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Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


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Classical Caffeine
Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b.1932)
Carmen Suite - Bolero [1:22]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony no.1 in D, op.25 - Finale: Molto vivace [3:46]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Scaramouche, op.165b - Brazileira (arr. J. Heifetz) [2:21]
Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
The Gadfly Suite, op.97a - Folk Feast (National Holiday) [2:41]
Johann HUMMEL (1778-1837)
Trumpet Concerto in E - Rondo [3:36]
Dmitry KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
The Comedians, op.26 - Galop: Presto [1:33]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto no.2 in F - Allegro assai [2:44]
Overture (Suite) no.3 in D - Gavotte I-II (arr. T. do Amaral) [3:02]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat - Allegro (arr. James F. Smith) [5:09]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Masquerade Suite - Mazurka [2:30]
Tapestry (arr. E. Stetsyuk) [2:20]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Water Music Suite no.3 in G - Gigue I-II [1:18]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
From Holberg's Time, op.40 - Prelude [2:40]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eugene Onegin, op.24 - Act III: Polonaise [4:17]
Pictures from Bashu - Evening Dance at Aba (arr. Yi-Wen Jiang) [1:05]
Irish Jigs (medley) (arr. P. Bensusan) [2:59]
Carlos GOMES (1836-1896)
Sonata in D - Vivace (Burrico de pau) (arrangement) [3:37]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Petite Suite - Ballet [3:16]
François FRANCOEUR (1698-1787)
Cello Sonata in E - Gigue: Allegro vivo [2:07]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Les Fêtes d'Hébé - Tambourin (arrangement) [1:11]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Septet in E flat, op.20 - Scherzo: Allegro molto e vivace [3:06]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony no.41 in C - Molto allegro [5:39]
Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra/James DePreist (Shchedrin)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz (Prokofiev, Handel, Mozart)
Rouben Aharonian (violin), Svetlana Safonova (piano) (Milhaud)
Moscow Chamber Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian (Shostakovich, Grieg)
New York Chamber Symphony/Gerard Schwarz (trumpet) (Hummel)
Byelorussian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra/Anatoly Lapunov (Kabalevsky)
David Bilger (trumpet), Ransom Wilson (flute), Stephen Taylor (oboe), *Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Bach Concerto no.2, *Beethoven))
Brazilian Guitar Quartet (Bach Suite no.3, Gomes)
Philharmonia of Russia/Constantine Orbelian (Khachaturian, Tchaikovsky)
Style of Five (Tamarin, Rameau)
Eugenia Zukerman (flute), Shanghai Quartet (Huang)
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (Bach Concerto no.6)
Scott Tennant (guitar) (Irish jig)
iDuo (Vadym Kholodenko & Andrey Gugnin (pianos))
Zuill Bailey (cello), Simone Dinnerstein (piano) (Francoeur)
rec. No dates given. Venues: Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory (Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Tamarin, Tchaikovsky, Rameau); Bridges Auditorium, Claremont, California (Bach Suite & Concerto no.6, Irish); Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, New York (Prokofiev, Handel, Mozart); Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco (Shchedrin); Glinka Museum, Moscow (Milhaud); Masonic Temple Auditorium, New York (Hummel); Radio Committee Recording Studio, Minsk (Kabalevsky); Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California (Grieg); Chapel of St Anthony's Seminary, Santa Barbara, California (Huang); São Bento Monastery Chapel, Vinhedo, São Paulo (Gomes); Academy of Choral Art, Moscow (Debussy). DDD
DELOS DE 1628 [65:24]

In the eighteenth century Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata buffa about the pleasures of coffee drinking (BWV 211). In these more health-conscious times caffeine has come to be recognised also for its insalubrious side-effects, and in recognition of this, Delos have brought out this aural version of a coffee fix: a compilation of twenty-odd two- or three-minute bursts of musical exhilaration by both great and lesser-known composers at their frothiest, with an Irish jig thrown in for good measure.
Properly, the accompanying booklet carries a health warning: "Anti-depressant - May cause feelings of happiness and irrational optimism. Contains high-energy Bach, Mozart, Khachaturian ..." Delos know that their hour-plus selection is only a drop in the ocean in that regard - the disc could have been filled fifty times over just with Mozart's music!
However, their chosen programme is probably as entertaining as any. Shchedrin gets things off to a flying start with his lively treatment of Bizet, and the disc is brought to an end an hour later in the greatest of style with the finale of Mozart's last symphony. Most of the pieces in between are similarly orchestral, but like chocolate on a cappuccino there is a more intimate sprinkling of chamber music, typically offering attractive guitar arrangements of something familiar.
A compilation of bleeding chunks and miscellaneous arrangements, this is clearly not a disc for purists, although as something jaunty to put on the hi-fi in the company of art music infidels - whilst pointing out that one of the ensembles calls itself 'iDuo' - it may be worth even their consideration. Given the aims of the programme, this is one of those very rare occasions when there is perhaps something to be said for removing silence from the ends or beginnings of tracks - to allow one piece to segue, uncut, into the next, thus keeping the musical caffeine flowing. As it is, Delos have opted to treat the items more respectfully and retain the usual spacings.
The brief notes tend towards the irreverent or comical, which may strike some as slightly patronising or even painful: "Beethoven?!? Indeed, even notoriously grumpy Ludwig had his lighter and more humorous side: dig the witty 'Scherzo' from his wonderfully jolly Septet (tr. 21)." On the other hand, it is done with the best intentions - Delos hope that this album will "stimulate both mind and body, banish moody spells, refresh flagging spirits, promote energy, and leave you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step."
Performances by names big and not-so-big range from the fairly good to the splendid, and much the same can be said for the recordings themselves. The back cover handily lists the CDs all the tracks originally appeared on, restored to their rightful glory.
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