The Medinah Sessions
William WALTON
Facade Suite [20:48]
Till Eulenspiegel Einmal Anders! (arr. Franz Hasenörl) [8:00]
Alexander SCRIABIN
Waltz in A flat (arr. Alexander Elliott) [5:54]
Serenata in Vano [6:44]
The Soldier's Tale - suite [26:34]
Threepenny Opera Suite [20:48]
Music for a Farce [12:36]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ
Le Revue de Cuisine [13:58]
Octandre [7:14]
Capriccio Espagnol [14:54]
Chicago Pro Musica
rec. Medinah Temple, Chicago, August 1983, June 1988. ADD
REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-2102 [68:15 + 69:16]
The content of these two discs was first issued by Reference as RR16, RR17 and RR29.
As you can see it's a pretty eclectic mix with the 20th century almost counting as the only unifying element apart from this conductor-less chamber ensemble and the halcyon recording sessions at Medinah Temple, Chicago.  The collection was first issued in this format in 2001 and now enjoys a new lease of reissued life as do Reference's other doubles of Serebrier's Janáček and Chadwick.
The CPM tap straight into Walton's jazz age Facade, eager and lazy-hazy, salty and witty. The Till reduction for 25 musicians captures Strauss's cheeky essence. It is followed by the sultry little Scriabin waltz - almost a siesta - certainly not a fiesta. The Nielsen Serenata in Vano is a sleepy little charmer in CPM's hands. The Stravinsky suite is typically alert and benefits from the nasal pepper and klaxon blare imparted by the ever well-judged playing and apt recorded ambience. It's a startlingly apposite recording. From this it's not a long stride to Weill's Threepenny Opera Suite. Weill's acrid hybrid of diesel fumes, sleazy dances and melody is put delightfully through its paces. Paul Bowles' eight movement suite is a series of concise, raucously witty and sometimes Poulencian sketches. The four movements of the Martinů are in a similar gawky and oddball jazzy idiom. It was written during one of his experimental phases in Paris in 1927. Varese's Octandre in three short movements is the most elliptical of the works here. CPM's reading feels completely collegiate with Varese's intentions. We shake free of the 1920s ascendancy with a final and grippingly close-up reduction of Rimsky's Capriccio Espagnol. It would have been good if the clearly delineated episodes in the Capriccio had been separately accessible.
The CPM certainly benefit from its elite line-up that included composer pianist Easley Blackwood (his piano sonatas and symphonies both recorded on Cedille) and clarinettist John Bruce Yeh.
The English-only liner notes are by Edward Kaufman and Patrick Rucker.
Superbly lucid playing and recording technology to match these tangy ensemble works largely from a time that will soon be a century ago.
Rob Barnett
Tangy ensemble works heard in superbly lucid playing and recording technology to match.