 4 and No 6 Recorded Prague, June 1997 SUPRAPHON 112162-2 031 [65.00]
Roman Janal baritone (Symphony 4 only) Kuhn Mixed Choir (Symphony No 6 only) Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Vladimir Valek [JW]

Part of the complete Supraphon Schulhoff edition. The Prague Radio SO plays with technical excellence and security. Vladimir Valek conducts with superb control

ALEXANDER SCRIABIN (1872-1915) THE COMPLETE PRELUDES Piers Lane (piano). Recorded in the Henry Wood Hall, London on January 26th-28th and June 14th-16th, 2000. Hyperion CDA67057/8 [two discs] [127'27] [CC]

For a complete set which will consistently enrich one's appreciation of this fascinating composer in characteristically rounded piano sound courtesy of engineer Tony Faulkner, this Hyperion issue is hard to beat.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH Chamber Symphony op 110a (1960) Alfred SCHNITTKE
Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979) Moscow Chamber Orchestra Constantine Orbelian (pianist and conductor) Recorded at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California, 5 & 7 March 2000 DELOS SACD 3259 [47:37] [AAS]

Much as I would like to hail this disc as an absolute winner, I am unable to do so. At 47:37 it constitutes exceptionally mean playing-time. In the Schnittke, the piano is not only much too far forward but the tutti strings in fortissimo deliver a bloated, nondescript sound. Most disappointing. Otherwise, a splendid disc.

Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884) String Quartet No. 1 in E minor 'From my Life' Leos JANACEK(1854-1928) String Quartet No. 1 'The Kreutzer Sonata' Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Quartettsatz in C minor Alexander String Quartet Rec 1994, St Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA ARTE NOVA 74321 34036 2 [58.35] [TB]

The performances sound completely fresh and invigorating, captured in vivid, well balanced sound. Perhaps the perspective might have a little more depth but the quality is sufficient to allow the natural bloom of the players' tone to make its mark.

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Violin Concerto No. 7 in E Minor, Op. 38 (1814) Violin Concerto No. 12 in A Minor, Op. 79 (1828) Takako Nishizaki (violin), Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra/Libor Pesek
Rec: Slovak Philharmonic Concert Hall, December 1985 NAXOS 8.555101 [48.20] [RW]

Takako Nishizaki is a particularly experienced and accomplished player: she provides a sumptuous performance of the two works


Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Clarinet Concerto in A minor, op. 80 Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Concerto for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31 Dame Thea King (clarinet) Philharmonia Orchestra/Alun Francis Recorded 1-2/8/1979 (Finzi), 28-9/11/1979 (Stanford), Henry Wood Hall, London HELIOS CDH55101 [48.56] [CH]

If you have the Finzi in a differently coupled version, at the Helios price you might consider getting this for the Stanford.

Richard STRAUSS Don Quixote Op. 35 Romance for 'Cello and Orchestra, Sonata for 'Cello and Piano Op. 6 Steven Isserlis ('cello) Stephen Hough (piano) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Lorin Maazel RCA RED SEAL 74321 75398 2 [75:34] [SF]

Isserlis gives a truly heartfelt performance and he expresses the humour, gravity, irony and pathos of the Don with marvellous subtlety.

Arthur SULLIVAN The Light of the World Karen Johnson (soprano); Adrienne Murray (contralto); Paul Dutton (tenor); Stephen Wells (baritone); Richard Wiegold (bass); Making Music (combined choirs of North West Music Committee); Children's Choirs - Chester Music Society Junior Choir, The Hulme Singers, Liverpool Youth Choir, St. Julie's R.C. School Choir; David Houlder (organ); John Bethell (conductor). with libretto and notes WRW 202-2 (3-CD set) [2hrs. 43 minutes] [CW]

This set will be self-recommending to Sullivan aficionados. For many of us, however, hearing the antediluvian "Light of the World" will make us look forward all the more eagerly to the imminent commercial issue of "The Golden Legend" of 1886, a much fleeter-footed work written when the composer was at the height of his dramatic powers.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) 1812 Overture (i) Polonaise; Waltz (Eugene Onegin) Capriccio Italien Marche Slave Festival Coronation March Cossack Dance (Mazeppa) Kiev Symphony Chorus, Children's Choir of Cincinnati (i) Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Erich Kunzel Rec 13 September 1999, 22 September 1998, Music Hall, Cincinnati, Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland TELARC CD 80541 [60.23] [TB]

The recording is impressive, easily handling the colourful orchestral combinations and climaxes, while at the same time having a natural sense of balance and a pleasing atmosphere.

Ernst TOCH (1887-1964) Cello Sonata (1929) Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra (1924-5) Impromptufor cello solo in three movements (1963) Steven Honigberg (cello) Eclipse Chamber Orchestra/Sylvia Alimena Kathryn Brake (piano) rec 6 June 1999 US Holocaust Museum (concerto); 13 May 2000, St Luke's Church, McLean, Virginia ALBANY TROY 421 [53.35][RB]

An anthology both caustic and emotional. Typically engaged and fervent performing values, excellent recordings.

Edgard VARESE (1883-1965) Arcana (1927) Octandre (1923) Offrandes (1921) Intégrales (1923) Déserts (1953-4) Maryse Castets (soprano) (Offrandes) Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Christopher Lyndon-Gee Rec 25-29 April, 13-14 May 2000, Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice
NAXOS 8.554820 [70.46] [TB]

Lyndon-Gee conducts with a real insight into the music, its structural strengths particularly gaining from his interpretations. While not a top recommendation, this is a worthwhile addition to the catalogue, extending our understanding of this fascinating composer: a true 'craftsman in sound'.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff (1893) Sir John Falstaff - Bryn Terfel, Ford - Thomas Hampson, Fenton - Daniil Shtoda, Dr Cajus - Enrico Facini, Bardolfo - Anthony Mee, Pistola - Anatoli Kotscherga, Mrs Alice Ford - Adrianne Pieczonka, Nannetta - Dorothea Röschmann, Mrs Quickly - Larissa Diadkova, Mrs Meg Page - Stella Doufexis, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado
Rec Berlin, April 2001. DG 471 194 2, 2 discs [52'07 & 61'20], Full Price

For listeners, we at last have a great recording of this great opera in fine sound. And it has never sounded better.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)The Four Seasons [102.47] Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi. Rec: July and October 2000, Studio de la Fondation Tibor Varga, Sion, Switzerland. VIRGIN VERITAS VMD5 61980 2 [102.47] [KM]

An amazingly dramatic, rock and roll rendition of the Four Seasons. If you thought this music was boring, you will be in for a shock. Buy it. And play it loud.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) 12 Sonatas for Violin and Continuo Opus 2 Fabrizio Cipriani, violin Antonio Fantinuoli, cello Antonio Frige, harpsichord Ugo Nastrucci, theorbo Rec: June 1992, San Michele di Gallareto church, Campomorone, Genoa, Italy. CANTUS C 9608/9 [119.43] [KM]

This is a fine recording of some of Vivaldi’s early sonatas. The performers express a great deal of feeling, and their unique choice of orchestration add variety to the music.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)Concertos Concerto in G major RV 151 "Alla rustica" Concerto for Oboe and Violin in B flat major RV 548 Concerto con molti istromenti in C major RV 558 (P.16) Concerto for two Violins in G major RV 516 Concerto for Oboe in A minor RV 461 Concerto for two Mandolins, Strings and Continuo in G major RV 532 Concerto for Strings in A major RV 159 Concerto in E major RV 271 "L'amoroso" Concerto for Bassoon in E minor RV 484 Concerto for Flute in G major RV 436 Concerto for Viola d'amore, Lute, Strings and Continuo in D minor RV 540 Concerto for Oboe and Bassoon in G major RV 545 L'estro armonico No. 1 in D major RV 549 No. 2 in G minor RV 550 No. 3 in G major RV 551 No. 4 in E minor RV 552 No. 5 in A major RV 553 No. 6 in A minor RV 554 No. 7 in F major RV 555 No. 8 in A major RV 556 No. 9 in D major RV 557 No. 10 in B minor RV 558 No. 11 in D minor RV 559 No. 12 in E major RV 560 Flute Concertos Flute Concerto no.1 in F major RV 433 "La Tempesta di Mare" Flute Concerto no.2 in G minor RV 439 "La Notte" Flute Concerto no.3 in D major RV 428 "Il Gardellino" Flute Concerto no.4 in G major RV 435 Flute Concerto no.5 in F major RV 434 Flute Concerto no.6 in G major RV 437 The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock. Rec: April 1985, November - December 1987, Henry Wood Hall, London; October 1985, May 1986, St. John's Smith Square, London; November 1986, May 1987, Abbey Road Studios, London. ARCHIV 471 317-2 5CD set [260.05] [KM]

Perhaps the finest recordings of these works, with excellent sound, and musicians who clearly enjoy this attractive music. Now that they have been released in a 5-disc box set, at an attractive price, there is no reason to hesitate.

Jan Václav VORÍŠEK (1791-1825) Symphony in D. Mass in B Patrice Michaels (soprano); Tami Jantzi (mezzo-soprano); William Watson (tenor); Peter Van De Graaff (bass); Paul Freeman, conducting The Prague Chamber Chorus; Czech National SO CEDILLE CDR 90000 058 [60:35] [IL]

An album to savour.

Richard WAGNER Parsifal George London (A mfortas), Martti Talvela (Titurel), Hans Hotter (Gurnemanz), Jess Thomas (Parsifal), Gustav Neidlinger (Klingsor), Irene Dalis (Kundry) Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival Conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch Recorded live in the Festspielhaus at the 1962 Bayreuth Festival PHILIPS 50 GREAT RECORDINGS 464 756-2 4 CDs [250.12] [TD]

In so much as any recording can be called definitive, this is the definitive Parsifal. I doubt if it will ever be equalled

DVD REVIEW Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde (1856-1859) Isolde - Birgit Nilsson (sop) Tristan - Jon Vickers (ten) King Marke - Bengt Rundgren (bass) Kurwenal - Walter Berry (bar) Brangäne - Ruth Hesse (mez) Stanley Unruh - Melot (ten) Horst Laubenthal - Shepherd, Steersman & Sailor (ten) Orchestre National de l'ORTF & New Philharmonia Chorus, Karl Böhm Recorded on 7 July 1973 at a public performance, Orange, France DREAMLIFE CORPORATION [DLVC - 1019], [213 minutes] single DVD, Region encoded 0, NTSC format. Full Price [MB]

A simply fabulous historical document that catches breathtaking performances on the wing. It is unlikely to be surpassed.

GREAT WAGNER DUETS Kirsten Flagstad, sop. Lauritz Melchior, ten. Lohengrin, Act III, Tristan und Isolde, Act II, Götterdämmerung, Parsifal, Act II NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110723 [77:45] [FC]

Flagstad and Melchior were the reigning monarchs of the Wagnerian repertory at the Met. Wagner lovers speak of those magical years with reverent tones. They were the century's finest Wagner interpreters and to have them singing together on record is a unique event.

Jörg WIDMANN Cello Concerto Robert SCHUMANN Cello Concerto Jan Vogler (cello) Munchener Kammerorchester/Christoph Poppen Rec: Munich 7/2000; Aschau 2/2000 BERLIN CLASSICS 0017142 [65.35] [PGW]

Dark Strings is a 44 minute journey through the conflicting emotions which can tear apart a sensitive young man, and a map of some of the musical worlds in which a young composer of today has to find his way. Jörg Widmann is a composer whose progress will be one to watch.

Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) String Quartet in D minor Italian Serenade Fine Arts Quartet
Recorded 03.06.1998, Hans-Rosbaud Studio, Baden-Baden HÄNSSLER CD 93.024 [50.29] [CH]

The Fine Arts' blend, precision of ensemble, dynamic range and sheer interpretative heft proclaim them among the finest of today's string quartets. They enter into Wolf's tormented world with total empathy.


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