February Catalogue

February Supplement 2

FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963): Les Animaux Modèles, Sinfonietta. Here is Poulenc's largest orchestral work, more than 42 minutes of brilliantly crafted music for a ballet based on La Fontaine's animal fables and premiered in Paris in 1942. Animal and human figures interact in scenes of varying seriousness, ranging from the farce of "The Cicada and the Ant" to the violent darkness of "The Two Roosters" with a noble climax of moving music in "The Lumberjack and Death". On hearing a work such as this, sadly neglected in recordings, one regrets that Poulenc did not write more for the orchestra. The coupling, his 1948 Sinfonietta, is equally overlooked and equally delightful being, in effect, a four-movement "classical symphony" in which Poulenc's characteristic 20th century wit, clarity and gift for melody are used to fill the classical symphonic bottle with new wine. Sparkling! Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra; Jonathan Darlington. Timpani 1C1041 (France) 02-0AA $17.98

JAMES BERNARD: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors. Bernard is sort of the Bernard Herrmann of English suspense and horror films. Creator of the instantly recognizable Dracula theme which introduces Christopher Lee's appearances in many Hammer horror films, Bernard has had a carrer of more than 40 years. Now, for the release of the newly refurbished (and tinted, as it was originally shown in 1922) classic Dracula film Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau, Bernard was commissioned to provide a new orchestral score. Since the film is silent, the music is constant and this disc contains, in effect, the film itself in music (63 minutes). In classic form, Bernard creates a Nosferatu motif of Brucknerian type of powerful effect, played by trombones, trumpets and tuba which appears whenever the vampire does. But, of course, there are sympathetic characters also and this gives the composer a chance to create themes of pastoral charm and open-air rusticity too. It all comes together in a combination of film and sound which, in these days of rock soundtracks and distracting special effects, is literally unique. City of Prague Philharmonic; Nic Raine. Silva America SSD 1084 (England) 02-0AB $16.98

LEÓ WEINER (1885-1960): Csongor es Tünde (Suite), Op. 10/b, Hungarian Folk Dances for Orchestra, Op. 18. Appearing for the first time on CD, Weiner's suite of music composed for a nationlist Hungarian play in 1913 gives further impetus (after the string quartets which we offered two months ago) to an apparent attempt to reclaim a fine 20th century Romantic composer. In six parts, the suite comprises an atmospheric representation of Night, a characterization of one of the play's roles, Balga - a stuffing of the rhythmically coarse verbunkos into a minuet's bag - followed by Mendessohnian Fairy Dance. The center of the suite is a gravely beautiful portrayal in siciliano rhythms of The Sorrowing Tünde; a baleful, Witches' Kitchen (in Lisztian Mephisto fastion) comes next before the work ends in a dreamy barcarole-like The Golden Apple Tree. Although it has only one rival in the catalogue, the accompanying Hungarian suite of folk dances, based on actual folk melodies, shoud be as popular as any of Enesco's or Kodály's works in similar form. North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra, Miskolc; László Kovács. Hungaroton HCD 31740 (Hungary) 02- 0AC $16.98

ERNST VON DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960): Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 27, Violin Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 43. Coupled for the first time on CD, these concertos bring much warm, Straussian and Brahmsian music to the collector of late Romantic music. The first concerto, from 1915, has structual affinities with Brahms' Symphony No. 1 and what sounds like a motif quoted from Strauss' Salomé. The second concerto, from 1950, brings solo writing of Kreislerian excitement and adds a dash of Reger to the mix as well. A happy addition to the catalogue! Vilmos Szabadi (violin), Budapest Symphony Orchestra; Tamás Vásáry. Hungaroton HCD 31759 (Hungary) 02- 0AD $16.98

SÁNDOR SZOKOLAY (b.1931): Violin Concerto, Op. 13, Concerto for 2 Violins and Orchestra, Op. 127, Solo Sonata for Violin No. 2, Op. 141. Szokolay's music inevitably recalls Bartók, the relatively early (1956) violin concerto more than the other two works, from the 1990s, which look back to pre-classical models, notably Bach, and achieve a gripping, rhapsodic air of pure delight in the expressive capabilities of the violin. Especially noteworthy is the beautiful variation-form slow movement of the two-violin-concerto, while the sonata, with its use of traditional forms in a modern idiom, is a major work which is, or should become, a valuable addition to the violin repertory. Orsolya Szokolay, L. Edvin Csüry (violins), Savaria Symphony Orchestra; Robert Houlihan. Hungaroton HCD 31712 (Hungary) 02-0AE $16.98

PIERRE DE BRÉVILLE (1861-1949): 7 Esquisses, Sonata in D Flat, TRISTAN KLINGSOR (1874-1966): Sonatine Viennoise, Impromptus de Montsouris, Bouquet d'Olivier Métra. Teacher and pupil, Pierre de Bréville and evocatively pseudonymous Tristan Klingsor (his real name was Arthur Leclare) are virtually forgotten today. Franck looms large in the background to both, and by extension, Wagner, and there are many Debussyian and Ravelian touches in the piano writing. Klingsor was a renaissance man born out of his time - published writer and poet as well as exhibited painter, he was truly a man in love with Art in all its forms. While acknowledging the same antecedents as his teacher, his music is more modern, but there is always a light lyrical buoyancy and modality, sometimes (coincidentally) recalling John Foulds, and more often (not coincidentally), Ravel. Carole Carniel (piano). Ligia 0103056 (France) 02- 0AF $16.98

FRANÇOIS VERCKEN: Une face de Janus for 11 Strings, 3 Idéaux-Grammes for Organ, D'un jour l'autre for 12 Strings, In illo tempore for 15 Strings, Concerto for Organ and Instrumental Ensemble. Vercken has professed an affinity with both the organ and the string ensemble because of their ready subdivisibility coupled to the retention of a certain homogeneity of sound however diverse the part-writing. This disc couples a set of three brief organ works, which are certainly related to Messiaen, with three for string groups and a concertante work in which again the organ writing recalls Messiaen while the instrumental accompaniment does not, having something of the insistent quality which imbues the string works. These are the most individual pieces here, using dogged, even aggressive rhythmic figures to propel music whose spiky angularity and dissonant outbursts speaks of a profound disquiet sublimated through action. Hervé Désarbre (organ), Ensemble Orchestral Stringendo; Jean Thorel. De Plein Vent 9784 (France) 02-0AG $14.98

JOSEPH CALLAERTS (1838-1901): Gavotte, Op. 20, EMILE WAMBACH (1854-1924): Andante appassionata, PAUL GILSON (1865-1942): Suite, JAN BLOCKX (1851-1912): Sérénade de Milenka, EDWARD KEURVELS (1853-1916): A Childhood Ideal, EMMANUEL DURLET (1893-1977): The Refuge of Your Eyes, LEO VAN DEN BROECK (1896-1968): Poëma, JEF MAES (1905-1996): Impromptu, FRANZ CORNEEL D'HAEYER (1889-1971): Sarabande BEA. This recital was put together by its artists to pay homage to forgotten Flemish composers and teachers at the Antwerp Conservatory. The 19th century pieces are in the song-without-words or salon style ( a nice bouncy gavotte from Callaerts) but even the 20th century pieces are tonal and easy on the ear with little trace of passionate emotions (even for Wambach's piece written in London during WWI or Durlet's written in 1945 during the Allied bombing of Antwerp); the mellow singing quality of the instrument is the main focus here. Beatrijs Schilders (cello), Urbain Boodts (piano). René Gailly 87135 (Belgium) 02-0AH $16.98

FRANTISEK BENDA (1709-1786): Violin Sonatas in A, B Flat, G, A Minor and A. Benda spent much of his career at the court of Frederick the Great and, though Frederick's instrument was the flute, found plenty of time to write more than 100 works for violin. Self-admittedly not a great contrapuntalist, Benda composed to his strength: an inherent Bohemian ability to write tuneful, song-like music which is what is on offer here in these five three-movement sonatas (where the cello plays a "continuo" role). Shizuka Ishikawa (violin), Petr Hejny (cello), Josef Hála (piano). Lotos 0050 (Czech Republic) 02-OAI $16.98

ERNST LEVY (1895 - 1981), PIANO: BEETHOVEN - Piano Sonata No. 29, Piano Sonata No. 32: LISZT Sonata, Bénédiction de Dieu, Spozalizio, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, LEVY - Pieces for piano 6, 7, 8, 9, 18. The few - the very few - of us who were familiar with Levy's oddly recorded LPs on obscure, long-since vanished labels have been guiltily aware for many years that there was at least one performer of major stature, an authentic re-creator of the music he played (as Liszt and Busoni were said to be, as Paderewski and Grainger, or nearer our own time, Horowitz, Cherkassky and Ogdon certainly were, each in his own way) who had been utterly bypassed by the history of recorded music. Now Marston has reissued three major sonatas from those long-forgotten LPs (originally recorded at MIT by Peter Bartók, son of the better-known . . . ), two concert performances of Liszt and, fascinatingly, five piano pieces of Levy's own, which were recorded in 1954 by Columbia Records, but never issued. Levy's compositions paint a portrait of a musician thoroughly versed in the techniques of our century, eschewing dodecaphony in favour of a meticulously, even mathematically organised system nonetheless employing the bravura expressiveness and piano technique familiar to Levy the performer; the works are powerful and the reverse of academic, and are not embarrassed by their exalted company on this disc. As for Levy's unorthodox, sometimes wayward, always compelling accounts of the familiar works here, such is the sense of the music being experienced from the inside out - the composer's eye view, if you will - even these all too frequently heard pieces emerge with a freshness and unfamiliar quality that is quite startling. This set is far more than a mere historical curiosity. 2CDs. Marston 52007 (USA) 02-0AJ $35.98