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ASGER HAMERIK (1843-1923): Symphony No. 1 in F, Op. 29 "Symphonie poétique", Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 32 "Symphonie tragique". In his time, Hamerik was the best-known Danish composer after Gade. He studied with both the latter and with J.P.E. Hartmann, the two leading exponents of the Romantic symphony in Denmark yet Hamerik spent the majority of his career outside of his native country, principally for 27 years from 1871 to 1898 in Baltimore at the Peabody Institute where he was its Director. While in France in the mid 1860s, he studied and developed a privileged relationship with Berlioz, whose influence is to be found in Hamerik's orchestration and a hint of the use of the idée fixe in his symphonies. Hamerik wrote seven of these (all of them in Baltimore), four operas and a series of five Nordic Suites for large orchestra. The first symphony dates from 1879-80 and was originally intended to be another Nordic Suite (its first and third movements carried descriptive headings in the manuscript). Possessed of a Gadian/Mendelssohnian lightness of touch and transparency or orchestration, the work serves admirably as the calling card for a series of important works. Composed in 1882-3, the second symphony is on a larger, Beethovenian scale and is made of sterner stuff. Like Beethoven's C minor symphony, Hamerik's traces a progression from tragedy to triumph, from gloomy C minor to a conquering C major. Hamerik returned to Denmark in 1900 and composed almost nothing for the rest of his life and the Danish public seems never to have fully appreciated the important place he occupies in the Danish symphonic tradition between Gade and Nielsen. We hope that this is only the beginning of a recording of the complete cycle! Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224076 (Denmark) 02-001 $14.98

(See also 02-032 for a historical performance of the opera Marie Grubbe by Hamerik's son Ebbe!)

WILLIAM SCHUMAN (1910-1992): Credendum (Article of Faith), LOUIS GESENSWAY (1906-1976): Four Squares of Philadelphia, VINCENT PERSICHETTI (1915-1987): Symphony No. 4, Op. 51. Another nostalgic trip to the past when American music was optimistic, heartfelt, outsized and idealistic: Schuman's 1955 work was composed to honor UNESCO and its brazen, rhetorical Declamation is one of mid-century American music's most rousing statements. A slow Chorale rises impassionedly to a closing Presto of enormous rhythmic drive and energy. Gesensway was a Latvian immigrant to Canada who joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1925. In the genre of "Hymns to Great Cities", Four Squares dates from 1948-51 and effectively does for Philadelphia what Respighi did for Rome, tracing the city's history from its beginnings with William Penn and the local Indians down to the bars and honky-tonks of Franklin Square in the late 1940s. Persichetti's symphony was completed in 1951 and combines the simply, lyric fashion of Copland and Harris with his own complex counterpoint and atonal harmony or, as the composer put it, "the gracious and the gritty". Mono recordings. Oscar Treadwell (narrator), Philadelphia Orchestra; Eugene Ormandy. Albany TROY 276 (U.S.A.) 02-002 $16.98

NORMAN DELLO JOIO (b.1913): Variations, Chaconne & Finale, PAUL CRESTON (1906-1985): Dance Overture, Op. 62, ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Evocations. Dello Joio's elegant and satisfying work explores many facets of a theme initially of liturgical character, which is treated to a wide variety of permutations first in the form of six variations, then the more concentrated variation form of a Chaconne, and finally freely treated in a "secular" dance-like finale. The idiom is tonal and romantic, and ingenious in its orchestration. Creston's piece is also unabashedly Romantic, driven by buoyant rhythmic changes and an apealing melodic sense. Bloch's marvellously atmospheric Evocations are the composer's personal response to the stimuli of oriental art, but avoid the trap of "eastern" posturing - some pentatonic motifs apart, there is no self-conscious attempt to make the music sound oriental; it is unmistakably by Bloch, a serious American composer powerfully aware of his Jewish heritage and fully at ease in writing powerful and involving music on any source of inspiration. Lithuanian National Philharmonic Orchestra; David Amos. Centaur CRC 2356 (U.S.A.) 02-003 $16.98


MAX STEINER (1888-1971): King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score. Steiner's magnificent score rings out in all its magnificent, ominous glory in this new recording of the complete film score, made possible by extensive reconstruction and restoration using the original audio components of the film itself, the surviving full scores and the composer's own annotated sketches (the only documentary evidence for every note Steiner composed for the film). Steiner wrote for a Wagnerian sized orchestra and left the problems of reducing this mammoth score to orchestrators; this recording finally gives the music its due. Along with archival photos, movie ads and extensive musical notes, there are special tributes to Steiner from, among others, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Steiner's wife Louise. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William T. Stromberg. Marco Polo 8.223763 (Hong Kong) 02-004 $14.98

ALFRED NEWMAN (1900-1970): The Song of Bernadette - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Newman's score won the Academy Award in 1943 and is a richly detailed portrait of the young woman who believes she has seen the Virgin Mary. Always attempting to keep the focus on Bernadette and her inner conviction, the score is incredibly detailed and brims with narrative eloquence, pointing toward the later large-scale Biblical epics Newman was to score such as David and Bathsheba, The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Robe. More than 110 minutes of music. 2 CDs. Mono, historic recording remastered with CEDAR. Tsunami TCI 0617 (Switzerland) 02-005 $22.98

ALFRED NEWMAN (1900-1970): The Diary of Anne Frank - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Newman provided George Stevens' 1959 film with a score of great expressive intimacy, concentrating on "the memory of a happier past, the hope for a happier future...and the great dignity and courage of the Frank family...". This soundtrack contains 14 minutes of previously unreleasd music. Mono. 20th Century Fox Orchestra; Alfred Newman. Tsunami TCI 0122 (Switzerland) 02-006 $13.98

DANIEL LENTZ (b.1942): Apologetica. This is an extended 14-movement work for voices, strings and midi keyboards, which provide a rich pallette of other instrumental sounds. The theme of the work is the interaction between the native Americans - Hopi, Maya and so on - and the conquering, or invading, settlers from Europe - specifically the clash of cultures, attitudes and spiritual conflicts that resulted from the intrusion of a dogmatic belief system into an ancient culture with its own firmly established traditions. Minimalism, a "new-age" æsthetic, sensual common-chord underpinning and driving ostinati create an expressive, graphic, even pictorial mode of expression, very approachable and accessible. I Cantori; Edward Cansino, The Archbishop's Ensemble; Zdenka Vaculovicova, Bradford Ellis (keyboards). New Albion NA 097 (U.S.A.) 02-007 $16.98

KORNGOLD AND MARX - The latest Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto release

JOSEPH MARX (1882-1964): Romantisches Klavierkonzert in E, ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (1897-1957): Piano Concerto in C Sharp, Op. 17 for the Left Hand. Volume 18 in Hyperion's "Romantic Piano Concerto" series couples two works that epitomise the very concept of the Romantic concerto. The Marx has a piano part of immense stature, almost constantly present and of no small technical complexity. Marx was a master of harmony - seldom straying further from conventional tonality than early Scriabin, he nonetheless manages constantly to delight the ear with the brilliant and seductive colors of his harmonic relationships. The Korngold was written for Paul Wittgenstein, who must have found it among the most challenging of his commissions; intensely concentrated, and ingenious in its writing for one hand to make it sound like two, the work is in some ways even more satisfying than the Marx, masterfully orchestrated, and with never a dull moment. Marc-André Hamelin (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä. Hyperion CDA 66990 (England) 02-008 $17.98

MAX REGER (1873-1916): Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy, Op. 108, Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Mozart, Op. 132. Reger's Symphonic Prologue has no actual literary model, being in effect an extended tone-poem like those of Richard Strauss, for large orchestra and on a grand scale in every way. The work abounds in dramatic gestures, passionate surges and outbursts, and generates a cumulative atmosphere of impending menace and tragedy, in the most extreme high-romantic fashion. The Mozart Variations, on the other hand represents the composer at his most transparent and delicate, written for a much smaller orchestra and nearly dainty in its contrapuntal filigree, the textures not thickening even in its final, concluding fugue. An ideal coupling!. Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Leif Segerstam. BIS 771 (Sweden) 02-009 $17.98

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921): Music for Violin and Orchestra: Havanaise, Op. 83, Morceau de Concert, Op. 62, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28, Romance, Op. 48, Sarabande, Op. 93/1, Violin Concerto No. 1 in A, Op. 20. Almost all of Saint-Saëns' short works for violin and orchestra are coupled here (only the Caprice andalous appears to be missing) with the rarely played first concerto. Only some ten minutes long (the composer also gave it the alternative name of Concertstück) it is full of fireworks and bravura and used to be played as a "first movement" to the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; this is its only available digital recording. All these works are models of their kind, making one marvel again at Saint-Saëns' amazing fecundity and urbane humanity. Jean-Jacques Kantorow (violin), Tapiola Sinfonietta. BIS 860 (Sweden) 02-010 $17.98

IGNAZ LACHNER (1807-1895): String Quartet in F, Op. 43, String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 105. Rodin Quartet. Ignaz was the middle of three Lachner brothers who composed (his elder brother Franz was a friend of Schubert and wrote 8 symphonies, his younger brother Vincenz a noted conductor). Not Franz' equal in quantity of works produced, Ignaz yet wrote seven string quartets which never stray far from the idiom of Mozart and Schubert but which provide lovers of classical string quartets with much lovely music. A previous volume in this series offered op. 74 and a posthumous quartet; of the remaining three quartets, two are for 3 violins and viola and one for 4 violins! We assume these will follow in due course. Amati 9504 (Germany) 02-011 $17.98

ANATOLY LIADOV (1855-1914): Variations on a Polish Folktune, Op. 51, Marionettes, Op. 29, 3 Pieces, Op. 11, 2 Pieces, Op. 24, 3 Pieces, Op. 57, Little Waltz, Op. 26, 3 Preludes, Op. 36, A Musical Snuff-Box, Op. 32, Barcarolle, Op. 44, 4 Pieces, Op. 64, Variations on a Theme of Glinka, Op. 35. These are all little exquisite polished jewels all immaculately crafted and immensely satisfying to hear. The biggest surprise in this collection are the late (1909-10) Four Pieces, which pay obvious homage to the harmonic language that Scriabin was investigating around this time. The earlier works, including the two large sets of variations are much more harmonically conventional, but full of delightful invention and a genuine mastery of the instrument. Stephen Coombs (piano). Hyperion CDA 66986 (England) 02-012 $17.98

OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879-1936): The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome, Ancient Airs and Dances, Suites 1 & 3. Anybody who fears that, shorn of the composer's fabulously colourful orchestration, such staples as these will also lose much of what makes them interesting, will find this disc an eye-opener. For one thing, Respighi's sense of piano color, and the relationship of piano timbre and register to harmony and rhythm, is faultless. Indeed, contemporary accounts of his pianism and piano writing mentioned him in the same breath as Busoni and Debussy, and it is only subsequently that his orchestral works have come to overshadow all his other activities. It is also possible to appreciate fully the incisiveness of gesture and the ingenuity of Respighi's counterpoints in these transcriptions. Tiziana Moneta, Gabriele Rota (piano four-hands). La Bottega Discantica 16 (Italy) 02-013 $16.98

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)/EARL WILD: Grand Fantasy on Airs from "Porgy and Bess", JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)/CARL TAUSIG (1841-1871): 3 Chorale Preludes, FREDERIC CHOPIN (1810-1849)/MILY BALAKIREV (1837-1910): Romanze (Piano Concerto No. 1), MANUEL INFANTE (1883-1958): El Vito (Variations on a Popular Theme), NIKOLAI MEDTNER (1880-1951): Sonata-Skazka in C Minor, Op. 25/1, FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)/VLADIMIR HOROWITZ: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 19. This collection is taken from two recitals played by Berman at the enterprising Husum Piano Festival, from which eight representative CD colections have already been issued. There are some very interesting rarities here indeed, from Earl Wild's lush recasting of popular numbers from Porgy and Bess, to a Moskowskian piece of flashy virtuoso fluff by Manuel Infante, to Medtner's masterly Rachmaninovian Op. 25 C minor sonata, ending with Berman's reconstruction of Horowitz's arrangement of the Liszt 19th Hungarian Rhapsody. Live recordings. Daniel Berman (piano). Danacord DACO CD 483 (Denmark) 02-014 $17.98

JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Piano Quintet in D Minor, Op. 74, Piano Quintet in E Flat Minor, Op. 87. Hummel's quintet version of the better-known op. 74 septet is rare and arguably allows his brilliant piano writing to come through more clearly (here performed on original instruments). Liszt transcribed the work for solo piano and many composers adopted some of its technical figures for their own usage; the booklet notes show exactly what Chopin, Beethoven, Czerny, Kalkbrenner and Mendelssohn took from this sunny, vibrant work and what they did with it! Op. 87 is a more "classically" oriented work with the distinction of possibly having been Schubert's model for the Trout Quintet (piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass). Atalanta Fugiens. Ark 59003 (Italy) 02-015 $16.98

CARL FRIDRICH ABEL (1723-1787): Flute Quartet No. 1 in C, JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782): Concerto for Harpsichord, 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, Op. 7/5, JOSEPH SCHMITT (1734-1791): Sonata No. 1 in F for 2 Violins and Cello, JEAN CHALON (18th. cen.): Harpsichord Sonata in C, Op. 1/2, CARL STAMITZ (1745-1801): Flute Quartet No. 3 in D, ANON.: 6 Freemason's Songs for Soprano, Flute, 2 Violins, Viola and Basso Continuo. The second volume of this series of recordings of scores found in archive collections in the western Swedish town of Skara brings us more music typically played in middle-class homes during the 18th century; two figures new to the catalogue are Chalon, about whom nothing is known but who published 6 harpsichord sonatas in 1759 in a Scarlattian rococo manner, and Schmitt, a monk who abandoned religious life to set up his own music publishing business and whose trio follows two reflective movements with a joyfully fresh rondo. Helena Ek (soprano), Corona Artis Ensemble (period instruments). Proprius PRCD 9081 (Sweden) 02-016 $17.98

MANOEL DIAS DE OLIVEIRA (1738-1813): Te Deum Laudamus (two versions), Magnificat, Encomendação das Almas, Tractus para Missa dos Pré-santificados and 8 other brief liturgical pieces. Volume 2 of Claves' series "Sacred Music from 18th Century Brazil" brings us music composed for the church of São João del Rei in the mining area of Minas Gerais by this gifted, self-taught mulatto descendant of slaves. The music is in the Portuguese-Neapolitan tradition, unfailingly bright and pleasant with an engaging touch of innocent naivety with one foot in the Baroque and the other in the early Classical period. Vocal soloists (countertenors), Ensemble Turicum (period instruments). Claves 50-9610 (Switzerland) 02-017 $16.98

MUZIO CLEMENTI (1752-1832): Six Piano Sonatas, Op. 25. Now resuming their releases through a different distributor, Arts makes available this ninth volume in Spada's complete Clementi sonata cycle, never before available outside the old Frequenz box-set. Pietro Spada (piano). Arts 47231 (Germany) 02-018 $9.98

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Overtures to Der Teufel als Hydraulicus, Der Spiegelritter, Des Teufels Lustschloß, Der vierjährige Posten, Claudine von Villa Bella, Die Freunde von Salamanka, Die Zwillingsbrüder, Alfonso und Estrella, Die Verschworenen and Fierabras. These performers, already known for their sparkling performances of Haydn overtures and notturni are now recording the Schubert overtures complete on period instruments, the first to do so. The skill, feeling and brio they bring to this joyful music are inimitable! Haydn Sinfonietta Wien; Manfred Huss. Koch Schwann 311212 (Germany) 02-019 $16.98

JOHANN GOTTFRIED ECKARD (1735-1809): Three Sonatas, Op. 1, Two Sonatas, Op. 2, Menuet d'Exaudet with Variations, Sonata in G. Eckard was the first composer in Paris to conceive sonatas for the piano alone. These works show the influences of both C.P.E. Bach and Schobert while the young Mozart used two movements of op. 1/1 here in his K6. A well-filled disc of important music for the collector interested in the key linking points in the classical tradition and in the use of the newly evolving fortepiano. Brigitte Haudebourg (fortepiano). Koch Discover 920392 (Belgium) 02-020 $6.98

JOHANN HEINRICH CHRISTIAN RINCK (1770-1846): Concertstück, Op. 33, Six Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Choral and 7 Variations on "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele", Flute Concerto in F, Theme and Variations in C Major on "God Save the King". Rinck was a well-known and influential organist in his time, influencing many subsequent French and German organists as a teacher. His works incorporate elements of Baroque style while still obviously existing in the world of Beethoven. Particluarly delightful is the Flute "Concerto", which uses the flute stops for the solo instrument and the rest of the organ for the "orchestra", in early Romantic style. Ludger Lohmann (organ). Naxos 8.553925 (Hong Kong) 02-021 $5.98

JEAN-FRANÇOIS TAPRAY (1737?-1819?): 6 Organ Concertos. In December we offered a disc of Tapray's chamber works with piano which offered a delightful glimpse of a little-known early classical composer. These concertos broaden the picture somewhat, being utterly diverting essays in a form similar to that of Handel's works in the same genre. Dominique Ferran (organ), Ensemble Baroque de Nice; Gilbert Bezzina. K617 7079 (France) 02-022 $17.98

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788): Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 6 - in E Minor, W15, in G Minor, W32, in B Flat, W25. Vol. 5 in this series saw the transition from harpsichord to fortepiano; now we have three concertos played on the rarely heard "tangent piano", a bright, beautiful sounding instrument whose action is part harpsichord and part piano. The minor key works are from the 1740s, still on the cusp of the Early Classical style, the other from 1760 finding Bach in highly dramatic mode. Miklos Spanyi (tangent piano), Concerto Armonico; Peter Szüts. BIS 786 (Sweden) 02-023 $17.98

GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901): Jérusalem: Overture and Ballet Music, Rigoletto: Prelude and Ballet Music, Luisa Miller: Overture, Stiffelio: Sinfonia. Chandos's series of preludes, overtures and ballet music from Verdi's operas continues with the relative rarities of suites of ballet music composed for productions of his operas in Paris where the French expected a ballet before Act III of anything they went to see. Jérusalem was an 1847 virtual re-write of I Lombardi which kept very little of original's music; although set in the Holy Land during the Crusades, one will find the four ballet segments sounding rather "French Contemporary" in style. Il trovatore also gained four ballet scenes for its 1857 Parisian premiere, Spanish in their rhythms save the last which again is a full-scale Parisian galop. BBC Philharmonic; Edward Downes. Chandos 9594 (England) 02-024 $16.98

CHARLES TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939): Symphony No. 5 in F, Op. 47, Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, Op. 51 "Le triomphe de la Mort". Tournemire's fifth symphony was inspired by the landscape of the Swiss Alps and uses the form of the chorale in a long first movement to suggest human striving for light, which, indeed, is the subtitle of the second and final movement: a combination of pastorale and a joyful round-dance. The eighth symphony was composed from 1920-21 in response to the death of Tournemire's wife and not premiered until 1992. More elusive in its atmosphere than the composer's other symphonies, one can find resonances of Debussy, Holst and even what sounds like later Prokofiev. Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège et de la Communauté Française; Pierre Bartholomée. Auvidis/Valois V 4793 (France) 02-025 $18.98

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958): Five Tudor Portraits, Five Variants on "Dives and Lazarus". Still neglected unjustly on record and in concert, this 1935 work sets the energtic and bawdy poetry of late Medieval poet John Skelton, allowing the composer to encompass a wide range of human experience in his portrayals of the vitality of Tudor England and its singular, earthy denizens. Jean Rigby (mezzo), John Shirley-Quirk (baritone), London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra; Richard Hickox. Chandos 9593 (England) 02-026 $16.98

NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908): Kastchey the Immortal. A late work based on a Russian folk tale, this opera concerns a hideous old creature who holds captive a princess and the knight who would rescue her with the help of the forces of nature. Written in 1902, it was taken as a challenge to the Tsarist regime. Still the only available recording listed of this work, it is now reissued at mid-price. English and French translations of libretto. Alexander Arkhipov (tenor), Irina Jurina (soprano), Nina Terentieva (mezzo), Vladislav Verestnikov (baritone), Vladimir Matorin (bass), Academic Yurlov Choir, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra; Andrei Chistiakov. Russian Season 788046 (France) 02-027 $12.98

PETER TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893): The Snow Maiden, Op. 12. We waxed enthusiastic about this early example of Tchaikovsky's melodic genius in December's catalogue for Russian Season's mid-price reissue. Now comes a brand-new budget price record, also from Moscow. Well, if you're still holding out... Elena Okolysheva (mezzo), Arkady Mishenkin (tenor), Moscow Capella, Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Igor Golovchin. Naxos 8.553856 (Hong Kong) 02-028 $5.98

AMY BEACH (1867-1944): Violin Sonata in A Minor, Op. 34(tr. viola), La Captive, Berceuse, Mazurka, Invocation, Op. 40/1-3, Barcarolle, Romance. Already recorded in a transcription for cello, Beach's 1898 sonata sounds as romantic as ever on the sweeter toned viola; its companion pieces for violin and piano are well-crafted character pieces typical of late-Romanticism. Laura Klugherz (violin/viola), Jill Timmons (piano). Centaur 2312 (U.S.A.) 02-029 $16.98

MAX BRUCH (1838-1920): Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 5, HANS PFITZNER (1869-1949): Piano Trio in B Flat, JULIUS CHAJES (1910-1985): Piano Trio in D Minor, DANIEL SHALIT (b.1940): Divertimento. Pfitzner's trio, unfinished and the work of a very talented 17-year-old, is unavailable elsewhere on CD. Understandably, influences prevail - from Beethoven and Schubert to Tchaikovsky and the scherzo is almost Brucknerian - but it all adds up to a delectable rarity. Bruch's trio, also early, has Schumann as its model while Chajes' work would be right at home in the mid-18th century in its conservatism. Shalit's 1972 piece is only slightly more obviously a work of the 20th century and concludes a very enjoyable recital of romantic chamber music. Yuval Trio. Centaur CRC 2374 (U.S.A.) 02-030 $16.98

EMIL SJÖGREN (1853-1918): Violin Sonatas: No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 19, No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 24, No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 32, No. 4 in B Minor, Op. 47, No. 5 in A Minor, Op. 61, Two Fantasy Pieces, Op. 27, Poème in C, Op. 40. Described as "instrumental songs without words", Sjögren's five violin sonatas form an almost unique group in the Swedish Late Romantic period. As befits a composer best known for his large corpus of songs, the human voice is never far from Sjögren's conception of the violin part in these (with one exception) four-movement sonatas which will bring much pleasure to anyone who is interested in Nordic Romantic music. Each sonata is performed by a different pair of musicians, listed sequentially below. Originally availble in the mid-80s on Polar LPs, these performances are available now on CD for the first time together. 2 CDs. Dan Almgren, Nils-Erik Sparf, Bernt Lysell, Lennart Fredriksson, Leo Berlin, Christer Thorvaldsson (violin), Stefan Bojsten, Lucia Negro, Esther Bodin, Ulrika Berglund, Greta Erikson, Elisif Lundén-Bergfelt (piano). Proprius/Musica Sveciae PRCD 9117-18 (Sweden) 02-031 $35.98

EBBE HAMERIK (1898-1951): Marie Grubbe. Asger Hamerik's son was best known for his operas and his symphonies (concentrated neo-classical pieces), none of which are available for hearing until now. Marie Grubbe was his most successful opera. Dating from 1940, it concerns episodes in the life of a historical figure who was the inspiration for several literary creations by Danish writers (the period covered in the opera stretches from 1660-1712). Hamerik writes in a tuneful, lyrical Danish national style, influenced by folk music and instantly approachable. This release derives from a Danish Radio recording of a studio performance of an abridged version of the opera given on June 11, 1959 and is in good, clear mono sound. Danish-English libretto. Vocal soloists, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir; Martellius Lundqvist. Danacord DACO CD 480 (Denmark) 02-032 $17.98

ARTHUR LOURIÉ (1892-1966): String Quartets Nos. 1-3, Duo for Violin and Viola. Lourié was one of several outstandingly original modernist artists associated with Lunacharsky's period in charge of the new Soviet Union's Department of Education. He left in 1921 when opposition to modernism began to mount and moved to Paris in 1924. The first quartet, written in Berlin after his departure, is the toughest to get a handle on; half an hour long, its first movement has a lyrical unease which becomes spikier before metamorphosing into a Szymanowskian world of intense ecstasy while the second movement begins with a grim tread and transforms into something a bit warmer. The second quartet (1923) is a tight, 8-minute epigram while the third (1924) is a suite of four miniatures (Prélude, Choral, Hymne and Marche funèbre) with a direct form of musical address. World premiere recordings. Utrecht String Quartet. ASV 1020 (England) 02-033 $16.98

FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941): String Quartet No. 3, ALAN BUSH (1900-1996): Dialectic for String Quartet, Op. 29, SAMUEL WESLEY (1766-1837): String Quartet in E Flat. This unusual coupling brings us two uncompromising works from the 20th century - Bridge's 1926 quartet has nothing to do with the English pastoral tradition and is closer to Bartók and Schoenberg (although not serial) while Bush's 1929 piece is a concentrated, demanding and rigorous musical "discussion" of a theme - with the first example of a complete English string quartet: Wesley's c.1810 piece being an exercise in proper classical style with Haydn and Mozart as his models. Bochmann String Quartet. Redcliffe RR 013 (England) 02-034 $16.98

DOREEN CARWITHEN (b.1922): String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Violin Sonata. As a member of the circle that included Vaughan Williams and Moeran, and a writer of music for film and television documentaries in the 1950s, Carwithen's style might be predicted with some accuracy, and so it seems. The two quartets are sombre and expressive works, in the Finzi - Moeran - Ireland mould; the second, like the Moeran oboe quartet, was a W.W. Cobbett "Phantasy Quartet" prizewinner. Devotees of this uniquely identifiable Britishness in music will find a great deal to enjoy here, and in the Sonata, which also suggests the sweep of English hills, the melancholy pastoral of the landscape and the sense of ancient history, of events of passion, violence even, passed down through the generations and ingrained in the very bones of the island itself. Sorrel Quartet, Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Julian Milford (piano). Chandos 9588 (England) 02-035 $16.98

PETERIS VASKS (b.1946): Eine Kleine Nachtmusik for Piano, Weiße Landschaft for Piano, Eine kleine Sommermusik for Violin and Piano, Episodi e canto perpetuo for Piano Trio, Landschaft mit Vögeln, Musik für einen verstorbenen Freund for Wind Quintet. Vasks' music is incantatory, expressive, sometimes verging on minimalism but always in search of a goal and with an intense desire to communicate directly with the listener, qualities found here most prominently in the Episodi e canto perpetuo and in the "Music for a Dead Friend". Heinrich Hörlein (violin), Friedemann Pandell (cello), Werner Hagen (piano), Hans-Edo Heinzmann (flute), Björn Groth (bassoon), Walter Hermann (clarinet), Klaus Vogt (horn). Koch Schwann 364692 (Gemany) 02-036 $16.98

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Complete Piano Music, Vol. 1: 10 Pieces, Op. 24, 6 Impromptus, Op. 5, 10 Bagatelles, Op. 34. Sibelius' piano music represents him at every stage of his creative life and the pieces here display an extraordinary variety of color, texture and mood with the expected evocations of nature - both beautiful and brutal - and sometimes an air of touching rustic simplicity. Annette Servadei (piano). Olympia OCD 631 (England) 02-037 $16.98

GEIRR TVEITT (1908-1981): 50 Folk Tunes from Hardanger, Op. 150 (Nos. 38-50), 12 Two-Part Inventions, Op. 2, Three-Part Invention, Op. 3/5, Four-Part Invention, Op. 4/3, Menuet for Nadia Boulanger, "Tull til Tullemor", The Invulnerable, Folk-Tune from Hardanger No. 73. Håvard Gimse (piano). Vol. 2 of Tveitt's piano music completes the set of folk tunes published in 1953 and adds a series of inventions from the earlier part of the composer's career (1928-30), many of which were lost in a 1977 fire that destroyed fully 80% of his compositions. These pieces are founded on Norwegian folk-music tradition and worked out in a linear, Bach-inspired style. Marco Polo 8.225056 (Hong Kong) 02-038 $14.98

SALVATORE MACCHIA: Horn Trio, Heeding the Call, Winter Morning. The trio is a lyrical and expressive work, traditionally cast in four movements with a lively scherzo and finale alternating with melodic and harmonically rich first and slow movements. Heeding the Call is for horn and percussion, a lively and lighthearted divertimento, while the song cycle "Winter Morning" is a serious work, tonal but chromatic, full of expressive counterpoint between voice and horn. Laura Klock (horn), Veronica Macchia-Kadlubkiewicz (violin), John Van Buskirk, Nadine Shank (piano), Peter Tanner (percussion), Karen Smith Emerson (soprano). Gasparo GSCD 310 (U.S.A.) 02-039 $16.98

ALFREDO CASELLA (1883-1947): Siciliana e Burlesca, Sonata a tre, Op. 62, Sonata from G.B. Sammartini's Notturne, Op. 7, Piano Trio in D from Clementi's Trio in D, Op. 28/2. Casella's passionate music, rigorously controlled, concise and concentrated, is always refreshing to encounter. There is a solid assurance in his construction which harks back to the classical models beloved of the composer. Two of the works here are elegant and masterful transcriptions of classical works by Sammartini and Clementi, but it is the unforgettably powerful Sonata a tre which is the real find; such is the sweep and drama of this score that it belies its restricted instrumental forces. Edison Trio. Stradivarius STR 33428 (Italy) 02-040 $16.98

ANDREW IMBRIE (b.1921): String Quartet No. 4, String Quartet No. 5, Impromptu for Violin and Piano. Imbrie's music is hard to categorise, being neither conservative nor experimental, neither old-fashioned nor fashionably new. It is recognisably American, and if this implies a degree of cosmopolitanism, certainly the influences of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Bartók are apparent. His language is freely chromatic to the point of atonality, but especially in the medium of the string quartet, which is a form important to him, everything is kept very clear, with a strong emphasis on lyricism and the "long line". The extended (over a quarter of an hour) Impromptu also exploits the singing qualities of the violin, against a rhythmically incisive, sometimes almost jazzy, piano accompaniment.Pro Arte Quartet. GM Recordings GM2052 (U.S.A.) 02-041 $16.98

ADOLF GEBAUER (b.1941): Violin Concerto, Divertimento for Strings, String Quartet C-B-B, Meditation and Fantasia for Organ. Based in tonality - all Gebauer's thematic material is constructed of sharply memorable tonal fragments, in the case of the String Quartet a musical monogram of the initials of the painter whose work inspired the music, combined with the composer's own initials - this music possesses great strength and directness of utterance while never sounding familiar or clichéd. The most valid stylistic comparison is probably Janacek, but even here the similarities are fleeting. Particularly deeply felt are the two slow movements of the lovely and contrast-filled Divertimento. JiÞí Tomaek (violin), Janácek Philharmonia; Jaroslav Soukup, Musici de Praga; Frantisek Vajnar, Kocian String Quartet, Joachim Dorfmüller (organ). Vars 0063 (Czech Republic) 02-042 $14.98

OND¤EJ KUKAL (b.1964): Violin Concerto, Op. 7, Danse symphonique for Large Orchestra, Op. 10, Concertino for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 11, Present - Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 12, String Quartet No. 1, Op. 9. A violin concerto from1985 full of colorful, pulsating syncopated rhythms, a symphonic dance of 1989 of sprightly humor suggesting a direct line to Dvorak via Bartók and a clarinet concertino seemingly steeped in tango rhythms and mentality betoken the arrival of a remarkably approachable composer who knows how to write music which holds the attention with its personality and good taste. Highly recommended not only to the curious! OndÞej Kukal (violin), Southern Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic; Vladimír Válek, Prague Radio Symphony; OndÞej Kukal, Ludmila Peterková (clarinet), New Vlach Quartet. Vars 0050 (Czech Republic) 02-043 $14.98

PAVEL BO¤KOVEC (1894-1972): String Quartet No. 5, MILOSLAV KABELÁâ (1908-1979): 4 Preludes for Piano, JAN F. FISCHER: Sextet for Harp and Winds, JAN HANU· (b.1915): Tempo ostinato, KAREL HUSA (b.1921): Recollections for Piano and Wind Quintet, JIND¤ICH FELD (b.1925): Burleske for Cello and Piano. A fascinating cross-section of unfamiliar music, none of it by the younger generation of Czech composers, and none of it especially modern in style, recorded in live performances by the performers of the Association for Contemporary Music "Pritomnost". Borkovec's string quartet recalls Janacek, Kabelac's piano preludes are sophisticated and brilliant, highly virtuosic and atmospheric, and Fischer's sextet, for the unusual combination of harp and wind quintet, is a very appealing work, again reminiscent of Janacek. Even the most obviously modern piece here, Hanus' Tempo Ostinato is full of lively action and wit, while Husa's wistful Recollections employs innovative instrumental techniques with the utmost subtlety. The recital is rounded off with Feld's rollicking Burlesque, which would make an appealing encore to any cello recital. Martinu Quartet, Martin Bally (piano), Katerina Englichova (harp), Musica per cinque, Prague Wind Quintet. GZ Classics L1 0150 (Czech Republic) 02-044 $6.98

KAREL GOEYVAERTS (1923-1993): Aquarius, Opera for 16 Soloists and Orchestra. Although described as an opera, Aquarius functions more like a dramatic cantata on the philosophical theme of mankind's progression towards a future utopia, with no individual characters or personal intrigues in the plot. Lacking functional harmonic relationships and progressions, the music is nonetheless based on consonant harmony, repeated motifs and a direct appeal to the emotions. In these respects it resembles minimalism, but this is not the effect it makes, as gradual metamorphosis of material is not the composer's aim; rather the fragments function as leitmotifs, almost as characters in the ambitious narrative which leads the human race from hidebound convention through a struggle and "false start" in which individual power sabotages the upward progression, to the final apotheosis in a truly co-operative "heavenly city" of the future. Vocal Soloists, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders; Grant Llewellyn. 2 CDs. Megadisc 7850/51 (Belgium) 02-045 $37.98

MEYER KUPFERMAN (b.1926): Symphonic Odyssey, Quasar Symphony, Sound Phantoms #8 (Sinfonia brevis II). Volume 9 of Soundspells' series of Kupferman's orchestral music begins with the explosive toccata of 1990s Symphonic Odyssey, and we are soon treated to every aspect of his vivid and personal soundworld. Quiet tonal chorales, driving atonal firestorms of energy, even the extraordinary "Crazy Jazz" movement of the 1996 Quasar Symphony, like a transfigured elaboration of big-band jazz - all have their place in Kupferman's prolific imagination. Few other composers can claim to have achieved so successful a synthesis of styles and influences as is in evidence here. Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra; Mindaugas Piecaitis. Soundspells 122 (U.S.A.) 02-046 $16.98

FRANCIS JUDD COOKE (1910-1995): Cantata: The House of Christmas for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra, Symphony 1994, Symphony 1990, Variations in G, String Quartet. In searching for apt comparisons with which to describe Cooke's music, the note writers invoke Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Smetana, Sibelius, Mussorgsky, Ives and Gershwin in one paragraph! The diversity of styles thus suggested leads one to the conclusion that this is not an easy composer to categorise, and so it proves. What is evident is that the music itself is an absolute pleasure. Whatever his influences, whether writing comfortably tonal music (though always capable of unexpected twists and turns) or pushing the bounds of tonality, his ear for orchestration is always original and technically faultless, and the music unfailingly compelling and approachable. The need for greater availability of more of his output seems urgent. Highly recommended. Dorota Radonska (soprano), Bogdan Sliwa (baritone), Warsaw National Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra; Jerzy Swoboda. MMC 2039 (U.S.A.) 02-047 $16.98

STEPHEN RICHARDS (b.1935): Prayer: Suite for Oboe and Strings, ERIC JULIUS MOGENSEN (b.1956): Rendez-vous, JAMES LENTINI (b.1958): Dreamscape, ALLAN BLANK (b.1925): Concerto for Clarinet and Strings, Overture for a Happy Occasion. This is an interesting compendium of twentieth-century styles, from Richards' approachable and consonant melodic writing and Blank's virtuoso drama for solo woodwinds and strings, both tonal, both memorable and emotionally satisfying, to the forbidding power of Mogensen's elemental Rendez-Vous. The latter is a remarkably powerful work, pure nature-music, like the landscape of the composer's native Iceland. Lentini's Dreamscape is full of disturbing, imprecise imagery, while the collection is rounded off by Blank's joyous and uncomplicated Overture. A provocative and enjoyable release. Mariusz Pedziatek (oboe), Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra; Jerzy Swoboda, David Niethamer (clarinet), Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra; Jerzy Swoboda, Joel Eric Suben. MMC 2053 (U.S.A.) 02-048 $16.98

ROBERT HEPPENER (b.1925): Trail, Memento, Boog. The heart of this disc is Memento, a dramatic monolog on the subject of old age, abandonment and identity, for soprano and eight instruments, here impeccably performed by the doyenne of contemporary music singers, Jane Manning. Heppener's music is typically expansive, and in the orchestral Boog - "bow" as in bow and arrow - the process whereby fragmentary ideas are extended into a satisfying and cohesive whole is taken to its logical extreme, and as in the vocal piece, the instrumental works achieve a dramatic narrative of unusual power. Jane Manning (soprano), Nieuw Ensemble, National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands; Ed Spanjaard. Donemus CV62 (Netherlands) 02-049 $18.98

RICHARD HONOROFF: Symphony No. 1 "Shoah", Symphony No. 2 "From Ashes Reborn", Testament. Honoroff is a kind of musical renaissance man, whose work extends into a range of fields far wider than most composers. He writes commercial music for TV, provided official music for the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games, and has worked as musical director for a number of highly successful Broadway shows. So the real question is: what does his symphonic concert music sound like? Not surprisingly, he is a composer with an urge to communicate a message through his work, and the means to write accessible, uncomplicated yet emotionally charged music the better to do so. Shoah and Testament are concerned with the Holocaust, and From Ashes Reborn is a Vietnam memorial in music. The music itself is vivid, colorful and painted in bold strokes, with occasional reminiscences of other composers - early Sibelius, Respighi, Mussorgsky, perhaps. Moscow Chamber Chorus, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Mikhailov. Centaur CRC 2333 (U.S.A.) 02-050 $16.98

RICHARD MEALE (b.1932): Incredible Floridas, String Quartet No. 2. Incredible Floridas is a tribute to Rimbaud, and was written in 1971 for Peter Maxwell Davies and the Fires of London. The music matches the surreal, hallucinatory imagery of the poetry that inspired it, and the style is very much that which was in the air in the early seventies, owing something to Maxwell Davies own work - violent outbursts, fragmented material, an abiding sense of menace and disjointed thought. The quartet of 1980 is a much more conventional piece of chamber music, eschewing avant-garde effects for a tough harmony in which modal elements may be discerned and there is a definite sense of chordal organisation in the dense, closely argued material. The Australia Ensemble. Tall Poppies TP048 (Australia) 02-051 $18.98

SOUSA - A Comic Opera Restored!

JOHN PHILIP SOUSA (1854-1932): El Capitan. Known primarily for the El Capitan March which uses several of the its motifs and, less widely, in a later concert version with narrator, the original Sousa operetta has been newly restored and the original pit orchestra expanded for this recording made last fall (note: unlike its predecessor, Desirée, this is a studio recording). The setting is Peru during the 16th century and the title character is a mercenary hired by the new viceroy to protect him from the machinations of his disgruntled predecessor and by that predecessor himself to help him overthrow the new man in charge. As the saying goes, much comic action ensues. This release does much to convince one that Sousa really was the American equivalent of Gilbert and Sullivan and whets the appetite for the remainder of the further dozen operettas to be recorded. 2 CDs. Vocal Soloists, Sinfonia de Camera; Ian Hobson, University of Illinois Chorale and Concert Band. Zephyr 110-97 (U.S.A.) 02-052 $33.98

JEROME KERN (1885-1945): I Want to Sing in Opera, A Little Thing Like a Kiss, The Edinboro Wriggle, Katy was a Business Girl, Whistle When You're Lonely, Take Care, Ballooning, Mind the Paint, If You Would Only Love Me, I'm Well Known, I've a Little Fever, Call Me Flo, By the Country Stile, Blue, Blue, An Irish Husband, Nothing at All, Suzette and Her Pet, Since the Days of Grandmama, The Ragtime Restaurant, Hoop-La-La-Papa, A Little Bit of Silk, Bill's a Liar, Oh You Beautiful Spring, De Goblin's Glide. Aptly titled Lost Treasures, this enterprising release brings us 24 rare numbers by one of America's greatest writers of popular song from the period between his first hit in 1905 and general recognition of his stature in 1914. Anne Sciolla (soprano), Brian Kovach (piano). Centaur CRC 2371 (U.S.A.) 02-053 $16.98

JOSEF STRAUSS (1827-1870): Herold-Quadrille, Op. 157, Schwert und Leyer, Op. 71, Allerlei, Op. 219, Schützen-Marsch, Op. 250, Tanzadressen an die Preisgekrönten, Op. 234, Amaranth, Op. 119, Frisch auf!, Op. 177, Helenen-Walzer, Op. 197, Laxenburger Polka, Op. 60, Schabernack-Polka, Op. 98, Une Pensée, Op. 35. Volume 12 in the Josef Strauss Edition has somehow anticipated its numerical predecessor, which, we trust, will be along next month! Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Kosice); Christian Pollack. Marco Polo 8.223572 (Hong Kong) 02-054 $14.98

JEAN LANGLAIS (1907-1991): Organ Concerto No. 2, Chant de Paix, Pasticcio, Cantique (from Suite folkloristique), Canzone, Pièce en Forme Libre, Incantation pour un Jour Saint. Tantalizingly branded "Vol. 1" this disc contains works for organ and orchestra by one of the 20th century's most important organist/composers performed by his widow. A student of Dukas, much of Langlais' music is in the tradition of Tournemire; the concerto dates from 1961 while the other shorter works range from the 1930s to the 1960s. Marie-Louise Langlais (organ), London Pro Arte Orchestra; Murray Stewart. Koch Schwann 315292 (Germany) 02-055 $16.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Complete Works for Piano, Volume 48: Grandes Études de Paganini, S141, Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini, S140, Mazeppa (intermediate version), S138, Sprünge mit der Tremolo-Begleitung (No. 62 of Technische Studien, S146). Howard's series reaches the Paganini etudes now; S140, the first version, includes an alternative text for No. 5 and both versions of No. 4 as well as No. 1 incorporating Schumann's study, Op. 10/2. Mazeppa is along too, this version between its original appearance as one of the Douze Grandes Études and its subsequent incarnations as symphonic poem and the fourth of the Transcendental Studies. Liszt's Technische Studien, will not be reproduced in this series (they would take up 6 CDs and are pedagogical tools) except for the present study in tremolos and leaps. Leslie Howard (piano). Hyperion CDA 67193 (England) 02-056 $17.98

ZDENùK FIBICH (1850-1900): Piano Trio in F Minor, ANTONÍN DVO¤ÁK (1841-1904): Piano Trio in F Minor, Op. 65. Fibich's brief, 16-minute, youthful trio from 1872 is almost unheard. Unfortunate, since its mood of dreamy Romanticism, spiced with outbursts of Schumannian passion in the first movement, its songful, soulful adagio central movement and its vivacious finale make for pleasurable listening. Its coupling is the better known F minor trio of Dvorák, on a larger scale altogether whose mastery needs no introduction here. Kubelik Trio. GZ Classics L1 0176 (Czech Republic) 02-057 $6.98

ANTONÍN DVO¤ÁK (1841-1904): 6 Silhouettes, Op. 8, BED¤ICH SMETANA (1824-1884): Bagatelles and Impromptus, On the Seashore (Concert Etude, Op. 17), LEO· JANÁâEK (1854-1928): In the Mist, BOHUSLAV MARTINÒ (1890-1959): Pastorale, Polka in D, Etude in F, JAN LADISLAV DUSSEK (1760-1812): Piano Sonata, Op. 10/2. A fine recital of Czech piano music which includes such still rarely recorded pieces as Smetana's eight character studies and his virtuoso etude, Dvorák's relatively early Silhouettes (1879) and Dussek's classical two-movement sonata. A useful compilation for collectors. Hana DvoÞáková (piano). Vars 0010 (Czech Republic) 02-058 $14.98

MAX BRUCH (1838-1920): Suite No. 3 for Orchestra and Organ, Op. 88b, Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 44. On occasion we decide to put an item in the catalogue before we've actually had the disc to hand; this is such a case. Grove says nothing about any works by Bruch for orchestra and organ but the opus number would place this piece between 1912 and 1915. Added to the fact that the second concerto is under-recorded (to say nothing, alas, of the rest of his works for violin and orchestra), this becomes a release to whet the appetite of any dyed-in-the-wool "Romanticist"! Jochen Brusch (violin), Sven-Ingvart Mikkelsen (organ), Tubinger Arzteorchester; Norbert Kirchmann. ebs 6049 (Germany) 02-059 $17.98

ANDERS NORDENTOFT (b.1957): Entgegen, The City of Threads, Zenevera Sesio, Hynme. Nordentoft was a pupil of Per Nørgård and Ib Nørholm, and has had experience in the fields of jazz and rock as well as concert music. These influences have produced an æsthetic with a certain striking freedom of style, and a tendency towards unfettered expressiveness. Sonorous and vivid, often ostinato-driven and energetic, and punctuated by islands of meditative stillness (but avoiding New Age blandness of harmony), the music is very individual and undeniably modern, yet with a timeless quality and the ability to appeal directly to the senses rather than the intellect. London Sinfonietta; Elgar Howarth. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224068 (Denmark) 02-060 $14.98

ALFRED SCHNITTKE (b.1934): Esquisses. A ballet score based on characters from Gogol; who better to write the music than Schnittke, polystylistic master of the grotesque and ironic? The score is imaginative, the huge orchestra (supplemented with prepared and unconventional instruments) is masterfully handled, and a gleeful diablerie reigns throughout. Indeed, the best numbers of this work recall Shostakovich in his most pungently tongue-in-cheek mode, mocking everything in sight, from quotations from familiar classics to popular dance-forms with hectic abandon. Great noirish fun. Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra; Andrei Chistyakov. Saison Russe 288 155 (France) 02-061 $17.98

SERGEI ZHUKOV (b.1951): Concerto Mystery, Concerto grosso. Concerto Mystery is an allegorical work, analogous to the medieval mystery plays, and it pits a fragment of Beethoven, in C major, the theme of our heroes, the soloists, against the forces of darkness, or chaos, in the form of parodistic imitation by a second trio of orchestral players, and richly symbolic Scriabinesque effects in the orchestra. When the action gets going, the forces of darkness are represented in fortissimo dissonance in the orchestra, and the work almost seems to suggest a struggle between the avant-garde and the forces of consonant harmony. In the end the music rises triumphantly to an apotheosis of which Scriabin himself would have been proud. The Concerto Grosso is also a serious work, somber and personal, with a mystical, almost religious atmosphere. Highly chromatic yet with clear tonal centres, the work generates a meditative or ritual mood with drama and tension - of an inner, psychological kind - in abundance. The Bekova Sisters, Residentie Orchestra The Hague; George Pehlivanian. Chandos 9588 (England) 02-062 $16.98

ELIE SIEGMEISTER (1909-1991): Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-5. Siegmeister achieves a synthesis of American vernacular vocabulary and European concert music in these remarkable sonatas which span 43 years of his long and productive life. The first is subtitled American Sonata, but as a description this could be applied to any of these works. Jazz, blues, ragtime, black protest songs and the legacies of Gershwin, Antheil, and Ives rub shoulders with stunning piano virtuosity, complex cross-rhythms and indefatigable, sometimes hectic energy. Tonality is at the heart of Siegmeister's musical language and however complex his musical ideas, the composer has an unusual gift for expressing himself in an appealing and uncomplicated way. Alan Mandel (piano). Premiere PRCD 1061 (U.S.A.) 02-063 $16.98

JÓNAS TÓMASSON (b.1946): Sonata VIII for piano, Orgia for Orchestra, Notturno III for Viola and Harpsichord, Winter Trees for Solo Violin, In the Sea of Tonal Islands for Bass Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Horn. Icelandic composer Tómasson is an individualist, and a paradox. He lives in a fishing village with 3500 inhabitants, surrounded by mountains. He has, in his younger days, travelled in the manner of a folk-singer, and achieved considerable popularity. His music etches sharply defined lines on the fabric of silence, and he adheres to no orthodox school of composition. Tonal centres are established by repetition, but in the silences between events, these perceived relationships are discarded utterly - most tellingly in the most extended work here In the Sea of Tonal Islands, whose impressionistic fragments float disconcertingly, like flotsam on an infinite ocean. Anna Aslaug Ragnarsdottir (piano), Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Paul Zukofsky, various other artists. Icelandic Music ITM-708 (Iceland) 02-064 $18.98

RONAN MAGILL (b.1954): Titanic: 10th-15th April, 1912 - An Atmospheric Poem in Five Pictures for Piano Solo. With the recent release of the movie of the same title, this might seem an opportune moment to capitalise on the current Titanic fervor by releasing the present recording. The work was actually composed in 1988, and the composer has been preoccupied with the tragedy of the doomed cruise ship since his youth. The piece is a series of straightforwardly atmospheric impressions, which almost sound improvised, with onomatapic sound effects imitating the ship's engines and the like. Picturesque, undemanding music. Ronan Magill (piano). Athene ATH 13 (England) 02-065 $18.98

TALIVALDIS KENINS (b.1919): Cello Sonata, Concertante for Flute and Piano, Piano Quartet No. 2. Latvian-born and resident in Canada since 1951, Kenins is a prolific composer for a wide range of forces; there are 8 symphonies and 12 concertos, for example, in addition to a large body of chamber music, of which this disc provides a representative sample. The romantic and clearly French-influenced sonata brought the young composer to prominence in 1950, and deservedly so; the work is a knockout, not demonstrably inferior to the other great cello sonatas of the century, the Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Debussy or Barber, for example. The formidably virtuosic (for both players) Concertante for flute and piano also deserves to be widely popular, while the piano quartet of 1979 exhibits an exemplary clarity of vision and sustains an intensely concentrated and multifaceted drama for its duration of over half an hour. David Hetherington (cello), Robert Aitken (flute), Paul Meyer (violin), Steven Dann (viola), William Aide (piano). Centrediscs 5997 (Canada) 02-066 $16.98

CLAUDE LANGEVIN (b.1928): Réconciliations, Symphonie pour cordes, Op. 36, Adagio, Op. 35, Ballade de la Fontaine aux Muses, Op. 37, String Quintet, Op. 26. Langevin's music is very approachable, without being in any way simplistic. These works for various string ensembles, of which the major one is the Symphony for Strings, do not stray far from a harmonic language that Kodaly or Vaughan Williams would have been comfortable with. Yet they are individual and incisive enough to command attention, and overtly emotional in content while stopping short of sentimentality. Les Solistes de Bourgogne, Philippe Langlois (violin), Claude Langevin (piano), Aude Brasseur (cello), String Sextet of the French National Orchestra. Masters of Art 97002 (Belgium) 02-067 $16.98

ANDRÉ JOLIVET (1905-1974): Ondes, TRISTAN MURAIL (b.1947): Tigres de verre, ESTELLE LEMIRE (b.1960): Capriccio, GILLES GOBEIL (b.1954): Voix blanche, ALAIN LOUVIER (b.1945): Raga, LUC-ANDRÉ MARCEL (b.1919): Danse de l'oiseau de Barbarie, RICHARD-G. BOUCHER (1946-1987): La Contemplation de l'eau par le feu. With the approaching centenary of the inventor and the 70th anniversary of the instrument that bears his name, there is currently a resurgence of interest in this fascinating and remarkably soulful, expressive and versatile instrument. The pieces here present the Ondes in combination with piano or tape as well as solo, and fully exploit its seven octave range and expressive possibilities - glissando, vibrato, variable attack and articulation and timbres. With the Theremin, this remains the most versatile of electronic instruments, even in this age of digital technology, and the inventive nature of the music it has inspired - all of these works, different as they are, share this characteristic - bears testimony to its evocative power. Estelle Lemire (ondes martenot), Adrenne Park (piano). SNE 616 (Canada) 02-068 $16.98

JACOB DRUCKMAN (1928-1996): String Quartet No. 2, String Quartet No. 3, Reflections on the Nature of the Water, Dark Wind. Druckman's chamber music spans most of his career. His earliest mature works date from the 1950s, and the earliest we hear here is the second quartet from 1966. During the 1960s Druckman experimented with electronic music, and was concerned with pitch, timbre and dynamics, with sound for its own sake, and thus this loosely organised work is the most "experimental" here, though it never sounds avant-garde or freakish. As his career developed, the composer moved in a more romantic direction, and the other works here show a marked contrast with the instrumental experimentation of the second quartet, more formally controlled, more directly appealing, and making more expressive use of more conventional insrumental resources. Group for Contemporary Music. Koch International Classics 7409 (U.S.A.) 02-069 $16.98

CHARLES WUORINEN (b.1938): Piano Quintet, Lightenings viii, The Mission of Virgil, Percussion Quartet. Four works, all written in 1993 and 1994, which bear testament to Wuorinen's astounding facility and the breadth of expression which he achieves in a musical language in which he is plainly entirely at ease. The Mission of Virgil, a ballet score for two pianos (there is also an orchestral version) is the most ambitious work here, and contains some ferocious writing, visceral and exciting, ironic and dramatic. The range of invention in the percussion quartet is also remarkable, ranging from contemporary eclecticism to the vernacular, while the more conventional piano quintet exploits Stravinskian intervallic language in a red-blooded work owing more than a little to 19th-century conventions. Group for Contemporary Music. Koch International Classics 7410 (U.S.A.) 02-070 $16.98

RICHARD FESTINGER (b.1948): A Serenade for Six, JOHN CAGE (1912-1992): Music for..., CHARLES WUORINEN (b.1938): Percussion Duo, MORTON FELDMAN (1925-1987): I Met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg, ROBERT MORRIS (b.1943): Broken Consort in Three Parts. Five modern works for unusual combinations of instruments, each with its own distinctive character, from the aleatoric combinations of flexibly scored fragments of Cage's Music For . . . to Wuorinen's event-filled duo for piano and vibraphone with marimba. Feldman's sensual and sonorous work is typical of the composer, while the Morris and Festinger, both for the same ensemble, show the wide range of instrumental colors and effects achievable in the context of the modern chamber ensemble. New Millenium Ensemble, Mary Nessinger (mezzo). CRI 772 (U.S.A.) 02-071 $16.98

NICCOLÒ CASTIGLIONI (b.1932): Inverno in-ver for Small Orchestra, Quodlibet for Soprano, Quodlibet for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, Dickinson-Lieder for Soprano and Piano, Hymne for 12 Voices. Slight gestures, quivering and scintillating rhythmic fragments, and material of the utmost crystalline transparency characterise the music of Castiglioni, who is concerned with clarity and atmospheric projection above all. Thus Inverno In-Ver, a musical portrait of winter which succeeds admirably in evoking frigid air and a world encased in shards of ice. The vocal works here likewise exhibit a Webernian restraint of affect, while achieving considerable expressive power. Stuttgart Radio Symphony; Gianluigi Gelmetti, Ingrid Ade-Jesemann (soprano), Sakae Kiuchi (piano), Schola Cantorum Stuttgart; Clytus Gottwald. BMG Ricordi 1014 (Italy) 02-072 $18.98

PASCAL DUSAPIN: La Melancholia, Extenso, Apex. Dusapin's "Solos for orchestra" of which Extenso and Apex are Nos. 2 and 3, are attempts to produce an organic whole from precisely worked, logical structures. The impression given is of the workings of a vast, slow machine, perhaps an organic, living one. The music is harmonically coherent enough to derive direction from tonal processes, but it is the shifting of huge tectonic blocks of sonority, and their interaction, sometimes violent, sometimes immeasurably slow and subtle, that provides the real drama here. La Melancholia, on the composer's choice of texts on the philosophical and psychological condition of melancholy, similarly evokes a sombre mood of impersonal solemnity in the context of personal drama, with the orchestra as much a protagonist in the unequal struggle of the human spirit against fate as the voices which pronounce the ancient texts. Nan Christie (soprano), Cécile Éloir (mezzo), Timothy Greacen (countertenor), Martyn Hill (tenor), Churs de Lyon, Orchestre National de Lyon; Emmanuel Krivine, David Robertson. Auvidis/ Montaigne 782073 (France) 02-073 $18.98

IAN WILSON (b.1964): The Seven Last Words, Catalan Tales, Six Days at Jericho for Cello and Piano. Ireland has produced what appears to be a disproportionately large body of powerful, deeply felt post-romantic music in the latter half of this century - think of Philip Martin, John Kinsella, James Wilson, John Buckley, and there are many others - and the young Belfast-born Ian Wilson is certainly to be counted among their number. The Seven Last Words, like Haydn's works, is based on biblical texts, and provides a sombre and moving experience, harmonically intense and full of vivid contrasts. Catalan Tales throws more emphasis onto sonority and exploits the trio medium to the full. An important discovery in contemporary chamber music. Kammerspiel. Timbre DMHCD 4 (England) 02-074 $16.98

MARK JOHNSON (b.1960): Nocturne, STEVEN ROENS (b.1949): Invocatio, Delicate Arch, Time and Again, SHA YAO (b.1956): Drifting About, HENRY WOLKING (b.1948): Reaching, TULLEY CATHEY (b.1954): The Bardol Saga, BRUCE QUAGLIA (b.1965): Quartetto. All of the pieces on this disc are short - none is over 10 minutes, most a good deal less than that - and they are all in their own way concerned with or influenced by the dramatic natural landscape of Utah. All the composers represented here are students, former students, or faculty at the University of Utah. Broadly speaking, these chamber works, some with voice, are freely atonal, though with different degrees of emphasis on lyricism - for example, Wolking's setting of Laura deBeque's Reaching is richly sensual, while Sha Yao's and Steven Roens' works are more angular, the contrasts stronger, the light illuminating the landscape more harshly. Cathey's The Bardol Saga for string quartet is a series of brief musical ilustrations to a science fiction scenario by the composer, and is the most immediately accessible music here. Quaglia's Quartetto is strongly argued and tough, perhaps overall the most satisfying piece on the CD. Canyonlands, Abramyan String Quartet. Centaur CRC 2360 (U.S.A.) 02-075 $16.98

LUCIANO BERIO (b.1925): Ricorrenze, SALVATORE SCIARRINO (b.1947): Quintettino No. 2, LUCA FRANCESCONI (b.1956): Attesa, LUDOVICO EINAUDI: Ai margini dell'aria, ARMANDO GENTILUCCI: Cile 1973, FEDERICO GHEDINI (1892-1965): Quintetto No. 1. From the youthful "Quintet No. 1" of Ghedini, written in 1910, through his pupil Berio's 1987 Ricorrenze to the timbral experimentation of Sciarrino, with key slaps and breath sounds liberated to act as integral parts of the musical structure, this collection covers a wide range of musical styles, of which a common thread is a thorough understanding of instrumental technique and expressive capability. Francesconi's typical multi-layered, highly active textures and the abstract expressionism of Berio's work are especially noteworthy, though all the works make a powerful impact, and the sense of historical perspective provided by the presence of the Ghedini is fascinating. Quintetto Arnold. BMG Ricordi 1010 (Italy) 02-076 $18.98

ALFREDO PIATTI (1822 - 1901): 12 Caprices, Op. 25, NIELS VIGGO BENTZON (b.1919): 16 Etudes, Op. 464. This disc ingeniously couples virtuoso studies for solo cello by one of the great cello virtuosi of the 19th century, beneficiary of Liszt's admiration and a colleague of Mendelssohn, and those of one of the most remarkable polymaths among composers of our own century. Bentzon, a piano virtuoso, wrote these 16 brief, aphoristic etudes in 1985 at the request of the performer on this CD, to exploit the possibilities inherent in the cello in the vocabulary of our time. The pieces are predominantly tonal, melodic and with many references to "archaic" styles in hommage to the rich legacy of the instrument. The Piatti works are virtuosic and full of technical display, but also musically satisfying, probably Piatti's finest original compositions. Erling Blömdahl Bengtsson (cello). Danacord DACO CD 478 (Denmark) 02-077 $17.98

LUC FERRARI (b.1929): Suite pour piano, Antisonate, Suite hétéroclite, Visage I, Fragments d'un journal intime, Comme une Fantaisie dite des Réminiscences. Ferrari's music is very post-Bartókian, with echoes of Stravinsky, Hindemith and jazz. It is characterised by its energy and vitality, rhythmic propulsion and harmonic ambiguity. Its coalescence of classical forms and serial methods, nonetheless employing tonal references keeps the listener guessing but never confused - the liner notes refer to the "games" and "not entirely innocent tricks" that the composer plays with his audience and this sums up very well this virtuosic and eventful music. Christine Lagniel, Michel Maurer (pianos). Auvidis/Montaigne 782110 (France) 02-078 $18.98

ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): L'alta naixença del rei en jaume, 6 cançons populars catalanes, Cancionero de Pedrell, Sardana I, Sardana II. Volume 6 in Montaigne Audivis' acclaimed Gerhard Edition concentrates on music which emphasizes the composer's Catalan heritage, written between 1928 and 1941. The two song cycles based on popular regional Spanish melodies treat the traditional themes with the greatest respect, with folk-like modal harmonizations and symphonic instrumentation which nonetheless ingeniously suggests the timbres of a folk band. This is carried even further in the two Sardanas, Catalan folk dances for traditional ensemble, reminding us that Gerhard, like his teacher Schoenberg, had the greatest respect for tradition and was adept at transcribing the past in his own style as well as innovating in compositional technique, the latter being almost entirely absent in this facet of the composer's output. Anna Cors (soprano), Francesc Garrigosa (baritone), Coral Cármina, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya; Edmon Colomer. Auvidis/Montaigne 782106 (France) 02-079 $18.98

ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): Piano Trio, Cello Sonata, Concierto para Ocho, Libra. From the early (1918) very Debussy and Ravel-influenced trio to the formidable Libra, of 1968, thorny and dodecaphonic, this disc documents the chamber music compositions of a composer who more than any other, perhaps, even Stravinsky, has charted the course of twentieth-century music history. Particularly noteworthy is the fine sonata, with its profound and moving slow movement. Barcelona 216; Ernest Martínez Izquierdo. Stradivarius STR 33404 (Italy) 02-080 $16.98

MANUEL DE FALLA (1876-1946): Suite Populaire Espagnole, ERNESTO HALFFTER (1905-1989): Canzona e Pastorella, TOMÁS MARCO (b.1942): Primer Espejo de Falla, MARIO LAVISTA (b.1943): 3 Danzas Seculares, JOAQUIN GUTIÉRREZ HERAS (b.1927): Canción en el Puerto, MANUEL CASTILLO (b.1930): Alborada, ROBERTO HALFFTER (1900-1987): Cello Sonata. From Falla's delightful suite, to Tomás Marco's evocative homage to Falla, based on fragments of the senior composer's music, this recital is full of color, life and atmosphere. Lavista's dances have a fluttering, avian quality, while Rodolfo Halffter is represented by his fine, unadorned sonata, direct of utterance and profoundly melodic, never parading the tools of the composer's trade in expressing a very individual voice. Carlos Prieto (cello), Édison Quintana (piano). Urtext JBCC 015 (Mexico) 02-081 $16.98

FEDERICO IBARRA (b.1946): Cello Sonata, ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992): Le Grand Tango, Milonga, Michelangelo 70, Balada para mi muerte, ALBERTO GINASTERA (1916-1983): Triste, MANUEL ENRIQUEZ (1926-1994): Fantasía, ROBERT X. RODRIGUEZ (b.1946): Lull-a-Bear, HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959): Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. The disc opens with one of Piazzolla's best chamber works for conventional forces - Le Grand Tango. The remainder is taken up with works from the South American subcontinent, some in transcription and some in their original form, of which the most extended is Ibarra's 1992 sonata. This intense, chromatic work with modal inflections probably has less "local color" than much of the other music here - it could pass for European - but this is not to its detriment; it is a highly concentrated piece, vigorous and emotionally charged. The Rodríguez is slight but charming, and the Enríquez is a tour de force of technical and expressive writing for both cello and piano. Carlos Prieto (cello), Édison Quintana (piano). Urtext JBCC 014 (Mexico) 02-082 $16.98

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992): Libertango, Oblivion, Adiós Noniño, Close Your Eyes and Listen, Summit, Meditango, Reminiscence, THOMAS FORTMANN (b.1951): Tango Católico, Catholic Blues. Swiss composer Thomas Fortmann's Tango Catolico opens what proves to be an oddly mixed program. This is a conventional piece of neo-impressionist chamber music with a striking cabaret-style vocal coda, paying homage to the idea of the tango from a very European, intellectual perspective. The Piazzolla transcriptions - for two saxophones and piano - are very successful; the smoky saxophone timbre is entirely appropriate for Piazzolla's melancholy, erotically charged miniatures. Fortmann closes the CD with a jazzy Stravinskian blues. Accademia Amiata Ensemble, Tirana String Quartet, Bruno Ferrari (voice), Steve Potts (saxophone). Amiata ARNR 0894 (Italy) 02-083 $16.98

LALO SCHIFRIN (b.1932): Concierto Caribeño for Flute and Orchestra, Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, Trópicos for Orchestra. The flute concerto simmers with Caribbean rhythms in its outer movements while the slow movement revisits the elegant past of Cervantes and Saumell; in the fashion of Rodrigo, the guitar concerto takes us to a Golden Age of conquistadors and wayfaring poets, follows with a slow movement of tropical heat and samba rhythms and closes with an updating of Spanish Renaissance dances. The Trópicos are five movements of drama and orchestral color which depict the heat and hard work of tropical lands not seen by the tourists! Marisa Canales (flute), Juan Carlos Laguna (guitar), London Symphony Orchestra; Lalo Schifrin. Auvidis Travelling K 1033 (France) 02-084 $18.98

wergo special imports

Beginning this month, we will offer every two or three months new releases and back catalogue items on the Wergo label which are either not being released in the U.S. or have not been available here for many years. Many of these will be from the Deutscher Musikrat Edition Zeitgenössische Musik series (DM) which features young German composers. PLEASE NOTE that these titles are imported in limited quantities; when sold out we will either not re-import or will do so only if we amass a number of back-orders equal to the minimum number of pieces per title we are required to purchase as part of our agreement with Wergo's distributor.

DELTEF MÜLLER-SIEMENS (b.1957): Die Menschen, Opera in 2 Act.s. As the composer describes it, his opera Man, based on the play by Walter Hasenclever, deals "with aspects of human existence - birth, death, power, oppression, law, murder, fear, loneliness etc. . . they just happen - unmotivated, sharp, drastic, immediate, grotesque . . ." Thus the text is telegraphic, even disjointed, with fragmentary concepts thrown about, barely mentioned, then superseded. The music - Wozzeck is a distant ancestor, by way of Messiaen, Ligeti and Darmstadt - keeps up a running commentary on this non-narrative - sometimes driven and motoric, sometimes calm and even harmonically stable, for a moment, but always contributing to the dramatic intensity of this disquieting mirror held up to our unstable and unpredictable existence. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Vocal soloists, Chorus of the Basel Theatre, Basle Symphony Orchestra; Michael Boder. Wergo 6253 (Germany) 02-085 $39.98

EARLE BROWN (b.1926): Twenty-five Pages for 1 to 25 Pianos. This CD must come close to representing the ultimate in aleatoric music-making. Brown's 1953 score, produced at the height of a period of experimentation that also saw ground-breaking works from Cage and Feldman, consists, as the title suggests, of 25 sheets of manuscript which can be played in any order, consecutively or simultaneously, by one to 25 pianists. Furthermore, they are notated such that they can be read either way up. Pianist Steffen Schleiermacher has contrived five ingenious interpretations of the score, through the use of multitrack recording, allowing us to hear versions for 25 pianos each playing one page (the whole lasting a minute and a quarter), one piano, two pianos, four and twelve pianos. New Release. Steffen Schleiermacher (piano). Wergo 6612 (Germany) 02-086 $19.98

JOHANNA SENFTER (1879-1961): 3 Klavierstücke, Op. 77, 3 Klavierstücke, Op. 83, 2 Klavierstücke, Op. 129, Vogelweise, Mazurka, Berceuse. Educated in the Romantic musical tradition as part of a privileged upbringing in Frankfurt, Johanna Senfter showed remarkable talent and individuality during her years of study. Her early works are set firmly in the tonal language of late romanticism having been an excellent student of Reger. The 1930s were her most creative period, and the two sets of three piano pieces here are typical of her mature style, tonal but harmonically adventurous, with a powerful sense of piano-orchestration and tone-color. The op 129 piano pieces, written when Senfter was 78, extend this language, but not far; this is still a composer rooted in the traditions of romanticism, unafraid of unfashionable emotional extroversion, which if anything is more apparent in these late works. Monica Gutman (piano). Wergo 6264 (Germany) 02-087 $19.98

CHRISTFRIED SCHMIDT (b.1932): Munch-Musik - Orchestral Pieces after Paintings of Edvard Munch, Orchestermusik I. Schmidt's music is not overtly avant-garde; self-taught as a composer he plainly arose out of the milieu of early 20th-century modernism that gave rise to the Second Viennese School and the intense, expressionistic psychologically probing preoccupations that permeated the arts in Europe in the first decades of this century. It is therefore not at all surprising to find a major orchestral cycle based on lithographs by that master of psychological ambiguity and dark sexually-generated symbolism in art, Edvard Munch. Both here and in the later Orchestral Music the music is tightly organised along free serial principles, but the effect is of highly colored expressionistic freedom, Erwartung-like, vivid and disturbing. Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra; Christian Kluttig, Max Pommer. Wergo 6272 (Germany) 02-088 $19.98

REINHARD FEBEL (b.1952): Variationen for Orchestra, Das Unendliche for Orchestra and 2 Voices, String Quartet. "Hovhaness orchestrated by Mahler" was the first impression created by Febel's Variations. The Hovhaness connection comes from the theme, an Armenian folksong by Sogoman Komitas. And the Mahler? A strong sense of a return to the use of free-ranging tonality, from the years before Schoenberg upset the applecart and ushered in a century of avant-garde experimentation which he probably never envisioned. Febel makes free use of whatever compositional devices he chooses in a mixed-media pallette of astonishing diversity, yet his overriding sense of harmonic relationships gives shape and structure to his works, whether they be serially organised, minimalistically propulsive, modal, tonal, dissonant, concordant, or whatever. His sense of orchestral color is also a pleasure to hear. Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra; Michael Zilm, Monika Bair-Ivenz (mezzo), Richard Anlauf (bass), Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jacques Mercier, Arditti String Quartet. Wergo 60502 (DM) (Germany) 02-089 $19.98

WOLFGANG VON SCHWEINITZ (b.1953): Messe for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 21. A mass for our time, textually following the Ordinary of the Mass, but full of musical allegory for the human condition as we approach the millennium, this is a sombre work, offering no easy assurances. The music is polyphonically complex, though the vocal writing is beautiful and melodic; the material is predominantly serial, yet achieves a range of expression and colour which often suggests the great religious choral works of the nineteenth century and before. This is especially telling in the ambiguous Credo, which pits the questing, cantabile bass solo and plaintive choral accompaniment against a quiet chaos of unpitched percussion. The whole is a powerful and moving, thought-provoking work, which belies its contemporary idiom in a direct appeal to the listener's senses, emotions and the doubts and uncertainties of faith in the modern world. Cheryl Studer (soprano), Gabriele Schreckenback (mezzo), William Pell (tenor), Boris Carmeli (bass), RIAS Chamber Choir, RSO Berlin; Gerd Albrecht.. Wergo 60504 (DM) (Germany) 02-090 $19.98

HEINZ WINBECK (b.1946): Symphony No. 1 "Tu solus", String Quartet No. 2 "tempi notturni". Winbeck's first symphony is entitled "Tu Solus", and its message is of the isolation of the individual in the face of devastating forces, whose identity is never made clear in this non-programmatic instrumental work. Almost the first third of the symphony is a crushing rhythmic tattoo in irregular meters, using the whole orchestra as a vast percussion instrument. This gives way to a passage of glacial calm, punctuated with episodes of violence. Later, a saxophone appears like a lone protagonist, and quotations from Mahler occur throughout the work, islands of humanity amidst the mechanistic maelstrom. The quartet, an eerily nocturnal piece, is subtle and quietly lamenting. Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, Mannheim String Quartet. Wergo 60504 (DM) (Germany) 02-091 $19.98

DETLEV GLANERT (b.1960): Symphony No. 1, Op. 6, 4 Fantasien for Piano, Op. 15, Mahler/Skizze for Ensemble, Op. 20, 3 Gesänge aus "Carmen" von Wolf Wondratschek (Symphony No. 2) for Baritone and Large Orchestra, Op. 21. Mahler/Skizze provides the key to this young composer's æsthetic, aims and intent. Based on an incident which occurred when Glanert visited Mahler's grave in a cemetery outside Vienna, the work is composed of fleeting fragments, some of them like sounds of nature, others sounding like microscopic shards of material from Mahler's own pen, creating a strange soundscape which suggests the unformed mental processes from which Mahler forged his own works. Likewise, the other works offer scintillating illumination of musical landscapes which seem strangely familiar. The most susbtantial work here is the 3 Carmen songs, which is also the composer's second symphony, a monumental and emotionally charged musical narrative full of the most vivid musical imagery. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Markus Stenz, Alan Marks (piano), London Sinfonietta, Andreas Scheibner (baritone), Munich Philharmonic; Paul Daniel. Wergo 6522 (DM) (Germany) 02-092 $19.98

JOSEPH MATTHIAS HAUER (1883-1959): 7 Kleine Stücke, Op. 3, Nachklangstudien, Op. 16, Nomos, Op. 19, Klavierstücke mit Überschriften nach Worten von Friedrich Hölderlin, Op. 25. Hauer was the composer who "discovered" 12-note technique independently of Schoenberg, who claimed prior discovery of the method, and who has been marginalised ever since by disciples of the Second Viennese School. Whatever the truth about who invented what first, his music is worth hearing. The early piano pieces are very harmonically oriented, despite their atonal conception; they are euphonic and subtle works, resembling late Scriabin as much as anything, and even the Nomos of 1919, which Hauer wrote "in full awareness of the 12-tone rules" has a lyrical and chordal basis which sets it somewhat apart from the strict explorations of dodecaphony of the time, recalling late Busoni in its intellectual rigor and restrained passion. New Release. Herbert Henck (piano). Wergo 6609 (Germany) 02-093 $19.98

PETER MICHAEL HAMEL (b.1947): Violin Concerto in 2 Movements, Diaphainon for Orchestra, Gralbilder for Orchestra. Complex and atonal, Hamel's music nevertheless achieves a remarkable level of translucency due to the composer's unerring sense of sonority and the way in which he is able to coax cantabile melodic figures out of dodecaphonic material and inject a sudden sense of tonality into even the thorniest and most avant-garde orchestral writing. In this sense his music achieves an almost unexpected synthesis of twentieth-century styles and provides an ebb and flow of tension that is almost Romantic in conception, despite the modernity of Hamel's chosen musical vocabulary. Christiane Edinger (violin), Bavarian Radio Symphony; Alicia Mounk, Hans Zender, North German Radio Symphony Orchestra; Gerd Albrecht. Wergo 6520 (DM) (Germany) 02-094 $19.98

HOWARD BOATWRIGHT (b.1918): Clarinet Sonata, 12 Pieces for Solo Violin, String Quartet No. 2. Violinist-composer Howard Boatwright appears on this disc in his Twelve Pieces, which are in effect etudes which in the composer's words "can be used to prepare diatonically-trained fingers to cope with twentieth century music". Boatwright's language is freely chromatic but not serial. The music is tightly organised in conventional forms - both the quartet and the sonata consist of a sonata-allegro, a slow movement, scherzo and rondo-finale, within which Boatwright's free tonality functions formally though not in terms of conventional harmonic relationships. Michael Webster (clarinet), Barry Snyder (piano), Howard Boatwright (violin), Manhattan String Quartet. CRI 775 (U.S.A.) 02-095 $16.98

JOHN CAGE (1912-1992): Etudes Australes. Cage's transcription of stellar maps of the southern hemisphere into 32 etudes explores above all the possibilities of piano sonority. Precisely notated and played on the keys of the piano (though with some unusual resonant effects achieved by means of holding down keys in combinations not possible with the piano's own pedals), these etudes conjure a floating, timeless universe, appropriately enough given their extraterrestrial inspiration. Indeed, the best way to listen to them is probably to allow oneself to be carried in the athematic currents and merely observe the random stellar events as one passes them at unimaginable distances in the void. 2 CDs. Claudio Crismani (piano). Prestige 13 (Italy) 02-096 $35.98

GEORGE VAN DAM & PETER VERMEERSCH: Bereft of a Blissful Union. This is a theatre piece premiered in Brussels in 1996. It is strikingly scored for an unconventional and somewhat non-classical ensemble including rock drums and percussion instruments, electric instruments, a string quartet and winds. Some sections have a primitive beat-driven sound; there are also allusions to Weill, Liszt, Jazz - It's fun and exciting, but don't mistake it for classical music! The booklet consists entirely of photographs of the stage production for you to look at while you listen to the music. Go on, take a chance! Hey, I like it; I'm keeping this copy . . . The Smith Quartet, X-Legged Sally. Megadisc 7843 (Belgium) 02-097 $18.98

JAMES WOOD (b.1953): Two Men Meet, Each Presuming the Other to Be From a Distant Planet, Phainomena, Venancio Mbande Talking with the Trees. Two men meet... is an extended concerto for percussionist and chamber orchestra. The title, a punning reference to a Klee etching, also refers to the meeting, and possible clash, of cultures represented by the ancient percussion ensemble and the modern symphonic instruments. The composer is himself a percussionist, and the dialogue between the percussion instruments and the ensemble is a thrilling one in which the two participants are equally matched. Phainomena is for groups of instruments including voices, and the kaleidoscopic interaction of motifs, representing signs of the zodiac, recalls Berio's music. Venancio Mbande . . . returns the composer to his own field of tuned percussion, again exploring the interaction between tuned wooden percussion instruments (the "trees" and people, specifically musicians, represented by a tribute to a Mozambican percussionist, Mbande. Critical Band, New London Chamber Choir; James Wood, Steven Schick (percussion), Kuniko Kato (marimba). NMC D044 (England) 02-098 $15.98

New from col legno (but too late for the catalogue):

"Donaueschingen 96" - Absolute premieres of works by Berio, Kurtág, Xenakis, Andriessen, Platz, Huber, Tenney, Oehring, André, Janssen and Villanueva (all composed between 1994 and 1996) in a new 3-CD box from col legno. $56.94 Ask about availability!

coming attractions

Look for new releases on the Portugalsom label in our March or April catalogue. We will also be offering some of the Portugalsom back catalogue items which have been unavailable for some time!



In addition to Portugalsom, we are pleased to report that our wanderings at MIDEM turned up contacts with Antes, a German/Italian label with some interesting Estonian composers; Extraplatte, a small Austrian avant-garde company with some really unusual stuff; Pentaphon, an Italian label focusing on contemporary Italian composers; Es Dur, a German label with some interesting unknown early Classical repertoire; Beaux, a German label with unusual Russian and Georgian composers as well as a few Croatian classical CDs! The search for Fontec of Japan turned up some leads and we hope to make contact with them in the near future.

Keep watching this space!