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Symphony in D

DONALD TOVEY (1875-1940): Symphony in D, Op. 32, Prelude to The Bride of Dionysus. This huge symphony, lasting 58 minutes and written in 1913, has its stylistic roots in Brahms and Bruckner, but Tovey was also open to contemporary developments: the harmonic procedures occasionally invoke Reger, the adventurous use of orchestral color suggests Mahler and Nielsen and the scale casts the work as a mighty cousin to Elgar's two symphonies, finished not long before. This is the work's first recording since Tovey himself conducted a BBC broadcast in 1937 (soon to be reissued on Symposium for real die-hard collectors). Malmö Opera Orchestra; George Vass. Toccata Classics TOCC 0033 (England) 05H001 $16.98 >

Number of exclusive items in this month's catalogue: 30 (Marked Ø)

NOTES [May 2006]:

1. 18 CDs containing works by contemporary Slovak composers could not fit into the printed catalogue. Because the vast majority of customers to whom this repertoire would appeal regularly use our web-site, these items will be found there, following on numerically after the final number of this catalogue. Customers who want a printed list of these titles need only ask and one will be mailed to them.

2. Accord has fired the employee who screwed up the shipping of the February releases. They are now out of them and God knows when I'll ever see them.

3. The first shipment of Norway in Music special-orders was destroyed by UPS before it even left Oslo. There will be some delay in filling these orders but most should be done before the end of May.

4. In November of 2003, we offered a Dux import of clarinet concertos by the French composers Jacques Bondon and Henri Tomasi. Demand outstripped supply but I've finally found another source and have filled all back-orders. I also have 5 extra copies. The price is still $16.98 and the blurb can be found under 11F073 at the Nov. 2003 link on the web-site.

5. The Ross Edwards Sym. No. 3 (12H082) is finally being shipped. ABC Classics could not manufacture more because the electronic file for reprinting the booklet had been lost so they dug into a warehouse and cannibalized a box-set which contained the disc and found barely enough to fill all the back-orders I had. (You can't make this stuff up...)

www. recordsinternational.com e-mail: sales@recordsinternational.com

CYRIL SCOTT (1879-1970): Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto No. 1, Early One Morning for Piano and Orchestra. How far it will go and what it will offer is unknown but this new release does have "Vol. 2" on the cover and it brings us an early piano concerto (from 1914) whose first two movements have a strong "oriental" feel due to static and exotic harmonies and the use of ostinati. The soloist never opposes the orchestra and is almost never silent, going along a path of relentless figurations which form a narrative against which the orchestra projects different moods. The symphony (1952 and not performed until this recording) also has an often exotic feel, the orchestration colorful and constantly changing while its great climaxes are reminiscent of Ravel or Debussy. Howard Shelley (piano), BBC Philharmonic; Martyn Brabbins. Chandos 10376 (England) 05H002 $17.98

GABRIEL PIERNÉ (1863-1937): Fantaisie basque for Violin and Orchestra, Izéÿl - Suite for Orchestra, Divertissements sur un thème pastoral, Impressions de music-hall. In which, surprisingly, the biggest work is the 18-minute music-hall tribute of 1927, a five-movement extravaganza of musical wit with a brief prelude followed by "Chorus Girls" (a nonchalant march with trombone glissandi prominent), "L'Excentrique" (a stopped-trumpet soloist portraying the famous dancing clown of the Belle Époque, Little Tich), a "Numero espagnole" with malagueña airs and a closing "Clowns musicaux" which is a riot of superimposed melodies and quotations from famous symphonic works. From the same year, the highly virtuosic "Basque Fantasy" uses seven authentic folksongs in its 12-minute course; Izéÿl is a ten-minute suite of incidental music, delicately oriental with some use of authentic Indian modes, for an 1894 play starring Sarah Bernardt while the 1931 Divertissements is, in effect, a brilliant 12-minute concerto for orchestra, brilliantly showing off all the sections. Philippe Koch (violin), Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra; Bramwell Tovey. Timpani 1C1096 (France) 05H003 $18.98

EUGÈNE YSAYE (1858-1931): Violin Concerto (No. 8), Poème élégiaque, Op. 12, Chant d'hivers, Op. 15, Berceuse, Op. 20, Les neiges d'Antan, Op. 23, Divertimento, Op. 24. Yes, No. 8: Ysaÿe wrote that many but destroyed them all. His grandson Jacques revised and orchestrated this 24-minute piece which is late Romantic in style but concerto grosso-like in that the soloist is matched with a strings-only orchestra. The Poème was the inspiration for Chausson's work of the same name and, it appears, Chant d'hivers was a reply to Chausson's reply. Very late works, both Les neiges and Divertimento have a melancholy, reflective and valedictory quality. Albrecht Breuninger (violin), Northwest German Philharmonic; Welisar Gentscheff. CPO 777 051 (Germany) 05H004 $15.98

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Complete Edition, Vol. 58 - Overture in E, JS 145, Scène de Ballet, JS 163, Serenade for Baritone and Orchestra, JS 168, Impromptu for Women's Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 19 (original and world premiere final versions), Pan and Echo, Op. 53, Luonnotar for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 70, Väinön Virsi for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 110, World premiere recordings: Kullervo's Lament for Bass and Orchestra from Op. 7, In the Night for Baritone and Orchestra, Op. 38/3, Autumn Song for Soprano and String Orchestra, Op. 38/1, Duke Magnus for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 57/6. Another sprinkling of first recordings of mostly vocal music which includes what surely must have been one of the last things Sibelius did - the 1957 revision of Kullervo's lament for Kim Borg to sing at Sibelius Week that June. Finnish/Swedish-English texts. Helena Juntinen (soprano), Tommi Hakala (baritone), Jyrki Korhonen (bass), Dominante Choir, Lahti Symphony Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä. BIS CD-1565 (Sweden) 05H005 $17.98

The Romantic Violin Concerto, Vol. 6

JENÖ HUBAY (1858-1937): Suite for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 5, Violin Concertos No. 1 in A Minor "Concerto dramatique", Op. 21 and No. 2 in E, Op. 90. For Hubay completists, this new release offers his orchestration of an original violin/piano piece from 1881, a suite of character pieces à la baroque but, of course, in late Romantic style. The concertos appeared on a two-disc Hungaroton release in 2001 but collectors of this series will want this completion of their Hubay cycle. Hagai Shaham (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins. Hyperion CDA 67498 (England) 05H006 $18.98

Society for the Preservation of the American Musical Heritage - next reissue

LOUIS COERNE (1870-1922): Excalibur, Op. 180, EDWARD BURLINGAME HILL (1872-1960): Stevensoniana Suite No. 1, Op. 24, HORATIO PARKER (1863-1919): A Northern Ballad, Op. 46, JOHN ALDEN CARPENTER (1876-1951): Sea-Drift. Coerne must be the most unknown composer yet thrown up by this leisurely-developing series. A student of Rheinberger (he completed the latter's unfinished mass in A minor) who also received the first Ph.D. in music ever granted in the U.S. (from Harvard), he left his contribution to the fascination with King Arthur (think of Chausson, Bax and Rutland Boughton) in 1921, a piece heavily indebted to the tradition of Liszt and Wagner. Hill's four-piece suite (1917) is a somewhat weightier version of the "inspired by and for children" genre contributed to by Fauré, Debussy and others, while Parker's Northern Ballad of 1899 is in the same ballpark as Grieg and Delius (the latter's early Norwegian-inspired works). A more mature Delius is evoked by the chromaticisms in Carpenter's tone-poem (1933), although Holst and Bridge are also not far away. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Karl Krueger. Bridge 9190 (U.S.A.) 05H007 $16.98

JOSEPH-GUY ROPARTZ (1865-1955): Complete String Quartets, Vol. 1 - No. 2 in D Minor and No. 3 in G. The first of three CDs containing Ropartz' six quartets offers two completed either side of World War I between which his style matured considerably. The Second (1912) uses four-cell motifs in an evolution of Franckian cyclic form, there is a balance between tonality and modality while the melodies are long and lyrical, producing an effect of positive, bright energy which is anything but austere. The Third (1925), totally free from Franck, makes much use of dotted rhythms and shimmering sonorities which suggest a joyful serenity powered by a constantly pulsing rhythmic engine. Quatuor Stanislas. Timpani 1C1099 (France) 05H008 $18.98

DON GILLIS (1912-1978): Symphony No. 7 "Saga of a Prairie School", Portrait of a Frontier Town, The Alamo. The fifth Gillis release (and the fourth from these Polish forces!) is a mythologizing of Texas. In these pieces, all of which date from 1947-49, Texas and its people are represented as the larger-than-life figures Americans expect them to be - long-striding, hard-riding (-herding, -working), magnanimous, good-humored people who represent the spirit of America. The Portrait is of Fort Worth and its five segments are self-explanatory: "Chamber of Commerce", "Where the West Begins", "Ranch House Party", "Prairie Sunset" and "Main Street - Saturday Night"; The Alamo is a single-movement meditation, mostly slow and quiet with injections of martial music (but no depiction of the battle); the "Prairie School" of the symphony is Gillis' alma mater, Texas Christian (also of Fort Worth). Whether you buy the Texas-sized hype or not, Gillis' craft continues to amaze, both in his creation and subtle manipulation and interweaving of motifs and in his sure-handed orchestration. He creates sonic spectaculars even in his quiet music and continues to be almost the only composer able to write what seems, on the surface, to be "light music" but which is obviously much more than that. Sinfonia Varsovia; Ian Hobson. Albany SACD hybrid TROY 833 (U.S.A.) 05H009 $16.98

ERNST LEVY (1895-1981): Chamber Symphony (Symphony No. 12). This hour-long work was written over the summer of 1951 to fill a place on a planned concert at the University of Chicago, where Levy was teaching at the time. Its seven movements make use of varying portions of the instrumentalists which were available at the time (six wind players and a string quartet). In effect, Levy has created a big piece of Gebrauchmusik - making use of the limited forces at his disposal and putting them through their contrapuntal paces (three fugues in the first movement and polyphonic metamorphoses of a first movement theme in the first slow movement) while also giving them much gratifying melody; he also gives the three vocal soloists plenty to do in the big last movement - a 17-minute symphonic final movement with "Harvester's Song", a 16th century English text by George Peele. Text included. Jane Schoonamaker Rogers (soprano), Tina Bunce (alto), Christopher Scholl (tenor), National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; David Oberg. Opus One CD 192 (U.S.A.) 05H010 $11.98

ERNST TOCH (1887-1964): Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 38, Piano Quintet, Op. 64. Composed in 1926, Toch's concerto is very much a piece of its time, a brittle neo-classicism prevailing, with orchestration often of chamber-like clarity, of the type one associates with works by Prokofiev, Martinu and Ravel from the same period. The longer, more relaxed, indeed, more unashamedly Romantic chamber work from 1938 (in four movements with "The ____ Part' titles of "Lyrical", "Whimsical", "Contemplative" and "Dramatic") seems to reveal a composer finally able to relax a bit in the safety of the United States, the fact that he was also at that time doing work for Hollywood film studios perhaps accounting for the surface attractiveness of the music. Diane Andersen (piano), Danel Quartet, Halle State Philharmonic Orchestra; Hans Rotman. Talent SACD hybrid DOM 2929 70 (Belgium) 05H011 $17.98

ERNST TOCH (1887-1964): Symphonies Nos. 1-7. Having slowly trickled out in 1997, 2000 and 2004, the complete symphonies, begun only when Toch had reached the age of 62, are now reissued at mid-price and anyone not familiar with their surprisingly cheerful, busy, clear-textured and approachable personalities can easily make their acquaintance now. 3 CDs. Special price. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Alun Francis. CPO 777 191 (Germany) 05H012 $26.98

RUDI STEPHAN (1887-1915): Die ersten Menschen. This was Stephan's last work as he used his two army furloughs in June and August of 1915 to finish the preparations for its performance that winter. He took a bullet in the head from a Russian sharpshooter in the trenches of Galicia and the premiere didn't occur until 1920. A cut, revised version circulated in the 1920s and was revived in 1988 but this 1998 concert performance was the first of the original version since 1920. Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel are the only four characters, the libretto by a controversial playwright/philosopher (Otto Borngräber) whose stage original was banned throughout Bavaria under Catholic pressure. One can see why with Eve a nymphomanic whom Adam can't satisfy, preferring instead to exhaust himself working the land, Abel a deranged prophet of God's existence, Cain lusting after his mother, much of the first act oozing with images of repressed eroticism. Obviously, we're in Zemlinsky, Schreker, Korngold, Goldschmidt territory here, although the music is more reminiscent of Richard Strauss (Stephan was finishing his second version of Music for Orchestra while working on Die ersten Menschen), even to the powerful and often stratospheric soprano part. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Siegmund Nimsgern (bass), Gabriele Maria Ronge (soprano), Florian Cerny (baritone), Hans Aschenbach (tenor), Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Karl Anton Rickenbacher. CPO 999 980 (Germany) 05H013 $31.98

GEORGE ENESCU (1881-1955): Piano Sonatas No. 1 in F Sharp Minor, Op. 24/1 and No. 3 in D, Op. 24/3, Prelude and Fugue in C, Nocturne in D Flat, Scherzo, Pièce sur le nom de Fauré. Enescu's piano works inhabit a dark, moody world shaded by influences of his teacher, Fauré, other French contemporaries and of Romanian folk music. Particularly startling is the 20-minute Nocturne from 1907, found only after the composer's death, whose improvisatory style and languid, hothouse atmosphere (with much luxuriant growth of decorative melody) probably comes from late Scriabin but really smacks of Sorabji! The Prelude and Fugue (1903) are amazingly slow-moving, hypnotic in their gathering intensity - like nothing else you've heard from this period before. The two sonatas (a third was never written down - "It's in my head", Enescu used to say when asked about it) date from 1924 and 1934, and the richness (and strangeness) of their landscapes and mindscapes (particularly the third movement of the first sonata whose aching nostalgia has a morbid quality to it) will repay frequent listening. 2 CDs. Special price. Luiza Borac (piano). Avie SACD hybrid AV2081 (England) 05H014 $19.98

JACOPO PERI (1561-1633): L'Euridice. The first opera to actually survive, opening the way for Monteverdi's stunning L'Orfeo, rarely gets recorded, much less by a Polish period instrument group! Don't expect the dramatic tension of the later composer but Orpheus' dramatic pleading with Pluto in the second act demonstrates Peri's pathfinding compositional skill. 2 CDs. Italian-Polish libretto. Olga Pasiecznik (soprano), Jacek Laszczkowski (sopranist), Soloists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Wladyslaw Klosiewicz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 028/029 (Poland) 05H015 $33.98 Ø

FRANCESCA CACCINI (1587-c.1640): La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina. And now, the first woman to compose an opera, daughter of Giulio Caccini, one of the founders of the genre. This balletto, really a dramma per musica, dates from 1625. Viewed at its premiere by the visiting Polish Prince Wladyslaw Waza, he had a copy sent back home and translated into Polish (this recording is in Italian). No libretto. Leszek Swidzinski (tenor), Dorota Lachowicz (alto), Agnieszka Kurowska (soprano), Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 012 (Poland) 05H016 $16.98 Ø

MARCIN MIELCZEWSKI (d.ca.1651): Complete Works, Vol. 1 - Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius, Ingredimini omnes, Beata Dei Genetrix, Magnificat tertii toni, Lauda Jerusalem Dominum, Victimae paschali laudes, Dixit Dominus, Laudate pueri Dominum, Magnificat primi toni, Virgo prudentissima. During the middle of the 17th century, Mielczewski was known throughout Europe and many of his works continued to be performed decades after his death. This six-CD series (the next three will be offered in June) contains mostly newly rediscovered compositions plundered by the Nazis from Cracow and discovered not long ago in the Preussische Kulturbesitz in the former East Berlin. Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 017 (Poland) 05H017 $16.98 Ø

MARCIN MIELCZEWSKI (d.ca.1651): Complete Works, Vol. 2 - Audite gentes et exsultate, Currite populi, Quem terra, pontus, aethera, Benedictus sit Deus, Credidi a 12, Nisi Dominus aedificaverit, Magnificat octavi toni, Iste cognovit, Gaudete omnes et exsultate. These three volumes contain polychoral motets and sacred concertos with anything from six-voice choirs to two four-part choirs, with accompanying pairs of violins and four trombones (or three trombones and bassoon) with basso continuo. Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 020 (Poland) 05H018 $16.98 Ø

MARCIN MIELCZEWSKI (d.ca.1651): Complete Works, Vol. 3 - Audite et admiramini, Laetatus sum, Confitemini Domino, Plaudite manibus, Credidi a 8, Jubilate Deo, O lumen Ecclesiae, Benedictio et claritas, Gaude Dei Genetrix, Ante thorum huius Virginis, Triumphalis dies. Deluxe presentation with oversize booklets in slipcases and full Latin texts (but Polish translations). Soloists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 027 (Poland) 05H019 $16.98 Ø

ÉTIENNE MOULINIÉ (1599-1676): 21 airs de cour. A selection from all five of Moulinié's books of airs, demonstrating his attempts to revive what had already become an old, almost obsolete genre when he began publishing in 1624: airs, récits, dialogues, drinking songs as well as Spanish and Italian songs show his mastery, wedding voice and poetic text. French, Spanish, Italian texts. Maria Cristina Kiehr (soprano), Alain Aubin (countertenor), John Elwes (tenor), Josep Cabré (bass), Bernard Revel (lute, guitar). l'empreinte digitale ED 13010 (France) 05H020 $17.98

ALESSANDRO MELANI (1639-1703): Qual momorio giocondo, Quai bellici accenti, ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI (1660-1725): Sinfonia, Recitative and Aria of Adone from Il Giardino di Amore, Concerto No. 3 à 4 in F for Strings and Continuo, Su le sponde del Tebro, JAN DISMAS ZELENKA (1679-1745): Laudate pueri. The rather unknown Melani contributes polar opposites in this collection of arias for soprano and trumpet - a martial one full of love/war metaphors and one based on tender pleading. Italian-English texts. Dorothea Wirtz (soprano), Wolfgang Basch (trumpet), Parnassi Musici. Etcetera KTC 1244 (Netherlands) 05H021 $17.98

DAMIAN STACHOWICZ (1658-1699): Missa Requiem, Ave Virgo mundi spes, Veni Consolator, Litaniae de Beata Maria Virgine, Beata nobis gaudia, 8 Psalmi ad vesperas. Like Mielczewski, Stachowitz is the beneficiary of many discoveries post-World War II, allowing for a much clearer picture of the far from negligible contributions of native Polish clergy musicians. Exhaustve documentation lavishly presented. Soloists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 035 (Poland) 05H022 $16.98 Ø

NICOLAS BERNIER (1664-1734): Ornate aras, Congratulamini, Cantemus Domino, Alma redemptoris, Accurite fideles, Omnes Gentes. In the genre of the petit motet, Bernier was second only to Charpentier, whom he succeeded at the Sainte-Chappelle in 1704. Often highly dramatic, using the Italian style fluently and mixing it beautifully with the French, Bernier produced pieces which often come off as miniature dramas. Accurite fideles, at 22 minutes, is as dramatic and lasts longer than most grand motets. Ensemble Almasis. l'empreinte digitale ED 13205 (France) 05H023 $17.98

GRZEGORZ GERWAZY GORCZYCKI (c.1664-1734): Litaniae de Providentia Divina, Gratuletur Ecclesia, Crudelis Herodes, Innocentes pro Christo infantes, Tristes errant Apostoli, Illuxit sol, Conductus funebris, In virtute tua, Os iusti meditabitur, Iustus ut palma florebit, Laetatus sum, Deus tuorum militum (I & II), Iesu corona verginum, Completorium. Half of these, Gorczycki's complete vocal-instrumental works, have been discovered since World War II, rendering obsolete the early 20th century thinking of him as a composer solely in the stile antico. Even more exhaustve documentation still lavishly presented. 2 CDs. Olga Pasiecznik, Marta Boberska (sopranos), Jan Monowid (alto), Zdzislaw Kordyjalik (tenor), Jaroslaw Brek (bass), Chamber Choir of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Kai Bumann . Pro Musica Camerata PMC 036/037 (Poland) 05H024 $33.98 Ø

JEAN-FERRY REBEL (1666-1747): Violin (Trio) Sonatas No. 3 in B Flat "l'Apollon", No. 5 in D "Le Pallas", No. 7 in C Minor "Tombeau de Monsieur de Lully" and No. 11 in B Flat, Violin Sonatas from Op. 2: No. 5 in D, No. 6 in B Minor. For two violins and continuo, the first four sonatas listed above were composed by 1695 although not published until 1712 (three of them are available only here). The remaining two are for solo violin with interspersed solos for viol, published in 1713. All demonstrate the combination of Italian fire and French sweetness which characterize this still too-little-known composer at the court of the Sun King. Amandine Beyer (violin), Assemblée des Honnestes Curieux. Zig-Zag Territories ZZT051102 (France) 05H025 $17.98

TOMASO ALBINONI (1671-1751): 6 Sonate da chiesa, Op. 4, 12 Trattenimenti armonici per camera, Op. 6. Dating from c.1708-1711, these four-movement works, not without vitality, are chiefly notable for their restraint, cool elegance and lack of overt virtuosity. Mid-price. The Locatelli Trio. Original 1994 Hyperion release. Hyperion Dyad CDD 22048 (England) 05H026 $18.98

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741): Arias for Bass from the Operas Armida al campo d'Egitto, RV699-A, Tito Manlio, RV738-A, Orlando furioso, RVAnh84, Semiramide, RV733, Il Farnace, RV711-D, La Silvia, RV 734, L'Adelaide, RV 695, L'Olimpiade, RV725, Concerto for Strings, RV 162. Unlike many of his castrati-obsessed contemporaries, Vivaldi wrote much passionate and strikingly dramatic music for the bass voice, often accompanying it with a solo instrument. This collection, containing quite a bit of rare repertoire, shows the tragedy and despondency which go along with the frivolity and jubilation we normally associate with this composer's music. Italian-English texts. Lorenzo Regazzo (bass), Concerto Italiano; Rinaldo Alessandrini. Naïve OP30415 (France) 05H027 $16.98

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741): Violin Concertos, Vol. 1 - in D, RV208 "Grosso Mogul", in G Minor, RV332, in D, RV 234 "L'Inquietudine", in C Minor, RV199 "Il Sospetto", in B Flat, RV 362 "La Caccia" and in E, RV270 "Il Riposto". As this Vivaldi Edition is based on the archive of the composer's own manuscripts housed at the National University in Turin and as many of his 240 violin concertos are quite unknown, Naïve has embarked on a series which will record all 100 or so violin concertos preserved there. We don't need to tell you about the virtuosity and dramatic representation this composer is capable of. This series will sell itself. Academia Montis Regalis; Enrico Onofri (violin). Naïve OP30417 (France) 05H028 $16.98

DOMENICO SCARLATTI (1685-1757): Tetide in Sciro. One of only two mostly complete operas surviving by Domenico, this 1712 work, one of a series composed in Rome for the dowager Polish Queen Maria Casimira, shows son to be far more than the shadow of his father, particularly in his keen dramatic sense and unusual distribution of lines in ensembles. 2 CDs. Italian-Polish libretto. Marzanna Rudnicka (soprano), Dorota Lachowicz (alto), Wojciech Parchem (tenor), Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Lilianna Stawarz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 030/031 (Poland) 05H029 $33.98 Ø

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759): Arianna in Creta, HWV 32. Premiered in 1734, during Handel's struggles with the rival "Opera of the Nobility" theatre which had poached most of his star singers, this almost forgotten work was a pretty big success with 16 performances in three months and five more in a revival later that year. Proof that, regardless of the opinion of some scholars who probably never heard the piece, Handel was not in a "decline" creatively at this time. Only available recording. 3 CDs. Special price. Italian-English libretto. Mara Katsuli (soprano), Mary-Ellen Nesi, Irini Karaianni, Marita Paparizou (mezzos), Petros Magoulas (bass), Orchestra of Patras; George Petrou. MD&G 609 1375-2 (Germany) 05H030 $21.98

JEAN-MARIE LECLAIR (1697-1764): Violin Sonatas in A, Op. 9/1, in D, Op. 9/3, in A Minor, Op. 9/5 & in C, Op. 9/8, For Solo Harpsichord: JACQUES DUPHLY (1715-1789): La Forqueray, ANTOINE FORQUERAY (1672-1745): La Leclair, FRANÇOIS COUPERIN (1668-1733): La Superbe, ou La Forqueray. The pinnacle toward which Rebel and other French violinists reached, Leclair's reputation for extreme virtuosity and harmonic daring was equalled only by the restraint and elegance with which he accomplished it - mostly moderate tempos, no extremes of range, all ornaments written out. No Italian wildness but really difficult to play well! Simon Standage (violin), Nicholas Parle (harpsichord). Chandos Chaconne 0726 (England) 05H031 $17.98

JOHANN ADOLF HASSE (1699-1783): Zenobia - Highlights. With only three or four of Hasse's 60-odd stage works currently available, we can't complain too hard about a highlights disc - especially of music which hasn't been heard since its Warsaw premiere in 1762. The work was as up to date as anything Haydn was writing at the time and this Polish label has provided a synopsis of the entire libretto with the recorded portions highlighted in the expository texts - rather like Opera Rara in their highlights-only releases (although obviously not as lavishly presented, this is still nothing to sneeze at). Italian-English texts. Olga Pasiecznik, Marta Boberska (sopranos), Bernard Pyrzyk (tenor), Dorota Lachowicz (alto), Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Wladyslaw Klosiewicz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 023 (Poland) 05H032 $16.98 Ø

CARL FRIEDRICH ABEL (1723-1787): Flute Concerto in E Minor, JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782): Quintet in D for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello and Continuo, GOTTFRIED FINGER (1660-1730): Sonata for Recorder, Cello and Continuo in C, Op. 5/10, FRANCESCO BARSANTI (1690-1722): A Collection of Old Scots Tunes (selection), NICOLA MATTEIS (18th c.): Ground after the Scotch Humour for Recorder, Violin and Continuo, GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759): Oboe Concerto in G Minor, HWV 287, Trio Sonata in F, HWV 383. The title of this disc is "Foreign Insult" (from a 1705 English document lamenting the influx of foreign musicians). German, Bohemian and Italian composers from baroque to early Classical, resident in England, all of whom you're likely to know except, perhaps, Matteis (and even he appeared on a Hyperion collection in these pages in July of 2002). Check your collections! La Ricordanza. MD&G 505 1381-2 (Germany) 05H033 $17.98

GIOVANNI BATTISTA SAMMARTINI (c.1700-1775): Il pianto degli Angeli della Pace, Symphony in E Flat. Dating from 1751, the 45-minute cantata is full of the sparkling themes, unusual harmonies, refined wealth of ideas and darting, fluid rhythms which also characterize his many symphonies, as can be seen in its coupling. Italian-English texts. Silvia Mapelli (soprano), Ainhoa Soraluze (mezzo), Giorgio Tiboni (tenor), Capriccio Italiano Ensemble; Daniele Ferrari. Naxos 8.557432 (New Zealand) 05H034 $7.98

CARLOS DE SEIXAS (1704-1742): Harpsichord Sonatas, Vol. 1 - Nos. 10, 18, 19, 24, 27, 34, 36, 37, 42, 43, 44, 50 & 57. Unlike the older composer, Dominico Scarlatti, Seixas wrote multi-movement sonatas, although of similar overall length. Stylistically, they run the gamut from Baroque through Empfindsamkeit to the simple galant with only rare similarities to Scarlatti. This series should run to at least eight discs. Débora Halász (harpsichord). Naxos 8.557459 (New Zealand) 05H035 $7.98

FRANZ XAVER RICHTER (1709-1789): String Quartets, Op. 5, Nos. 1-3, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791): Fugues after Bach's "Well-Tempered Klavier", K. 405.3 & 4, Canon alla Secunda, K. 562C/Anh. 191. Counter-point is what unites these strange discmates. Mozart's early 1780s examples of fugue writing are not unknown but Richter's only set of quartets, half of them recorded here, are startling! Composed as early as the late 1750s but certainly by 1768, the deep, mature counterpoint combines with an expressivity and gift for conversation between the four instruments (fully emancipated cello here) is probably beyond what Haydn was doing at the time. Rincontro. Alpha 089 (France) 05H036 $17.98

WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH (1710-1784): Flute Sonata in E Minor, Sonata for 2 Violins and Continuo in B Flat, F. 50, Sonata for 2 Flutes and Continuo in D, F. 48, Flute Sonata in F, Sonata for 2 Flutes and Continuo in A Minor, F.49 (fragment), Sonata for 2 Flutes and Continuo in D, F. 47. For those of you who bought the Berlin Classics W.F. Bach release last month, the second, third and fourth works listed above were not on that disc, accounting for 30 minutes of different music on this new release. Camerata Köln. CPO 777 086 (Germany) 05H037 $15.98

FRANÇOIS-JOSEPH GOSSEC (1734-1829): Le Triomphe de la République ou Le Camp de Grand Pré. Glorifying the victory of Revolutionary forces at Valmy in late 1792, this 1793 divertissement-lyrique consists mostly of simple, homophonic choruses of hymnlike quality - the better to appeal directly to the crowds of new Citizens admitted to the temples of higher art by the change in government. A large orchestra accompanies recitative and also provides a final ballet with a series of dances - the "Entrée des Nations". Pretty much the end of Gossec's composing career as, after 1795, he stuck to teaching. French-English libretto. Salomé Haller (soprano), Guillemette Laurens (mezzo), Makato Sakurada (tenor), Claudio Danuser (baritone), Philippe Huttenlocher (bass), Coro Calicantus, Chorus of Swiss Radio, Lugano, I Barocchisti; Diego Fasolis. Chandos Chaconne 0727 (England) 05H038 $17.98

MICHAEL HAYDN (1737-1806): Missa Sancti Francisci Seraphici in C, MH 119, Regina coeli in C, MH 80, Symphonies in E Flat, MH 473 & in G, MH 474. World premiere recordings of the magnificent, celebratory Marian antiphon from 1766 and the 33-minute mass from somewhere between 1768-70. The latter is a reworking (with completely new Gloria and Credo and substantially reworked Benedictus) of a much earlier piece from Haydn's period in Grosswardein. This is a full-scale festive mass (2 clarini, 2 trumpets and 3 trombones) fully in keeping with the other compositions of the Salzburg period. Zurich Boys' Choir, Zurich Chamber Orchestra; Howard Griffiths. Novalis 150 178-2 (Switzerland) 05H039 $16.98

GIOVANNI PAISIELLO (1741-1816): Te Deum. Performed in Warsaw in 1791 to commemorate the establishment of the first democratic republic in Europe (to be torn apart shortly thereafter by Prussia, Russia and Austria), Paisiello's spectacular, immensely majestic Te Deum was also part of Napoleon's coronation in 1804 and should stand as one of his finest non-stage works, period. Marta Boberska, Julita Miroslawska (sopranos), Anna Radziejewska (mezzo), Krzysztof Machowski (tenor), Józef Frakstein (bass), Choir or the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Warsaw Symphony Orchestra; Zbigniew Graca. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 038 (Poland) 05H040 $16.98 Ø

DOMENICO CIMAROSA (1749-1801): Cleopatra. Premiered in St. Petersburg in late 1789, this opera, static as to its libretto, nevertheless provides an unending series of impressive arias, one duet, one quartet and a grand finale (and two ballets and an orchestral march) which uphold Cimarosa's reputation as the foremost Italian proponent of simplicity, elegance, wit and vivacity in fresh and vigorous music, imaginatively and colorfully orchestrated. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Luisa Giannini, Patrizia Morandini (sopranos), Luca Favaron (tenor), Maria Pia Moriyòn (mezzo), Città di Adria Chorus and Orchestra; Franco Piva. Bongiovanni GB 2395/96 (Italy) 05H041 $33.98

JAN STEFANI (c.1749-1829): The Miracle or The Cracovians and the Highlanders. The most popular opera in Poland in the 19th century and the foundation of the Polish national stage style, this 1794 work derives its libretto from Polish folk customs and the music uses national dance and folk rhythms. Even the lack of libretto will not seriously impede the enjoyment of such a folk-oriented work. 2 CDs. No libretto. Justyna Stepien, Beata Wardak (sopranos), Leszek Swidzinski (tenor), Chamber Choir of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense; Wladyslaw Klosiewicz. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 032/033 (Poland) 05H042 $33.98 Ø

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791): Flute Quintets in G Minor, K. 516 and in D, K. 593 (arr. anon.). These arrangements appeared the year of Mozart's death, the Viennese music dealer Johann Traeg not deeming it necessary to tell his customers who made them. The G minor work benefits especially from the flute, giving the piece a pre-Romantic, gentle melancholy which the original string quintet didn't quite have. Ensemble Campanile. Hungaroton HCD 32352 (Hungary) 05H043 $17.98

WOJCIECH DANKOWSKI (c.1760-after1836): Missa Solemnis, Litania de Beatae Mariae Virginis. We don't know much about his life but the wide distribution of copies of dozens and dozens of his works attest to the contemporary value he had even beyond Poland. Written for smaller parishes, these works dispense with violas and make no great demands on the instrumentalists but are virtual opera arias for the soloists, who must have been of professional quality. A charming, singing character is added by the unostentatious use of Polish folk rhythms. Agnieszka Kurowska (soprano), Dorota Lachowicz (alto), Zdzislaw Kordyjalik (tenor), Józef Frakstein (bass), Choir of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Warsaw Sinfonietta; Ryszard Zimak. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 007 (Poland) 05H044 $16.98 Ø

WOJCIECH DANKOWSKI (c.1760-after1836): Symphony in E Flat, JAN WANSKI (c.1760-after 1821): Symphony in D, ANON.: Symphonia de Nativitate, Viola d'amore Concerto in B Minor. There are many anonymous concertos and symphonies in church archives in Poland and these two have probably not been recorded before. The concerto is in late baroque style with ground bass and solo vs. ripieno sections. The symphony is in Italian overture style while its identifiable companions are fully conversant with Mannheim style and sonata form. Artur Paciorkiewicz (viola d'amore), Warsaw Chamber Opera Orchestra; Mieczyslaw Nowakowski. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 002 (Poland) 05H045 $16.98 Ø

JOSEPH EYBLER (1765-1846): String Trio, Op. 2, String Quintet, Op. 6/1. Eybler demonstrates his independence and originality in these chamber works for strings with the viola getting a bigger share of the action in both works than was common at the time (1795 and 1803) - string trios usually had two violins and cello. The quintet is even more remarkable for being the only one at the time to use single violin, two violas, cello and double bass - and the latter gets plenty of melodic material too showing the composer had a fascination with the lower strings. Stylistically, Haydn is still the touchstone while the quintet's six movements recall divertimento form. Deutsches Streichtrio, Roland Metzger (second viola), Heinrich Braun (double bass). CPO 777 025 (Germany) 05H046 $15.98

FRANZ XAVER SÜSSMAYER (1766-1803): Der Spiegel von Arkadien for Wind Ensemble (arr. Wendt). This 1794 opera was Süßmayer's most successful (he wrote around two dozen), prompting many pirated excerpts of the most popular numbers in the German folk and Italian lyrical styles. The omnipresent Wendt quickly produced this string of highlights for pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons with double bass, making one wish the whole opera would be recorded since several contemporaries ranked it with Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte. Consortium Classicum. MD&G 301 1380-2 (Germany) 05H047 $17.98

JÓZEF ELSNER (1769-1854): Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Op. 65. The original manuscript of this work, completed in 1837, was only rediscovered in 1994 in Berlin, allowing for its first performances since 1854. Straddling late Classical and early Romantic styles, Elsner sublimated opera into much of this oratorio which ends in triumphal rejoicing. The language refers to Chopin and to Beethoven as often as it does to Mozart. Elsner plainly requires an important position in the transition period to Romanticism. 2 CDs. Agnieszka Korowska (soprano), Miroslawa Rezler (alto), Zdzislaw Kordyjalik (tenor), Marek Wawrzyniak, Jerzy Mahler (basses), Warsaw Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir; Jacek Kaspszyk. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 018/019 (Poland) 05H048 $33.98 Ø

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): String Quintets in E Flat, Op. 4, in C, Op. 29, in C Minor, Op. 104 (from Piano Trio, Op. 1/3), Fugue in D, Op. 137, Duet for Viola and Cello in E Flat, WoO 32, 6 ländlerische Tänze for 2 Violins, Cello and Double Bass, WoO 15. All Beethoven wrote for string quintet - the original opp. 29 and 137, the piano trio transcription and alternate version of the wind octet (an early work later published as op. 103) - with a couple of smaller oddities. 2 CDs. Zurich String Quintet, Viorel Alexandru (double bass). Brilliant Classics 92857 (Netherlands) 05H049 $10.98

JÁNOS FUSZ (1777-1819): 6 neue Lieder, Op. 6, Der Weg von Freundschaft bis zur Liebe, Op. 24, 4 Gesänge from Op. 16, Der Traum, Op. 21, 3 Gesänge from Op. 22, 4 Gesänge from Op. 23, Elysium, Op. 29, Beruhigung, Op. 31, An Emilie, Op. 32, Das Lied der kleinen Anna. Beethoven, frustrated that Fusz had already completed a grand opera Romulus on a libretto he had thought of setting, said "He understands songs and should stick to them." Well, he did understand songs and this collection, ranging from simple strophic compositions to much more emotionally charged pieces (lengths up to eight minutes) in which his impending death calls up an original response both harmonically and formally, proves the point. German-English texts. Mária Zádori (soprano), Timothy Bentch (tenor), Anikó Horváth (fortepiano). Hungaroton HCD 32402 (Hungary) 05H050 $17.98

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) /JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Piano Concertos No. 10 in E Flat, K.365 and No. 24 in C Minor, K.491. As promised, the second volume of this series with the fascinating solutions one would expect from Hummel in transcribing a two-piano original for solo pianist. Fumiko Shiraga (piano), Henrik Wiese (flute), Peter Clemente (violin), Tibor Bényi (cello). BIS CD-1237 (Sweden) 05H051 $17.98 Ø

FERDINAND RIES (1784-1838): Grande Sonate in D, Op. 9/1, Grande Sonate Fantaisie "L'Infortune" in F Sharp Minor, Op. 26, Andantinosfrom Sonatinas, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2. The Ries avalanche continues with the first widely-available release of piano sonatas. These works, from c.1804-08, avail themseleves of the prevailing atmosphere of formal experimentation which Beethoven implemented. Op. 9/1 is a sonata form movement followed by a minute and concluded by a long theme-and-variations while the Op. 26 is also in three movements with a presto finale longer than the first two put together. There is much of the early Beethoven sonatas in the themes of the first piece while the passionate, minor-key suffering of the second calls to mind Dussek and other contemporaries who told abstract pre-Romantic stories of loss and love in their sonatas. Alexandra Oehler (piano). CPO 777 136 (Germany) 05H052 $15.98

LOUIS SPOHR (1784-1859): 2 Duets for 2 Violins, Op. 9, Duet in C for 2 Violins, Op. 153. Here's an Alpha and Omega recording: the pair of two-movement duets from early in Spohr's career, lasting about 15 minutes each and designed for high-quality domestic music-making, and then, the big, four-movement, 26-minute work of his old age, a concert-style composition, full of virtuosity and the knowledge and experience of a lifetime. Péter Czaba, Vilmos Szabadi (violins). Hungaroton HCD 32356 (Hungary) 05H053 $17.98

IGNAZ MOSCHELES (1794-1870): Cello Sonata No. 2 in E, Op. 121, Melodisch-contrapunktische Studien, Nos. 4, 8 & 9, JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Cello Sonata in A. Dating from 1851, Moscheles' sonata offers its pianist powerful and coruscating piano writing and its cellist warm and attractive melodies. The Studien are pieces taken from Bach's "Well-Tempered Klavier" and given cello accompaniment, inspired by Mendelssohn and Schumann's piano accompaniments to his solo violin music. Jirí Bárta (cello), Hamish Milne (piano). Hyperion CDA 67521 (England) 05H054 $18.98

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 40

HENRI HERZ (1803-1888): Piano Concertos No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 87, No. 4 in E, Op. 131 and No. 5 in F Minor, Op. 180. The second batch of Herz concertos (vol. 1 came out in July of 2004), brings more pianistic display and delight. The half-hour-long third concerto (1835) manages to suggest everyone from Hummel, Chopin and Moscheles to Mendelssohn and Kalkbrenner in its first movement while still being Herz alone in its elegance and digital dexterity while, after a schizophrenic slow movement (lovely Scottish air brutally assassinated by fortissimo piano octaves), the finale has a Meyerbeerian march cheek-by-jowl with a fugue. The shorter fourth (23 minutes, from 1843) is more conservative in structure but with the same general character to its three movements while the fifth of 1854 (at only 16 minutes, heading for Konzerstück territory) points toward the more simple, melody-driven concertos of Herz' mature period. Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra; Howard Shelley (piano). Hyperion CDA 67537 (England) 05H055 $18.98

LOUISE FARRENC (1804-1875): Violin Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 39, PAULINE VIARDOT (1821-1910): 6 Morceaux, ELFRIDA ANDRÉE (1841-1929): Larghetto, Allegro giocoso, LILI BOULANGER (1893-1918): 2 Morceaux. Although probably composed during the 1850s, Farrenc's full-scale, 30-minute sonata with its virtuosic piano writing is of the gracefully melodic type that Schumann and Mendelssohn were writing in the 1830s. Like the Farrenc, the remaining short, salon-style pieces are available only in this recording, the French Viardot's being slightly more energetic than the Swede Andrée's two relaxed, sort of pastoral-sounding pieces while the tragically short-lived Boulanger's pair have her characteristic melancholy and sense of tragedy. Karin Hendel (violin), Ewa Warykiewicz (piano). Zuk Records 324 (Germany) 05H056 $17.98

Songs by Schubert's Friends and Contemporaries

Composers: Haydn, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Louise Reichardt, Salieri, Zumsteeg, Zelter, Gyrowetz, Joseph Weigl, Franz Anton Schubert, Johann Michael Vogl, Beethoven, Johann Karl Unger, Tomasek, Maximilian Eberwein, Moritz von Dietrichstein, Nikolaus von Krufft, Ludwig Berger, Sigismund Neukomm, Hummel, Kreutzer, Spohr, Stephan Franz, Weber, August Heinrich von Weyrauch, Simon Sechter Meyerbeen, Rossini, Anselm Hüttenbrenner, Loewe, Jeannette Antonie Bürde, Benedict Randhartinger, Karoline Unger-Sabatier, Franz Lachner, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Carl Banck, Schumann, Hiller and Johann Vesque von Puttingen. 81 songs by 40 composers who lived and worked during Schubert's lifetime - the pendant to the massive Hyperion Schubert Edition which was included in the mid-price box-set reissue of the whole cycle last December and which is now released by itself for the first time. 3 CDs. German-English texts. Susan Gritton (sopranos), Ann Murray, Stella Doufexis (mezzos), Mark Padmore (tenor), Gerald Finley (bass-baritone), Graham Johnson (piano) with Marianne Thorsen (violin), Sebastian Comberti (cello). Hyperion CDJ 33051/3 (England) 05H057 $56.98

FRIEDRICH VON FLOTOW (1812-1883): Alessandro Stradella. The amorality and violence which characterized the Italian baroque composer's life furnished Flotow material for a light opera which he premiered in Hamburg at the end of 1844. Stradella is a saint-like singer who moves through an idealized Italian pastoral landscape, offering many opportunities for barcarolles, serenades, drinking songs, buffo humor and the hymn-like climax as pilgrims wait with Stradella on a hill next to a portrait of the Virgin Mary (his song having already twice converted his would-be assassins to tears and pleading for forgiveness). Through-composed, with no recitative, the three-act work also includes some 13 minutes of ballet and intermezzo music. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Jörg Dürmüller (tenor), Sabine Paßow (soprano), Markus Marquardt, Bernhard Schneider (basses), Cologne Radio Choir and Orchestra; Helmuth Froschauer. Capriccio 60 117 (Germany) 05H058 $29.98

STEPHEN HELLER (1813-1888): 2 Polonaises, Op. 132, 2 Impromptus, Op. 129, 3 Ballades, Op. 121, Barcarolles, Op. 141, Nos. 1 & 2, 2 Intermèdes de Concert, Op. 135, Sérénade, Op. 56. More Heller on yet a different label (a Heller renaissance now?) with all-new material, first recordings of his two basic genres - the salon piece including stylized national dances, and the virtuosic, Romantic character pieces in Schumannian style. Ilona Prunyi (piano). Hungaroton HCD 32400 (Hungary) 05H059 $17.98

JACQUES OFFENBACH (1819-1880): Coscoletto. This confection, written for the spa at Bad Ems in 1865, is one of the small group of two-act pieces which Offenbach wrote for locations such as this, where a one-acter was too short but a full-scale opera too long for the typical spa social calendar's evening. Never performed in Paris (the French libretto was lost and the work is performed here in the German version prepared for the Vienna premiere of the following year), Coscoletto was apparently lost in the uproarious success of its contemporaries - La Belle Hèléne, Barbe-Bleu and La Vie Parisienne. Set in the countryside around Naples (with a Vesuvius eruption in the second act), this is a lightweight piece whose main characters are closely connected with the Commedia dell'arte tradition but that same tradition also allows Offenbach to conjure some dark and vaguely threatening scenes involving poisoning and, of course, the volcanic eruption. 2 CDs. German libretto. Mojca Erdmann (soprano), Yoo-Chang Nah (bass), Mechthild Georg (alto), Collegium Cantandi Bonn, Cologne Radio Orchestra; Helmuth Froschauer. Capriccio 60 121 (Germany) 05H060 $29.98

STANLSLAW MONIUSZKO (1819-1872): Halka. This is not the same version of Halka which cpo issued in 1987. The work exists in two versions, the original 1846 version which was premiered in Vilnius two years later - in two acts, with baritone male lead - and the 1858 version - in four acts, with tenor male lead and with several extra arias and minor episodes added to pad the work to a length thought sufficient for a Warsaw premiere. Although there is more music in the second version, the original thoughts of Moniuszko contributed to a tauter, more compact dramatic structure. Stefan Sutkowski, the director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, revived this original version for two productions in 1984 (one in Brighton, England and one in Warsaw). The same forces recorded it for Polskie Nagrania/Muza ten years later (this recording, reissued by Pro Musica Camerata). For purists, completists - wait! That's what Records International customers are... No libretto. Danuta Bernolak (soprano), Jan Wolanski, Jerzy Mahler (baritones), Warsaw Sinfonietta; Ruben Silva. Pro Musica Camerata PMC 009 (Poland) 05H061 $33.98 Ø

BEDRICH SMETANA (1824-1884): Piano Works, Vol. 2 - Rêves, Stammbuchblätter, Andante in E Flat, 4 Polkas, Hochzeitsszenen. Rêves, a 29-minute cycle including six pieces, is a mature work dating from 1875 and composed at the same time as Má Vlast. These short pieces are stylizations of dances ("In Bohemia" and "Bohemian Peasant Festival") and of salon-style pieces ("Consolation" and "Faded Happiness") which demand more than a polite drawing-room pianist. The remaining pieces are relatively early, the "Wedding Scenes" of 1849 already containing polka elements, the Czech dance dearest to Smetana, the four polkas items from 1852-55 left out of published polka groups and the "Family Album" a collection of unpublished "Clavierstücke" from around 1848-53 which contain a few striking ideas that later turned up in mature works. Jitka Cechová (piano). Supraphon SU 3842-2 (Czech Republic) 05H062 $16.98

HENRYK WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880): Violin Works, Vol. 2 - Allegro de Sonate, Op. 2, Grand duo polonais, Op. 8 (both co-written with Jozef Wieniawski [1837-1912]), Romance sans paroles et Rondo élégant, Op. 8, Fantaisie orientale, Op. 24, Adagio élégiaque, Op. 5, Polonaise brillante in D, Op. 4. The collaborations with pianist-brother Jozef are first recordings. Among the others, which fall into the usual genres of concert and encore-type display pieces, one might highlight the little Fantaisie orientale for its rather Blochian austerity and Hassidic inspiration. NOTE: I apparently just plain missed the first volume of this series; if you want it, let me know and I'll try to have it for your June orders. Piotr Janowski (violin), Wolfgang Plagge (piano). 2L SACD hybrid 30 (Norway) 05H063 $18.98

MAX BRUCH (1838-1920): Octet in B Flat for 4 Violins, 2 Violas, Cello and Double Bass, Op. posth., FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847): Octet, Op. 20. Written in the year of his death, Bruch's three-movement, 25-minute octet is astonishingly youthful in spirit and, of course, about 100 years out of style which is why it's coupled with Mendelssohn's 1825 work (which it resembles more than passingly in the exuberance and lightness of texture of its finale). Kodály Quartet, Auer Quartet, Zsolt Fejérvári (double bass). Naxos 8.557270 (New Zealand) 05H064 $7.98

FRIEDRICH GERNSHEIM (1839-1916): Symphonies No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 32, No. 2 in E Flat, Op. 46, No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 54 "Mirjam" and No. 4 in B Flat, Op. 62. As we put it back in August of 2001 when this disc, as a special import, was our cover item: "Now you can enjoy the most Brahmsian symphonies not by Brahms ever recorded (in the way that the Ries symphonies are the most Beethoven-like symphonies by any of Beethoven's contemporaries; Herzogenberg seemed to have Brahms' number when it came to chamber music but he was not a symphonist). Impassioned, heroic, idyllic and joyful: all your favorite Romantic qualities (plus great melodies!) are contained in the 16 movements of these four treasurable symphonies." Now available for the first time at the regular, ultra-low Arte Nova domestic-distribution price. 2 CDs. Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz; Siegfried Köhler. Arte Nova 636350 (Germany) 05H065 $9.98

JULES MASSENET (1842-1912): Ève. Offered the same month as the Gernsheim above, we offer this 1875 oratorio again for similar reasons. "Although we're dealing with original sin and the fall from grace, even the voices of hell are not particularly fierce or frightening in this three-part oratorio ("Adam and Eve"; "The Temptation" and "The Fall and The Curse") which features much lovely music of the type which might appear in a British Airways commercial but which always manages to stay on the right side of banality. No texts. Susanne Geb (soprano), Armin Kolarczyk (baritone), Angelo Simos (tenor), Three Nation Choir, Euregio Symphony Orchestra; Jeanpierre Faber. Arte Nova 589640 (Germany) 05H066 $4.98

WILHELM FITZENHAGEN (1848-1890): Resignation, Op. 8, Perpetuum mobile, Op. 24, KARL DAVIDOV (1838-1889): Sunday Morning and At the Fountain, Op. 20, ANATOLY BRANDUKOV (1856-1930): Nocturne, Mazurka, PETER TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893): Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33, Nocturne, Op. 19/4, Mélodie, Op. 42/3, Valse sentimentale, Op. 51/6, Pezzo capriccioso, Op. 62, Andante cantabile, Op. posth. A 2003 release of cello bon-bons by Russian composers and composers who taught in Moscow. The pairs of works by Davidov, Brandukov and Fitzenhagen are arranged in slow, lyrical/fast-virtuosic order while conductor/cellist Geringas has arranged two Tchaikovsky chamber works (Mélodie and Valse) for cello and orchestra in the best late 19th century fashion. Jens Peter Maintz (cello), Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra; David Geringas. Arte Nova 807910 (Germany) 05H067 $4.98

ANTONI STOLPE (1851-1872): Complete Works, Vol. 1 - Piano Sextet in E Minor, Variations for String Quartet, Scène dramatique for Cello and String Quartet, Romance for Violin, Cello and Piano. Not much is known about Stolpe's short life since his father broke down and died two years after his son's early death (from what, we're not sure) but his friends and fellow composers Zygmunt Noskowski and Wladyslaw Gorski felt that they were completely in his shade while, as a pianist, Theodore Kullak thought him perhaps his finest pupil. There seem to be enough compositions for at least three CDs so we'll see what comes in the future. The biggest work here is his 1867 sextet (really a piano quintet with double bass) of which only its first and third movements survive, a richly lyrical piece full of Mendelssohn and Schumann, which could be said about the Dramatic Scene (1868) and Romance as well while the 1871 Variations, lasting over 17 minutes, are formally at least, something rather unusual for the period while still retaining a similar early Romantic language. Camerata Vistula, Jerzy Maciejewski (piano), Anna Wróbel (second cello). Pro Musica Camerata PMC 039 (Poland) 05H068 $16.98 Ø

CÉCILE CHAMINADE (1857-1944): Piano Music, Vol. 3 - Prélude in D Minor, Op. 84/3, Rgaudon, Op. 55/6, Les sylvains, Op. 60, Valse-ballet, Op. 112, Inquiétude, Op. 87/3, Arabesque, Op. 61, Troisième valse brillante, Op. 165, Sonata in C Minor, Op. 21, Album des enfants, Op. 123: Gavotte, Rondeau, Orientale, Tarantelle, Album des enfants, Op. 126: Idylle, Aubade, Patrouille, Villanelle, Le passé, Op. 127/3, Sérénade espagnole, Op. 150, Quatrième valse, Op. 91, Cortège, Op. 143. The third of three volumes of little piano pieces made for domestic consumption and marked by graceful melody, simple forms and clear textures - utterly civilized music for the salons and drawing-rooms of the late 19th century. Peter Jacobs (piano). Original 1996 Hyperion release. Helios CDH 55199 (England) 05H069 $10.98

ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV (1865-1936): Complete Solo Piano Music, Vol. 2 - 3 Études, Op. 31, 2 Pieces, Op. 22, 3 Morceaux, Op. 49, Nocturne, Op. 37, Miniature in C, Easy sonata, Sonatina, 2 Prelude-Improvisations, Theme and Variations, Op. 72. The études, written between 1888 and 1896, are among Glazunov's most virtuosic, passionate and romantic works. The Prelude-Improvisations of 1918 show him stretching tonality under the influence of the Russian avant-gardists while the large-scale set of variations (1900) uses the same folk-song as in his later Finnish Fantasy for orchestra. The remaining pieces are in an easy and charming salon-style. Stephen Coombs (piano). Original 1996 Hyperion release. Helios CDH 55222 (England) 05H070 $10.98

LEOPOLD GODOWSKI (1870-1938): Piano Music, Vol. 7 - Bach Cello Suites No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008, No. 3 in C, BWV 1009 and No. 5 in C Minor, WBV 1011. "Very freely transcribed and adapted for the pianoforte", Godowsky's transcriptions of Bach's cello suites exploit the greater technical possibilities of the piano by expanding and developing the music to create what are virtually new compositions, for example in the magnificent fugue he constructs from the second part of the Prelude in the fifth suite. Konstantin Scherbakov (piano). Marco Polo 8.225267 (New Zealand) 05H071 $9.98

JOSEF HOFMANN (1876-1957): Ungarisch, Op. 19/1, Polnisch, Op. 19/2, Impromptu, Op. 20/1, Menuet, Op. 20/2, Elégie, Op. 20/3, 8 Préludes, Op. 30, Vision, Op. 40/1, Jadis, Op. 40/2, Nenien, Op. 40/3, Kaledoscope, Op. 40/4, Valse caprice, Op. 53, Impression No. 2 "L'Orient et l'Occident", Impression No. 3 "Le Sanctuaire". Coruscating piano virtuosity and deep, inner Romantic brooding - exactly what you'd expect in the compositions of such a monumental Romantic keyboard artist/virtuoso. There are no notes about the music, only about Hofmann the pianist, but no collector of Romantic keyboard music will hesitate just glancing at this new release. Everything but the Impressions and Kaleidoscope is a first recording. Fabiana Biasini (piano). Edition Hera 02120 (Germany) 05H072 $16.98

FRITZ BRUN (1878-1959): String Quartet No. 3 in F, OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957): String Quartet No. 2 in C, Op. 37. Brun and Schoeck were friends, colleagues and conservatives but this new release shows shades of difference in their conservative manners. Brun's 36-minute work dates from 1943, after he had retired to the south of Switzerland and allowed his mind to be totally influenced by the Italian culture which had always drawn him. Songlike and often lushly romantic, its four movements include two playful and highly-charged fast movements. Schoeck's quartet coincided with an ear-opening ISCM Festival (1923) and one can hear him adapting his late Romantic spirit ever so slightly to the avant-garde with polyrhythms and some tangy dissonances. Amar Quartet. Musiques Suisses MGB CD 6238 (Switzerland) 05H073 $18.98

FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941): Piano Music, Vol. 1 - A Fairy Tale, The Hour Glass, Miniature Pastorals (Set 1), 3 Lyrics, 3 Pieces, In Autumn, 3 Poems. The vast majority of Bridge's piano music was miniature in form - character sketches and genre pieces. As time went on, one can see his "salon" pieces turning into as deeply personal a genre as Brahms' Intermezzi or Fauré's Nocturnes. There is also evident in many of these pieces his debt to the keyboard style of other French composers such as Debussy and Ravel. No complete cycle has appeared since the hard-to-get English Continuum cycle of Peter Jacobs in 1990 so this series, from the young English pianist who is also engaged on a Bax cycle for Naxos, is more than welcome. Ashley Wass (piano). Naxos 8.557842 (New Zealand) 05H074 $7.98

ARNOLD BAX (1883-1953): Enchanted Summer (Anne Williams-King, Lynore McWhirter [sopranos]), Walsinghame (Martyn Hill [tenor], McWhirter [obbligato soprano]), Fatherland (Hill [tenor]). Bax collectors who may not know his trio of choral-orchestral works should investigate this reissue, whose Enchanted Summer (1910) captures much of the intoxicating and mystical atmosphere of his early tone poems. Brighton Festival Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Vernon Handley. Original 1989 Chandos release. Chandos 10366 (England) 05H075 $13.98

JAROSLAV KOCIAN (1883-1950): Serenade in G, Humoresque, Evening Meditation, Picturesque Intermezzo, Hymn of Springtime, Melody, Spring Song, Lullaby, Serenade in D. A pupil, along with Vása Prihoda, of Otakar Sevcik, Kocian took his place in a distinguished line of Czech violinists. He also studied composition with Dvorák and, unlike many compositions by violinists, his are not flashy display pieces, but are rather in the style of the Dvorák and Suk miniatures. Lyrical, infused with Czech folk style, these little mood-pictures wear their virtuosity lightly. This 40-minute recital, performed by Snítil, a Kocian student himself, was recorded live by Czech Radio in 1983 and only issued on CD in 2001. Special price. Václav Snítil (violin), Josef Hála (piano). Cesky Rozhlas CR 0187-2 (Czech Republic) 05H076 $12.98 Ø

ALBAN BERG (1885-1935): Wo der Goldregen steht, Vorüber!, Schlummerlose Nächte, Sehnsucht (I and II), Abschied, Traum, Augenblicke, Die Näherin, Erster Verlust, Vielgeliebte schöne Frau, Ferne Lieder, Ich will die Fluren melden, Geleibte Schöne , Er klagt, daß der Frühling so kortz blüht, Tiefe Sehnsucht, Über den Bergen, Am Strande, Winter, Am Abend, Spielleute, Herbstgefühl, Lied des Schiffermädels, Es wandelt, was wir schauen, Fraue, du Süße, Verlassen, Regen, Traurigkeit, Flötenspielerin, Spazergang, Liebe, Im Morgengrauen, Grabschrift, Eure Weisheit, So regnet es sich langsam ein, Mignon, Die Sorglichen, Das stile Königreich, Leukon. German lied collectors will find a rare bonanza here: the 39 songs the young Berg wrote between 1900 and the beginning of his composition studies with Schoenberg in 1904. Firmly in the Schubert-Pfitzner line stylistically, they show a natural ability to fit music to text and are suffused with a genuine warmth of expression (although the texts deal mostly with loss, separation and loneliness). German texts. Hélène Lindqvist (soprano), Philipp Vogler (piano). col legno WWE 1CD 20219 (Germany) 05H077 $19.98

HEINRICH KAMINSKI (1886-1946): String Quartet in F, ADOLF BUSCH (1891-1952): Quartettsatz in B Minor, VIKTOR ULLMANN (1893-1944): String Quartet No. 3, ERWIN SCHULHOFF (1899-1942): String Quartet No. 1. These composers are tied together by their principal artistic and/or moral stands which cost them either their lives or their careers, although the works here weren't necessarily composed during their critical periods. Ullmann's was, of course, written in Terezin in 1943 and, like fellow Nazi victim Schulhoff (whose 1927 quartet is full of jazz and other rude rhythmic gestures), has had a few recordings. But Busch and Kaminski are only available here on CD. The former's 11-minute work is from 1924, generally lyrical and good-natured with a dash of fashionable dissonance while Kaminski's is from 1917 and, for his teacher, Juon, signaled the end of his apprentice period. Lasting 22 minutes, it shows the composer conversant with contemporary musical currents but remains resolutely tonal in style. Casal Quartet. Telos TLS 111 (Germany) 05H078 $17.98

ERNST KRENEK (1900-1997): Violin Sonata in F Sharp Minor, Op. 3, ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (1897-1957): Violin Sonata in G, Op. 6. You may know the Korngold but you almost certainly don't know Krenek's early sonata from 1921. The last work he wrote under his teacher Schreker, its model is Reger and its first movement has the dense counterpoint and chromaticism obscuring a tonal center one would therefore expect. An expressive but still harmonically pungent slow movement precedes a Brucknerian scherzo before a theme-and-variations finale suggests a series of 19th century character pieces. Christoph Schickedanz (violin), Bernahrd Fograscher (piano). Telos TLS 060 (Germany) 05H079 $17.98

TIBOR ANDRASOVAN (1917-2001): 14 Slovakian Dances for Large Orchestra. A student of Suchon, Andrasovan travelled the world, teaching and conducting orchestras as far afield as Cambodia, Mongolia and Japan. He wrote 16 Slovak Dances in 1989 - this 74-minute disc presumably had room for only 14 but the credits keep referring to 16 track numbers... - using every resource of a very large orchestra. Andrasovan composed scores for over 100 films during his career and these dances occasionally have the sound of mid- to late 20th century film music while at others, they are firmly in the early 20th century language of his teacher. Not surprisingly, there are many hints of Dvorák as well. No one interested in the national dance genre will want to be without this disc. Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Róbert Stankovsky. Music Fund SF 00242 (Slovakia) 05H080 $16.98 >

ALEXANDER MOYZES (1906-1984): Musica Istropolitana for Violin, Strings and Harpsichord, LADISLAV BURLAS (b.1927): Planctus, ILJA ZELJENKA (b.1932): Musica Slovaca, PAVEL SIMAI (b.1930): Concertino rustico for Flute and Strings, VIT'AZOSLAV KUBICKA (b.1953): Autumn Music for Violin and Strings. A useful collection of Slovak music for small orchestra covering several generations and styles. Moyzes is neo-baroque in his 1975 piece with slow-fast-slow-fast format packed into barely seven minutes; Burlas (1968) uses dodecaphony and a Slovak mourning song to produce an affecting 12-minute dirge; Zeljenka (1975) uses folk-like motifs in his charming little six-minute piece. Simai left his country after the Russian invasion in 1968 and has lived in Sweden since. His 16-minute Concertino from 1991 is the longest work here and is the most purely melodic and lyrical, with meditative and pastoral passages alternating and the Slovak folk elements carrying an extra emotional charge for their exiled composer. Kubicka, the youngest, provides an easily approached nine-minute piece with simple harmony and vivid rhythms with bare hints of nationalist styles. Milos Jurkovic (flute), Slovak Chamber Orchestra; Bohdan Warchal (violin). Music Fund SF 0005 (Slovakia) 05H081 $16.98 >

EUGENIO TOUSSAINT (b.1954): Días de los Muertos. Premiered in 1997 in Phoenix, Toussaint's full-length (74 minutes) ballet tells the story of a poor Mexican family who head for El Norte - yes, illegal immigration - in search of a better life. The necessity of bringing the spirits of their dead along with them offers the opportunity of depicting an amusing cultural clash between the Mexican "Day of the Dead" and the American Halloween, but the story-line (provided track by track in the booklet, although there is nothing about the composer or the music) and, presumably, the dancing and staging, keeps the political reality of the situation present. Toussaint is a jazz pianist as well as composer but here creates the majority of his material from Mexican folk sources. Colorful, with moments of high spirits leavened by darker moods of anxiety and uncertainty, the score is as approachable and and enjoyable as a film score and should appeal to collectors of nationalistic music. Camerata de las Americas; Jesús Medina. Urtext JBCC 113 (Mexico) 05H082 $17.98

GABRIELA ORTIZ (b.1964): Baalkah for Soprano and String Quartet, Altar de muertos for String Quartet, 6 piezas a Violeta for Piano and String Quartet. These works possess an elemental energy, far removed from the image of the string quartet as providing polite discourse in 'civilised' society. Baalkah was inspired by Mayan cosmology, and consists of five strongly contrasted sections in long, floating lyrical vocal lines in dialogue with similarly florid string phrases, against a background of drones and harmonics, creating an archaic, otherworldly effect. Altar de Muertos incorporates percussive effects in a ritualistic evocation of shamanism, incorporation of magic and the awareness of death in everyday life in Mexican folklore. The work ranges between solemn ritual and intoxicated, obsessive dance. The 'Six Pieces' are more traditional in form and style, often recalling Bartók, but again with Ortíz' individual sense of the strange and exotic. Sarah Leonard (soprano), Arturo Nieto-Dorantes (piano), Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Urtext JBCC 108 (Mexico) 05H083 $17.98

AULIS SALLINEN (b.1935): The King Goes Forth to France. A satire on war - the approach of a new Ice Age that threatens northern Europe leads to political manoeuvring and a decision by the Prince, who later becomes the King, to march on France. The scenario is used in the manner of the 'what-if' historical fiction that has recently become fashionable, to revisit the questionable motives and outcomes of the various skirmishes between England and France throughout history as a meztaphor for the brutal pointlessness of war in general. The work is a curious hybrid; in order to advance the plot and make its barbed political points there is a certain amount of recitative and narration, but the score as a whole is vintage Sallinen, dark, angry, obsessive and ostinato-ridden, with a constant sense of underlying menace. The 'Shadows - prelude for orchestra' which enjoyed a certain vogue in the concert hall around the time of the opera's première - some 20 years ago now - was spun off from this work, and its brooding 'Isle of the Dead' atmosphere permeates the whole of the stage work, more or less explicitly. 2 CDs. Finnish-English libretto. Tommy Hakala (baritone), Jyrki Korhonen (bass), Riikka Rantanen (soprano), Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo), Finnish Philharmonic Chorus, Tapiola Chamber Choir, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Okko Kamu. Ondine ODE 1066-2D (Finland) 05H084 $35.98

IIRO RANTALA (b.1970): Piano Concerto in G Sharp/A Flat, Final Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, Tangonator for Violin and Piano, Astorale for Piano. This hugely enjoyable concerto contains no great surprises when one considers that the composer is a jazz pianist crossing over into the concert medium in the shadow of acknowledged idols such as Bernstein, Gershwin, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. This is what a jazz man trying to write a high-spirited post-romantic concerto should produce, and there isn't a single misfire along the way. Scintillating passagework, sentimental melodies and a sense of the composer thoroughly enjoying himself are present throughout; a delightful divertimento, but a real concerto too. Astorale and Tangonator are light and fun, with no 'classical' pretensions, while Final Fantasy is a high-energy perpetuum mobile, like the once-ubiquitous Litolff 'Scherzo' re-imagined with Paganini-esque capriciousness and big-band jazz inflections - glorious fun. Iiro Rantala (piano), Tapiola Sinfonietta; Jaakko Kuusisto (violin). Ondine ODE 1071-2 (Finland) 05H085 $17.98

SYLVIE BODOROVÁ (b.1954): Juda Maccabeus for Soloists, 4 Narrators, Choirs and Orchestra. An impressive, big-boned and colorfully scored oratorio for large forces on the Old Testament history of the struggle for Jewish freedom in the 160s BC, Bodorová's work is powerfully dramatic both musically and in narrative. The basis for its musical vocabulary is tonality, quite conventional for the most part. However, the vocal lines deliberately evoke the styles of Jewish liturgical chant, and incorporate some microtonal elements and microtonal glssandi between adjacent notes that are more structural than gestural, lending the music an element of ritual and extendng the harmonic sense into non-western modalities. Czech-English texts. Gabriela Benacková (soprano), Ales Briscein (tenor), Ivan Kusnjer (baritone), Prague Philharmonic Choir, Prague Children's Choir, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; Vladimír Válek. Arco Diva UP 0065-2 (Czech Republic) 05H086 $16.98 Ø

JAN NIEDERLE (b.1972): Piano Sonatas No. 1 in B "Légende St. François d'Assise" and No. 2 "Icône de Carmel". Grand pianistic Romanticism writ large is what Niederle unashamedly presents in these two big (very big, in the case of the first - almost 45 minutes) sonatas. If you bought every volume of the Hyperion Liszt edition and suffered withdrawal symptoms at the end, this will probably go some way towards easing your pain. Niederle readily acknowledges the connection to Liszt, and Lisztian gesture and figuration infuses much of the music (elements of Busoni and Rachmaninov also surface with some regularity). The first sonata, an ambitious 12-movement continuous work in extended sonata-form plays out its ample drama in richly orchestrated, and always highly pianistic, atmospheric scenes, replete with tolling bells, prayerful meditations and menacing glimpses of Purgatory - ending, of course, with an ecstatic vision of Heaven, après une lecture du Liszt. The second is more freely structured, bringing Scriabin to mind, but pianistically and gesturally it occupies a similar romantic-virtuosic world. Jan Niederle (piano). Euromusica CD-00019 (Czech Republic) 05H087 $16.98 Ø

PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): Symphony No. 8. After three symphonies which use vocal or choral forces, Glass returns to pure orchestral music in his latest work. In three movements, it is closer to tradtional symphonic form than ever with a 19-minute first movement which develops eight different themes and ends with a striking contrapuntal effect, a 12-minute slow movement in the form of a passacaglia and a 7-minute finale which makes up for brevity with density of theme and harmony. Minimalism is still the basis but the other, more traditional structures Glass uses make it a sub-text and it's likely that even collectors not particular to Glass in the past will enjoy this new composition. Bruckner Orchestra Linz; Dennis Russell Davies. Orange Mountain Music OMM 0028 (U.S.A.) 05H088 $17.98

PHILLIP RAMEY (b.1939): Color Etudes, Memorial (In memoriam Alexander Tcherepnin), Chromatic Waltz, Piano Fantasy, 4 Tangier Portraits, Toccata No. 2, Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 2 & 5 (for the Left Hand). Ramey's piano music is a high-octane extravaganza of twentieth-century styles, mainly tending toward the chromatic end of tonality, straying into quasi-atonal regions especially in the watershed works of the late 60s through 70s, when the composer was establishing his individual voice. A generous sense of post-Romantic bravura is thrown in to offset any suggestion of an academic 'Cook's Tour' of non-avant-garde modern piano writing. The early works are characterised by an indebtedness to Prokofiev, far less evident in pieces from the '90s such as the Color Etudes, richer of texture, more unpredictable of meter, in this case exploring a range of moods and character inspired by the associations of color, as Bliss did in his Colour Symphony. The Fantasy (1972) comes closest to atonality, though its fullness of harmony and frequently demonic virtuosity points clearly to the directions the composer's music was shortly to take; in the later works the use of harmonically ambiguous scales (sometimes recalling Ronald Stevenson's trademark use of similar devices) lends the works a questing thrust and energy. Stephen Gosling (piano). Toccata Classics TOCC 0029 (England) 05H089 $16.98 Ø

FRANTISEK DOMAZLICKY (1913-1997): D'Artagnan's Springfor Cello and Orchestra, Op. 40, ZDENEK POLOLÁNIK (b.1935): Capriccio for Cello and Orchestra, JAROSLAV SMOLKA (b.1933): 3 Laureoale for Solo Cello. A varied program of modern Bohemian music for the cello with Domazlicky's 20-minute "Symphonic Picture" most obviously recalling Richard Strauss in its depiction of Dumas' knight (the cello soloist) while using horn, tuba and oboe to represent Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The style, however, is not conservative and there is no sense of homage or pastiche - though tonal, the piece sounds like it was written when it was (in 1970 - and Janos Starker gave its American premiere in Toledo!). Smolka's name will be familiar to collectors for his hundred-plus producing credits on Supraphon recordings; his three solo cello pieces, while broadly tonal, will, of course, have a smaller audience. Pololánik's 16-minute Capriccio (2000) would fit nicely onto a program of Czech Light Music (if such a thing were ever to be sought out and recorded). Jirí Hosek (cello), Pilsen Radio Symphony Orchestra; Frantisek Drs, Hynek Farkac. Vars VA 0156-2 (Czech Republic) 05H090 $16.98 Ø

LUBOR BÁRTA (1928-1972): Violin Concerto No. 2 (Ivan Straus [violin], Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Otaka Trhlík. Recording Panton 1989), VLADIMÍR WERNER (b.1937): Concerto da camera for Bassoon and Strings (Frantisek Svoboda [bassoon], Czech Chamber Soloists; Jan Zbavitel. Czech Radio Brno 1979), JAN F. FISCHER (b.1921): Harp Concerto (Libuse Váchalová [harp], FISYO Orchestra; Frantisek Belfín. Czech Radio 1982), JAROSLAV ZICH (b.1912): Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra (Michal Kanka [cello], Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; Stanislav Bogunia. Czech Radio 1996). A nice little bonanza of contemporary Czech concertos, most very approachable, which will certainly appeal to collectors of this country's music. Bárta's (1971) borders on atonality throughout without crossing the line; nervous energy and a dark, often melancholic underside run throughout its concise four movements and it shares a mood with Berg's concerto. Werner's 11-minute piece from 1979 is bright and neo-classical while Fischer (1972) contrasts the relatively sedate character of the solo instrument against an orchestral backdrop which is often brassy and belligerent (although quite tonal). Zich is the most conservative composer here, his 20-minute Rhapsody (1955) looking back to the style of his one-time teacher, J.B. Foerster. Cesky Rozhlas CR 0174-2 (Czech Republic) 05H091 $16.98 Ø

JINDRICH FELD (b.1925): Cosmae Chronica Boemorum for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra. Feld's largest-scale orchestral work dates from 1988 (recorded live here in 1993) and sets pieces of the earliest chronicle of Bohemia which dates from the late 11th century. In 12 sections, it deals with the pagan era (including Libuse and Premysl) and with Bohemia's two great saints, Wenceslaus and Voytech, among other subjects. Feld's late style is a synthesis of his late Romantic early period and his middle period in which modern techniques were incorporated as he felt fit. Tonal and approachable, this 70 minute oratorio stands as an important part of late 20th century Czech music. Latin/Czech-English texts. Magdaléna Hajóssjová (soprano), Vladimír Dolezal (tenor), Jirí Kubík (baritone), Klemens Slowioczek (bass), Kühn Mixed Choir, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; Stanislav Bogunia. Cesky Rozhlas CR 0242-2 (Czech Republic) 05H092 $16.98 Ø

IVAN PARÍK (b.1936): Music for Flute, Viola and Orchestra, ALEXANDER MOYZES (1906-1984): Symphony No. 1 in D, Op. 4 (Opus recording 1982). Although a pupil of Moyzes, Parík was influenced by more progressive streams of contemporary European music. The work here is tonal, sometimes freely so, and has its neo-Romantic moments but also uses modern "sonoristic" techniques and is free of any national expressions in its somewhat inner-looking, psychologically laden personality which is conveyed by an often broadly lyrical line for the solo instruments. Oddly enough, now that the whole Marco Polo back catalogue is deleted, this is the only recording of any of Moyzes' symphonies you can buy (where are the Naxos reissues?). Milos Jurkovic (flute), Milan Telecky (viola), Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra; Bystrík Rezucha, Ladislav Slovák (Moyzes). Music Fund SF 00202 (Slovakia) 05H093 $16.98 Ø

KLAUS HUBER (b.1924): Schwarzerde. Although not a narrative opera in the conventional sense, 'Black Earth' has characters and scenes that permit the examination of various ideas. Based on metaphors for the life and metaphor-filled poetry of the tragic Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, the libretto explores themes of oppression, nightmare, and the confrontation of inevitable oblivion by the fragile power of poetry. Much of the music is extremely quiet and subtle, shadowy and ambiguously atonal - Huber's use of microtonal intervals distances the music further from conventional harmonic expectations; the occasional vulgar intrusion of brutal extrovert interruptions thus achieves a heightened dramatic effect. Only the choir is sometimes permitted an harmonically stable, consonant, vision of far-off optimism. Chamber-like textures abound, in which the voices are spotlighted, suggesting intimate music-theatre rather than operatic spectacle. A work of great subtlety, subtly disturbing. 2 CDs. German libretto. Bjørn Waag (baritone), Kai Wessel (countertenor), Rosemary Hardy (soprano), Basel Theatre Chorus, Basel Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Tamayo. 2001 release. Musiques Suisses MGB CD 6185 (Switzerland) 04H094 $37.98 Ø

BERNARD CAVANNA (b.1951): Violin Concerto, 3 Chants Cruels for Soprano and Orchestra. The concerto consists of two highly concentrated movements, as opposite in nature as may be imagined. The first is intensely energetic, raw and even chaotic, the soloist functioning as an embattled protagonist in a hostile orchestral environment. Grounded in tonality, for all its aggressive tension - even in the calmer central section - the music retains a clear sense of structure and progression and when the agitated first movement is superseded by the powerfully cumulative second, a glacial wasteland depicted in music almost invariably slow in tempo and spare of texture, it becomes clear that this troubling journey is inexorably progressing toward a destination where no resolution is to be found. The 'Cruel Songs' inhabit a similarly bleak world; here the closed and hopeless self-entrapment of a woman in a contrived and ultimately tragic love triangle, extracted from the composer's opera La confession impudique, expressed in brooding music interrupted by fleeting outbursts of violence, places great emphasis on the highly expressive vocal line. Noëmi Schindler (violin), Rayanne Dupuis (soprano), Orchestre National de Pays de La Loire; Hubert Soudant. Nocturne NT 094 (France) 05H095 $17.98

SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b.1931): ...The Deceitful Face of Hope and of Despair for Flute and Large Orchestra, 7 Worte for Cello, Bayan and Strings. It is not unusual to hear a piece of music played continuously as being 'in one unbroken arch', but Gubaidulina's half-hour flute concerto is perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this being precisely true; it is very hard to imagine any section of it taken out of context making any sense at all. As non-programmatic metaphors for the hope and despair of the title (taken from T.S.Eliot), the work is constantly polarised along two axes; slow/fast, and high/low (of register). This constant tension, and Gubaidulina's exploratory tonality and propulsive post-Shostakovich language - the kind of obsessively restless motion typical of Sallinen or Pettersson - render the piece, with its theatrical flute monologues an intense, emotionally cumulative experience. Sharon Bezaly (flute), Torleif Thedéen (cello), Mie Miki (accordion), Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Mario Venzago. BIS SACD hybrid SACD-1449 (Sweden) 05H096 $17.98

JAVIER TORRES MALDONADO (b.1968): Ex abrupto for 3 Instrumental Groups, Piano and Percussion, Tiento for Cello and Electronics, The Unexpected Clock in the Mirrors for Violin, Bass Clarinet and Ensemble, Orior for Piano, De ingnoto cantu for Bass Clarinet, Trumpet, Percussion, Violin, Cello and Electronics, Luz for Accordion and String Quartet. Sometimes boldly employing electronics to dramatically expand the timbral palette of his ensembles (Tiento has an almost orchestral richness of sound) and sometimes employing spatial techniques or spectral methods for generating harmonically ambiguous sounds not normally encountered from acoustic instruments, Maldonado writes music of complexity and clarity, always with a strong sense of drama and propulsion. This is often achieved through unstable polyrhythms generated through the overlapping and opposition of simpler rhythmic structures - most strikingly in Exabrupto, in which strongly contrasting material vies for supremacy, the one 'invading' the other and gradually replacing it as the work progresses. This discursive, even antagonistic element is a central characteristic of these works, rendering them unusually approachable for music this complex - you're pulled along by the narrative to find out what happens next. Nouvel Ensemble Moderne; Lorraine Vaillancourt, Dynamis Ensemble; Javier Torres Maldonado, Germano Scurti (bayan), Terpycordes String Quartet. Stradivarius STR 33719 (Italy) 05H097 $17.98

RONALD STEVENSON (b.1928): A Child's Garden of Verses, Traighean, The Robber, Hill Sang, The Gaelic Muse, The Buckie Braes, The Quiet Comes In, The Bobbin-Winder, To the Future, O Wha's the Bride?, Trompe L'Oeil, The Bonny Broukit Bairn, Fairytales, Hallowe'en Sang, The Plum Tree, The Day is Düne, The Rose of All the World, The Droll Wee Man, A'e Gowden Lyric. While Stevenson is acknowledged - among cognoscenti at least - as one of the pre-eminent masters among twentieth-century piano composers (and as a performer to match), his huge output of songs remains inexplicably and shamefully neglected. Singing is central to Stevenson's æsthetic - it was his first introduction to music - and the observant have always remarked on the pre-eminence of melody and lyrical expression even amidst the most ferocious virtuosity of his piano writing. This disc is welcome for presenting thirty-five of these little gems [half comprise 'A Child's Garden . . .' here premiered in the composer's authorised version for soprano alone (it can also be divided between voices as on the other available recording)]. All the familiar Stevenson trademarks are here, miraculously encapsulated in tiny miniatures; evocations of the lonely Scottish landscape, folksong, the intimately personal and the universally apocalyptic. Toward a full understanding of one of contemporary music's most multifaceted figures, this disc is an important step. Susan Hamilton (soprano), John Cameron (piano). Delphian DCD 34006 (Scotland) 05H098 $17.98

BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH (b.1943): Shadowtime. When is an opera not an opera? When its subject commits suicide at the beginning and the work then proceeds for over two hours without a plot, or much in the way of conventional characters. Described as a 'thought opera', Ferneyhough's complex and multi-faceted work sets Charles Bernstein's imaginative text based on the work and thoughts of philosopher Walter Benjamin, whose ideas seem to have meant a great deal to the composer, based on a recent radio interview. Complexicist, hallucinatory, sometimes absurdist (even humorous) - the work contains an extended movement for solo pianist, who is not only required to negotiate the ferocious textures of a typical Ferneyhough instrumental score, but also to speak a succession of fragmentary texts; there is also a guitar concerto movement and a variety of tableaux featuring historical and mythological figures (with much very post-Second-Viennese singing technique and formidably difficult instrumental accompaniment). The work ends by fading out into an amorphous haze of voices and electronics (accompanied in staged productions, apparently, by the dismantling of the staging as part of the action). Provocative and challenging, and unashamedly avant-garde; vintage Ferneyhough, in other words. 2 CDs. Nicolas Hodges (piano, speaker), Mats Scheidegger (guitar), Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Nieuw Ensemble; Jurjen Hempel. NMC D123 (England) 05H099 $37.98

OLAV ANTON THOMMESSEN (b.1946): BULL's Eye for Violin and Double Orchestra, Please Accept My Ears for Violin and Piano (Gonzalo Moreno [piano]), Cantabile (Etyde-Cadenza) for Solo Violin. An ingenious extension of the concept of transcription, BULL's Eye is a concerto within a concerto, consisting of a reworking of Ole Bull's A major concerto, from which elements - ranging from harmonies, rhythms and elements of orchestration to literal excerpts of the entire score - are used as building materials for Thommessen's contemporary extravaganza. Sometimes the effect is of two performances of very different works occurring simultaneously, as though two rival orchestras had double-booked a concert hall and stubbornly refused to back down - though the results, while frequently eyebrow-raising, are never cacophonous; even as Thommessen channels aggressively modern models, incorporating clusters, pounding rhythms and huge orchestral resources (he was a Xenakis student, after all), he somehow makes them co-exist more-or-less peacefully with Bull's Paganini-esque virtuosic idiom. Cantabile explores the concept of the soloistic violin cadenza, extended into a fifteen-minute solo of quasi-improvisatory virtuosity and lyrical expression. Peter Herresthal (violin), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; Rolf Gupta. BIS SACD hybrid SACD-1512 (Sweden) 05H100 $17.98

FABIAN MÜLLER (b.1964): Cello Concerto, Intrada, Gayatri-Rhapsodie, Nachtgesänge for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra. One does not approach this label expecting sumptuously orchestrated tonal neo-Romanticism, but Müller's works, while undeniably exhibiting an individual voice, make no pretence of rejecting the past. The influence of the East as incorporated into French music of the early 20th century is clearly apparent, and throughout, one senses a genuine love for tradition and traditional means of compositional expression and a complete disinterest in 'novelty' for its own sake. There's no shortage of Shostakovich in the taut and incisive concerto, for instance, with its alternating scherzando and elegiac moods, and the brooding ambiguity of tonality and sombre hues of Intrada owe more than a little to Busoni. The beautiful Hesse settings evoke Richard Strauss and Joseph Marx, with their richness of harmony and wonderfully flexible and extended vocal lines. This isn't to characterise Müller as a reactionary throwback; conservative certainly, but if he comes over half a century late to adding to the legacy of one of the richest periods of Western musical history, such an addition is nonetheless welcome, especially when the music is of this quality. Malena Ernman (mezzo), Pi-Chin Chien (cello), Philharmonia Orchestra; David Zinman. col legno WWE 1CD 20205 (Germany) 05H101 $19.98

WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): 4 Studies for a Clarinet Quintet, "4 Male" for Solo Clarinet. The Studies belie their unassuming title, comprising a suite of some three-quarters of an hour's duration, exploring every conceivable expressive possibility of his chosen medium. We find Rihm here in unexpectedly lyrical mood much of the time - the first and third studies are really quite Romantic, though naturally, extreme dissonances occur as and when required. The vivace passages of the third and the extended motoric second studies are thrilling, both instrumentally and emotionally, something that has gone missing from much contemporary music, especially when combined with this degree of meticulous co;mpositional precision of argument. Even in the works for solo clarinet, which, as one might expect, push the boundaries of instrumental technique, extreme dynamics, glissandi and microtones being very much part of the standard vocabulary of the piece, a concern with linear expressiveness is very evident, especially in the reserved and elegiac second piece. Jörg Widmann (clarinet), Minguet Quartet. Ars Musici AM 1385-2 (Germany) 05H102 $17.98

LUIS DE PABLO (b.1930): Portrait imaginé for 22 Players and 12 Voices, Com un epíleg for Chorus and Orchestra. Portrait is in fact more like an imaginary landscape than a portrait; a landscape experienced, moreover, by travelling through it more than by static observation. The work has a strongly felt tonal centre, although in view of his Darmstadt background it is unsurprising that the composer makes use of a wide variety of textures and timbres to heighten the work's vivid sense of color along the way. For extended sections he introduces a steady pulse, propelling the music forward, though never in a hurry; the fluid, organic evolution of the piece's developing textures and the instrumental beauties to be encountered en route are among its most appealing characteristics; more active sections - storms? rushing waters? - almost suggest an Alpine Symphon programmatic agenda. Com un epíleg somehow suggests Stravinskyan neoclassicism in its clarity and precision of texture and Catalan folk music in vocal inflection, though the harmonic language is resolutely post-second Viennese and pungently dissonant much of the time. Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Cámara XXI; José Ramon Encinar. Stradivarius STR 33725 (Italy) 05H103 $17.98

FRANZ LEHÁR (1870-1948): Schön ist die Welt. The 1930 rewriting for Richard Tauber of 1916's Endlich allein was one of Lehár's personal favorites. A comedy with a happy ending and music which suggests that the composer would have been great at scoring films! No libretto (or track listing, for that matter. How careless). Elena Mosuc (soprano), Zoran Todorovich (tenor), Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra; Ulf Schirmer. CPO 777 055 (Germany) 05H104 $15.98

Polish Modern

ALEXANDRE TANSMAN (1897-1986): Capriccio, KAROL RATHAUS (1895-1954): Prelude for Orchestra, Op. 71, ANDRZEJ PANUFNIK (1914-1991): Nocturne, STANISLAW SKROWACZEWSKI (b.1923): Music at Night, WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994): Fanfare for Louisville. Each of these recordings were world premieres at the time they were made; all except the Tansman (1955) and Rathaus (19654) are stereo. The longest is probably the least-known - Skrowaczewski's 1960 suite of music from a 1949 ballet whose language is highly chromatic and occasionally develops into a 12-tone row; Panufnik (1947), in one of his first musical arch-shaped forms, prefigures the sonorism fully developed by Penderecki. Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, Jorge Mester, John Nelson, Lawrence Leighton Smith. First Edition Music FECD-1909 (U.S.A.) 05H105 $12.98

Hungarian Modern

MÁTYÁS SEIBER (1905-1960): Concertino for Clarinet and Strings, ANTAL DORÁTI (1906-1988): Cello Concerto, ZOLTÁN KODÁLY (1882-1967): Symphony. In its not-too-modern but not-too-conservative style, with plenty of Hungarian flavor, Doráti's 1977 concerto is like having a late Kodály cello concerto miraculously discovered. Seiber's 1951 Concertino is a five-movement (but only 15-minute long) piece full of neo-classical vim and vigor. Kodály's symphony is in mono, although recorded as late as 1962 (claimed as a first recording by the careless notes when Fricsay had done it in stereo for DG 14 months earlier). James Livingston (clarinet), János Starker (cello), Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, Jorge Mester. First Edition Music FECD-1911 (U.S.A.) 05H106 $12.98

FERENC FARKAS (1905-2000): Serenade, 4 pezzi (w/double bass), Fruit Basket (w/mezzo-soprano), Ancient Hungarian Dances of the 17th Century, Rondo capriccio (w/violin), Lavottiana. Just the music to welcome in Spring! Farkas' complete wind quintet music includes a song-cycle for children (Fruit Basket), a pastiche of tunes from an 18th century Hungarian violinist (Lavottiana) and a couple of works using a string instrument. All are full of a vernal, bounding energy and a joie de vivre that everyone in their second 50 years of life should have (all but one were written after 1959)! Hungarian-English texts. Dieter Lange (double bass), Ulrike Schneider (mezzo), Daniel Dodds (violin), Phoebus Wind Quintet. Toccata Classics TOCC 0019 (England) 05H107 $16.98 >

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)/WALTER RUMMEL (1887-1953): Ertödt' uns durch dein' Güte, BWV22, Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig, BWV26, Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV731, Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV760, Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV99, Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV614, Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn, BWV4, Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten, BWV78, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV12, Mein Gläubiges Herze, Frohlocke, sing, scherze, BWV68, O Menschen, die ihr täglich sündigt, BWV122, Das Brausen von den rauhen Winden, BWV92, Die Welt is wie ein Rauch und Schatten, BWV94, Zu Tanze, zu Sprunge, BWV201, Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV146, Dein Name gleich der Sonnen geh, BWV173a, Lass dich nimmer von der Liebe berücken, BWV203, Stürze zu Boden, BWV126, Dich hab' ich je und je geliebt, BWV49, O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV94, Esurientes implevit bonis, BWV243, Gelobet sei mein Gott, BWV129, Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen, BWV127, Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir, BWV130, Vom Himmel hoch, da domm' ich her, BWV248. Known particularly for his performances of Debussy, Rummel (who was an American citizen most of his life) stands out among Bach transcribers for his concentration on the choral and vocal works - 20 of his 25 transcriptions come from cantatas, one from the Christmas Oratorion and one from the Magnificat, forcing him to condense up to eight simultaneous lines into a coherent setting. Often thickly scored and requiring considerable artistry and virtuosity to realize properly, they can also run the gamut from delicate transparency to thrilling orchestral sonorities. 2 CDs. Jonathan Plowright (piano). Hyperion CDA 67481/2 (England) 05H108 $37.98

Slovak supplement

MIRO BÁZLIK (b.1931): 24 Préludes, Le ne m'oublie-pas, Palette. Organised analogously to J.S.Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier, but with each piece bearing poetic titles reminiscent of Debussy's Preludes, Bázlik's preludes are tonal, inflected by a wandering chromaticism, and broadly speaking neoclassical - an interesting reversion to his performing roots as pianist by a composer who has freely made use of dodecaphony and electronics elsewhere in his output. All the individual pieces are brief and strongly characterised, from touching little nocturnes and songs without words to stirring Tchaikovskyan dance-scenes and evocative nature-painting. The 'Forget-me-not' suite consists of five charming children's pieces, relatively simple but with never a hint of condescension. The Palette suite, preceding the Preludes by nearly 30 years, shows the composer similarly experimenting with small evocative character-pieces, obviously inspired by his long involvement with the piano literature. Dano Buranovsky (piano). Music Fund SF 00362 (Slovakia) 05H109 $16.98 Ø

JOZEF SIXTA (b.1940): String Quartet No. 1, Solo for Piano, Recitative for Cello, Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Piano Sonata, Etude for Harpsichord, Trio for 3 Clarinets. These chamber works chart the progression of Sixta's stylistic evolution from his emergence as a leading figure in new Slovak music in the 1960s up to the 1990s. The quartet, in its use of controlled aleatory clearly shows the influence of Lutoslawski. A decade later the composer had largely abandoned the atonality implied by this method; Solo and Recitative from the 1970s display instead a preoccupation with imitative forms - canon especially - and rich chromatic harmony, in the piano work giving rise to a progression of chords both surprising and satisfying. I n the works of the 1980s Sixta achieved a mature voice; the organisational techniques of the '70s here seem combined with a greater freedom of expression; the Clarinet Trio sounds like Brahms one minute, Martinu the next, and elements of the free modernism of the 60s is also intermittently present. The taut and concentrated sonata, and the Etude, which sounds like an extension of the same ideas into a different medium, achieve a wide range of textures and tension through the interplay of canonic devices in a tightly organised structure. The trio for clarinets is also laid out on severely controlled lines, but again, the composer succeeds in generating involving musical argument from his formally precise constructions. Various artists. Music Fund SF 00372 (Slovakia) 05H110 $16.98 Ø

JURAJ BENES (1940-2004): Intermezzo No. 2 for 12 Cellos (Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra; Libor Pesek), Sonata for Solo Cello (Jozef Podhoransky), String Quartet No. 3 (Moyzes Quartet), O virtù mia for Bass and Organ (Sergej Kopcák [bass], Ján Vladimír Michalko [organ]). The unusual, though not unprecedented, device of orchestrating a piece for cello section alone here leads to a work of surprising diversity and contrast of material and sonority, which easily sustains interest throughout its 25 minutes' duration. Largely atonal and rhythmically free, the work is a study in texture and restless energy. O virtù mia (setting fragments of Dante's 'Purgatorio') has an atmosphere of solemn ceremonial, extended melismatic vocal lines accompanied by organ drones or rapid Messiaenic figuration, and occasional clusters by way of punctuation. The cello sonata begins as though headed in the direction of Feldmanesque pointillism, but episodes involving a rustic folk-like tune and increasing density and activity also hint at earlier models, especially the Kodály. Finally, the somewhat Bartókian quartet, again edgy and restless but a good deal more harmonically conventional than the Intermezzo from a decade earlier, is probably the most directly communicative and accessible of these individual and undoubtedly striking works. Music Fund SF 00072 (Slovakia) 05H111 $16.98 Ø

ILJA ZELJENKA (b.1933): Music for Organ, Ligatures, Pulsation, Toccata, Concertino for Trumpet and Organ. This disc will be most welcome to anyone enthused by genuinely contemporary organ music which nonetheless avoids taking refuge in the instrument's capacity for making funny dissonant noises in unusual registers, and clearly belongs in the tradition which may be traced from before the Baroque to the present day. Of course, this immediately invites comparison with Messiaen, but Zeljenka's voice is sufficiently individual that it isn't clear whether there is actual influence afoot or merely an inevitable confluence of general æsthetic stemming from similar aims in writing for the instrument. The use of repeated carillon-like figures over ground basses in Pulsation or chord-sequences and repeating cells in the irresistible Toccata (with its quasi-liturgical central section) - and elsewhere, in the suite Music for Organ - suggests a kind of tweaking of conventional minimalism by relating it directly to Baroque forms that used repetition in quite a different sense. Meticulously constructed, suitably grand when required, and even playfully whimsical (the 'bonus' of the esay-going but not lightweight Concertino with trumpet is a delight), and always appealing and approachable, this music is an easy recommendation. Ján Vladimír Michalko (organ of the Lutheran Evangelical Church, Bratislava), Juraj Bartos (trumpet). Music Fund SF 00282 (Slovakia) 05H112 $16.98 Ø

ROMAN BERGER (b.1930): Konvergencies I for Violin, II for Viola and III for Cello, Transgressus I for Electronics. The three 'Convergence' works are concerned with pitches and intervals, attempting a synthesis of these relationships as encountered in musical history from the earliest examples to the avant-garde. Of course, the involvement of organisational systems in which all notes are accorded equal significance regardless of their harmonic function leads inevitably to an overall sense of atonality, and it is to matters of touch, attack, timbre and dynamics that one has turn for a sense of structure, and it is perhaps as studies in sonority as much as for the mathematical relationships contained within the material that lends these works their most immediate musical interest. Extending the contrasts in performance technique utilised in the solo works, Transgressus I takes material from the recording of Konvergencie I and electronically transforms it, adding intriguing polyphonic textures to the solo line of the original. Alexander Jabolokov (violin), Milan Telecky (viola), Jozef Podhoransky (cello). Music Fund SF 00332 (Slovakia) 05H113 $16.98 Ø

VLADIMÍR BOKES (b.1946): 13 Preludes and Fugues (Stanislav Zamborsky), Piano Sonata No. 2 (Ivan Palovic), Piano Sonata No. 4 (Daniela Varínska). Unlike many cycles of preludes, with or without fugues, Bokes' 1989 work has a progressive idea, a kind of sub-plot, running through the entire work; the disintegration of the traditional harmonic structure of such a set of pieces. So as the cycle progresses, especially past the watershed eighth, which is repeated in a varied version, the tonality becomes harder to identify, the piano writing less conventional, disguising the form and harmony in music which seems ever more abstract and atonal, by contrast to the earlier pieces, which sound much more conventionally like what the titles say they are. An interesting concept, and as the writing is of high intrinsic quality, one that gives rise to a work that succeeds both on the macroscopic scale, as the increasing breakdown of tonality is observed, and on the microscopic, each tiny piece (most are well under two minutes) having a distinct and memorable character. The sonatas are more conventionally discursive and dramatic works, the 'polystylistic' Second incorporating quotations from works of the classical era alongside (modest) prepared-piano effects in a modern but not avant-garde idiom; the Fourth featuring complex rhythmic structures and a taut serial approach to its thematic and harmonic material. Music Fund SF 00322 (Slovakia) 05H114 $16.98 Ø

ROMAN BERGER (b.1930): De profundis for Bass, Piano and Cello (Sergej Kopcák [bass], Ján Salay [piano], Jozef Podhoransky [cello]), IVAN PARÍK (b.1936): Stabat mater for Tenor and Orchestra (Jozef Kundlák [tenor], Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Marián Vach). Slovak texts. Berger's De Profundis is a dramatic and disturbing work, of highly unusual construction; two movements set texts by Tadeusz Rozewicz, but there are also extended sections for solo piano and solo cello, and electroacoustic treatment is also applied to the texture throughout, both in transformations of the sounds and odd perspective changes which constitute a kind of 'virtual staging'. Dissonant, percussive outbursts from the piano alternate with withdrawn, glacial meditations; the work is close to music-theatre, with its declamatory spoken recitatives, sprechstimme and brooding scene-setting. An extended section incorporating the Dies Irae is most effective in context. By contrast, Parik's gentle setting of two brief texts from the Stabat Mater is post-romantic, tonal and melancholy, conventionally written and orchestrated - and occupies less than 6 minutes on the disc. Music Fund SF 00012 (Slovakia) 05H115 $16.98 Ø

IVAN HRUSOVSKY (1927-2001): Notturno alla ballata for Flute (Milos Jurkovic), 3 Three-part Canons for Violin and Harpsichord (Marica Dobiásová [harpsichord], Viktor Simcisko [violin]), Canti for Choir (Slovak Madrigalists), String Quartet No. 3 (Moyzes Quartet), 8 Variations on a Theme by Beethoven for Piano (Stanislav Zamborsky). This selection of works for small forces is apparently a small part of the composer's output; if there is a substantial body of orchestral music of this quality we would very much like to hear it. This music is immensely appealing, but also of considerable musical substance. The three canons could be a mere academic exercise, but they are so much more than that; ingenious miniatures, one in Baroque style, one energetic and chromatic, and the last astringently dodecaphonic. Choral music forms an important part of the composer's output, and Canti explores a huge variety of choral textures and techniques; the overall impression is of consonant harmony, but in fact there are atonal and aleatoric passages woven into the work's rich tapestry. Both the quartet and the flute work share a quality of free fantasy and epic story-telling, which in the case of the flute work is all the more remarkable in view of its brevity. The quartet is a serious work, beginning and ending with sorrowful slow movements of which Shostakovich would not have been ashamed. The Variations rapidly enter the realm of extreme chromaticism which seems to be the composer's favorite territory, but without losing sight of Beethoven's sprightly original (from Op. 2 No.3); the work is a delightful scherzando treat which one can easily imagine achieving currency as an encore to all manner of piano recitals. Music Fund SF 00292 (Slovakia) 05H116 $16.98 Ø

IVAN PARÍK (b.1936): Kyrie to the Memory of the Philosopher Constantine for Organ (Ivan Sokol), Sonata for Solo Cello (Jan Slávik), Songs About Falling Leaves for Piano (Stanislav Zamborsky), Music for Three (V. Samec [flute], V. Mally [oboe], J. Luptácik [clarinet]), Music to an Opening for Flute (Milos Jurkovic), Music for Milos Urbásek for String Quartet (Moyzes Quartet), Time of Leaving for Soprano and Piano (Viktoria Stracenská [soprano], Miloslav Starosta [piano]), Letters for Piano (Ida Cernecká), Pastorale for Organ (Sokol). This collection showcases the elegant and sophisticated output of a masterful miniaturist whose style has undergone a variety of evolutionary changes throughout his career, while remaining true to his personal voice. The influence of Bartók is evident, especially in the earlier works, and in the later ones too there is a return to tonality; the organ Pastorale and the brief song-cycle Time of Leaving are simple and affecting; the quartet restrained and eloquent. In several of the works for solo instruments or chamber groups from the 1960s, more progressive tendencies emerge; a concern with timbre and sonority which over-rides harmonic considerations leading to a subtle atonality, and the construction of some material by dodecaphonic means. But throughout the subtle craftsmanship and unassuming spirituality of the music is always evident, like the detail in an exquisite painting or the shades of meaning in a poem. Music Fund SF 00342 (Slovakia) 05H117 $16.98 Ø

EVGENY IRSHAI (b.1951): 7 Reflections in C (Piano Sonata), Sonata for Edvard Grieg for Violin and Piano, BACH... for Piano Quartet, Omni tempore for Solo Violin, Musical Remake for Cello and Piano, Concetto rituale for Accordion. Soviet-born, Leningrad Conservatory trained, Irshai emigrated from Russia in 1991 and settled in Slovakia. The intensely expressive psychological tension present in all these works, and a willingness to compel a dissonant post-Shostakovich vocabulary to co-exist with elements of classical models recalls the polystylism of Schnittke and Ustvolskaya. The violin sonata opens with a quasi-neo-romantic 'wild ride', exhilarating but unsettling; the piano sonata "in C" is very loosely that, but oscillates wildly between sections of contrasting expression, dynamics and texture while retaining a coherent sense of structure. The BACH piece makes use of the famous musical monogram, but frequently obscures it in insect rustlings and agitated expressionistic outbursts - then suddenly resolves into a moment of pure classical pastiche. This element of parody, and allusions to borrowed styles, are elements that are common to the tellingly entitled Musical Remake, while the accordion work is the oddest thing here by far, emulating electronic music while sounding like a malfunctioning musical machine reluctantly coming to life. More than the stylistic mélange these descriptions might suggest, these works are compelling and challenging while not inaccessible, if sometimes a little confusing! Artists not listed. Music Fund SF 00412 (Slovakia) 05H118 $16.98 Ø

MAREK BREZOVSKY (1974-1994): Freedom (Trio for Piano, Flute and Cello), [Untranslated Slovak title] for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, Just a Mood for Violin and Piano, To Unhappiness for String Orchestra, Percussion and Oboe, Journey (Piano Sonata No. 1), Desire, (Piano Sonata No. 2), Mini-Concerto for Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra, Miniatura quasi Burlesca for Piano, Romance for Viola and Piano. Marek Brezovsky 'suddenly' died at the age of 20. A quotation from the composer: 'Unhappiness is a form of happiness, and the sooner you realise it, the easier it will be to live your life' as well as the underlying pain and angst present in the music arouses one's suspicions, but the notes don't tell us - anyone know? Anyway, in a very brief span he produced a significant body of work of considerable eloquence and emotional power. Popular elements - straightforward harmony, rhythmic insistence, simple melody - were a part of his musical vocabulary, but in a few short years he had evolved to the point at which an acerbic and strict dissonant language had already taken root, and it seems clear that this was increasingly necessary for the full expression of the tumultuous emotions contained in the music. This dialogue between the sentimental and the tormented, already expressed with masterful maturity, would clearly have become a highly individual and highly charged personal mode of expression had the composer had time to develop it. Artists not listed. Music Fund SF 00402 (Slovakia) 05H119 $16.98 Ø

JURAJ HATRÍK (b.1941): Introspektion for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra (Magdaléna Hajóssyová [soprano], Music of Today; Igor Dibák), TADEÁS SALVA (b.1937): Glagolitic Mass for Solo Voices, Chorus, Winds and Percussion, 2 Harps and Organ (Hajóssyová, Marta Benoacková, L'udovít Ludha, Sergej Kopcák [no voice types given], Slovak Chamber Choir SL'UK and Chamber Ensemble; Pavol Prochádzka), Slovakian "Our Father" for Soprano and Mixed Choir (Katarína Kmet'ová [soprano], Bratislava City Choir; Ladislav Holásek), MIRO BAZLÍK (b.1931): Canticum for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra ( Hajóssyová, Slovak Madrigalists, Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ondrej Lenárd). These works belong to the period beginning in the mid-60s when a Slovakian compositional identity was beginning to emerge, and composers were selectively absorbing influences from the avant garde of the rest of Europe. It is unsurprising, therefore, to encounter elements of serialism and controlled aleatoric techniques in both Hatrik's and Salva's works, which are works of considerable drama and impact. Salva's Mass in particular melds elements of Janacek (with whose mass it shares a title and language as well as some elements of harmonic thinking and layout) with Penderecki. Bazlik's Canticum is more conventional, with much sonorous and richly-textured choral and orchestral writing. Aleatoric choral 'effects' are employed for dramatic effect, but the music invariably resolves to a telling and emotionally resourceful neo-romantic polyphony with strong ties to the liturgical traditions of the past. Music Fund SF 00142 (Slovakia) 05H120 $16.98 Ø

EGON KRÁK (b.1958): Pulcherrima ad honorem Sancti Augustini memoriae for String Octet and Piano (Moyzes Quartet, Slovak Quartet, Daniela Rusó [piano]), VLADIMÍR GODÁR (b.1956): Sequence for Violin and Piano (Juraj Cizmarociv [violin], Mikulás Skuta [piano]), MARTIN BURLAS (b.1955): 7th Day Record for String Quartet (Moyzes Quartet), IRIS SZEGHY (b.1956): Hommage à Rodin for Violin and Piano (Pavel Bogacz [violin], Rusó [piano]), PETER ZAGAR (b.1961): Stabat mater for Choir (Slovak Chamber Choir SL'UK; Pavol Procházka). Krák's extended work in five sections is a series of meditations on the idea of beauty, suggested by a cosmological metaphor and the doctrine of St Augustine. Largely tonal, at times not far removed from Pärt-like meditation, the work nevertheless admits a wider range of expression, incorporating elements of neo-classical tinged quasi-minimalism and frank romanticism for variety. Godár's work is based on the Dies irae which (unusually) it employs in extenso, simply stated at the outset. The ensuing variations and episodes explore a range of moods and textures from somber prayerfulness to apocalyptic vision to mechanistic nightmare, even a rough folk-totentanz -but always retaining the theme in recognisable form; a technical and expressive tour de force. Burlas' electroacoustic work is 8 minutes of percussive sounds incorporating some sort of 'found' recording, closer to the Techno idom than conventional string quartet music. Szeghy returns us to a conventional view of violin and piano in three tangibly impactful but largely not atonal nor avant garde (despite some sonorous effects inside the piano) musings on Rodin's extraordinary creativity. Zagar's brief Stabat mater is a simple setting in the style of polyphonic chant, with mild 20th-century dissonance. Music Fund SF 00172 (Slovakia) 05H121 $16.98 Ø

MIRO BAZLÍK (b.1931): String Quartet "à la mémoire de mon père" (Kosice Quartet), DUSAN MARTINCEK (b.1936): Piano Sonata (Ivan Palovic), JOZEF MALOVEC (1933-1998): String Quartet No. 4 (Josef Skorepa, Anton Lehotsky [violins], Juraj Petrovic [viola], Peter Sochman [cello]), JURAJ POSPÍSIL (b.1931): Villonská balada for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 24 (Peter Drlicka [clarinet], Alena Ulická [piano]), ROMAN BERGER (b.1930): Exodus finale for Organ (Ján Vladimír Michalko). Bázlik's String Quartet of 1973 is an in memoriam piece (for the composer's father); a personal and deeply felt work, highly concentrated but free of morbid sentimentality. Although utilizing some serial and aleatoric techniques the overall impression is of a vocabulary not so very far removed from late Shostakovich. Pianist-composer Martincek's 6th piano sonata is a brief and sonorous eruption of energy, alternating fast motoric material with contrasting open-textured passages of freely fantastic character. Malovec's 4th Quartet is considerably more conservative in idiom than the Bázlik, with clearly folk-derived lyricism and a gently melancholy character. Although Pospisil uses note-rows in his 'Villon Ballad', his roots were in neo-Romanticism, and it is this that is most apparent in this elegant and economical work, almost suggesting Poulenc in its lightness of touch and unfussy eloquence. Berger's organ work - part of a cycle unfinished at the time the notes were written, apparently - is a fantasia on a chorale theme introduced after a shadowy and ambiguous introduction. The work then progresses through sections in clearly identifiable traditional forms - passacaglia (with some impressive and inventive treatments of the theme flung around the sections of the organ), toccata (like updated Widor) - and then the music subsides into an initially uneasy and increasingly triumphant final meditation. In general the harmonic language is not far removed from Messiaen, with the sonorous capabilities of the organ as thoroughly exploited. Music Fund SF 0009 (Slovakia) 05H122 $16.98 Ø

IVAN PARÍK (b.1936): Music for Milos Urbásek for String Quartet (Moyzes Quartet), ILJA ZELJENKA (b.1933): Aztecan Songs for Soprano, Piano and Percussion (Elena Holicková [soprano], L'udovít Marcinger [piano], Dalibor Machek [percussion]), TADEÁS SALVA (b.1937): Ballade for Solo Cello (Eugen Prochác), JURAJ HATRÍK (b.1941): Canzona in Memory of Alexander Moyzes for Voice, Viola and Organ (Hana Stolfová [voice], Marián Banda [viola], Imrich Szabó [organ]), IVAN HRUSOVSKY (b.1927): String Quartet No. 2 (Kosice Quartet). Parík's refined and intimate work was inspired by paintings by Urbásek, a personal friend of the composer. Zeljenka's songs, setting ancient Aztec texts (in translation) makes atmospheric use of a variety of percussion for colouristic effect; in general the piece is a melodious, modally inflected and readily accessible one. The same might be said of Salva's folk-influenced Ballad, which takes the 'cello out of the concert hall and invests it with a feeling of the rough textures of the folk-gathering (though in an idealized, sophisticated fashion; the work involves Bartókian bravura and a high degree of virtuoso display). Hatrík's setting of a text by Tagore (not identified, no text or translation given) for the unusual combination of voice, viola and organ is a dramatic scena of quasi-operatic substance; the dialogue between the dense organ textures and declamatory string solo sets the scene for the entrance of the assured introspection of the verbal element of the work. Especially notable is the range of expression of the organ part, which is sometimes consigned to an accompanimental rôle and then breaks out in full-blown Romantic organo pieno dramatic bravura. Hrusovsky's 2nd Quartet combines sonorous effects in massed glissandi and aleatoric sound-masses with an underlying elegiac lyricism, suggesting a work existing simultaneously on several emotional and musical levels. Music Fund SF 0010 (Slovakia) 05H123 $16.98 Ø

HANUS DOMANSKY (b.1944): Dithyrambs for Piano (Daniel Buranovsky), IRIS SZEGHY (b.1956): Musica Dolorosa for String Quartet (Moyzes Quartet), FRANTISEK POUL (b.1945): Nocturne for Piano (Zlatica Poulová), VLADIMÍR BOKES (b.1946): Viola Sonata, Op. 52 (Jozef Hosek [viola], Ivan Palovic [piano]), JOZEF SIXTA (b.1940): Piano Sonata (Stanislav Zamborsky). This disc presents music which largely avoids the tendencies of Slovak composers to absorb avant garde tendencies from other parts of Europe during the 60s and 70s. Domansky's two-part piano work exultantly makes use of virtuoso piano figuration, but in fairly conventioanl manner; the second piece, an homage to Stravinsky, is pretty explicit as to what Stravinsky is receiving the tribute; sections of the work are effectively a fantasia on Le Sacre and Petrushka. Likewise Poul's 'Nocturnes' return to the early 20th century for their inspiration; the langauge is somewhere between Debussyan impressionism and the meandering and ambiguous almost-atonality of late Skryabin. Sixta's terse Piano Sonata has more than a little in common with Prokofiev in its aggressively incisive outer sections; the central intermezzo exploits piano sonority, while remaining within a similar harmonic vocabulary. Bokes' Viola Sonata is organised along strict mathematical guidelines; the work thus has a strong sense of logical progression which does not preclude passages of motoric brilliance and subtle introspection. Szeghy's fine quartet is first and foremost an emotionally expressive work; the final 'tranquillo' slow movement is a powerful lament, preceded by a Bartókian folk-dance and an introductory movement full of longing and regret, all broadly tonal, and the whole adding up to a concise but telling narrative that sounds deeply personal. Music Fund SF 0015 (Slovakia) 05H124 $16.98 Ø

JOZEF MALOVEC (b.1933): Symmetrical Music, JOZEF SIXTA (b.1940): String Quartet No. 2, EGON KRÁK (b.1958): String Quartet "Spiritus tuus in nobis", PETER ZAGAR (b.1961): String Quartet, PETER MARTINCEK (b.1962): The Touch - Winter Quartet. Calling a piece 'Symmetrical Music' risks assumptions being made about over-reliance on mathematical structures or some such. In fact it turns out that Malovec is referring to designs used in an ancient culture discovered by archæologists in Slovakia, in which symmetrical elements are a common feature. The work is a genial but concentrated piece in a basically tonal idiom, not so very far from early (pre-serial) Schönberg0 avoiding avant-gardisms, and featuring an especially eloquent slow movement. Sixta's second quartet is a sequence of canons separated by free, aleatoric, intermezzi. The contrast between the strict counterpoint imposed by the form of the main movements and the rustling, organic textures of the dividing passages could not be more pronounced, and the work gains a powerful forward thrust and a clearly defined arch shape as a result. Krák's quartet is broadly speaking in the 'new spirituality' genre; a gently undulating, largely consonant meditation which nevertheless admits some elements of conflict, swiftly resolved; the piece nonetheless avoids an excessive emphasis on comforting repose, as an undercurrent of tension is frequently to be felt as the work progresses. Zagar's brief and concise piece is also harmmonically conservative but more conventionally discursive, with neoclassical precision and bitonal gestures placing it in a somewhat Stravinskyan idiom. The Martincek returns us to a bittersweet quasi new-age idiom, here with expressly minimalist involvement in a very Nymanesque (and it must be said, immensely appealing) central section to enliven proceedings. Moyzes Quartet. Music Fund SF 00212 (Slovakia) 05H125 $16.98 Ø

JOZEF MALOVEC (b.1933): Cryptogram I for Bass Clarinet, Percussion and Piano, PETER KOLMAN (b.1937): Molisation for Flute and Vibraphone, LADISLAV KUPKOVIC (b.1936): Octagon of Solitude, Boredom and Fear for 8 Voices, PETER ZAGAR (b.1961): Music for Video for Chamber Ensemble, MARTIN BURLAS (b.1955): From My Life... for Ensemble, DANIEL MATEJ (b.1963): Gloria for Voices and Instruments. Various artists. Of the various 'Slovak music samplers' among this month's offerings, this disc is the one with the clearest historical agenda. 'New Music in Slovakia' didn't have very long to flourish in the 1960s due to the prevailing political climate at the time, so the explicitly avant-garde works from that period presented here - the Malovec, Kolman and Kupkovic - with their free aleatory, serialism and free, anything-goes atonality never really led to a cohesve national avant garde style; the pieces all sound like fascinating products of their time, with gestures derived from sources as diverse as Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Cage and Boulez. The works from the next generation of composers, writing what was then 'new music' in the 1990s, display a similar tendency to absorb from prevailing musical doctrines; this time involving consonant harmony, 'new spirituality', melody and elements of 'non-classical' expression, also in a spirit of questing exprimentation. Music Fund SF 00042 (Slovakia) 05H126 $16.98 Ø