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Alan Bush

Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

ALAN BUSH (1900-1995): Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21, Symphony No. 2, Op. 33 "The Nottingham". When we think of great British 20th-century symphonists, Vaughan Williams and Elgar probably predominate, followed by the best of Brian, Simpson, Rubbra, Lloyd . . . now is the time to rewrite the history books. Admirers of the composer have long known (from occasional broadcasts and a handful of recordings) that he was a composer of consistently impressive quality, but it is in his symphonic writing that his genius is most readily evident, raising him conspicuously above the level of 'interesting' British composers. The first symphony's impressive, looming opening, strongly reminiscent of the Shostakovich of the 8th and 10th Symphonies, gives way to a vigorous allegro of somewhat aggressive character - this is after all a wartime symphony and it would be surprising indeed if a composer as socially and politically aware as Bush had not been influenced by the events of his time. Throughout the symphony the overwhelming impression is of a robust and dramatic use of tonality, satisfying the most rigorous intellectual and emotional demands. The melancholy slow movement is especially eloquent, and the boisterous and hard-driven finale, still speaking in a voice of protest, brings this remarkable symphony to a determined, if hard-won, conclusion. The splendid Nottingham symphony makes its CD debut, and it too is a robust and accessible work of great originality. From its atmospheric opening, replete with Mahlerian horn-calls the first movement progresses through a series of highly descriptive 'scenes', though without an explicit program (though the associations with English history and legend in the Nottingham area are obvious). The music is of an almost Sibelian economy and concentration, though with Bush's characteristic modal inflections reminding us throughout of its nationality. The richly textured slow movement with its calm surface and underlying tension is the most reminiscent of Vaughan Williams, while the restless and agitated scherzo - a passacaglia in perpetual motion - is an exciting 'wild ride', building a powerful climax. The extended finale, alternating passionate lyricism with extrovert celebration, brings the symphony to a rousing and optimistic conclusion. Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra; Douglas Bostock. Classico CLASSCD 484 (Denmark) 03G001 $16.98


1. The January Aurora back-orders (i.e, Kleiberg and Söderlind) have still not been shipped although I'm fairly confident of having them in time for the April catalogue. However...

2. We do have several titles on the Musiques Suisses label which went missing for a year when they had no U.S. distributor. These are also special imports with the usual caveats (we'll get more if we run out but it might take time).

3. I ordered five Accord Opérette titles but four of them turned out to have been deleted. I'll try again next month...

ALAN BUSH (1900-1995): Meditation on a German Song of 1848, Op. 22, Le quatorze juillet: esquisse, Op. 38, Lyric Interlude, Op. 26, 3 Râga Melodies, Op. 59, 2 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 108, Serenade and Duet, Op. 111, Song and Dance, Op. 117A. There really is no excuse for the neglect to which Bush has been subjected, both during his lifetime and since, and if anybody still has a problem with his music because of his unfashionable (and now arguably irrelevant) Communist politics, shame on them. In equal parts cerebrally sophisticated and humanly expressive and emotionally direct, Bush's music shares with that of his long-time friend and champion Ronald Stevenson the trademarks of a composer with 'a burning urge to communicate'. These brief and exquisitely crafted violin works, in Bush's characteristically eloquent and economical, modally-inflected tonality, make up a satisfying and varied program, timeless and thoroughly rewarding. Adam Summerhayes (violin), Catherine Summerhayes (piano). Meridian CDE 84481 (England) 03G002 $17.98

Ia Krejãí (1904-1968): Serenade for Orchestra, Symphony No. 2 in C Sharp, Jirí Pauer (b.1919): Bassoon Concerto. Krejci's personality immediately jumps out from the start of his 1948-50 serenade: this is music which embraces the classical traditions of Haydn, Mozart and Rossini although written in 20th century musical language which is always tonal and ever approachable. Brio, good humor and high spirits are everywhere in the Serenade's outer movements and two folk-songs are used in the gently nostalgic slow movement. The 1956-7 symphony has four fast movements (!) and continues in the same boisterous, good-natured vein. Pauer's 1949 concerto is the longest work here, at over 25 minutes, and is neo-classical in the manner of Stravinsky and Prokofiev with much very difficult work for the soloist and making use of every possible sound-type this instrument is capable of producing, from romantic crooning to low humor. Karel Bidlo (bassoon), Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Karel Ancerl. Supraphon SU 3697-2 (Czech Republic) 03G003 $10.98

RAFFAELE GERVASIO (1910-1994): Florilegio '83 for Orchestra, Op. 130, Triple Concerto "degli oleandri" for Flute, Viola, Guitar, Strings and Percussion, Op. 131, Double Concerto for Violin, Guitar and Strings, Op. 114, In modo spirillo for Viola, Violin, Piano and Percussion, Op. 93, Invitation au violon for Violin, Ensemble, Piano, Harp and Glockenspiel, Op. 83, Preludio ed Allegro Concertante for Strings, Piano and Percussion, Op. 66. Since he doesn't appear in Baker's or Grove, we can only assume that Gervasio is famous in Italy for writing themes for television and radio programs (three short cues from such sources are added to the end of this disc) while pursuing "serious" composition on the side. This release contains six examples of the latter - bright, clear-textured pieces with a warm disposition and a classical elegance which compares favorably with the music of British composers who ride the boundary between "light" and "serious" music. Soloists, Orchestra Sinfonica Lucana; Vito Clemente. Tactus TC 910701 (Italy) 03G004 $11.98

GEORGES ENESCU (1881-1955): Sonata No. 1, Op. 24/1, Sonata No. 3, Op. 24/3, Suite No. 2, Op. 10, Pièces impromptues, Op. 18, Suite dans le style ancien No. 1, Op. 3, Variations for 2 Pianos, Op. 5, Hommage à Fauré, Prélude et fugue. Now that Olympia's series of Enescu piano music sleeps with the fishes it is good (and much cheaper) to have this box-set from Accord. Anyone who thinks only of the Romanian Rhapsodies when hearing this composer's name will find almost no folk music anywhere in these pieces but he will find some of the most challenging and forward-looking piano writing of its period. No piece sounds particularly like any other as Enesco marries the 19th century's heritage with 20th century musical language in music which often has the surface sound of Debussy or Ravel but whose gestural relationship is to Germanic Romanticism. 3 CDs. Mid-price. Cristian Petrescu (piano). Original 1994-5 releases. Accord 476 2394 (France) 03G005 $22.98

HANNS EISLER (1898-1955): Piano Works: Sonata No. 1, Op. 1, 4 Klavierstücke, Op. 3, Sonata No. 2, Op. 6, 8 Klavierstücke, Op. 8, Variations, Sonata No. 3, 5 frühe Klaverstücke, 2 kleine Klavierstücke, Andante, Kleine Musik zum abreagieren sentimentaler Stimmungen, Klavierstücke für Kinder, Op. 31, 7 Klaverstücke, Op. 32, Sonatine, Op. 44, 3 Fugues, Improvisation für Ernest Bloch, Rachmaninov - Parodie, Ouvertüre "Die Mutter", Ouvertüre. Chamber Music: Nonet No. 1 for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and String Quintet, Nonet No. 2 for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, 3 Violins, Double Bass and Percussion, 14 Arten den Regen zu beschreiben for Flute, Clarinet and Piano Quartet, Op. 70, Violin Sonata, Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7, Suite for Septet No. 1 for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon and String Quartet, Op. 92a, Septet No. 2 "Circus" for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon and String Quartet, String Quartet, Präludium und Fuge über B-A-C-H for String Trio, Op. 46, Sonata for Flute, Oboe and Harp, Op. 49, Moment Musical for Clarinet, Scherzo for String Trio, Divertimento for Wind Quintet, Op. 4. All of Eisler's chamber music and all of his important piano music is recorded here and all of his stylistic periods are represented: early atonal polyphonic pieces, authentic dodecaphonic music (he was a student of Schoenberg, who had the greatest influence upon him), some relatively tonal, pedagogical piano pieces, and later works (many excerpted from film scores written in the U.S., i.e. both nonets and both septets) which show plenty of folk and popular references. 4 CDs. Mid-price. Zurich Chamber Ensemble; Christoph Keller (piano). 1986, 1989 and 1991 releases. Accord 476 2398 (France) 03G006 $28.98

WILHELM FURTWÄNGLER (1886-1954): Symphony No. 2 in E Minor. Arte Nova reappears with a dependable distributor and finishes its Furtwängler cycle with Albrecht. Now collectors can compare and contrast five (who would have thought that possible ten years ago?) different recordings of the great conductor's best-known, most Brucknerian symphony... 2 CDs. Staatskapelle Weimar; George Alexander Albrecht. Arte Nova ANO 578340 (Germany) 03G007 $11.98

An Unknown Late Swiss Romantic

HERMANN VON GLENCK (1883-1952): Carità eterna - Symphony for Large Orchestra with Soprano Solo, Libesklage une Trauerhymnus - Rhapsodic Tone Poem for Large Orchestra, Variationen-Suite on an Original Theme for Orchestra. When a gifted 21-year-old composer gets rejected by a girl and turns his grief and anger toward music paper and, most importantly, gets his hands on a huge late Romantic orchestra - well, collectors can only rejoice! Completed in 1906, Carità eterna is a 56-minute symphony in two sections with a six-minute song-setting of a contemporary Swiss poet embedded within. Both Richard Strauss and Mahler are evoked in the program of a tortured soul who makes his way from torment and longing to peace and thence to death and transfiguration. The Liebesklange (1910), a 25-minute tone poem, is cut from much the same cloth while the 28-minute long variations, here recorded in a revision dating from 1930 (premiered by Karl Böhm), are a delightful change - light-textured, airy, influenced by the neo-classicism prevalent at the time. 2 CDs. German-English texts. Zsuzsa Alföldi (soprano), Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; Vladimír Válek. Musikszene Schweiz MGB CD 6197 (Switzerland) 03G008 $37.98 >

JOSEPH MARX (1882-1964): Alt-Wiener Serenaden for Large Orchestra, Partita in Modo Antico for String Orchestra, Sinfonia in Modo Classico for String Orchestra. The third volume in this Marx orchestral series is a step side-ways: all three works are from a late archaizing phase of the composer's career in which he paid tribute to beloved models from the past (music "In the Old Style" as it were). How this period was tied in with the ongoing World War II is a matter for discussion but the Serenaden is a four-movement work from 1942 which quotes Haydn and Ziehrer and pays tribute to Austrian folk music. The accompanying pieces have already appeared on ASV in their original, string quartet form: Modo Antico (1938, arr. 1945) uses the mixolydian, Phrygian and Dorian modes while Modo Classico (1941, arr. 1944) is in the spirit of Haydn. Bochum Symphony Orchestra; Steven Sloane. ASV DCA 1158 (England) 03G009 $17.98

YORK BOWEN (1884-1961): Piano Sonata No. 6 in B Flat Minor, Op. 160, 24 Preludes, Op. 102, Rêverie in B, Op. 86. Lovers of hyper-romantic pianism are going to love this first complete recording of the Preludes, composed in the late 1930s. Several could have been written by Rachmaninov himself while one can find echoes of Debussy, Medtner and Scriabin in many of the others - obviously, the French and Russian styles predominate although Chopin and Godowsky make brief appearances too. Not to suggest that Bowen isn't individual though: the interesting notes have several quotes from Sorabji, who called the Preludes "the finest English piano music written in our time". The late sonata (1961) has a volcanic first movement, very Brahmsian, an English pastoral Intermezzo and a flamboyant Toccata finale. Joop Celis (piano). Chandos 10277 (England) 03G010 $17.98

ALAN RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971): Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2 "A Pastoral Symphony", Symphony No. 3. Lucky collectors that one of this month's most impressive symphonic releases comes at budget-price. These are major additions to the genre: the first (1950) is a turbulent, often aggressive work with lots of sharp brass punctuation and an aspect reminiscent of the Vaughan Williams Fourth (perhaps not quite as uncompromising as that, though) while the second (1959), regardless of its subtitle, has significant undercurrants of melancholy and harshness (country life includes frosts and freezing rain along with tweeting birdies and puffy clouds); these are put to flight by the delightful "Country Dance" third movement but the ambivalence returns in the vocal Andante finale which sets a 16th century English poem on summer. The third (1964), at 31 minutes, is the longest and manages to reflect the turbulence of the first with the more subtle nature of the Second and it has a very haunting Sarabande slow movement at its heart. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; David Lloyd-Jones. Naxos 8.557480 (New Zealand) 03G011 $6.98

ALEC ROWLEY (1892-1958): Concerto in D for Piano, Strings and Percussion, Op. 49, CHRISTIAN DARNTON (1905-1981): Concertino in C for Piano and String Orchestra, HOWARD FERGUSON (1908-1999): Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra, Op. 12, ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): Concerto for Piano and Strings. A minor miracle from Naxos - two completely unknown British composers with entertaining piano/orchestra works: Rowley's concerto, premiered in 1938 is a very entertaining piece on a relatively small scale, with energetic neo-classical outer movements enfolding a wistful, pastoral waltz; Darnton's piece (1948) includes neo-classical elegance, a more romantic slow movement and a glittering bravura finale; Ferguson's is the longest piece here (at 24 minutes), also bracingly neo-classical in its outer movements with a melancholy theme and variations at its center while Gerhard (1961), combines serial techniques with Catalan folk music in a highly personal, quite approachable style. Northern Sinfonia; Peter Donohoe (piano). Naxos 8.557290 (New Zealand) 03G012 $6.98

EDMUND RUBBRA (1901-1986): Recorder and Harpsichord: Sonatina , Op. 128, Meditazioni sopra "Curs Désolés", Op. 67, Passacaglia sopra "Plusieurs Regrets", Op. 113, First Study Pieces, Op. 118, Four Recorders: Air and Variations, Op. 70, Notturno, Op. 106, Fantasia on a Chord for Recorder, Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, Op. 154, Introduction, Aria and Fugue for Harpsichord, Op. 104, Fantasia on a Theme of Machaut for Recorder, String Quartet and Harpsichord, Cantata Pastorale for Soprano, Recorder, Cello and Harpsichord, Op. 92, BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976): Alpine Suite for Recorder Trio, March from Gloriana for Recorder, Morris Dance from Gloriana for 2 Recorders, Scherzo for Recorder Quartet. Carl Dolmetsch (1911-1997) was responsible for making the recorder a written-for instrument in the 20th century and he commissioned seven works from Rubbra alone. The latter wrote three others on his own and all ten are included here along with Britten's only two original recorder pieces and two arrangements by Imogen Holst. The Flautadors, The Dante Quartet, Laurence Cummings (harpsichord), Susannah Pell (viola da gamba), Patricia Rozario (soprano). Dutton Epoch CDLX 7142 (England) 03G013 $18.98

ANTHOINE BOESSET (1586-1643): 14 Airs de Cour. Boesset was the most celebrated composer in France of this genre; his Airs are in the style of the 16th century chanson and almost exclusively concerned with unrequited love, misfortune and death. This 1995 recording intersperses seven readings from Madame de Lafayette's 1678 novel "La Princesse de Clèves". French texts. Ensemble Gradiva; Alain Zaepffel (countertenor). Accord 476 2510 (France) 03G014 $11.98

FRANCESCO CAVALLI (1602-1676): Arias and Duets from Didone, Egisto, Ormindo, Giasone and Calisto. We don't normally offer highlights discs but Cavalli operas are still rather rare on CD and the five from which excerpts are provided here are among his most well-known, all dating from between 1641 and 1651. Synopses of the entire operas are included along with Italian-English texts. Gloria Banditelli (mezzo), Rosita Frisani (soprano), Robert Abbondanza (baritone), Gianluca Belfiori Doro (countertenor), Mario Cecchetti (tenor), Mediterraneo Concento; Sergio Vartolo. Naxos 8.557746 (New Zealand) 03G015 $6.98

FRANZ TUNDER (1614-1667): Dominus illuminatio mea for 5 Voices and 2 Violins, Nisi Dominus for 5 Voices and 5 Viols, Sinfonia for 7 Viols, Aria: Streuet mit Palmen for 5 Voices and 5 Instruments, Hosianna dem Sohne David, in Adventu for 5 Voices and 5 Instruments, Ach Herr, laß deine lieben Engelein for Soprano, and 4 Viols, Helft mir Gott's Güte preise for 5 Voices and 5 Viols, An Wasserflüssen Babylon for Voice and 5 Viols, Wend' ab deinen Zorn, lieber Herr, mit Gnaden for 6 Voices and 6 Instruments. Buxtehude's father-in-law and predecessor as organist in Lübeck, Tunder shows himself as an important link in the musical tradition of Monteverdi-Schütz-J.S. Bach, the latter especially being prefigured in the German-language settings here. Latin/German-English texts. Mária Zádori, Andrea Csereklyei (sopranos), Péter Bárány (countertenor), Timothy Bentch, Zoltán Megyesi (tenors), István Kovács, Pál Benkö (basses), Purcell Choir, Orfeo Orchestra; György Vashegyi. Hungaroton HCD 32304 (Hungary) 03G016 $17.98

FRANZ TUNDER (1614-1667): Nisi Dominus aedificaverit for 2 Voices and 2 Violins, Helft mir Gott's Güte preisen for 5 Voices and 5 Viols, Da mihi Domine for Bass and 5 Viols, Wend' ab deinen Zorn, lieber Herr, mit Gnaden for 6 Voices and 6 Instruments, Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener for 2 Basses and 5 Viols, An Wasserflüssen Babylon for Voice and 5 Viols, Nisi Dominus aedificaverit for 5 Voices and 5 Viols, O Jesu dulcissime for Bass and 2 Violins, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott for 4 Voices, 2 Violins and 4 Viols, Salve coelestis pater for Bass and Violin. What are the chances that two Tunder releases would appear in the same month? Anyway, there are only four duplications here with the release described above. Latin/German-English texts. Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert; Hermann Max. CPO 999 943 (Germany) 03G017 $15.98

JEAN-BAPTISTE LULLY (1632-1687): Lully Edition, Vol. 1 - Le Temple de la Paix - Suite for Orchestra, Idylle sur la Paix. The Lully series began in 1999 with these two works from the end of the composer's career. Both date from 1685, the 40-minute Idylle being a desperate attempt to get back into Louis XIV's good graces after having been caught anticipating Michael Jackson with a page of the King's Bedchamber. Lully poured all of his brilliance and skill into it and, though it did him no good, collectors of the French baroque will be entranced. French texts. Françoise Masset, Julie Hassler (sopranos), Jean-François Lombard (countertenor), Patrick Aubailly (tenor), Arnaud Marzorati (bass), La Simphonie du Marais; Hugo Reyne. Accord 465 345-2 (France) 03G018 $17.98

ALESSANDRO STRADELLA (1644-1682): San Giovanni Battista. This 1675 oratorio is one of the most important works of the Italian baroque and was recognized as such by contemporary writers and musicians for its innovative orchestration which arguably set the stage for the development of the concerto grosso in the way concertino and "rest of orchestra" are used in fascinatingly experimental ways to accompany the singers. Italian texts. Roberto Balconi (alto), Sylva Pozzer, Patrizia Vaccari (sopranos), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Fulvio Bettini (bass), Ensemble Vocale Musicassieme, Orchestra Harmonices Mundi; Claudio Astronio. Stradivarius STR 33626 (Italy) 03G019 $17.98

ARCANGELO CORELLI (1653-1713): Violin Sonatas, Op. 5, Nos. 1-6. Corelli is one of the most important baroque composers of his time because of his wide-ranging influence in both performance practice and compositonal technique. These five-movement sonatas, lyrical and elegant in their slow movements and brilliant and virtuosic in their fast ones, are available on period instruments at budget price for the first time. Lucy van Dael (violin), Bob van Asperen (harpsichord, organ). Naxos 8.557165 (New Zealand) 03G020 $6.98

GIUSEPPE TORELLI (1658-1709): Concerti for 2 Violins, Op. 8, Nos. 2, 4, 5 & 6, Violin Concerti, Op. 8, Nos. 8, 9 & 11, Sinfonia for Trumpet in D, Sinfonia for 2 Trumpets in D, Concerto for 2 Trumpets in D. Torelli's opus 8, a posthumous publication of six violin concertos and six concertos for two violins was a major influence on concerto composers such as Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach. Catherine Weiss (violin), Crispian Steele-Perkins, David Blackadder (trumpets), Collegium Musicum 90; Simon Standage (violin). Chandos Chaconne 0716 (England) 03G021 $17.98

ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI (1660-1727): Cantatas: Ombre tacite e sole, Bella quanto crudel spietata Irene, Cantata Pastorale, Motet Infirmata, vulnerata, Sonata nona in A Minor for Recorder, 2 Violins and Continuo, Sonata vigesima quarta for Oboe, 2 Violins and Continuo. A few more of Scarlatti's 600 or so cantatas leak onto disc further strengthening his ancient reputation for proportion, dramatic expression, melodic fluidity and structural rigor. Two sonatas from his late period, each with a fugal movement (quite unusual for an Italian composer of his time), provide an ideal change of pace. Italian-English texts. Matthew White (countertenor), Les Voix Baroques. Analekta AN 2 9904 (Canada) 03G022 $16.98

GASPARD LE ROUX (1660-1707): 7 Concerts pour 2 Dessus et Basse. Known mostly to harpsichordists as Pièces de clavecin, these works were also left by their composer with a completely written-out version for two melody instruments and continuo. Here flute and violin generally handle the upper line but a bass viol and the harpsichord also participate once each, taking a break from continuo duty. Ensemble Variations. Accord 476 2539 (France) 03G023 $11.98

HENRY DEMAREST (1661-1741): Dominus regnavit, Te Deum de Paris. Dating from 1687, the Te Deum is remarkable for being quite unlike the pompous and splendid pieces one expects of this genre - the work is generally contemplative and grave in its beauty. The Dominus dates from Desmarest's exile, probably around 1703 and is highly charged, dramatically, especially in its representation of the Final Judgement. Marie-Louis Duthoit, Hannah Bayodi (sopranos), Robert Getchell (countertenor), Stephan van Dyck (tenor), Alain Buet (baritone), Emmanuel Vistorky (bass), Le Concert Spirituel; Hervé Niquet. Glossa GCD 921607 (Spain) 03G024 $18.98

GIOVANNI MARIA ORLANDINI (1675-1760): Il Giocatore. Orlandini was more important for the development and success of the comic Intermezzo than the better-known Pergolesi and this example, dating from 1719, may have been the most frequently performed musical stage work in the 18th century (it also goes by the name of its two typical characters, Serpilla e Bacocco, the moralistic and pious wife and her inveterate gambler husband). Italian libretto. Maria Pia Moriyon (soprano), Virgilio Bianconi (tenor), Symphonia Perusina; Sandro Volta. Tactus TC 671501 (Italy) 03G025 $11.98

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741): Bassoon Concertos, Vol. 2 - in F, RV 486, in C, RV 475, in B Flat "La Notte", RV 501, in F, RV 488, in B Flat, RV 504 & in C, RV 467. This new, modern-instrument series continues with half a dozen more of Vivaldi's 37 bassoon concertos, packed full of melody and invention, the greatest gift any composer left for this usually overlooked instrument. Tamás Benkócs (bassoon), Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia; Béla Drahos. Naxos 8.555938 (New Zealand) 03G026 $6.98

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN (1681-1767): Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht, Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, Passions-Actus, Ich freue mich im Herrn, Sie getreu bis in den Tod. Five of Telemann's very first cantatas, these almost certainly can be dated from 1697-1705 when he was in Hildesheim and Leipzig. What they may lack in elaboration (except for the final one listed above which, at 24 minutes is almost three times as long as any of the others) they make up for in sheer invention, showing that even as a twenty-something, Telemann had the penchant for fresh, original ideas which characterized him throughout his long career. German-English texts. Gela Birckenstaedt (soprano), Frédéric Meylan (alto), Martin Krumbiegel (tenor), Wolf Matthias Friedrich (bass), Sächsisches Vocalensemble; Matthias Jung. Cantate C 58012 (Germany) 03G027 $15.98

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN (1681-1767): Cantatas: Es ist um aller menschen leben, Zischet nur, stechet, ihr feurigen Zungen, Ech werde fast entzückt, Oboe Sonata in G Minor, Fantasie for Harpsichord, Suite for Oboe and Continuo from Der getreue Musikmeister. A collection of sacred and chamber music from the early years (1725-33) of Telemann's long stay in Hamburg with the canatas coming from the first and second parts of Der harmonische Gottesdienst. German texts. Max van Egmond (baritone), Wond'rous Machine. Stradivarius STR 33687 (Italy) 03G028 $17.98

JEAN-FRANÇOIS DANDRIEU (1682-1738): Pièces de Clavecin, Livres 1 & 2, La Légère from Livre 3. Dandrieu is another member of the generation which produced Louis Couperin and Rameau and whose contribution to the genre of the French harpsichord suite is important but who, like others in similar situations in other times, has been neglected. This mid-price selection offers very attractive music in the style of Couperin, much of it tinged with exquisite melancholy and using the same variety of expressive titles for the pieces. Olivier Baumont (harpsichord). Original 1988 release. Accord 476 2538 (France) 03G029 $11.98

JOSEPH BODIN DE BOISMORTIER (1689-1755): Motet à Grand Chur "Exaudiat te Dominus", 6 Motets à voix seule mêlés de Symphonies, Op. 23. Those who know this composer primarily for his abundant chamber music, pumped out for the popular taste, will not recognize him in the grandeur and splendor of the Exaudiat motet, whose 18 minutes of majesty, accentuated by trumpets and kettledrums, show him in Handelian guise. The lovely, smaller-scale motets for solo soprano demonstrate yet a third side to Boismortier. Véronique Gens (soprano), Jean-Paul Fouchecourt (countertenor), Peter Harvey, Marcos Loureiro de Sà (baritones), Le Concert Spirituel; Hervé Niquet. Original 1991 release. Accord 476 2509 (France) 03G030 $11.98

LEONARDO LEO (1694-1744): Concerto for 4 Violins in D, 2 Flute Concertos in G, Marcia for 2 Violins, 14 Toccatas for Harpsichord. We learn a lot more about this Neapolitan composer, known primarily for his cello concertos, with his quadruple concerto with embedded fugue, his galant, Quantzian flute concerti and his remarkable series of toccatas of wide stylistic variety. Marcello Gatti (flute), La Confraternita de' Musici; Cosimo Prontera (harpsichord). Tactus TC 693702 (Italy) 03G031 $11.98

SEBASTIAN BODINUS (c.1700-1759): Quartets in G for Flute, Violin, Viola and Continuo, in D for 2 Flutes, Violin and Continuo & in D for Flute, Violin, Horn and Continuo, GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN (1681-1767): Quartets in D, F & G for Flute, Violin, Viola and Continuo. Bodinus writes in a concerto style, perhaps influenced by his friend and mentor, Molter, with the solo violin getting much soloist work in his quartets of around 1726 (note the interestingly varied instrumentation). Telemann's works date from 1752 and are full of fugal and contrapuntal mastery. Musicians of the Old Post Road. Meridian CDE 84523 (England) 03G032 $17.98

GIOVANNI BATTISTA SAMMARTINI (1700/01-1775): Maria Addolorata, Il pianto di San Pietro. Finally, the "father of the symphony" is beginning to receive his due on CD; unfortunately, once again the repertoire is not symphonies! These two sacred cantatas both date from 1751, each with four recitatives, three arias and a choral finale, full of Italianate melodiousness and virtuosity with enough striking orchestral writing to continue to make one long for his, yes... symphonies. Italian-English texts. Siliva Mapelli (soprano), Sonia Prina (contralto), Mirko Guadagnini (tenor), Filippo Ravizza (harpsichord), Capriccio Italiano Ensemble; Daniele Ferrari. Naxos 8.557431 (New Zealand) 03G033 $6.98

JOSÉ ANTONIO CARLOS DE SEIXAS (1704-1742): Harpsichord Sonatas in C, A Minor, C Minor, E, E Minor, G Minor, D, D Minor, A Minor, F Sharp Minor, C Minor, D Minor and G Minor. Seixas' keyboard sonatas, which owe more to the native Iberian organ tradition than to Domenico Scarlatti, are still quite rare repertoire (two Portugalsom recordings made in 1981 are the only others which immediately come to mind), making this new release of 13 of his 95 authenticated sonatas a valuable collector's item. Christian Bembeck (harpsichord). Musicaphon M 56867 (Germany) 03G034 $15.98

JEAN-JOSEPH CASSANÉA DE MONDONVILLE (1711-1772): Pièces de Clavecin avec Vois ou Violon, Op. 5, Sonata in F for Keyboard and Violin, Op. 3/2. Here is a work which is unique in the literature: nine keyboard sonatas with which the composer has offered the option of violin or voice (or, as here, both) as accompaniment! Dating from 1748 and using simple Psalm texts, this was an experiment in sound which was never repeated by anyone. The Op. 3 sonata (1734) is among the earliest accompanied keyboard sonatas, a genre which was eventually to lead to the Classical solo piano sonata. Latin-English texts. Edit Károly (soprano), Balázs Bozzai (violin), Miklós Spányi (harpsichord). Hungaroton HCD 32237 (Hungary) 03G035 $17.98

THOMAS ERSKINE, EARL OF KELLIE (1732-1781): Overture in C, Op. 1/2, Overture in B Flat "The Maid of the Mill", Quartets in C Minor and in A, Trio Sonatas No. 5 in E & No. 6 in G, Largo, Lord Kelly's Reel, Songs: The Lover's Message, Death is now my only Treasure. Certainly Scotland's greatest composer of the Classical period, Erskine studied in Mannheim under Johann Stamitz and his vigorous symphonies (the "quartets" can by played one to a part or with multiple strings and each is played one way on this disc), which add robust horns and pairs of flutes and oboes, are in full-bore Mannheim style, complete with the "rocket" crescendos and the nervy, unsettled personality this style often produces. A real ear-opener for collectors of the Classical symphony! Mhairi Lawson (soprano), Concerto Caledonia; David McGuinness. Linn Records SACD Hybrid CKD 240 (Scotland) 03G036 $22.98

GIOVANNI PAISIELLO (1740-1816): 7 Divert-imenti for 2 Flutes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns and Double Bass, 3 Minuets for 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Basset Horns, Cello and Harpsichord, Notturno for 2 Flutes, Cello and Harpsichord, Serenadenmusik from the Opera La Molinara, Serenade from the Opera Elvira for Clarinet, Guitar, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns and Double Bass (arr. Wendt). Practically everybody did some writing for winds in the classical era so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to find Paisiello producing attractive, serenade-like music like the Divertimenti, written as table music for the Russian court. Italian Classical Consort; Luigi Magistrelli (clarinet). Bayer Records 100 361 (Germany) 03G037 $17.98

PAVEL VRANICKY (1756-1808): 3 Quartets for Flute and Strings, Op. 28. Dating from 1794, these 20-minute long quartets are, despite their length, still divertimento-like in their easy melodic charm and tastes of Bohemian folk music. Loïc Poulian (flute), Members of the Dolezal Quartet of Prague. Original 1992 release. Accord 472 349-2 (France) 03G038 $11.98

LUIGI CHERUBINI (1760-1842): Messa Solenne Breve in B Flat for Chorus and Orchestra, Requiem in D Minor for Male Chorus and Orchestra. World premiere recording of the short, 19-minute Messa breve of 1821, previously only available in a chorus/organ version. The work is as richly scored as its later, better-known disc companion and is a fine example of Cherubini's mature style. Hradec Kralové Male Choir, Bonifantes Boys Choir, Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra; Douglas Bostock. Classico CLASSCD 457 (Denmark) 03G039 $16.98

ÉTIENNE HENRY MÉHUL (1763-1817): Joseph in Egypt. Closer to religious cantata than grand opera, this 1807 work capitalized on the current backlash against the anti-religious feeling of the Revolution and the rage for all things Egyptian. 2 CDs. English synopsis. Two different 1955 recordings w/North German Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra; Wilhelm Schüchter and Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Alfons Rischner. Gala GL 100.753 (Italy) 03G040 $10.98

GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848): String Quartets No. 4 in E, No. 5 in E Minor & No. 6 in G Minor. This appears to be the first CD issue of these quartets; cpo released Nos. 7-18 in 1994 but the first six have never been edited or published. Dating from 1818, they have a delightful mixture of contrapuntal earnestness, vocal melody and opera overture style while classical design and thematic elaboration exist side-by-side with an exuberant free juxtaposition of abundant ideas. Bernini Quartet. Tactus TC 790402 (Italy) 03G041 $11.98

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847): Kyrie in D Minor for Mixed Choir, Soloists and Orchestra, Psalm 42 for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 42, Hora est for Chorus and Organ, 11 other short a cappella choral pieces. The 1825 Kyrie is stylistically individual and has a wide range of influences and is the only piece here from prior to 1827 when the study of Bach began to allow the composer to produce choral works which combine Romantic intensity with the polyphonic rigor of Bach and the tonal purity of Palestrina. German texts. Chamber Choir of Europe, Württemberg Philharmonic Reutlingen; Nicol Matt. Brilliant Classics SACD Hybrid 92207 (Netherlands) 03G042 $13.98

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-1856): Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Introduction and Allegro appassionato, Op. 92, Introduction and Allegro, Op. 134. For customers who may not have both of this composer's late, single-movement works for piano and orchestra (from 1849 and 1853), fully recognizable as Schumann and, together, almost as long as the concerto itself. Jenö Jandó (piano), Budapest Symphony Orchestra; András Ligeti, BRT Philharmonic Orchestra; Alexander Rahbari, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Antoni Wit. Original 1988, 1993 and 1998 Marco Polo releases. Naxos 8.557547 (New Zealand) 03G043 $6.98

STEFANO GOLINELLI (1818-1891): 24 Preludes, Op. 69, Barcarolle in F Sharp Minor, Op. 35, 2 pensieri atteffuosi. Popular in his time, Golinelli remains important as one of the minority of Italian composers dedicated to non-vocal music - almost his entire catalogue of 250 works were written for the piano. Stylistic traits reminiscent of Mendelssohn and Chopin appear now and again in music of elegant melodic invention and, in his 1852 second set of Preludes, much brilliant effectiveness (performed on Golinelli's own 1880 Erard). Giuseppe Fausto Modugno (fortepiano). Tactus TC 810701 (Italy) 03G044 $11.98

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Four Hand Piano Music, Vol. 13 - String Sextet No. 1 in B Flat, Op. 18, String Sextet No. 2 in G, Op. 36. And still they come... Yet, this whole series of transcriptions is, in many ways, just as enjoyable as the original works, especially as one gets into the chamber pieces and one can't say that of all such transcriptions. Silke-Thora Matthies, Christian Köhn (piano). Naxos 8.554817 (New Zealand) 03G045 $6.98

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Complete Lieder, Vol. 8 - 7 Lieder, Op. 95, 4 Lieder, Op. 96, 6 Lieder, Op. 97, 5 Lieder, Op. 105. Dating from 1883-88, this collection helps give the lie to the all-too-frequent characterization of the mature Brahms song-style as "serious", "wistful" and "melancholy". Those qualities are there, of course, but so are folk-song playfulness (Op. 95 includes Serbian, Turkish and Italian folk songs), humor and calm serenity. German-English texts. CPO 999 448 (Germany) 03G046 $15.98

CÉSAR CUI (1835-1918): Suite, Op. 21, 2 Valses, Op. 31, 14 Preludes from Op. 64. Although Op. 64 was offered complete on Naxos in 2002, the 24-minute suite (with an arch-Romantic second movement "Shadows and Glimmers" quite striking) gets its first recording, along with two short waltzes. Christoph Deluze (piano). Pavane ADW7494 (Belgium) 03G047 $10.98

ANTONIO CARLOS GOMES (1836-1896): Missa de nossa Senhora de Conceição. An early work written before leaving Brazil in 1859, this mass demonstrates the wide influence of Verdi and Rossini while offering some personally bold harmonies and much melodic beauty. Leila Guimaraes (soprano), Lola di Vito (mezzo), Tiemin Wang (tenor), Paul Claus (baritone), Magnificat Chorus of Ursel, Sint Martinus Chorus of Drongen-Baarle, "Youth in Music" Orchestra of East Flanders; Geert Soenen. Bongiovanni GB 2366 (Italy) 03G048 $16.98

A Forgotten English Woman Symphonist!

ALICE MARY SMITH (1839-1884): Symphony in A Minor, Symphony in C Minor, Andante for Clarinet and Orchestra. Almost two generations after Louise Farrenc, Smith became the first English woman to write a symphony with the C minor work here (1863) with her follow-up dating from 1876. While Farrenc's symphonies have some of the Romantic Germanic fire of Schumann, Smith's muse is much more Mendelssohnian (she was taught by Sterndale Bennett and George Macfarren). The later work, at 26 minutes is shorter and more taut than the earlier one but both are well-constructed, with plenty of memorable themes, charming slow movements and nimble third movements (one minuet and one scherzo). A signal event in the recorded history of the symphony! Angela Malsbury (clarinet), London Mozart Players; Howard Shelley. Chandos 10283 (England) 03G049 $17.98

CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD (1852-1924): String Quartets No. 1 in G, Op. 44 & No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45, Fantasy for Horn and String Quartet in A Minor. World premiere recordings of all three works. The two quartets are from 1891 and are light in texture (more Mendelssohn than Brahms in that respect) while still full of contrapuntal ingenuity as well as much lovely melody (maybe no one writes such ingratiating and instantly memorable melody as Raff but Stanford comes close, as collectors of his symphonies and Irish Rhapsodies will know). The late horn quintet (1922), edited for this recording, telescopes four movements into a single, 12-minute form and makes a worthy addition to a very small genre. Stephen Stirling (horn), RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet. Hyperion CDA 67434 (England) 03G050 $18.98

CHRISTIAN SINDING (1856-1941): Violin Sonata in F, Op. 73, Scènes de la vie, Op. 51, Sonate im alten Stil, Op. 99, Romance, Op. 9. The 1905 sonata has an expansive personality with richly colorful harmonies which argue for its place among better-known works from the same period. Scènes (1900) could be a four-movement sonata, tracing the progression of an imaginary character from the brio of youth to a final triumph over life's obstacles (an almost Richard Straussian monumental exuberance in its final movement). The suite of 1909 is another example of neo-baroque Romanticism so popular during that period while the early (1886) Romance is a rich and bittersweet piece of Nordic nationalism. Dora Bratchkova (violin), Andreas Meyer-Hermann (piano). CPO 999 931 (Germany) 03G051 $15.98

HENRI BERTÉ (1858-1924): Chanson d'Amour. First given in 1921, this is an adaptation of various Schubert melodies (mostly lieder), wrapped around a libretto which would make Harlequin Romances editors blush with shame and which was one of this obscure Hungarian composer's greatest hits. Fun for playing "recognize that tune"! 2 CDs for the price of one. Aimé Donat , Lina Dachary and others, Symphony Orchestra; Jésus Etcheverry. Original 1962 release. Accord Opérette 476 2100 (France) 03G052 $17.98

Offenbach Operatic CD premiere!

JACQUES OFFENBACH (1819-1880): Die Rheinnixen. Premiered in 1864 in German from an original French libretto which Offenbach had translated by a noted German poet, this is a truly large-scale Romantic opera (lasting just a minute or so under three and a half hours). Many passages in the first two acts call Weber, Schubert or Mendelssohn to mind (beyond the German forest setting and the appearance of wood sprites - the title is a bit of a misnomer) while the final two acts conjure up Verdi. The wealth of melody one would expect is here in abundance, there is much work for the chorus, a daunting part for the tenor and the whole produces a dramatic power not normally associated with French opera of the period. 3 CDs. German-English libretto. Regina Schörg (soprano), Nora Gubisch (mezzo), Piotr Beczala (tenor), Dalibor Jenis (baritone), Latvian Radio Choir, Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer. Accord 472 920-2 (France) 03G053 $43.98

ALFREDO CATALANI (1854-1893): Loreley. Catalani's take on the Rhine nymph legend dates from 1890 in its revised, three-act version and contains much very atmospheric and, for its time, unusual scene painting in its third act (the chorus and dances of the water spirits and of the funeral march of the jilted mortal woman). Italian radio recording in reasonable sound with Gala's usual 40 minutes of fill-ups on the second disc of excerpts from other performances of the same opera. 2 CDs. Budget-price. English synopsis. Anna de Cavalieri (soprano), Ken Neate (tenor), RAI Orchestra and Chorus; Alfredo Simonetto (1953 - mono). Gala GL 100.752 (Italy) 03G054 $10.98

EMIL NIKOLAUS VON REZNICEK (1860-1945): Donna Diana. Finally, here's all the stuff that comes after the famous overture! A typical romantic farce set in Spain and dealing with the means by which the lover of the frigid title character finally makes her warm to him, Donna Diana is filled with bright, colorful music which traverses much of the wide stylistic terrain which we've experienced in Reznicek's recently released tone-poems Schlemihl and Der Sieger - namely from Mahler and Richard Strauss to Mozart and popular dance music. No one in search of attractive melodies and brilliant orchestraion is likely to be disappointed by this comedy. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Manuela Uhl (soprano), Max Wittges (bass), Roman Sadnik (tenor), Kiel Opera Chorus, Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra; Ulrich Windfuhr. CPO 999 991 (Germany) 03G055 $31.98

MAURICE EMMANUEL (1862-1938): Sonatines No. 1, Op. 4 "Bourguignonne", No. 2, Op. 5 "Pastorale", No. 3, Op. 19, No. 4, op. 20 "sur des modes hindous", No. 5, Op. 22 "alla francese" & No. 6, Op. 23, Sonate en trio for Clarinet, Flute and Piano. The sonatinas, composed at various times between 1893 and 1925, range from Hindu modes and birdsong, both prefiguring Messiaen (who was one of Emmanuel's students), to Burgundian folk music. None lasts over ten minutes, qualifying them as real miniature jewels of the French piano repertoire. The 1907 trio blends folk music of the Middle Ages, of Antiquity and of the Hindus. Marie-Catherine Girod (piano), Alain Marion (flute), Richard Vieille (clarinet). Original 1986 release. Accord 476 165-8 (France) 03G056 $11.98

LUIGI MAURIZIO TEDESCHI (1867-1944): Elegia for Harp and Violin, Op. 22, Fantasia for Harp and Violin, Op. 48, Improvviso drammatico for Harp and Cello, Op. 32, Sérénade for Violin and Harp, Op. 28, Suite for Harp, Violin and Cello, Op. 46, Presso il mulino for Solo Harp, Op. 19. These captivatingly melodious works inhabit the world of Italian opera (particularly Puccini) with their recitative and cantabile aria-like passages and, though composed between 1891 and 1938, are firmly backward-looking, graceful and restrained, an oasis of calm given the musical and political events of the same period. Antonella Ciccozzi (harp), Marco Rogliano (violin), Francesco Sorrentino (cello). Tactus TC 862001 (Italy) 03G057 $11.98

ZYGMUNT STOJOWSKI (1870-1946): Violin Sonata in G, Op. 13, WLADYSLAW ZELENSKI (1837-1921): Violin Sonata in F, Op. 30. World premiere recordings of two Romantic Polish violin sonatas. Zelenski was Stojowski's teacher and his sonata is from around 1870 while his pupil's dates to around 1895. Neither is brimming with passion or struggle, Zelenski even more than Stojowski concerned with lyrical melody and both emphasizing an almost unbroken flow of sunny, sometimes dreamy Romanticism and the fact that there are no slow movements is another indication of the composers' intention to avoid inwardness and introspection. Barbara Trojanowska (violin), Elzbieta Tyszecka (piano). Acte Préalable AP0112 (Poland) 03G058 $16.98 >

FLORENT SCHMITT (1870-1958): Piano Quintet in B Minor, Op. 51. This massive chamber piece, in three movements lasting just over 55 minutes, has all of the Romantic weight, emotion and brooding power the above Polish sonatas lack. The length is Franckian and, although not really in Franck's cyclic form, elements of the first movement's first theme do come back in both the remaining movements, adding to the effect of a long, hard journey won through victoriously. This was its first recording and, I think, still may be the only one available. Werner Bärtschi (piano), Berne Quartet. Original 1982 release. Accord 465 801-2 (France) 03G059 $11.98

EMILE WALDTEUFEL (1873-1915): Soirée d'été, Les fleurs, Myosotis, Madeleine, La plus belle, Valse de la poupée, Toujours ou jamais, Valse des patineurs, Roses et Marguerites. Waldteufel's waltzes were all originally written and published for piano although almost all of them were also orchestrated; this fairly new release offers piano collectors a 70 minute selection from the composer's vast uvre including, inevitably, the ever-popular "Skater's Waltz". Dominique My (piano). 2001 release. Accord 472 924-2 (France) 03G060 $17.98

The Romantic Violin Concerto, Volume 5

ARTHUR SOMERVELL (1875-1937): Violin Concerto in G, SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912): Violin Concerto in G, Op. 80. Well, here's the other recording of Coleridge-Taylor's gorgeous, somewhat Dvorakian concerto whose first recording we offered on the Avie label last September. If you didn't get it then, it's because you were waiting for this release and we don't need to tell you how beautiful it is. Somervell's concerto comes from the end of his life (1930) and, while it has its Elgarian manners here and there and some Vaughan Williamsy pastoralism, it is generally a lighter-spirited work even though its first two movements are predominantly slow. There is much relaxed lyricism and gentle, singing melody in them while the finale rouses itself for a dance-like rondo, Mendelssohnian in spirit if not exactly in style. Anthony Marwood (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins. Hyperion CDA 67420 (England) 03G061 $18.98

HERMANN SUTER (1870-1926): Sextet in C for 2 Violins, Viola, 2 Cellos and Double Bass, Op. 18, ERNST LEVY (1895-1981): Quintet in C Minor for 2 Violins, Viola, Cello and Double Bass, FRANK MARTIN (1890-1974): Rhapsodie for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Double Bass. Two more dissimilar works written in the same year (1916) couldn't be imagined than Suter's 32-minute exercise in opulent late Romanticism and Levy's single-movement, 22-minute work whose use of thematic metamorphosis prefigures Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen. Spiced with dissonance, capable of introducing sudden variations in mood (a waltz shows up about halfway through), Levy's work is yet another example of his originality and another slap in the face for record companies which continue to ignore him. Martin's work dates from 1935 (like the others, a world premiere recording) and, though only 12 minutes long, is a fascinating application of dodecaphony to the composer's personal style. Florian Kellerhals, Stefan Häussler (violins), Nicolas Corti, Bodo Friedrich (violas), Imke Frank, Matthias Kuhn (cellos), Andreas Cincera (double bass). Musiques Suisses MGB 6201 (Switzerland) 03G062 $18.98 >

PAUL JUON (1872-1940): Den Kindern zum Lauschen, Op. 38, In Futurum 2, Op. 80, Sonatine in G, Op. 47, 7 Klavierstücke, Op. 12. This collection of world premiere recordings covers a wide area of Juon's uvre, from the early piano pieces of Op. 12 with their stylistic reminiscences of both Brahms and early Scriabin and Reger, through the "For Children to Listen to" of Op. 38 with its references to Slavic folk music and the rather neo-classical Sonatine to the Op. 80 In Futurum of 1930 which, alas, is less forward-looking (in fact, rather retrospective in its Russian folk character) than its exceedingly sleek and futuristic sheet music cover which is reproduced in the booklet. Tomás Kramreiter (piano). Musikszene Schweiz MGB CD 6196 (Switzerland) 03G063 $18.98 >

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Piano Quintet No.1, Piano Quintet No. 2. Almost always unforgivably out of the catalogue, Bloch's two piano quintets are remarkable works of wildly different styles. The first (1921-23) is a 33-minute long, three-movement work of searing, white-hot passion, inhabiting the world of late Expressionism (with microtonal intervals and quarter-tones thrown in as well here and there as such avant-garde ferment was much in the air at the time), while the second, from 1957, also in three movements, exchanges the older work's formal complexity and emotionalism for a more abstract, linear style which synthesizes energetic, aggressively rhythmic music in its outer movements and pastoral lyricism in the slow one with Schoenbergian dodecaphonic principles and which still packs much emotion and compositional virtuosity into its relatively brief 18 minutes. Aura Quartet, Hans Joerg Fink (piano). Musiques Suisses MGB 6203 (Switzerland) 03G064 $18.98

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Violin Sonata No. 1, Violin Sonata No. 2 "Poème mystique", Mélodie, Nuit exotique, Abodah. The first violin sonata (1920) has much of the same fiery and passionate expressivity of the first piano quintet (above) while the second (1924) is serene, mystical and ecstatic - not unlike Szymanowski. The shorter pieces also date from the 20s, by turns, lyrical, exotic and Hebrew-based. The first of two Hyperion releases covering all Bloch's violin pieces. Hagai Shaham (violin), Arnon Erez (piano). Hyperion CDA 67439 (England) 03G065 $18.98

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959): Sacred Service (Avodath Hakodesh). Now at mid-price, this is still the only CD version of Bloch's 1933 setting which contains much of the exotic orientalism of the works of his "Jewish Cycle". Transliterated Hebrew-English texts. Louis Berkman (baritone), The Zemel Choir, London Symphony Orchestra; Geoffrey Simon. Chandos 10288 (England) 03G066 $13.98

OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957): Erwin und Elmire, Op. 25. Composed over the period between 1911 and 1916, this work is a 57-minute long sequence of songs, duets and one terzet with an overture and intermezzo made for a stage performance of Goethe's singspiel. Schoeck was at his best writing for the voice, both in his regular operas and in his extensive lieder output which still hasn't gotten the credit it deserves and, Goethe being one of his favorite poets, he produces a flow of gorgeously sunny music here (tinged where necessary with melancholy) which could be compared in style with Richard Strauss and Reger in their most simple, good-humored, Mozartian moments. German-English texts. Jeannette Fischer (soprano), Tino Brütsch (tenor), Hans Christoph Begemann (baritone), Zurich Chamber Orchestra; Howard Griffiths. CPO 999 929 (German) 03G067 $15.98

JOSEPH CANTELOUBE (1879-1957): La pastoura als camps, Baïlèro, 3 Bourrées, Pastourelle, L'Antouèno, 2 Bourrées, La delaïssádo, Passo pel prat, Lou boussu, Brezairola, Malurous qu'o uno fenno, Jou l'pount d'o Mirabel, Oï ayaï, Lou coucut, Quand z'eyro petitoune, Là-haut, sur le rocher, Uno jionto postouro, Lou diziou bé. Not quite unusual repertoire but this new release may be the first budget-price, digitial recording of these gorgeous, heart-warming songs, performed by a native of the Auvergne herself. Auvergne dialect-English texts. Véronique Gens (soprano), Orchestre National de Lille; Jean-Claude Casadesus. Naxos 8.557491 (New Zealand) 03G068 $6.98

JOSÉ MARÍA USANDIZAGA (1887-1915): Mendi Mendiyan. Combining a verismo backdrop (a tale of love and murder in a small Basque village) with the use of Wagnerian leitmotivs, Usandizaga attempted to create an authentically Basque operatic style, taking much of his melodic material from folk songs and dances. The author's descriptive sub-title, "A Basque pastoral folk-opera", pretty much describes it and the work's wealth of colorful melody and vivid orchestration will appeal to a wide spectrum of opera collectors. 2 CDs. Basque libretto. English synopsis. Tatiana Davidova, Marta Ubieta (sopranos), Juan Lomba (tenor), Santos Ariño (baritone), Coral Andra Mari de Rentería, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra; Juan José Mena. Marco Polo 8.225240-41 (New Zealand) 03G069 $19.98

KURT ATTERBERG (1887-1974): Symphonies Nos. 1-9, Älven, Op. 33. One of the greatest Scandinavian symphonists of the 20th century, conservative, always full of memorable melody yet always with that indefinable Nordic quality which infuses the music of composers from the frozen north. For those of you who did not collect the single-disc releases, there's no excuse not to get to know this deeply satisfying cycle of symphonies now that it's available at mid-price. 5 CDs. Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, North German Radio Philharmonic, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ari Rasilainen. CPO 777 118 (Germany) 03G070 $44.98

ARTUR SCHNABEL (1882-1951): String Quartet No. 5, Piano Trio, 7 Piano Pieces. All these pieces date from between 1940 and 1947 and are written in the pianist's late style. Dissonant, atonal, sometimes dodecaphonic, they are still expressive pieces with plenty of emotion behind the thick chromaticisms, dense counterpoint and occasional extended playing techniques and are sure to appeal to collectors of Schoenberg and his pupils. Pellegrini Quartet, Ravinia Trio, Benedikt Koehlen (piano). CPO 999 881 (Germany) 03G071 $15.98

NIKOS SKALKOTTAS (1904-1949): Concerto No. 3 for Piano and 10 Wind Instruments, The Gnomes. It is always satisfying when a composer known mostly by reputation and myth turns out to be as good as they were rumored to be. For a composer who so passionately embraced dodecaphony, Skalkottas' range of expression is surprising even now - the compositional virtuosity and cohesiveness of his music as it shifts effortlessly between tonality and atonality of various kinds is truly remarkable. This concerto, one of a total of eleven (five are for piano) is endlessly fascinating, the rich polyphony present both in the solo part and the innovative instrumental ensemble - a wind group allows the presentation of complex ideas with exemplary clarity and precision. The emotional range of the piece is remarkable as well, from incisive dancing figuration in the outer movements (with more than a hint of the dance hall and a Gallic elegance and charm, to the long-breathed lyricism of the middle movement. The predominantly tonal ballet score, incorporating Skalkottas' orchestrations of piano works by Bartók and Stravinsky and a couple of movements of his own, is an unexpectedly accessible delight Geoffrey Douglas Madge (piano), Caput Ensemble; Nikos Christodoulou. BIS CD-1364 (Sweden) 03G072 $17.98

GOFFREDO PETRASSI (1904-2003): Concertos for Orchestra Nos. 1-8. In August of 1997 we offered a Fonit Cetra release conducted by Zoltán Peskó of this cycle of concertos by one of the most important and influential Italian composers of his generation. It was on 4 CDs and cost $67.98 (!). This brand-new recording packs the eight pieces onto two discs (total timing of 159:59). For this reason and because we had several unfilled back-orders for the first set (the label was about to be purchased by Warner and had vanished from U.S. distribution), we are happy to make this new release available. The first concerto (1933-34) comes from Petrassi's early period of optimism and diatonicism; the remainder span the period 1951-1972. Concertos 2-6 delve deep into atonality while still containing a personal mix of grace, Stravinskian color and incisiveness while the last two exhibit respectively a dark intensity and a retreat from the radicalism of the 60s. 2 CDs. Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Tamayo. Stradivarius STR 33700 (Italy) 03G073 $35.98

GIACINTO SCELSI (1905-1988): 3 Latin Prayers, Antifona, 3 Canti Sacri, Sauh III, Sauh IV, TKRDG (w/3 percussionists and amplified guitar), Yliam, 3 Canti Popolari. Except for the first three pieces listed above, which use Latin texts and are written in a sort of neo-medieval/Gregorian style, Scelsi's choral works are written on phonemes and he uses variable vibratos, infrachromatic glissandi, tremolos, trills, portamenti, glottal stops, blowing and many phonetic effects in order to modulate the harmonic spectrum, resulting in the unearthly vocal equivalent of his more famous orchestral pieces with which collectors will be more familiar. Sound being the most important aspect of these works, it is safe to say that collectors who would not normally consider buying a capella choral music will, if they like Scelsi, definitely enjoy this! New London Chamber Choir, Percussive Rotterdam; James Wood. Accord Una Corda 465 401-2 (France) 03G074 $16.98

MAX E. KELLER (b.1947): Mondlandschaft for 23 Winds and 3 Percussionists (Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich; David Zinman), Dialogfelder for Double Bass and Percussion (Johannes Nied [bass], Victoria Ifrim [percussion]), Progressionen for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, String Trio and Piano (Gruppo Musica Insieme di Cremona), agieren und reagieren for Piano and Live Electronics (Susanne Stelzenbach [piano), Ralf Hoyer [electronics]), Deformationen for Soprano, Flute and Guitar (Eiko Morikawa [soprano], Sarah Hornsby [flute], Daniel Göritz [guitar]), String Quartet No. 2 (Schlesisches String Quartet). With a background drawing on jazz and Darmstadt, Keller writes music which makes a direct impact on the senses, incorporating an improvisatory flair, while remaining true to the tenets of modern composition - in particular, serialism. The composer's political and social ideas lead to a preoccupation with directness and clarity in the presentation of ideas, leading to a kind of surface clarity and the provision of structures - usually rhythmic - to lead the listener through the thornier thickets of musical argument. Musikszene Schweiz/Grammont MGB CTS-M 84 (Switzerland) 03G075 $18.98 >

VINCENT PERSICHETTI (1915-1987): Symphony No. 8, Symphony for Strings (Symphony No. 5), Serenade No. 5. Many collectors will have this recording of the eighth symphony on Albany's licensed issue from the early 90s. The other two works, however, mono recordings, are new to CD. The 1950 Serenade is an 11-minute work in six short movements while the 1953 symphony has five, slightly longer ones (totalling 18 minutes). Both are distinguished by rigorous counterpoint, an often bracing, driven quality and both have short interjections of slightly bitter lyrical material, the whole effect not unlike Hindemith or, say, Harald Genzmer. Original 1954, 1960 and 1970 releases. Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, Jorge Mester. First Edition Music FECD-0034 (U.S.A.) 03G076 $12.98

WILLIAM BOLCOM (b.1938): Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 3 (Symphony for Chamber Orchestra), Seattle Slew Orchestral Suite. Bolcom's first symphony, remarkably, was written in five weeks at the age of 19 while at the Aspen Music School and, while not sounding like Shostakovich, it recalls that composer since one can hardly think of many other symphonies written by teenage composers in the 20th century with such a grasp of form (although, as Bolcom himself admits, the stylistic sources of the work are numerous and widely spread). Its 1991 CD disc-mate, the third symphony, is in classical, four-movement form (even with sonata form in the first movement) but its language, while remaining approachable throughout, is often angular and modern. The Seattle Slew ballet music (1986) appears not to have been issued on CD and finds Bolcom in his other guise as renewer of popular dance music in its three-movement set of dances (tango, gavotte and rag) inspired by the Triple Crown winning horse of 1977 Origi.nal 1990-1 releases. Louisville Orchestra; Lawrence Leighton Smith. First Edition Music FECD-0033 (U.S.A.) 03G077 $12.98

HENRY COWELL (1897-1965): Deep Color, The Fairy Answer, Fabric, Tiger for Piano, Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, 3 Anti-Modernist Songs, Suite for Violin and Piano, Polyphonica for Small Orchestra, Irish Suite for String Piano and Small Orchestra. These two important releases will increase the available Cowell discography. The solo piano pieces and the Irish Suite (with its second movement, The Leprechaun, reconstructed for this recording) display the composer's unusual combination of extended playing techniques (tone-clusters played with fist, forearm or flat of the hand and playing inside the piano) with a traditional melodiousness stemming from his love of folksong while the four-minute Polyphonica is a study in dissonant counterpoint, the parodic songs brief examples of Cowell's sense of humor and the late (1954) quartet showing a more conservative, neo-baroque approach (although that same neo-baroque aspect combines with tone-clusters in 1925's violin and piano suite). These recordings were made in 1990; we don't know if they've been previously released. Texts included. Continuum. Naxos American Classics 8.559192 (U.S.A.) 03G078 $6.98

HENRY COWELL (1897-1965): Homage to Iran for Violin, Persian Drum and Piano, Piece for Piano with Strings, Solo Piano: Vestiges, Euphoria, What's This, Elegie, The Banshee, 2 Songs for Baritone and Piano, 6 Casual Developments for Clarinet and Piano, Set of Five for Violin, Percussion and Piano. This second volume contains recordings made in 1984 and 1992 (for Musical Heritage Society) and has further examples of experimental piano pieces and of Cowell's interest in fusing Western and Eastern musical elements, most obviously in the Persian Set from the late 1950s but also in the 1952 Set of Five, which marries the neo-baroque with Indian (i.e. sub-continental) music. Texts included. Continuum. Naxos American Classics 8.559193 (U.S.A.) 03G079 $6.98

SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981): Capricorn Concerto, A Hand of Bridge for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Bass and Orchestra, Mutations from Bach, Intermezzo from Vanessa, Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings, Fadograph of a Yestern Scene. This sixth and final Barber volume from Alsop and the RSNO brings the bright and glittering Capricorn Concerto, well-enough known, but also the late Canzonetta, a fragment of an uncompleted oboe concerto full of the composer's characteristic melody, enlivened with some more modern tonalities. A Hand of Bridge (1958) is a ten-minute piece memorializing members of the Barber-Menotti circle and written for the latter's first Spoleto Festival, Mutations is a somber, very late piece for four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba and timpani while the Fadograph is a gorgeous, impressionistic wash of orchestral color. No texts. John Gracie (trumpet), Karen Jones (flute), Lesley Craigie (soprano), Louise Winter (mezzo), Simon Wall (tenor), Roderick Williams (bass), Stéphane Rancourt (oboe), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Marin Alsop. Naxos American Classics 8.559135 (U.S.A.) 03G080 $6.98

LUKAS FOSS (b.1922): Scherzo Ricercato, Passacaglia, Grotesque Dance, Prelude in D, Fantasy Rondo, 4 Two-Part Inventions, For Lenny, Solo. The complete solo piano output of Foss comprises several neo-baroque pieces (easily identifiable by their titles) from the 30s and 40s, the jazz- and Copland-influenced Fantasy Rondo and Prelude of 1944 and 1951 and, in the longest piece here, 1981's Solo, a deft combination of minimalist, serial and tonal techniques. Scott Dunn (piano). Naxos American Classics 8.559179 (U.S.A.) 03G081 $6.98

JOHN ADAMS (b.1947): Solo Piano: Phrygian Gates, China Gates, Hallelujah Junction for 2 Pianos, Road Movies for Violin and Piano. Adams' only chamber work for violin is a three-movement piece from 1995 which suggests certain types of journeys in characteristic fashion while the 1996 Hallelujah Junction is a 17-minute tableau of constantly shifting and metamorphosing material in which all kinds of popular and Classical music are evoked. The other half of the disc is taken up by Adams' first acknowledged "mature" minimalist piece, Phrygian Gates, and its lesser-known sibling from the same year (1977), China Gates (same wave-like keyboard figurations but no virtuosic technique required.) Andrew Russo (piano), James Ehnes (violin, second piano). Black Box BBM 1098 (England) 03G082 $17.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): Piano Trio, Op. 64, Nuigen for Piano Trio, Op. 129, PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Spell, CARL NIELSEN (1865-1931): Piano Trio No. 1, ANDERS NORDENTOFT (b.1957): Doruntine. Holmboe collectors will be happy with this new release, almost half of which is devoted to his two trios. The earlier, from 1954, shows his characteristic free counterpoint, flexible phrasing, singable melody and modal harmony while the late (1976) Nuigen is three movement work based on folk-music like motives separated by two slow, inward, almost religious-sounding intermezzi. The further modernism of Nørgård (1973 - in his "infinity series" mode of metamorphosis compositon) and Nordentoft (1994 - eight minutes of freely composed music deriving from most possible stylistic sources of the late 20th century) is set off by the world premiere recording of Carl Nielsen's youthful (1883), 11-minute trio, possibly only the third complete work he wrote, whose basis in Viennese Classicism recalls similar youth pieces by Sibelius from exactly the same period. Trio Ondine. Dacapo 8.226009 (Denmark) 03G083 $15.98

HERBERT FRIES (b.1926): Concerto for Clarinet and Strings, ARMIN SCHIBLER (1920-1986): Concertino for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 49, JEAN BINET (1893-1960): Petit Concert for Clarinet and Strings, JEAN BALISSAT (b.1936): Cantabile for Clarinet and Strings, ANDOR KOVACH (b.1915): Concerto for Clarinet and Strings, ALEXIS CHALIER (b.1960): Concertino for Clarinet and Strings. The first three of these works for clarinet and string orchestra listed above date from 1950 or 1956. The latter two have that typical sense of unease and tension due to the political situation so often evident in music from Central Europe at that time while Binet's (the 1950 piece) is somewhat lighter in nature. Even though Kovach's concerto dates from 1995, it is solidly in the same mood as the other three while Balissat (1995) and Chalier (2002) provide the only somewhat "modern"-sounding musical language in this collection although theirs, too, are tonal works. This disc should appeal to many collectors of 20th century music for chamber-sized orchestra Frédéric Rapin (clarinet), "Arpeggione" Hohenems Chamber Orchestra; Jean-François Antonioli. Musikszene Schweiz/Grammont MGB CTS-M 80 (Switzerland) 03G084 $18.98 >

JACQUES WILDBERGER (b.1922): Tempus cadendi, tempus sperandi for Mixed Choir and 6 Instrumentalists (SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart, Members of the Basel Symphony Orchestra; Heinz Holliger), An die Hoffnung for Soprano, Speaker and Orchestra (Sylvia Nopper [soprano], Georg Martin Bode [speaker], Basel SO; Holliger), Commiato for String Quartet (Amati Quartet). In one sense or another, these works all treat the subject of 'hope' - even in the face of humankind's more appalling acts of inhumanity (of which the Holocaust looms large in the composer's chosen texts for the vocal works). But even in the instrumentally abstract work for string quartet, the sounds of breathing, of life gasping to survive even as it is threatened with extinction, and the sounds of protest (overheard, as it were, at a distance) are projected with uncanny clarity. Wildberger was a friend of B.A. Zimmermann, and a similar theatrical expressionism informs these works, which are freely based on serialist techniques and contain elements of extended techniques, though not as eclectically applied as in Zimmermann's best-known music. By comparison, Wildberger's music is relatively restrained and detached, though no less emotionally gripping or dramatically charged for all that. In particular, the obsessive build-up of accumulated tension in An die Hoffnung is especially effective. Musikszene Schweiz/Grammont MGB CTS-M 77 (Switzerland) 03G085 $18.98 >

WILLIAM BLANK (b.1957): String Trio (Trio Contrechamps), Anacrousis for Percussion (Michael Tschamper), Cris for Piano and Ensemble (David Lively [piano], Ensemble Contrechamps; William Blank), ...Ebbe(n) for Large Orchestra (Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Fabio Luisi). Cries and laments - and outbursts of furious anger - are dominant characteristics of these pieces by a composer with a freely acknowledged social conscience - the protests are against inhumanity and oppression in all its manifestations. Of course, in instumental music such a program cannot be explicitly spelled out, but the post-Second-Viennese expessionism of Blank's chosen vocabulary leaves one in no doubt of the emotional intensity of his extramusical preoccupations. Cris, which embeds the solo line in a barrage of instrumental texture, is especially effective - quite harrowing at times, as the solo protagonist, in extended monologue, strives to be heard through the overwhelming forces of the ensemble. Ebbe(n), too, is a highly concentrated and effective - and unsettling - musical narrative, imbued with a profound sense of melancholy. But this is no expresionistic scream-fest; the music is sophisticated and the composer's innovative use of texture and timbre always meticulously judged and finely etched. Musikszene Schweiz/Grammont MGB CTS-M 79 (Switzerland) 03G086 $18.98 >

BETTINA SKRZYPCZAK (b.1962): Piano Concerto (Massimiliano Damerini [piano], Swiss Philharmonic Orchestra; Mario Venzago), SN 1993 J for Orchestra (Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Zlin; Monica Buckland Hofstetter), Miroirs for Mezzo-Soprano and Ensemble (Mireille Capelle [mezzo], Ensemble Contrechamps; Susanna Mälkki), Fantasie for Oboe (Matthias Arter), Scène for Violin and Cello (Noëmi Schindler [violin], Christophe Roy [cello]). Skrzypczak's chosen idiom is an unabashedly modern one ( incorporating controlled aleatory techniques and serialism, and demonstrating a thorough control of both). More unexpected, perhaps, is the sensuousness of her instrumental textures and the enveloping harmonic richness of the music - and this applies as much to the solo and chamber works as to the orchestral pieces. Instrumental parts are correspondingly difficult to play, of course, so on one level the music can be enjoyed in terms of instrumental virtuosity. The dramatically compressed and correspodingly event-filled Concerto exemplifies this approach, but nothing here will disappoint; as 'composer-portrait' discs go, this one is unuusally satisfying. Musikszene Schweiz/Grammont MGB CTS-M 78 (Switzerland) 03G087 $18.98 >

RENÉ KOERING (b.1940): Symphony No. 3 "Jonas", Violin Concerto, Aigaion - in memoriam Iannis Xenakis. The symphony finds one reminded of early romantic and post-romantic composers, even Franz Schmidt or (almost inevitably, it seems) Busoni. Structurally, though, with its preponderance of slow music interrupted by stormy passages, it functions more like a large tone-poem in three extended sections. Lacking an explicit program, it is more of a psychological examination of the character of Jonah, the man who opposed God. Both here and in the concerto (with the soloist present almost constantly), the richness of Koering's orchestration makes the music sound more romantic than the actual material would suggest. Finally, the composer's sheer individuality is laid bare in the highly unusual piece in memoriam Xenakis, which uneasily marries a kind of orchestral lament with electronically generated sounds that one might, let us say, more closely associate with basement dance clubs than the concert hall. Heaven knows what Xenakis would have made of it. But this is one of the more stimulating and surprising CDs to have come our way of late, and it gets an enthusiastic, if slightly bemused, recommendation. Pierre Amoyal (violin), Orchestre National de Montpellier; Friedemann Layer, René Bosc. 2003 release. Accord 476 096-8 (France) 03G088 $17.98

RENÉ KOERING (b.1940): String Quartets Nos. 2 & 3, PASCAL DUSAPIN (b.1955): String Quartets Nos. 1 & 4. Dusapin's first, a much-rewritten work, is oblique and enigmatic - the quotation from Samuel Beckett that accompanies the brief note in the booklet seems most apposite. The more extended fourth quartet has more conventional and richer textures, and occupies territory not so very far removed from, say, the late quartets of Shostakovich. The two Koering works are structurally similar, and despite their formidable technical difficulties have more in common with traditional quartet writing than the Dusapin. Interestingly, Koering makes reference to Francis Bacon's 'screaming popes' paintings in relation to his third, and this comparison certainly reflects the work's textural richness at a detailed level and violence of contrast on the level of large-scale imagery. Mid-price. Quatuor Danel. 2004 release. Accord 476 1919 (France) 03G089 $12.98

TRISTAN MURAIL (b.1947): Couleur de mer for 15 Instruments, L'Attente for 7 Instruments, 13 couleurs de soleil couchant for 5 Instruments, Attracteurs étrangers for Cello, La Barque Mystique for 5 Instruments. These works for various ensembles chart more than 20 years of progress in Murail's output from early post-serial music written under the influence of Messiaen towards the spectralism of which Murail has become a leading exponent in the past decade. The most notable characteristic of all the works is the emphasis on tone color and a freedom from strict academic techniques. Even without the evocative titles suggesting sunsets, the sea and the wild mathematically generated complex patterning of chaos theory, the music immediately suggests organic, fluid processes in plastic and sculptural musical textures of great sophistication and imaginative originality. Antoine Ladrette (cello), Ensemble Court-Circuit; Pierre-André Valade. 1995 release. Accord Una Corda 465 901-2 (France) 03G090 $16.98

PHILIPPE MANOURY (b.1952): En Echo for Soprano and Live Electronics, Neptune for 2 Midi Vibraphones, Tam-tam, Marimba and Live Electronics. Manoury explores the manifold possibilities presented to the electroacoustic composer by the human voice, and percussion instruments. The vocal material in En echo is lyrical and impressionistic - much would not sound out of place in works by Ravel or Delage - while the harmonically and spatially complex matrix in which it is embedded pushes the limits of what is possible with the computer resources of IRCAM. The timbral possibilities presented by percussion ensembles have long endeared them to contremporary composers, and the dizzying display of transformations to which sounds are subjected in Neptune creates a unified but alien sound-world that goes further in departing from the constraints of instruments than almost any other example of the electroactoustic art. Donatienne Michel-Dansac (soprano), Roland Auzet, Florent Jodelet, Eve Payeur (percussion). 1998 release. Accord Una Corda 465 526-2 (France) 03G091 $16.98

PHILIPPE HERSANT (b.1948): Le Château des Carpathes. Based on a novel by Jules Verne, Le Chateau explores themes of obsession, loss and creativity against a meticulously evoked and broodingly atmospheric backdrop of almost cinematic vivdness of image. The music pays obvious and affectionate tribute to operatic conventions, without irony; Verdi, Mussorgsky, Bartók and Janacek are very audible influences. As this may suggest, much of the music is resolutely tonal, and avoids the 'extended' methods common to much 'modern' operatic and music-theatre writing of the Lachenmann or Sciarrino type; the vocal writing is lyrical and melodic, the characterisation of the protagonists - hero, tragic heroine, crazed villain - evoked in music of strikingly resonant empathy. The Gothic Romanticism of the story is well matched in the finely judged libretto and the superbly involving musical text, and overall the work is a compelling and invloving piece of musical drama. 2 CDs for the price of 1. German, Italian, French libretto. Sylvie Valayre (soprano), Christer Bladin (tenor), Marcel Vanaud (bass-baritone), Orchestra Philharmonique de Montpellier; David Robertson. 1993 Adès release. Accord Una Corda 465 493-2 (France) 03G092 $17.98

KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN (b.1928): Mantra. This remains a seminal work from the 1970s, when Stockhausen's reputation was arguably at a high point and his works seemed to point to the future of music. It is fascinating to revisit works from that period again today, now that we have computer-assisted spectral analysis and synthesis for every possible combination of sounds, and have been through many cycles of neo- and post-just about everything. This recording of Stockhausen's assemblage of 13 gestures subjected to all kinds of permutations (including the employment of diverse instruments in addition to the two pianos, as well as ring modulators (remember ring modulators?!) and the strict serialisation of the 'mantra' figure in all its transformations. The performers worked on the piece with the composer, so we may assume this version to be authoritative. Janka and Jörg Wyttenbach (pianos). 1997 release. Accord Una Corda 464 269-2 (France) 03G093 $16.98

HANS ABRAHAMSEN (b.1952): Stratifications, Nacht und Trompeten, Piano Concerto, ABRAHAMSEN/BACH: Befiehl du deine Wege, BWV 272 for 15 Instruments, ABRAHAMSEN/CARL NIELSEN (1865-1931): 3 Piano Pieces, Op. 59 for 10 Instruments, ABRAHAMSEN/PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Breaking for Chamber Orchestra, ABRAHAMSEN/ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): 4 Pieces from 6 kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19 for Chamber Orchestra. Although described as an exponent of the 'New SImplicity" school, with an emphasis on clear, lucid textures and a lack of self-conscious modernism, Abrahamsen seems to have taken these principles as a point of departure, without adhering rigidly to them, or indeed to any other discernable dogma. Echoes of Romanticism are present throughout - Nacht und Trompeten (not surprisingly, given the title) recalls the Mahler of the 7th Symphony. Elsewhere one hears the influence of early Schoenberg and Stravinsky (though mostly not the neclassical kind). The most recent work, the concerto, is in some ways the most abstract, though the emphasis on the soloist as protagonist in a dialogue with the orchestra again harks back to the Romantic idea of a concerto. The chamber-ensemble versions of pieces by other composers display the composer's ready assimilation of other æsthetics and skill in re-imagining music in a wide range of styles while making it wholly his own, to great advantage. Anne Marie Abildskov (piano), Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR; Thomas Dausgaard, BIT20 Ensemble; Ilan Volkov. Dacapo 8.22010 (Denmark) 03G094 $15.98

LUCIANO BERIO (1925-2003): Epifanie for Female Voice and Orchestra, Coro for Chorus and Orchestra. Two major works by one of the leading contemporary composers of his time - interestingly, these are the original editions, later superseded by Berio's revised editions of both. The composer's innate lyrical sense is constantly present in the soaring vocal lines; the shadowy orchestral texures proclaim throughout that Berio was in many ways among the most direct successors to Mahler even as he was hailed as the darling of the Darmstadt/Donaueschingen avant-garde in the '60s and '70s. Texts in original languages and German translations. Live recordings, Salzburg Festival: 8/19/74 & 8/ 8/77. Cathy Berberian (soprano), Austrian Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Leif Segerstam. Orfeo d'Or C 626 041 B (Germany) 03G095 $16.98

HARRISON BIRTWISTLE (b.1934): The Axe Manual (w/Claire Edwards [percussion]), Oockooing Bird, Sad Song, Berceuse de Jeanne, Précis, Hector's Down, Ostnato with Melody, Betty Freeman: Her Tango, Saraband: The King's Farewell, Harrison's Clocks. This disc is pretty much essential listening for anyone concerned with the development of music in our time. Birtwistle has been composing for the piano (with characteristic economy - this one disc contains his entire extant output for the instrument) throughout his illustrious career (the association in Manchester with John Ogdon can't have hurt - Précis was written for him). Limited in quantity, Birwtistle's piano music nonetheless operates on a very high level of compositional inspiration indeed, and encompasses two of his most striking works - The Axe Manual (with percussion) and Harrison's Clocks written within the last decade. His "Englishness" is displayed in the constant modal references (Oockooing Bird, a rare example of surviving juvenilia, is quite surprising!); his uncompromising individuality is present throughout in the unpredictable jagged lines and ferocious concentration of his tightly-knit textures and melodic structures. Nicolas Hodges (piano). Metronome MET CD 1074 (England) 03G096 $17.98

OSVALDAS BALAKAUSKAS (b.1937): Requiem in memoriam Stasys Lozoraitis. Dating from 1995, Balakauskas' only sacred composition is a straight setting of the Requiem Mass in a rather intimate scale which also owes something of its style (the simple, clear and fervent expression of faith through radiantly clear orchestral and vocal textures) to Messiaen while also having a bit of the contemplative ethos of Tavener or Pärt. Judita Leitaite (mezzo), Vilnius Municipal Choir, Christopher Chamber Orchestra of Vilnius; Donatas Katkus. Naxos 8.557604 (New Zealand) 03G097 $6.98

LEWIS SPRATLAN (b.1940): When Crows Gather, Concertino for Violin and Ensemble, Of Time and the Seasons for Soprano and Ensemble, Zoom. These elegantly assembled scores portray a composer of originality and depth, not without humor. Of Time, on various Finnish texts ranging from the Kalevala to modern poetry, is the most serious and extended work here; highly chromatic but more harmonically and lyrically conventional than the other, 'lighter' works, in which the composer's keen sense of the incongruous and quirky keeps breaking through in abrupt changes of texture and lively rhythmic games, the harmoninc language frequently verging on the atonal (though with references to jazz, blues, ragtime, and hymns). The final movement of Zoom is a lively delight, and throughout the music has an engaging and unexpected quality which keeps the listener guessing. Mark Kaplan (violin), Lucy Shelton (soprano), Sequitur; Paul Hostetter. Albany TROY 725 (U.S.A.) 03G098 $16.98

XAVIER BENGUEREL (b.1931): 7 Stories of La Fontaine for Speaker and 10 Instruments, Astral for Guitar, Piano Four Hands, 2 Percussionists, Cello and Double Bass (Joan Borràs [speaker], Magnus Andersson [guitar], Gruppe Barcelona 216; Ernest Martinez), Music for Percussion and Strings (Xavier Joaquin [percussion], Virtuosi di Praga; Oldrich Vlcek). Benguerel writes music that is polyphonically assured in an idiom which, while unmistakably of our time, is by no means aggressively modern-sounding. Although conventional tonal harmony is not especially important here, phrases and motifs have an unmistakable tonal flavor, especially in the picturesque musical 'illustrations' of the Fontaine fables. This quality of illustrative tone-painting is also present in Astral which, while not programmatic, evokes aspects of the mysteries of the interstellar influence through the skillfully judged interplay of static and dynamic timbres. Sharing more than the outline of its title with Bartók, the strings and percussion work is also highly atmospheric and dramatic. New Classical Adventure MA 98 11 841 (Germany) 03G099 $17.98 >

CLEMENS GADENSTÄTTER (b.1966): Comic Sense. This is a large-scale work in three sections (which are further subdivided),which effectively forms a virtuosic piano concerto. There is no question that the overwhelming impression is of scherzando dynamism, but the composer was a student of Helmut Lachenmann, so the music is as sophisticated and original of texture as that might lead one to expect (the use of a MIDI-keyboard adds to the tonal palette). The guiding principles throughout are the work's incessant, restless energy and the originality of the composer's timbres. Occasional bits of 'slapstick' involving whistles and the like just add to the impression of a multi-faceted work of great sophistication, expertly expounded by a 'narrator' with a great sense of humor. Easy to enjoy on a wide range of levels. Florian Müller (piano), Klangforum Wien; Mark Foster. Kairos 0012452KAI (Austria) 03G100 $15.98

FUMIO YASUDA (b.1953): Imaginary Films for Piano and String Orchestra, Accordion Concerto, Tango in Amesa, Rain Choral, Epitaph 1939, A Song for Lucrezia, Heavenly Blue. Yasuda's music is less New-Ageist than its coffee-table book-like packaging might suggest, but it stays firmly on the lighter side, sometimes suggesting a Baroque concerto spiced up with enough dissonance to make clear its century of origin; at other times (especially in the pieces with the composer as piano soloist) occupying somewhat Prokofiev-like territory or, at other times, Barber (Adagio), Sibelius (Valse triste), Rachmaninov, though with the Warsaw Concerto also hovering uneasily in the background. Bits of the accordion concerto sound as though Messiaen was trying to make a free transcription of The Rite of Springwithout recourse to his own instrument, and having to make do with a borrowed accordion. Fumio Yasuda (piano), Teordor Anzellotti (accordion), Basel Chamber Orchestra; Bernd Ruf. Winter & Winter 910 098-2 (Germany) 03G101 $17.98

MAURICIO KAGEL (b.1931): Die Stücke der Windrose for Salon Orchestra. These pieces form part of a kind of imaginary travelogue, in which Kagel explores (so to speak) not so much the exotic territories alluded to at the points of the compass that give the works their titles, as his ideas of what they might be like. So this is not an exercise in ethnomusicology, and the presence of 'ethnic' instruments - especially percussion - serves mainly to add exotic color to what the composer describes, accurately, as a 'salon orchestra'. Being Kagel, of course, pretty much anything goes, and the impression given by the whole is of being on a cruise the itinerary of which was plotted by a madman, and for which the soundtrack is provided, as in a dream, by an affably demented Palm Court ensemble. Schönberg Ensemble, Amsterdam; Reinbert de Leeuw. Winter & Winter 910 109-2 (Germany) 03G102 $17.98

STEFFEN SCHLEIERMACHER (b.1960): Echo for 5 Pianos, 3 Reconciliations to Heiner Müller, 12 Soundscapes inside the Piano, Lîla. We are used to associating Schleiermacher as a performer of a wide range of avant-garde piano music. His own music? Well, the usual suspects in extended contemporary piano technique are present - percussive effects and direct contact on the strings, clusters, spatial effects (Echo includes a piano positioned at a great distance, among other things - here all 5 parts are played by the composer and multi-tracked). Motoric and aggressive quasi-minimalism and a kind of impressionistic minimalism (rich in sonority and harmony, like Debussy reimagined in terms of Feldman) are also present. The Soundscapes have a didactic element - they are designed to appeal to children while incorporating extended techniques playable by younger students - an interesting idea, and one can easily imagine young pianists finding them a refreshing change from conventional teaching material. Steffen Schleiermacher (piano). MD&G 613 1255-2 (Germany) 03G103 $17.98

JOHN ZORN (b.1953): Rituals. An ensemble work in five movements, concerned with - well, ritual. Although the presentation of the CD is all a bit sub-Lovecraft - the tiny booklet note spends more time on Zorn's alchemical qualifications than his musical ones - the music succeeds on its own terms. Even without the staged elements suggested in the notes, the music has a strong theatrical feel to it, with the inclusion of noise-making items other than conventional instruments, and spatial effects. Eclectic and more or less freely atonal, with its wordless vocalisations and extramusical effects, the piece is strikingly reminiscent of Maxwell Davies' music-theatre pieces of the 1970s, themselves descendents of Pierrot lunaire. Heather Gardner (voice), Tara O'Connor (flute, alto flute, piccolo), Mike Kowenstern (clarinet, bass clarinet, e-flat clarinet), Peter Kolkay (bassoon, contrabassoon), Jim Pugh (trombone), William Winant, Jim Pugliese (percussion, wind machines, water, bull roarers, gravedigging, fishing reels, paper, bowls of bbs, bird calls), Stephen Drury (piano, harpsichord,celeste, organ), Jennifer Choi (violin), Fred Sherry (cello), Kurt Muroki (double bass), Brad Lubman (conductor). Tzadik TZ 8011 (U.S.A.) 03G104 $15.98

CHINARY UNG (b.1942): Spiral VI for Violin, Cello, Clarinet and Piano (Quake), Seven Mirrors for Piano (Gloria Cheng), Grand Alap for Cello and Percussion (Walter Gray [cello], Rob Tucker [percussion]), Grand Spiral for Orchestra (La Jolla Symphony; Harvey Sollberger). Ung achieves a remarkably successful synthesis of Eastern and Western musical styles. Having turned away from Webernian serialism after a decade spent in his native Cambodia, his compositional vocabulary became more accessible, more eclectic and more obviously influenced by traditional Cambodian music. All these works date from the 1990s, well into this later phase of his output. Grand Alap with its ethnic-sounding percussion and chanting by both players, is the most obvious hommage to the composer's background, though a concern with modality is present throughout, as is a richly colorful use of instrumental timbre. Both are especially thoroughly treated in the orchestral work Grand Spiral, a most impressive piece of great originality and restless musical narrative. The virtuosic Seven Mirrors seamlessly melds postmodern piano writing with exotic-sounding harmonies and an unfamiliar use of register and sonority, clearly pointing to the composer's original and evocative use of influences from his background. New World 80619-2 (U.S.A.) 03G105 $16.98

Yet another new British Light Music series...

JOHN FOX (b.1924): Characters from the Fairy Tales, Strings in 3/4, PHILIP LANE (b.1950): Spring in Vermont, Anaiis (both for piano and orchestra), HERBERT CHAPPELL (b.1934): Theme from The Pallisers, ADAM LANGSTON (b.1982): Gentle Rains, CARLO MARTELLI (b.1935): Jubilee March, Cock Linnett, GAVIN SUTHERLAND (b.1972): Air für zwei (piano and orchestra), PETER LAWSON (b.1951): Baroque Autumn, ADAM SAUNDERS (b.1968): The Magic Kingdom, GEOFFREY WRIGHT (b.1912): 3 Neapolitan Dances. So, now Dutton is into the increasingly crowded Light Music field with, at least, a group of mostly young (some very young) composers. The Chappell recording comes from 1974 but the remainder are 1998-2004. Royal Ballet Sinfonia, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra; Gavin Sutherland, Julian Bigg, Antony Askew, Neil Thomson and his Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra; Marcus Dods. Dutton Epoch CDLX 7147 (England) 03G106 $18.98

New Release - Film Music Classics

DIMITRI TIOMKIN (1894-1979): Red River. Previously not available on Marco Polo in the U.S. due to copyright problems over the poster used on the rest-of-world cover released in 2003, this 1948 film score finally arrives at budget-price. The documentation lacks the photos and movie posters of the old Marco Polo series but there are still more than 10 pages of notes and appreciations. Moscow Symphony Choir and Orchestra; William Stromberg. Naxos 8.557699 (New Zealand) 03G107 $6.98

Film Music Classics - Marco Polo titles reissued at budget-price

For those of you who didn't splurge on everything Marco Polo had to offer in its film-score series, here's the first batch of reissues on Naxos.

ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892-1955): Les Misérables. Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Adriano. Original 1989 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557486 (New Zealand) 03G108 $6.98

GEORGES AURIC (1899-1983): La Belle et la Bête. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Adriano. Original 1996 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557707 (New Zealand) 03G109 $6.98

MAX STEINER (1888-1971): King Kong. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William Stromberg. Original 1997 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557700 (New Zealand) 03G110 $6.98

ADOLPH DEUTSCH (1897-1980): The Maltese Falcon, George Washington Slept Here, The Mask of Dimitrios, High Sierra, Northern Pursuit. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William Stromberg. Original 2002 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557701 (New Zealand) 03G111 $6.98

FRANZ WAXMAN (1906-1967): Objective, Burma! Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William Stromberg. Original 2000 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557706 (New Zealand) 03G112 $6.98

FRANK SKINNER (1897-1968): Son of Frankenstein, SKINNER & HANS J. SALTER (1896-1994): The Invisible Man Returns, The Wolf Man (with Charles Previn). Moscow Symphony Orchestra; William Stromberg. Original 1995 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557705 (New Zealand) 03G113 $6.98

BERNARD HERRMANN (1911-1975) & ALFRED NEWMAN (1900-1970): The Egyptian. Moscow Symphony Choir and Orchestra; William Stromberg. Original 1999 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557702 (New Zealand) 03G114 $6.98

VICTOR YOUNG (1900-1956): Scaramouche, MAX STEINER (1888-1971): The Three Musketeers, ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (1897-1957): Captain Blood, MIKLÓS RÓZSA (1907-1995): The King's Thief. Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Potsdam; Richard Kaufman. Original 1995 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557704 (New Zealand) 03G115 $6.98

WOJCIECH KILAR (b.1932): Bram Stoker's Dracula, König der letzten Tage, Death and the Maiden, The Beads of One Rosary, Pearl in the Crown. Cracow Philharmonic Chorus, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Antoni Wit. Original 2003 Marco Polo release. Naxos 8.557703 (New Zealand) 03G116 $6.98