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GUSTAV BENGTSSON (1886-1965): Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 6, Vettern: Symphonic Poem for Orchestra, I Vadstena kloster: Three Tone Pictures for Orchestra. Here are three sweeping, Romantic works by another of that remarkable group of Scandinavian symphonists who have kept the Romantic spirit in music alive and growing into the present day. Vettern is a tone-painting of the lake near which Bengtssohn lived most of his life, its surging flow depicting the movement of great waters, vivid and extrovert, like the Sibelius of the First Symphony. Bengtsson's own first symphony, here receiving its world première recording, is very much the work of an enthusiastic young man, albeit one with a precociously developed sense of orchestration and structure. The work is laid out classically, with a Mendelssohnian first movement, a dignified and melodic adagio with a haunting, very Nordic, melancholy in its tender lyricism, and an energetic dance-like scherzo-finale, which incorporates a fugal treatment of the main theme. I Vadstena kloster ("In Vadstena Monastery") consists of three wonderfully evocative tone-pictures, conjuring fragile moods with the vividness of memory. The first ("In the Closter Church") hauntingly depicts the sounds of an evening service and at times is startlingly reminiscent of Vaughan Williams in the Tallis Fantasia, while the second ("Meditation"), which has a pastoral atmosphere which recalls Dvorák, paints a scene of a summer morning in a monastery garden. The third, a "Procession", is a rural ceremonial, depicted in music not far removed from the incidental music of Sibelius or the lyric pieces of Grieg. Gävle Symphony Orchestra; Mats Liljefors. Sterling CDS 1008 (Sweden) 11-001 $15.98

NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908): The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh. Written in 1903-4, Rimsky's penultimate opera combines history, pantheistic folklore and Christian mystery in a phantasmagorical musical stew which has been called the "Russian Parsifal". A maiden who lives in the forest and communes with its beasts, the Mongol invasion of 1223 and the miraculous shrouding of the city of Kitezh in a golden mist to save it from the Mongol onslaught provide Rimsky with more than enough material to weave his typically enchanting spell with music that contains resonances spanning the 19th century from Glinka to Wagner. First CD recording. 2 CDs. Full texts and English translations. Elena Prokina (soprano), Sergei Naida (tenor), Vladimir Galusin (tenor), Sofia Chamber Choir, Chorus of the Russian Academy, Moscow, Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Fedoseyev. Koch Schwann 311442 (Germany) 11-002 $33.98

ALEXANDER GRECHANINOV (1864-1956): Symphony No. 4, Op. 102, Cello Concerto, Op. 8, Missa festiva, Op. 154. Here are two premiere recordings: the 1895 cello concerto, a single-movement work, is in form much like Saint-Säens' Cello Concerto No. 1, but in feeling full of characteristic Russian melancholy with much grateful writing for the soloist. The mass, from 1937, is for mixed chorus and organ and combines the Catholic liturgy with music which borrows from the sensibility of Russian Orthodox church music to create a unique synthesis. The 1927 symphony, dedicated to Tchaikovsky, contains so many (original) melodies reminiscent of that master that it may seem to the unaware listener a newly-unearthed lost symphony! A gorgeous work, in much better sound than its only competitor. Alexander Ivashkin (cello), Russian State Symphonic Cappella and Symphony Orchestra; Valeri Polyansky. Chandos 9559 (England) 11-003 $16.98

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)/VENIAMIN BASNER (1925-1996): Katerina Ismailova: Symphony for Full Orchestra after the Opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Like Prokofiev and his Symphony No. 3 (culled from The Fiery Angel), Shostakovich had plans to create a symphony from music to his opera Lady Macbeth. Left unrealized at his death, the sketches were completed by his friend and colleague Basner, who wrote much film music as well as traditional concert music. The result is a five-movement piece which follows chronologically the events of the opera from the sympathetic music for Katerina which opens the symphony to the great, horrifying walls of sound depicting the Siberian prison and the final, awful denouement of the opera. More than "opera without words", this piece is a legitimate symphonic addition to Shostakovich's uvre. World premiere live recording. Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Fedoseyev. Calig 50 992 (Germany) 11-004 $18.98


CZESLAW MAREK (1891-1985): Capriccio, Op. 15, Serenade for Violin and Orchestra, Sinfonietta. Polish-Swiss composer Czeslaw Marek suffered from tragic neglect during his long life, which, indeed, led to his abandoning composition during his last 4 decades. Thus it is that most of his extant music is that of a young man, coming to terms with the musical trends of the early years of this century (indeed, he once thought of studying with Schoenberg). Although none of these orchestral works have the visionary intensity of his Busonian Triptych, for Marek's own instrument, the piano, they are all appealing, Romantic works (as one would expect of a student of Pfitzner and friend of Zemlinsky). The Serenade and Sinfonietta share a movement, more sprightly in its transcription for the composer's violinist wife, made four years after the Sinfonietta was written. Ingolf Turban (violin), Philharmonia Orchestra; Gary Brain. Koch Schwann 364402 (Germany) 11-005 $16.98

HANS KRÁSA (1899-1944): String Quartet, Theme and Variations for String Quartet, Chamber Music for Harpsichord and 7 Instruments, Dance for String Trio, Passacaglia and Fugue for String Trio. This new release contains all of Krása's chamber music, including the world-premiere recording of his Chamber Music of 1935, a two-movement work which uses the same popular song as a theme as his Theme and Variations. The instrumentation (the seven players use 4 clarinets, bass clarinet, saxophone and trumpet in addition to cello and bass) allows Krása to work the tune in every way possible from tender reminiscence through atonality, cabaret, satiric sarcasm and jazz. A valuable addition to the catalogue. Zuzana RÛÏíãková (harpsichord), Czech Nonet members, Kocian Quartet. Praga 250 106 (France) 11-006 $17.98

JANIS IVANOVS (1906-1983): Violin Concerto, AULIS SALLINEN (b.1935): Violin Concerto, JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Violin Concerto in D, Op. 47. The prolific Latvian composer Ivanovs is at his expressive and lyrical best here in this deeply felt concerto, which draws on Latvian folk music but is otherwise reminiscent of Sibelius both in its treatment of the solo instrument and the sombre yet inventive compactness of orchestration. Sallinen's work is bleaker, redolent of Finland's icy wastes and human struggle, like all this composer's best music. (These two works take up 48 minutes of this well-filled disc.) Valdis Zarins (violin), Latvian National Symphony Orchestra; Vassily Sinaisky, Paul Magi. Cameo 2004 (England) 11-007 $16.98


JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Karelia - Complete Score, Kuolema - Incidental Music (including original version of Valse triste). In this world premiere recording we hear the astonishing original version of Karelia, set in the context of the much larger work from which the familiar suite was taken. Karelia, for orchestra and vocal solists, was written for a historial pageant ("Scenic Music for a Festival and Lottery in Aid of Education in the Province of Viipuri") and was first heard in 1893. The original score consisted of an overture and eight tableaux depicting scenes from the history of the province of Karelia in eastern Finland; Sibelius excerpted the overture and three numbers for the popular suite. The overture remains the same but each of the three numbers exhibit small but significant differences from the published version. The remaining music fell into oblivion, even though it concluded with a noble arrangement of the Finnish national anthem Maamme (Our Country). Some of the original orchestral parts of Karelia, as well as parts of the original full score have been lost; for this recording, composer Kalevi Aho has provided reconstructions. Raimo Laukka (baritone), Heikki Laitinen & Taito Hoffren (folk singers), Lahti Symphony Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä. BIS CD-915 (Sweden) 11-008 $17.98

UUNO KLAMI (1900-1961): Symphonie enfantine, Op. 17, Hommage à Haendel for Piano and Strings, Op. 21, Suite for strings (1937), Suite for Small Orchestra, Op. 37. Klami intentionally gave his early symphony "children's symphony" to prevent it being regarded as a traditional "genuine" symphony; its three relatively short movements show a late-Romantic language leavened with dashes of Impressionism, with the central Berceuse being a particularly beautiful cradle-song of the type that recurs often in Klami's works. The Hommage was conceived for the small-scale ensemble of the radio orchestra of the early 30s and flirts with baroque form if not content. The remaining two pieces are charming three-movement works of similar style and content with another ravishing berceuse in the op. 37. Tapiola Sinfonietta; Jean-Jacques Kantorow. BIS CD-806 (Sweden) 11-009 $17.98


HARALD SÆVERUD (1897-1992): Symphony No. 4, Op. 11, Symphony No. 5 "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 16, Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia dolorosa", Op. 19, Symphony No. 7 "Salme", Op. 27, Symphony No. 8 "Minnesota", Op. 40, Canto ostinato, Op. 9, Rondo amoroso, Op. 14a/7, Galdreslåtten, Op. 20. Everything here but the sixth and seventh symphonies is new to CD; the first of the three "war symphonies", No. 5, like many of Sæverud's symphonies, is in one movement and is dedicated to "the determination of the resistance" and its emotional, turbulent course leaves the listener exhausted but braced. Framing this triptych are the 1937 Fourth, another one-movement work with the composer's typical strong contrasts and abundance of motives, and the Minnesota Symphony, written 1958 for the 100th anniversary of Minnesota's statehood. In rare four-movement form (and rare 40-minute length) the work follows a somewhat abstract program for the first three movements (subtitled "Once Upon a Time", "Hope and Longing" and "Gay Day") before ending with a mechanized struggle between "Man and Machine". 2 CDs. Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Dmitri Kitaenko. Simax 3124 (Norway) 11-010 $39.98

HARALD SÆVERUD (1897-1992): Peer Gynt, Op. 28: Suites Nos. 1 and 2, Piano Concerto, Op. 31, Romance for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 23, Divertimento for Flute and Strings, Op. 13, Fanfare and Hymn, Op. 48, Vade mors, Op. 38, Siljuslåtten, Op. 17a, Canto Rivoltoso, Op. 22a/5, Her Last Cradle Song, Op. 22a/3, Syljetone, Cinquanta variazioni piccoli, Op. 8, Gjætlevise Variations, Op. 15, Småfuglvals, Op. 18/2. This second volume contains many smaller works which are nonetheless still quintessentially Sæverud in their terseness, uncompromising profile and visceral impact. To single out just a couple, the Canto rivoltoso of 1943 is a musical protest against the Nazi occupation of Norway which speaks volumes in its less than seven minutes while Vade mors ("Death advances") of 1955 is a whirlwind of rhythmic, fanatical force. The Peer Gynt suites show the composer's lyrical side and his uncanny ability to suggest Norwegian folk music without using any actual folk tunes. 2 CDs. Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Karsten Andersen. Simax 3125 (Norway) 11-011 $39.98

HARALD SÆVERUD (1897-1992): Bassoon Concerto, Op. 44, Lucretia Suite, Op. 10, Symphony No. 7 "Salme", Op. 27. Volume 2 of BIS' Sæverud series presents CD premieres of the 1964 bassoon concerto, in which the composer exploits all of the instrument's registers to provide music that runs the gamut from jovial to deeply tragic, and the 1934 suite culled from stage music for André Obey's play The Rape of Lucretia. The five movements describe vividly and atmospherically the story of the tyrant Tarquinius' mad passion for the chaste Lucretia. The last of Sæverud's "war symphonies" receives its fastest, most gripping and incisive performance yet. Robert Rønnes (bassoon), Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Dmitriev. BIS CD-822 (Sweden) 11-012 $17.98

ANTONIO BIBALO (b.1922): Concerto allegorico for Violin and Orchestra, 4 Morceaux pour 7 Musiciens, Racconto d'una stagione alta: Studia per violoncelle et piano, Cantico for Soprano and Tape. Fresh and elegant, in a vocabulary best described as a very free treatment of dodecaphonic methods, allowing an individual, unfettered tonal expression, these works for small ensembles possess a certain sensuality, and a sense of fun, which are often both found wanting in modern serial composition. Racconto is especially evocative, recalling a moment from the composer's youth when the impending tragedy of the second World War first impinged upon Bibalo's personal experience. Peter Herresthal (violin), Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Dmitriev, Cikada Ensemble, Bjørg Værnes (cello), Anders Brunsvik (piano), Anne Gjevang (soprano). Aurora 4988 (Norway) 11-013 $17.98


JOHN ALDEN CARPENTER (1876-1951): Skyscrapers, ARTHUR FOOTE (1853-1937): Suite for Strings in , Op. 63, EDWARD MACDOWELL (1860-1908): Lamia: Symphonic Poem, Op. 29, DUDLEY BUCK (1839-1909): Festival Overture on the Star-Spangled Banner, JOHN KNOWLES PAINE (1839-1906): Oedipus Tyrannus: Prelude, Op. 35. Originally released by Angel back in 1987, this was one of the finest compilations of rare Romantic American orchestral music since the halcyon days of Karl Krueger and the Society for the Preservation of the American Musical Heritage. From Carpenter's 1926 ballet with its Roaring 20s ethos and the "serious" Germanic tone poems by MacDowell and Paine to Buck's virtuoso and high-spirited 1887 romp with the national anthem, this is a must-have anthology. London Symphony Orchestra; Kenneth Klein. Albany TROY 235 (U.S.A.) 11-014 $16.98

VIRGIL THOMSON (1896-1989): Symphony No. 3, NORMAN DELLO JOIO (b.1913): New York Profiles, ULYSSES KAY (1917-1995): Fantasy Variations, JACK BEESON (b.1921): Symphony No. 1. These valuable reissues of CRI recordings from the 1960s and 70s demonstrate again - if it were necessary to do so - what a remarkable wealth of American music is neglected in our major concert halls. Thomson's symphony - an orchestration of his second string quartet - conceals its ingenious transformations of abstract material under a deceptively debonair surface. Dello Joio's work uses plainchant (an inescapable part of his heritage, as the son of an Italian church organist) as the raw material from which to fashion four impressions of unexpected aspects of New York. All the works here are finely crafted and instantly appealing, especially Beeson's symphony, which simply bursts with good humor throughout. The Dello Joio and Kay are making their CD debuts. New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra; James Bolle, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; Arthur Bennett Lipkin, Polish National Radio Orchestra; William Strickland. Citadel CTD 88124 (U.S.A.) 11-015 $14.98

CHARLES PIZER (b.1941): Manhattan Impressions: Homage to Gershwin, IRA-PAUL SCHWARTZ: Rosa's Rhapsody: A Tribute to Rosa Parks, SETH SLADEK: Chroma, WILLIAM THOMAS MCKINLEY (b.1938): Patriotic Variations, MITCH HAMPTON: Concerto for Jazz Piano and Orchestra. The legacies most readily apparent here are those of Gershwin and Bernstein. Pizer's work (1993) is subtitled Homage to Gershwin, as well it might be. Sladek's Chroma makes use of progressions of harmony in a jazz-like idiom, though the piece remains warmly tonal, with the composer's instrument, the guitar, having a concertante role reminiscent of Rodrigo. Hampton's concerto is especially noteworthy in that, unlike many "crossover" works, which sound like concert music written by someone with inadequate technique and training, or jazz played by a square with no feeling for the idiom, here the composer has created a true concerto using exclusively the vocabulary of jazz, which therefore demands to be accepted on its own terms, on which it succeeds admirably. Robert Squires (guitar), Mitch Hampton (piano), Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra; Vladimír Válek, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Robert Stankovsky. MMC 2032 (U.S.A.) 11-016 $17.98

JORDAN WARING (b.1964): The Mountains of Tolima, Piano Concerto No. 1, Bosnian Overture. Waring's music is all conservatively tonal: the tone poem uses two guitars in its orchestration and paints a languid, then festive picture of the South American city for which it is named; the concerto follows the classic Romantic 3-movement pattern with a brief adagio separating two fast movements which contain glittering cadenzas; the overture is a lament for the carnage wrought in Bosnia which begins plaintively and ends reflectively after an emotional climax. José Ignacio Díaz (piano), Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc; Nicholas Smith. MMC 2051 (U.S.A.) 11-017 $17.98

DAVID CARLSON (b.1952): Symphonic Sequences from "Dreamkeepers", Cello Concerto No. 1, Rhapsodies, Twilight Night. The first work here is comprised of music from Carlson's opera about the cultural clash between indigenous American peoples and European invaders. It is richly scored, pictorially vivid music, which succeeds in standing up in its own right, despite betraying its origins as a series of tableaux to accompany dramatic events - rather like Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antartica, with which it has some points in common (you may also hear suggestions of Richard Strauss, Messiaen, even Holst). The concerto is more apparently in a modern idiom, with a large percussion battery, some use of microtones for atmospheric, coloristic purposes, and an improvisatory (but notated) solo part, increasingly embraces lyricism as the work progresses. The other two pieces are studies in colorful orchestral texture; structurally the works are based on serial techniques, but the overriding impression is of rich, chromatic harmony. Emil Miland (cello), Utah Symphony; Stewart Robertson. New World 80496 (U.S.A.) 11-018 $16.98

ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK (b.1941): Piano Sonata No. 1, ROGER DICKERSON: Sonatina, JEFFREY MUMFORD (b.1955): Fragments from the Surrounding Evening, LETTIE BECKON ALSTON: Three Rhapsodies, DOLORES WHITE: Toccata, TANIA LÉON (b.1943): Ritual, HALE SMITH (b.1925): Evocation. A diverse collection of piano music by living African-American composers. Hailstork's sonata is a real tour de force of piano technique, in an advanced meta-tonal, polymetric style that recalls, of all people, Sorabji. It is by far the largest and most impressive work here. The other music runs the gamut of 20th-century styles and influences, from the lyrical serialism of Hale Smith to the almost English-pastoral tonality of Roger Dickerson, providing a fascinating sample of a neglected area of contemporary repertoire. Karen Walwyn (piano). Albany TROY 266 (U.S.A.) 11-019 $16.98

SELIM PALMGREN (1878-1951): Daniel Hjort. Palmgren, known primarily for his lyric piano pieces and five piano concertos, wrote his only opera between 1907 and 1909. Based on a play by J.J. Wecksell considered to be the finest stage work in the Swedish language before Strindberg, the opera deals with the siege of a Finnish fort in 1597 by Swedish forces. Heavily influenced by Shakespeare's Hamlet, Palmgren turned the central character, Daniel Hjort into an individual torn between his love for the daughter of the fort's commander and his desire for revenge against those who murdered his father and oppress the Finnish people. In the end he betrays the fortress. Palmgren uses this scenario to create a deeply probing psychological drama for which he produced his finest symphonic music, at the heart of which is a gripping 13-minute monologue in Scene II for Hjort's mother. 2 CDs. Swedish- English libretto. Hans Lydman (baritone), Walton Gronröos (bass-baritone), Staffan Galli (tenor), Tove Åman (soprano), Päivi Nisula (contralto), Brahe Djäknar, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra; Ulf Söderblom. Finlandia 0630-14912 (Finland) 11-020 $33.98

JOHN VÄINÖ FORSMAN (b.1924): 5 Improvisations, Op. 6/3, Piano Sonatas No. 1, Op. 3, No. 2, Op. 8, Sonata variata (No. 3), Op. 11, No. 4, Op. 12 and No. 5, Op. 13. A student of Hindemith, Forsman's musical language similarly makes use of well-controlled dissonant harmonic tensions, rooted in tonality (often bitonality or extended harmonic relations) and clarity of texture and line. Rhythmically the sonatas are interesting, with constantly shifting meter and the incorporation of dance rhythms in unexpected ways. Classical restraint and strongly individual character, in which traces of his Nordic heritage can be found characterise this compelling music. Folke Gräsbeck (piano). BIS CD-902 (Sweden) 11-021 $17.98

POUL RUDERS (b.1949): Four Dances in One Movement, Dramaphonia, Corpus cum figuris. The Danish Ruders wrote a number of ensemble works in the 1980s which reflected his preoccupation at that time with "abstract drama", in which the listener's imagination is required to associate music with imagery according to his or her own experiences. So Four Dances tells no story, but entertains us with lightly scored, lively dance-fragments that shimmer like fantastic dancers in dreams. Dramaphonia is a darker, more concentrated work, leading us through the turbulent spaces of human emotions as expressed in powerfully evocative music. Erik Kaltoft (piano), Aarhus Sinfonietta; Søren Kinch Hansen. BIS CD-720 (Sweden) 11-022 $17.98

EDVARD HAGERUP BULL (b.1922): Ad usum amicorum, Op. 20, 6 Épigrammes, Op. 36, Posthumes: In memoriam Jan Øvsthus and Edvard Fliflet Bræin, Op. 47. Bit 20 Ensemble; Ingar Bergby. Aurora 4993 (Norway) 11-023 $17.98

EDVARD HAGERUP BULL (b.1922): Sinfonia a cinq, Op. 54b, Sextuor, Op. 31, Sonata cantabile, Op. 35, Profils "Pour un Drame Rustique", Op. 49, Stèle pour l'epilogue d'un monde, Op. 58a. Bit 20 Ensemble; Ingar Bergby. Aurora 4999 (Norway) 11-024 $17.98

One of Norway's most prominent contemporary composers, Bull was a student of Milhaud and Messiaen. The influence of the latter is hard to detect in his music; not the case with the former, especially in the pungent writing for winds, which also recalls the later Stravinsky. Rhythmic vitality and clarity and openness of texture, in which every note is made to stand for something (even if it is something abstract like the textures and brush-strokes in painting) are important to this composer. All of these chamber works, for a variety of small ensembles, make use only of conventional instruments played in their accustomed manner - indeed, it is the celebration of the individual nature of instrumental timbres, as well as the incorporation of classical structures into very non-classical forms that gives this music so reassuringly familiar a quality, despite its modern-sounding idiom.

STEFAN WOLPE (1902-1972): Symphony No. 1, Yigdal Cantata, Chamber Piece I, Chamber Piece II. Yigdal was written in 1938, to a commission from the 5th Avenue Synagogue in New York. It sets texts by Maimonides on the thirteen principles of Jewish faith. Those who have found Wolpe's music to be disconcertingly abstract in its adherence to serial techniques may be surprised by the sheer power and grandeur of this expression of the composer's ethnic archetypes, while the musical sophistication and craftsmanship is never in doubt. The symphony is typically complex and many-layered, and the two brief, late chamber pieces demonstrate the skill with which Wolpe was able to express himself with economy and inventiveness in the compositional systems which he had embraced. The second ends defiantly, as Wolpe struggled to complete it in the face of his approaching death from Parkinson's disease. Christian Bierbach (bass), North German Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Johannes Kalitzke. Arte Nova 46508 (Germany) 11-025 $8.98

THEORDORE ANTONIOU (b.19): Premetheus, Celebration I for Large Orchestra, Celebration III for Chorus and Orchestra, Concerto-fantasia for Violin and Chamber Orchestra. Antoniou is essentially a dramatic composer, whose music, even when not illuminating a specific text, is imbued with rich imagery and narrative progression. "Prometheus", based on Æschylus' tragedy, uses a large percussion ensemble as well as a chorus to comment in the manner of Greek Tragedy, on the events of the drama as they unfold in the baritone solo (Prometheus) and the orchestra. The two "Celebrations" are vividly lit expressions of energy - a very positive energy, emanating from spiritual strength and the power of friendship. The Fantasy for violin and chamber orchestra also has a strong narrative content, with the soloist as protagonist, or celebrant, in a journey towards completeness, both musical and personal. Peter Odajiev (baritone), Ludmil Nentchev (violin), "Obretenov" State Choir, Bulgaria Symphony Orchestra; Alkis Panayotopoulos. Agorá Musica AG 109-1 (Italy) 11-026 $16.98


ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892-1955): Skating Rink - symphonie chorégraphique, L'Idée - musique du film, Concertino for Piano and Orchestra. Here's the find of the catalogue: a marvellous, symphonic poem-like work from 1921 and a film score from 1934 for a 12-man ensemble. The former, written as ballet music, sounds in many places just like an early Bernard Herrmann/Hitchcock score and in others like the scores of a dozen hard-boiled American noir films of the 40s. An oily saxophone contributes immeasurably to the effect as ominous ostinati and swirling dark orchestral colors intimate the existence of something quite unpleasant. Skating Rink? Don't ask me! L'Idée uses an ondes Martenot to depict a young woman who is the allegorical "idea" of the film. The score is in ten sections, each of which is characterized by strongly profiled, attractive music. If film scores were like this today, we wouldn't pay attention to the images. Orchestra of Swiss-Italian Radio; Marc Andreae, Ensemble Contrechamps; Giorgio Bernasconi, Franz Josef Hirt (piano), Orchestra of Swiss-Italian Radio; Otmar Nussio. Gallo CD-880 (Switzerland) 11-027 $18.98

OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992): Fête des belles eaux, ANTOINE TISNÉ (b.1932): Iles de temps, AKIRA TAMBA (b.1932): Accalmies, SUSUMU YOSHIDA (b.1947): Toki-No-Hibiki. Next year marks the centenary of Maurice Martenot, inventor of the ondes Martenot, which, along with the Theremin, remains, even in this age of digital sophistication, one of the most expressive of all electronic musical instruments. The apparent extravagance of a sextet of these odd instruments is necessitated by the fact of the ondes being a monophonic instrument. Messiaen was a long-time champion of the instrument, writing extensively for it even before its leading practitioner became his sister-in-law. It is Jeanne Loriod's ensemble that we hear on this disc, and Messiaen's music, along with that of two of his pupils, and Antoine Tisné, who is distinguished by writing music for Ondes that does not sound like that of Messiaen. The Messiaen is the major work here, written for the Paris Exhibition of 1937 as an accompaniment to an outdoor celebration of synchronised fireworks and fountains. Remarkably, Messiaen introduces his guiding principle of composition - his religious faith - into this unlikely setting, and produces a work that is at once ethereal, profound and moving. Sextuor Jeanne Loriod. REM 311306 (France) 11-028 $16.98

ANDRÉ JOLIVET (1905-1974): 3 Poémes, Incantation, Ouverture en rondeau, JACQUES CHARPENTIER (b.1933): Lalita, Suite karnatique, Quartet. Here Jeanne Loriod is joined by her sister Yvonne in works for ondes and piano by Jolivet, which exploit the coloristic possibilities of the instrument to the full, while the piano provides the harmonic underpinning for the compositions. The Three Poems are serious works, while the overture demonstrates the lighter side of the instrument's capabilities. Charpentier's works make use of his Karnatic modes (see below), resulting in music that is highly original both in harmony and timbre. Jeanne Loriod (ondes Martenot), Yvonne Loriod (piano), Guillaume Cattin (percussion). Marcal Classics 970601 (France) 11-029 $19.98

JACQUES CHARPENTIER (b.1933): 72 études Karnatiques. It comes as no surprise to discover that Charpentier had a period of study with Messiaen, as that is clearly the æsthetic from which his piano music has emerged. Messiaen's Études de rhythme are the obvious antecedents of this vast and ambitious cycle, which, like John Foulds' Essays in the Modes (of which only 7 were completed) examines in terms of the well-tempered scale of western music the implications of dividing the octave into modes with 7 notes, as found in the Karnatic music of Southern India. Each study has its own very individual character (described by the composer in strikingly Messiaenic terms: "cloches aigües et tam-tam profond" and the like. If you like Messiaen and experiments in employing eastern scales in western music interest you, then this is for you. The fourth disc contains a short interview with the composer. 4 CDs for the price of 3. Anne Gaels (piano). 3D Classics 8018-4 (France) 11-030 $65.98

PIERRE-OCTAVE FERROUD (1900-1936): Types, Au parc monceau, Fables, 3 études, Prelude et forlane, The Bacchante, Sonatine. Ferroud's reputation suffered from the double blow of his untimely death in a car accident and, most likely, just as much from the excessive liveliness of his mind and the consequent diversity of his achievements; never a good idea in our century of specialisation. Ferroud is a skillful manipulator of contemporary musical trends, always clear-sighted, with a dry wit recalling Poulenc, and an unerring sense of counterpoint; the sheer musical intelligence of the man comes through in every bar. Marie-Catherine Girod (piano). 3D Classics 8019 (France) 11-031 $21.98

MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886-1971): Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 25, Cortège et ltanie, Op. 19/2 for Organ and Orchestra, JOSEPH GILLES (1903-1942): Symphony in E for Organ, JEANNE DEMESSIEUX (1921-1968): Poème for Organ and Orchestra. As anyone familiar with the Saint-Saëns Third (and that must be just about everybody) knows, the combination of organ and orchestra is full of thrilling sonic possibilities. Here are three more French examples, all by notable organist-composers, which fully exploit the potential of this medium. The Dupré Symphonie in particular is thrillingly orchestrated, while the organ writing is everything one would expect of one of the greatest organ virtuosi of his day. The Gilles is a large and serious work for solo organ, by a composer who was a student of Dupré, but of whom little is known. There is more than a little of the early Messiaen (of Le banquet céleste) about this music, tempered by the classical romaticism and warmth of César Franck. Demessieux's Poème is wonderfully intense and evocative - reminiscent, of all things, of Vaughan Williams Sinfonia Antarctica, maybe as reimagined by Honegger! Jeremy Filsell (organ), BBC Concert Orchestra; Barry Wordsworth. Guild GMCD 7136 (England) 11-032 $16.98


GIACOMO MEYERBEER (1791-1864): L'Étoile du nord. One of Meyerbeer's two comic operas, this one (from 1856) tells a tale of Peter the Great, disguised as a carpenter/flautist, pursuing his future bride Catherine the Great. The score teems with highly-colored ensembles and choruses and what is on view here is the composer's gentle wit, enviable skill in writing catchy tunes and ability as a lyric dramatist to conjure a satisfying musical experience out of his multifarious operatic ingredients. This is a live recording from the 1996 Wexford Festival. French-English libretto. 3 CDs. Elizabeth Futral (soprano), Vladimir Ognev (bass), Darina Takova (soprano), Wexford Festival Opera Chorus, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; Vladimir Jurowski. Marco Polo (Hong Kong) 11-033 $44.98

GEORGES AURIC (1899-1983): Suite from Le peintre et son modèle, JACQUES IBERT (1890-1962): Felicie Nanteuil, ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869-1937): Petite suite, Op. 39, MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937): Pavane pour une infante défunte, FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963): Pièce breve sur le nom d'Albert Roussel, Overture, DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): 3 Rag Caprices, Op. 78, CHARLES KOECHLIN (1867-1950): Chorale sur le name Fauré. The third and final volume in this series of French orchestral miniatures offers 4 premiere recordings: Auric's 1948 ballet is turbulent and modernistic with lively rhythms and free tonality; Ibert's piece, originally for piano and named after the town Nanteuil, was orchestrated by Félix Chardon as was Poulenc's piano overture orchestrated by Milhaud; Koechlin's chorale dates from 1919 and was probably intended as a 75th brithday piece for his revered teacher, Fauré. Chamber Philharmonic of Bohemia; Douglas Bostock. Classico 178 (Denmark) 11-034 $14.98

FERDINAND THIERIOT (1838-1919): Octet in B Flat, Op. 62 for 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon, Quintet in A Minor, Op. 80 for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon. Unfortunately, Grove and Baker's are silent about Thieriot and the notes here don't offer much more other than that he was a friend of Brahms and a student of Rheinberger. The octet, apparently from the early 1870s is very Brahmsian in its cast with the same sort of wistful sweetness to the melodies as those of Brahms' sextets; the quintet, written not very many years before 1903, has a sparer, more somber and autumnal cast. Mithras Octet. Arte Nova 49689 (Germany) 11-035 $8.98

ALBERIC MAGNARD (1865-1914): Violin Sonata in A, Op. 20, Piano Trio in F, Op. 18. Magnard's intense and severe 36-minute-long 1904 trio, strongly influenced by D'Indy, is a major work which makes particularly good use of the cello, so it's no surprise to find the cello sonata of 1910 so vital, purposeful and passionate. Régis Pasquier (violin), Xavier Phillips (cello), Hüseyin Sermet (piano). Auvidis/Valois V 4807 (France) 11-036 $18.98

EUGEN D'ALBERT (1864-1932): Sonata in F Sharp Minor, Op. 10, Klavierstücke, Op. 16, Nos. 2 and 3, 8 Klavierstücke, Op. 5, Serenata, Capriolen - 5 Klavierstücke. Dating from 1893, the sonata is in form and key an homage to Brahms' Op. 2 sonata, full of storm and furious emotion in the first movement, with an inward, songful slow movement and a Bachian triple fugue for the finale. The Klavierstücke date from 1884 and are influenced by Brahms' Op. 76 and 79 piano pieces. The Serenata dates from 1906 and the brief, aphoristic Capriolen from as late as 1924, the latter veering startlingly into Dixie in its fourth piece! Piers Lane (piano). Hyperion CDA 66945 (England) 11-037 $17.98

JOSEPH GUY-ROPARTZ (1864-1954): Offertoire, 3 pièces, 6 pièces, Versets du commun des Saints, 2 petits pièces, 3 méditations, Rhapsodie sur 2 Noëls populaires de la Haute-Bretagne, Introduction et Allegro Moderato. The complete organ works of Ropartz in world-premiere recordings. A student of Franck, whose influence can often be heard throughout these works, Ropartz was a strongly individual composer who felt close ties to his Breton roots. Many of these pieces were written with an eye to double use as church music but all are perfectly suited to secular listening while some of Ropartz' tortured harmonies are quite interesting. 2 CDs. Jean-Pierre Lecaudey (Cavaillé-Coll organ of Saint-Ouen, Rouen). Pavane 7393/4 (Belgium) 11-038 $21.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Benedictus und Offertorium, S381, Grand Duo concertant sur la romance de M. Lafont "Le Marin", S128, Romance oubliée, S132, Sposalizio, S161, Die drei Zigeuner, S383, Epithalam zu Eduard Reményis Vermählungseier, S129, Élégie, S130, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, S244/2. Here is volume one of two containing all the works Liszt wrote for violin and piano, leavened by two solo piano pieces. Some will know the romance oubliée and élégie in versions for viola and/or cello but Liszt countenanced any of the three instruments. More unusual are the 14-minute-long Grand Duo, dating from Liszt's mid-20s in its original form, a Paganini-esque virtuosic pot-boiler in fine early 19th century fashion and the two transcribed sections of the Hungarian Coronation Mass which come across as highly charged with emotion in places, hypnotically meditative in others. Rachel Barton (violin), Thomas Labé (piano). Dorian 90251 (U.S.A.) 11-039 $16.98

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886): Complete Piano Works, Vol. 47 - Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S 172a., Prière d'un enfant à son reveil, S171c, (Prélude), S171d, Litanies de Marie, S171e. First recordings of the 1847 set of the Harmonies poétiques et religieuses which have until now not been properly edited along with three other pieces related to that cycle. None of this music has been recorded before and is prepared here from unpublished manuscripts; its extremely complex history is painstakingly detailed in the performer's accompanying notes. Leslie Howard (piano). Hyperion CDA 67187 (England) 11-040 $17.98

GIOVANNI PAISIELLO (1740-1816): La molinara. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Given that Paisiello's fame is based on his more than 80 operas, it is to be regretted that only 3 of them appear in current CD catalogues and that one of them is a live, mono recording of this one. Nevertheless, this brand new 1996 recording offers a fresh look at this 1788 work, whose libretto (the usual multiple-suitor high-jinks but ending in utter confusion on stage amidst feigned and real madmen) was excoriated by Paisiello's monographist. The memorability and attractiveness of the music is best demonstrated by pointing out that it is from Act II here that Beethoven plucked the aria "Nel cor più non mi sento..." for a set of piano variations. Adelina Scarabelli (soprano), Carmela Remigio (soprano), William Mateuzzi (tenor), Bruno Lazzaretti (tenor), Bruno Pratico (bass), Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna; Ivor Bolton. BMG Ricordi 40586 (Italy) 11-041 $37.98

GAETANO PUGNANI (1731-1798): Violin Concerto in E, KARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF (1739-1799): Violin Concerto in G, VÁCLAV PICHL (1741-1805): Violin Concerto in D. This new release brings two new classical concertos into the catalogues: Pugnani was Viotti's teacher and his work is of uncertain date but falls into the galant style of Tartini. Pichl wrote 16 violin concertos; the one recorded here is in high classical style and fits perfectly into the milieu of Mozart's Vienna. The other work, by Dittersdorf, one of 18, appears in style to be slightly earlier than Pichl's but still firmly anchored in Viennese classicism. Jitka Adamusová (violin), Prague Chamber Orchestra. GZ Classics 0110 (Czech Republic) 11-042 $6.98

ANTONIO SALIERI (1750-1825): Music for Winds: Quintet in B Flat, Cassation in C, Serenades in C, F and G, Trios in G, E Flat and C, Armonia per un Tempio della notte, Parade Marsch in C. Wind music from the late 18th century is not exactly thin on the ground, record-wise, but this release provides a delightful group of pieces by the rival of the greatest Classical writer for winds, Mozart. Of course, the latter was a genius, but Salieri was one of the finest professionals of his time and it's no surprise to find such pleasant, well-constructed music as this disc offers. Performed on modern instruments. Ensemble Italiano di Fiati. Tactus 751902 (Italy) 11-043 $16.98

VÁCLAV PICHL (1741-1805): 3 Clarinet Quartets, Op. 16, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791): Adagio from Clarinet Quintet KV 91 (K. 516c), ANON. (c. 1800): Variations in B Flat. Pichl is greatly neglected today but in his time he was so highly thought of that several of his symphonies were attributed to Haydn and Dittersdorf. These clarinet quartets were published in 1790 and show a composer with a fine ear for the clarinet's sonorities who can write catchy melodies and who also often gives the first violin some virtuoso opportunities. Performed on period instruments. JiÞí Krejãí (clarinet), Pro arte antiqua Praha. Arta 0079 (Czech Rep.) 11-044 $16.98

CARL STAMITZ (1745-1801): Clarinet Concerto No. 3 in B Flat, Concerto No. 4 for 2 Clarinets and Orchestra, Concerto for Flute and Strings in G, Op. 29. Recordings of Stamitz' various wind concertos are beginning to proliferate but this budget-priced disc contains characterful readings worth hearing in recordings licensed from Opus and made in the 70s in what is now Slovakia. J. Luptáãik, V. Cveãka (clarinets), V. Brunner (flute), Bratislava Chamber Ensemble; Vlastimil Horák, Slovak Chamber Orchestra; Bohdan Warchal. GZ Classics 0065 (Czech Republic) 11-045 $6.98

DOMENICO CIMAROSA (1749-1801): I tre amanti. This is a relatively early work of Cimarosa's produced in 1777 and only the 7th of his 60-odd operas. The typical plot satirizes contemporary social vices and failings in its tale of three suitors competing for the hand of the heroine. Here is a light, frothy entertainment whose two acts each open with a witty and vivacious quartet and end with all five characters in sparkling ensemble. The orchestral material is accompanimental only but still contains much delicate scoring and intuitive use of color to accent the texts. The latest in a series of archival (stereo) recordings from Swiss Radio titled "Italian Vocal Art". 2 CDs. Italian libretto. Basia Retchitzka (soprano), Laerte Malaguti (baritone), Carlo Gaifa (tenor), Rodolfo Malacarne (tenor). Orchestra of Italian-Swiss Radio; Edwin Loehrer. Nuova Era 1052 (Italy) 11-046 $35.98

MICHEL CORRETTE (1709-1795): Les 6 symphonies de Noëls. Corrette's most important works are those based on popular melodies of various types as they allow for study of musical material which otherwise would not exist. Here is an example: published in 1781, these six "symphonies" are composed entirely of arranged Noëls - popular songs in strophic form sung to the tunes of chant, popular songs and dances. In all, there are 34 examples here, including Polish and American forms! Performed on period instruments. La Fantasia; Rien Voskuilen. Columns Classics 290412 (Netherlands) 11-047 $16.98

JOHANN WENZEL ANTON STAMITZ (1715-1757): Symphonies in G, A and B Flat, FRANZ BENDA (1709-1786): Symphony in C, FRANZ XAVER RICHTER (1709-1789): Symphony in B Flat, KARL KOHAUT (1726-1784): Symphony in F Minor. These licensed reissues from Opus bring back to the catalogue six early classical symphonies by minor Bohemian masters. Slovak Chamber Orchestra; Bohdan Warchal. GZ Classics 0064 (Czech Republic) 11-048 $6.98


ERMANNO WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948): Das Himmelskleid. This was the second of Wolf-Ferrari's three "serious" operas. Produced in Munich in 1927 to mixed critical and popular notices, it produced the composer's worst disappointment but he always held it as his favorite opera. A "legend in music", The Garment of Heaven is based on a French allegorical story about a princess who must learn the hard way to value true love above base possessions. Possibly the most profound and mature (and the most German) music Wolf-Ferrari wrote, this work shows a sensitivity to sound and color not bettered in any of his other stage-works. The climactic moments of the opera contain a lyrical ecstasy, supported by brilliant instrumentation and musical invention which is impossible to resist. 3 CDs. German-English libretto. Angelina Ruzzafante (soprano), Sibrand Basa (tenor), Reinhard Leisenheimer (tenor), Chorus of the Hagen Theater, Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra; Gerhard Markson. Marco Polo 8.223261-63 (Hong Kong) 11-049 $44.98


RICCARDO ZANDONAI (1883-1944): Francesca da Rimini. From Dante via D'Anunnzio and Tito Ricordi, Zandonai's masterwork was premiered in 1914. The libretto is familiar enough: a brother falls hopelessly in love with his own deformed brother's wife who returns his passion. A third, degenerate, brother discovers this, attempts blackmail, fails, betrays them and they are murdered by the cuckolded husband. But here, the heavily erotic atmosphere of D'Anunnzio's play becomes melancholy and oppressed. A powerful gift for Italian melody and strong, Straussian orchestration create gripping and, in certain places where an ancient atmosphere is evoked, quite magical effects. 2 CDs. Italian-English libretto. Elena Filipova (soprano), Frederic Kalt (tenor), Philippe Rouillon (baritone), Sofia Chamber Choir, Chorus of the Vienna Volksoper, Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Fabio Luisi. Koch Schwann 313682 (Germany) 11-050 $33.98

JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Piano Concerto in A Flat, Op. 113, Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 73, Gesellschafts-Rondo, Op. 117. The story goes that John Field, upon hearing Hummel play, proclaimed "Either you are the devil or you are Hummel". Well, the playing may have been devilish but the music is pure delight; the concerto, written in 1827, is Hummel's sixth and shows early Romantic traits, not least in the local-color-flavored Rondo alla spagnola which concludes it. The Concertino, an 1816 adaptation of his 1799 mandolin concerto, is entirely classical, full of Mozartean echoes. Published in 1829, the Gesellschafts-Rondo is a premiere recording. Howard Shelley (piano), London Mozart Players. Chandos 9558 (England) 11-051 $16.98

JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL (1778-1837): Piano Sonatas No. 1 in C, Op. 2a/3, No. 2 in E Flat, Op. 13, No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 20. The 14-year-old Hummel's first sonata, from 1792, is exactly what his former teacher Mozart would have liked, an object lesson in classically restrained harmony and melody; No. 2, from 1805, was dedicated to Haydn and shows Hummel having mastered completely the high classical style; No. 3 (1807), though in a minor key, is not yet early-Romantic - the spirit here seems to be that of the sturm und drang of C.P.E. Bach! Dana Protopopescu (piano). Koch Discover 920237 (Belgium) 11-052 $6.98

FANNY MENDELSSOHN-HENSEL (1805-1847): Sonata in G Minor, Prelude in E Minor, 6 Character Pieces, 6 mélodies. Harmonic boldness characterizes the relatively brief, 4-movement 1843 sonata; the 1827 prelude shows Bach's importance in the family; the Character Pieces date from the 1830s and lack nothing in ardent romantic feeling, while the mélodies are a sister's counterpart to Felix's Songs without Words. Only available CD recordings. Béatrice Rauchs (piano). BIS CD-885 (Sweden) 11-053 $17.98

JOACHIM RAFF (1822-1882): Symphony No. 5 "Lenore", Pièces, Op. 85, Nos. 3-6. Raff's most popular symphony receives probably its most refined and well-played recording yet, coupled with CD premieres of the orchestrations by various hands of four of the 6 morceaux of 1859, originally written for violin and piano. Yuko Nishino (violin), Philharmonia Orchestra; Yondani Butt. ASV DCA 1000 (England) 11-054 $16.98

CLARA SCHUMANN (1819-1896): Le Ballet des Revenants, Toccatina, Op. 6, Andante, 3 Préludes et Fugues, Scherzo, Op. 10, Romance, Op. 3, Romance (1856), Romances, Op. 21, Nos. 1-3, Scherzo, Op. 14. A welcome return to the catalogue at budget-price for this recording from 1984 containing a collection of the tantalizing juvenilia of the young Clara Wieck, doomed for the most part never to mature as a composer due to her marriage to Robert. Many pieces here are still unique to the catalogue. Uriel Tsachor (piano) Koch Discover 920267 (Belgium) 11-055 $6.98

ZDENùK FIBICH (1850-1900): Moods, Impressions and Reminiscences, Op. 47, Vol. 8. Marián Lapansk (piano). This immense, ongoing cycle reaches Volume 8, containing the last 12 pieces of Part Four (Moods) and the first 13 of Part One (Impressions). Intimate and lyrical for the most part, these impressions of Fibich's infatuation with his former student are one of the solo Romantic piano repertoire's great lost cycles. Supraphon SU 3251 (Czech Republic) 11-056 $16.98

SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD (1852-1924): 28 Songs and Ballads. This pre-CD Hyperion recording of Anglo-Irish songs is now reissued, romantically Brahmsian subtly inflected with folk music of the British isles, especially the composer's native Ireland. James Griffett (tenor), Clifford Benson (piano). Cameo 2001 (Austria) 11-057 $16.98

FREDERICK DELIUS (1862-1934): 5 English and Scandinavian Songs, 7 Danish Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, Irmelin - Suite for Orchestra, Air and Dance, 2 Aquarelles. Lovers of Delius' uniquely ethereal music, imbued with its atmosphere of melancholy and distant longing will need no encouragement to acquire this disc, which contains the world premiere recording of Summer Landscape, and the complete cycle of Danish songs, which astonishingly were not premiered in Britain until 3 years ago. The CD also contains Beecham's suite from Irmelin, again a first recording. Despite the composer's own comparative neglect of these song cycles, at least in their orchestral form, and the lack of advocacy afforded them by Beecham, they are quintessential Delius and deserve to stand alongside his most famous orchestral works. Carol Farley (soprano), Rheinische Philharmonie, Philharmonia Orchestra; José Serebrier. Dinemec Classics DCCD 017 (England) 11-058 $16.98

TREVOR DUNCAN (b.1924): 20th Century Express, Little Suite, High Heels, Children in the Park, Maestro Variations, The Girl from Corsica, Meadow Mist, Valse Mignonette, Wine Festival, Sixpenny Ride, Enchanted April, St. Boniface Down, La Torrida, The Visionaries Grand March, Little Debbie. The "British Light Music Series"' latest volume brings by turns lively, wistful, inventive and always exquisitely crafted music in this genre's best tradition. Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava); Andrew Penny. Marco Polo 8.223517 (Hong Kong) 11-059 $14.98

HOWARD SKEMPTON (b.1947): Lento, DOMINIC MULDOWNEY (b.1952): Oboe Concerto, BARRY GUY (b.1947): After the Rain. Three of NMC's valuable series of CD singles of contemporary works, here collected onto one CD, beginning with Skempton's familiar slow minimalism, like a serene backdrop onto which the listener is free to project his or her own original ideas. Muldowney's Oboe Concerto (1992) is one of his most appealing works, aptly subtitled Song Cycle for Oboe and Orchestra. Barry Guy, who has achieved remarkable success in a dual career, as jazz contrabass player and composer of concert music, achieves a fusion of the visceral impact of jazz (which this score does not in any way resemble) with the brooding melancholy of the Scandinavian symphonists in this piece, which draws some inspiration from Max Ernst's post-apocalyptic painting "Europe after the Rain". BBC Symphony; Mark Wigglesworth, Roy Carter (oboe), London Symphony Orchestra; Michael Tilson Thomas, City of London Sinfonia; Richard Hickox. NMC D032 (England) 11-060 $15.98

JOHN WHITE (b.1936): Piano Sonatas Nos. 15, 29, 31, 54-57, 75-78, 86, 87, 95, 104, 108, 109, 121 and 124. White's "sonatas" are more like brief, aphoristic, quasi-improvisatory commentaries on the history of piano music, encompassing obvious references to Busoni, Grainger, Alkan, Schumann, and many more besides. The language is tonal, the works approachable and uncomplicated, recording the composer's musical enthusiasms like entries in a diary. The earliest presented here - No. 15 from 1962 - is in three movements and most closely formally resembles a classical sonata; the later works are increasingly preoccupied with fleeting "fugitive impressions" of the most diverse range of influences imaginable. Roger Smalley (piano). NMC D038 (England) 11-061 $15.98

NICHOLAS SACKMAN (b.1950): Hawthorn. A 26-minute work for large orchestra commissioned by the BBC for the 1993 Proms, Hawthorn is a tone-poem which depicts the sullen Yorkshire landscape and the hard-bitten stoical and intolerant people of the region in the late 18th century, after a novel by Glyn Hughes that fictionalises the true story of a free-spirited girl raised in this alien environment who mysteriously disappeared without trace. The work abounds in wintry imagery and oppressive atmosphere, and uses the orchestral resources to hugely evocative ends. Special price. BBC Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Davis. NMC D027S (England) 11-062 $8.98

JOHN WOOLRICH (b.1954): Lending Wings, Dartington Doubles, Berceuse, Black Riddle, The Death of King Renaud, Spalanzani's Daughter, A Farewell. Lending Wings depicts some large clumsy mechanism atempting to take flight - but much of Woolrich's music shares a mechanistic quality (not minimalism; the processes are too varied for that), so there is much use of ostinato figures and little reiterated percussive motifs. But ultimately this is a softer machine, perhaps one composed of human beings interacting in the machine called society. Mary Wiegold (soprano), Composers Ensemble; Diego Masson, Brodsky Quartet, Jane Atkins (viola). NMC D029 (England) 11-063 $15.98

KATHARINE NORMAN (b.1960): London, Trilling Wires. London is a collage of sounds, electronically transformed, which depicts different aspects of the city. The first section uses the taped voice of the composer's mother, reminiscing about London in World War II, the second uses street sounds, juxtaposed and processed into a continuous montage; while the third uses sounds recorded in pedestrian walkways under the Thames. Trilling Wire is an interaction between solo clarinettist and pre-recorded tape, in which the solo instrument weaves its path along the "trilling wire" of sound from the tape. Katharine Norman (tape), Jonathan Cooper (clarinet). NMC D034 (England) 11-064 $15.98

JONTY HARRISON (b.1952): Klang, EQ, MIKE VAUGHAN (b.1954): Crosscurrents, Ensphered, ALASTAIR MACDONALD (b.1962): Kilim, ALASTAIR MACDONALD & NICHOLAS VIRGO (b.1960): Busk. These electroacoustic compositions deal in sonic illusions, in playing with our perceptions of sound, and of sound in space, by transmuting familiar sounds in unexpected ways. So Harrison's Klang uses the sounds of two earthenware bowls struck, tapped, and rubbed to provide raw material from which a sonic collage is assembled. Vaughan used saxophone and harpsichord sounds to generate "virtual accompanists" for the live saxophonist and harpsichordist, while Busk uses many different sources of sound from which to assemble an ambitious sonic "installation". NMC D035 (England) 11-065 $15.98

SALVATORE SCIARRINO (b. 1947): Lohengrin. The Lohengrin story as retold as a monodrama from the point of view of the crazed Else, tormented by sounds and impressions which may be real, or dreams. Both the narrative and the music present a montage of images in which the unravelling of a tormented mind involves us in its disquieting spectacle. This is no more easy listening than William Burroughs is light reading - but once you start, you will be tormented by the need to find out how the nightmare plays itself out. Daisy Lumini (soloist), Gruppo Strumentale Musica d'Oggi; Salvatore Sciarrino. BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1001 (Italy) 11-066 $18.98

BRUNO BETTINELLI (b. 1913): Concerto for Orchestra No. 4, Violin Sonata, Studio for Orchestra, 3 Pezzi for Piano. Vigorous, contrapuntal music with an expressionist intensity revealed through tightly structured discourse in a harmonic language conventional enough to provide organic growth through harmonic progression, yet restless and ambiguous. The concerto is a dramatic work, with something of Mahler, or of the Schoenberg of Gurrelieder about it. The orchestral study from 15 years earlier actually sounds more "modern" in its investigation of structures and tone-colors, but in both works the composer's strong individuality is clearly discernable. RAI Orchestra, Milan; Aldo Ceccato, Claudio Marzorati (violin), Lucia Romanini (piano), RAI Orchestra, Milan; Bruno Bettinelli, Maria Isabella De Carli (piano). BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1016 (Italy) 11-067 $18.98

SYLVANO BUSSOTTI (b. 1931): La Passion selon Sade - excerpts, Le Bal Miró - Suite No. 1. La Passion selon Sade, which was subject to censorship in the 1960s, explores the themes of Sade's preoccupations from the perspective of the Marquis' captive and tormented heroines. Like much of Sade's writing, the work is impersonal, detached, deliberately anti-erotic. Le Bal Mirò is an imaginary ballet for orchestra, based on the work of the great Catalan artist. In both works the element of abstraction is very strong, the organic synthesis of textures and motifs central to the creative process. Elise Ross (soprano), RAI Orchestra Rome; Lothar Zagrosek. BMG Ricordi CRMCD 1002 (Italy) 11-068 $18.98

GIAMPAOLO TESTONI (b. 1957): Alice. So, now we discover that David del Tredici does not, after all, have the strange, beautiful and bizarre fairy tale, with all its sinister undercurrents and double meanings, that is Alice in Wonderland all to himself. Here is a highly ambitious full-scale opera, which gives Lewis Carroll's psychologically complex all-too-adult children's tale the full-blown romantic operatic treatment that a story so full of ambiguous characters, suppressed and overt cruelty, and motives as obscure as they are sometimes alarming, seems to suggest. The musical language is close to that of the Busoni of Doktor Faust, which similarly makes profound statements about the human condition in the context of a magical tale that is ultimately revealed to be a puppet play. 3 CDs for the price of 2. Italian libretto. Alessandra Rufini (soprano), soloists, Orchestra and Chorus of the E.A. Teatro Massimo; Daniele Callegari. Agorá Musica AG 107.3 (Italy) 11-069 $33.98

LUCIANO BERIO (b. 1925): Laborintus 2, PIERRE BOULEZ (b. 1925): Domaines, KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN (b. 1928): Aus den sieben tagen. These three classic recordings of major works by giants of 20th century music have been repackaged in a box at a very affordable price. 3 CDs for the price of 2. Christiane Legrand, Janette Baucomont (sopranos), Claudine Meunier (contralto), Edoardo Sanguinetti (speaker), Michel Portal (clarinet), Musique Vivante; Luciano Berio, Diego Masson. Harmonia Mundi HMX 290862.64 (France) 11-070 $21.98

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46, 5 Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16, Beglieitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, Op. 34, OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992): Poèmes pour Mi, second book, Hymne au Saint Sacrément. Given that Zender's career has involved the championing of twentieth-century music, it seems entirely appropriate that this CD edition should include his interpretations of music by the composer with whom many of the trends in contemporary music began - Arnold Schoenberg. The powerful A Survivor from Warsaw emerges with extraordinary clarity in Zender's composer's-eye-view of the work, as do the seminal Five Orchestral Pieces, which ushered in atonality with an eloquence unheard of in 1909. Messiaen's two ecstatic and highly colourful early works are also excellently performed, making this disc a highly desirable way to acquire an important slice of 20th-century music history. Roland Hermann (speaker), Judith Beckmann (soprano), Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hans Zender. CPO 999 481 (Germany) 11-071 $7.98

FRANK ZAPPA (1940-1993): Blessed Relief, 20 Small Cigars, A Pound for a Brown, Uncle Meat, Strictly Genteel, Wind Quintet, Cletus Awreetus-awrightus, King Kong, King of Prunes, The Black Page, Number 6, Mr. Green Genes, The Idiot Bastard Son, Sofa, Outside Now Again. The "other" face of Frank Zappa is already familiar to the classical world. Now, here are his pop songs adapted for wind quintet - versions which highlight the immense elegance and precision of Zappa's writing. Le Concert Impromptu & Bossini. L'Empreinte Digital ED 13071 (France) 11-072 $19.98


ERWIN SCHULHOFF (1894-1942): 10 kleine Klavierstücke. The German-born artist Otto Griebel created ten hand-colored lithographs to accompany his friend Schulhoff's op. 10 piano pieces and the set were published together in 1920 in what is still a rare example of artists in different fields collaborating to produce a kind of synthesis of their respective arts. Channel Classics has produced a fine 48-page 9"x9" hardcover book which reproduces the lithographs and their Klavierstücke on facing pages, along with a CD containing performances of the piano pieces. A truly unique, elegant offering! Gerard Bouwhuis (piano). Channel Classics G 1993-41 (Netherlands) 11-073 $22.98

STEPHEN PAULUS (b.1949): The Three Hermits. This opera, to a libretto based on a story retold by Tolstoy, tells of a lesson in humility learned by a bishop who seeks to teach the Lord's Prayer to three hermits, only to learn that their faith is expressed through miracles, and that they are in no need of his religious instruction! The music is very approachable, in a chamber-opera style that recalls Menotti, ideally suited to this kind of direct story-telling. James McKeel, Miriam Lagsjoen, Esther Heideman, Motet Choir of "House of Hope Presbyterian Church", St. Paul Sinfonietta; Thomas Lancaster. D'Note 1025 (U.S.A.) 11-074 $16.98

DONALD ERB (b.1927): Remembrances for 2 Trumpets, Sonata for Solo Violin, Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, Changes for Clarinet and Keyboards, Sonata for Solo Harp. Remembrances, a thrilling series of antiphonal duets for two trumpets, reminds us that Erb was a trumpeter himself even before he started to compose. The work is a series of tributes to trumpet players who influenced the composer. The solo violin sonata is a fiercely virtuosic work, which uses some unconventional instrumental effects, but always in a tonal context. Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys is an exercise in contrast - between the life-affirming outer movements, and the elegiac lament for the children killed and injured in the Oklahoma City bombing which forms the central movement. The remaining works are vivid, energetic and colorful, with unexpected twists and turns that hold the listener's attention without fail. David Spencer, Ryan Anthony (trumpets), Gergory Fulkerson (violin), The Verdehr Trio, Ross Powell (clarinet), Jo Boatwright (keyboards). New World 80537 (U.S.A.) 11-075 $16.98

KAREL HUSA (b.1921): String Quartet No. 4 "Poems", EZRA LADERMAN (b.1924): String Quartet No. 7, MEL POWELL (b.1923): String Quartet (1982). Husa's Poems are six contrasting movements played without pause which explore unusual sonorities in a virtuosic modern idiom. Laderman uses the medium for its narrative potential, producing an interplay of themes and relationships which seem to tell of some human drama, as vivid as any opera; in terms of the quartet, the nearest comparison is perhaps the middle period of Shostakovich. Powell's quartet is a tightly organised interplay of modules of material of greater or lesser degrees of activity, circulated between the players and "unravelled" as the work progresses towards a conclusion that reflects the opening. Colorado Quartet. Albany TROY 259 (U.S.A.) 11-076 $16.98

MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987): Only, Projections 1-5, Intersections 2-4, Piece for Four Pianos, Two Pianos, Piano Four Hands, Piano Piece 1964, Durations 1-5, Vertical Thoughts 1-5, Voice & Instruments II, Instruments I, Voice, Violin and Piano, Instruments III, Bass Clarinet and Percussion. This valuable set presents a wide cross-section of Feldman's solo and ensemble works, many here receiving their world premiere recordings. Aleatoric techniques are applied to every conceivable facet of performance in these pieces, in which the concept of silence as a primary component in the development of a musical structure - a device that would have delighted John Cage - is pushed to its limits - as in (among many other examples) the seminal Piece for 4 Pianos of 1957, in which the shape of the work in performance is determined entirely by the unspecified durations of pauses. The abstract freedom created by these meticulously drafted works is remarkable. 3 CDs. The Barton Workshop. Etcetera KTC 3003 (Netherlands) 11-077 $53.98

JOHN CAGE (1912-1992): Complete Piano Music, Vol. 1: The Prepared Piano 1940-1952: Bacchanale, Totem Ancestor, And the Earth Shall Bear Again, Primitive, In the Name of the Holocaust, Our Spring Will Come, A Room, Tossed as it is Untroubled, The Perilous Night, Root of an Unfocus, The Unavailable Memory of, Spontaneous Earth, Triple Paced, A Valentine out of Season, Prelude for Meditation, Mysterious Adventure, Daughters of the Lonesome Isle, Music for Marcel Duchamp, Two Pastorales, Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano(1946-1948). The prepared piano is probably the innovation for which Cage is most widely remembered today, although examples which pre-date his go back to the turn of the century. Cage took the principle further than any other composer before or since, and turned the piano into an ensemble of tuned percussion as versatile as any that could be assembled from discrete instruments. The music itself ranges from ostinato patterns to simple, meditative chants, to gamelan-like sonorities in vaguely-eastern-sounding modes, to what might be taken for Chinese temple music played on traditional ethnic instruments - in other words, whatever preoccupations the old rogue felt like exploring at the time. 3 CDs. Steffen Schleiermacher (piano). MD&G 613 0781 (Germany) 11-078 $56.98

GEORGE CRUMB (b.1929): Makrokosmos I, Makrokosmos II, Makrokosmos III (Music for a Summer Evening), Makrokosmos IV, Little Suite for Christmas A.D. 1979, 5 Pieces for Piano, Gnomic Variations. Crumb's enormous opus of expanded pianistic possibilities (the title makes punning reference to Bartók's progessve cycle of piano works) explores timbre above all, turning the piano into a virtual orchestra through amplification, prepared-piano techniques, additional players, vocal interjections by the players, and (in Makrokosmos III) the addition of percussion instruments to the texture. The result is a fascinating collage or tapestry, in which disparate elements are drawn together in a celebration of sonorous organised chaos of which Charles Ives would have been proud! 3 CDs. Bojan Goresek (piano). Audiophile Classics APC 101.301 (Germany) 11-079 $44.98


ALFRED HILL (1870-1960): String Quartet No. 5 in E Flat "The Allies", String Quartet No. 6 in G "The Kids", String Quartet No. 11 in D Minor. Hill occupied a place in Australian music history analogous to that of such American composers as Parker, Paine and Foote: schooled in Germany, they returned home to work as teachers and conductors while writing traditional 19th century Romantic music. Hill's fifth quartet dates from 1920 (unfortunately, there is no explanation of its subtitle) and is almost as long as its two companions together; in style and content, it could have come straight from the 1880s and the pens of Bruch, Reinecke, Goetz or Fuchs. The sixth quartet was written for students at the New South Wales Conservatory in 1927; its pedagogical aims do not interfere with Hill's penchant for Romantic melody. Dating from 1935, the eleventh quartet begins with a slightly dissonant introduction but flowing melody returns almost immediately and it's enjoyable business as usual throughout. Australian String Quartet. Marco Polo 8.223746 (Hong Kong) 11-080 $14.98

YORK BOWEN (1884-1961): 24 Préludes, Op. 102, Nocturne, Op. 78, Rêverie, Op. 86, Berceuse, Op. 83, Partita, Op. 106. The cycle of 24 preludes was extravagantly praised by its dedicatee, Sorabji, as "not only the best English piano work of our time, but also the most accomplished in the purely pianistic sense. And in this respect their author is the first and only English grand master of the piano". (The emphasis on "English" is amusing - most of Sorabji's British composer friends were not English, as he himself emphatically was not). Nonetheless, Bowen's piano music is well-crafted, romantically expressive, very pianistic, and uncomplicatedly highly appealing, with a touch of sepia-tinged nostalgia, and a definite sense of humor (especially evident in the virtuosic Partita). Marie-Catherine Girod (piano). 3D Classics 8012 (France) 11-081 $21.98

ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): Symphony No. 3 "Collages", Concerto for Piano and Strings, Epithalamion. The symphony, originally entitled Collages, is an electroacoustic work, which depicts the progress of a day, from the brilliance of the rising sun to the dead of night, and it abounds in implied metaphor. The tape part was realised by the composer and requires a musician-operator in performance (and it is worth noting that for this recording it was played over loudspeakers and recorded acoustically, like the orchestral instruments, an entirely appropriate technique). The music has its echoes of Varèse and Messiaen, and is sonically splendid. The concerto is a much earlier work, less experimental, hard-driven and incisive, close to the world of late Bartók. Epithalamion is a huge anti-symphonic structure, a nightmarish landscape which the program note writer (the composer Bernard Benoliel; the notes are very perceptive) relates to Lorca's A Poet in New York, and which would also serve to illustrate one of J.G.Ballard's futuristic dystopias. Geoffrey Tozer (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra; Matthias Bamert. Chandos 9556 (England) 11-082 $16.98

ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): The Duenna. Sheridan's play set in 18th-century Seville let Gerhard draw liberally on that city's intoxicating atmosphere and this opera (1949), written long before the forbidding late music, colors the legacy of the great Felipe Pedrell with a discreet modernism that is every bit as accessible as Britten's. 2 CDs. English libretto. Adrian Clarke (baritone), Claire Powell (mezzo), Chorus of Opera North, English Northern Philharmonia; Antoni Ros Marbá. Chandos 9520 (England) 11-083 $33.98

PETER WARLOCK (1894-1930): Capriol - Suite for Strings, 9 Songs for Tenor and String Quartet, Serenade for Strings, The Curlew. Warlock's most popular work is the Capriol suite, based on his own research into English folk tunes; perhaps his finest work is The Curlew, a 1920 setting of Yeats' texts which conveys the dark, sorrowful thoughts of a lonely lover in eerie surroundings. The brief Serenade was written for Delius' 60th birthday in 1922; the collection of songs for tenor and string quartet manages to include4 first recordings of this particular version as well as two songs not currently in the catalogues. John Mark Ainsley (tenor), The Nash Ensemble; Martyn Brabbins. Hyperion CDA 66938 (England) 11-084 $17.98

ERNST VON DOHNANYI (1877-1960): String Quartet No. 2 in D Flat, Op. 15, String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 33, ZOLTÁN KODÁLY (1882-1967): Intermezzo for String Trio. Dohnányi's second quartet, from 1906, is richly lyrical in late Brahmsian fashion, with a nod to Wagner in the central scherzo; the long final molto adagio builds to an impassionaed climax before ending on an exquisite cadence. From 20 years later, the third quartet has a more brittle edge to it, with moments of bitonality in the first movement. A heartfelt adagio is followed by a satirical finale in the vein of Shostakovich. Lyric Quartet. ASV DCA 985 (England) 11-085 $16.98

ERNÖ VON DOHNANYI (1877-1960): 3 Waltz Transcriptions for Piano, Violin Sonata in C Sharp Minor, Op. 21, THOMAS RAJNA (b.1928): Music for Violin and Piano, String Quartet. Rajna, familiar to record collectors for his complete Granados recordings and an eloquent account of Messiaen's Vingt Regards here showcases works by fellow Hungarian Dohnányi along with his own music. Dohnányi is represented by three Lisztian paraphrases of waltzes by Delibes and Johann Strauss and his romantic, almost Brahmsian Violin Sonata. Rajna's musical antecedents are plainly Bartók and Prokofiev, the music pungent and vigorous, tightly organised and expressive. Claremont GSE 1550 (South Africa) 11-086 $16.98

JOSEF STRAUSS (1827-1870): Adamira, Op. 76, Bivouac-Quadrille, Op. 58, Zephir-Polka, Op. 99, Deutsche Sympathien, Op. 149, Eingesendet, Op. 240, Die Spinnerin, Op. 192, Rudolphsklänge, Op. 283, Lieb' und Wein, Op. 122, Deutscher Union-Marsch, Op. 145, Masken-Polka, Op. 33, Studentenräume, Op. 222. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Koice); Christian Pollack. Marco Polo 8.223569 (Hong Kong) 11-087 $14.98

JOSEF STRAUSS (1827-1870): Wiener Kinder, Op. 61, Heiterer Muth, Op. 281, Herzbleamerl, Op. 31, Harlekin-Polka, Op. 48, Wiener Fresken, Op. 249, Nachtschatten, Op. 229, Touristen-Quadrille, Op. 130, Herztöne, Op. 172, Abendstern, Op. 160, For ever, Op. 193, Gruss an München, Op. 90. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Koice); Christian Pollack. Marco Polo 8.223570 (Hong Kong) 11-088 $14.98

[Volumes 9 and 10 in the ongoing Josef Strauss Edition from Marco Polo.]


JOHAN LINDEGREN (1842-1908): String Quintet in F, OSCAR BYSTRÖM (1821-1909): Quartetto svedese, EMIL SJÖGREN (1853-1918): 2 Lyrical Pieces for Violin and Piano, Morceau de concert, Op. 45. The tonal splendor and boundless ingenuity of Lindegren's c. 1870 quintet make it one of the peaks of Swedish music between Berwald and Stenhammar. Byström's quartet dates from 1865 and is plainly influenced by the Berwald circle; in 1895 the composer added an intermezzo based on Swedish songs and gave the quartet its final title. Sjögren's three delightful quasi-salon pieces are from the turn of the century. Berwald Quartet w/Björn Sjögren (viola), Frydén Quartet, Christer Thorvaldsson (violin), Elisif Lundén-Bergfelt (piano). Artemis/Musica Sveciae ARTE CD 7122 (Sweden) 11-089 $16.98

FRANZ SCHMIDT (1874-1939): Symphony No. 2, ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): Verklärte Nacht. Devotees of Austrian post-Romantic orchestral music will likely have both these works in their collections already, but there is ample reason to acquire this disc for the sheer quality of the performances and the historical significance of the collaboration between one of the century's great conductors and the Vienna Philharmonic in repertoire with which they were especially associated. What is especially fascinating is the way in which Mitropoulos points up the connections between Schoenberg's seminal work and the Schmidt, particularly in the first movement, showing clearly the direction in which the composer was moving even at this time. Mono (1958 live recordings). Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Dmitri Mitropoulos. Music & Arts 991 (U.S.A.) 11-090 $16.98

RICHARD FLURY (1896-1967): Piano Quintet in A Minor, String Quartet No. 5 in C, 13 Songs. These are all highly appealing, romantic works, especialy the large-scale quintet, which traverses many moods in the course of a highly expressive half-hour. Flury's music always remains within the bounds of tonality, but this is not a limitation; the music is always fresh and imaginative, introducing unexpected harmonic devices and contrapuntal treatments - but always to the end of emotional expression. As a song composer, Flury definitely belongs in the tradition of Schubert and Wolf, with ingenious illustrative accompaniments and a natural sense of the voice. Rosmarie Hofmann (soprano), Margaret Singer (piano), Ulrich Lehmann, Urs Joseph Flury (violins), Erich Meyer (viola), Stefan Thut (cello). Gallo CD-866 (Switzerland) 11- 091 $18.98

ALEXANDRE TANSMAN (1897-1986): Mazurkas, Books 1-4. Tansman was a paradox: a modern composer, friend of Schoenberg, biographer of Stravinsky, one who utilised the creative freedom available to composers of this century, but without wishing to innovate for its own sake. Thus his music has a definite historical perspective, even a backward-looking approach, although it is rhythmically and harmonically sophisticated. The four books of mazurkas, written between 1918 and 1941, represent a very personal part of the composer's output, as well as being an unconcealed homage to Chopin. Diane Andersen (piano). Talent DOM 2910 39 (Belgium) 11-092 $14.98

NINO ROTA (1911-1979): Concerto soirée for Piano and Orchestra, Balli for Small Orchestra, Fantasia sopra 12-Note del "Don Giovanni" for Piano and Orchestra, Sonata for Chamber Orchestra. The Balli date from 1932, seven brief dances written for a radio music competition which compelled the composer to write clear, well-defined and well-balanced music to defeat the rather primitive mode of transmission of those days; the sonata shows the influences of Malipiero and Casella. The two other works are of Rota's maturity: the fantasy on a 12-note sequence from Mozart's opera discovered by Milhaud begins with a playful nod to serialism before turning into a virtuoso homage while the Conceto soirée of 1962 represents the sonic equivalent of an evening in a late 19th-century salon with 5 characteristic dance forms following each other in tuneful succession. Danielle Laval (piano), City of Ferrara Orchestra; Giuseppe Grazioli. Auvidis/Travelling K 1034 (France) 11-093 $18.98

NINO ROTA (1911-1979): The Taming of the Shrew - Original Soundtrack. The master-tapes for the original 1967 unreleased score were lost; this release was put together using 2nd and 3rd generation tapes but represents the only surviving witness to one of Rota's most characteristic scores. Orchestra; Carlo Savini. Screen Trax CDST 308 (Italy) 11-094 $23.98

STEVEN STUCKY (b.1949): Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, Threnos, Fanfares and Arias, Voyages for Cello and Winds. Music for... is a striking orchestration for symphonic wind band, of three movements of Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary, faithfully reconstructed yet seen through the telescope of 300 years of history. The other works are composed in a modern, harmonically rich idiom, with an unfailing sense of the timbral possibilities of the large wind ensemble, and a good deal of dynamic and rhythmic interest thrown in for good measure. Voyages - really a 4-movement cello concerto - is a remarkably varied and vital piece, sounding just a little like Martinu at times. Gary Hardie (cello), Baylor University Wind Ensemble; Michael Haithcock. Albany TROY 257 (U.S.A.) 11-095 $16.98

BENGT HAMBRAEUS (b.1928): Constellations II, BENGT EMIL JOHNSON: Disappearances, LARS-GUNNAR BODIN (b.1935): Dizkus, MATS LINDSTRÖM/SÖREN RUNOLF: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, STEN HANSON: Five Stones in the River, ANDERS BLOMQVIST/ÅKE PARMERUD: Tangent, MAGNUS ELDÉNIUS: Norwegian Fragments, ANDERS BLOMQVIST: "...under a rest", JOHAN MAGNUS SJÖBERG: Again, AKE PARMERUD: Strings & Shadows, STEN OLAF HELLSTROM/BENNETT HOGG: Steps, JOHANNES JOHANSSON: "...någon annanstans...åter...". As the introductory program note informs us, the wide diversity of electro-acoustic music in Sweden is due predominantly to the advocacy of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, which has commissioned and promoted music written using these techniques. Most of the compositions on this CD are for live instruments and tape. So we have Hambraeus' installation of blocks of organ sounds illuminated by shimmering shafts of electronically tranformed sounds; Bodin's hypnotic background, against which musical events - some disturbing, some even comical - are projected. From Each . . ." is the only work with no pre-recorded component, and comes from an "alternative" æsthetic with its origins further from the concert hall or the academic world than much of the music presented here. This set provides a fascinating sample; anyone seeking new sensations will find much to occupy their attention here.2 CDs. Various artists. Phono Suecia PSCD 91 (Sweden) 11-096 $33.98

PETER BENGTSSON: The Maids. This opera, after a play by Jean Genet based on a real event, in which two sisters, maids to a wealthy family, atrociously murdered their mistress and her daughter, uses every melodramatic trick in the book to underline the disturbing psychological implications of the story - the redemption of meaningless lives through highly visible acts of violence and their attendant notoriety. This is Natural Born Killers, 1930s-style. The composer uses allusion - to film music, Tristan und Isolde, Verklärte Nacht, and a cut-up technique between these and many other stylistic influences to blur the distinction between the characters' perception of what is real and what is nightmare - and ours, too. Anna Edlund-Tarantino (soprano), Eva Pilat (mezzo), Gunilla Söderström (contralto), Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra; Niklas Willén. Phono Suecia PSCD 96 (Sweden) 11-097 $16.98

MICHAEL NYVANG (b.1963): Music for Virtual Orchestra, BIRGITTE ALSTED (b.1942): Sorgsang II. Two computer music works by contemporary Danish composers, offering diverse and fascinating journeys into the realm of sonic imagination. The former is the sonic component of a multimedia presentation, and it consists of quasi-sculptural sound-forms, created by the manipulation of raw material which mostly consists of sounds generated in various ways by a piano. Alsted's piece (Lament II) is based on the biblical story of Job, and uses extended vocal techniques and computer transformation to illuminate the harrowing story of Man tested to the limit of endurance by God. Carsten Hobolt (vocal). Marco Polo/Da Capo 8.224083 (Denmark) 11-098 $14.98

DANIEL BÖRTZ (b.1943): Variations and Intermezzi for Strings, THOMAS LILJEHOLM (b.1944): Tetrachordon for 15 Solo Strings, ANDERS HILLBORG (b.1954): Celestial Mechanics, ANDERS HULTQVIST (b.1955): Vinterträdgården. These works for string ensemble are all serious - harrowing, even, in the case of Börtz' Variations, a sustained ritual of grief. A student of Rosenberg, Börtz clearly knows how to make the maximum emotional effect with his material. Liljeholm's work is built on a wonderfully pungent 4-note chord based on the 4-note scale of ancient Greek music, while Hillborg's Celestial Mechanics uses microtones and slowly mutating sound patterns to create musical processes as free of events and meaning as the progress of the stars through the heavens. By contrast, The Winter Garden is full of action, based on scientific and mathematical analyses of the spectral content of sounds and rhythms derived from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Musica Vitae; Peter Csaba. Caprice CAP 21519 (Sweden) 11-099 $16.98

CLAUDIO PRIETO (b.1934): Caminado por la aventura, RAMÓN LAZKANO (b.1968): Su-Itzalak (Sombras de Fuego), AGUSTÍN CHARLES (b.1960): Divertimento for 8 Celli, JOSÉ LUIS GRECO (b.1953): Invisible. All these pieces were written for this ensemble and they exploit the possibilities that 8 cellos can offer in manifold ways. Prieto's work alternates aggressive passages and sensitive melodies, Lazkano's piece is extremely virtuosic, making use of micro-intervals and a whole spectrum of harmonics. Charles' work also deals in violent contrasts, from eerie harmonics to brutal strumming while Greco's piece consists of six brief connected movements which evoke the composer's impressions of a journey through Andalusia. Cello Octet "Conjunto Ibérico". Channel Classics CCD 10597 (Netherlands) 11-100 $17.98

MAURICE OHANA (1914-1992): T'Harân-ngô for Orchestra, Cello Concerto No. 2 "In Dark and Blue", Piano Concerto. T'Harân-ngô (1974) was Ohana's first work for orchestra; it seems to deal with dark, terrifying rituals and the adoration of primeval natural forces with a central dance of Sacre-like rhythmic intensity providing a climax to the single-movement work. Both concertos are single-movement also: that for piano (1981) covers a wide emotional range with sections that have a decidedly "Messiaenic" cast but which remains completely compelling. The 1990 cello concerto reveals the source of its title half-way in when the soloist suddenly turns out to be playing a blues! Ohana's orchestral palette is always striking and this music will certainly appeal to anyone who likes Messiaen and/or Xenakis. Sonia Wieder-Atherton (cello), Jean-Claude Pennetier (piano), Luxembourg Radio Orchestra; Arturo Tamayo. Timpani 1C1039 (France) 11-101 $17.98

KEVIN VOLANS (b.1949): This is How it is, Walking Song, Leaping Dance, Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Untitled (In Memoriam G.H.V.). South African composer Volans employs a vocabulary in which the repetitive gestures of minimalism are inflected by the irregular metrical figures of African music, a long-time preoccupation of his. His gestures are bold, his motifs simple, though combined in intricate ways, especially in the 1995 concerto. All these works use the brash "outdoor" sonorities of symphonic wind ensemble appropriately enough for music whose inspiration is derived from the open African plains. Peter Donohoe (piano), Kevin Volans (piano), Netherlands Wind Ensemble; Daniel Harding and Wim Steinmann. Chandos 9563 (England) 11-102 $16.98

JACQUES BERTHIER (1923-1994): Missa pro Europa. This sincerely felt devotional work alternates the movements of the ordinary of the Mass with prayers and organ voluntaries. The music is unmistakably French, indeed, a good deal of it sounds like traditional hymn or carol tunes, based on folk melodies, harmonised simply and in a manner suitable for congregational participation in the context of a celebration of the Mass. Chur National et Orchestre des Guides et Scouts d'Europe; Jean-Luc d'Assas. Champeaux CSM 0009 (France) 11-103 $18.98

THE EARQUAKE EXPERIENCE - "An explosive collection of great tunes, driving rhythms and sonic thrills" - we are told, and are further tempted by the promise of "steel plates, rocks, anvils, heavy metal chains, sirens, cannons . . . the loudest classical music of all time". Gimmicky marketing? Oh yes, even down to the complimentary pair of earplugs in the CD case "for your neighbor". Don't write it off too quickly though. Only the owners of the most comprehensive recording collections will have all the works represented here - and there are some real treats in store; all the music is first-rate, and the performances too are very fine. The extracts - only Leifs' Volcano (a brooding tone-poem, not merely a collection of sonic pyrotechnics) is a complete work; the rest are extracted movements - are presented like a suite, and make a surprisingly convincing and well thought out "pops" programme - except that none of the music is "popular". As a sampler, this will likely send many collectors scurrying to the catalogues to investigate further some of the works tantalisingly showcased here. As a self-contained listening experience, it's a lot of fun, and you won't be bored for a minute! Composers: Hanson, Rangström, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Druckman, Revueltas, Nielsen, Ginastera, Schulhoff, Segerstam, Bolcom, Ibert, Respighi, Shostakovich, Rautavaara and Leifs. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam. Ondine 894 (Finland) 11-104 $16.98

THE CRIMSON PIRATE - Swashbucklers of the Silver Screen Captain Blood - Main Title (Korngold), Hook - Main Theme (John Williams), The Crimson Pirate - Overture (William Alwyn), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad - Main Title (Bernard Hermann), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Suite (Miklos Rozsa), The Buccaneer - Prelude (Elmer Bernstein), The Sea Hawk - Suite (Korngold), The Adventures of Don Juan - Suite (Max Steiner), Cutthroat Island - Main Title (John Debney), Overture to The Crimson Permanent Assurance from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (John Du Prez). City of Prague Philharmonic; Paul Bateman. Silva America SSD 3009 (U.S.A.) 11-105 $13.98

THE MARK OF ZORRO - Swordsmen of the Silver Screen The Mark of Zorro - Main Title (Alfred Newman/Hugo Friedhofer), The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex - Overture (Korngold), Willow - Willow's Theme (James Horner), The Duellists - Suite (Howard Blake), The Swordsman of Siena - Prelude (Mario Nascimbene), Robin Hood - Suite (Geoffrey Burgon), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Prelude (Michael Kamen), Robin and Marian - Suite (John Barry), The Adventures of Robin Hood - Love Theme and "March of the Merry Men and Battle in the Forest" (Korngold). City of Prague Philharmonic; Paul Bateman. Silva America SSD 3010 (U.S.A.) 11-106 $13.98 (NOTE: Enhanced CD. Can be played on standard audio CD players and in most multimedia computers (Mac and PC).