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Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

ASGER HAMERIK (1843-1923): Symphony No. 3 in E, Op. 33 "Symphonie lyrique", Symphony No. 4 in C, Op. 35 "Symphonie majestueuse". At last, the second volume in Dacapo's cycle of symphonies from this Danish Romantic arrives! The wait is worth it: the third symphony (1883-84), employing Berlioz' concept of the idée fixe throughout, opens with strong echoes of the slow introduction to Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 before unfolding a sunny, lyrical Mendelssohnian first movement. A vivacious, punchy scherzo is followed by a slow movement which has the tread of a weighty, serious march (possibly funereal but not obviously so) before the final allegro con spirito banishes all thoughts of gravity or gloom. The fourth symphony (1888-89), Hamerik's most popular among his native countrymen (remember that all Hamerik's symphonies were composed in Baltimore while he was heading the Peabody Institute) also uses an idée fixe - a motif sounding vaguely like a national anthem of sorts . Almost a twin of its predecessor, it has a more outsize, swaggering feel to it and the same sense of vigor, rude health and vitality. We hope the wait for No. 5 won't be as long! Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224088 (Denmark) 03A001 $14.98

EDGAR HOVHANESSIAN (b.1930): Marmar - Ballet Suite No. 1, Op. 15a, Symphony No. 3 for Strings and Percussion. Hovhanessian (Oganesian in the former transliterated Russian orthography) studied under Yeghiazarian and Khachaturian and the latter's full-blooded, Technicolor rendition of Armenian folk themes in his ballets is easily matched by the splendor of the suite from the 1963 ballet Marmar. The orchestra is huge and the orchestration as colorful and enjoyable as anything the great Armenian master composed. Dating from 1983, the symphony (which received its premiere only in 1996 by the present forces) is made of sterner stuff: the first movement is aRicercar and the last a Chaconne with a Menuet in between. The baroque forms are combined with Armenian folk music inspiration in what amounts to a concerto for percussion and orchestra, the music rich in vigorous, powerful climaxes, expressive contadictions and periodic explosions of accumulated energy. Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra; Loris Tjeknavorian. ASV DCA 1033 (England) 03A002 $16.98

HUMPHREY SEARLE (1915-1982): Symphony No. 1, Op. 23, Symphony No. 4, Op. 38, Night Music, Op. 2, Overture to a Drama, Op. 17. Searle represents a fascinating mass of contradictions, all the more surprising given his historical and geographical position - quite simply, there was no one else exploring the territory he made his own during the post-war years in England. An avowed romantic in outlook, and a major authority on Liszt, he was nonetheless the only major British composer of his generation to whole-heartedly embrace dodecaphony (from a strict, Webernian standpoint, though his actual music often has more of the expansive expressionism we associate with Berg). Both symphonies presented here are very dramatic and bold, though the first is far more lushly expressionistic, the second a study in Webernian economy, though with the same dark, even violent, undercurrents. Night Music was the composer's tribute to Webern, and shows in embryo the path Searle's mature music was to take. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Alun Francis. CPO 999 541 (Germany) 03A003 $15.98

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-1996): String Quartets Vol. 4 - No. 10, Op. 102, No. 11, Op. 111 & No. 12, Op. 116. We now go into the second half of the 20th century's most important collection of string quartets (20 in all); Holmboe's sharply forumulated elegance, economic mastery of the art of musical conversation, discreet humor and balanced refinement in the treatment of the quartet medium - all in his special Nordic tonally based, diatonic idiom - make for utterly satisfying listening. No. 10 (1969) is one of his longest, densest and most expansive pieces, No. 11 (from 1972 and subtitled Rustico) sharp, clear and straightforward and No. 12 (1973) a fine example of his Bartokian five-movement arch form. Kontra Quartet. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224101 (Denmark) 03A004 $14.98

WALTER PISTON (1894-1976): Symphony No. 6, Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, Concerto for Orchestra, Concerto for String Quartet, Winds and Percussion. A real rarity here is the Soviet recording of the sixth symphony (1955) from around 1962 - actually the first stereo recording of the work - which shows a remarkable affinity with the music and whose sound is far more brilliant and detailed than either of today's current digital alternatives. Piston's last work, the 1976 concerto for string quartet et al. is as angular and grave in turn as anything he wrote when younger; as counterweights, we also have the 1933 concerto for orchestra (in its only available recording) and the 1937 Concertino - both with neo-classical elements with a bit of jazz as well in the former. Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Gauk, Marjorie Mitchell (piano), Göteborg Symphony Orchestra; William Strickland, Polish National Radio Orchestra; William Strickland, Emerson String Quartet, Juilliard Orchestra; Sixten Ehrling. Citadel CTD 88134 (U.S.A.) 03A005 $14.98

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975): Concertino in A Minor, Op. 94, Suite in F Sharp Minor, Op. 6, Tarantella from The Gadfly, Waltz and Polka from The Golden Age, IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971): Concerto per due pianoforte soli, SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953): Schubert Waltzes (suite), GRIGORASCH DINICU (1889-1949): Hora staccato (arr. P. Vladigerov). A sprightly collection of two-piano music including Shostakovich's early but astonishingly mature Suite op. 6 which predates the first symphony, usually hailed as the most extraordinary example of his youthful prodigiousness. The Prokofiev arrangement is actually a transcription or conflation of several Schubert works into a suite, with harmonic additions by Prokofiev that Schubert never thought of, though appropriate to and respectful of the originals. Vladigerov's arrangement of Dinicu's popular violin encore makes a virtuosic and lively encore. Klavierduo Genova & Dimitrov. CPO 999 599 (Germany) 03A006 $15.98

GEORGE ROCHBERG (b.1918): String Quartets Nos. 3-6. Looking back on it, Rochberg's set of "Concord Quartets" (Nos. 4-6 from 1977-78) and his Third from 1971, proved to be a turning point in the cycle which saw the decline of serial and aleatory composition and the birth of the "New Romanticism". Galvanized by the death of his teen-age sone from a brain tumor, Rochberg realized that the serial music he was writing did not allow him to sufficiently express his feelings. The result, in Quartet No. 3, was a 48-minute piece of anguished emotion couched in a combination of tonal and atonal idioms but dispensing with academic serial writing. The third movement variations are as shattering an experience as anything in late Beethoven. This tension between consonance and dissonance permeates the "Concord Quartets", making for a historic set of chamber works whose importance can only grow with the passage of time. 2 CDs. Concord String Quartet. New World 80551 (U.S.A.) 03A007 $33.98

J.P.E. HARTMANN (1805-1900): Overtures to Yrsa, Op. 78, Axel og Valborg, Op. 57, Hakon Jarl, Op. 40, Correggio, Op. 59, Guldhornene, Op. 11. 49 years separate the earliest from the latest works on this disc but they all have the characteristic Nordic flavor which Hartmann imparted to his incidental music and programmatic overtures and which manifests itself in dark, brooding introductions which recall the times of Viking legend. All these works were written for or inspired by poems and plays of the famous Danish literary figure Oehlenschläger (Guldhornene is a melodrama from 1832 and contains the most strikingly early Romantic music - on a par with some of Weber) and all are imbued with the spirit of romance and adventure and colorfully orchestrated. Bodil Udsen (recitation), Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224097 (Denmark) 03A008 $14.98

PETER TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893): Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 44, Piano Concerto No. 3 in E Flat, Op. Posth. 73 (original version in 3 movements), Fantaisie de Concert in G, Op. 56, "Zigeunerweisen", Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra in F Minor (1892), Allegro in C Minor, Edison Wax Cylinder with Voice of Tchaikovsky. This box-set contains the first-ever recordings of the absolutely original versions of all of Tchaikovsky's works for piano and orchestra (collectors with the Lazar Berman/Koch Schwann Concerto No. 1 will want to know that Berman disregards many of the tempo markings in the original score). Most of the differences involve changes in articulation, dynamics and tempi along with textual modifications (and, sometimes, wholescale deletions) which were made by various individuals (friends of the composer and otherwise including pianists with their own axes to grind) after Tchaikovsky's death. The third concerto is in its original three-movement form (here lasting over 45 minutes) with the original piano part (currently available recordings use the single-movement version of roughly 16 minutes). Listeners will notice the slow tempi first of all: everything is broader, more majestic and monumental. Indeed, as one of the several note-writers puts it, these works emerge quite like "symphonies with piano", shorn of the superficial salon-style virtuosity which the many post-mortem "modifications" produced. The Zigeunerweisen are none other than the Sophie Menter "Bohemian Melodies" which appeared in Hyperion's Volume 53b of the Complete Liszt Edition. The strictures regarding tempi seem to apply here too, even though the work was just discovered and this release claims to have the "world premiere recording" since this version is over six minutes longer than Leslie Howard's. There is much to digest here; piano collectors will have a grand time doing it! 3 CDs. Andrei Hoteev (piano), Tchaikovsky Radio Symphony Orchestra Moscow; Vladimir Fedoseyev. Koch Schwann 3-6490-2 (Germany) 03A009 $50.98

ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV (1865-1936): Coronation Cantata, Op. 56, Symphony No. 2 in F Sharp Minor, Op. 16. First CD recording of Glazunov's 1895 cantata celebrating the coronation of what would prove to be Russia's last Tsar; the program of the text was progress inspired by the West and there is some Wagnerian influence in places. The four soloists represent the compass points of the Russian empire and their music contains a significant amount of Russian folk elements. The Glazunov of The Seasons and Raymonda also gets a look-in here and there while a rousing finale pays tribute to Glinka's epilogue of A Life for the Tsar. Olga Lutsiv-Ternovskaya (soprano), Ludmila Kuznetsova (mezzo), Vsevolod Grivnov (tenor), Dmitri Stepanovich (bass), Russian State Symphonic Capella and Symphony Orchestra; Valeri Polyansky. Chandos 9709 (England) 03A010 $16.98

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958): The Pilgrim Pavement for Organ and Chorus, The 23rd Psalm (arr. Churchill for Chorus), Valiant-for-truth for Chorus, Hymn-tune Prelude on Song 13 by Orlando Gibbons for Strings, Prelude and Fugue in C Minor for Organ and Orchestra, Symphony No. 5. Chandos embarks upon a new Vaughan Williams symphony cycle with this thoughtfully thematically arranged disc. The fifth symphony, Valiant-for-truth (1940) and The 23rd Psalm (from the opera and here presented in a 1953 arrangement for soprano and mixed chorus) all have origins in music for Pilgrim's Progress, that work which occupied the composer for 45 years of his life. Luminous and contemplative, the symphony contains much material taken directly from the opera. The Pilgrim Pavement was a 1934 commission for a dedication in St. John the Divine (New York) and receives its first recording here. Ian Watson (organ), Richard Hickox Singers, London Symphony Orchestra; Richard Hickox. Chandos 9666 (England) 03A011 $16.98

CHARLES IVES (1874-1954): Three-Page Sonata, Studies Nos. 6-9, 15, 16/19, 20-23, Set of Five Take-Offs, CARL RUGGLES (1876-1971): Evocations: Four Chants for Piano. Berman studied under Ives scholar and editor John Kirkpatrick and was left a batch of partially edited manuscripts when the latter died in 1991. Part of his work on these has given us this set which offers 11 of Ives' mostly little-recorded Studies, several grouped together as Ives seems to have intended (15, 16/19 and 23 apparently were meant to form a triptych). The Set of Five Take-Offs (1906) was collected by Kirkpatrick and is a typically bizarre collection of Ivesian dissonance, odd phrase-lengths, rhythmic play and wild stylistic juxtapositions which will delight all Ives collectors. Ruggles' Evocations (two of which are dedicated to Ives and Kirkpatrick) are an appropriate filler with their dense chromaticism, tone rows and generally rough-hewn musical demeanor. Donald Berman (piano). CRI CD 811 (U.S.A.) 03A012 $16.98

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992): La Muerte del Angel, Las 4 Estaciones Porteñas for Piano and Strings, Melodía, Fuga y Misterio for Strings and Piano, BERNARDO STALMAN (b.1910): Compadrito Enamorado for Violin and Strings, Machacando, Pizzicato Milongueado. Las 4 Estaciones Porneñas is a tango The Four Seasons, evoking life in the port of Buenos Aires through the four seasons in true sad, sensuous tango language. Fuga y Misterio is an adaptation of music from Piazzolla's tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires. Stalman was a violinist and founding member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina and his Compadrito Enamorado uses a solo violin; the other two works, for strings, reflect his background also as a member of tango and jazz ensembles. Roberto Sawicki (violin), Adrián Kreda (piano), Orchestre de Lancy-Geneve; Roberto Sawicki. Doron DRC 1003 (Switzerland) 03A013 $16.98

LEOPOLD KOZELUCH (1747-1818): Symphonies in D, G Minor and F. The "Contemporaries of Mozart" series now moves to the Bohemian Kozeluch, whose D major symphony is new to CD. The latter has an arresting slow opening and a strapping minuet with a finale full of Haydnesque wit; the G minor has the dramatic, tense and agitated spirit of its counterparts in the same key by J.C. Bach, Mozart, Vanhal and Haydn. London Mozart Players; Matthias Bamert. Chandos 9703 (England) 03A014 $16.98

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1778): The Solo Keyboard Music, Vol. 3 - Sonata in D Minor, Wq.65/3, Sonata in E Flat, Wq.65/7, 6 Sonatinas, Wq.64/1-6. These early sonatas, dating from 1732-36, were much revised by Bach later in life but still retain much of their early mixture of galant and Italianate style with soft melodic lines, relaxed character and witty short final movements. Miklós Spányi (clavichord). BIS CD-882 (Sweden) 03A015 $17.98

GEORG MUFFAT (1653-1704): Florilegium Primum - 1695 (Fasciculi I-VII). Florilegium Primum represents the first attempt by an Austrian musician to introduce French dance forms to his country (at the time, the predominating influences in Austria were Italian). Thus, we have here seven suites of French baroque dance forms of quite various types (canaries, gigue, bourrée, chaconne, gavotte and more) in finely honed interpretations by one of Central Europe's finest baroque composers. Ars Antiqua Austria; Gunar Letzbor. Symphonia SY 98160 (Italy) 03A016 $18.98

GIACOMO PUCCINI (senior) (1712-1781): La Confederazione dei Sabini con Roma. Maria Billeri (mezzo), Susanna Rigacci (soprano), Polifonica Lucchese, "Luigi Boccherini" Chamber Orchestra; Herbert Handt. Bongiovanni GB 2227 (Italy) 03A017 $16.98

LUIGI BOCCHERINI (1743-1805): La Confederazione dei Sabini con Roma. William Mateuzzi (baritone), Anna Valenti (soprano), Polifonica Lucchese, "Luigi Boccherini" Chamber Orchestra; Herbert Handt. Bongiovanni GB 2226 (Italy) 03A018 $16.98

The tasche was an election for the government of Lucca, held every two years, for which composers were required to set librettos in praise of liberty drawn from classical history. There was one for each of the three days the elections took and Bongiovanni have enterprisingly provided us with two settings from 1765 (Boccherini's for the first day and Puccini's for the second). Consisiting of an overture (used again in 1775 for Boccherini's first published symphony), a series of recitatives and arias, a chorus and concluding symphony, these pieces display Puccini's well-crafted late Baroque style and the young Boccherini's emerging pre-classical one.

GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI (1697-1763): Keyboard Sonatas Nos. 13-18. Born in Venice, Platti spent his entire career from 1722 in Würzburg where, among many concertos for harpsichord and cello, he wrote 18 keyboard sonatas. The six recorded here probably date from 1747-49, when he retired, and contain an always arresting mixture of Venetian, galant and, at time, pre-classical styles which attest to an original, experimental mind. Francesco Libetta (piano). Agora AG 168.1 (Italy) 03A019 $16.98

GASPARE SPONTINI (1774-1851): La petite sorcière, Rêve de l'orient, Le reins d'amour, Le chant de Mignon, Être aimé, L'inconstance, L'adieu, Il faut mourir, Il reviendra, Sentiments d'amour Nos. 1 & 2, Le départ, L'hereux gondolier, Sul ciglio tuo severo. Most of Spontini's chamber songs were composed for the French salons of Napoleon's time (1805-1814), when song was considered the most noble musical expression and refined elegance the best means of communication. These are delightful miniatures which marry words to music and provide a coloratura voice with much opportunity to sparkle and win hearts. French texts. Valeria Esposito (soprano), Luca Gorla (piano). Dynamic S 2012 (Italy) 03A020 $13.98

JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Fantasie in E Flat, Op. 18, 7 Hungarian Dances, Op. 23, Variations in B Flat on a Dutch Song, Op. 21, Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 20. Volume One of what could be a very valuable series brings us four works from 1805-07: rarely heard are the Fantasie, striking in its improvisatory writing and loose, romantic structure, the Hungarian Dances (in the vein of Schubert's similar compositions) and the Variations - all speed and lightness with a mixture of elaborate counterpoint. Giuliana Corni (piano). Dynamic S 2023 (Italy) 03A021 $13.98

DOMÉNEC TERRADELLAS (1713-1751): Overture to Sesostri, Quel sasso for Soprano, Strings and Continuo, Nocturna procella for Soprano and Orchestra, Tradita sprezzata for Soprano, Strings and Continuo, Duo for 2 Sopranos, Strings and Continuo, Fra l'ombre del timore (aria from Sesostri), JOSEP FÀBREGA (?-1791): Symphony in C. Terradellas was a Catalan composer who made his career in Italy (and whose fame was wide, as attested by the geographical distribution of his manuscripts) and whose works are wholly Italianate in style, showing a flair for dramatic intensity and vivd characterization in Nocturna procella, a metaphorical motet about a ship (the soul) caught in a storm at sea and in the aria from his last and greatly successful opera Sesostri. Fàbrega toiled in obscurity in Spain but his symphony shows the sophistication of the high Classical period. Fine, sharply characterized period instrument performances. Carme Cusidó, Laurie Reviol (sopranos), José Romero (sopranista), Concerto Brandenburg; Gregor DuBuclet. La Mà de Guido LMG2028 (Spain) 03A022 $17.98

IGNAZ LACHNER (1807-1895): String Quartets, Vol. 3 - String Quartet in C, Op. 54, String Quartet in G, Op. 104. No firm dates can be attached to Lachner's quartets but he was such a conservative composer, following the lead of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert all of his compositional life, that they are not germane to their appreciation. The C major quartet - more than twice as long as its disc companion - is a marvellously Schubertian work, full of song-like melodies and, in the quicksilver, galloping scherzo, tangy echoes of folk music. Virtuoso parts for the first violin and the cello recall the early Romantic vogue for concertante quartet writing. In contrast, the G major work is brief, plain and unadorned in the manner of true folksong and it includes, indeed, many formal elements of instrumental folk music (as well as a quote from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony). Rodin Quartet. Amati ami 9704/1 (Germany) 03A023 $17.98

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 20 - IGNAZ BRÜLL

IGNAZ BRÜLL (1846-1907): Piano Concerto No. 1 in F, Op. 10, Piano Concerto No. 2 in C, Op. 24, Andante and Allegro, Op. 88. Brüll's first concerto is the work of a 15-year-old, firmly in the conservative-classical school of Schumann and Mendelssohn and amazing in its mature handling of the orchestra. The second (1868) is built along the lines of Beethoven's fourth piano concerto but shows the composer's finest melodic inspiration with themes that remain in the mind (the first theme is quite Brahmsian and the finale's has a touch of Meyerbeer) and which are worked elegantly and satisfyingly. This concerto, first heard, sounds as if one has known it for quite a while already. The late Andante and Allegro (1902) has a devotional, introspective first movement but the finale bustles as brightly as ever and just as if it were still 1850. Martin Roscoe (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins. Hyperion CDA 67069 (England) 03A024 $17.98

HENRI COLLET (1885-1951): Album d'Espagne, El Escorial, Op. 22, 5 Chants de Castille, Op. 42, 4 Danzas Castellanas, Op. 75, "Clavelitos" (danses gitanes), Op. 87. The critic and founder of "Les Six" made his CD debut as a composer last August with a Claves disc of concerted and orchestral works (08A009) inspired by his life-long love of Spain. Here is a CD premiere of over an hour's worth of similarly sun-drenched Spanish genre pieces for piano covering the period 1910-45, all full of the colors, rhythms and flavors of the Iberian peninsula. All are sets of songs or dances except 1910's El Escorial, described as a "symphonic poem for piano" which is an 8-minute miniature concerto full of the same varied canvas of colors, rhythmic intoxication and sparkling pianism. A must for any Iberophile! Isabelle Oehmichen (piano). Marcal Classics 981001 (France) 03A025 $18.98

CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Les Chants de Nectaire for Flute Solo, Op. 198-200 (selections). At the age of 77, during the dark, pivotal year for Europe of 1944, Koechlin wrote 96 pieces for solo flute, inspired by Anatole France's angel Nectaire whose flute-playing was able to cure grief and fatigue. This selection of 25 provides a remarkable example of Koechlin's ingenuity and invention in writing for a seemingly "limited" instrument and producing beautiful music, full of grace and soothing balm. Christina Singer (flute). Bayer BR 100 106 (Germany) 03A026 $17.98

ADOLF BUSCH (1891-1952): Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Schubert, Op. 2 for 2 Pianos, HANS KOESSLER (1853-1926): Symphonic Variations for Piano Four Hands, MAX REGER (1873-1916): Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Beethoven, Op. 86 for 2 Pianos. Three generations of mighty works for piano duet and two pianos: Koessler's conservative, Brahmsian variations (transcribed from an orchestral original) represent the 19th century status quo while Reger's dense thicket of contrapuntal lattice-work based on Beethoven's last op. 119 Bagatelle provided the opportunity for the admiring emulation of the 18-year-old soon-to-be famous violinist whose own almost carbon-copy uses the main theme from the last movement of Schubert's A major sonata. Zsuzsanna Kollár & Gabriella Láng (pianos). Koch Schwann 3-1230-2 (Germany) 03A027 $16.98

ARNOLD MENDELSSOHN (1855-1933): Geistliche Chormusik, Op. 90. A nephew of Felix Mendelssohn and a teacher of Hindemith, Arnold Mendelssohn is credited with the renewal of interest in Germany of Lutheran church music by promoting the music of Bach and Schütz and by composing in purer and more polyphonic style than the romanticized styles of his contemporaries. The motets which make up the Geistliche Chormusik of 1926 are a fine example of his individual style. Berliner Vokalensemble; Bernd Stegmann. Cantate C 58005 (Germany) 03A028 $14.98

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Complete Sibelius, Vol. 43 - Karelia Suite, Op. 11 (original scoring), King Christian II, Op. 27 (original scoring), Pelléas and Melisande, Op. 46 (original scoring). This massive project keeps rolling along with the first complete recordings of the original scoring of King Christian II and Pelléas and Melisande. It may be the case that only Sibelius specialists who own the scores will be able to fully appreciate the differences but, as helplessly inveterate collectors ourselves, we offer this recording to others like us. Swedish-English texts. Anna-Lisa Jakobsson (mezzo), Raimo Laukka (baritone), Lahti Symphony Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä. BIS CD-918 (Sweden) 03A029 $17.98

CHARLES TOMLINSON GRIFFES (1884-1920): Complete Piano Works, Vol. 1 -Sonata, 3 Tone-Pictures, Op. 5, De Profundis, Roman Sketches, Op. 7, A Winter Landscape, Rhapsody in B Minor, Barcarolle, Legend in F Sharp Minor, Prelude in B Minor. The 15-year-old Griffes' Chopinesque prelude, the Wagnerian A Winter Landscape and an arrangement of Offenbach's famous Barcarolle receive their first recordings while the remainder of the program traces a progress from late Romanticism through Impressionism to his original, late (1919) sonata. Michael Lewin (piano). Naxos 8.559023 (New Zealand) 03A030 $5.98

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949): The Unknown Richard Strauss, Vol. 3 - Symphony in D Minor, AV 69, Symphony in F Minor, Op. 12. The 16-year-old Strauss' D Minor symphony could easily be a newly discovered work by Schumann, Mendelssohn or Weber; this 1986 recording is now reissued with a new recording of the 1883 symphony which, while still not containing any intimations of the mature composer, is still a very entertaining work with flavors of Brahms and Bruckner added to the early Romantic mix. Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Karl Anton Rickenbacher. Koch Schwann 3-6532-2 (Germany) 03A031 $16.98

LEO SOWERBY (1895-1968): Classic Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, Medieval Poem for Soprano, Organ and Orchestra, Pageant for Organ, Festival Musick. Formerly available at full-price on Marco Polo, this collection contains two works written for E. Power Biggs - the brash and brightly scored Festival Musick (1953) and the traditional and contrapuntally oriented Classic Concerto of 1944. The Medieval Poem (1926) captures an atmosphere of divine mystery. David Craighead, David Mulbury (organ), The Fairfield Orchestra; John Welsh. Naxos 8.559028 (New Zealand) 03A032 $5.98


SAVERIO MERCADANTE (1795-1870): Elena da Feltre. This work dates from 1839 and the height of its composer's career. Mercadante's so-called "reform" period began around 1832 when he renounced his previous, backward-looking style based on 18th century models such as Cimarosa and Paisiello. Doing away with facile, crowd-pleasing and showy effects, he began to compose works in which the drama and its continuity were paramount (there is not a single aria for Elena in this opera!), simplifying the vocal lines and reaching a peak of 19th century Italian instrumentation in his writing for the orchestra. The tale of frustrated and star-crossed love is set in 13th century northern Italy and the libretto is by Cammarano (who provided Donizetti with Lucia di Lammermoor and Poliuto and Verdi with Luisa Miller and Il trovatore). An important release which shows a gifted composer taking a similar path to that of Verdi. Although the latter was able to triumphantly break through established tradition and found a new one of his own, Mercadante's contemporaries recognized his originality and importance even if posterity has not been so kind. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Monica Colonna (soprano), Nicola Ulivieri (bass), Cesare Catani (tenor), Wexford Festival Opera Chorus, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; Maurizio Benini. Marco Polo 8.225064-65 (New Zealand) 03A033 $29.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Complete Music for Solo Piano, Vol. 54: Liszt at the Opera VI - Grande fantaisie sur la tyrolienne de La fiancée (first version), S385i, Ernani - Première paraphrase de concert, S431a, Réminiscences des Huguenots (second version), S412ii, Fantaisie sur des motifs favoris de l'opéra La sonnambula (first version), S393i, Marche des Tcherkesses de l'opéra Rouslan et Loudmila de Glinka (first version), S406i, Valse à capriccio sur deux motifs de lucia et Parisina (first version), S401, Ouvertüre zu R. Wagners Tannhäuser, S442, Réminiscences des Puritains (second version), S390ii, Fantaise über Themen aus Webers Der Freischütz, S451, Réminiscences de La Scala, S458. All first recordings except for the Ernani paraphrase and Wagner's Tannhäuser overture, bringing to a total of twelve the CDs packed with operatic transcriptions, paraphrases and fantasies. This is by far the most important body of works of this kind in the whole literature and leaves us to marvel at the range, scope of invention and reinvention of the composer - not to mention the sheer number of operas he attended or conducted! (This might be a good place to mention that in an upcoming catalogue (perhaps May), we will start a series on a little start-up Swedish label called Polymnia which will contain the complete piano works of Sigmund Thalberg - most of which are operatic transcriptions, paraphrases and fantasies as well.) 2 CDs. Leslie Howard (piano). Hyperion CDA 67406/7 (England) 03A034 $35.98

DENNIS BUSCH (b.1947): Symphony No. 67 in D, Op. 334, Piano Concerto No. 27 in F, Op. 203, Flute Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 386. What is this release doing on this page, you ask? Well, Dennis Busch (an incredibly prolific composer as the opus numbers above show) writes in the style of Rossini. He is not a contemporary composer who writes in a tonal idiom for the 20th century orchestra; he is a 20th century composer who writes not only in the style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but for that period's orchestras also. See if you don't think that this might be what Rossini would have done had he been a symphonist and had he not retired from composition for a large chunk of his life... Jindra Krampernová (piano), Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Robert Black, Robert Stankovsky, Petr Dzurikcová (flute), Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Vit Micka. MMC 2049 (U.S.A.) 03A035 $16.98

CHARLES-JOSEPH VAN HELMONT (1715-1790): Missa Solemnis Sanctai Gudilae, PIERRE-HERCULE BRÉHY (1673-1737): Resurrexit amore meus, Scapulis suis, Jubilate Deo, Isti sunt triumphatores, PIETRO ANTONIO FIOCCO (c.1650-1714): Fuge demon, fuge lepra. Van Helmont spent 36 years of his life at a small church in Flanders, turning out much sacred music which, like this mass from 1745, shows heavy Italianate influences, highly ornamented melodies and rather difficult string parts. Bréhy was his teacher and his four motets show a characteristic blending of French and Italian styles. Capella Currende, Concerto Currende; Erik van Nevel. Eufoda 1259 (Belgium) 03A036 $18.98

VINCENZO BELLINI (1801-1835): Mass No. 2 in G Minor, GIUSEPPE GEREMIA (1732-1814): Missa pro defunctis, Tantum ergo. Bellini's second mass apparently dates from around 1825 and shows a greater complexity, more refined and less theatrical than his A Minor mass 1821 although his expressive use of the text bespeaks a future master of the stage. Geremia was a fellow Catanian and his mass (1809) blends liturgical and theatrical elements with an expressive lyrical beauty. Katia Ricciarelli (soprano), Francesca Aparo (alto), Salvatore Fisichella (tenor), Furio Zanasi (baritone), Camerata Polifonica Siciliana; Douglas Bostock. Classico CLASSCD 225 (Denmark) 03A037 $14.98

FRÉDÉRIC KALKBRENNER (1785-1849): Grand Septuor in A for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet , Horn, Bassoon, Cello and Double Bass, Op. 132, Grand Quintetto in A Minor for Piano, Clarinet, Horn, Cello and Double Bass, Op. 81. In these works of 1836 and 1826, respectively, Kalk-brenner's style of providing elaborate melodies embroidered with much piano virtuosity in an atmosphere of great elegance and taste is well demonstrated. The quintet is a mini-concerto with a brilliant solo part and accompaniment which sounds like a reduction from orchestral score; the septet was one of the most popular works of its time with the ensemble enjoying its own soloistic opportunities. Claudius Tanski (piano), Consortium Classicum. MD&G 301 0808 (Germany) 03A038 $17.98

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)/JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Symphony No. 38 in D, K.504, Symphony No. 41 in C, K.551. Our first catalogue in July of 1997 offered Hummel's transcriptions of Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 35 and 36 on Boston Skyline and now MD&G follows up happily without overlap with these vigorous accounts of two large-scale and dramatic symphonies which translate surprisingly well to the combination of piano, flute, violin and cello. Robert Hill (fortepiano), Ensemble L'Ottocento. MD&G 605 0858 (Germany) 03A039 $17.98

HILDING ROSENBERG (1892-1985): Orpheus in Town, Op. 75, Prelude to The Last Judgement, Op. 48. Here is the first-ever recording of the complete ballet music from Orpheus in Town (1938) in which Orpheus comes to present-day Stockholm to search for Eurydice, making his way around various city landmarks. The music has its basis in the playful, neo-classical language of Rosenberg's piano pieces of the late 20s and early 30s but there is also a uniquely personal character to it which has something of "serious" Central European music of the day. The Dance Suite which was excerpted from this ballet has long been one of Rosenberg's most popular pieces. The Last Judgement, a ballet from 1929 whose plot was judged too blasphemous for production, is represented by its prelude which goes from an impressively massive funeral march to a hectic Polska in the space of seven minutes. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; B Tommy Andersson, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Petter Sundkvist. Phono Suecia/Musica Sveciae PSCD 702 (Sweden) 03A040 $16.98

HILDING ROSENBERG (1892-1985): Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Until the death of the pianist to whom Rosenberg had given fair copies of two complete movements, it was not known that the composer had written two piano concertos. The second (1950) has a bold and energetic first movement with Bartók never far away, an elegiac andante tranquillo which slowly accelerates into a prestissimo and a finale with much brilliance and virtuosity which ends in a tranquil scene. But the first concerto, dating from 1930, opens with an explosion of primitive power with the piano part like a symphonic toccata. Strong brass parts and prominent percussion add to the powerful effect while the second movement is calm and contemplative with a majestic processional at its center. Mats Widlund (piano), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Petter Sundkvist. Daphne 1006 (Sweden) 03A041 $16.98

NIKOS SKALKOTTAS (1904-1949): Mayday Spell - A Fairy Drama, Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra, 3 Greek Dances for Strings. All these works are world premiere recordings: Mayday Spell dates from 1944-49 and was written, uncommissioned, as incidental music for a play whose romantic literary style and subject matter of fairies and human-fairy love would seem at odds with the composer's modernism. Unique in Skalkottas' output, this work combines tonality with and within atonality (Greek folk elements are skillfully woven into atonal movements) into a narrative structure which is both entertaining and moving. The double bass concerto (1942) uses a huge orchestra and contains many arresting effects as well a wit and subtle nuances; the three dances are particularly striking examples of Skalkottas' ingeniously modern treatments of material coming from an old, oral tradition. Vassilis Papavassiliou (double bass), Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Nikos Christodoulou. BIS CD-954 (Sweden) 03A042 $17.98

MAURICE KARKOFF (b.1927): Dolorous Symphony (Symphony No. 9), Op. 149, Sinfonia della vita (Symphony No. 11), Op. 202, Glühende Ratsel, Op. 117 for Soprano and Piano, 9 Chinese Songs, Op. 173 for Soprano and Piano. Karkoff's music is rich and inventive, and has encompassed many genres and styles in the course of his long and distinguished career. The compact and weighty ninth symphony is reminiscent of Pettersson in its dark-hued pessimism, though Karkoff is less insistent on forcing his listeners to share his nightmares. As with the other works here, a strong linear element pertains, with harmony functional yet spare, based on open, stark intervallic relationships. The eleventh symphony is lighter and more optimistic in mood - nature music, from the insistent bird-calls of the opening to the tranquil epic of the beautiful slow movement. The other works on the disc emphasise the composer's preoccupation with poetry as inspiration for his music, with long soaring vocal lines over uncomplicated but evocative underpinning in the piano parts. Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; B Tommy Andersson, Margareta Hallin (soprano), Rolf Lindblom (piano), Christina Högman (soprano), Roland Pöntinen (piano). Phono Suecia PSCD 108 (Sweden) 03A043 $16.98

GUNNAR DE FRUMERIE (1908-1987): Variations and Fugue for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 11, Symphonic Ballad for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 31, Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 46, Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 65, Piano Quartet No. 1, Op. 23, Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 45, 5 Aquarelles for Piano, Excerpts from Piano Suites Nos. 1 & 2, Suite in E Minor and Cello Sonata No. 1, Persian Songs, Op. 18, Evening Land I-III, Opp. 48, 55 & 58a/b, 5 Lagerkvist Songs, Opp. 34 & 38. De Frumerie was first and foremost a pianist who wrote at least eight large-scale works for piano and orchestra but he is also known as one of the foremost 20th century Swedish song writers and he composed prolifically in almost all genres. This collection offers a full disc of concertos in recordings from 1950-53 which show his impulsive, romantic nature (especially in the 1944 Symphonic Ballad which was inspired by the composer's love of the sea). A disc of chamber and instrumental music (with de Frumerie always at the piano) covers the breadth of his career, from the neo-classicism of the 30s to his mature style of the 50s and 60s. A cornucopia of rarities for collectors of Scandinavian music. Recordings are mostly from the 50s and 60s in typically solid radio-recording mono sound. 3 CDs for the price of 2. Gunnar de Frumerie (piano), Radio Orchestra; Sten Frykberg, Göteborg Symphony Orchestra; Issay Dobrowen, Radio Orchestra; Tor Mann, various soloists. Caprice Collectors Classics CAP 21535 (Sweden) 03A044 $33.98

FRANZ CONSTANT (1910-1996): Concertino "Solstice", Op. 143 for 4 Guitars and Orchestra, GEORGES DELERUE (1925-1992): Concerto for 4 Guitars and Orchestra, FEDERICO MORENO-TORROBA (1891-1982): Concierto Iberico for 4 Guitars and Orchestra. The relatively unusual combination of four guitars and orchestra has allowed these three composers to produce subtly different approaches. Delerue's concerto dates from 1988 and is quite in the cool, neo-classical style of many of his scores for François Truffaut's films; Constant's 1994 work adds some delicately insinuated Iberian flavor to what is still a neo-classically oriented score while Moreno-Torroba's piece (1976) is a full-blooded Spanish piece, using rich orchestral colors and Basque folk tunes in its finale. Nicolas Courtin, Jean-François Fourichon, Michel Grizard, Philppe Rayer (guitars), Orchestra "Filharmonia Sudecka", Walbrzych; Dominique Fanal. De Plein Vent DPV CD 9895 (France) 03A045 $14.98

RICHARD FELCIANO (b.1930): Overture Concertante for Clarinet and Orchestra, CHARLES TOMLINSON GRIFFES (1884-1920): 3 Poems of Fiona McCloud for Soprano and Orchestra, ROBERT MUCZUNSKI (b.1929): Symphonic Dialogues, Op. 20, MARVIN LAMB: J.B. II, DAVID OSBON: Liberty, SY BRANDON: Celebration Overture, RICHARD A. KLESSIG: Meditation from Don Juan. Another valuable, varied and satisfying compendium of 20th century American music from Albany's excellent new series. The Griffes recalls the Prelude à l'apres-midi, The Swan of Tuonela and Strauss' Four Last Songs in roughly equal measure. The Brandon and Osbon, both vigorous and energetic, make a nice contrast, the Brandon playful and lively - Kabalevskian - while the Osbon is made of sterner stuff. Muczynski's Symphonic Dialogues is taut and bouncy, with an appealing sense of momentum. The Klessig and Lamb works again provide a lyrical contrast, being based on stage works in which the ideas of love and redemption are important. Felciano's Overture explores many aspects of the clarinet in a tense, event-filled quarter hour. All the works here are basically tonal - in most cases very definitely and appealingly so - and make an enjoyable programme which deserves and holds one's attention. Jean-Michel Bertell (clarinet), Louise Toppin (soprano), Czech National Symphony Orchestra; Paul Freeman. Albany TROY 322 (U.S.A.) 03A046 $16.98

JACK FORTNER (b.1935): Symphonies, JONATHAN SHEFFER (b.1953): Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra, ANN. S. HANKINSON (b.1944): light/shadow, MORRIS MOSHE COTEL (b.1943): 5 Quatrains for Soprano and Ensemble, JAMES NENG-HSIEN HO (b.1965): Bon for Violin, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trombone, Harp and Percussion, CARLOS SANCHEZ-GUTIERREZ (b.1964): M.E. in Memoriam for Ensemble, ZACK BROWNING (b.1953): Breakpoint Screamer for 5 Trumpets. This collection of short orchestral works by contemporary composers writing in a variety of modern, though not unapproachable, idioms will be self-recommending to collectors interested in a full appreciation of the truly astonishing breadth of musical styles available to us today. None of these pieces sounds avant-garde in the sense that they would soon sound out-of-date; all are colorfully orchestrated and vital. Browning's electro-acoustic work is the odd man out in a way - less serious and with some strong non-classical influence, but an invigorating addition to the trumpet repertoire nonetheless. Various orchestras, soloists and ensembles. Capstone CPS 8956 (U.S.A.) 03A047 $16.98

EDDIE PHOON (b.1969): Winter Overture, PAUL JOSLIN (b.1958): Hiroshima Idyll, P. PETER SACCO (b.1928): Meditation No. 1, ROBERT CANNON EHLE (b.1939): Forests of the Night, LARRY BARNES (b.1950): Morning Gigue, MONA LYN REESE (b.1951): Prince (from Midwest Symphony), ANDY TEIRSTEIN (b.1957): Maramures, STEVEN WINTEREGG (b.1952): TGV, RAYMOND J. LINDSAY (b.1959): A Greeting Card from Charlottesville, MATTHEW MACTAVISH: Willows Weeping in a Mist, JOHN BIGGS (b.1932): Pastiche. This disc deserves the warmest recommendation, showcasing as it does eleven otherwise exceedingly unlikely to be heard orchestral miniatures, all very individual, all basically tonal and all very much deserving of attention. Some pieces - the Phoon and Joslin for instance - cram a remarkable amount of content into their brief span and sound like much larger works; some are lighter and fun - Reese's Prince (yes, the rock star) for example (it doesn't sound like rock music, by the way). Hearing Tierstein's Maramures and learning that it is the energetic and vital first movement of a viola concerto makes one want to hear the whole piece as a matter of urgency. And so on. John Biggs' Pastiche is worthy of the Hoffnung concerts (remember the Concerto Popolare?). Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Vit Micka, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Robert Stankovsky & Robert Tomaro, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Válek, Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra; David Stock. MMC 2065 (U.S.A.) 03A048 $16.98

KJARTAN ÓLAFSSON (b.1958): Útstrok for Orchestra, Monetta for Violin and Piano, Thríthraut for Clarinet Trio, Nonet for Chamber Orchestra, Calculus for Solo Flute. This music was composed "in collaboration with" CALMUS - a computer program which calculates parameters of musical notation and effectively contributes to the compositional procedure. The composer is one of the developers of the program. The computer can be set to determine complex polyrhythms, hamonies, contrapuntal relationships etc., and will undoubtedly be of great assistance to composers unable to hear such musical relationships in their heads before committing them to paper. Leaving aside the question of the mechanism of its composition, the music does not sound especially avant-garde at all, being of a somewhat Eliott Carter-like harmonic language and rhythmic complexity. Icelandic Symphony Orchestra; Horia Andreescu, Sigrún Edvaldsdóttir (violin), Snorri Sigfús Birgisson (piano), Camerartica, Martial Nardau (flute). Arch Music Inc. ETCD 005 (Iceland) 03A049 $18.98

SHIN-ICHIRO IKEBE (b.1943): Kohru for Koto, La Terre est Bleue Comme une Orange for Piano, Ascension for Piano, Strata I for String Quartet, Lion for Brass Instruments, On the Other Side of Rain for 4 Percussionists, Strata II for Solo Flute, Quinquecalence for Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Piano. Ikebe's music is inventive and appealing, while occupying a medium that is both modern and irrefutably (and somewhat indefinably) tinged with the East. This is of course most apparent in the work for koto, a traditional Japanese plucked string instrument, which has a somewhat minimalist feel (which also occurs elsewhere in these works) and is divided into two parts, one of which uses the koto in a traditional manner, while the other, notationally identical but exploiting the versatility of the instrument, does not. Ikebe is a master of timbral possibilities even within the framework of western ensembles - Lion, for brass ensemble, being a good example of this in its pulsing, dramatically charged textures. Elsewhere there are traces of the subtle, quasi-formless impressionism of Takemitsu, highly atmospheric and evocative. Various Artists. Camerata 32CM-270 (Japan) 03A050 $17.98

LEÓ WEINER (1885-1960): Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 15, Divertimento No. 1, Op. 20, Romance for Cello, Harp and Orchestra, op. 29, Divertimento No. 2, Op. 24. Yet more of Weiner's conservatively romantic music becomes available on CD with the major work here being the 1926 Concertino: in two movements, lasting 23 minutes, it is as long as many concertos and it sums up Weiner's approach very well - lyrical, elegant, transparently scored, with just a touch of native Hungarian color. The 1949 Romance is in similar vein while the two Divertimenti (1934 & 1938) for strings, inspired by Lajtha, use traditional Hungarian folk material. Isabelle Oehmichen (piano), Katalin Sin (cello), Melinda Felletár (harp), Hungarian Chamber Orchestra, Szeged; Richárd Weninger. Marcal Classics 981101 (France) 03A051 $18.98

LILI BOULANGER (1893-1918): Psaume 24 for Chorus, Brass, Harps, Percussion and Organ, Pour les funérailles d'un soldat for Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra, Psaume 129 for Chorus and Orchestra, D'un soir triste, D'un matin de printemps, Psaume 130 "Du fond de l'abîme" for Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra, Vielle prière bouddhique for Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra. Long overdue for digital (for that matter - stereo) recordings, the three psalm settings are astonishing in their power, control and breadth: No. 24 is a brief but dazzling song of victory electric with exulatant brass while No. 129 is bitter and virulent, harmonically astringent but the masterpiece is No. 130 - a 25-minute long searing, stricken cry of pain, fear and despair which is one of the peaks of French music of the early 20th century. D'un soir triste is a tone poem woven from the same intense cloth; the funeral lament for a soldier appears to be a first recording. Stirring, astonishing music from a young woman who obviously would have been one of our century's greatest composers had she lived. Sonia de Beaufort (mezzo), Martial Defontaine (tenor), Vincent Le Texier (baritone), Namur Symphonic Choir, Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra; Mark Stringer. Timpani 1C1046 (France) 03A052 $17.98

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918): Danses for Chromatic Harp and Strings, LÉON ROHOZINSKI (1886-1938): Suite breve for Flute, Viola and Diatonic Harp, GIAN CARLO MENOTTI (b.1911): Cantilena e Scherzo for Diatonic Harp and String Quartet, GEORGE ENESCO (1881-1955): Allegro de concert for Chromatic Harp, CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Nocturne for Chromatic Harp, ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869-1937): Impromptu for Diatonic Harp, LOUIS VIERNE (1870-1937): Rhapsodie for Diatonic Harp. Developed in 1894 as a response to the chromaticism of music such as Wagner's, the 78-string chromatic harp had only a short life but this unusual recital demonstrates both its fascinating sound and the fact that several composers wrote highly entertaining pieces for it. This is the world premiere of the original version of Debussy's Danses, whose iridescently resonating chords of rich chromaticism are technically impossible in transcriptions for diatonic harp. Koechlin's Nocturne is a particularly extraordinary piece. Francette Bartholomée (harps), Trio Medicis, Kleve Quartet. Cyprès CYP1615 (Belgium) 03A053 $17.98

HENRI VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881): Viola Sonata, Op. 36, Élégie, Étude, Capriccio for Solo Viola, op. Posth., La Nuit, Viola Sonata (unfinished), Op. Posth. The posthumous, unfinished viola sonata was published in 1883 as Allegro and Scherzo in B Flat; its composition date is unknown but it seems likely that it is from the same general period as the op. 36 sonata although, at 26+ minutes, it is already longer than the latter work. Along with EMI's recent recording of his cello concertos, this release serves to broaden the perception of a composer known purely as a violinist. Pierre Lénert (viola), Jeff Cohen (piano). Syrius SYR 141340 (France) 03A054 $18.98

ROBERT FUCHS (1847-1927): Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Sharp Minor, Op. 20, Violin Sonata No. 6 in G Minor, Op. 103, ALBERT DIETRICH (1829-1908), ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-1856), JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): F-A-E- Sonata. Fuchs' late (dates differ between 1915 and 1923) sixth sonata blends a Brahmsian depth and darkness with his own lighter, classical sensibility in a way that makes the composer a link between the period of high Romanticism and Wolf, Mahler, Zemlinsky, Schreker and Schmidt. The early sonata (1878) is not that far removed, proving that Fuchs' personal voice was established early but it is a voice that is infinitely pleasing and appealing - as Brahms himself said: "...everything is so fine and so skillful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased." As a rare bonus, we also have the committee-composed "Frei aber einsam" sonata of 1853, a gift for Joseph Joachim, in its entirety. Felicia Terpitz (violin), Barbara Witter (piano). Amati ami 9705/1 (Germany) 03A055 $17.98

FRANZ BERWALD (1796-1868): 3 Fantasias, Polonaise bagatelle, Andantino, Scherzo, Tema e variazioni, 3 Polonaises, Echo, Tempo di marcia, Walzer. Here is a real oddity: the three "fantasias" were written around 1815-16 for an instrument called the "melodikon", a friction instrument which used a rotating steel cylinder to vibrate a series of tuned metal bars controlled by keys. The remainder of the pieces here date from 1818 or 1819 with the exception of the waltz (from 1844) but all fall into the "Biedermeyer" genre of backward-looking, classically-inspired salon pieces which occupied the musical scene prior to the flourishing of Romanticism. Katia Capua (piano). Bongiovanni GB 5082 (Italy) 03A056 $16.98

MIHÁLY MOSONYI (1815-1870): Piano Works, Vol. 5 - Szép Ilonka, FRANZ DOPPLER (1821-1883) (Transcribed by Mosonyi): Benyovszky. As we presumably near the end of Marco Polo's series of piano works by the German/Hungarian composer Michael Brand/Mihály Mosonyi, we get nothing any less attractive than previously: a transcription of more than 46 minutes of Mosonyi's first Hungarian opera ("Pretty Ilonka") of 1860 - full of pungent Hungarian and gypsy flavor. The coupling is an earlier (1848) excerpt of Mosonyi's transcription of the famous flutist Franz Doppler's opera whose title character was a famous Hungarian traveller and whose music, while still melodious and grateful to the ear, is understandably somewhat less authentic than Mosonyi's own. István Kassai (piano). Marco Polo 8.225022 (New Zealand) 03A057 $14.98

HUGO ALFVÉN (1872-1960): Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Festival Overture, Op. 25, Suite from The Mountain King, Uppsalarapsodi, Op. 24, Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 7. Unusual repertoire continues to hit the budget market as Alfvén's 1897 symphony makes it to Naxos (this is part of a series which in Scandinavia is being titled "Naxos Nordic"; no series title is being used for U.S. release). Echoes of Dvorák and Svendsen are present in the piece which one might also compare with the early symphonies of Glazunov (like the latter, the scherzo is particularly pleasing). The four pieces from The Mountain King (1923) are saturated with instantly memorable folk-influenced melodies; the second Swedish Rhapsody of 1907 is, like Brahms' Academic Festival Overture, based on Swedish student songs. Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Niklas Willén. Naxos 8.553962 (New Zealand) 03A058 $5.98

ALFREDO CASELLA (1883-1947): Paganiniana: Divertimento for Orchestra, Op. 65, Serenata for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 46bis, La Giara: Suite sinfonica, Op. 41bis. La Giara's complete score was offered in our August 1997 catalogue; here is a suite from the 1924 "choreographic comedy" which makes use of Italian folk elements. The 1930 serenade is a five-movement work of neo-classical refinement and clarity while Casella's best-known work, Paganiniana (1942) is a charming and humorous romp. Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana; Christian Benda. Naxos 8.553706 (New Zealand) 03A059 $5.98

NIKOLAI MYASKOVSKI (1881-1950): Sinfonietta in A Minor, Op. 68/2, DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975): Chamber Symphony (String Qt. No. 8) in C Minor, Op. 110a (arr. Barshai). Myaskovsky's Sinfonietta (one of two in the catalogues now; the other is part of Op. 32) dates from 1946 and, unlike his symphonies, is of lyrical, meditative character with a simplicity and direct-speaking to its musical language which reflect the composer's desire at the time to write music in the classical forms (the second movement is in the spirit of the gavotte, the third is a menuet). It's unfortunate that the coupling was not more Myaskovsky but this lovely, heartfelt work is good to have back in the catalogue. Dalgat String Ensemble; Roland Melia. Naxos 8.550953 (New Zealand) 03A060 $5.98

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937): King Roger, Incidental Music to Act 5 of Prince Potemkin. This recording appeared several years ago at full price on Marco Polo and is now rereleased at budget price. Szymanowski's 1926 work was loosely based on Euripides' The Bacchae and set in 12th century Sicily. The opera's conflict between the Church and an orgiastic cult of self-abandonment is represented in the music by the use of Byzantine motives and stylized "oriental" themes of rich dissonant harmonies, vivid orchestral colors with exotic percussion instruments, wordless chorus and hypnotic ostinatos leading to several climaxes of pulsating ecstasy. This is a surreally beautiful score and anyone who has not had the opportunity to experience it yet in its earlier recorded incarnations should not hesitate at this bargain price. 2 CDs. Polish libretto, English synopsis. Andrzej Hiolski (baritone), Wieslaw Ochman (tenor), Barbara Zagórzanka (soprano), Boys' Chorus of the Krakow Philharmonic, Polish State Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra (Katowice); Karol Stryja, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice); Antoni Wit. Naxos 8.660062-63 (New Zealand) 03A061 $11.98

ZDENIK FIBICH (1850-1900): Symphony No. 1 in F, Op. 17, Symphony No. 2 in E Flat, Op. 38. Anyone who has not yet discovered the ripely romantic, Dvorakian symphonies of Fibich now has no excuse with this new budget-priced release. There is much of the Dvorák of the early symphonies here as well as some Smetana, especially in the first symphony which has an utterly delightful scherzo. The second is a mature work but still strongly in the Czech tradition. Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Mogrelia. Naxos 8.553699 (New Zealand) 03A062 $5.98

VICTOR HERBERT (1859-1924): Selections from: Babes in Toyland, The Red Mill. This new "American Classics" release offers over 45 minutes of the stunning orchestration, splendid lyricism and engaging humor of Herbert's best-known operetta, Babes in Toyland of 1903, including, of course, the univerally famous March of the Toys. The Red Mill (1906) gives further evidence (as if it were needed) of the composer's gift for bright and cheerful melodies. Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra; Keith Brion. Naxos 8.559025 (New Zealand) 03A063 $5.98

HORATIO PARKER (1863-1919): 6 Lyrics, Op. 25, 4 Sketches, Op. 19, Morceaux Characteristiques, Valse Gracile. Parker has been somewhat left behind in the current rediscovery of the late 19th century American Romantics, known more for his pedagogical and administrative work at Yale (and, perhaps, as one of Ives' teachers), than for his music. These piano miniatures contain music of great charm, impeccable craftsmanship and sincere expression and will appeal to anyone fond of Huss, MacDowell or their other American contemporaries. Peter Kairoff (piano). Albany TROY 315 (U.S.A.) 03A064 $16.98

PIET SWERTS (b.1960): 6 Romantic Piano Pieces, 5 Piano Pieces for Children, 12 Polyphonic Piano Pieces, Music for Four-Hand Piano. Most of these pieces are gently and affectionately romantic or even classical-sounding - the self-proclaimed Romantic Piano Pieces and the children's pieces especially. The Partita, The Bartókian Galop and the Polyphonic Pieces are the tougher works here, the latter sounding somewhat akin to the sort of thing that the great contrapuntist of this end of our century, Ronald Stevenson, has done - say, in his 20th-Century Music Diary. Piet Swerts (piano), Kolacny Piano Duo. Eufoda 1251 (Belgium) 03A065 $18.98

ERIC SATIE (1866-1925): Messe des Pauvres, 12 petits chorales, 4 Ogives, Pages mystiques, Première pensée Rose + Croix, Sonneries de la Rose + Croix, Le fils des étoiles, Prélude de la Porte Héroîque du ciel, La statue retrouvée. These works for choir and organ show a less familiar side - a side questing spirituality and inspired by Gregorian chant and the silence of cathedrals - of a composer better known for his biting wit and mordant musical antics. Hervé Désarbre (organ), Ensemble Vocal "Paris Renaissance"; Hélène Breuil. Mandala MAN 4896 (France) 03A066 $18.98

PERCY GRAINGER (1882-1961): Grainger Edition, Volume 10 - Green Bushes, Let's Dance Gay in Green Meadow, In Bristol Town, English Dance, Zanzibar Boat Song, "The Widow's Party" March, Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon, Jutish Medley, Harvest Hymn, Country Gardens, Random Round, The Keel-Row, The Warriors. Grainger produced multiple piano/multiple pianist versions of many of his works, enjoying the possibilities for clear delineation of independent lines and full, quasi-orchestral textures thus presented. A large number of works which also exist in versions for anything from solo piano up to full orchestra are here presented on massed pianos, and highly appealing, not to say revealing, the results can be. Everything is admirably clear, and although the sinister aspect of some of the works is subdued - the fully written-out arrangement of Random Round is an example, and The Warriors is less primitive here than in full orchestral dress - Grainger's enormous skill as composer, often ignored nowadays, is stunningly apparent. Penelope Thwaites, Wayne Marshall, John Lavender, Rhondda Gillespie, Antony Gray, Barry Peter Ould (pianos). Chandos 9702 (England) 03A067 $16.98

MICHAEL FINNISSY (b.1946): Traum des Sängers, WAM, Ének, Mars + Venus. These chamber works show different aspects of Finnissy's musical temperament, while being always recognisably by the same composer whose fearless attitude to complexity has made him one of the most readily identified figures on the British contemporary music scene. The unsynchronised streams of consciousness manufactured from fragments of Mozart's music in WAM deconstruct the myth of Mozart the "perfect" composer and reassemble an anti-Mozart for our time. Mars + Venus and Traum des Sängers were inspired by paintings - in the one case Rubens' suggestion of the transcendence of the commonplace in even everyday human beings; in the other, the interaction between dream in the "real" world and the spiritual in the "imagined" as inspired by a Caspar David Friedrich sketch. Charles Mutter (violin), IXION; Michael Finnissy. NMC D043 (England) 03A068 $17.98

BENT SØRENSEN (b.1958): Minnewater, Sirenengesang, Shadowland, The Deserted Churchyards, Clairobscur. A preoccupation with decay as an art form - the sort of thing that inspired the "vanity" paintings (worldly wealth juxtaposed alongside images of death and transience that flourished in the 17th century) - permeates Sørensen's work, and might strike some as a slightly unhealthy obsession - but hey, some of us like that sort of thing. In the case of Sørensen's music, this translates into motifs such as gliding clusters - generally descending - microtonal tunings and obsessive rhythmic patterns which gradually disintegrate. Especially in Shadowland, the largest piece here, occasional dream-like half-reminiscenses of familiar music also make an appearance. Successfully disturbing and haunting music. Esbjerg Ensemble; Jules Van Hessen. Marco Polo/Dacapo 8.224075 (Denmark) 03A069 $14.98

VLADIMIR RYABOV (b.1950): Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 22, Concerto of Waltzes, Op. 36. The notes tell us that Ryabov was tossed out of the Moscow Conservatory twice for "failure to conform to official requirements". Yet that doesn't mean we into the avant-garde here. The symphony (1983) is dedicated to Brahms and fleeting quotations from that composer (and one not so fleeting at the end of the first movement) swim in a kaleidoscopically bemusing stream of musical techniques and echoes: Shostakovich, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Minimalism, neo-classicism, salon music... new hearings will probably produce more echoes. But the music is resolutely tonal and the general impression is that of a talented composer who enjoys himself greatly with the huge toy-box that is Western European musical history and who uses his toys with originality. The Concerto of Waltzes (1985-87) is a set of three dances, the first of which evokes Ravel (with some tastily grotesque orchestration) and the second of which is in the eclectic style of the symphony. Woth exploring for contemporary symphonic collectors. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Ziva. Marco Polo 8.223749 (New Zealand) 03A070 $14.98

WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994): Symphony No. 1, Silesian Triptych for Soprano and Orchestra, Jeux vénitiens, Postludium I, Chantefleurs et Chantefables for Soprano and Orchestra. Volume six of Naxos' Lutoslawski cycle brings us his large, ambitious first symphony, the folk-derived Silesian Triptych which followed in the wake of official criticism of the symphony (around the same time that Shostakovich was putting up with the same thing), the first work in Lutoslawski's output to contain an aleatoric element, and the delicate and lovely Chantefleurs et chantefables, all of which combine to give us a portrait of one of the most individual and original composers of the 20th century. Olga Pasiecznik (soprano), Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Antoni Wit. Naxos 8.554283 (New Zealand) 03A071 $5.98

EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA (b.1928): Symphony No. 3, Op. 20, Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 45, Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61 (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra). Also from Naxos' Nordic series comes this useful collection of works by today's senior Finnish composer. Cantus arcticus (1972) evokes the mysterious atmosphere of forests and swamps from Rautavaara's childhood home, the instruments often imitating bird-song while a tape of arctic bird sounds is electronically altered for inclusion with the orchestra. The symphony dates from 1960 and is a fascinating Finnish response to Bruckner, conceived in a very personal dodecaphonic system and synthesizing the romanticism of Rautavaara's first symphony and the avant-garde modernism of his second. The piano concerto (1969) was written as a display piece for the composer's own piano technique and combines elements of postmodernism with an expressive, "grand style" of piano writing. Laura Mikkola (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Hannu Lintu. Naxos 8.554147 (New Zealand) 03A072 $5.98

LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990): 29 Anniversaries, Piano Sonata, Touches. Bernstein's complete music for solo piano is contained here, the majority of it contained in the series of brief character pieces which he composed for friends and associates throughout his career. Also here is the much less well-known sonata, composed while at Harvard in 1938 and the work which caught the attention of Dimitri Mitropoulos - it has a grave largo at its center with a darkly rhythmic first movement and a quiet, almost static finale. Alexander Frey (piano). Koch International Classics 7426 (U.S.A.) 03A073 $16.98

RUDOLF MAROS (1917-1982): Euphony No. 1, Euphony No. 2, Euphony No. 3, Lament for Soprano and Ensemble, Musica da camera per 11, Kaleidoscope, Gemma - In Memoriam Zoltán Kodály. These works date from 1962 to 1976 but all fall into the same style: a little bit of the Darmstadt school mixed with a healthy dose of the Ligeti of the mid to late 1960s. The music revels in the sheer beauty and effect of sound - orchestral layers, cluster effects, gleaming points of light as tuned percussion knifes through the roiling sound clouds of dense orchestral matter... Anyone who appreciates Ligeti's Atmospheres, say, will find much to admire here. Erika Sziklay (soprano), Budapest Symphony Orchestra; György Lehel, Budapest Chamber Ensemble; András Mihály. Hungaroton HCD 31699 (Hungary) 03A074 $16.98

LÁSZLÓ DUBROVAY (b.1943): Faust, the Damned - Ballet Suites Nos. 1-4, Violin Concerto, Second Piano Concerto (Concerto romantico). Dubrovay studied under Stockhausen and spent a lot of time composing in electronic music studios around Europe but this double-CD set contains only music for full orchestra, generally tonal and mostly vividly attractive. Faust, the Damned is a two-hour ballet (1995) from which the composer excerpted these four orchestral suites (lasting over 90 minutes in all). The libretto covered the whole of Goethe's Faust and so the suites cover the work chronologically in 19 scenes from "Introduction and Faust" to "Faust's Death" in music which always has a touch of acidity no matter the scene it depicts. Bartok's influence is present (especially The Miraculous Mandarin) but much other Western European music casts its influence as well (even, perhaps, rock music). The two concertos are also tonal, agreeably robust and vital works. This release has much to offer collectors of tonal (but not infrequently dissonant) 20th century orchestral music. 2 CDs. Attila Falvay (violin), László Baranyay (piano), Budapest Symphony Orchestra; Lászlo Kovács, Mátyás Antal, Budapest Sinfonietta; Balázs Kocsár. Hungaroton HCD 31831-32 (Hungary) 03A075 $33.98

ISTVÁN MÁRTA (b.1952): Sound In, Sound Out. Described as "sound sketches", "a sound diary" and the like, these highly theatrical pieces function like sound collages, assembled in an electroacoustic medium suggesting radio theatre, out of instrumental sounds, birdsong, spoken and sung texts, process-music textures (sometimes moving in the direction of non-classical material) and highly processed electronic material. At times evocative, disturbing, beautiful or surreal - or any combination of these - the pieces sound like the soundtrack to an imaginary drama, half forgotten or recalled in a dream. Innovative and fascinating. Hungarian-English texts. Various Artists including Amadinda Percussion Ensemble, Mandel Quartet, Wyximphonic Group; István Márta. Hungaroton HCD 31829 (Hungary) 03A076 $16.98

IVÁN MADARÁSZ (b.1949): Lót - Opera in One Act, Refrain - Solo Cantata. Lot tells a version of the biblical story of the man saved from the destruction of the sinful city of Sodom in the form of a one-act opera. Powerfully dramatic, often ostinato-driven and tonally based, the music at times recalls Janácek, though with some staging effects that are more modern than one encounters in the Czech master's operas. Sometimes the persistent rhythms almost become Glass-like romantic minimalism or Orff-like obsessiveness (there is a passage in the third scene that has a great deal to do with Trionfo di Afrodite), and the piece has an irresistible and inexorable momentum. Refrain uses microtonal intervals to introduce a specific and original singing style, rather disturbing and ominous, achieving the composer's intention of expressing the metaphysical concerns of the text. Hungarian-English texts. Lajos Miller (baritone), Katalin Mészöly (soprano), Hungarian Radio and TV Chorus, Hungarian State Opera Children's Chorus, Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; Tamás Koncz, Adrienne Czengery (soprano), Kántor Balázs (cello), Endre Olsvay, Béla Faragó (synthesizers); Miklós Sugár. Hungaroton HCD 31819 (Hungary) 03A077 $16.98

ATTILA REMÉNYI (b.1959): Le Christ est monté près de Dieu Vocal Ensemble, 12 Miniatures for 5 Clarinets, Bell-games for Percussion, Sonata for Violin Solo, Psalm No. 126 for Chorus, Musica per Archi, Quartet for Amadinda for Percussion. Reményi is a composer of wide-ranging abilities and inspiration, as is demonstrated by the works collected here. Le Christ and the Psalm belong to the modal, harmonically conventional choral tradition that would not sound out of place in a church service somewhere in central Europe, but Bell-games has an improvisatory, outdoor quality, which nonetheless evokes the public carillons of eastern Europe without explicity imitating them. Then the violin aonata sounds not a little like Bartók, while the "Music for Strings" has a trenchant harmonic and rhythmic thrust worthy of Shostakovich. The longest work here is the 12 Miniatures, which runs the gamut from folk influences to jazz by way of the baroque and Stravinskyan neoclassicism. Cant'Art Vocal Ensemble, Gyöngyi Reményi (violin), Györ Percussion Group, Györ Gardénia Clarinet Quintet, Dodici Chamber Orchestra; Antal Jancsovics. Hungaroton HCD 31817 (Hungary) 03A078 $16.98

PETER GRAHAM: Der Erste - Chamber Cantata for Female Voice, Bass Flute, Bass Clarinet, Accordion, Percussion and Double Bass, Fragment II for Cello and Piano, Sextet for 2 String Trios, MOENS aneb for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Synthesizer and Piano, Silent Music for 3 Clarinets, Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away... for Chamber Ensemble and Tape, The Last Evening of Poet Si-Kchang - Secreta for Flute Solo and for Percussion (Simultaneous Performance), Ave verum corpus for Vocals, Clarinet and Piano. Influenced as he claims to have been by John Cage and by rock 'n' roll, one might expect Graham's music to sound a little like the one or the other - but apart from a Cage-like concern with "non-musical" sounds for their own sake - which is by no means a perpetual preoccupation here - it doesn't. There is an up-front, confrontational quality to much of the music, which may possibly trace its origins to non-classical influences. Most of the time the music is atonal and angular, but the composer has obviously not written off any musical style as a potential source of material, and the results are often unexpected and stimulating.Various Artists. Arta 0091 (Czech Republic) 03A079 $16.98

ISANG YUN (1918-1995): Monologue for Bassoon Solo, FINN MORTENSEN (1922-1983): Fantasy for Solo Bassoon, KARL-ERIK WELIN (1934-1992): Solo for Bassoon, DROR FEILER (b.1951): Kavana, ANDRÉ CHINI (b.1945): L'abominable fagott des neiges, BERNHARD CRUSELL (1775-1838): Airs suédoies for Bassoon and Piano, GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868): Allegro for Bassoon and Piano. This recital begins with two unfamiliar 19th-century pieces - a recently discovered work probably by Rossini and a charming set of variations on Swedish themes by Crusell. The rest of the disc consists of 20th-century works in strong contrast. The modern pieces are all unaccompanied, and each in its own way acts as an eloquent monologue by the composer, in the case of the Yun, so titled; perhaps most appropriately in that of the Welin. Alongside a certain reflective quality, perhaps implicit in the bassoon's timbre, instrumental virtuosity in tonally free and rhythmically complex music is very much the order of the day here, and Sönstevold makes an eloquent case for all this deeply personal music. Knut Sönstevold (bassoon), Stefan Lindgren (piano). Daphne DR 1007 (Sweden) 03A080 $16.98

PAUL HINDEMITH (1895-1963): Bassoon Sonata, OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957): Bassoon Sonata, Op. 41, OTMAR NUSSIO (1902-1990): Variazioni su un' Arietta di Pergolesi for Bassoon and Piano, ISANG YUN (1918-1995): Monologue for Bassoon, MANFRED SCHOOF (b.1936): 2 Impromptus for Bassoon and Piano, OLAV BERG (b.1949): Vertigo for Bassoon Solo, Sonatine for Bassoon and Piano. Despite Hindemith's antiromantic views about his music, the overall tenor of this recital is a rather neo-romantic one. Even the most obviously modern works here - the Berg - have a singing quality that is far from the avant-garde; Yun's Monologue is soulful and reflective, and the Nussio, Schoeck and even the Hindemith are attractively tonal (the Schoeck perhaps flirting with the modernism that was in the air in the 1920s). The Schoof is jazz-influenced, though not in an obvious or point-proving way, and makes an attractive and easy-going conclusion to the recital. Dag Jensen (bassoon), Midori Kitagawa (piano). MD&G 603 0831 (Germany) 03A081 $17.98

PHILIPPE LEROUX (b.1959): (d') ALLER - Concerto for Violin and 16 Instruments, AAA for 7 Instruments, Souffles for Wind Quintet, Ial for Celtic Harp and Guitar. Leroux' light-textured, playful music is very French - clear, scintillant, full of charm and wit. One almost feels that the composer is playing at being a French Composer - albeit one working in the idiom of our time; this is not an attempt to imitate the music of Poulenc or Satie, but an extension, perhaps, of their attitude towards composition forward into contemporary terms. (d')ALLER, for example, uses very little real material, being largely an interlocking mechanism of scalar patterns and rhythms - but like any intricate, glittery piece of mechanism, it's fun to watch, and doesn't outstay its welcome. AAA also functions like a machine, but one built to amuse, not to work - taking as its starting point La poule of Rameau, the piece becomes a mechanical hen in a children's theatre - slightly macabre and motiveless, and perpetually in motion. Like (d')ALLER, the other two works also weave a fascinating web of odd scales, in which to entangle our attention. Annick Roussin (violin), Orchestre Poitou-Charentes; Pascal Verrot, Ensemble Court-circuit; Pierre-André Valade, Le Concert impromptu, Christophe Saunière (harp), Caroline Delume (guitar). Grave (MFA) GRCD 13 (France) 03A082 $18.98

THÉRÈSE BRENET: Odi et Amo for Violin and Orchestra, Le retour de Quetzalcoatl - Symphonic Poem for Cello and Orchestra, Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Aeterno Certamine for Viola, Cello and Strings with Percussion. That these three works are stunning concertante display pieces is wholly incidental to their fascinating and profound musical content. Moving easily between a microtonal, cluster-oriented sound world and frank tonality, Brenet occupies a similar position to Lutoslawski; everything communicates regardless of the "system" from which it originates. There are more than a few traces of Bartók in the string writing also, and overall her style is characterised by a kind of free atonality, with rich harmony and a narrative, through-composed sense of drama which makes each of these works a compelling listening experience. The composer achieves a level of passion and intensity rare in 20th-century music of any school. Very warmly recommended. Jérôme Akoka (violin), Jérôme Pinget (cello), Aurelia Penalver-Smorawinska (viola), "Filhamonia Sudecka" Orchestra, Walbrzych; Dominique Fanal. De Plein Vent DPV 9894 (France) 03A083 $14.98

RAFFALELE BELLAFRONTE (b.1961): For Five... for Guitar and String Quartet, Hypnós for Piano, 4 Danze for Guitar Quartet, Indian for English Horn and Piano, Liaisons for Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet and Piano. Bellafronte's music is rhythmically incisive and chromatically tonal, with a strong sense of harmonic movement. Hypnos begins with a Prokofiev-like toccata, which gives way to a kind of minimalistic impressionism, after which the two styles interact for the duration of the piece. For Five is a most appealing work - rhythmically complex and somewhat ambiguous, it keeps the listener guessing as to what is going to happen next, but in a context that makes slightly unexpected sense when it does. The Dances for four guitars do for four dance forms rather what Piazzolla does for the tango. Indian starts off very lyrical and soulful, rather pastoral but slightly sinister in mood, and later there is opposition betwen the cor anglé and the highly virtuosic piano part which attempts to disrupt the atmosphere. Liaisons uses a similar process, but in a more complex manner, admitting more contrapuntal thinking both musically and conceptually. Various Artists. Bongiovanni GB 5081 (Italy) 03A084 $16.98

ANDERS KOPPEL (b.1947): String Quartet No. 1, GREG A. STEINKE: Native American Notes for Narrator and String Quartet, BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976): String Quartet No. 1. Shadowy but energetic, Koppel's quartet is reminiscent of Shostakovich - very reminiscent at times. It is an intense piece, and rather obsessive, and presents its ideas clearly and accessibly. Steinke's work is in a much more modern idiom, and serves to expand or illustrate native American texts which are spoken by a guest narrator, one Mixashawn, on this recording. In between the atmosphere-creating special playing techniques and poetry, there is a certain amount of recycled Bartók. The filler to the disc is a fine performance of Britten's remarkable, classically proportioned, vital and vigorous 1st Quartet. Coolidge Quartet. Classico CLASSCD 251 (Denmark) 03A085 $14.98

LEO KRAFT (b.1922): Omaggio for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello, Allegro Giocoso for Piano, Spring in the Harbor for Flute, Cello and Piano, Dialogues for Flute and Tape, 8 Choral Songs for Acappella Chorus, A New Ricercar for Strings. Kraft is a distinguished educator as well as a widely performed composer who has written for a wide range of media, especially including a large body of chamber music. The deeply felt Omaggio in memory of Primo Levi seems typical of Kraft's clearly delineated style, which is basically atonal (the exception is the cheerful early piano piece Allegro Giocoso) but with much emphasis on lyricism and line. He studied electronic music with Vladimir Ussachevsky when the medium was in its infancy, and there is an example from the 1960s here of the kind of meaningful musical dialogue which could be achieved before anyone had heard of a digital synthesizer. Somewhat of necessity the choral songs are in a more conventional harmonic language (still spiced up with interesting dissonances) than the recent instrumental works, and there is real tenderness and beauty in these settings of the medieval Hebrew poet Moses Ibn Ezra. The somber and serious Ricercar is based on an extended original theme which the composer treats with great contrapuntal skill. Chamber Players of the League ISCM, Robert Helps (piano), New York Virtuoso Singers; Harold Rosenbaum, Slovak State Radio Orchestra; Joel Suben. CRI CD 799 (U.S.A.) 03A086 $16.98

ARTHUR LEVERING (b.1953): Twenty Ways Upon the Bells, Clarion/Shadowing, School of Velocity for Piano, Roulade, Uncle Inferno, Cloches II. Levering writes clear and detailed music in a modern idiom that is a little hard to define, but which is always approachable, not least on account of the appealing nature of his instrumentation, which is crystalline and inventive and serves perfectly to highlight the composer's ideas. These ideas, which are largely non-tonal or only tonal in a rather expanded sense, are original and often delightful, and the composer treats them with great skill in counterpoint as well as telling use of instrumental timbre. Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble; Scott Wheeler, Donald Berman (piano). CRI CD 812 (U.S.A.) 03A087 $16.98

MAURICIO KAGEL (b.1931): Auftakte, sechshändig for Piano and Percussion, Phantasiestück for Flute and Piano, Transición for Piano, Percussion and Tape, Serenade for 3 Instrumentalists. Kagel's highly theatrical sense of performance and the controlled indeterminacy of his scores are both characteristics which lend themselves admirably to the medium of chamber music. The way in which a musical gesture, a sound-event, can trigger reactions in the other players like protagonists in a not-quite-understood drama plainly fascinates the composer, and the complex interplay of these musical "personalities" - whether instrumental sounds or modified musical tones on tape - imbues these disjunct yet cohesive works with a remarkable vitality. L'Art pour L'Art. CPO 999 577 (Germany) 03A088 $15.98

CHEN YI (b.1953): Sparkle, Song in Winter for Harpsichord, Dizi and Zheng, Qi, Duo Ye for Pipa, Shuo, As in a Dream for Soprano, Pipa and Zheng, Near Distance. Chen blends western instrumental timbres with those of her native China in a fascinating, evocative and surprisingly alien-sounding mixture - the harmonic content of the sounds produced by the two types of instrument is sufficiently different to give the impression of microtonal music at times. Chen seems to have a penchant for glittery, treble-laden textures and intense, bustling activity. This is one of the most complete syntheses of eastern and western compositional techniques into something truly new and original to have come our way. Intriguing and exciting, and highly recommendable. New Music Consort; Claire Heldrich, Min Xiao-fen (pipa), Yang Yi (zheng), Rao Lan (soprano), New York New Music Ensemble; Jeffrey Milarsky. CRI CD 804 (U.S.A.) 03A089 $16.98

YING ZHANG (b.1939): The Woodman's Song for Erhu, Xiao, Pipa, Zheng and Dar Uan, GE GAN-RU (b.1954): Yi Feng for Cello, KAWAI SHIU (b.1967): winter tide for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet and Piano, LUO JING JING (b.1956): Mosquito for Piano, JASON KAO HWANG (b.1957): Flight of Whispers for Homemade Instruments, JAMES FEI (b.1974): Chinese Music for Bass Clarinet, CHEN JUANLIN (b.1957): Flying Swan for Soprano, Clarinet, Violin and Electronics, BYRON AU YONG (b.1971): Edge (excerpt) for 3 Conch Shells, Prayer Bowls and String Bass, FRED HO (b.1957): Absolute Solo! (Farewell to the New World Order) for Saxophone, JIN XIANG (b.1935): Sad Melody at Yanshi City for Orchestra of Chinese Instruments. We have probably never offered a more diverse and varied collection of music on one CD than this fascinating compendium of works by Chinese composers living and working in the U.S. There will be something here to please and offend just about anyone. Ying Zhang's work sounds like traditional Chinese music, and is played on traditional instruments. By contrast, Ge Gan-Ru's Yi Feng uses a solo cello in unorthodox playing techniques worthy of Helmut Lachenmann. Luo Jing Jing's Mosquito is somewhat minimalist, Hwang writes for an ensemble of "homemade instruments" and the result is not unlike Harry Partch, Fei makes a political point, raucously, by having the performer sing a political song through a bass clarinet - and so on. This is a provoking CD, and one which opens up unexpected channels in the appreciation of the music of our time. Mid-Price. Various artists. CRI CD 805 (U.S.A.) 03A090 $11.98

MATHIEU VIBERT (1920-1987): Symphonie funèbre, Du plus loin for Soprano and Orchestra, Nocturne for Cor Anglais, Oboe and Orchestra, Lux et Pax for Orchestra, Humana Missa for Soloists, Mixed Choir, Children's Choir and Orchestra. A prodigiously talented and creative individual who led a troubled life plagued by ill health, alcoholism and unstable personal relationships, Vibert produced a sizeable body of music stamped by a search for the epic, the profound, answers to the mysteries of the universe. Thus Lux et Pax celebrates the 25th anniversary of CERN, the nuclear particle accelerator which as the composer saw it symbolised the turning of man's most potentially destructive tampering with nature to peaceful ends. Du plus loin marked the end of a period of silence and depression for the composer following a serious accident, and suggests a personal journey with the most profound implications. The work he regarded as his greatest, the Humana Missa, is another spiritually questing work on a grand and impressive scale. Vibert's vocabulary includes suggestions of the Stravinsky of Le Sacre, and a long-limbed brooding sense of melody reminiscent of Shostakovich slow movements in the middle-period symphonies. Definitely a composer whose sharing of his personal spiritual quest makes for compelling artistic companionship. 2 CDs. Antoinette Matthey de l'Etang (soprano), Edgar Shann (cor anglais, oboe), Evelyne Brunner (soprano), Arlette Chédel (contralto), Eric Tappy (tenor), Etienne Bettens (bass-baritone), Chur du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Chur d'Oratorio de Lausanne, Chur mixte de Bulle, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Horst Stein, Jean Meylan, Arpad Gerecz. Doron DRC 2001/2 (Switzerland) 03A091 $33.98

HEINRICH SUTERMEISTER (1910-1995): Die schwarze Spinne. Some composers are drawn naturally to the stage, while others find it an alien environment. Sutermeister fell into the former category from his earliest years. (Paradoxically, "The Black Spider" was actually a radio opera when first composed; the composer later arranged it for "live" performance). It tells a folk-fable involving a pact with the devil, who is then cheated of the unbaptised soul he was promised, and his revenge upon the woman with whom he made his agreement - she is turned into a monstrous spider which is ultimately vanquished by a woman empowered by her love for her child. Sutermeister's sure sense of the dramatic - everything is clear and uncluttered, and the action is never obscured; musically too, the language is very precise, owing more than a little to Orff and to the 19th - 20th century German-speaking opera tradition - Pfitzner, Egk and the like. Essentially a conservative composer, Sutermeister is nonetheless a master dramatist, capable of holding the listener's attention unfailingly. German libretto, English synopsis. Liliane Zürcher (mezzo), Ludmila Zelenka (soprano), Matthias Widmaier (tenor), Ulrich Studer (bass), Orpheus Choir Bern, Members of the Bern Symphony Orchestra; Peter Michael Garst. Musikszene Schweiz MGB CD 6147 (Switzerland) 03A092 $18.98

FRANZ TISCHHAUSER (b.1921): Die Hampeloper for 11 Vocal Soloists, 3 Choir Groups and Small Orchestra, Omaggi a Mälzel for Imaginary Metronome and 12 Strings, Kassation for 9 Instruments. Tonal and not afraid to be humorous, Tischhauser's music stands somewhat apart from the mainstream of modernity. Impeccably crafted, it succeeds by the sharpness with which its lines are etched, the brilliance of the light under which its mechanisms may be observed in operation. A good case in point is the rather neo-classical-sounding but rich-textured Omaggi a Mälzel, which makes a virtue of its metronomic meters, while maintaining an irresistible sense of movement and good humor. Die Hampeloper, after a picture book, has something in common with Busoni's Arlecchino (that goes beyond the obvious recurring trumpet fanfare), and Kassation, like Omaggi . . . is another bustling divertimento, full of surprising little touches and bonhomie. Various vocal soloists, Singkreis Zürich, Camerata Zürich; Räto Tschupp. Musikszene Schweiz MGB CD 6094 (Switzerland) 03A093 $18.98

IVAN SPASSOV (b.1934): Canti dei Morti for Soprano and Orchestra, Canti lamentosi for 2 Sopranos and Chamber Orchestra , 23 Lines from Emily Dickenson for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, 3 Poems by Ann Day for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, Holy Bulgarian Liturgy for Female Choir, Songs of a Soul Flying to Paradise for Soprano, Tape and Orchestra. The harrowing Canti dei Morti in memory of the composer's mother, setting ancient Egyptian funerary texts, suggests a musical character designed to make Pettersson look like a sunny optimist. This is not an easy piece, but it is a very powerful one. Elsewhere, Spassov demonstrates a surefooted aptitude in bringing together a bewildering array of compositional vocabularies, whether graphically notated and wild, or in the gentle, restrained almost Brittenesque choral writing of the Bulgarian Liturgy (another deeply felt in memoriam piece, for the untimely death of the composer's daughter). For the most part, the vocal writing doesn't go far beyond Wozzeck, and the emotional intensity remains on that sort of level consistently, even in Spassov's perhaps unexpectedly devoted settings of delicately evocative American spiritual poetic imagery by Emily Dickinson and Ann Day. English texts and translations of songs. Old Slavonic text-English translation of Liturgy. Rumyana Evrova, Valentina Alexandrova, Emilia Maximova, Ticha Genova (sopranos), Pazardjik Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, Radio Sofia Chamber Orchestra "Simfonietta"; Ivan Spassov, Female Chamber Choir of the Plovdiv Academy; Krikor Chetinian. Labor LAB 7014 (U.S.A.) 03A094 $14.98

DOMENICO GUACCERO (1924-1984): Rappresentazione et Esercizio. "In the beginning was the word . . ." - and the word is central to these theatrical "events", which illustrate texts from the book of Genesis, the gospels, the book of Revelation and the writings of St John of the Cross filtered through the directly communicative medium of the voices of the participating singers, "acting out" the composer's trademark graphically notated scores. Positively demanding church performance (and getting one here, acoustically speaking) the work as a whole provides an unsettling theatrical experience, which restores a profound sense of mystery and the unknown to the liturgical experience. Gruppo Pentalfa; Sergio Rendine. Musicaimmagine MR 10016 (Italy) 03A095 $18.98

MALCOLM ARNOLD (b.1921): The Roots of Heaven, WILLIAM ALWYN (1905-1985): Suite of Scottish Dances, SIR MALCOLM SARGENT (1895-1967): An Impression on a Windy Day, CLIFTON PARKER (1905-1989): The Glass Slipper, JAMES LANGLEY (1927-1994): The Coloured Counties, GORDON JACOB (1895-1984): The Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil, MAURICE JOHNSTONE (1900-1976): Tarn Hows - A Cumbrian Rhapsody, ALAN LANGFORD (b.1928): Two Worlds, SIR RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT (b.1936): Little Suite, DAVID LYON (b.1938): Joie de Vivre. Although titled "British Light Music World Premieres", these pieces are more like classical compositions with a light touch than what many people associate with the term "light music". Alwyn's suite uses real Scottish folk-tunes; Arnold's overture is compiled from music for the film of the same name; Langley's piece is an "idyll" in the tradition of Butterworth; Sargent's is a Mendelssohnian concert overture... the list goes on and the quality is consistently top-notch and enjoyment guaranteed. Mid-price. Royal Ballet Sinfonia; Gavin Sutherland. ASV White Line Light Classics WHL 2116 (England) 03A096 $11.98

DAVID LYON (b.1938): Fantasia on a Nursery Song, Farnham Suite, Country Lanes, Concerto for Horn and Strings, Fairytale Suite, Overture to a Comic Opera, Waltz, Ballet for Orchestra. Again, no "Muzak" here; many of these works were written for the BBC's light music programs but they are the works of a serious composer who happens to be sucessful at composing light music. The horn concerto and (especially) the Ballet are complex enough to cross the light/serious music line while still being tonal and approachable. Ballet, in particular, seems more likely to energize and excite than to calm and soothe the listener. One of Marco Polo's finest "British Light Music" releases yet. Michael Thompson (horn), Royal Ballet Sinfonia; David Lloyd-Jones. Marco Polo 8.225039 (New Zealand) 03A097 $14.98

EMILE WALDTEUFEL (1837-1915): The Best of, Vol. 10 - Kamiesch, Op. 5, La Source, Op. 180, Trictrac, Op. 181, Idylle, Op. 209, Étincelles, Op. 229, Nid d'Amour, Op. 195, Bagatelle, Op. 233, Roses de Noël, Op. 230, Naples, Op. 179, En Garde!, Op. 189. Nearly 100 dances have now been recorded in this series - close to a third of Waldteufel's output: will "The Best of" turn into "The Complete"? Regardless, one can only be grateful for this new collection of poetically inspired waltzes, marches and polkas from the French rival to the Strauss family. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra; Alfred Walter. Marco Polo 8.22368 (New Zealand) 03A098 $14.98

VICTOR YOUNG (1900-1956): Music from the Films The Greatest Show on Earth, The Uninvited, Gulliver's Travels, Bright Leaf. "Broadway-cum-Rachmaninoff" is how Miklós Rósza described his friend Victor Young's film music; there is a lot of truth in the description, especially when considering such a famous tune as Stella by Starlight which came from the score to The Uninvited and was made world-famous by Sinatra, Harry James and others. But there is also some dazzlingly impressionistic music in this score for the 1944 Ray Milland ghost story. The other major suite here comes from 1949's Bright Leaf, a tobacco dynasty drama starring Gary Cooper - a rather boring, drab film which Young's score far outstrips in creativity, vigor and talent. Another worthy rescue of a composer who has increasingly been overlooked even as other film composers of the Hollywood Golden Era are being rehabilitated. Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; William T. Stromberg. Marco Polo 8.225063 (New Zealand) 03A099 $14.98

BRUCE BROUGHTON (b.1945): Lost in Space - Original Soundtrack. Not to be confused with the soundtrack album full of popular tunes which was released last year, this release brings over an hour of spectacular symphonic music by Broughton - rousing, powerful and grandly scored. The success of our previous Broughton offering (11A103), Shadow Conspiracy, made this selection mandatory! Composed and conducted by Bruce Broughton. Intrada MAF 7086 (U.S.A.) 03A100 $16.98