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1 Cover qxd 11/29/2016 4:51 PM Page 1 American Record Guide independent critics reviewing classical recordings and music in concert Bucarest and Banff Festivals Simon Rattle s NY Trifecta Reich and Glass at 80 Critics Choice 2016 Index to 2016 Reviews Over 450 reviews US $7.99 January/February 2017

2 STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (Form 3526) American Record Guide, ISSN published bimonthly (six issues per year, $45 per year) at 4412 Braddock Street, Cincinnati OH (Hamilton County). The name and address of the publisher and editor are Donald R Vroon, 4412 Braddock Street, Cincinnati OH American Record Guide is owned by Record Guide Productions, Incorporated. All stock in this corporation is held by Donald R. Vroon and Raymond C. Hassard. The complete mailing address for both is 4412 Braddock Street, Cincinnati OH Average number of copies of each issue during the preceding 12 months: (A) Total printed (net press run): 2550; (B) Paid Circulation: 1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Subscriptions: Paid In-county Subscriptions: Sales through dealer and counter sales: Other Classes Mailed through the USPS: 20 (C) Total Paid Circulation: 2545 (D) Free distribution by Mail 1 In County as stated on Form 3541: 1, 2 Outside County as stated on Form 3541: 108, 3 Other Classes mailed through the USPS: 0, 4 Free or nominal dist outside the mail: 8, Total free distribution 113 (F) Total distribution: 2463 (G) Copies not distributed: 87 (H) Total 2550; (I) Percent paid circulation 95.4 Average number of copies of each issue during the preceding 12 months: (A) Paid Electronic Copies: 25 (B) Total Paid Print & Electronic Copies: 2375 (C) Total Paid Distribution & Paid Electronic Copies: 2488 (D) Percent Paid Print & Electronic: 95.4 Number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: (A) Total printed (net press run): 2450; (B) Paid Circulation: 1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Subscriptions: Paid In-county Subscriptions: Sales through dealer and counter sales: Other Classes Mailed through the USPS: 8 (C) Total Paid Circulation: 2285 (D) Free distribution by Mail 1 In County as stated on Form 3541: 0, 2 Outside County as stated on Form 3541: 103, 3 Other Classes mailed through the USPS: 0, 4 Free or nominal dist outside the mail: 4, Total free distribution 107 (F) Total distribution: 2392 (G) Copies not distributed: 58 (H) Total 2450; (I) Percent paid circulation 95.5 Number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: (A) Paid Electronic Copies: 27 (B) Total Paid Print & Electronic Copies: 2312 (C) Total Paid Distribution & Paid Electronic Copies: 2419 (D) Percent Paid Print & Electronic: 95.5 I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. Signed, Donald R Vroon, President. Date: October 1, 2016

3 Contents Bill Rankin Banff String Quartet Competition... 4 Gil French Enesco International Competition... 7 Jack Sullivan Dudamel Opens Carnegie Hall Jeff Dunn Salonen and the Philharmonia at Berkeley Michael Anthony Minnesota Orchestra Past and Present James Harrington, James L. Paulk & Susan Brodie Simon Rattle s New York Trifecta Paul Hertelendy & Jeff Dunn Steve Reich and Philip Glass at Jay Harvey & Susan Brodie Indianapolis in the Spotlight Charles McCardell and Gil French Brentano Quartet Breaks the Mold Here & There: News from the Classical World Opera Everywhere Concerts Everywhere Coming in the Next Issue Critics Choice Guide to Records 50 Rattle-Berlin Phil North American Tour Dudamel-LA Phil in San Francisco Word Police: Soon 83 Taiwan Phil West Coast Tour Word Police: Closure 163 Noseda in DC and Toronto Prokofieff's complete R&J and Cinderella Collections 177 Dallapiccola at Teatro Colon Word Police: Iconic 223 Premieres: Rouse: Organ Concerto Word Police: PR words 227 Heggie: It's a Wonderful Life Word Police: New & unnecessary 237 Puts: Letters from Georgia Reich: Pulse From the Archives 232 Barry: Alice's Adventures Under Ground Word Police: Aggravate 232 Shaw, Thile, Mazzoli & ymusic Deja vu: The Newest Music 238 Julia Adolphe: Viola Concerto Elgar: Dream of Gerontius Videos 244 Bach: Mass in B minor Word Police: Decimated 249 Adams: El Niño Berlioz: Trojans Books 250 Glass: Akhnaten Word Police: Viral 253 Heggie: Moby-Dick Puts: Silent Night Index Saariaho: L'Amour de Loin Subscription & Back Issue Order 288 American Record Guide Music in Concert 1

4 American Record Guide Vol 80, No 1 January/February Reader Service: (513) CORRESPONDENTS BOSTON: John W Ehrlich BUFFALO: Herman Trotter CHICAGO: John Von Rhein LOS ANGELES: Richard S Ginell MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL: Michael Anthony NEW YORK: Susan Brodie, Joseph Dalton, Leslie Kandell, James L Paulk SAN FRANCISCO: Jeff Dunn, Paul Hertelendy SANTA FE: James A Van Sant SEATTLE: Melinda Bargreen WASHINGTON DC: Charles McCardell CANADA: Bill Rankin RECORD REVIEWERS George Adams Paul L Althouse John W Barker Alan Becker Charles Brewer Stephen D Chakwin Jr Robert Delcamp Stephen Estep Elliot Fisch Gil French William J Gatens Allen Gimbel Todd Gorman Philip Greenfield Lawrence Hansen Patrick Hanudel James Harrington Rob Haskins Roger Hecht Erin Heisel Sang Woo Kang Kenneth Keaton Barry Kilpatrick Kraig Lamper Bradley Lehman Mark L Lehman Peter Loewen Joseph Magil Catherine Moore David W Moore Robert A Moore Tom Moore Don O Connor Charles H Parsons Luke Pfeil David Radcliffe David Reynolds Bruno Repp Richard Sininger Jack Sullivan Donald R Vroon Stephen Wright PHOTO CREDITS Cover: Catalina Filip Pages 4-6: Donald Lee Page 8: Andrei Gindac Page 9: Catalina Filip Page 10: Andrei Gindac Page 12: Chris Lee Page 14: Zoe Lonergan Page 17: Julieta Cervantes Page 18: Ken Howard Page 20: Scott Strazzante Page 21: Harrison Truong Page 23: Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. Page 24: Pari Dukovic Page 25: Christian Steiner Page 27: Roger Mastroianni (Mitchell); Felix Broede (Hope); Sorin Popa (Macelaru); Sussie Ahlburg (Mena) Page 28: Mikki Schaffner (Preu); Marco Borggreve (Cohen & Fischer); Benjamin Ealovega (Brabbins); Catrin Moritz (Stenz); Harald Hoffmann (Judd); Roberto Masotti (Battistoni) Our 82nd Year of Publication Editor: Donald R Vroon Editor, Music in Concert: Gil French Art Director: Ray Hassard Reader Service & Layout: Ralf Ehrhardt PAST EDITORS Peter Hugh Reed James Lyons Milton Caine John Cronin Doris Chalfin Grace Wolf Page 29: Kesh Sorensen (Devey); Stacey J Byers (Marvin); Paul Sirochman (Burridge); Chad Johnston (McHolm); Paul Schirnhofer (Zietzschmann) Page 30: Andrea Felvegi (Kocsis); Tom Kates (Eskin); Wilfried Beege (Botha); Nancy Siesel (Allen) Page 31: Cory Weaver Page 32: Nicholas Korkos Page 33: Richard Termine Page 34: Jonathan Tichler Page 35: Liz Lauren Page 37: Laura Riihela Page 38: Laurence Gibson Page 39: Chris Sweda Page 40: Stephanie Berger Page 42: Christina House Page 43: Marcus Yam Page 44: Harald Hoffmann Page 45: Barbara Davidson AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE (ISSN ) is published bimonthly for $45.00 a year for individuals ($55.00 for institutions) by Record Guide Productions, 4412 Braddock Street, Cincinnati OH Phone: (513) Web: Periodical postage paid at Pontiac IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to American Record Guide, 4412 Braddock Street, Cincinnati, OH Student rates are available on request. Allow eight weeks for shipment of first copy.outside USA add $25.00 postage. All subscriptions must be paid with US dollars or credit card. Claims for missing issues should be made within six months of publication. Retail distribution by Ubiquity. Contents are indexed annually in the Nov/Dec or Jan/Feb issue and in The Music Index, The International Index to Music, and ProQuest Periodical Abstracts. Copyright 2017 by Record Guide Productions. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. 2 Music in Concert January/February 2017

5 Music in Concert highlights January Pablo Rus Broseta conducts the Seattle Symphony in Shostakovich s complete concertos on two different programs with pianist Kevin Ahfat, violinist Aleksey Semenenko, and cellist Edgar Moreau at Benaroya Hall. January Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin in Bruckner s complete symphonies at Carnegie Hall. On six programs, he also performs six of Mozart s late piano concertos from the keyboard; on two he conducts Mozart s two symphonies concertantes. January Soloist Jonathan Biss pairs the world premiere of Sally Beamish s Piano Concerto with Beethoven s Piano Concerto No. 1 as Mischa Santora conducts the St Paul Chamber Orchestra at Ordway Concert Hall in St Paul and St Andrew s Lutheran Church in nearby Mahtomedi. Also on the program: Ravel s Tombeau de Couperin. January Minnesota Opera presents the US premiere of the rediscovered 18th-Century opera, Diana s Garden, by Vicente Martin y Soler. Michael Christie conducts a cast led by Leah Partridge and Alek Sharder at the Ordway Theater in St Paul. January & Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra perform two weekends of works by Kurt Weill: first, the US premiere of his Song- Suite with violinist Daniel Hope and Seven Deadly Sins with Storm Large (also on the program, Bruce Adolphe s I Will Not Remain Silent with soloist Hope); then, Lost in the Stars with the SITI Company theater ensemble, soloists, and chorus. Performances at Royce Hall and Glendale s Alex Theatre. January 31-February 12 Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz perform the world premiere of Philip Glass s Symphony No. 11, part of an all- Glass program at Carnegie Hall, Chapel Hill NC, Davis CA, and Stanford University. On a second night at Davis plus concerts in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Santa Barbara CA, and Palm Desert CA, programs include an adventurous mix of Gershwin, Ellington, Zemlinsky, Schumann, Barber, Richard Strauss, and three more works by Glass. Soloists are violinist Robert McDuffie, vocalist Angelique Kidjo, and baritone Martin Achrainer. January 18-March 26 Theodore Kuchar and Volodymyr Sirenko share conducting duties as the Ukraine National Symphony tours to Toronto and across the US from Ft Myers FL to Alabama, up the East Coast to Massachusetts, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, Illinois to Oklahoma, and Reno NV to four California cities, performing major symphonies and concertos by Stankovych, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Prokofieff, and Shostakovich. February 3-21 Carnegie Hall presents La Serenissima, music from the Venetian Republic in 13 concerts by Jordi Savall s Hesperion XXI, the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Tallis Scholars, Quicksilver, Gallicantus, Pomo d Oro, TENET, Akmet Erdogdular Classical Turkish Music Ensemble, Cappella Mediterranea, Juilliard School s Ensemble ACJW, and Concerto Italiano. Major works include Vivaldi s Juditha Triumphans and Monteverdi s Coronation of Poppea. February & The San Francisco Symphony celebrates John Adams s 70th birthday at Davies Symphony Hall. First, Joana Carneiro conducts soloists and chorus in his Gospel According to the Other Mary. The next weekend Michael Tilson Thomas leads violinist Leila Josefowicz in Adams s Scheherazade 2 and selections from Prokofieff s Romeo and Juliet. February Tafelmusik marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation with the world premiere of Visions and Voyages: Canada , Alison Mackey s new multi-media program seen through the lens of baroque Europe, with music by Purcell, Lully, and Handel. Performances are at Toronto s Trinity-St Paul s Centre. February Andris Nelsons conducts soloists and the Boston Symphony in the US premiere of Gubaidulina s Triple Concerto for violin, cello, and bayan and in Shostakovich s Symphony No. 7 (Leningrad) at Symphony Hall. February Riccardo Muti leads Sasha Cooke, Mikhail Petrenko, narrator Gerard Depardieu, the Chicago Symphony and Chorus in Prokofieff s Ivan the Terrible at Orchestra Hall. American Record Guide Music in Concert 3

6 Banff String Quartet Competition Excellence Reigns Bill Rankin The 13th Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC), held every three years at the Banff Centre in the Canadian Rocky Mountain resort town 80 miles west of Calgary, was as unpredictable as I ve seen it. The quality of the ten quartets, drawn from more than 30 applicants, was consistently high, and any of half a dozen ensembles could have finished in the top three. As it was, the Rolston Quartet, named after Tom Rolston, decades-long director of the Banff Centre s classical music programming, took home the $25,000 (CAD) first prize, along with a professional development package that includes about 50 engagements in Europe and North America, recording sessions, and several other performance perks, including a concert at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, one of Haydn s haunts. If consistent quality were the only criterion the seven jurors from Europe, North America, and Japan had to go on, Japan s Quartet Arpa, the most elegantly dressed group, with a consistently demur style and a consistently polished sound and demeanor, might have been victorious. Or perhaps the charismatic Quartet B erlin-tokyo deserved better. Its disruptive, hilarious rendition of Jörg Widman s parodic Hunting Quartet in the competition s penultimate round drew appreciation and contempt from the generally aged, conservative audience. The performance, itself, was both riotous and technically impressive, and the group s playing during the week was superlative. The Americans in the Aeolus Quartet were consistently idiomatic, astute, and entertaining in their take on the broad repertoire BISCQ called for in its four rounds preceding the September 4 final. I thought Aeolus and Berlin- Tokyo deserved a place in the final. Verona, with members from Canada, the US, and Singapore played with a consistent forcefulness that won them many fans, but, alas, no prize. Why the Rolstons won and I thought they should have by the end only the jury knows. Notwithstanding the vigorous effort to make the judging as mathematically objective as possible, in the end the clincher may have been the Rolstons blend of craft, musicality, and strategy, that indefinable readyfor-prime-time energy. Even with the math involved in the judging, the decision to pick the finalists took two hours, and the Rolston Quartet: Luri Lee, violin; Jeff Dyrda, violin; Hezekiah Leung, viola; Jonathan Lo, cello order of finish in the final took an hour to decide. 4 Music in Concert January/February 2017

7 Clearly, some debate beyond the numbers was involved. The final round left three quartets standing. One positive feature that the competition introduced in 2010 was to give all ten contenders a chance to play right through to Saturday. No one was sent packing after an early misstep. The Canadians, as well as Tesla (US, South Korea, Russia) and Castalian (UK) quartets made the final and were required to play a late-beethoven or a Schubert quartet. Many quartets may believe the harder the piece the better, and in the final Tesla took that tack, taking on Beethoven s No. 14. The result was uneven; after a long week of playing, perhaps the energy to sustain such a challenge was depleted. The long, often ponderous fourth movement bogged down. The final round was worth 25 percent of the whole mark, and I suspect ambitiousness may have been Tesla s undoing. Tesla finished second, so they made their impression earlier, but fell short on the last day. They also won the prize for best Haydn and best performance of the Canadian commission by Montreal-trained, New Yorkbased Zosha di Castri. Their total reward was $18,000. The Rolston Quartet, on the other hand, had already proved themselves in the opening rounds with an idiomatically convincing Haydn Opus 77:1 and Janacek s Quartet No. 2, an exquisite and dynamically interesting performance of Ravel s Quartet; the nine-minute harsh, gnarly Canadian piece by Di Castri, and its own Ad Lib program of Schubert s Quartetsatz and Bartok s No. 3. (The Ad Lib round before the final was a new feature, giving each group 30 minutes to show the jury what it thought it did best, and the programs were varied.) Also, this year, for the first time, each also-ran quartet was given $4,000 for their time and effort. Rolston chose Beethoven s No. 8 for the final; that less ambitious venture than the Tesla s No. 14 may have tipped the balance. Rolston played their Beethoven both assuredly and freshly. The third-place Castalian Quartet played Schubert s Death and the Maiden and took home $8,000. Overall, there was little discernible cynicism that a Canadian group won the day, just the third to do so in the competition s 36-year history. The Rolston was among several quartets who deserved recognition and a career boost, and the young Canadians will most assuredly bring further distinction to the Banff Competition as they travel the world. This year the competition drew 503 fulltime attendees, and Barry Shiffman, executive director, in an interview before the competition, said the return rate was close to 100 percent. Most of the people I met had been to at least two pre vious competitions. Many have been coming since the beginning. Shiffman wants BISQC, notwithstanding its competitive ethos, to feel like a festival and to be as friendly to the competitors as possible. In keeping with the festival spirit, BISQC is proud that it draws a substantial audience for the 40-plus hours of concerts and offers interesting talks by renowned quartet players. This year Juilliard Quartet cellist Joel Krosnick told stories about his time with the ensemble. Krosnick also conducted public master classes with 12 school-age quartets from Toronto, Vancouver, and Banff. One morning David Harrington, founder of the Kronos Quartet, discussed his group s origins and its championing of new music. Kronos has commissioned more than 900 new pieces, and its latest venture is a project called 50 for the Future. Kronos has commissioned Castalian String Quartet: Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello American Record Guide Music in Concert 5

8 25 male and 25 female composers to write pieces the quartet will perform, and the music is made available on the 50 for the Future website for any group to use for free. The Argus Quartet from the US played a 2016 piece called Satellites by Garth Knox from the collection in its Ad Lib round. Shiffman, in front of a crowd of a few hundred, playfully cornered Harrington and asked him to be a juror next time. Harrington seemed amenable. Barry Shiffman feels BISQC is on the right path: The main message I m hoping comes across with this competition is the fact that we ve been talking for years about creating a true festival environment, and I think we re getting there now. The idea of a festival is wonderful, but its success depends somewhat on the blend of music presented. The more variety the better. The first round called for one work from a selection of Haydn quartets and a second piece from a long list, including any of Bartok s quartets, ones by Berg, Britten, Dutilleux, Ginastera, Hindemith, Ligeti, Janacek, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, and Shostakovich. The competitors seemed to think Bartok was their ticket to making an impression; we heard three No. 6s, three No. 5s, and two 4s. Each of Janacek s two quartets also got a nod. In the Ad Lib round, two groups that hadn t play Bartok performed either Bartok s No. 1 (the Omer from the US) or No. 3 (the Rolstons). There should have been a prize for the best Bartok. There were Bartok devotees in the audience, of course, but there was also a palpable sense of Bartok exhaustion by the end of the first round, and the simple pleasures of Haydn s decorous quartets were repeatedly overshadowed by the early 20th- Century music. Each BISQC presents a gala concert with alumni from past competitions. The Dover Quartet, which has parlayed its win into a solid touring career, played on Friday night. Dover, which in 2013 took every prize, performed Smetana s Quartet No. 1, and the audience appreciated the melodic music, sweetly performed. Dover was joined by Canadian-born pianist Jon Kimura Parker for Brahms s Quintet, leaving the audience satisfied that a program could still offer beauty and comfort as well as Bartok and Di Castri. The night before (a day off for the competitors), the Afiara Quartet, second-place laureates in 2010, introduced its experiment in genre bending. Afiara produced a two-cd set called Spin Cycle last year with Canadian DJ Skratch Bastid (née Paul Murphy) this was a taste of the hybrid creation. Many in the audience were local young people familiar with the DJ s work, and their response was appropriately raucous. My small, informal survey of the older crowd suggested a split between openminded appreciation and grim denigration. Getting young audiences to chamber music concerts will continue to be a challenge, notwithstanding the initiatives of adventurous groups like Afiara and, of course, the Kronos Quartet. This was the Afiara s last currently scheduled performance; they are becoming a part-time ensemble, and violinist Timothy Kantor and violist Eric Wong are leaving. Shiffman will direct the next BISQC in 2019 as well, though it s uncertain what hall will be used because the aged Eric Harvie Auditorium is slated for a two-year renovation beginning in 2017 or 2018, according to the Banff Centre s new president, Janice Price, who joined the institution 18 months ago after some managerial upheaval at the Centre. Tesla String Quartet: Ross Snyder, violin; Michelle Lie, violin; Edwin Kaplan, viola; Serafim Smigelskiy, cello 6 Music in Concert January/February 2017

9 Enesco International Competition Bucharest s Exotic Roman Athenaeum Gil French What was most outstanding was Bucharest s Romanian Athenaeum, opened in 1888, and the setting for the Enesco International Competition. Its elaborate main floor lobby with marble pillars and sweeping staircases to the hall above was constructed on the circular foundation of an American circus that went bankrupt. The circular concert hall on the second floor seats 600 plus an additional 82 in the slightly elevated boxes that surround the hall, above which is a 360-degree fresco depicting Romanian history. Above that rises a dome with everything from mythological fish to fleur de lis, reflecting the tastes of the hall s Paris architect and the many Romanian architects he employed, not to mention exotic touches from nearby Turkish, Slavic, Greek, and Mediterranean cultures. Most startling to Western tastes is the use of colored lighting that changes colors with each of a work s movements garish if described, but in reality not so, for it aims one s attention toward the players on the proscenium stage. Above all, this is the rare circular hall that works acoustically. Practically any seat offers balanced surround-sound for any orchestra and soloist, except a pianist. Because of the instrument s projecting lid, the sound in seats on the sides is compromised, but in the center section it is rich from treble to bass, better the further back one sits no need to force the instrument in this hall. In 1955 the Bucharest Philharmonic was renamed the George Enesco Philharmonic in honor of Romania s greatest composer who died that year. As the Athenaeum s resident orchestra, it accompanies the competition s finalists. The Enesco International Competition takes place biennially in September with a week each for cellists, violinists, and pianists. I arrived on September 19 to hear the three violin finalists perform with the orchestra, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals for 12, then 6, and finally 3 pianists, concluding on September 25. Over two days of quarter-finals, 12 pianists had to play a Beethoven sonata (only the Moonlight, Hammerklavier, simple sonatas, and a few others were forbidden) and a 20th- Century work of their choice. Two days later the six semi-finalists had to play a work by Enesco (sonatas or suites) and a romantic work of their choice. These concerts began at 4 PM. The technical maturity of all 12 pianists was the highest I ve encountered at any competition, piano or otherwise. Nonetheless, the first day of quarter-finals with six pianists was mostly a wash. All were technically flawless, but a Russian and a Greek went the volumeand-velocity route. Two others were off to the American Record Guide Music in Concert 7

10 races. Only Japanese Mihoko Oshima, 29, was world-class, that is, combining technique with artistic breadth. In Beethoven s Sonata No. 28 inner voices and left hand textures produced marvelous tone color and shading. Her chords were exquisitely balanced, and her tempos allowed the music to breathe and sometimes become playful, in contrast to the excited Beethoven tempos of the first four competitors. And in contrast to a Korean who played Ravel s Gaspard de la Nuit loudly and metronomically, Oshima sorted out Ondine s textures in waves like flowing water, Gibet was moody and languid, and Scarbo felt like magic with her rhythmic precision and depth of shading. Surely she would be a finalist. But as usual at competitions, one wonders what the judges were smoking. (The only good ones, of course, are the ones who Vassilenko, Quinteros and Ishii agree with me or you!) Mihoko Oshima didn t make the s emi-finals, but remember her name without question you ll be hearing of her again. I must confess : at competitions I initially listen more emotionally and intellectually than technically. If the purpose of a competition is to select the candidate with the brightest future, I want one who moves me with structures and flow, who colors the sound, sustains long lines, and suspends my breathing. I want an artist, not a mere technician. Latvian Daumants Liepens, 22, the fourth quarter-finalist on the second day, is the other pianist to remember. He gave Beethoven s early Sonata No. 7 far more textual clarity, tone color, and depth of expression than famous pianists do on recordings I own. His tempos were fast but textures were clear because he was one of the few pianists to use the pedal with restraint. His left hand work was awesome and his rhythms tight. Here was a touch of Eroica in Opus 10:3 years before the famous Opus 55 symphony. In Rachmaninoff s Sonata No. 2 Liepens s opening rolled chord portended a transparent tour de force. I still don t understand the work, but he made the best case for it I ve heard. Here is a young artist from Latvia whom the various conductors, including Jarvi from neighboring Estonia, should latch on to. There was a nine-member jury for the piano competition, led by Gabriel Tacchino, who is French. Two were Romanian, two from Germany, and the others from Switzerland, England (Peter Donohoe), Russia (Andrei Pisarev), and America (Alan Weiss). Unlike the mathematically convoluted voting systems at North American competitions [see the Banff Competition article], here decisions were simple: to choose the semi-finalists, each judge secretly wrote yes next to the names of six of the 12 quarter-finalists, then yes next to three of the six semi-finalists, and yes next to one of the three finalists. Simple as that. In fact, the audience had to wait only minutes for their decisions. Daumants Liepens made it to the semifinal round but was eliminated from the finals in place of two players who made me exclaim, What are they doing in the semifinals! Danor Quinteros (32, Chile) was without question the least interesting of the 12 quarter-finalists. His sound was so emaciated that, if it were on a recording, I would have been boosting the volume repeatedly. In the same Beethoven that Liepins played, his articulation was a blur at rushed tempos. My mind drifted. And, again, his Out of Doors by Bartok was in desperate need of leading voices, rhythmic articulation, and inner details. It was totally void of mood or atmosphere. Victoria Vassilenko (23, Bulgaria), the last quarter-finalist on the first day, was the only player I walked out on. In Beethoven s Sonata No. 17 (Tempest) she lingered too much in the first movement and lingered even more further on. The lower her left hand descended on the keyboard, the more muddled sound she produced. In Prokofieff s Sonata No. 6 she so 8 Music in Concert January/February 2017

11 lacked clarity or sweep in the opening movement that, after five hours, I simply called it a day. Quinteros was no better in the semi-finals. Enesco s Sonata No. 1 is a bizarre, obtuse work with slow outer movements and a fast middle one. Nothing could kill it more than the pianist s lingering purple-patch approach with the intellectual grasp of a conservatory freshman. And God save me from his take on Liszt s Fantasy and Fugue on a Theme of Bach, blurred by tons of pedal. Here was under-projected vapidity, as the player s long hair covered his face and eyes like a wet sheepdog. In Enesco s Suite No. 2 Vassilenko committed error after error as she threw away important phrases in the left hand. In this work the Sarabande is the closest Enesco comes to a romance, but she played it and the later Pavane in an utterly foursquare manner. When she followed with Liszt s Vallée d Obermann, big passages were smothered in pedal and restful moments sounded bland. I once again asked, What the hell is she doing in the semifinals? Takuma Ishii (26, Japan) I practically ignored in the quarter-finals; his lack of form and harsh tone in Beethoven s Sonata No. 28 (what a contrast to Oshima) made me predict that he d bang the hell out of Prokofieff s Sonata No. 4 and, sure enough, he did. But he seemed like a different person in the semifinals. He was the only one who ended rather Zlatomir Fung, winner of the cello competition than began with Enesco (here Sonata No. 1) and the only one to play Enesco from memory, giving this bizarre, obtuse piece transparency, dramatic form, melody (an elusive quality in this work), and in the finale atmosphere akin to Ravel s Gibet as he built to a truly rhapsodic climax and faded tenderly. This was the best-played Enesco at the competition. He opened with a work that can be lugubrious in the wrong hands, Franck s Prelude, Choral, and Fugue, and gave it exquisite shading, dramatic shape, and stunning flow, never allowing it to die on the vine. Ishii, Quinteros, and Vassilenko were the three finalists. On the break-days before and after the semi-finals, two concerts helped put these bizarre choices in perspective. These concerts and the finals began at 7 PM, allowing visitors a full day to explore Bucharest. In concert jurist Peter Donohoe, 63, came across as the Donald Trump of the piano: hard-edged, loud, blunt, and muscular, with tons of pedal. The repertoire? Ravel s Miroirs (all of it), Messiaen s Canteyodjaya, Scriabin s Sonata No. 3, and three pieces by Debussy, if you can believe it! Never legato, always loud with notes digitally separated, fistfuls of notes, wrong notes, missing harmonies, matter-of-fact pacing and was that a memory slip in Alborada del Gracioso? How can one play Messiaen s bird calls as if they re shot from cannons? And the Scriabin does Donohoe love the pedal! His playing was irritating in everything but Debussy s From a Sketchbook (D un Cahier d Esquisses). In the concluding Isle of Joy he gave me the feeling that he s stopped re-examining what he does, making spontaneity a thing of the past the final measures were more an acceleration than a grand gesture. How was it possible, then, that his encore, Rachmaninoff s Prelude in D (Opus 23:4), was slow, grew beautifully, and settled tenderly? His basic unchanging style probably is a better fit for Russian than impressionist works. For really bizarre pianism, the Enesco Competition s 2014 winner, Spaniard Josu de Solaun, 35, took the cake two nights later. In Schumann s Davidsbundlertanze and Toccata, Brahms s Intermezzos Opus 117, and five works by Chopin, he played with two essential volumes: thunderous (making the Toccata and Chopin s Scherzo No. 3 feel like a head jerk) and solipsistic solitude, as he sat back in a chair, moving his hands only horizontally, American Record Guide Music in Concert 9

12 smiling angelically and rolling his eyes, as if caught in a sacred ecstasy into which we were not invited, as the piano emitted tinkles and bell-like sounds verging on inaudible even in this hall. But, quelle surprise, he redeemed himself with a gentle, dramatic, and beautifully shaped Liebestod (Wagner transcribed by Liszt) and an encore of utter poignancy, Granados s Maiden and the Nightingale from Goyescas. Given the three finalists, there was no question about the winner. In Rachmaninoff s Concerto No. 2 the loud and rhythmically stiff playing that American conductor John Axelrod elicited from the George Enesco Philharmonic did neither Danor Quinteros nor Takuma Ishii any favors. Quinteros could barely be heard, especially his left hand; and his foursquare pacing made each movement so plodding that I asked myself, Who s in charge here? Seems like neither the soloist nor conductor! Ishii began with better flow, but, as in the quarterfinals, only his right hand projected the sound. But irregular pacing soon muted any drama, and in the finale he lacked expansiveness. To my surprise, it was Victoria Vassilenko who rose to the occasion with a stunning Concerto No. 1 by Brahms. Tempos had thrust and flow as she integrated her lines with the orchestra, shading and shaping them beautifully. I had forgotten how sublimely beautiful the second movement is during it I could have heard a pin drop. Despite a minor flub at the start of the finale, this performance was a total triumph for both her and the orchestra. Axelrod had the full measure of this concerto. This was a genuine partnership. Vassilenko won the piano competition, Ishii was second, and Quinteros third. A week earlier I had arrived in time for the violin finals, where a different jury came up with three excellent choices. Another name you ll be hearing: South Korean Gee-Hee Kim, 23, the winner playing Tchaikovsky s Violin Concerto. She already has American appearances guaranteed. What is it with violinists from South Korea? Before her Dong-Hyun Kim, 16, played Beethoven s concerto, and both players had such rich, melting, vibrant tone one could swear they were playing Strads. Also, they both played with supremely lyrical long lines and grasp of form (artistry). They made me remember that, at the 2014 Indianapolis Violin Competition, five of the six finalists were from South Korea. Gee-Hee Kim Slow tempos (what I call Zubin Mehta style), however, made the Beethoven seem to go on forever. It was Gee-Hee Kim who had that extra dimension of supreme artistry and soul that came from a combination of flexible flow, tone color, keen articulation, and subtle but quick shifts from vibrato to non-vibrato. Her harmonics were spot on, and her communication not only with the audience but the orchestra was supreme. She turned often to dialog with the orchestra s peerless flute, clarinet, and bassoon principals; the concertmaster took visible delight in her playing. Guest conductor Christoph Poppens had the Philharmonic in flawless, crisp shape, even if his basic interpretive style was romantic-traditional. It took third place finalist Erzhan Kulibaev, 30, from Kazahstan a while to settle into the first movement of the Tchaikovsky, but his simple direct approach to the second movement s theme poignantly drew out its folkmelancholy, as he dialogued with the also poignant principal flute. And in the finale he was like the sports team that s so hot it has things nailed and can t possibly err. American Zlatomir Fung, 17, was the winner of the cello competition. 5 out of 53 cellists and 3 out of 56 violinists were from the US. No Americans were among the 47 pianists. In odd-numbered years the three-week Enesco International Festival presents the world s top orchestras, chamber groups, and soloists; the dates this year will be September 2 to 24. The Competition occurs in even-numbered years, always with cello, violin, and piano; the next edition will be September 4 to 25 in (The Competition, the Festival, and the Philharmonic, by the way, all spell the composer s name with a u Enescu.) 10 Music in Concert January/February 2017

13 Classical music and the other arts flourish in both Romania and Bulgaria; classical, jazz, and film festivals are ubiquitous. In beautiful and prosperous Brasov, I heard the season opener of the regional Brasov Philharmonic. Romanian guest conductor Cristian Mandeal [Man-DELL] led a poignant Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 by Enesco, an indifferent Burkeske by Richard Strauss with extraordinarily prosaic Romanian pianist Oxana Corjos [KOR-zhos], and a performance of Mahler s Symphony No. 1 that did the orchestra proud. It was clear from the solid string sound that Mandeal is a string player himself. Despite his tempos that tended to pull structures apart, the orchestra s ensemble was absolutely tight, and the principal woodwinds were awfully good. (On the way to Bucharest I lingered two nights in beautiful Sinaia with its royal palace and an exquisite monastery, and where cable cars and ski lifts take you 6,600 feet up the Bucegi Mountains.) In Ruse [ROO-zay], Bulgaria, an impeccable, lovely, but moderately interesting town of 150,000 less than two hours south of Bucharest just across the Danube, I saw the only performance of Verdi s Otello at the Ruse Opera House, which is much like a 600-seat American movie theater of days of yore with good acoustics. The orchestra (though surpassed by the Brasov Philharmonic) was good except for the execrable three string basses at the opening of Act 4. In brief, production-wise I walked away having heard the full drama of Otello with just a few slides for backdrop, a few curtains, superior costumes and lighting, minimal props, and excellent stage direction. No need for Ringling Bros productions like at the Met to be moved by Verdi s drama; I suspect he wrote his operas knowing they d be produced in similar circumstances all over Italy. True, the soloists in Ruse were solid but not of recording quality, but their acting was riveting and the chorus excellent. After spending two weeks of falling in love with Bulgarians esthetic way of life and two weeks in Romania, Bucharest is not a favorite city of mine. It takes searching and more than just a few days to yield up its charms, which is another way of saying, What better way of discovering Bucharest than during the course of a week at the festival or competition, wrapping up leisurely days of exploring with evenings of music! Dudamel Opens Carnegie Hall Three Concerts from the Venezuelan Heart Jack Sullivan On October 6 Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony of Venezuela opened Carnegie Hall s new season with three concerts of aggressively colorful 20th- and 21st-Century works from Venezuela, Germany, Russia, the US, and France. The last time I heard Dudamel, he presided over the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a coarse performance of the Brahms Symphony No. 2. He has worked with this orchestra much longer, however, and these pieces played to his strengths. During the three evenings the excitement, commitment, and go-for-broke intensity were palpable, even if the playing was not always polished. Dudamel has been with 70 percent of these players since he was a child, and he is at one with them. In a set called dances from around the world on opening night, excerpts from Copland s Rodeo, Ginastera s Estancia, and Bernstein s West Side Story had a jazzy authenticity that I haven t heard since Bernstein himself. (Copland, in particular, almost always sounds square in contemporary performances.) This was not surprising: Dudamel s ability to make music swing is a trademark. When I asked him backstage what he does with his beat to achieve this, he told me that he is strongly influenced by Bernstein. He had a secret, he said, jabbing his finger toward me three times for emphasis: Divide, divide, divide. It all connects. Despite the rhythmic infectiousness, the playing took a bit of getting used to. For better or worse, the Simon Bolivar Symphony simply sounds different from other ensembles the winds earthier, the brass raspier, the percussion crunchier, the strings brighter. Tempos were on the fast side. La Valse was deliriously speedy, a rush to the finish rather than a gradual collapse as if to say, if Western civilization is crashing down, let s get it over with. Rite of Spring was exuberant, never heavy or ponderous. From the first grainy bassoon solo to the American Record Guide Music in Concert 11

14 final wallop, the piece exuded joy rather than terror. The disappointment was the pagan night at the beginning of Part 2, which lacked mystery and just sat there. The performance recovered with the thunderous timpani in the Glorification scene; and the final dance surged straight ahead, allowing Stravinsky s novel rhythms to work their magic. Watching the young players practically come out of their seats with enthusiasm was a pleasure. This orchestra needs to be seen as well as heard. The next evening Dudamel brought out stinging bitonality and sardonic wit in Stravinsky s Petrouchka. The trumpets, sometimes resembling a Mariachi band, had an extra bite, especially in the clown s nose-thumbing at the end. The orchestra produced a woody sound that I have never heard in this work. A rare treat in a crowded program was Villa-Lobos s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2, which had never been performed at Carnegie Hall. Villa-Lobos s astonishing achievement has hardly been broached in this country. One of music s most prolific composers, he produced some 2000 works, many of them masterpieces, in a variety of genres. Like the other Bachianas Brasileiras tone poems, No. 2 fuses Bachian structures with Brazilian folk music in a combination of gravity and sauciness. The saxophone and cello solos in the opening movements were hauntingly phrased, and the string melody in The Little Train of the Caipira s finale soared rapturously over hissing percussion a remarkable double-effect. Also on the program were three Venezuelan works from the past two years: Juan Carlos Nunez s Mi Querencia and Tonada del Cabestrera from Tonados di Simon Diaz, and Paul Desenne s Hipnosis Mariposa, premiered in 2014 by the Simon Bolivar Symphony. (Dessene, a founding member of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra, is El Sistema s resident composer.) These pieces are variations on melodies by the Venezuelan folk composer Simon Diaz, who died in 2014, and whose music is deeply rooted in Venezuela s collective imagination. They depict life on the Venezuelan plains, from golden sunsets to torrential rain. All three are seductive and highly syncopated, yet curiously understated in their endings: a sighing violin in Mi Querencia, a languid horn in Tonada del Cabestrera, a collapse into silence in Hipnosis Mariposa. The Nunez pieces are basically lyrical, though spiked with moments of Varesian dissonance. Hipnosis Mariposa is more delicate and nostalgic an orchestral reverie, in the composer s words. The orchestra played it with hypnotic concentration. The most impressive concert was the last, given over entirely to Messiaen s Turangalila. This 10-movement extravaganza combines Eastern mysticism, Greek rhythms, African dance, gamelan drumming, Poe-inspired Gothicism, the Tristan myth, and much else in an epic world music hybrid written long before that term obtained currency. It is massive and monumental, requiring an uncompromising commitment from players and audience, and it often brings out the best in orchestras. Though it is not exactly a standard repertory item, it has gained a secure place in symphonic culture. Bernstein premiered Turangalila in 1949 (why he never recorded it is a bit of a mystery); and maestros who have championed it represent a wide spectrum, including André Previn, Esa Pekka-Salonen, 12 Music in Concert January/February 2017

15 Ricardo Chailly, Kent Nagano, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, and (as I reported in ARG two issues ago) Hannu Lintu. It was gratifying to see the overflow audience sit attentively through this difficult 75- minute modernist symphony (according to Executive Director Clive Gillinson, this was the first sold-out Turangalila in Carnegie Hall s history). The orchestra played with a fullness, lushness, and glittering transparency that were not apparent in the earlier concerts. Turangalila is sometimes piercingly dissonant, sometimes lyrical to the point of schmaltziness. The slow movement, Garden of Love s Sleep, was so languid in this performance that it risked somnolence. This is the lengthiest section and the most radical in presenting music as static contemplation, an escape from time more Eastern than Western. The sensuous strings receded to the background, almost vanishing; Jean-Ives Thibaudet s piano and Cynthia Miller s ondes martinot came to the fore in what sounded like a surreal percussion concerto. The fast movements charged ahead with breathtaking speed and syncopated electricity. The long diatonic chord that concludes Turangaila, rising to the heavens in a blinding crescendo of light, allowed Dudamel to end his three concerts on a high note. He 0gave the audience a generous number of encores in the other concerts, but none this time. After Turangalila, there is no place to go. Dudamel and his orchestra have recently been criticized for representing Venezuela, a country afflicted with a despotic government and terrible poverty. But Russia, China, Poland, Hungary, and an increasing number of others (France is perhaps next) are ruled by totalitarian or neo-fascist regimes. As I write this, our country is threatened by one as well. Should audiences and concert managers shun those orchestras? For that matter, should the explicitly racist Brexit debacle disqualify British orchestras from our support? Where does it end? As Arthur Miller pointed out, we should, by this logic, renounce the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, since they practiced slavery. If it is our responsibility to protest injustice from Venezuelan tyrants to the planet-polluting Koch brothers who give the New York City Ballet its venue, it is also our duty to protect classical music, an ever-fragile glory of our civilization. Salonen and the Philharmonia in Berkeley Stravinsky and Ritual Jeff Dunn Time to get in ritual mode. Along with its principal conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra brought to the University of California Berkeley two Cal Performances concerts excerpted from a lauded series performed earlier last year at London s Southbank Centre. The Southbank series, Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals, was excerpted into two all-stravinsky concerts performed October 8 and 9 that included Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Agon, The Rite of Spring, Symphony of Psalms, and Oedipus Rex. The whole business got me thinking about what a ritual is and whether Stravinsky and company ritualized on a large enough scale to be effective in the dubious musical firmament of Zellerbach Hall. The California Wiccan Sharon Devlin has posited that the purpose of ritual is to change the mind of the human being and activate parts of the mind that are not activated by everyday activity. Sarah Perry, author of Every Cradle Is a Grave, notes that rituals conform to the following model: (1) traditional behaviors are performed, (2) time and other things are sacrificed, (3) mental states are evoked and emotional display is constrained, (4) certain aspects are opaque or concealed, and (5) a sacred or otherwise higher purpose is understood. As we know, all concerts are rituals fulfilling the above purposes. So how are the Stravinsky examples any more ritualistic than a concert of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, or Britten? I would say that in general they are not, but with these Stravinsky works there is perhaps a greater emphasis on the sacrificial and emotionally constraining elements of ritual. Perhaps for some, these elements, along with whatever is the conceptual higher purpose of the endeavor, are the signal attributes of a ritualistic work of art. In any case, let us go American Record Guide Music in Concert 13

16 Hadleigh Adams (Messenger/Creon/Tiresias) with Thomas Glenn (Shepherd) in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex at Cal Performances in Zellerbach Hall. through the five elements and see how effectively Salonen and his crew fared. Traditional behaviors were perfectly standard. The music itself, when premiered, was certainly not traditional. But by now all the works heard here are part of the Music History Bible as far as academics are concerned, and certainly The Rite of Spring and Symphony of Psalms have become traditional concert staples of 20th-Century programs. Rituals, by definition, should not have much in the way of the shock of the new. Indeed, I found nothing particularly new about Salonen s interpretations. The sacrificial element loomed large in the music. The music leading to human sacrifice in The Rite of Spring still raises heartbeats today and suggests that audience members abandon mental composure to the primitivism of strident acoustic and rhythmic elements. Salonen performed marvelously in this area by emphasizing contrasts in dynamics and tempo. Also sacrificed in the Rite, but far more apparent in the other works, is a sense of linearity and thematic development fostered in the classic-romantic German tradition. Stravinsky works with blocks of sound that come and go, inviting audiences to abandon efforts to detect changes in recurrent blocks that are similar. Time too is especially sacrificed in complex rhythms and in unexpected accents. In this element Salonen excelled, with his clarity of execution and crisp separation of blocks of sound in the Symphonies of Wind Instruments. The emotional constraint element is no more present in Rite than in any work of Wagner s, but the other Stravinsky works come with large dampers of affect. Much has been written about the numbing effect of World War I on the outgrowth of modernism in music, and in Stravinsky s case, his exile from his homeland as a source of emotional hardening. His embrace of neoclassicism and the cerebral aspects of music came to the fore in most of the works in these two concerts. Nevertheless, whatever Stravinsky tried to do to distance his audience in Oedipus Rex (such as use of Latin text) was trumped by the dramatic emotion of soloists and chorus. The facial and vocal expressions of Nicholas Phan made for a spellbinding Oedipus. Michelle DeYoung projected a towering presence as Jocasta. Hadleigh Adams was in fine voice as Creon and the Messenger. Powerful narration by Carl Lumbly and surtitles for the Latin brought anyone into the story who was unfamiliar with it. However much a composer would want to restrict emotional response, he cannot control artists interpretations and cultural superimpositions in the long term (assuming a work is worth re-performing). For instance, while listening to the abstractions of Agon, I could not help thinking of the humanity of the dancers I ve seen in video excerpts of the work. Even more dramatically, there was no way that I, a geologist, could not help mourning while visualizing the march of the dinosaurs from the Fantasia version of The Rite of Spring. Did these considerations de-ritualize the music? 14 Music in Concert January/February 2017

17 It is the opacity and concealed characteristic of ritual that especially applies to Agon. The great majority of listeners do not hear the hexachords and follow row permutations or marvel at musico-choreographic inter-structures. But those aspects are there for priestanalysts to examine. For me, the music, while not offensive and well conducted and performed by the Philharmonia, seems only half there without dancers. However geometric their motions, dancers add more heart and soul than the rarified music alone can supply. Soul is present in every note of the Alleluia of the Symphony of Psalms, the most higher purpose of the works in the Philharmonia series. It was magnificently sung by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Chorus, the Lund Male Chorus, and the Young Women s Chorus of San Francisco. The work reflects return to the Russian Orthodox faith in a state of religious and musical ebullience, as Stravinsky put it. The musicologist Jonathan Cross, consultant to the Southbank series and supplier of extensive program notes for Cal Performances, made much of the acts of supplication, the need for order, and the impersonal, distanced, and monumental nature of the music. Considering all the elements of ritual, therefore, the concerts fulfilled their original purpose superbly. The noble goal was met just as well by the skills of Salonen and his fellow musicians. The only major drawback was the deeply flawed acoustics of Zellerbach Hall, which doesn t properly project sounds from the back of the stage. A great plus to the ritual of concert-going was that, if audience members returned an hour after the concert, they could have heard Salonen conduct a master class with the UC Berkeley Orchestra and see him proudly display his bloodstained score of La Valse. The ritual methods of conducting with a baton were not foolproof for a highly demonstrative wielder such as Salonen. At a prior concert, he had broken his baton on his music stand during a particularly powerful sweep, then brought it back so far over his head that the serrated stump scratched his head, which began bleeding all over the place. The man made a blood sacrifice for our pleasure and the glory of music. What more can you ask of ritual? Minnesota Orchestra Present and Past Vanska and Skrowaczewski Conduct Michael Anthony The night of September 29, when Osmo Vanska returned to the stage of Orchestra Hall to take an additional bow and to share the applause with the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and the singers of the Minnesota Chorale, he made a surprising and quite touching gesture: he picked up the score off the conductor s stand and held it up, as if he were inviting the audience to applaud the music they had just heard. It was Vanska s way of saying that the person who should have walked on stage at that point but couldn t was the composer of the beguiling Mass that had just been performed, Stephen Paulus. Paulus, who died at 65 in St Paul in 2014 of complications from a stroke, was a significant and beloved figure in the life of this orchestra, in Minnesota music, and in the music world in general, having left behind some 600 compositions, among them commissions from many of the nation s major orchestras and choruses. Between 1983 and now, the Minnesota Orchestra performed 13 of Paulus s works. Paulus composed Mass for a Sacred Place, which took up the second half of the concert, for the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington DC. Paulus knew that the work would be premiered (in 2003) at Washington National Cathedral, a large reverberant space; so he constructed the vocal parts in blocks, rather like hymns, instead of overlapping and fugal passages, which wouldn t have been effective in the Cathedral s acoustics. The result what might be described as washes of sound is a 21-minute devotional work of impressive clarity and beauty. The orchestral forces are modest but well chosen. A blithe trumpet solo links the central Christe eleison with the return of the Kyrie eleison. The Agnus Dei, austere and introspective, American Record Guide Music in Concert 15

18 fades out gently at the end, as if sending a message of peace into outer space. Vanska drew a somber, sweet-toned performance from both orchestra and chorus. As an encore he led the same forces in Veil of Tears Hymn To the Eternal Flame, an excerpt from Paulus s powerful Holocaust oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, which Vanska and the orchestra premiered in 2005 and later recorded for BIS. The concert opened with a work by Bach, a composer not often played these days on symphony orchestra programs. This was the familiar Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and it was not very well performed. Tempos were appropriately peppy, but the horns were too loud, dominating the balance. Much better played and received was a welcome novelty offered just before intermission, Alberto Ginastera s Harp Concerto, probably the finest work for harp and orchestra composed in the 20th Century. The soloist was the orchestra s esteemed principal harp, Kathy Kienzle, who vividly addressed both the lyrical elements of this music and its rhythmic, driving force. (At intermission just outside the green room, Kienzle stood surrounded by harp students all of them young women signing programs. In her world, Kienzle is a star.) Two weeks later, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski made one of his all-too-rare appearances with the orchestra, events that have become special occasions, memories of which, one suspects, will be savored by audience members in years to come. The orchestra s conductor laureate is 93, which makes him the oldest major conductor working today. He is frail, to be sure, and yet he continues to travel, maintaining positions with orchestras in Germany and Japan, where he is revered as much as he is here. (In Japan hundreds of fans, mostly young people, line up at stage doors after his concerts, hoping to get his autograph. They bring him gifts.) Skrowaczewski s concerts at Orchestra Hall in mid-october were devoted to Bruckner s Symphony No. 8. Bruckner s music has long been one of his specialties. He speaks of my beloved Bruckner in conversations. This was the work he chose in 1979 to conclude his 19 years as music director of this orchestra. The performance he led October 14, though deeply considered, seemed hardly the work of a man in his twilight years. It was bold, vigorous, and dramatic, a prime example of what might be called this conductor s later style, a reading with a strong sense of direction, inevitability, and flow. Skrowaczewski has never been a stickler for wide contrasts in dynamics, as is Vanska. Instead he seeks to build organic structures with relatively flexible tempos and long developing lines that reach a summit of intensity. And the orchestra, with which Skrowaczewski has been affiliated in one capacity or another for 56 years, played with ardent precision, as they usually do for him. Perhaps chiefly through his influence, this has become a first-rate Bruckner ensemble: brasses that sound burnished and full, woodwinds that deliver tints in every shade, and strings that are warm, dark, and sensual. The first movement of this knotty, exhilarating 90-minute score sounded forth in all its grandeur and mystery. The Scherzo was robust but unrushed, and the ensuing Adagio was suitably calm and inward with a glowing climax. (Skrowaczewski conducted the entire work from memory. The score sat in front of him at the podium, but he never opened it.) As for the thorny problem of the various editions of this symphony, Skrowaczewski drew from several of them, using the first edition of 1887 for the final pages of the first movement what might be called the quiet ending. In keeping with the title of these Celebrating Skrowaczewski concerts, a documentary film about the conductor, Seeking the Infinite, drawing on the title of Fred Harris Jr s excellent biography, was shown in the lobby before the concert. Before the concert started, principal trumpet Manny Laureano read from the stage a brief tribute to Neville Marriner, who died October 2 at his home in London. Marriner succeeded Skrowaczewski as the orchestra s music director. He was to have conducted the orchestra in a pair of concerts in January. On another note, the orchestra appears to have recovered gracefully from its demoralizing 16-month lockout that stretched from October 2012 through January 2014 surely the worst crisis in its 114-year history. Three key positions were filled this year: principal clarinet, principal second violin, and associate principal cello. The playing, night after night, is confident and precise. Among projects recently announced is a recording with Vanska of Mahler s Symphony No. 6 for BIS. [Mr. Skrowaczewski had a stroke in November. Editor] 16 Music in Concert January/February 2017

19 Simon Rattle conducting the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Simon Rattle s New York Trifecta [In September and October Simon Rattle conducted the St Thomas Episcopal Church Choir of Men and Boys with the Orchestra of St Luke, Wagner s Tristan and Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera, and Mahler s Symphony No. 6 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Three ARG critics discuss the results. Editor] St Thomas Church Choir Orchestra of St Luke s James Harrington It was an unusual event to find one of the world s foremost conductors, Simon Rattle, leading a small orchestra and church choir in the heart of Manhattan on September 18 at St Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street. St Thomas has a well-known and highly respected music program, as well as the only resident choir school in the nation. The professional 41-year-old Orchestra of St Luke s regularly performs here, often in conjunction with the church s Choir of Men and Boys. John Scott, organist and music director for 11 years, died unexpectedly last year of a heart attack at age 59, and this concert was the last in a year-long series of performances in his honor. Proceeds from this sold-out concert (reported as over $300,000) went to benefit a scholarship at the choir school in Scott s name. This occasion also served to formally introduce Daniel Hyde as St Thomas new music director. There are several relationships here with Simon Rattle. Scott and Rattle were friends, and in 2014, the Boys Choir sang in Bach s St John Passion with Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Also, Rattle s nephew is a singer at Magdalen College, Oxford, where Hyde was the master of choristers. The program began with Vaughan Williams s Lark Ascending, an ethereal work well suited to performance in a church. Concertmaster Krista Feeney was soloist and supplied some of the most beautiful violin playing I ve heard in a long time. Here, as in all the other works, Rattle conducted without a baton, using only his hands and facial expressions. The orchestra responded to him exceptionally well. Organist Hyde followed with Bach s Prelude and Fugue, S 541, played on the church s Loening-Hancock baroque organ in the loft, above and behind the audience. Rattle went to the back of the orchestra and sat in the empty harpist s chair to listen. St Luke s strings then performed Elgar s Serenade for Strings with exceptional blend and balance always a challenge with a small number of players. No intermission preceded Fauré s Requiem, which requires the gathering of significantly larger forces. The choir consisted of 16 men and 16 boys, standing in two rows on steps across the back of the orchestra. The orchestra s brass and harp joined the rather crowded space on the floor between the pews and communion rail. An essential part of the orchestra is the organ, and now Hyde played the main instrument from its console in the front of the church. Rattle proved to be a singer s conductor in the Requiem. Fauré uses very subtle gradations in tempo and dynamics to achieve his desired effects; and, to be effective, meticulous attention to these details is required. Rattle certainly knew the score by heart and American Record Guide Music in Concert 17

20 mouthed every word, emphasizing the open vowels that make choristers sound best. His face was alive and continually inspirational from the sustained opening Requiem Aeternam all the way to the brief but powerful Dies Irae section of Libera Me and the final In Paradisum. Young baritone Daniel Moore was just right in his two solos. The soprano solo, Pie Jesu was sung by the entire treble section. It was Rattle s hands, though, that most impressed me. Whether palms were open, closed, or every gradation in between, facing up, down, and sideways, he imparted meaning to every phrase. Even his fingers were important to the music; whether they were close together or slowly spreading apart, the orchestra and choir responded as one. Metropolitan Opera: Tristan und Isolde James L Paulk The Metropolitan Opera opened its season on September 26 with Mariusz Trelinski s bold new production of Wagner s Tristan und Isolde, and it was a solid success all around. The company has seen massive change in the decade since Peter Gelb took control but has vacillated in terms of production style. Gelb clearly realized the need to Nina Stemme move into a new era, but his risk-averse approach has often led to productions that incorporated a modern aesthetic without embracing the metaphors, symbolism, and concepts that challenge the mind and underpin effective modern opera productions. A telling example of this was Robert Lepage s infamous Ring Cycle that first appeared in 2010, which turned out to be a rather vapid traditional staging mostly devoid of ideas, tarted up with modern technology: projections and a giant, noisy stage contraption. But François Girard s Parsifal in 2013 was more daring and effective: spare but thought-provoking. Wagner s stage directions place the first act of Tristan on a ship, with Tristan in control, bringing Isolde to King Marke for marriage. Trelinski s production made this a modern warship, cut open to reveal a series of decks, stairs, and chambers. He used it as the set for the second act as well. The extended journey was intended as a metaphor for Tristan s psychological journey from light to darkness, from sanity and life to passion, madness, and death very much at the center of this production. A nautical radar scanner was projected on a scrim during the prelude and reappeared from time to time. Trelinski s dissection of Tristan s psyche included a small child who first appears in a flickering newsreel-like projection during the prelude and reappears in person during the third act as Tristan hallucinates on his hospital deathbed. This was Tristan as an orphan child, and we witness the burning of what must have been his ancestral home. The details weren t clear, but it gave us another window into Tristan s tortured soul. Just as Tristan stabbed himself in the second act (rather than being done in by Melot), Isolde slashed her wrists just before singing the Liebestod at the end a more vivid representation of their shared death wish than in the original stage instructions. Nina Stemme was a mesmerizing Isolde. She seemed to be holding back at the beginning, almost covered by the gigantic sound from the pit and handicapped by her placement in a chamber at the very back of the Met stage. By the second act she was singing with force, demonstrating a range of emotions from violent anger to tender affection, always propelled by the consuming passion of her character. Her phrasing and intonation were exemplary. It was a performance of pure poetry. The Tristan voice may well be the rarest in the opera universe. Rarer still is the heldentenor who can fill the cavernous Metropolitan Opera House. Stuart Skelton had power to spare and a tone so beautiful it had an almost lyric quality. He was not a natural actor, but he sustained his character with his noble bearing, showing Tristan s pain in understated gestures. Ekaterina Gubanova sang as Brangäne with a lush silvery mezzo voice. The great René Pape was an imposing King Marke, regal in voice and bearing. And while he managed to nicely display the king s sad, tormented soul, he was followed around by a pack of thugs who, for example, knocked Tristan down and 18 Music in Concert January/February 2017

21 kicked him in Act II. Evgeny Nikitin was a fine, sturdy Kurwenal. Under Simon Rattle the orchestra played with ravishing beauty, incisive clarity, and admiral precision. His tempos were quite brisk, and he often used considerable volume, sometimes overwhelming the singers in the first act. Otherwise, his balances were exemplary, his textures rich in detail, and his surfaces always exciting, whether surging ahead or shimmering. Rarely have I heard a more rapturous performance of the second act love duet. Rattle explained that he used Gustav Mahler s markings in the score back when he conducted the opera at the Met. This was a night of great theater with the highest musical standards. It was also an auspicious example of what happens when the Met abandons its cautious approach and sanctions a daring, thoughtful production of a masterpiece. Mahler: Symphony No. 6 Philadelphia Orchestra Susan Brodie Simon Rattle is on something of a victory lap in the US this season: it s his last before taking over at the London Symphony, his penultimate season with the Berlin Philharmonic, and the second year of his twoseason residency at Carnegie Hall. Rattle opened the Philadelphia Orchestra s three-concert Carnegie Hall season on October 10 with a performance of Mahler s turbulent Symphony No. 6, a concert that almost didn t happen. On opening night of the orchestra s season in Philadelphia, a failure to reach agreement on a new contract led to the musicians walking out barely an hour before the concert. The work stoppage fortunately was resolved in a day, and the music went on; Rattle led Mahler s Symphony No. 6 in Philadelphia three days before the run-out to Carnegie. His intellectual approach avoided excess at some expense of expression, but the Philadelphia sound brought its own power to this massive work. This turbulent and pessimistic symphony, subtitled Tragic for Mahler s third performance in Vienna, belies the apparent happiness of the composer s life at the time: he had survived a period of ill health and had started a family with his beautiful young bride, Alma Schindler. His thriving career at the Vienna Court Opera relegated composing time to summers. Mahler began work on the symphony in 1903, dated the final manuscript May 1905, and premiered it a year later. He conducted the work only three times, and it was not a critical success. Despite its huge emotional payload, it is the most strictly classical of all of Mahler s symphonies. Rattle s approach reflected the balance of the form rather than lingering over each emotional hairpin turn. The first movement was a fateful heavy march, almost businesslike in its regularity, deviating very little in tempo among the three sections. The chorale theme, undermined by out-of-tune flutes, seemed rushed, and the soaring Alma theme wanted to stretch. Most worrying, the basses rang tubby and overpowered the upper strings, which sounded airy rather than glowing. It may have been my seat under the overhang, but the sound did not have the refinement I remembered from the last time I d heard Rattle conduct the Philadelphians. Following Mahler s own practice when he conducted the work (though he later specified differently), the Andante was played second. The tension between major and minor opened up the strings; they regained their characteristic sheen. In the turbulent Scherzo, Rattle finally allowed more flexibility with grand pauses, careening contrasts, and a sardonic edge that presaged Shostakovich. The galumphing pizzicatos of the ländler section invoked a drunken night on the verge of a brawl. It was as though another conductor had taken over. The final movement ambled; I wanted more tensile strength in the long chains of suspensions that wax and wane, climaxing in the final cataclysmic hammer blow of fate (Mahler originally incorporated three, then eliminated one of them, possibly out of superstition). But even with its longeurs, the 80 minutes of this hypnotic, powerful work were cathartic. Warmed up, Philadelphia and Mahler conquered the full house, leaving listeners reeling and cheering. [In the next issue there will be an article on the pair of programs Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic will have performed on their November tour of North America. Editor] American Record Guide Music in Concert 19

22 Steve Reich and Philip Glass at 80 [Two composers, whom one either loves or hates, both of whom thumbed not five but ten fingers at the serialist academics 50 or so years ago, celebrate their 80th birthdays just a few months apart Steve Reich born on October 3, 2016 in New York and Philip Glass on January 31, 2017 in Baltimore. Three September concerts paid them tribute.] Steve Reich Paul Hertelendy Clapping Music with MTT and Reich Can composer Steve Reich be identified as a major part of a 20th-Century Palestrina movement to save classical music? Recall the 16th-Century Palestrina, whose streamlined choral lines were credited with saving music from the ever greater complexities of refined polyphony. In a parallel vein, along with figures like Terry Riley and Philip Glass, this American maverick dared to break away from the prevalent fashion of highly dissonant atonal, serial, and 12-tone music (take your pick). A halfcentury ago Reich was writing consonant, gamelan-influenced, tonal music that did not break anyone s ear drums. It was a new religion with this New Yorker as its apostle. Or at the very least it was a marked revolution, still prevalent today. To celebrate Reich s 80th birthday the San Francisco Symphony devoted two seasonopening programs to Reich s music. It was audacious, as very few of Reich s compositions are symphonic, most of them written for chamber-sized groups. And where Reich formerly was performed in intimate halls, here at considerable risk the SFSO threw open three nights to his music at the 2400-capacity Davies Hall. The gamble paid off, with a whole new younger constituency rarely seen on subscription nights buying tickets and flooding the premises. Along with them came a bevy of outof-town music critics for a Reich festival that few would have predicted, way back when. Never forget that physics course you took it can help you where you least expect it. When I interviewed composer Steve Reich here in 1965, I referred to his musical style as phase-shift music, using terminology encountered in the theory of vibrations-oscillations in physics. He liked the term. I notice that in his current publicity material, half a century later, he still talks about his phaseshifting musical style. The essence of his style is a fast-paced, almost frenetic rhythm section with little variation, sometimes with an overlay of long-held notes on strings or winds. These elements change very gradually in the phase shift almost imperceptibly. The repetition of some short themes suggests minimalism, but minimalism with mobility, never unvaried. The effect of this is hypnotic, even mesmerizing, music that drew standing ovations, along with exclamations of I liked it! from my concert companion who is rarely seen in the forests of contemporary music. Wearing his trademark baseball cap, a retiring Reich finally appeared for the fans on stage, doing his debut hit Clapping Music with that early collaborator-conductor named Michael Tilson Thomas, who supplied the other half of the rhythmic applause between them providing all the sound and music needed. The crowd went wild. For me Reich s most powerful piece remains Different Trains, a multi-faceted social commentary reflecting cross-country railroad travel blended with word segments and reminiscences by Pullman porters. Various prerecorded tracks, some electronic, mixed with onstage sounds of a string quartet (the Kronos). The most chilling are allusions to the Nazi trains used to deport their captives to death camps in World War II. The high energy of the piece is irresistible, mixed in with blurred train whistles and sirens. 20 Music in Concert January/February 2017

23 Double Sextet has two identical teams playing different music in hard-driving New York style, the rhythm sections often drowning out the wind and string players. The elite contemporary group Eighth Blackbird made its first appearance in a large hall here, holding its own (for the most part) against some SFSO musicians. Six Marimbas brought back the legendary ex-sfso percussion principal Jack van Geem and his marimba entourage in a fast-flying drill that was simply letter-perfect. Electric Counterpart for solo electric guitar (Derek Johnson) was played against prerecorded guitar and electronics, giving it the essential jazzy bounce. The lone misfire of the I like Reich nights was Three Movements for double orchestra. It produced effects that would seem appropriate on duo-piano but here were inflated beyond all dimension. With Reich less is more, and small is beautiful, in the vein of Mies van der Rohe. Philip Glass Jeff Dunn It wasn t just a concert of piano etudes. It was a seasonal birthday celebration of a cultural phenomenon, Baltimore-born Philip Glass. A tag-team of Glass and four other pianists shared the duties of performing all 20 of the composer s works in that form in Stanford University s nearly sold-out Bing Auditorium. After three hours of arpeggiating their way into the soul of the audience, the five werer given cheers and a standing ovation except from the 15% of patrons that left at intermission. Not everyone likes the music of Philip Glass, but most do, and he s one of the wealthiest composers in America as a result. As the New York critic Richard Peters remarked, The magic of Glass s music is that, in its abstract simplicity, listeners can map their own meanings onto it. Egoless, abstract appreciation of aesthetic experiences is what Glass s music encourages. Quotes from the Web run the gamut from Its sort of like a groove that just gets going to It s beautiful, it s emotional, and it keeps people interested what more do you want. A detractor says No matter how elaborate or subtle his constructs are, for me the music is of a blaringly extreme paucity of idea that is part of its aesthetic, only to be countermanded by, classical curmudgeons hate nothing more than a composer with an audience and money, and love nothing more than deriding popular or financial success, coding their criticism with academic and theoretical haterade. I cannot say I am a fan of much of his music, but I must report that hearing the 20th etude after the preceding 19 was a transcendent experience lying somewhere between (a) being let into the sunlight after being locked in a cave for a year and (b) seeing planet Earth for the first time from a space station. The attributes of Etude 20 betray the shackles of the other 19. The emotive and freeform, seemingly improvisatory capstone to the set evolved into a masterwork after hours of barline-constrained, copy-and-paste, chord-obsessed rigidity. Continued on page 26 Anton Batagov, Sarah Cahill, Aaron Diehl, Jenny Lin and Philip Glass American Record Guide Music in Concert 21

24 Indianapolis in the Spotlight Two World Premieres and a Return to Carnegie Hall Richard Auldon Clark: Happy Birthday Wanda June Indianapolis Opera Jay Harvey Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut s acerbic, diffuse Happy Birthday Wanda June, the season-opening production of Indianapolis Opera, is a play given musical coherence and lyrical heft by Richard Auldon Clark, a composer friend of the writer in his New York years. At the opera s world premiere September 16 at Butler University s Schrott Center, the bloom emerged from the tight bud of Vonnegut obsessions: war, machismo, hypocrisy, cultural cliches and illusions, and death a seesaw with horror at one end, relief on the other. Shortly before his death in 2007, Vonnegut turned out a serviceable libretto for Clark. Happy Birthday, Wanda June deals with the homecoming of war hero and adventurer Harold Ryan to his big-city American apartment, only to find his wife beset by two suitors: a vacuum-cleaner salesman afflicted with hero worship and the Ryans family physician, a sentimental pacifist. Ryan has returned from exotic climes and challenges with an old pal, Colonel Looseleaf Harper, a bundle of nerves and regrets stemming from his having dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. Clark s score is a judiciously balanced amalgam of irony and passion. He is alert to Vonnegut s saving grace of humor. A perky, borderline banal tune for clarinet and other reeds keeps recurring. Snatches of march emerge in various guises. Smirking tributes to Harold Ryan s values abound. There are also cannily distributed glissandos in passages where the uncanny prevails. The harmonic language is wry, the phrases often laconic and abupt in ways that parallel Vonnegut s prose. With the efforts of stage director Eric Einhorn to enhance such elements, the premiere performance made the characters much more than representations of American life circa A less capable cast under less sure-handed direction might have rendered the long final act tedious, with family tensions and the threat of violence a little too overbearing. Matthew Kraemer conducted the capable cast and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra with well-coordinated flair. Attention to detail sometimes mind-boggling in the orchestration was acute from start to finish. As Harold Ryan, Jake Gardner maintained stunning bravado with deflating hints of vulnerability. Hanna Brammer aroused our sympathy as the self-possessed but understandably distracted Penelope. Branch Fields lent his aptly foggy basso to Looseleaf, a man undone by the dissolution of American life in 1970 and memories of what he did in the summer of Brett Sprague gave nuance and glorious tenor vocalism to the role of the hapless vacuum-cleaner salesman Herb Shuttle, and John Cudia evolved from overgrown flower child to an upstanding, if doomed, hero as the other suitor, Norbert Woodley. Kristin Gornstein made a charming, poignant effect in the pants role of Paul, the Ryans vexed teen-age son. A crucial aspect of the action came from a caricature of heaven. Vonnegut s well-known religious skepticism rendered a paradise populated by rollerskate-wearing, shuffleboardplaying deceased souls. It was a paradise of bland pleasures flecked with the occasional harmless disaster, such as the tornado that the third Mrs Ryan (given a fine tipsy lilt by Jill Gardner) sang about. With Stuart Duke s inspired lighting design to help, on heavenly terrain there was also the title character, a 10-year-old girl who was run down by an ice-cream truck on her birthday (lent a lively juvenile cuteness by Stephanie Feigenbaum), and baritone Galen Bower as the vigorous Nazi war criminal Major Von Koenigswald, one of Ryan s more deserving victims. Cameron Anderson s unit set imaginatively represented the trophy clutter of the Ryans apartment. In an apt touch of fantasy, antler racks, emblematic and menacing, were suspended above the stage at various heights, surrounding a tiger hide hanging over the livingroom couch. The unspoken motto: Prey Without Ceasing. 22 Music in Concert January/February 2017

25 Mohammed Fairouz: Zabur Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Children s Choir Susan Brodie 350 musicians filled the stage of Carnegie Hall for the New York premiere of Zabur by the gifted young composer Mohammed Fairouz and librettist Najla Said. With Artistic Director Eric Stark conducting the Indianapolis Symphonic Chorus, the Indianapolis Children s Choir, and the New York-based Mimesis Ensemble, the concert marked a triumphant return to Carnegie in celebration of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir s 80th season. Zabur s commission incorporated input from a city-wide consortium of leaders from arts, education, religious, and civic organizations. With a goal of expressing shared values that unite us as humankind, according to a program note, these organizers engaged in many months of discussion about the form and message of such a major commission. Zabur s coherence and sincerity belie years of intense debate among several faiths and interests in the Indianapolis community. Zabur is the Arabic word for psalms, and the work is structured around choral settings of texts from the Old Testament. The oratorio s setting is an unnamed middle-eastern city under siege: a group of frightened residents huddle inside a shelter, cut off from normal life. A poet and journalist, Dawoud (a version of the biblical David), suddenly unable to publish his writings to the outside world, is persuaded by his friend, Jibreel (the biblical angel Gabriel), to engage his fellow refugees in creating songs to express both the sorrow of their plight and the wonder of creation. In the end, all perish in an attack, but the art they have created lives on. The 55-minute score begins with a cacaphonic outburst in the orchestra and the terrified cries of the large chorus in the moments of destruction, a foreshadowing device reminiscent of the opening measures of Doctor Atomic. After an uneasy instrumental prelude, Dawoud (the smoothly eloquent baritone Michael Kelly) quietly describes the grim conditions inside the shelter and joins in singing Psalm 2, now prayerful, now in desperation. Jibreel (the expressive tenor Thomas Cooley) urges Dawoud to rest, then becomes curious about what his friend is writing. Jibreel prods Dawoud into helping the refugees direct their terror into making art ( You honestly have nothing left to lose, right? ). Choral interludes, mostly in Arabic, allow the refugees to express their fears and desires. The final hymn, based on Psalm 102, gives voice to the despair of the last moments while anticipating the immortality of the song they have created. Fairouz writes accessible music touched by many influences. Adams-like minimalism gives way to lyricism reminiscent of Dvorak; the ominous drive of an ostinato-driven passage relaxes into a choral hymn. His skill with orchestration extends to his vocal writing, for both solos and choruses. He shapes expressive melodic lines, even in non-tonal sections, and Continued on page 26 American Record Guide Music in Concert 23

26 Brentano Quartet Breaks the Mold Two Guests, Fresh Repertoire Joyce DiDonato, Brentano String Quartet Washington DC Charles McCardell As the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater renovation continues, many chamber music performances have been reassigned to other halls in the building. On October 5 the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series opened its 34th season in the Family Theater, a 324-seater that sacrifices a bit in acoustics to the 500+ capacity of the Terrace upstairs. These more intimate surroundings proved beneficial to mezzo Joyce DiDonato and the Brentano String Quartet; there was a more direct connection with the audience. The Brentano opened with four selections from Bach s Art of Fugue, which not only showed the group s elegant ensemble playing but also made a persuasive argument for the string quartet format as the preferred instruments to articulate Bach s deftly woven lines. Eight hands operated with the efficiency of a solo keyboardist even during the triple counterpoint excursions in the closing Contrapunctus XI. Then Haydn s Quartet, Op. 20:1, gave the Brentano a chance to mix in a little fun with the serious. First violinist Mark Steinberg took the lead in the meditative third movement, one of Haydn s most poignant statements, and brought a delicate sweet sadness to the melody. For all the significance of these two pieces Bach s last work and Haydn s template for string quartets of the future the evening needed a jolt. DiDonato obliged when she joined the Brentano for Jake Heggie s song cycle Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (texts by Gene Scheer). Heggie wrote the piece to salute the 30th anniversary of the Alexander String Quartet, based in San Francisco. DiDonato didn t hesitate when Heggie asked her to participate; the work was given its premiere in that city in 2012 and is dedicated to DiDonato. This remains a near-perfect match of singer and songs. Heggie s seven segments, which last about 35 minutes, are taut minidramas centered around the tragic life of French sculptor Camille Claudel (one of Rodin s lovers), who confronts her sculptures on the day she awaits her transport to an insane asylum. The composer cites Debussy s String Quartet as an influence, and one can hear this noticeably in the prelude and more subtly elsewhere. While DiDonato may have reached a pinnacle of strength and ferocity in Shakuntala, a figure from Hindu mythology, it was during The Gossips that the beauty of her voice came into full bloom over a bed of nervous, agitated strings. A beaming Heggie and Scheer graciously shared in the hearty applause. The Brentano-DiDonato partnership made the crowd want more. It s fairly difficult for a string quartet and a vocalist to wing it for an encore, but they were prepared. Having already offered five songs by Richard Strauss, they returned to him for an understated version of Morgen! As with Bach s Art of Fugue, the presence of a string quartet rather than a keyboard was an added pleasure, a treat for the audience and DiDonato alike. 24 Music in Concert January/February 2017

27 Jonathan Biss, Brentano Quartet Rochester NY Gil French Bravo to the Brentano Quartet for breaking what has become a pattern for string quartet concerts: start with a classical work (Haydn, Mozart), follow with a modern work, and end with a romantic one (Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms). In Rochester they opened with their own arrangement of four selections from Bach s Art of Fugue (as in Washington DC) but also played Bruce Adolphe s arrangement of works by Carlo Gesualdo. In DC they ended with a Jake Heggie song cycle; in Rochester they ended the first half with Elgar s neglected Piano Quintet, waiting till the concert s end for the familiar: Beethoven s last quartet. The October 23 Rochester concert was in the acoustically superb 444-seat Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, where my response to the Bach was the opposite of Charles McCardell s. From half-way back in the hall on the right side, the strings sounded not wiry but pedestrian without bloom, tone color, or character the kind of sound string players anywhere can produce. Yes, one player played in the treble or another in the bass range, but the other three filled a middle range pocket without ranking things for the ear. The music sounded generally squashed in the midrange. Fugues became muted muddles without the use of mutes. Was this because of the arrangement or the players or both (see below)? On the other hand, five madrigals from Gesualdo s Book VI were so brilliantly arranged by Bruce Adolphe (he calls the work Oh Gesualdo, Divine Tormentor!) that they felt like sweet release compared to the Bach. Tone colors abounded. Players filled the entire range from high treble to bass without any midrange constraint. Of course, Gesualdo helped too, especially since each madrigal Adolphe chose had a totally different character. Even without words, the music was powerfully rhetorical, like a man in a troubled relationship with a woman he deeply loves, alone in a room, pacing, exclaiming, interrogating, expressing both outrage and rapturous love, etc. I had no idea where anything was going nor did I care! (Logic isn t the nature of Gesualdo.) Here were high emotions so searing that the players couldn t help but be swept away. That sounds like a criticism, doesn t it? And it is. For the second half of the concert I moved up to the second row center, not 15 feet from the players, where the sound is balanced and embraces. Even in the midst of such passionate Gesualdo, first violinist Mark Steinberg played an open string (the second string I think) with that pedestrian sound I described above without bloom or character. That was what I felt during Elgar s Piano Quintet from further back during the first half. Don t get me wrong: the quartet s technique was impeccable, and their ensemble was absolutely perfect, not merely rhythmically but emotionally; they were truly one unit. But even in the Elgar, despite Nina Maria Lee s passionate playing, her cello sounded contained and not well projected. The overall blend was homogenous rather than transparent. Even Jonathan Biss s piano sounded as if he played loud passages while holding American Record Guide Music in Concert 25

28 down the soft pedal I m sure he didn t, but that was the effect. This work is symphonic in structure with a gait that is Edwardian in the royal sense. Despite the quartet s utter professionalism and Biss s authoritative presence and connection with the strings, they didn t have this rarely played Elgar in their blood yet. Their reserve in it was welcome (it s an easy work to blast away in), but all five artists are still a distance from owning it. What the Brentano did own was Beethoven s Quartet No. 16. Their freedom of flow, subtle rubato, and deep expression that veritably breathed allowed them to point the details and phrases in such a way that the overall structure and character of each movement was enhanced. And, believe me, each movement of Beethoven s last quartet has as much individual character as the Gesualdo, as Beethoven scatters echoes of past masterpieces across its 24 or so minutes. I was Allegretto, II gossamer, III truly tranquillo, and IV as interrogative as the Gesualdo. Accepting the Brentano s sound for what it is, one would have to be not only churlish but downright dense not to have been swept away by their performance. Indy from page 23 respects the shape and accents of the language. The wall of sound created by the massive chorus contrasted with the transparent sweetness of young voices, providing emotional range without requiring extended vocal techniques or unduly difficult writing. It sounded friendly to sing and was pleasing to the ear yet never saccharin. The first third of the program was performed by the Indianapolis Children s Choir, led by Artistic Director Joshua Pedde. The 90 young singers, accompanied by piano, drums, violin, and bass, were versatile, disciplined, and sweet-sounding in five highly varied contemporary choral settings. Jim Papoulis s energetic Sih r Khalaq, punctuated with gestures, claps and shouts, inspired an especially enthusiastic performance, though the meaning wasn t obvious without printed texts. Only in the context of a substantial program like this one could Britten s Illuminations for high voice and string orchestra, a song cycle with fantastical texts by Arthur Rimbaud, be regarded as a filler. The fine tenor was Thomas Cooley. With excellent French he infused these youthful and sensuous pieces with imagination and color. Glass from page 21 I apologize to Glass fans for my limitations in fully appreciating his mastery. Please attribute it to my degree-of-variety knob somehow being set too high. But here is what I did notice during the course of the concert: 11 etudes starting with a minor chord, 7 with a major, and 2 with major-minor super imposed triads. Etude No. 10 is almost entirely on the notes of a B-flat seventh chord. 5 etudes strongly evoked other composers: No. 1 with a Bachian melody (few of the etudes have melody in any length), No. 2 with an arpeggio reminiscent of the second movement of Rachmaninoff s Piano Concerto No. 2, No. 10 with an energy and melodic trill right out of Manuel de Falla s Ritual Fire Dance, No. 14 with a rare series of ecstatic major triads a la Messiaen; and No. 18 as a mishmash of Chopin s E-minor and Raindrop Preludes. Three pieces of note: No. 11, with its extravagant minor arpeggios; No. 12, with a pesky lower note of an arpeggiated triad that peppers out 60 shots at a time; and No. 15, a barcarolle that even Offenbach might find to his liking. Of the performers, Jenny Linn stood out as an exceptionally sensitive and technically robust interpreter (Nos. 7, 8, 19, 20). Aaron Diehl did an outstanding job in performance and memorization (Nos. 3, 4, 13, 14), Sarah Cahill was great in dynamic variation (Nos. 5, 6, 11, 12), but like the powerful Anton Batagov (Nos. 9, 10, 15, 16, 18) had trouble staying on the beat when there was a big reach in the left hand. Glass himself had a slightly drier approach than the others, with subtle rhythmic variations. Unfortunately, the technique with which he wrote these etudes had lost some of its sheen, resulting in some muddled sonorities. I give Glass credit for valuing concert performance at any age. He has a huge series of celebrations to attend this and next year. He quipped during the pre-concert interview that John Cage must have been so shocked when he saw a similar schedule in 1992; he died that year at 79. Well, Etude 20 is one etude to die for. 26 Music in Concert January/February 2017

29 Conductor Neville Marriner, 92, died at his home in London on October 2. While playing as principal second violin of the London Symphony, he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 1959, making prolific recordings of baroque and classical-era works, but always on modern instruments. He also was the first music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1969 to Expanding to larger ensembles, he was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986 and of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony from 1986 to When asked in Taipei in November 2015 why he still conducted, he simply replied, It keeps me alive. Here & There Appointments, Awards, & News American conductor Brett Mitchell, 37, will become the next music director of the Colorado Symphony in 2017, succeeding Andrew Litton, who joined the orchestra in Mitchell is currently the associate conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. British violinist Daniel Hope will become an artistic partner for three years of San Francisco s 19- member New Century Chamber Orchestra starting next season. Like Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who is stepping down at the end of this season after 10 years, he will lead the ensemble from the concertmaster s chair as NCCO searches for a new music director. Cristian Macelaru, 36, became the new music director and conductor of California s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in September, succeeding Marin Alsop, who resigned after 25 years. He is conductor-in-residence of the Philadelphia Orchestra and was winner of the 2014 Solti Conducting Award. This is the first music directorship for the Romanian-born conductor, who immigrated to the US at the age of 17. Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena signed a three-year contract to be principal conductor of Cincinnati s May Festival. Although his duties begin in 2017, it won t be until 2018 that he conducts his first two festival performances. He will work with a creative partner (a new one each season) and Director of Choruses Robert Porco in planning each season. American Record Guide Music in Concert 27

30 German conductor Eckart Preu [proy] signed a three -year contract and became music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in October. Last summer he signed another three-year contract to become music director of the Long Beach (CA) Symphony starting next season. He currently holds the same position with the Spokane and Stamford (CT) symphonies. Giancarlo Guerrero, 47, music director of the Nashville Symphony since 2009, extended his contract in September for an additional five years until British conductor Jonathan Cohen, who was born in 1977, signed a contract through 2021 to become music director of Quebec City s Violons du Roy this February, succeeding conductor Bernard Labadie, who founded the orchestra in 1984 and announced his departure in Cohen is the most recent artistic partner of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is also founding artistic director of Arcangelo, a UK music collective, and associate conductor of Les Arts Florissants. Englishman Alexander Prior, 24, will become music director of Canada s Edmonton Symphony next season, replacing American conductor William Eddins, 52, who will step down after 12 years, becoming music director emeritus. Prior is a wunderkind composer and conductor whose ballet Mowgli had its premiere with the Moscow State Ballet when he was 13. At 17 he graduated from the St Petersburg Conservatory and became assistant conductor of the Seattle Symphony. He recently conducted major works at the Royal Danish Opera, Opera Leipzig, and the Bavarian Opera. [See Concerts Everywhere for a review of Prior with the Edmonton Symphony.] Martyn Brabbins, 57, signed a contract in October extending through 2020 to be music director of the English National Opera effective immediately. He replaces Mark Wigglesworth, who quit last March. Brabbins was chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic from 2012 to Two three-year appointments at the Seoul Philharmonic began January 1: Germany s Markus Stenz, 51, is the new conductor-in-residence, and Switzerland s Thierry Fischer, 59, is the new principal guest conductor. Stenz is also chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. Fischer has been music director of the Utah Symphony since Two appointments for British conductor James Judd, 67, starting next season: he signed a twoyear contract to become artistic director and principal conductor of Korea s Daejeon Philharmonic next season, following the retirement of his predecessor. Also, he signed a three-year contract to become music director of the Slovak Philharmonic in Bratislava. He is also music director of the Israel Symphony. Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen, 36, signed a fouryear contract to become chief conductor of the German Radio Philharmonic in He is also chief conductor of the Japan Philharmonic and the Prague Symphony. Italian conductor Andrea Battistoni, born in 1987, moved up from principal guest conductor to chief conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic in October, succeeding Pietari Inkinen. He is also principal conductor of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and of the Arena di Verona. Placido Domingo, who turns 76 on January 21, extended his contract as general director of Los Angeles Opera to His appointment began in Music in Concert January/February 2017

31 Brent Assink, 61, executive director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1999, announced that he will resign from the orchestra later this year. A symbol of the orchestra s stability, he is only the fourth executive director since He worked closely with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas during his tenure. Trey Devey, 45, president of the Cincinnati Symphony since 2009, will leave in April to become president of the Interlochen Center for the Arts in June, replacing Jeffrey Kimpton, who is retiring after 14 years. Rita Shapiro, executive director of Washington DC s National Symphony, resigned December 31. Michael Geller, president and CEO of the American Composer Orchestra for 20 years, resigned at the end of Kevin Marvin became the new executive director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in December, succeeding David Pratt, who was recently named chief executive of Australia s Queensland Symphony. Marvin was formerly CEO of the Santa Barbara Chamber Symphony. In October the 76 musicians of the Santa Barbara (CA) Symphony agreed to another three-year contract. Annie Burridge signed a five-year contract and became the general director of the Austin (TX) Opera last November, replacing Joseph Spector, who left in April for Arizona Opera. Burridge had been managing director of Opera Philadelphia since 2015, a company she joined in Joseph Polisi, 68, president of the Juilliard School since 1984 and its longest serving, will step down in June Deborah Spar, 53, will become president and CEO of Lincoln Center in March, succeeding Jed Bernstein who left last April. She will depart as president of Barnard College more than a year before the expiration of her contract there. Marvin Krislov, 56, president of Oberlin College & Conservatory for the past 10 years, will leave his position in June. Richard Ortner, president of the Boston Conservatory, will step down in June after 18 years. Stephen McHolm, 46, became director of the Verbier Festival Academy in December. He departed Calgary s Honens Piano Competition as artistic director, after having been with the organization since Steve Friedlander moved up from general manager to managing director of California s Carmel Bach Festival in September. He was previously head of artistic operations at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole WY. Andrea Zietzschmann will become the new intendant of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2019, replacing Martin Hoffmann, who will be leaving when Kirill Petrenko replaces Simon Rattle as music director in Zietzschmann is currently manager of the North German Radio Symphony and Hamburg s Elbphilharmonic. She also founded the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with conductor Claudio Abbado in 1997 and worked with him at the Lucerne Festival. The San Francisco-based Telegraph String Quartet was the winner in September of the Naumberg Competition, devoted in 2016 to chamber music groups. During the season the quartet was the ensemble-in-residence for San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. Two days after the Philadelphia Orchestra s players walked off the job minutes before their September 30 season opener, a three-year contract was agreed upon, giving the players a 2% raise the first year and 2-1/2% the other two years, reaching a base pay of $137,800 by The 82 full-time musicians of the San Diego Symphony agreed in September to a new contract that will boost the minimum salary from American Record Guide Music in Concert 29

32 $70,000 to $80,000 over its five-year term through The Indianapolis Symphony agreed a year early to a three-year contract through 2020 that will give players a 9.3% raise by 2020, raising the base salary from $70,000 to $76,500, while raising the number of players from 74 to 76. This is a significant change over the past four years, when a lockout and two concessionary contracts caused players to seek work elsewhere. Good and bad news at the Buffalo Philharmonic: the orchestra s 73 players agreed to a six-year contract that will raise wages 12.6% by 2022 with minimum salaries rising from Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, 64, died in Budapest on November 6. He had serious heart surgery in Poor health forced him to withdraw from all commitments the month before his death. He was famous for his piano recordings of Bartok and Gyorgy Kurtag. He co-founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer in He was music director of the State Concert Orchestra, now the Hungarian National Philharmonic, from 1997 until he died. Jules Eskin, 85, principal cellist of the Boston Symphony since 1964, died of cancer on November 15 at his home in Brookline MA. He was to retire from the orchestra in South African tenor Johan Botha, 51, died in Vienna from cancer on September 8. He performed at the world s major opera houses, including Vienna, Milan, and London, and in 10 roles at the Metropolitan Opera since His Obituaries $48,120 to $54,177 based on 38 weeks of work and two weeks of vacation. At the same time, BPO Chairman Louis Ciminelli, a major contributor, was one of nine people charged in September by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara with federal fraud and bribery charges in the awarding of upstate economic development programs. Opera Omaha s Resident Music Director John Gawf, Jr, pleaded no contest to abuse of the vulnerable and was sentence to one to two years in jail for stealing about $113,000 from his mother, who suffers from dementia, to fuel a gambling habit. last performance was on August 13 in Cape Town at a benefit for the Cancer Association of South Africa. Paul Wolfe died on September 13 in Sarasota FL. Starting in 1961 as conductor for 35 years, he transformed the community-based Florida West Coast Symphony into what is now the professional Sarasota Orchestra, played in the Sarasota String Quartet, and co-founded the Sarasota Music Festival, whose final 2016 concert was in honor of his 90th birthday. Peter Allen, 96, voice of the Metropolitan Opera s Saturday afternoon broadcasts for 29 years, died at his home in Manhattan on October 8. No cause was given. In 1975 he succeeded Milton Cross, the broadcast s first host starting in 1931; Allen retired in Music in Concert January/February 2017

33 Opera Everywhere Soprano Pureum Jo as Dai Yu in a scene from Dream of the Red Chamber Sheng: Dream of the Red Chamber (world premiere) San Francisco Opera East is east, and west is west, and yes, the twain shall indeed meet if veteran composers like Bright Sheng have anything to say about it. His new Chinese opera-tragedy, Dream of the Red Chamber, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera on September 10, is a visually rich venture down this road that dramatizes a classic Chinese novel and setting, using an English libretto. The result is an opera closer to a musical Chinese banquet than to consistent theater. Once one survives the lengthy, opulent prologue, the love story offers high drama in its post-intermission fireworks. The work is a critique of the old ways in China, when wealth, stature, and position in the empire s pecking order were far more important than enterprise or good character. The family member who is the imperial concubine the most powerful woman of all drops from the top to the bottom at the Emperor s whim. Knocking the idealistic hero, the monk-narrator-author remarks wryly on the foolish mortals lost in the world of illusions. Reading between the lines reveals an implicit plea for a system without a central authority, such as democracy. So while this is a tale about bygone dynasties, it is also a work relevant to the 21st Century. The fantasy-to-reality plot is compelling, as the Stone and the Flower transform into human beings and later lovers. The Stone becomes the animated tenor role of Bao Yu, the biggest part in the opera (Yijie Shi, a tenor with a tireless trumpet-like voice). The Flower turns into the sensitive Dai Yu, a soprano role in the female-dominated cast. A manipulative relative s ruse separates the two and leads to the downfall of the dynastic family palace and all its inhabitants. With the pair forcibly separated and treading the world alone, the conclusion is poignant. Sheng, who became an American citizen in 1987, has created a rich listenable score, astutely combining both western and eastern instruments and aided by David Henry Hwang s everyday English. After the intermission, the slow-starting opera with a Romeo and Juliet-like love story turns into a whirlwind of betrayal, suicide, action, and reaction, ending in a Götterdämmerung-like conflagration that scatters the principals into isolated fragments that cannot be put back together. The complex production of 11 scenes, by designer Tim Yip and Director Stan Lai, is magnificent, both in the fast-changing array of sets as well as the lavish costumes. Fascinating mimes portray the transformation of Stone and Flower into humans in jaw-dropping fashion, while an array of women dancers portray the temptations of the flesh in the hero s vivid red dream, like a Chinese counterpart to the lurid opening ballet of Tannhäuser. The production had a trio of excellent lyric sopranos: Pureum Jo in the Flower role of the beloved Dai Yu, Irene Roberts as the other woman Bao Chai who is pushed to marry the hero, and Karen Chia-Ling Ho as Princess Jia, the imperial concubine. These were ably supplemented by the lower voices of the older generation: Granny Jia (Qiulin Zhang) and Lady Wang (Hyona Kim) who is the villain of Continued on page 45 American Record Guide Music in Concert 31

34 Soprano Keira Duffy as Bess and chorus in a scene from Breaking the Waves. Mazzoli: Breaking The Waves (world premiere) Opera Philadelphia It is rare indeed to see a new opera land on stage as fully realized as did Missy Mazzoli s Breaking the Waves on September 22. Conducted by Steven Osgood, it was the most impressive staging so far in Opera Philadelphia s Aurora Chamber series at the Kimmel Center. It is based on the award-winning film by Lars von Trier and was sensitively directed by James Darrah, who did not dilute its explicit sexual and violent content. The opera tells the tragic story of Bess McNeill, a troubled young woman trying to live her life away from the prying eyes and judgements of a strict religious town in Scotland. She marries Jan, a Norwegian man who works on an offshore oil rig. At their wedding Bess wants Jan to immediately take her, so they have sex in the bathroom so everyone will hear them. Bess is then nearly hysterical at the thought of being separated from Jan, when he must return to work for a month. Women must endure her mother tells her, but Bess s lets her insecurities take over at the thought of Jan leaving. Her mother tells her to control herself or it s the hospital for you again. When Jan is gravely injured in an explosion on the rig and left paralyzed, Bess s morbid fears let her blame herself for lusting after him. Jan precariously holds on to life and faces permanent paralysis from the neck down. Drugged and semi-comatose, his condition deteriorates. He tells Bess that, if she has sex with other men and tells him about it, it will give him the will to live. Bess s self-esteem is obliterated as she goes on a sex bender. She turns into a pathological sacrificial bargainer with God, meanwhile cruising bars and encountering sexually violent situations. She has imagined conversations with God, who confirms Jan s directive, and her reputation is now so sullied that at one point the elders call her a whore and stone her with bibles. This psychosexual stew of toxic religion and violent misogyny was dramatic to say the least. It seemed like a dated scenario out of The Scarlett Letter. But it made for grand chamber opera. Most fascinating is Mazzoli s score, both in its fusion of neo-classical styles and how invested it is with Royce Vavrek s eloquently spare libretto. Mazzoli admirably uses only momentary cinematic progressions in the pre-recorded interludes. Adam Rigg s abstract set design of metallic panels in concert with painterly video projections by Adam Larsen looked like the rustic coast or the oil rig. Rigg might want to rethink the clumsy, distracting wooden ramps, though, that represent the rocky Scottish terrain. David Portillo was the compassionate Dr Richardson; his tender tenor was perfect for his conversations with Bess. As Dodo, Bess s loyal friend, mezzo Eve Gigliotti radiated vocal warmth, but was bone chilling as she confronted the tyranny of the men: You have no right to judge, she thundered. And making the most of their brief scenes were Zachary James as Jan s buddy Terry, Marcus DeLoach as the minister, and especially Patricia Schuman as Bess s mother. Bess has to be one of the most emotionally demanding parts in all of opera, not only in its technical requirements but in the visceral emotion and physical demands of the part. Soprano Kiera Duffy was electrifying vocally, physically, and emotionally. Steely baritone John Moore played Jan with the swagger of a seaman, but vocally he was even more impressive as a man with little hope, paralyzed in his hospital bed. Continued on page Music in Concert January/February 2017

35 Lang: The Loser (world premiere) Brooklyn Academy of Music David Lang, who won a Pulitzer for his opera The Little Match Girl, is among the most experimental composers, and he likes to play around with ways to combine text and music. His latest venture, The Loser, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on September 7 (seen Sept 10) is essentially an hour-long monolog spoken, chanted, sung as arioso, and sometimes angrily shouted by a baritone in this case the gifted Rod Gilfrey against a backdrop of music that changes substantially over time. The tale, adapted from a novel by Thomas Bernhard, is quite dark. Gilfrey s character is the sole survivor of a trio of students who studied under Vladimir Horowitz at Salzburg s Mozarteum, the fabled music university. The others were Glenn Gould and a fellow named Wertheimer. Gould gave nicknames to the others: the professor for Gilfrey s character and the loser for Wertheimer. Confronted with Gould s genius, both eventually gave up the piano in despair, and Wertheimer is driven to suicide. As the events unfold, the monolog becomes more intense. Meanwhile, Baritone Rod Gilfry in The Loser. the accompaniment, by a small chamber group, starts out as staccato improvisation on the piano. Later, bass, viola, and cello perform simple repetitive motifs, accented by percussion. The same instruments later seem to mimic and echo the speech of the narrator. In the end, the piano played softly and this time was visible in the far back of the stage with the pianist, Conrad Tao, bent over the keyboard a la Gould, playing Bach s Goldberg Variations. The text is oddly powerful, and the William Tell must be the most famous opera that most opera lovers have never seen. New York audiences recently had the opportunity when the Metropolitan Opera mounted its first staging of the work in 80 years, its first ever in French, for eight performances (seen October 21). A strong cast and expert conducting overcame a frustrating production for a splendid if long evening. score has a subtler role than in traditional opera forms. But the music is elegant, carefully calibrated, nicely varied. The theory underlying homeopathic remedies is that their power is amplified by their dilution, so that as the dosage shrinks, the medicinal effect increases. Of course, not everyone agrees with this logic. But Lang s score is a rough musical approximation of the same approach, where less becomes more, strengthening and enhancing the story. It becomes apparent that there is an acute psychological dimension to the story. The loser isn t exactly a reliable narrator: he spins events, equivocates, argues with himself. He is the survivor, so we are left with only his version of events. But we ponder, What was the reality? The text becomes a meditation on failure, envy, guilt, and suicide, but also on how we revise and rewrite our own narrative. Like the music, the staging was intentionally modest and crafted with maximum respect for the primacy of the narration. This was done at the large BAM Opera House, but seating was limited to the mezzanine level the larger orchestra section was left empty. A simple tower with a spiral staircase was constructed for the narrator positioning him at the height of the audience, floating in front of us. The musicians were invisible somewhere below the tower, except for the piano at the end. In addition to possessing a fine, powerful, lyric voice, Gilfrey was an accomplished speaker and actor, with excellent diction (there were no projected titles, and there was no need for them) and a surprising range of emotions for such a reflective work. JAMES L PAULK American Record Guide Music in Concert 33

36 Rossini: William Tell Metropolitan Opera Sean Pannikar as Rodolphe in Rossini's Guillaume Tell. Rossini s final opera, written at the height of his popularity, exploited the lavish resources of the Paris Opera with grand demanding choruses, arias and ensembles both heroic and tender, and orchestral interludes that include two ballets and that famous overture. The committee-written libretto is based on Schiller s play about Tell, a medieval Swiss freedom fighter, and the uprising he led against the Austrian occupiers. When the village patriarch Melcthal refuses to betray a Swiss soldier who has defended his daughter, Melcthal is executed. Melcthal s son, Arnold, is secretly in love with the Austrian princess Matilde, but Tell persuades him to support the Swiss cause and abandon his hopeless love to avenge his father s death. When the Austrian overlord Gessler arrests Tell, the rebel famously wins his own and his son s freedom by shooting an apple off the boy s head. After more plot twists, in the end Tell kills Gessler and the Swiss are freed. William Tell contains torrents of extraordinary music, but the challenges in staging the unwieldy story were not solved by this production. Back in the day, the intact score would have stretched the evening past midnight, but the patrons in the boxes would have watched selectively while conducting their social life. Director Pierre Audi treated this numbers opera as a through-composed gesamtkunstwerk, trimming the score to just under four hours of music. George Tsypin s sets, abstractly reminiscent of rocks, mountains, structures, and a lake, shifted almost seamlessly during interludes but never established a sense of time and place. Characters skulked oddly in the background of scenes they did not appear in, overhearing things they were not meant to hear. Andrea Schmidt-Futterer s drab costumes made it difficult to distinguish the characters visually. In the large ensembles, groups made random moves in masses, making nice stage pictures unconnected to the music or the action. Kim Brandstrup s ballets were energetic and anachronistic, especially the baffling Act III mash-up of Austrian aristocrats in stylized Victorian riding gear performing an S&M pantomime and then forcing the peasants to dance. Jean Kalman s effective lighting supplied some compensation for the disappointing visuals. But William Tell relies on excellent singers, and the Met had them. In the title role, Gerald Finley portrayed authority, pathos, and determination in his burnished baritone. Matilda Rebeka was a wonderful Matilde, with a luscious, well-produced soprano with a slight French edge, agile coloratura, and glamorous and regal presence. Bryan Hymel as Arnold a part written for the famous high tenor Adolphe Nourrit mustered 20 solid high Cs for the evening, though strain has crept into his voice since his 2012 Met debut in Berlioz. Kwangchul Youn as Melcthal, Maria Zifchak as Tell s wife Hedwige, and Janai Brugger as Tell s son Jemmy, were strong and stylish on the Swiss side, and John Relyea as Gessler continued his thriving run of basso baddies. The Met chorus was excellent in the particularly demanding choral part. Fabio Luisi led the score with its frequent mood and tempo shifts with precision and unflagging energy. The opera will be broadcast on March 18, 2017, on the usual Met radio stations. It should be a wonderful performance to hear. SUSAN BRODIE 34 Music in Concert January/February 2017

37 Martin: Le Vin Herbe Chicago Opera Theater [Richard Ginell has reviewed several productions at the adventurous Long Beach (CA) Opera where Andreas Mitisek is general director. This is ARG s first review of a Mitisek production at his other opera company in Chicago. Ed.] Chicago Opera Theater launched its ambitious season September 30 at the Music Box Theatre, a venerable movie palace in the city s Lakeview neighborhood, with the local premiere of a fascinating rarity, Le Vin Herbe, the great Swiss composer Frank Martin s 1942 oratorio based on the Tristan and Isolde legend. (Chicago s second opera presented the work in Hugh MacDonald s English translation as The Love Potion.) A fine young ensemble and a simple, poetic production directed and designed by COT General Director Andreas Mitisek cast a spell of their own, making me wonder why this haunting and powerful score isn t heard more often. With its 600 seats, dry if clear acoustics, and faded Tuscan-palazzo kitsch, the theater supplied an appropriately intimate setting for listeners to acquaint themselves with the considerable merits of an unaccountably neglected masterpiece. Other than sharing the same story about the doomed lovers of Celtic myth retold as a medieval French saga, Martin s treatment has nothing in common with Richard Wagner s revolutionary opera. A 12-member vocal ensemble related the tragic tale, commenting on the implied action rather like a chorus in classic Greek tragedy. Singers stepped out of the ensemble to enact the principal characters. The drama and music concentrated not so much on the lovers themselves as on the storytelling, supported by a pit band of seven strings and piano. Martin s score flirts with Schoenbergian 12-tone writing but is most clearly indebted to Debussy-like impressionism, tinged with a Lani Stait & Bernard Holcomb faintly medieval archaicism. Half-lit textures are painted in pastels; chant-like vocal lines are driven by the text. There is a great deal more story here than in Wagner s opera. Whereas in Tristan und Isolde the intertwined themes of love and death assume primary importance, in Le Vin Herbe the themes are ritualized: you feel you are witnessing a ritual taking place beyond time, a mystery play at once ancient and modern, about romantic love transformed into supernatural love. The production reinforced this sense of timelessness. The singers, garbed in modern white and black attire, bore wooden poles that variously served as spears, oars, trees, and a headboard for the dying Tristan. The performers rose from seated positions to voice their parts, as video projections of sea, sailcloth, forest, and storm played across the large theater screen behind them (David Lee Bradke was the lighting designer). Joseph Bedier s original French text and Martin s music create a special atmosphere not unlike what is evoked by Debussy s opera Pelleas and Melisande, but that is rather compromised when the oratorio is sung in English, even in the good translation used here. That said, rendering the text intelligibly in the language of the audience was, Mitisek believed, the most important consideration. With their clear diction, the COT singers, most of them current or former members of COT s Young Artists program, justified the decision. Bernard Holcomb coped splendidly with the heroic demands of Tristan s vocal writing, his tenor firm and emotionally urgent. Lani Stait s lovely spinto soprano took on an unwelcome shrillness when faced with the high tessitura of Isolde s music, but she proved most sympathetic as the tormented heroine. The supporting roles were agreeably taken by Brittany Loewen as Branghien, Isolde s handmaiden and the unwitting instrument of the lovers destruction; Nicholas Davis, a powerfully sonorous King Mark; Jonathan Weyant, excellent in the tiny role of Tristan s faithful friend Kaherdin; and Kira Dills-DeSurra as the other Isolde, who betrays Tristan out of jealousy. The chamber orchestra, made up of personnel from the Chicago Philharmonic, was inside the score s gnarly technical and musical demands, under the firm, attentive command of conductor Emanuele Andrizzi. JOHN VON RHEIN American Record Guide Music in Concert 35

38 Rachmaninoff: Aleko; Leoncavallo: Pagliacci New York City Opera After a distinguished run of 60 years, New York City Opera went bankrupt and shut down in Last year, a new startup company opened with the name and much of the orchestra and chorus from before, performing two operas at the 1100-seat Rose Theater of Jazz at Lincoln Center, plus a chamber work and a concert. This season, which opened on September 8 with a double-bill of Rachmaninoff s rarely-heard Aleko and Leoncavallo s Pagliacci, includes four mainstage operas at the Rose Theater plus several chamber and concert performances. Headed by Michael Capasso and an entirely new team, the new company is still a startup, with a budget far smaller than the $44 million NYCO spent in The opera scene in New York has changed drastically in the past decade or so, with an explosion of new small opera companies more than 40 at last count all of which tend to cast young singers and most of which concentrate on new and unusual repertory. Most of these companies have annual budgets of less than $100,000 but somehow create serious work all over the city by harnessing volunteers. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Opera has grown into a behemoth with an operating budget exceeding $300 million and a hugely expanded audience owing to HD telecasts. NYCO is the sole occupant of the middle ground but must now compete with all these small fry while paying for everything including musicians and singers at a very different scale because of unions and contracts. But it also must compete with the ghost of the former company, highly respected for the quality of its work right up to its end. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, a founder of the old company, would have been shocked at the omission of the National Anthem on this first night of the season. A serious opera fan, he d likely have worried about the inconsistency of the singing as well. Aleko, written as a student project when Rachmaninoff was 19, is based on a Pushkin story. Sometimes it sounds like a classic Russian opera and especially like Tchaikovsky, but there are passages that presage the more modern sound that was to emerge from Rachmaninoff. With its heightened melodrama an old man is driven to murder by the infidelity of a much younger wife it comes across as Russian verismo ; pairing it with Pagliacci made sense. For both operas the production, conductor, and most of the cast were borrowed from Opera Carolina, which presented the same double-bill last April. In both works Lev Pugliese s simple production used minimal props and set them in a railroad freight yard with a boxcar in the background. In Aleko the finest performance came from bass Kevin Thompson as the Old Gypsy, whose deep, rich voice filled the theater. As the Young Gypsy, tenor Jason Karn had a tinny sound. Bass Stefan Szkafarowsky struggled with the vocal and physical demands of the title role. Soprano Inna Dukach as Aleko s wife sang with a tremulous sound that seemed about right in a gypsy camp. But dancer Andrei Kisselev stole the show with an athletic show-stopping sequence reminiscent of Stravinsky s Firebird. As Canio in Pagliacci Francesco Anile had a giant, dark voice with a pinging top. It wasn t the sweetest sound ever, but in this case he was made up to resemble a much older man, echoing the Aleko theme, and his performance took on an intensely tragic edge. Soprano Jessica Rose Cambio sang the role of Nedda with an agile, nicely colored voice and fine acting. Baritone Michael Corvino was a strong Tonio. Conductor James Meena got a rousing sound from the orchestra, especially for Pagliacci, but the evening was plagued by coordination problems and flubbed entrances. The chorus sounded swell. JAMES L PAULK Breaking Waves from page 32 Conductor Osgood s care with the score was ever present, and all in the 15-piece orchestra distinguished themselves. Special mention goes to percussionist Christopher Hanning s one-man matrix of rhythm and atmospherics. Director Darrah gave the dozen male choir singers a lot to do, whether they were clumped together as the condemning townsmen like a murder of crows, showing animated camaraderie in the oil rig scenes, or depicting scenes of sexual menace. Their clarion vocal dynamics were brought to full power by Opera Philadelphia Choral Director Elizabeth Braden. LEWIS WHITTINGTON 36 Music in Concert January/February 2017

39 Concerts Everywhere Jaakku Kuusisto: Violin Concerto Vahala, Lintu, Detroit Symphony I had the pleasure to see Hannu Lintu in De troit once before and was impressed by his leadership of an orchestra that can sometimes sound less than inspired under Music Director Leonard Slatkin. This October 29 program played directly to the conductor s strengths and to the orchestra s. There was superlative string playing and woodwind detail, and from the podium there was a directness and clarity that helped to corral a young and occasionally overzealous brass section. Make no mistake: the cornerstone of this excellent evening was the Violin Concerto (2012) by Jaakko Kuusisto, written for and performed by Elina Vahala (she was also the soloist at the US premiere with the Buffalo Philharmonic [J/F 2016, p 23]). The piece proved daringly Elina Vahala virtuosic and tremendously satisfying. Beginning with a challenging cadenza that flies in the face of conventional concerto writing, the technical demands on the soloist start from the very first bar. Kuusisto, himself a violinist as both a concertmaster and soloist clearly relished crafting solo lines that balanced melody and difficulty. I detected all sorts of influences here: Sibelius (Symphony No. 3, especially), Rautavaara, and even a splash of John Williams s theatrics. It s hard not to link Kuusisto and Sibelius, given that BIS Records included him as violinist so prominently in their complete edition devoted to the composer. Indeed there are also echoes of many of the composers that Kuusisto has worked with. Nonetheless, his concerto has a highly distinctive musical voice. Elina Vahala was incredible. As in Sibelius s concerto, much of the challenge here stems from balance and skill that many ears would mistake for ease. Although the Kuusisto is by far a flashier work in terms of pure fireworks, it also requires much nuance and poise. Whether rendering the achingly beautiful first movement melodies or finding repose in the heat of the finale, Vahala was unfazed. She played with total commitment and conveyed a genuine sense of discovery. If there were any downfalls, they were very minor. Although the first two movements are captivating, I found the third more exciting (and it is that!) than inventive. Also, Kuusisto created some wonderful aural effects using both percussion and strings, but I wondered if he used these once or twice too often. But this is nitpicking. I have never seen an audience respond so warmly to a modern piece, and the ovation was deserved. I would not be surprised to see more of the composer s work in Detroit. The rest of the program was just as fine. A crisp and clear view of Stravinsky s Divertimento from The Fairy s Kiss started the evening well, and Sibelius s Symphony No. 2 was mostly wonderful. A tuba flub and some oddly shaky cello solos didn t bother me, though I do wish that the transition to the symphony s finale had been cleaner. Still, the violin concerto was the main attraction, and a smashing success. BRIAN WIGMAN American Record Guide Music in Concert 37

40 New Chief Conductor Alexander Prior Edmonton Symphony The Edmonton Symphony has had its eye on British-born, Russian-trained conductor Alexander Prior for almost three years. Prior, who turned 24 in early October, has been the ESO s guest at least half a dozen times since early And on October 27 the ESO announced that, starting next season, Prior will be its chief conductor with a five-year contract, replacing Bill Eddins, who will assume an emeritus role after 12 years. Not coincidently, the announcement came just two days before Prior was to lead the orchestra in a program that included Nielsen s Symphony No. 2, Chopin s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Canadian pianist Charles Richard- Hamelin, and an obscure bit of Canadiana, Clermont Pepin s Variation Symphoniques. The Pepin, a piece of juvenilia, is a series of short, colorfully orchestrated ideas. The opening variation is funereal. Other sections bring out cheerful brass and charming string writing. The young Pepin didn t try to make his several musical notions do more than each was worth in the 14-minute piece. Prior coaxed volume and expression from the ESO sometimes athletically, but the physical engagement seemed appropriate for the musical intention. He conducted with both infectious enthusiasm and managerial precision, and the ESO played the theme and eight variations with excitement. Following the Pepin, Richard-Hamelin, silver medalist at the 2015 Chopin International Piano Competition, entered the stage demurely to play the Chopin concerto. Concerto No. 2 has few overt collaborative elements. Orchestra is foreground, then piano is the star. The exposed piano writing gave us a clear picture of the pianist s lyrical gifts. Both the more filigreed writing in the outside movements and the middle movement s slow, beautifully melodic passages had the feeling of a singer singing. The Larghetto was moving. The soloist s more virtuosic turns toward the finale never sounded self-conscious. To Prior s credit, he took his cues from the soloist. Richard- Hamelin treated the audience to Chopin s Polonaise in A-flat as an encore. Prior set the beat for Nielsen s Symphony No. 2. He controlled the performance with transparent cues and emotionally appropriate displays of conducting technique. His broad, dignified gestures in the majestic third movement, marked Andante Melancolico, were both visually effective and musically specific. He has a reputation for coming to work well prepared, and it showed. For the cheerful, Coplandesque fourth movement, with its bright strings and tricky quick staccato brass lines, the ebullient Prior persona emerged to bring the concert to an uplifting conclusion. The ESO appointment is Prior s first longterm contract. In 2007, a precocious 13-yearold Prior told music writer Norman Lebrecht where his ambition lay: I see myself one day as chief conductor at Bayreuth. One has to start somewhere. BILL RANKIN Chicago Symphony Catalani and Martucci Slowly but surely, Riccardo Muti has been taking the musicians of the Chicago Symphony and the Orchestra Hall audiences down nearly forgotten byways of the late 19th- and early 20th-Century Italian orchestral repertory. Not every piece has gone over with every listener; but most of the public, I think, has welcomed making the acquaintance of symphonic works practically nobody else is playing, works that are by no means mere curiosities and that can only benefit from the advocacy of a maestro long steeped in this repertory. The music director brought two more such scores both from the late 19th Century, both CSO premieres to the subscription series on September 29: Alfredo Catalani s Contemplazione (Contemplation) and Giuseppe Martucci s song cycle La Canzone dei Ricordi (The Song of Memories). Catalani is almost entirely known today for 38 Music in Concert January/February 2017

41 Joyce DiDonato and Ricardo Muti perform Martucci. his final opera, La Wally, whose poignantly beautiful aria Ebben? Ne Andro Lontana brought him his 15 minutes of fame thanks to its prominent use in the 1981 French cult film Diva. But La Wally has pretty much faded from sight, leaving Catalani only a handful of smaller pieces, including this early tone poem, to sustain his reputation. Contemplazione (1878) is a 12-minute study in hushed, tender lyricism, a pensive aria without words. Catalani s Italian late-romantic idiom reminds one of the intermezzo from Mascagni s opera Cavalleria Rusticana, which it predates by 12 years. There also is a wash of Wagnerian harmony in the big climax preceding the quiet close. Muti and the orchestra made a most effective case for this modest, if ingratiating, piece. Wagner s influence looms even more strongly in Martucci s settings (orchestrated in 1898) of poems by Rocco Emanuele Pagliara. Martucci led the Italian premiere of Tristan and Isolde. He stands almost alone among Italian composers of his period as having written not a single opera; the seven elegiac songs that make up La Canzone dei Ricordi offer tantalizing glimpses of what might have been. The cycle is suffused with feelings of love and loss, regret and remembrance, a sense of rapturous if fleeting happiness common to fin de siecle Italian poetry and music. The music is ravishingly beautiful, perfectly constructed; it says what it has to say with the utmost delicacy of feeling. Everything is understated but no less vivid for that. If the song cycle doesn t hold you in its grip the way those of Mahler (a fervent champion of Martucci s music, by the way) do, neither does it try to indeed, its restraint may be its most winning feature. La Canzone dei Ricordi surely deserves wider currency than it has. It was hard to imagine a more compelling soloist than mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, a Chicago favorite making her CSO debut. She floated the vocal lines with a pliant, warmly appealing sound that was even in quality over its range, with a wealth of subtle colorings, clear Italian diction, and an interpretive intelligence that was caring of every twilit mood and complex emotion. Here was a performance as alluring as the tangerine-colored, neo-grecian, off-the-shoulder gown DiDonato sported. The diva was at her very best where the music was best the penultimate song, to whose rueful remembrance she brought a rapturous intensity of tone and touching expressive identification. Muti secured a magical orchestral fade into the seventh and final song, which returned to the mood of the first. DiDonato could not have wished for an accompanist more considerate of balance or an orchestra more alive to such evocative effects as the babbling brook of the second song or the shimmering ocean waves of the fourth. This was the third Martucci piece Muti has led during his CSO tenure and the best of the American Record Guide Music in Concert 39

42 lot. It s worth noting that the Neapolitan maestro recorded both the Catalani and Martucci works with the Scala Philharmonic for Sony during his tenure as music director of La Scala in the 1990s. Muti ended the program with Beethoven s Symphony No. 7. It had much in its favor: power, weight, clarity, and implacable rhythmic drive, to be sure, but also a degree of Italianate warmth that brought this masterpiece down from Olympus and gave it a more human sensibility. This was particularly true of the slow movement, where Muti gave full expression to the music s tragic pathos by paying unusually close heed to the score s soft dynamics. All repeats were observed, and the biting scherzo found both maestro and music airborne. You might say this Beethoven s Seventh combined the fire of Georg Solti with the warmth of Carlo Maria Giulini, but in the end it was very much Muti s own interpretation. The musicians responded trenchantly to the demands their chief made on them. JOHN VON RHEIN Saariaho at Park Avenue Armory New York At an October pre-concert discussion in the Park Avenue Armory, Finnish composer Kaija Saariajo noted with displeasure that musicians don t move to her music the way they do when they play Brahms. But the soloists and New York Philharmonic players moved around plenty during Circle Map, the title of a concert not like an all-brahms one. In 2012 the Philharmonic appeared in the Armory s cavernous Wade Thompson Drill Hall with a program of Boulez, Mozart, Stockhausen, and Ives. One of several creative concoctions of departing Music Director Alan Gilbert, it was called Philharmonic 360, a title that may have referred to the circular arrangement of bleachers for the audience. The mixed- Clarinettist Kari Kriikku media Saariaho event in October, where three of the four pieces were New York premieres, was conceived and conducted by Philharmonic Artist-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen and was repeated the next evening. Although orchestral performances in front of large screens with films or images are increasingly popular, the audience in the drill hall, whose wooden ceiling looks like an airplane hangar, was on bleachers and floor cushions placed in a giant semi-circle, facing the orchestra and screen. There is no backstage, so soloists Kari Kriikku in Saariaho s Clarinet Concerto and soprano Jennifer Zetlan in Lonh walked in and out through several entrances, past Jennifer Zetlan Soprano the audience, to the conductor and orchestra in the center. The mise-en-espace was designed by Pierre Audi, the Armory s artistic director, and the video projections by longtime Saariajo collaborator Jean-Baptiste Barriere. To display the screen and draw attention to the soloists, elegant sensitive lighting by Jennifer Tipton kept the hall as dark as a movie theater, with a spotlight on the conductor and individual lights for the musicians, who played the 90-minute program without break or intermission. Saariajo is a musical introvert. Much of her sound, certainly on this program, involves slow, sustained tones in the strings and low instruments, with a range of percussion from high and jangly to low and fuzzy. She thrives on inspiration from colleagues in the arts, to whom her works are dedicated. Lumiere et Pesanteur (2009) was composed for Salonen, her countryman and musical cheerleader. It was performed under a screen with abstract images soft light blue shapes on a rust field. At one point a 40 Music in Concert January/February 2017

43 faint image of a lady and a unicorn appeared, its symbolism to be clarified later. D om le Vrai Sens (2010), the Clarinet Concerto, whose movements celebrate the five senses, was inspired by six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries and was written for the whiteclad clarinet virtuoso Kari Kriikku, who performed it here. He oscillated, strutted, and knelt as he played, his activity and distance from any given spot altering his instrument s timbre. The return of the Lady and the Unicorn evoked bardic tradition and tapestries referring to the senses. The welcome Touch was the concerto s most festive movement, accompanied on the screen by orange patchy cloud formations (greenish during other movements) that joined the music s flutters and crackles. At one point violinists rose from their seats and quietly played their way offstage not the Farewell Symphony because they returned. L Amour de Loin, an opera from 2000, was presented at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in December. Lonh (1996), composed for Dawn Upshaw, served as a preview. Jennifer Zetlan, in a black gown and holding a score, was the modest-mannered star, making the listener feel safe ( She ll get this right, as she did a week later in the title role of Louis Karchin s new opera, Jane Eyre, swiftly followed by a solo gig with the Oratorio Society of New York). As she sang, her image on screen was encompassed by rich vermilion circles and folk-like Nicholas Roerich-like shapes and colors as well as medieval tapestries. The 27-minute Circle Map (2012) was the concert s title and final piece. On the screen were writings by the Persian poet Rumi; in the orchestra were long low notes punctuated by sounds of wood and steel jangle, clonk. A filmed hand wrote slowly in Persian, but the writing became circles and eddies over a preponderance of brass, drums, and gong. The program included electronics. Some was compelling, some monotonous or elusive. But orchestra, soloists, and images had moments of inviting sensuality and moments that exuded comfort. I m not entirely clear on what I saw, but I m sure I saw something significant, which I plan to investigate further at an all-saariaho concert by Axiom, Juilliard s percussion ensemble. LESLIE KANDELL Chung: Red Cliff (world premiere) Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Dirk Brossé was named music director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in 2012 and has been pushing to expanding COP s classical repertoire to include more premieres and commissions. He is a prolific composer himself in many genres, including musical theater and film, and has been an advocate for contemporary orchestral music. In Philadelphia Brossé is also very connected to the vibrant alternative music scene and has arranged for chamber music collaborations in places like World Cafe Live that have the potential to attract new audiences. The concert opener in the Perelman Theater October 9-10 was an example of Brossé s putting together a program that showed the full dimensions of the Chamber Orchestra s 33 musicians. He loves to talk about the music before a concert, but for this packed program he kept his comments brief, before robustly launching into Jacques Ibert s Homage to Mozart (1956), which shows Mozart s enduring allure to contemporary classicists. Then in Mozart s Piano Concerto No. 23, following the orchestra s charging introduction, Philadelphia-based pianist Ching-Yun Hu was at one with the orchestra as he seemed to zone in over the keys, performing with interpretive immediacy. But it was during the Adagio that Hu s technical artistry was most luminous and Mozart s concepts most profound. Brossé s tempos were masterly, almost a tutorial in authenticity. Hu s virtuosic Mozart was a vivid prologue to the world premiere of Taiwanese composer Yiu-kwong Chung s Red Cliff, a tone poem for piano and orchestra that depicts an epic Chinese battle for mountainous borders. The piano depicts the ancient story in a fusion of Taiwanese classicism and symphonic narrative in four continuous sections. Hu s performance seemed flawless and entrancing, especially her musical dialog with Andy Lin, seated at the front of the orchestra playing the erhu, an ancient Chinese string instrument. Hu s pounding chromatic keyboard runs, some American Record Guide Music in Concert 41

44 punctuated with flute fanfares, built as the orchestra galloped to the climax, but the lingering mystical atmosphere of erhu and piano was also thrilling. Brossé had to coax the composer onto the stage for his bow. Brossé invited Geoffrey McDonald, a young conductor and specialist in the baroque, to guest conduct the overture to The Happy Keys by Juan Crisostomo Arriaga, a violinist and composer who was called the Basque Mozart (he died at 20). This joyous performance of this short brilliant overture conveyed such promise. Brossé closed the program with Haydn s Symphony No. 99, but the second half of the concert couldn t compete with the first half. This textbook performance seemed underpowered and rote in key moments. LEWIS WHITTINGTON Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Mansurian: Violin Concerto No. 2 The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra s season will be the last for its multi-talented Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, who has been at the helm for 20 seasons, much longer than any of his predecessors. Once over-scheduled in every way, he has been gradually relinquishing his regular posts the Santa Rosa and Colorado symphonies and now the LACO. Nevertheless, Kahane intends to bow out with a flourish of activity, most notably an idealistic, region-wide, three-week Lift Every Voice festival in January with a special emphasis on Kurt Weill, who, it turns out, was a cousin of one of Kahane s grandmothers. For the first concert of Kahane s final season at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on September 24, the agenda was one of stark contrasts some ebullient affirmations of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven wrapped like a sunlight sandwich around the gloom of Tigran Mansurian s Violin Concerto No. 2. Mansurian is no stranger to Glendale; he lives there half of the year at his daughter s house, spending the rest of his time in his native Armenia. And it was a no-brainer to program this piece in the center of the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia and to have Movses Pogossian, a Mansurian friend, compatriot, and local champion of Armenian music, play the solo part. The concerto is a thing of mourning at first, with a pronounced Armenian Composer Tigran Mansurian folk flavor in its scales, becoming more animated as it progresses, giving way to ethereal contemplation and even comforting thoughts, but never quite escaping the bleak overall mood. If anything, the 21-minute work evokes the late works of Shostakovich (the opening of Symphony No. 14 comes most readily to mind). Playing from memory, Pogossian nailed the piece s microtonal glides, agitated passages, and extended soliloquies way up in the violin s highest register. Indeed, the strength and fervor of this performance made a better case for the piece than the composersanctioned ECM recording. David Washburn was the superb, clear-cut trumpet soloist and Joelle Harvey the at-firstuncertain soprano in the Bach Cantata No. 51, where the multi-tasking Kahane served as harpsichordist, organist, and conductor. As a whole, it was a terrific performance, the LACO s expert players rattling through the counterpoint with infectious joy. Harvey was all warmed up for the built-in encore, the Alleluia from Mozart s motet Exsultate, Jubilate, singing jubilantly with a propulsive push from Kahane. Before Beethoven s Symphony No. 7, Kahane went off on a long scholarly discourse about his studies of the Greek classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, astutely pointing out the uncanny similarities of Beethoven s rhythms with those in the poetry of Homer (Beethoven s hero). Thus, it was a surprise that the rhythms of this Seventh didn t leap or dance, one reason being that the tempos in the third and fourth movements were too fast. For all of Kahane s intellectual and physical energy and the expertise of his players, there was no liftoff. RICHARD GINELL 42 Music in Concert January/February 2017

45 Abril: Partitas (world premiere) Hillary Hahn with Robert Levin Washington DC The 50th Anniversary Season of the Washington Performing Arts keeps rolling along at a steady clip with two world premieres offered by violinist Hilary Hahn on October 28, following close on the heels of the complete Bach Cello Suites performed by Alisa Weilerstein. The centerpieces of the first WPA concert held at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall this season completed a set, namely the final three installments of the Six Partitas for solo violin by Spanish composer Anton Garcia Abril. WPA, at the request of Hahn, commissioned them, and the violinist introduced Partitas Nos. 1 to 3 at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda, Maryland, last spring. This is new territory for WPA, which wants to modernize the classical music concert experience by placing new works in the hands of established stars. The Abril-Hahn pairing is a positive step. Abril s Six Partitas came about after he completed Three Sighs, a Hahn commission that she recorded for her 2015 Grammy Awardwinning album In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. His partitas seek to blend intellect and communication, reflected in the polyphonic writing and in how the music strives to embody aspects of Hahn s personality. Each title bears a letter from her name: Partitas Nos. 4 to 6 read Art, Reflexive, You. Art, which she premiered two nights earlier in Los Angeles, displayed some post-romantic angst, topped off by a quieter call and response between the low and high strings. The official debuts of Reflexive and You upped the emotional and technical antes. Reflexive began as a lament over a pedal note, escalated into a feverish rhapsody, then, with mute in place, returned to its senses before the final notes evaporate. You perhaps best captured the essence of Hahn with a firebrand mentality anchored by an unswayable, disciplined manner of tackling the physical demands. This had can t miss written all over it, and the audience sprang to its feet applauding her and Abril, who joined her on stage. Hahn and pianist Robert Levin avoided a three premieres, no waiting scenario by inserting an unrelated work between each partita. Bach s Sonata No. 6, an odd five-movement design, benefitted from Levin s exuberant play. He had the central Allegro all to himself and effectively laid out its dance rhythms. Levin appeared solo for Träume (Dreams), dedicated to him by Romanian composer Hans Peter Türk, who wrote it in memory of his late wife. The music s mysterious restless nature allowed Levin some improvisatory freedom to resolve the fragmented statements. His skill in depicting this musical dream state was impressive. Once reunited, Hahn and Levin turned Mozart s Violin Sonata, K 481, into a model of refinement and elegance. The music glided so effortlessly that a smattering of applause erupted after the first movement. Patrons longing for the ultimate bravura moment by the duo had their wishes granted with Schubert s Rondo Brillant, D 895. There s no second fiddle here Schubert wrote demanding parts for two virtuosos a quality both Hahn and Levin had, though not at the expense of clarity or continuity. How do you top this? You don t, so the pair chose Max Richter s Mercy for the encore. This is the final track on Hahn s Encores collection and was the appropriate, soothing last word before the crowd reluctantly headed for the exits. CHARLES MCCARDELL American Record Guide Music in Concert 43

46 Alisa Weilerstein: Bach s Solo Cello Suites Washington DC The presentation of Bach s complete Cello Suites is always an event and a rite of passage for any performer willing and able to prepare for such an endurance contest. This is particularly true for the rare occasion when a cellist plays the six suites, lasting nearly two and a half hours, in succession without an intermission. The prospect of cramped hands, a sweaty fingerboard, or a shredded bow intensifies the physical demands in a true marathon setting grueling for the artist and taxing for many listeners. The conventional option is to divide the works into two three-suite halves. That s how the program read for Alisa Weilerstein s concert on October 16 at the University of the District of Columbia s Theater of the Arts: Suites 3-5, a break, then Suites 2, 1, and 6. It resembled a 2-CD track listing where the pieces have to be sequenced out of order because of timing concerns. The only thing that made sense was that No. 6 appeared last, though No. 1, which is about half as long, preceded it. Weilerstein fortunately changed the plan. She played the suites chronologically in groups of two with two intermissions. One had to respect her decision, since it also took into account the audience s commitment to a long afternoon or evening of music. Weilerstein entered the stage confidently, dressed to impress with a tangerine-colored sleeveless top, skin-tight black pants and silver stiletto heels, whose spikes together equaled the length of her cello s endpin. She plunged right into the long journey through Bach s 36 movements. The familiar Suite No. 1 came across as unusually quiet and tentative in spots, with the up-tempo Courante not as fluid in phrasing as one might have expected. She found her momentum in the darker-hued Suite No. 2, for good reason. Someone had neglected to turn off the ventilation system before the show started, so there was an annoying cloud of white noise hovering overhead until the midpoint of No. 2. A baffle positioned behind Weilerstein helped somewhat, but it didn t make much difference until the unwanted ambient sounds expired. Without this intrusion, one could better appreciate how well she delivered the lyrical lines of the Sarabande, adorned with a combination of double stops and trills. Suites 4 and 5 brought out the best in Weilerstein, who was in the zone. The seriousness of the first three movements of No. 4 yielded to the pensive Sarabande, where the music lets down its emotional guard. She did a magnificent job capturing the feelings expressed by the melodies and suspended chords. Indeed, her luscious tone flourished in the slow sections. She also had speed and dexterity to burn in the breathless Gavotte of No. 5. The concluding No. 6 placed her in uncomfortable territory, navigating the upper end of the fingerboard. She battled and prevailed. Some cellists have used a five-string instrument to perform this suite. Near the end, a sparingly used D drone note drew an unexpected Wow! from an audience member. This was Weilerstein s second of four concerts this season devoted to the complete Cello Suites of Bach and the second one in two days; she kicked off this series the previous afternoon at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts. By taking on this challenge, Weilerstein, 34, joins a select club of cellists. And at this early stage, she is a member in very good standing. CHARLES MCCARDELL Emerson Quartet with RenØe Fleming Los Angeles Time is passing. The Emerson String Quartet has become one of the longest running quartets in the world 40 years and counting. Renée Fleming is 57 and winding down her career, at least on the operatic stage. With nothing really left to prove, these established stars nevertheless have been trying to do something different over the last couple of years, touring together with a program loaded 44 Music in Concert January/February 2017

47 with post-mahlerian Viennese expressionism from the 1920s and 30s. Record buyers have already heard this concert s selections via a Decca recording that has been out since October 2015, as have many concertgoers (see Tanglewood wrap-up in the previous issue). So Walt Disney Concert Hall was a relatively late stop for Fleming and the Emersons on October 18. First, the Emersons played Brahms s Quartet No. 2 perhaps as a way to illustrate the state of German music before tonality started to wobble. But their performance did not settle in and coalesce until the final movement. Then Fleming introduced Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Egon Wellesz ( ), an unsung Viennese figure who avoided Nazi persecution by happening to be in Amsterdam when the Anschluss occurred. He later found academic security at Oxford in England, but his music tumbled into an obscurity from which it has only partly emerged in the undertow from the current revival of Entartete Musik composers. The melancholy texts for the cycle s five songs are taken from Browning s Sonnets from the Portuguese. Here they are in German via Rainer Rilke s translations. Neither as extreme as the most dedicated dodecaphonists nor as retrograde as the post-romantic holdouts of his time, Wellesz s score straddles the middle ground, often straying into atonal Schoenberg country, yet always landing on its tonal feet. Yet despite a fully engaged performance by the Emersons, with Fleming exploiting her rich luxuriant middle and lower ranges, they could not convince one set of ears mine that this is first-rate music. But Berg s amazing Lyric Suite with its now slashing, now seductive, meticulously workedout emotional charge, is first-rate music and has been considered so since its premiere, even before George Perle s 1977 revelation of Berg s autobiographical subtext (an affair with a married woman). The news-making aspect of the Emerson s performance is that it included the rarely-performed version of the sixth movement on which Berg overlaid a text by Baudelaire. This gave Fleming another chance to shine, this time in full operatic voice. The vocal line basically traces what the viola, and then the violins, are doing, occasionally going it alone. The program, like the recording, came with a built-in encore, which in this tour stop had some local resonance. It was a gentle, thoroughly diatonic song, Komm, Süsser Tod by Erich Zeisl ( ), another Viennese refugee who, like several of his colleagues, settled in Los Angeles and wrote film music (to his regret). The audience did not fill all of the available seats in Disney Hall surprising for a Fleming concert. But I would attribute that to the esoteric, if enterprising, program. RICHARD S GINELL Red Chamber from page 31 the piece. George Manahan conducted, responsive to both singers and musicians. The lasting impression of this luxurious production was the musical eloquence, rising to the occasion dramatically and flowing effectively into reflective arias. The septet just before intermission is a classic achievement rarely essayed by living composers. The opera s flaw is visual and static, as the ho-hum opening act fails to pose a dramatic turning point for its finale and the ensuing intermission. From the San Francisco Opera this piece will span the Pacific as it heads toward its Hong Kong premiere six months later. The story is a very thin slice out of a long epic 18th- Century novel, linking old-style courtly machinations with fairy-tale elements. In bridging the ocean, it introduces audiences to a work as familiar as Moby Dick is in China and La Boheme is in the US. The crux of the matter is not whether this opera will be the next Turandot hit; it s whether it can link two highly contrasting cultures and eras. It does. PAUL HERTELENDY American Record Guide Music in Concert 45

48 Critics Choice 2016 We asked our writers to list the best 10% (maximum) of what they reviewed in Some do not include reissues, but some do. Some list them in order of preference, others alphabetically, others in order published. We list the issue so you can reread the reviews. George Adams Danish String Quartet (Ades, Norgard, Abrahamsen) ECM 24848, S/O FAIROUZ: No Orpheus, Naxos , M/J SHARP: The Boreal, Starkland 222, M/A MATTHUSEN: Pieces for People, Innova 920, M/A ROSENBOOM: Naked Curvature, Tzadik 4009, J/F Paul Althouse BRAHMS: Quartets 1+2 (New Orford Qt) Bridge 9464, M/A BRAHMS: Violin Sonatas 2+3; SCHUMANN: Romances; FAE Sonata (Faust) Harmonia Mundi , M/J BRAHMS: Piano Music (Couteau, 6CD) LDV 1705, J/A BRAHMS: Piano Pieces, opp ; Waltzes; Hungarian Variations (Plowright) BIS 2127, J/A BACH: St Matthew Passion (dance choreography by John Neumeier) Arthaus , S/O: vid BOCCHERINI: Flute Quintet; BRAHMS: Piano Quintet (Bridgehampton Chamber Music) BCMF 2015, N/D John W Barker HANDEL: Agrippina (Cummings) Accent 26404, M/A HANDEL: Imeneo (Bondi) Glossa , J/A LASSUS: Biographie Musicale V (Meunier) Musique en Wallonie 1579, M/A NIELSEN: Maskarade (Schonwandt) DaCapo , J/F RAMEAU: Le Temple de Gloire (Van Waas) Ricercare 363, M/J STRADELLA: String Sinfonias (Cerra) Brilliant 95942, J/A Anne Boleyn s Songbook (Alamire) Obsidian 715, M/A: 200 Cyprus: Between East & West (Cappella Romana) Cappella Romana 416, M/J: 186 Alan Becker SCHUBERT, SCHUMANN: Piano (Gieseking) Urania , S/O STRAUSS: Piano Pieces 2 (Bunuccelli) Dynamic 7748, S/O LEVITZKI, GABRILOWITSCH, FRIEDMAN: Piano Pieces (Glebov) Toccata 334, S/O Love and Death: Verdi & Wagner (Vazquez) Piano Classics 101, S/O: 214 Charles Brewer VIVALDI: Viola d Amore Concertos (Rachel Barton Pine) Cedille 159, J/F LANTINS: Chansons (Miroir de Musique) Ricercar 365, J/A DUFAY: Masses (Cut Circle) Musique en Wallonie 1577, S/O MUFFAT: In Labore Requies Mass (Cappella Murensis) Audite 97539, N/D Stephen Chakwin MAHLER: Symphony 10 (Dausgard) SSM 1011, N/D MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde (C Davis) Arthaus , M/A: vid Robert Delcamp DUPRE: Organ Pieces (Dupre) Mercury , M/J Light and Dark and In Between (Luchese, org) Raven 964 J/A: 238 BACH: Transcriptions (Bouvard; Espinasse, org) LDV 26, S/O REGER: Organ Pieces (Schmeding) Cybele 51501, S/O Virgil Fox Remembered (Conte) Raven 976, S/O: 209 Stephen Estep DETT: Piano Pieces (Erickson) Navona 6013, M/A From a Tender Age (Rowland; Monte Trio) Genuin 15369, M/A: 175 FAURE: Chamber Music with Piano Alpha 228, M/J MOZART: Violin Sonatas K ; STRAVINSKY: Divertimento (Hoppe) Claves 1403, M/J Elliot Fisch SAINTON: Moby Dick (Stromberg) Naxos , M/A American Romantics (Gowanus Arts Ensemble) New Focus 166, J/A: 219 Dance Passion (Gomez-Tagle) Ars 38183, J/A: 241 CHARLAP: Peter Pan ( TV) VAI 8203, J/F: vid STRAUSS,J: Wiener Blut (Morbische Festival) VidL 14, M/A: vid 46 January/February 2017

49 Gil French FRITZ: Symphonies, Violin Concerto (Schayegh, Kesselbaum Ensemble) Musiques Suisse 6283, J/F BACH: Violin Concertos (Ibragimova) Hyperion 68068, M/J MAGNARD: Violin Sonata; STEPHAN: Groteske (Ingolfsson) Accentus , J/A Voyage au Pays du Tendre et de l Effroi (Oxalys) Passacaille 1017, J/A: 222 Bill Gatens BACH: Mass in B minor (Rademann) Carus , J/F BACH: Lutheran Masses (Suzuki) BIS , M/A+J/A Poetry in Music (Christophers) Coro 16134, M/A: 206 TAVERNER: Corona Spinea Mass (Phillips) Gimell 46, M/J TALLIS: Vol. 6 (Carwood) Hyperion 68121, S/O Allen Gimbel TORKE: Concerto for Orchestra (Petrenko), Ecstatic 92261, M/A PETTERSSON: Symphony 13 (Lindberg) BIS 2190, J/A BRAHMS: Symphony 1 (Segerstam) Alba 390, N/D Todd Gorman DAMASE & FRANCAIX: Flute Pieces (Wilson & Damase) Nimbus 6304, N/D MOZART: Flute Quartets (Hurel; Quatuor Voce) Alpha 204, J/F PAISIBLE: Recorder Sonatas (Hell) Paladino 71, S/O ROMAN: 12 Flute Sonatas (Musica Ad Rhenum) Brilliant 95214, J/A Guy Raffalli: Reinecke, Schubert, Weber Gallo 1462, M/J: 168 Vayu (Assimakopoulos) AMP 18, M/A: 182 Phil Greenfield BLISS: Morning Heroes; Apollo (Davis) Chandos 5159, M/A The Deer s Cry: Byrd, Tallis, Part (Christophers) Coro 16140, S/O: 231 HAYDN: Creation (Herreweghe) Phi 18, M/J HAYDN: Creation (Christophers) Coro 16135, M/A JANACEK: Slavonic Mass (Gardner) Chandos 5165, S/O STEINBERG: Passion Week (Fox) Naxos , N/D THOMPSON: Requiem (Hayes) Naxos , S/O Patrick Hanudel MESSIAEN: Quartet for the End of Time; Theme & Variations (Pryn, Sonstad, Wennesz, Hyldig) Danacord 756, J/F Musica Virtuosa: Grimal, Gonzalez de la Rubia, Meseguer, Pardo, Pico, Pladevall, Steurer (Fuster, Hernandez) Columna 341, M/J: 165 RABL: Clarinet Quartet; Violin Sonata; Fantasy Pieces (Laurenceau, Fenyo, Fuchs, Triendl) CPO , J/A A Place Toward Other Places: Albright, Broening, Carter (Hawkins) Oberlin 1301, S/O: 200 MOZART: Gran Partita (Pinnock) Linn 516, S/O James Harrington American Intersections (Schumann & Magalhaes) TwoPianists , M/A: 193 BARTOK: 2 Piano Sonata; with DEBUSSY & SCHUMANN (Argerich & Barenboim) DG , J/A DVORAK: From the Bohemian Forest; Dumky (Pizarro & Zhok) Odradek 323, M/J MEDTNER: Piano Pieces; RACHMANINOFF: Preludes (Sudbin) BIS 1848, J/A RACHMANINOFF: Variations (Trifonov) DG , J/F SATIE: 2-Piano Pieces (Peitz & Tabakov) Accentus , M/A: vid SMETANA: Czech Dances (Ohlsson) Hyperion 68062, S/O WILD: Rachmaninoff Song Arrangements (Miglietta) Piano Classics 102, N/D Rob Haskins Inspirare (Watras) Sono Luminus 70002, J/F: 191 CAGE: Flute Pieces 1 (Zenz) Naxos , M/J BACH: French Suites & Overture (Feltsman) Nimbus 6314, J/A EISENGA: Piano Concerto+ (Bouwhuis) Zefir 9606, J/A REICH: Electric Counterpoint (Lippel) New Focus 165, J/A New Generations (Barnes) Orange Mountain 107, J/A: FELDMAN: Palais de Mari (Osborne) Hyperion 68108, S/O BACH: Partitas (Schepkin) Steinway 30062, N/D Roger Hecht COPLAND: Billy the Kid; Rodeo; El Salon Mexico; Outdoor Overture (Litton) BIS 2164, M/J RADECKE: Symphony; King John Overture; Nachtmusik; 2 Scherzos (Zehnder) CPO , S/O RESPIGHI: Sinfonia Drammatica; Belfagor Overture (Neschling) BIS 2210, N/D SCHOENBERG: Pelleas and Melisande; Violin Concerto (Stenz) Oehms 445, M/A American Record Guide 47

50 STRAUSS: Symphony 2; Don Juan (Weigle) Oehms 890, M/A SZYMANOWSKI: Symphony 2; LUTOSLAWS- KI: Livre pour Orchestre; Funeral Music (Liebreich) Accentus 30349, J/A Erin Heisel BRODY: Songs (Keutsch) Albany 1595, M/J BERG: Songs (Bentely) Centaur 3459, S/O CSANYI-WILLS: Songs (Domnich) Toccata 329, S/O Notes From the Asylum (McCaldin) Champs Hill 111, S/O: 236 Bouillabaisse (Pollak) PB , S/O: 236 Nordic Winter (Sjoberg) Daco 755, N/D: 201 Sang Woo Kang Folding Time (Yang) Albany 1572, J/F: 199 Martha Argerich: Early Recordings DG , N/D: 170 LISZT: Piano Pieces (Formenti) Kairos 13292, J/F SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in C minor; Impromptus (Lugansky) Ambroisie 214, M/J SCHUMANN: Piano Sonatas 1+2; Presto Passionato; Toccata (Baglini) Decca , J/A SCHUMANN: Album for the Young (Feltsman) Nimbus 6307, S/O FIELD: Nocturnes (Roe) Decca , S/O Kenneth Keaton CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO: Platero y Yo (Wynberg, Fox) ATMA 2725, M/A Baroque Moments (Amadeus Duo) Naxos , M/A: 184 Latin American Guitar (Cho) Brilliant 95094, J/A: 231 Fantasias (Boyd) Little Mystery 103, S/O: 203 Stars of the Guitar (Biers, Ceku, Dylla, Ibison, Jearakul, Refik, Topchii) Beau Fleuve 94982, S/O: 203 Catalan Songs & Dances (Halasz) BIS 2029, S/O: 204 Espressivo (Cordover) Cala 77022, N/D: 161 Pavel Kukhta Naxos , N/D: 162 Barry Kilpatrick GABRIELI: Sacrae Symphoniae (National Brass Ensemble) Oberlin 1504, J/F GABRIELI: Choir & Brass (Cleobury) Kings 12, M/A HERSCH: Last Autumn (Hersch, Gaisford) Innova 907, J/F NATHAN: Three by Three (Rui) Albany 1586, J/F Sacred Feast (Bergeron) 2 for S, J/F: 200 Swedish Trombone Wilderness (Karlin) Genuin 15337, J/F: 202 Brilliant Brass (Vienna-Berlin Quintet) Tudor 7201, M/A: 177 Agitato (Palfalvi) Berlin 682, M/J: 184 Jennifer Montone, horn Albany 1612, S/O: 215 Kraig Lamper (in Newest Music) TORVUND: Willibald Motor Landscape; Neon Forest Space; Wolf Studies; Plastic Waves Aurora 5078, J/A MOTSCHMANN: Skywhite; Parhelia; Echoes and Drones; Flow Expansion; Rotor; Headland; Electric Fields; Tenebrae; Hidden Tracks Berlin 700, N/D ALBANESE: Nel Buio; Time Has Changed; Migrants; Shadow Land; Silent Fall; Celine; And We Follow the Night; The Boat and the Cove; The Blue Hour; Interlude; My Piano Night; Stellify Berlin 685, N/D Infinite Winds Sunnyside 1400, J/F Objects at an Exhibition NMC 215, M/J Documerica Innova 936, M/J Bradley Lehman Mersenne s Clavichord (Charlston) Divine Art 25134, J/F: 190 BACH: Violin Sonatas (Schayegh, Halubek) Glossa , J/A ROMAN: Keyboard Sonatas 7-12; AGRELL: Sonata 2 (Paradiso) BIS 2135, J/A MOZART: Piano Sonatas 1-6 (Prosseda) Decca , S/O MOZART: Harpsichord Duets (Timpanaro, Policardo) Stradivarius 37045, N/D Mark Lehman DUTILLEUX: Cello Concerto (Bertrand) HM , M/A KOCH: Symphonies 3+4 (Hammarstrom) BIS 2169, M/J Neglected Works for Piano (Forsberg) DB 170, S/O: 211 Peter Loewen SCHUTZ: Symphoniae Sacrae I (Weser-Renaissance Bremen) CPO , J/F Las Ciudades de Oro (L Harmonie des Saisons) ATMA 2702, J/A: 257 ROSENMULLER: Marian Vespers (Hanover Boychoir) Rondeau , J/A SCHUTZ: Symphoniae Sacrae III (Rademann) Carus 83258, J/A PEKIEL: Masses & Motets (Kosendiak) Acousence 222, N/D Joseph Magil Shiksa (St John) Ancalagon 143 [SACD], J/F: 207 Paul Doktor Romeo 7317, M/J: 201 BRAHMS: Violin Sonatas (Kogan) Archipel 355, S/O: arc 48 January/February 2017

51 PROKOFIEFF: Violin Sonatas (Pietsch) Audite , N/D SCRIABIN: Symphonies 1+4 (Pletnev) Pentatone 5186, M/A Catherine Moore Notturno (Escadron Volant) Evidence 21, J/A: 260 BERTALI: La Maddalena (Scherzi Musicali) Ricercar 367, N/D David Moore Songs from the Arc of Life (Ma, Stott) Sony 10316; J/F; 182 CHIN: Cello Concerto 1; Symphony 3 (Yang; Taiwan/Lu) Naxos , J/F VAINBERG: Cello, Violin, Flute Concertos (Rostropovich, Kogan, Korneyev) Melodiya 2315, M/A RONTGEN: Violin, Cello Pieces (Kipp, Troe) Thorofon 2628, M/J ROTA, ROSS: Double Bass Concertos (Chirkov) Nasswetter 20292, M/J VASKS: Cello, Organ, Orchestra (Gabettas) Sony 42312, M/J ADLER: Symphony 6; Cello Concerto (Hornung, Serebrier) Linn 545, S/O BACH,CPE: 3 Cello Concertos (Steckel) Hanssler 15045, S/O LAWES: Solo Lyra Viol (Boothby) Harmonia Mundi , S/O MOZART: String Quintets (Auryn Quartet, Imai) Tacet 217, N/D Robert Moore Neere (Gens) Alpha 215, M/A: 210 This Other Eden (Whately) Champs Hill 94, M/A: 214 KORNGOLD: Songs (Jarnot) Capriccio 5252, M/J BRITTEN: Serenade (Clayton) Linn 478, S/O HOWELLS: Collegium Regale (Trinity College Choir) Hyperion 68105, S/O Songs (Boesch) Onyx 4149, N/D A Very English Christmas (Tenebrae) Signum 902, N/D: 199 Don O Connor British Overtures 2 (Gamba) Chandos 10898, S/O: 192 BUTTERWORTH: Orchestral Works (Russman) BIS 2195, N/D GOLDMARK: Rustic Wedding Symphony; Prometheus Bound (Beermann) CPO , S/O KOECHLIN: Songs (Theodoresco) Timpani 1234, M/A ORNSTEIN: Quintet; Quartet 2 (Pacifica) Hyperion 68084, J/F SCHMIDT: Book with Seven Seals (Young) Oehms 1840, J/A Luke Pfeil Thomas Hecker, oboe Genuin 15345, J/F: 192 Woodwinds of the Concertgebouw RCO 15008, J/A: 252 Wordless Verses (Jackson Trio) Oberlin 1603, S/O: 208 David Reynolds Himmelslieder Britten, Part, Poulenc (SWR/ Marcus Creed) SWR 19015, N/D: 198 Jack Sullivan JANACEK: Moravian Folk Songs (Jankova, Kral, Kahanek) Supraphon 4183, M/A ROTA: Piano Pieces (Seibert) CPO , S/O SABANEEV: Piano Pieces 1 (Schafer) Genuin 15380, S/O WORTHINGTON: Dream Vapors (Winstin, Vronsky, Marisnescu) Navona 6025, J/A Donald Vroon ARENSKY: Piano Quintet+ (Spectrum Berlin) Naxos , J/F ATTERBERG: Cello Concerto; Horn Concerto (Rasilainen) CPO 99874, J/F CHOPIN: Piano Concerto 2+ (Barabino) Claudio 6021, J/F CHOPIN: Mazurkas (Urasin) Brilliant 95215, S/O GADE: Violin Concerto (Irnberger) Gramola 99075, M/A GRANADOS: Piano Quintet (Perianes) HM , M/A MARTINU: Spalicek; Rhapsody-Concerto (Jarvi) Chandos 10885, M/J NIELSEN: Violin Concerto (Blacher) Acousence 22115, S/O RACHMANINOFF: Moments Musicaux (Giltburg) Naxos , S/O TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony 6 (Honeck) Reference 720, S/O Stephen Wright LISZT: Piano Concertos; Malediction (Kantorow) BIS 2100, J/F GINASTERA: Piano Pieces (Vacatello) Brilliant 94736, M/J GRANADOS: Goyescas; Poetic Scenes; Intermezzo; El Pelele (Celis) BIS 2122, J/A TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto; STRAVIN- SKY: The Wedding (Kopatchinskaja) Sony 16512, J/A DVORAK: Cello Concerto; MARTINU: Concerto 1 (Poltera) BIS 2157, S/O American Record Guide 49

52 ADAMS: Scheherazade 2 Leila Josefowicz, v; St Louis Symphony/ David Robertson Nonesuch minutes John Adams s Scheherazade 2 ( ), a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra, uses Berlioz as structural, but not stylistic, inspiration. The beautiful subject appears in a number of situations, all vaguely taken from their origin in the Arabian Nights stories and cast as a colorful but opaque four-movement symphony with concertante violin, played here by the magnificent Leila Josefowicz. There is a complex first movement, a dreamy love scene, a confrontational scherzo (the most substantial of the movements), and a haunting epilogue to conclude. As you would expect from this great composer, the music is in an expanded tonality the composer himself suggests Sibelius, Prokofieff, Bartok, and Berg as influences and if you admire those composers you are sure to admire this as well. I did find my mind wandering more than usual with Adams, probably owing to the details of the subject matter, but if you are willing to throw yourself into it there is much to admire. Notes by the composer. GIMBEL ALKAN: Concerto for Solo Piano; Sonatine Stefan Lindgren Nosag minutes Anyone good enough to record and release an in-concert recording of Alkan s monumental Concerto for Solo Piano is worth listening to. The work is composed of three etudes: numbers 8, 9, and 10 from the Op. 39 set in all the minor keys. Etude 8 in G-sharp minor is 72 pages long and typically takes half an hour to perform. Etudes 9 (C-sharp minor, 18 pages) and 10 (F-sharp minor, 31 pages) each run about 11 minutes. I have known and enjoyed this Mount Everest of romantic piano music since John Ogdon s and Ronald Smith s 1970s recordings. But it was Marc-Andre Hamelin s first recording (M&A 724, Jan/Feb 1993) that really opened my eyes and made my jaw drop. Lindgren here, in a 50-minute work, takes only 32 seconds more than that Hamelin recording. Guide to Records He was recorded in a Stockholm concert in November 2000, and he is almost note perfect! The Sonatine, a little sonata, is a very accessible, yet still virtuosic work that runs about 20 minutes. Lindgren s 1992 studio recording is quite good and stands with any. His is a clean, crisp performance that doesn t skimp on legato melodic lines. He always makes good musical choices. My only criticism is the final few seconds, where Hamelin makes a very exciting acceleration (as written by Alkan) to the final chord and Lindgren, already playing at a very fast tempo, does not. The sound quality here is good, but not as exceptional as Hyperion. For anyone looking to explore the world of Alkan, I can think of no other single disc that would serve as well as this one. HARRINGTON ALWYN: Symphony; see Collections ARENSKY: Trio 1; see ENESCO AUERBACH: Arcanum; SHOSTAKOVICH: 12 Preludes, op 34 Kim Kashkashian, va; Lera Auerbach, p ECM minutes This program is primarily composer-pianist Lena Auerbach s. When she isn t composing, she is arranging Shostakovich preludes with a freedom that amounts to a rewrite. Yes, everything is given to the viola, but the continual sliding about in the viola part is not what Shostakovich would have done to his piano music. The addition of harmonies is also not in the music as composed. It is played with conviction and is enjoyable to listen to, but it ain t Shostakovich; it s Auerbach. The other work is a viola sonata. It is in four movements and lasts about 22 minutes. Arcanum means mysterious knowledge concerning death. What the music itself describes is up to our individual senses, but the liner notes give us a good deal of information from both the composer and the violist. The playing is fine, the recording is well handled, and the music is quite listenable not too dissimilar from the idiom of early Shostakovich as represented here by his preludes. Kashkashian is a fine violist, as we know from her previous recordings and performances; and Auerbach is also a fine player and has 50 January/February 2017

53 also written a cello sonata and her own set of 24 preludes for piano among other works that have come my way. D MOORE BACEVICIUS: Piano Pieces 2 Gabrielius Alekna Toccata minutes The Toccata label, under the guiding hand of Martin Anderson, has given us many treasurable discoveries. Here we have the second disc of piano music by Vytautas Bacevicius ( ). Not having heard the first disc (Nov/Dec 2007?) I entered my listening session totally without knowledge or prejudice. Even the notes remained unread as I ventured forth into the sound world of this practically unknown Lithuanian pianist and composer. Starting with Poeme Astral Op.7, from 1927 (the pieces are arranged chronologically), we have a reference to the stars. What I hear is a composer enthralled with Scriabin. It does venture forth from that base and ends inconclusively. Poeme 4, Op.10, sounds like a continuation of the same as it imperceptibly sneaks in. In Etude 2, Op.19, the music continues to show the influence of Scriabin, perhaps as if the master were improvising. Some cocktail pianist jazz elements creep into the harmony as well. The Fantasy, Op.39, from 1944 picks up the tempo and achieves added interest as well. It was written in New York and adds a tinge of Gershwin to a fascinating mix. Etude 4, Op.43, moves rapidly and with engrossing rhythmic freedom. So far Bacevicius has won me over by taking various elements and making them his own. Sonata 4 from is in three movements. By now most of the Scriabin s harmonic world has been abandoned in favor of a more generic modern style. There are plenty of contrasts, and one s interest never flags. None of this music, I should mention, is singable; the composer has fully embraced 20th Century modernism without the dry methodism of Schoenberg. This music is emotional, strong, rhythmic, and always interesting. It is also contained, resistant to rambling, and never falls into the pit of self-indulgence. It is also not something you will want to take in at one hearing. The 1954 Dance Fantastic is sort of like a brittle toccata with quixotic elements to twist our ears. Evocations, Op. 57, moves from the expressive Vision to a Humoreske replete with staccato and rapidly moving figuration. There is enough dry wit to prick the fingers while still enjoying the delicious torture. A final Meditation only keeps us at peace fitfully. Bacevicius does not rest for long as nightmares creep in from all directions. Trois Pensées Musicales, Op.75, is the composer s final opus. In three movements it continues his fascinating style where motion always keeps us on the edge of our seat and originality is never in question. The notes will tell you everything you need to know about this fascinating composer, and each work is fully discussed. The recording is excellent, and pianist Alekna performs this difficult music with awesome agility. Unless you have a total aversion to modernist music, you will want to acquire this outstanding recording. Sorabji came to mind several times while listening, but it was a Sorabji far more disciplined and without the bloat. Miss this at your own peril. BECKER BACH, CPE: Cello Concertos Nicolas Altstaedt; Arcangelo/ Jonathan Cohen Hyperion minutes CPEs three cello concertos, W , are fine and unusually memorable works. They are all accompanied by a string orchestra that plays off against the soloist in often surprising fashion with rhythmic comments contrasting with the usually more lyrical cello writing. In other words, it is like a discussion or a lively conversation between two contrasting personalities. Today s players tend to make a lot out of these relationships, and Altsteadt and Cohen are no exception. These are lightly played but dramatically contrasted readings where both soloist and orchestra seem to be having a fine time. There are a number of fine recordings of this material. My latest enthusiasm has been Julian Steckel (Hanssler 15045, S/O 2016). Truls Mork s recording with Bernard Labadic (Virgin 69449, S/O 2011) is also very good, as are several earlier discs by Anner Bylsma and Hidemi Suzuki. The present one has an individual approach and is recorded with clarity. D MOORE BACH, CPE: Piano Pieces Giovanni Togni, tangent piano Dynamic minutes This is a representative selection from CPE Bach s collection of music marketed to connoisseurs and amateurs : four sonatas, three American Record Guide 51

54 rondos, and a fantasia. The draw is the unusual instrument, a tangent piano built in It s like a clavichord, but louder, and there are dampers similar to a piano s. There is a knee lever to lift the dampers, akin to a piano s sustaining pedal. The stringing is double. In the bass register, one of the two strings of each pair is tuned an octave higher, adding brilliance to the tone. The booklet includes photos of the instrument and diagrams of its mechanism. Bach s music ranges from delicacy to hard-driving power, and this tangent piano matches it well. Giovanni Togni is a phenomenally good player, on the evidence of this recording, and sensitive to the surprises in the music. On clavichords and tangent pianos, the smaller motions of fingers and arm are challenging to control, and this difficulty makes Togni s poise and dynamic shaping even more impressive. I compared this directly with Pieter-Jan Belder s interpretations of the same pieces in his 5CD set (Brilliant 94486, May/June 2014), where he plays fortepiano and clavichord. Belder plays reliably, but doesn t make the music as surprising. Togni s tangent piano has a brighter tone than Belder s fortepiano, because a harder material is striking the strings. Togni makes more of the dramatic silences in the music, too. He includes a Rondo in A, possibly spurious, with the claim to be a world premiere recording of it. B LEHMAN BACH: The Art of Fugue Rachel Podger, v; Johannes Pramschler, v, va; Jane Rogers, va; Alison McGillivray, vc; Marcin Swiglkiewicz, hpsi Channel minutes Recordings of Bach s unfinished last work, The Art of Fugue, are numerous; but it is usually played on keyboard instruments, though there are some on brass or saxophones. As a string player, I am naturally prejudiced in that direction, particularly since the music is written mainly on four staves in a variety of clefs common to the varieties of viol. The viol group Phantasm has recorded it quite beautifully, though they omit the clearly keyboard-oriented pieces, namely numbers 12 to 20, substituting Mozart arrangements from the Well-Tempered Clavier and a fugue of his own, K 401 (Simax 1135; March/April 1999). The present recording makes up for that omission by including a harpsichord, though they also omit numbers 19 and 20, which were written for two keyboard instruments. Also, Contrapunctuses 2 and 3 are listed in reverse; and the final, unfinished Fugue a 3 Soggetti is listed as Contrapunctus 14, a piece that is not included. But it is good to have as much of this beautiful and touching work as is played here, especially since the use of modern string instruments has more sonic separation than the viols of Phantasm. One would otherwise hardly hear a difference in sound, since Brecon Baroque (the name of this group) plays with no vibrato, so the two groups sound somewhat alike. Brecon is a little livelier sometimes, but both are clear recordings well worth our time. D MOORE BACH: Cantatas 203, 209, 212 Mojca Erdmann, s; Dominik Worner, b; Bach Collegium Japan/ Masaaki Suzuki BIS :23 This is Vol. 7 in Suzuki s project of recording Bach s so-called Secular Cantatas. Of the three works presented, Cantata 212 is perhaps the most familiar, if not notorious. Known as the Peasant Cantata, it is one of Bach s rare ventures into lowbrow satire and semi-vulgar folk styles. It was composed in 1742 for a festivity on behalf of a local Saxon landowner who himself does not fully escape the jibes, the in-group humor, and the topical spoofing contained in this half-hour stew of songs, duets, dances, and musical quotations (catch the La Follia reference?). Even if the humor is stretched a bit for our latter-day ears, there is a lot of fun in this score. Suzuki has two singers early in their careers and of substantial talent. Erdman has a degree of heaviness in her voice, but she sings with clarity, fullness, and spirit. Worner s baritonal bass voice is more straightforward. Both take advantage of humorous qualities, but avoid the temptations of fake-folk vocal style. Each of the two singers is given a solo assignment. The other two cantatas have Italian rather than German texts, and the ascriptions of them to Bach have been seriously challenged. As to Cantata 209, Non Sa Che Sia Dolore for soprano, strings and continuo: despite the language, the music has a certain Germanic feeling, and I recognize many stylistic elements compatible with Bach s. In this performance, Erdman is up to the virtuosic demands and conveys the emotional weight of unhappy love. On the other hand, Cantata 203, Amore 52 January/February 2017

55 Traditore for bass and harpsichord, shows hardly any suggestion of Bach s authorship. The musical style is quite Italian, and the use of only a harpsichord for the accompaniment is uncharacteristic of the Leipzig master. Nevertheless, Worner takes it quite seriously and gives it a strong and fluent performance. As always, fine notes and full texts with English translation. One more demonstration of Suzuki s high standards of presentation. BARKER BACH: Flute Sonatas Paulina Fred; Aapo Hakkinen, hpsi, clav Naxos minutes In November/December 2015 Bradley Lehman praised Hakkinen in a solo program of Bach, and here the fine artistry continues. This recording uses two baroque flutes, two harpsichords, a lute-harpsichord, and clavichord just not all at once! They are well played and captured in great sound. Some of those harpsichords have the enhanced bass that I relished when I heard it from Miklos Spanyi with Jean-Michel Tanguy on Pavane (Sept/Oct 2015). Since Tanguy plays a modern flute, his set is distinct from this one. Tempos have generally been chosen well except in the Sonata in B minor, where we find the fastest recording of the central Largo e dolce. The opening movement of the Sonata in E is given a very free rendition that makes good sense, and the final movement is taken with some freedom too. The flutist is quite soft sometimes, but not lost, and rests on a substantial foundation in the keyboard parts except where clavichord is used it can be just as soft! There is much to enjoy here, and even people who already have many Bach recordings ought to add this one. GORMAN BACH: Goldberg Variations; BUXTEHUDE: La Capricciosa Christine Schornsheim, hpsi Capriccio 5286 [2CD] 105 minutes Christine Schornsheim has recorded the Goldberg Variations twice: 1994 and 2016, both for Capriccio. This remake was at the invitation of harpsichord builder Christopher Kern, to show off his new Mietke copy. Both performances are outstanding, with different merits. She goes for long phrases or paragraphs each time, instead of bringing out local details, and that approach works well in a composition this long. Both performances run a few seconds over 80 minutes, with all the repeats, but do not seem uncommonly slow anywhere. The change of discs is after Variation 15. The new recording has a mellower-sounding harpsichord, but a rougher-sounding temperament (labeled as a transposition of Kirnberger 3, with a pure major third between D and F-sharp). The old recording was on a Klinkhamer harpsichord. No temperament was specified there, but it sounds like Vallotti s. I like the older performance better, with an easy flow that does not make the music seem intellectualized. In the new one, the canonic variations sound fussy: where she adds melodic ornamentation in the leading voice, she adds exactly the same ornamentation in the following voice. It becomes too predictable, but it s not as bad as Rosalyn Tureck s way of making everything rigidly structural and dull in her harpsichord recording. Outside the canons, Schornsheim s added ornamentation is moderate, but the new recording has more. The only place it seems excessive is in the repeats of Variation 7. There are a few quirks in Schornsheim s interpretation each time, but they are not in her phrasing or articulation. Rather, it s the registration her creative way of obeying Bach s prescriptions to use two manuals. In both recordings she manages the hand-crossing Variations 14 and 23 in a way I don t remember hearing from anyone else. Instead of keeping one hand on each manual, both registered with 8-foot stops, she sets up contrasting registrations and lets both hands migrate back and forth across them from phrase to phrase. The more obvious choice, and the way I ve always played it, is to keep the hands segregated on the two manuals so they don t ever crash into each other (an option not available to pianists). Variation 13 is also odd in the new recording: keeping both hands together on a buff-stopped manual for the first time through, moving the right hand to a solo 4-foot register on repeats, and bringing the left hand s accompaniment up an octave on the buff-stopped manual. It s uncommonly cutesy. The biggest difference between the two albums is the inclusion of a second composition in the new one. It s La Capricciosa by Buxtehude, giving us 30 variations in 25 minutes. This piece was obviously one of Bach s inspirations: the key of G, the number of variations, the brief ventures into G minor, and even the melodic shape for the folk song quoted in Bach s Variation 30 testify to that. It is based American Record Guide 53

56 harmonically on the Bergamasca, a satisfying progression for improvisation. Schornsheim s approach to this piece is boisterous and exciting, like Rinaldo Alessandrini s. She rushes the tempo in a few places where she is adding ornaments. I wasn t in the market for another recording of this piece, but her way is attractive. I also like Mortensen s, Meyerson s, Wilson s, and Stella s. B LEHMAN BACH: Goldberg Variations Angela Hewitt, p Hyperion minutes Listeners have praised Angela Hewitt s Bach playing, and rightfully so. She chooses the middle ground, avoiding the overindulgence displayed by Schiff and the eccentricities in the famous Glenn Gould recordings. But I would not rank her Goldberg Variations on quite the same level as Murray Perahia s or Jeremy Denk s, whose clean and sensitive performances add just the right amount of improvisation. Gould s interpretations are with me as I listen, and I don t quite hear the counterpoint in variation 3, compared to Gould s. My desire for more rhythmic buoyancy and drive in Variation 4 makes me think that I m too used to Gould s recording. I also like his faster tempo. In terms of rhythmic integrity, I do find the rhetorical feel of Variation 13 quite moving, though Perahia is a little more structured, staying in the confines of the metricity. Variation 23 is more vibrant under Perahia. While Hewitt has more color in Variation 29, it s at the expense of rhythmic soundness. Hyperion s engineering is always sublime, with the right amount of resonance. KANG BACH: Goldberg Variations La Compagnie Pochette Alba minutes The Goldberg Variations were intended for the harpsichord. Looking at the music, it is interesting to note how much of it is written in what amounts to three separate voices. This clearly impressed Dmitri Sitkovetsky, whose arrangement for string trio has been recorded several times (Julian Rachlin, Nobuko Imai, & Mischa Maisky, DG ; Jean-Claude Bouveresse, Sabine Toutain, & Aurelien Sabouret, Gallo 1187 both July/Aug 2007 and Jorg Fassmann, Sebastian Herberg, & Michael Pfaender on Querstand 601 in May/June 2008). This one is also Sitkovetsky s setting. The main difference in sound between this recording and its predecessors is that these players have sonic purity as a goal and use little or no vibrato, so they sound more Baroque. Also, cellist Sergey Malov plays a little violoncello da spalla, about the length of Antti Tikkanen s viola but twice as thick. Minna Pensola is the violinist. The result is that it is not easy to tell who is playing what line, as if it matters. Octaves are sometimes altered for expressive reasons, and Variation 13 is imaginatively scored with the viola and cello playing pizzicato. The actual notation, except improvised ornaments, is very close to Bach s original. I have two minor gripes about this reading. One is that almost the only repeats that are observed are ones where Bach includes a first and second ending. This is why the disc lasts only 50 minutes. I also wish that the inner voices were a bit clearer sometimes. Still, this is an effective concept that is played with sensitivity and technical accuracy. If you want the repeats and more clarity of line, go for the Dresden String Trio on Querstand, though it takes two discs. The DG also does all the repeats, though their somewhat mod sound could be annoying. There is a lot to be enjoyed in this arrangement, and this new reading has more virtues than vices. D MOORE BACH: Lute Pieces II Suites 1+2; Prelude, Fugue, & Allegro; Wachet Auf Ismo Eskelinen, g Alba 395 [SACD] 54 minutes I have reviewed Mr Eskelinen twice before, in a recital of Mompou, Rodrigo, and Falla (N/D 2007) and in the first volume of his Bach (M/A 2014). I was enthusiastic about those, and I remain so as he continues his Bach cycle. His playing is strong, clear, expressive, and dependably beautiful I find this even more satisfying than John Williams s account on Sony and Sharon Isbin s Suites on Virgin, as fine as those are. And just as I prefer Bach on piano to harpsichord, I prefer the richer range of sound on the guitar to the original on lute. My only quibble is that he ornaments the E- minor Suite too much for my taste. Bach generally wrote in his ornamentation specifically, while leaving dynamics mostly to the performer (Handel was the opposite). Nothing is unstylistic or anachronistic my objections 54 January/February 2017

57 are a matter of preference. He does ornament everything but is more reserved on the other works here. He also plays the three canonical works in their original keys, so by using a capo at the third fret, the second suite sounds in C minor; the Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro sounds in its original key of E-flat. All the transcriptions are his own, but I don t hear much different from any other version I know. He includes the chorale prelude on Wachet Auf in the Oscar Ghiglia transcription, and that glorious melody never gets tiresome. Notes in English and Finnish. KEATON BACH: Organ Pieces ( ) Prelude & Fugue in E-flat; in E minor; Sonata 4; Duet 1; Canonic Variations; selections from Leipzig Chorales Maude Gratton Phi minutes In his notes to this recording, the eminent Bach scholar Peter Williams points out that in Bach s obituary, most likely written by CPE Bach in collaboration with Lorenz Christoph Mizler, he is described first as the worldfamous organ player, and after that Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court composer, and Music Director in Leipzig. Williams interprets this to mean that Bach was famous as what we would now call an organ recitalist as distinct from a church organist whose primary responsibility would have been playing for services. Bach s responsibilities at Leipzig did not include service playing, as they had at Weimar, where he was court organist. The pieces on this recording emanate from Bach s Leipzig years allowing that the Leipzig Chorales are mostly revisions of pieces written at Weimar and Williams claims that they were not intended for the church service but for public performance. He holds this to be the case even with the pieces based on chorale melodies. The program opens with the Prelude & Fugue in E-flat (St Anne) that frame Clavierübung III (1739). The Duet in E minor (S 802) also comes from that publication. The concluding work here is the Prelude & Fugue in E minor (Wedge). These two prelude and fugue pairs are among the most expansive, elaborate, and formally developed of Bach s works in this format. The six trio sonatas were probably written as study pieces for WF Bach. Here we have the fourth in E minor. The Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel Hoch (c1747) present a dazzling display of contrapuntal prowess worthy to stand alongside the Musical Offering and Goldberg Variations. The four selections from the Leipzig Chorales are O Lamm Gottes (S 656), Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (S 665, the first of two settings), Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland (S 659, the first of three settings), and Vor Deinen Thron (S 668). The instrument is the 1737 Gottfried Silbermann organ in the Friedenskirche at Ponitz. It has two manuals and pedals. Each of the manual divisions has 11 stops, but the pedal has only 3. Silbermann was famous for devising pedal registers of such character that they could balance both quieter and fuller manual registrations. While that is generally true of this instrument, the limitations of the pedal are sometimes perceptible, particularly in the Canonic Variations. The organ tone is quite beautiful, but action noise is fearsome in quieter registrations. Maude Gratton (b 1983) is a native of Niort in western France. In addition to her activities as a recitalist, she has collaborated with many eminent early music artists and is founderdirector of the ensemble Il Convito. While it is hard to find specific fault with her playing here, I cannot say I find it particularly engaging or elegant. In some pieces I get the impression that she is fighting an organ action she finds recalcitrant. Some of her registrations strike me as unconvincing, like the manual 16- foot stop on the lower voice of the Duet in E minor and the loud and ponderous combinations she uses in the augmentation canon from the Canonic Variations and Jesus Christus, unser Heiland. GATENS BACH: Organ Pieces Toccata & Fugue in D minor (S 565 & Dorian); Pastorella in F; Prelude & Fugue in C (S 545); Fantasy in G; Fantasy & Fugue in G minor; Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor Simone Stella Onclassical minutes This recording contains some of Bach s bestknown free organ works performed by Simone Stella on the three-manual Andrea Zeni organ at the Church of St Mary of the Assumption in Marostica, Italy. Stella, born 1981 in Florence, has an impressive discography that includes the complete organ and harpsichord works of Dietrich Buxtehude and Georg Böhm for Bril- American Record Guide 55

58 liant. A few years ago I reviewed the Buxtehude organ set (94422; March/April 2013), and I found the playing very mannered and many of the mannerisms annoying. I also found the sound of the organ disagreeable. This new recording is an improvement in every respect. Stella s playing is marked by artistic panache and animation in contrast with the rigidity and lack of personality that characterizes the playing of so many early music specialists. Purists will disapprove of his changes of registration in the movements of some of the largerscale pieces. His approach to the Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor is almost orchestral. One of the more impressive performances is the Dorian Toccata & Fugue in D minor. He begins the fugue very quietly and employs reserved registrations until the end. More dogmatic interpreters will play the entire fugue on full organ, but such an approach rarely serves this piece well. Unlike the broad gestures of THE Toccata & Fugue in D minor, the Dorian fugue presents an intricate web of contrapuntal argumentation and sophisticated dissonance. Full organ often turns these elements into a confused jumble of sound. Here every detail is heard with the utmost clarity. It is worth noting that the Fantasy in G (S 572) is often called PiŠce d Orgue. The Zeni organ is a solid, no-nonsense instrument with well-designed choruses. It is decidedly classic in tone, but with a subtlety and refinement not always found in modern instruments of its kind. It seems rather distant here, but that is far preferable to a recording that is too close. I found I needed to turn up the volume for agreeable presence of sound. The printed material is skimpy: biographical sketch of the artist, production credits, and specification of the organ. The track list is printed on the back panel. Some historical detail would be welcome, but with such familiar music it is not essential. Listeners seeking a first acquaintance with the organ works of Bach could do far worse. GATENS BACH: Solo Violin Sonatas & Partitas Kyung-Wha Chung Warner [2CD] 137 minutes Sonata 2; Partita 3; YSAYE: Solo Sonatas 2+5 Antje Weithaas Avi minutes Kyung-Wha Chung achieved world fame in 1967 when she became co-winner of the Leventritt Competition with Pinchas Zukerman. Her recording career began in 1970 with her fine Sibelius and Tchaikovsky concertos. Only now has she come around to recording Bach s solo violin works. I was expecting a very individual reading by a grand dame of the violin, but Chung is actually very straightforward and emotionally muted. She brings a few personal touches to the music, but not enough to constitute an important statement on this important music. Antje Weithaas is emotionally warmer than Chung, though I don t hear any unique insights from her either. She includes two of the fine solo sonatas by Eugene Ysaye, his character portraits of Jacques Thibaud and his own student and quartet partner Mathieu Crickboom. Weithaas does a fine job in these works, but others have played them with more individuality. MAGIL BACH: Violin Sonata 4; see SCHUMANN BALAKIREV: Tamara; see Collections BANCHIERI: Pazzia Senile; Saviezza Giovenile Delitiae Musicae/ Marco Longhini Stradivarius minutes This (re-)release of excellent performances of two theatrical comedies by Adriano Banchieri ( ) is marred by the lack of texts. They were recorded in But unless you understand a lot of Italian including various Po Valley dialects that many native Italians don t know you ll miss a lot. These clever pieces, whose titles are The Madness of Old Age and Youthful Wisdom, include a lot of spoken narration as well as clever word-play and plenty of comic scenarios for characters such as Pantalon, Graziano, and the puppet Burattino. They are filled with diversions to entertain the aristocracy: smooth pseudo-madrigals and motets in polyphony sit beside mocking squeals and regal vocal mimicry of fanfare trumpets. Three members of the all-male vocal ensemble Delitiae Musicae are the singers here, each doing double duty in two voiceranges so that they can cover a wide range of characters (all three are countertenors; individually they are also tenor, baritone, and bass). Actor Raffaele Gangale and five instrumentalists round out the performing forces, all under the imaginative and assured direction of Marco Longhini. From the very first instrumental sinfonia we are treated to a warm and attractive web of sound (harp, chittarone, low 56 January/February 2017

59 strings, etc.) and the vocal acting is superb. Comedic timing, fast switches in tone from suave elegance to nasal slapstick, and depictions of all sorts and conditions of men and women are effortlessly accomplished by the performers. There are booklet notes in English, but not even a track listing (in any language) to give the listener some sort of idea of what is going on in the two stories. It s really unacceptable. I liked this so much that I took some time to try to find a libretto online so that I could include details in this review. I think I may have found the original printed score on a website called archive.org, but I was unsure of the authenticity of the site. And other sites that came up from search engines had suffixes that imply possibly dubious origins. So I stopped looking. The performances are subtle, engaging, spirited, and enjoyable. Listeners and performers deserve better from the record label. C MOORE BANTOCK: Omar Khayyam; Fifine at the Fair; Sappho; Pierrot of the Minute Sarah Walker, Johanna Peters, mz; Anthony Rolfe Johnson, t; Brian Rayner Cook, bar; BBC Singers, BBC Symphony & Scottish Symphony/ Norman Del Mar Lyrita 2128 [4CD] 257 minutes English composer Sir Granville Bantock is forgotten even by the English. Although a well respected and prolific composer, his fame was fleeting and confined to his lifetime ( ). Even the recordings heard here were long buried in the BBC vaults. Omar Khayyam was broadcast on March 26, 1979, Fifine, Sappho, and Pierrot were broadcast August 7, Fifine clocks in at 30 minutes, Sappho at 43, and Pierrot at a whopping 172 minutes! Bantock has set all 101 poetic quatrains of the Fifth Edition of The Rubayat of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald ( ). Requiring the services of solo contralto, tenor, and baritone, a full mixed chorus, and a huge orchestra and its inordinate length have mitigated against performances. The ponderous, thick music typical of the Victorian era invoke a time of more leisure and musical patience than our times. It should be enjoyable in a gala festival performance but does not stand with repeated hearings via recording. Excellent and extensive program notes by Rob Barnett and a libretto are included. An appendix of performances of Omar Khayyam indicates that before the 1975 BBC performance it had not been performed anywhere since 1931 nor has it since. PARSONS BARTOK: Miraculous Mandarin; Dance Suite; Contrasts Mark van de Wiel, cl; Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay, Yefim Bronfman, p; Philarmonia/ Esa-Pekka Salonen Signum minutes This is one of the best played and recorded performances of these pieces that I have heard. Miraculous Mandarin is dazzling, sometimes thrilling in a big, dark production. The one oddity is that the early trombone glissandos, which should sound oily, tend to be more like sharp stabs. The clarinet solos (called Decoy games here but usually referred to as lockspiels), are cleanly executed, perhaps too cleanly. They are supposed to represent the girl s inviting gestures through a window looking out into a busy street. Her writhings are intended to lure victims into the grungy apartment she is sharing with three thieves, and for that reason could be a little more oily and sleazy than they are played here. Some of the faster moving scenes are a little too fast for the drama, and some of the quiet ones lean perhaps too efficiently to the boring side. As wonderful as the strings are, it would be nice if they could create the dreary atmosphere of a murky robber s den rather than sharply contoured corporate offices. All that quibbling aside and it is quibbling this is a tour de force. When we reach that fiendish (speaking from experience) duet for muted trombones, where the Mandarin chases the girl around the room, the performance becomes more than that. Salonen takes that passage very fast. No surprise there. More important is that this scene seems to put a charge into the playing. When the robbers fall on the Mandarin and try to smother him, the power and fury unleashed by the orchestra is breathtaking and terrifying. The second and bass trombones sound like pile drivers, and the bass drum pounds as if from the bowels of the earth. True, the appearance of the chorus when the Mandarin starts to glow green is almost anticlimactic, but who can complain at that point? Even with my nitpicks, this is a corker of a Miraculous Mandarin. It may not be the best one in your collection, but it may be the most frightening. Dance Symphony is treated in similar fashion not brutally, of course: these are dances, American Record Guide 57

60 after all but there is nothing light and perky about them. Nor are there the few moments of minor ennui that appeared in Mandarin. The orchestra s gestures are big, as is the sound; and it is easy to hear how Dance Symphony served as preparation for Mandarin, which appeared three years later. Bartok wrote Contrasts for clarinet, violin, and piano for Benny Goodman. Programming it with two big, bold orchestral works may seem odd but there is some point to that. It links to the famous lockspiel clarinet solos in Mandarin. (Mark van de Wiel is the Philharmonia s principal clarinet.) It also links the two orchestral works in that it is based on dances, and some of it displays the character of Mandarin, e.g., the considerable weight of the piano writing. Even the performance of Contrasts is similar: big in scale and virtuosic. If you are a fan of big Bartok and have the audio system to handle the huge sound, this is worth your while. Performances like these are worthy even if you have good ones already. Contrasts is a 16-minute piece that has been recorded many times, usually in chamber music collections of one kind or another. People who want it probably have it. For those who don t know it, its inclusion on this program is a bonus. One more thing: Goodman s performance of Contrasts with Joseph Szigeti and Bartok is a good one with a smoky atmospere I have not heard elsewhere. HECHT BARTOK: Quartets Chiara Quartet Azica [2CD] 2:35 The Bartok string quartets are some of the strongest music of the 20th Century. They are not easy to absorb, as they are replete with dissonance, alternations of whispers and violence, abstraction and folk song. The recordings have mostly gotten relatively favorable reviews since this is the sort of music that cannot be played or recorded without deep involvement between the players and good recording quality. This new one rates quite high on my list in all areas since it is played with musical clarity and great attention to the written balances and dynamics. I might sometimes wish for a little more folk style, but that is because I grew up with the somewhat more straightforward Juilliard and Takacs recordings. On the other hand, these are performances that take the details more into account; and the recordings support that with notable clarity, miked at a distance that enables the players to whisper almost inaudibly and then shock the ears with horrible violence just what Bartok often has in mind. The only difficulty I have with these recordings is that at moments in Quartets 1 and 3 I find the viola somewhat inaudible. This is not always the case, and all of the players are full of personality. If the balances weren t so fine ordinarily, I wouldn t mention this little kvetch. Checking out past reviews and the Bartok Overview (M/A 2001) I note that the early recordings by the Juilliard from 1950 (Pearl 147, M/A 2002) impressed me more than their later recording because Winograd was a more emotional cellist than Adam. The Takacs is highly thought of, in this case their second recording (London , M/J 1998, Ashby); and the Emerson (DG , J/A 1989, Ginsburg) is loved for their particular musicality. More recent favorites of William Bender s time at ARG include the Penderecki (Eclectra 2075, J/F 2007) and Belcea (EMI 94400, N/D 2008), also the Hagen (Newton , M/A 2011). Since then we haven t had any that really turned on our reviewers. I would put this up with the best. I haven t heard such fine balance between instruments and such unity of effort before. These may not be the most overtly Hungarian interpretations, but they are emotionally satisfying and technically more polished than most readings of these highly demanding pieces. They do not erase my love for the Juilliard, Takacs, and Tokyo (RCA 68286, S/O 1996, Chakwin) but their balances and clarity are quite outstanding compared to any of the above. D MOORE BARTOK: Choral Pieces Krisztian Kocsis, p; Hungarian National Choir, Slovak Philharmonic Choir/ Zoltan Kocsis Hungaroton [SACD] 61 minutes This hour with Bartok is the most engaging and colorful Hungaroton release I can remember. Inspired by the folk music of Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Szekely Land (an area of Romania populated by Hungarians), the songs are rarely performed, even in Eastern Europe. But they are wonderful! All of them even the ones imbued with touches of introspection and melancholy sound as if Bartok was having a hell of a good time as he wrote them. Bagpipes drone, dancers whirl, farm boys load their carts, youngsters primp for their coming 58 January/February 2017

61 dates, Sayko the horse loses his shoes, mothers mull over their choices of husbands for their daughters, brides sing with joy, and Joey Geszte saddles up and heads for the pine forest leaving a devoted girlfriend behind. It s that kind of program, and English translations are supplied so you are privy all the juicy details. The choirs and their conductor have the music and stories in their blood, and the Super Audio engineering sounds pretty super at that. Krisztian Kocsis is a good young pianist who can be seen playing Mozart on youtube with Zoltan conducting. Father and son? A good guess, though the notes and internet are mum on the point. I enjoyed every minute of this, and suspect you will too. GREENFIELD [Zoltan Kocsis died at age 64 at the beginning of November. Ed] BASSANI: Giona Carlo Vistoli (Giona), Laura Antonaz (Speranza), Margherita Rotondi (Obbedienza), Mauro Borgioni (Testo), Raffaele Giordani (Atrebate); Les Nations/ Maria Luisa Baldassari, Marina Scaioli Tactus [2CD] 89 minutes As with many Lenten oratorios of the period, Giovanni Battista Bassani s Giona has plenty of dramatic and musical characteristics common in opera, performances of which were not allowed during Lent. The well-known story of Jonah is an exciting one: he defies God, is thrown overboard in a storm to spare others, is swallowed by a large fish or whale, is inside the creature for three days and nights, prays to God for forgiveness, and is spat up (unharmed) on the shore. There is plenty of virtuosic vocal writing in Giona, and variety in the instrumental parts includes florid and idiomatic writing for solo instruments. All the singers are very fine, the instrumentalists command the style with ease, and the two directors (Maria Luisa Baldassari and Marina Scaioli) ensure that tempos, flow, flexibility, and cohesion are always spot-on. Contrasting with arias and recitatives sung by the five characters telling Jonah s story, in a few madrigali movements the five solo singers become a coro to offer commentary and underline the moral of the story. The oratorio was first performed in Modena in 1689 at the richly musical court of Francesco II d Este. Scholar Elisabetta Pasquini made the critical performing edition in 2009 and wrote the booklet essay here. Giona may well have marked the debut of Bassani (c ) as an oratorio composer in Francesco s court. Notes in English. The booklet does list all 53 tracks with short titles, but there are no texts or translations, even though it s noted in the booklet that they are on the label website. They aren t. I ve found this problem with at least one other Tactus release, and it s really not acceptable. Not only would the recording be much more engaging and enjoyable for listeners, but excluding texts and translations is also a great disservice to the performers. C MOORE BAX: Variations for Orchestra; SCOTT: The Melodist and the Nightingales; BUTTER- WORTH: Fantasy for Orchestra Aleksei Kiseliov, vc; Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martin Yates Dutton 7326 [SACD] 62 minutes Bax wrote his Variations when he was 21. Other than a 1905 run-through by the Royal College of Music student orchestra, I don t think they ve been played since. Bax conducted, and resolved after that experience never again to conduct his own music. The variations are on a straightforward tune, but even in its first appearance, Bax divides its phrases between several instruments. They are highly varied. The first is like a jig, looking forward to Bax s future avatar as an Irish composer. 2 is whimsical, and 3 has a wistful oboe theme leading to an impressive climax. 4 is a beautiful waltz with elegant contours and suave orchestration. The finale has an Elgarian introduction followed by a processional march. To the peroration, Bax adds the organ, solo at first, then with the orchestra. The close is in the best English ceremonial manner. It s amazing that this score lay unplayed for over a century. By the calendar it should be considered juvenilia, but not a bar displays anything but complete mastery. The orchestration has an assurance and freedom that any and I mean any composer in 1905 would have admired. Scott wrote The Melodist and the Nightingales in 1903 for cellist Beatrice Harrison with piano. He scored it in The music begins with tremolos and woodwind bird calls. The cello enters with a subtle theme skillfully expanded, as the bird cries increasingly become more than just color. The cello part becomes more melismatic with beautiful woodwind accompaniment. This no doubt reflects Ms Harrison s love of nightingales around her home. She had even broadcast American Record Guide 59

62 performances from her home with them singing along. The animated center section introduces a pentatonic oboe theme, its accompaniment full of trilling figures. The music ends with an exalted dialog between the soloist and orchestra continued to the last chords. For all its improvisatory material, the piece hangs together quite well. It could be a musical picture of Keats s Ode to a Nightingale, and in its medium is every bit as poetic. As Lewis Foreman notes Beatrice and her nightingales respond to each other s songs. George Butterworth never lived to finish his Fantasy for Orchestra. There s a score with 93 bars filled out; a complete short score has apparently been lost. Two conductors have reconstructed the piece; Kriss Russman (Nov/Dec 2016) and Martin Yates. The Yates is about twice the length of the Russman. Both work with the same material; I d guess that Russman worked strictly with the material Butterworth left, but Yates took some leaps of the imagination and expanded it further. His reworking stays true to the spirit of the music. Both versions end with the ghost of a fanfare on a muted trumpet, and both are good pieces. I like the Yates better the way I like a larger helping of dessert. Yates also uses more of the full orchestra. There s no problem getting both, because in each instance the rest of the works on the disc are beautiful and there s no duplication. All three pieces are world premiere recordings further proof of the ignorance of people who claim there are no undiscovered masterpieces as yet another excuse for more B & B boilerplate. O CONNOR BAX: Symphony; see Collections BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto 1; STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegel; Festive Prelude Kalle Randalu; Estonian Symphony/ Neeme Jarvi ERP minutes Neeme Jarvi is one of the most dependable conductors. There are a few composers that seem to puzzle him, but almost the entire orchestral repertory is at his fingertips; and you can count on him to do it all well. The Beethoven concerto is perfectly conducted, with plenty of zest and spirit. The pianist is excellent, but of course he isn t Sviatoslav Richter but who is? For that matter, Mr Jarvi isn t Charles Munch, who conducted it for Richter with great elan. That RCA recording will never be matched but this one comes close, and if you don t know that old recording you will find this new one outstanding. Both Strauss pieces are also superb. The organ in the Estonian Concert Hall in Talinn doesn t sound new, but it is probably close enough to what Strauss heard in Vienna when he led the premiere of the Festive Prelude in The only objection I have to this release is an editor s complaint: the English translation is not good. I found 10 grammatical and usage errors on the first reading of the notes (and I decided not to look for more). One is a spelling error that anyone would notice. Others are odd word choices: Beethoven is called an insuperable improviser, for example (meaning unsurpassed, I assume). VROON BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas 3, 23, 30 Angela Brownridge Challenge [SACD] 72 minutes These three sonatas represent Beethoven s early, middle, and late creative periods and thus make a nice selection for a pianist s only Beethoven recording, even though it may not work so well as a recital program. Angela Brownridge is a mature British artist with a number of previous recordings to her credit, including some with the Hyperion label in the 1990s. Of a few more recent releases none has been reviewed in ARG, as far as I can see. The rather adulatory biographical information in the booklet states that by realizing that many pianists of a bygone age played with far more individuality, magic, and inspiration than has become the fashion, she was able to develop her own unique personality. Angela s playing restores spontaneity, character, and beauty of sound to the platform. The last-named qualities are undoubtedly present in her playing to some extent, but I resent the implication that they have disappeared completely from the playing of others. It is also unclear how a rather commonplace realization might have led to development of a unique personality. The performances here do not justify these high-flown statements. The interpretations are mostly middle-of-the-road, but where they deviate from the norm (and often also the text) the effect is rarely beneficial. The most egregious example occurs in the transition from II to III in the Appassionata (23), where Brown- 60 January/February 2017

63 ridge ignores the fermatas over the two arpeggiated chords, thereby robbing the second chord of its effect. The codas of that sonata s I and III are also unsatisfactory, the former too hectic and the latter too lax. The cadenza preceding the coda of I is rushed. All of II is rather slow and heavy, and rhythmic noises from the pedal intrude sometimes. Pedal use seems excessive through the whole sonata, resulting in occasional blurring of textures. Some short notes, such as the ones following trills in I, are swallowed up. In No. 30 (Op. 109), too, a crucial transition goes awry between the cadenza-like sixth variation and the repetition of the theme in III. It is much too casual, and little sense of relief from turmoil is obtained. To my ears the sonata starts metrically shifted according to the offbeat pitch accents in the right hand, but I doubt Beethoven (unlike Haydn) intended to mislead the listener; rather, stronger dynamic accents are needed on the downbeats in order to establish the correct meter. The following Adagio section in I is exceedingly slow. In III the second variation is not exactly Leggiermente as marked and is marred by rhythmic pedal noises, and the climactic sixth variation is rather loud and heavy. In No. 3 (Op. 2:3) staccato marks are often ignored, resulting in flabby articulation. Examples in I are the quarter notes in the quiet passage that occurs near the end of the exposition (and again at the beginning of the development and in the recapitulation) and the eighth notes in the repeated thematic motif near the end of the cadenza, whose legato articulation is inconsistent with all its other occurrences in the movement. In bars 10 and 12 of the recapitulation Brownridge ties notes that are to be played separately. The beginning of II is rhythmically distorted beyond what expression may require, with eighth notes unnaturally stretched and rests following each short phrase. In III there are many notes marked staccato that Brownridge plays portato or even legato, to the detriment of the Scherzo s crispness. The Trio section sounds too much like an etude, and its left-hand support is too weak. These serious shortcomings preclude a strong recommendation. The recorded sound is good, apart from the pedal noises. A photo of the artist with a frozen smile adorns the cover. Booklet texts are in English only. The notes about the music, translated from an unidentified language, are better than the biographical hype that follows them. REPP BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas 8, 14, 23 Peter Rösel Berlin minutes Peter Rösel is an important East German pianist who made a number of excellent recordings, such as of the Brahms solo works, back in the German Democratic Republic. Limited biographical information on the Internet (there is none in the booklet) reveals that, now in his early 70s, he is still quite active in Germany and also in Japan, but he does not seem to have traveled much to other countries even after German reunification and is little known in the USA. This reissue of Beethoven s three most popular piano sonatas (Pathetique, Moonlight, and Appassionata), recorded in the early 1980s, offers a good opportunity to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with this artist. But does it add anything substantial to the vast number of recordings already available? Rösel himself has thrown down the gauntlet in a note on the back of the cardboard case. There he relates that in the GDR he was expected to outshine the renowned recording of Wilhelm Kempff and he undertook the task with some reluctance but was quite satisfied in the end, and still is today. This naturally inspired me to compare his performances with Kempff s (DG ). Did Rösel really match or even surpass the famous Beethovenian s art? I don t think so. To be sure, Rösel s performances are solid, expressive, and technically perfect, as I have come to expect from this artist. But they are less engaging than Kempff s, for at least three reasons. First, Rösel on the whole seems tense and sometimes pushy, whereas Kempff lets the music flow more naturally. Rösel also seems to play with more body weight, consistent with his Russian training, while Kempff produces a more delicate sound, playing from the elbows down, as it were. I am imagining Rösel hunched over the keyboard in fierce concentration, while Kempff sits straight and gazes into the far distance. In the slow movement of the Pathetique, I prefer Kempff s somewhat faster tempo. And Kempff is generally more varied and less predictable in dynamics and articulation than Rösel. He has a wider palette of colors, so to speak, though he paints in pastels. He does produce forceful accents when they are called for, and then they are especially effective. Rösel uses more rubato. For example, he slows down considerably (and unnecessarily) for the second theme in I of the Appassionata. There is a difference in sound quality be- American Record Guide 61

64 tween the recordings. Rösel s instrument, even though it was recorded in a church, has a somewhat airless quality to it. Its tones do not ring and sing as they do in Kempff s recording. Some of these differences are subtle, but they nevertheless add up to only a lukewarm recommendation. This reissue will appeal most to buyers interested in Rösel s legacy or looking for their first recording of Beethoven s famous sonatas. The booklet is of additional interest. It reproduces the original LP (1984) liner notes, a fine musicological essay whose trenchant prose loses some of its force in the English translation. True to the political climate of the time, its final sentence quotes Lenin! A second essay gives a brief history of classical recording in the GDR. The front and back covers of the booklet show copies of the original log sheets of Rösel s recording sessions a clever idea. Thus this may be considered a historic document of sorts. REPP BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas 27, 28, 29 Steven Osborne Hyperion minutes Osborne s Hammerklavier is one of the best I have heard over the years. His rhythmic buoyancy and dynamic explosiveness are second to none. His driving pulsation communicates a sense of urgency, though it is never out of control. The slow movement is simple and tender, with natural expression. Sonata 28 has an exuberant march movement, with absolute rhythmic precision. The middle section is direct and to the point, and one can hear the counterpoint clearly. He treats the slow movement with great care. The transition into the allegro is extremely subtle. Osborne is able to handle the thirds and the difficult right and left hands with aplomb in the fugue; the sheer drive and control sets his interpretation apart from others. He tackles Piano Sonata 27 with both delicacy and a powerful sound when appropriate. KANG BEETHOVEN: Symphonies 5-8 Copenhagen Philharmonic/ Lan Shui Orchid 59 [2CD] 132 minutes This is the second installment of Lan Shui s recordings of the Beethoven Nine. The first volume, Symphonies 1-4, appeared about a year ago and was reviewed by Roger Hecht (S/O 2015). In his perceptive review he made many observations that hold here as well. First, the orchestra is a kind of hybrid period group in that they use period brass (valveless and small bore) and timpani, but modern woodwinds and strings, and they play at modern pitch. The spirit, though, is decidedly period: consistently fast tempos with sharp accents and open, clean textures. Mr Hecht, rightly I think, pointed out the liabilities of using Beethoven s (very fast) metronome markings, but I think he hit the core of the problem when he criticized Shui s unyielding adherence to those tempos. After the beginning of each movement I have the unsettling feeling that I know exactly where he s going there s no adventure, no drama, no surprise in store. The mysterious, unstable middle sections in the Fifth (outer movements) pass without acknowledgment; the gorgeous surprise harmonic change in 6:I (B-flat to D around 4:45) has no effect, and so forth. Opening movements are all uncomfortably fast for me, though the scherzos are exhilarating and less objectionable. These discs do have some nice moments. This Sixth, which begins as a jog, rather than a walk through the country, is too fast in I but has the advantage that II can be more of a contrast. (Often the tempos are similar, so the movements tend to say the same thing.) And the later movements are pretty good, even if the storm won t frighten your dog. In general, though, the lyrical movements (5:II, 6:V, 7:II), while fairly quick and too tied to the metronome, are satisfying in their own way; and, as mentioned above, the scherzos are good if you like them really fast. The biggest problems arise in the sections that require majesty (particularly 5:I+IV, 7:I+IV); these leave too much unsaid. If you like this view of Beethoven youthful and driven you ll surely like these recordings. The Copenhagen Philharmonic is a very fine group, able to play these pieces at crazy tempos (in 7:IV and 8:IV especially); balances are good (helped, no doubt, by the period brass); and the sound is excellent. ALTHOUSE BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas 6-10 Elizabeth Wallfisch, David Breitman, p Nimbus 6247 [2CD] 140 minutes The selling point of this set is its use of copies of different fortepianos from Beethoven s time. Sonatas 6, 7, 8, and 9 are played on a 5-1/2-62 January/February 2017

65 octave fortepiano built by Paul McNulty that is a copy of an instrument built by Anton Walter & Son in Sonata 10 is played on a 6- octave fortepiano built by Derek Adam that is a copy of an instrument built by Streicher in The difference in sound between these instruments and modern pianos, especially the Walter, is striking. The sound is quite thin and a bit hard the hammers were made of wood faced with leather, not thick felt like today. The strings were also thinner and under considerably less tension, since the cast-iron frame hadn t yet been invented. I find the sound of the Walter too thin for the Kreutzer Sonata, which needs a more encompassing sound. The Streicher is more satisfactory, and I wish that this duo had used it for the Kreutzer. The playing by both partners is good, especially David Breitman s; but Elizabeth Wallfisch lacks technical polish. These are two of the best-recorded fortepianos that I have heard. MAGIL BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto 2; see BRAHMS Quartet 11; see YUN Violin Sonata 9; see SCHUMANN BEFFA: Trumpet Concerto; Blow Up; Eloge de l Hombre; Subway; Paysages d ombres; Fireworks Eric Aubier, tpt; Vincent Lucas, fl; Lise Berthaud, va; Marie-Pierre Langlamet, hp; Karol Beffa, Laurent Wagschal, p; Guard Republican Orchestra/ Sebastien Billard; Ensemble Initium; Fourmeau Saxophone Quartet Indesens minutes Karol Beffa (b 1973) has degrees in history, English, philosophy, mathematics, and yes, music. He has taught at schools (since 2004 at the Ecole Normale Superieur) and has won many awards for composition. His music is fascinating and beautiful. The album opens with the two-movement, 19-minute concerto for trumpet and strings (2005), which has a wonderful beginning: dark, brooding, the trumpet interacting with upper strings while basses hold a long and deep pedal. Trumpeter Eric Aubier has the perfect round and full sound for this piece. II is agitated but never shrill, and it ends in the same vein as I. This is the same reading as I heard a year ago (Nov/Dec 2015: 191), and it is a pleasure to hear it again. Aubier is also the soloist in Subway (2007) for trumpet and piano, which opens with muted trumpet and piano in a repeated, syncopated, somewhat swinging rhythm. As we would expect in a piece about a train, the music is soon chugging along quickly and determinedly. The work is a modification by the composer of his viola-piano piece Manhattan, and it is interesting to compare them. There are differences in the solo parts the trumpet doesn t do double stops, for instance but also in the readings. A Triton account by violist Arnaud Thorette and pianist Johan Fargot has more of a New York swing than does this more straight-laced one by Aubier and pianist Laurent Wagschal. Beffa writes lucidly about his own music. For instance, he says his music is either clouds or clocks, and that Blow Up (2008) is clearly of the clocks type with overexcitement, frenzy, convulsions, a distorted metric line, a crazy tempo and, at the background, hints of funk, techno, blues, and country music. The entertaining, 12-minute work is given a lively reading by the composer (piano) with Ensemble Initium (flutist Edouard Sabo, oboist Guillaume Deshayes, clarinetist Francois Lemoine, and bassoonist Baptiste Arcaix). Berlin Philharmonic harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet is the soloist in Eloge de l Hombre (2005), a mesmerizing, 7-minute piece with dissonant yet beautiful harmonies that unfold over steadily pulsing bass notes. The intimate sonics seem perfect: we are fairly close to the instrument, ambience is not much of a factor, clarity and sonority are wonderful. When the first real bass notes are heard at 1:45, it is a powerful moment. Ms Langlamet is also heard with flutist Vincent Lucas and violist Lise Berthaud in the 18-minute Paysages d ombres (2008). The two movements ( Sombre and Lent) pit bright flute against dark viola and harp, lyrical flute and viola against plucked harp. Leading and supporting roles shift restlessly. Harp is sometimes incisive, sometimes nebulous. One memorable passage, early in I, has flute over guitar-like strummed viola. The album ends with the four-movement, 13-minute Fireworks (2011), an arrangement for saxophone quartet of Beffa s clarinet quartet (Feux d artifice). All of the movements move along. Avec Swing bubbles brightly with three high-pitched instruments over a much lower baritone. Tenebreux has smooth high voices over staccato baritone comments. Immuable has minimalist intricacy and repetitiveness, uneven meter, and occasional surprises. Beffa says Rhythmique stems from La Dejantee (The Crackpot) for solo piano, American Record Guide 63

66 and indeed, a Decca account by pianist Vanessa Bonelli-Mosel confirms that it is nearly identical to the saxophone piece. Superb playing by the Jean-Yves Fourmeau Saxophone Quartet. KILPATRICK BENNETT: Old American Dances; Down to the Sea in Ships; 4 Preludes; Symphonic Songs; Autobiography Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra/ Clark Rundell, Mark Heron Chandos minutes This is wind band music by Robert Russell Bennett ( ). I am writing that name carefully, because it is easy to mistakenly write Richard Rodney Bennett. I have made that mistake at least once. It is rather amazing that two successful composers were both RR Bennett. Robert Russell Bennett was an American, and his most famous piece for wind band is the Suite of Old American Dances (1948). I do wish his publisher had not substituted that staid title for Bennett s original, Electric Park, named for the well-lit place in Kansas City where people danced the Cake Walk, Schottische, Western One-Step, Wallflower Waltz, and Rag. I think I would have enjoyed the piece more, back when I was playing it in bands, if it had borne that title. This English university band, one of the best around, gives it a very lively reading much too lively, I think, in several movements (Bennett furnished no metronome markings, so conductors must interpret his words). Schottische is to be Moderato: In 2 or fast 4, but this sounds much more like fast 2. Western One-Step is to be Allegro ma non troppo, but this is quite troppo. And Rag should be Gaily, in easy 2, but this is not easy; it is very fast. In all of these, I prefer the much more moderate pace Eugene Corporon took with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Sept/Oct 2008: 225). That said, the playing by the Northern College musicians is very good. I wonder if there is a better example of Bennett s skill and imagination as an arranger than Down to the Sea in Ships (1968-9), from an NBC documentary series about the history of maritime activities. In The Way of the Ship, we hear Schubert s Am Meer and Blow the Man Down woven in with original Bennett music, including rising and falling group chromatics that vividly conjure images of galetossed seas. Mists & Mystery is marked slow barcarolle and also includes Blow the Man Down at the end. Songs in the Salty Air has four songs, including Shenandoah and an amusing take on What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor? In Waltz of the Clipper Ships we hear Sally Brown, and then the set ends with the catchy SS Eagle March. Four Preludes (1974) are tributes to George Gershwin, Vincent Youmans, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern. Symphonic Songs (1957) has a Serenade, a touching Spiritual, and a rousing Celebration. Bennett portrays early years of his own life in Autobiography (1977), with seven miniature movements grouped into two parts ( and ). KILPATRICK BERG: Violin Concerto; see Collections BERKELEY: Stabat Mater; Magnificat; Batter My Heart Felicity Harrison, s; Ambrosian Singers; BBC Northern Singers; Choirs of St Paul s, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral; English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Northern Orchestra, London Symphony/ Lennox Berkeley, Norman Del Mar Lyrita minutes Lennox Berkeley, who hadn t crossed my ARG path from May/June 1994 through September/October 2016 has now appeared in two straight issues. That s a good thing, because I rather like his music the Stabat Mater for six voices and chamber ensemble in particular. For that 32-minute work, though, I m going to send you back to Delphian (Nov/Dec 2016) which presents us with handsome voices captured in sound more colorful than we get here. Recorded in monaural by the BBC, this account was conducted by Norman Del Mar at Friend s House in London at the 1965 San Pancras Arts Festival. And while the performance is respectable, it doesn t measure up to The Marian Consort and their instrumental colleagues in the Berkeley Ensemble. The flat, brittle sound accorded to Batter My Heart Berkeley s musical tribute to the Holy Sonnets of John Donne isn t much of an incentive to buy, either. What might tempt you, though, are the swirling colors and alternating moods of Berkeley s Magnificat for choir, orchestra, and organ. With the composer conducting the combined choirs of St Paul s and the two Westminster churches, this 1968 BBC broadcast really sizzles and sounds pretty good. The Magnificat occupies a full 26 minutes of the 64 January/February 2017

67 program, so you ll be spending quality time with a composer who could make a joyful noise when he wanted to. Notes and translations are included. GREENFIELD BERLIOZ: Romeo and Juliet; Trojan March; Royal Hunt & Storm Michele Losier, mz; Samuel Boden, t; David Soar, b; BBC Symphony/ Andrew Davis Chandos 5169 [2SACD] 108 minutes Last issue I reviewed Hector Berlioz s Romeo and Juliet with the London Symphony led by Valery Gergiev. It was a more or less English approach to the work, but I noted that collectors looking for such a performance might try the first Colin Davis recording, also with the London Symphony, or wait for this new one with Andrew Davis. As it turns out, the new Davis Romeo and Juliet may be the most English in style of any of the recordings. The opening is the fighting between the Montagues and Capulets, and the bitter clashing of families sounds sharper and angrier than usual. The exhortation of the prince in the low brass is the darkest in color that I have heard, and it comes closer than most to portraying speech. The recitative-like strophes from the half-chorus are delivered with unmatched lightness and deftness. The orchestra is terrific. The violins entry as Romeo contemplates his fate is eerie, almost creepy, and finally musing. The oboe solo here is striking. The Fete is on the light side. It is somewhat like the choral music that preceded it, but that approach is understated and less effective in this music, especially as things pick up around the brass moments. The whole thing could be more spirited, and the bassoons at the end should growl more. To no surprise, the love music is Englishly reticent, polite, and touching. It fits the young ages and (supposed) innocence of the lovers more than the more romantic interpretations, but whether that is an advantage or a drawback is up to the listener. The transition to Juliet s wakening sounds creepy, the chords that follow carry more depth and darkness than usual, and the English horn solo maintains that feeling. The battling houses are recalled with the by now expected deftness, but without the bite that opened the work. When the crowd enters, it sounds more puzzled than angry, and an argument can be made for that approach. Now comes the music that tripped up the Gergiev recording because of conducting and singing: Friar Lawrence s explanation of past events. English bass David Soar sounds a little like a Russian bass, but without the weight and rich coloring. He strains a bit on his high notes, and Davis s slow tempos do not help him. In fact, this section drags some because of those tempos. As for the other soloists, French Canadian mezzo Michele Losier has a voice that I visualize as red-colored with a fast vibrato, and it works well enough in her short part. Englishman Samuel Boden s tenor is perfect for the kind of light dashing music he has to sing. He sounds in no way French, but his style works well here. So is this what people looking for an English-style performance should turn to? Perhaps, if that is your first priority. It has all the slightly restrained dignity, sleek orchestral and recorded sound, nimble choral execution, and overall clarity than an Anglophilial Berlioz fan could ask for but for most listeners, that may be too much of a good thing. If I had to choose one from the UK, it would be that first Colin Davis recording. It is not as sleek and dexterous as Andrew s reading, nor is the chorus as good, but it has more energy and drama, none of Andrew s slow spots, and baritone John Shirley-Quirk turns in a more lyrical and less strained Friar Lawrence than David Soar. Readers looking for more emotion, flair, and color should seek out the famous Charles Munch recording from Boston. A major plus from Andrew Davis is the two orchestral excerpts from Berlioz s great opera, The Trojans (which I believe Davis will be soon conducting at the Chicago Lyric Opera). Both performances are more exciting and bigger than the Romeo reading. The sound here is excellent, better than the Colin Davis and probably better than all the Romeos. The notes are good and have some interesting things to say about the music. A slight drawback is that the various sections are indexed only by tempo markings, not episode names. That will be confusing for people who do not know the work well. HECHT High culture can never be obliterated as long as the species continues to produce extraordinary individuals with the inclination and the fortitude to pursue their interests and talents against the grain of the mass culture surrounding them. --Susan Jacoby American Record Guide 65

68 BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique Concertgebouw Orchestra/ Daniele Gatti RCO [SACD] 58 minutes with RAMEAU: Hippolyte et Aricie Suite Swedish Radio Symphony/ Daniel Harding Harmonia Mundi minutes This new SACD from the Concertgebouw is special for two reasons: it s Daniele Gatti s first recording with the RCO since taking over as chief conductor after Mariss Jansons s 12-year tenure, and it s the Concertgebouw s first surround-sound Fantastique since 1974 under Colin Davis. That 1974 quadraphonic recording was issued on a Pentatone SACD in 2007, but I have heard only the stereo CD. It s a highly regarded performance for reasons that elude me, and I m not sure this newcomer is better but it is much different from Davis s. In I, our protagonist smoked some strong opium because he struggles to overcome his reveries and rather sleepwalks through the allegro agitato Passions. He s also heavy-footed through the waltz II someone needs a cold shower and a shot of adrenaline. Scene in the Country, usually a welcome respite from the feverish I and II, made me impatient. March to the Scaffold and Witches Sabbath save the day, though: finally some fire from this great orchestra! Gatti works everyone up to a frenzy, slowly piling on the tension, louder and louder, culminating in the monumental climaxes of the second Dies Irae, literally room-shaking in multichannel, the SACD sound awesome and revealing. But is it too late, just too much torpor and opium hangover from I, II, and III? You need patience, I suppose, to sit back and wallow in the gorgeous and succulent blend of this 2016 Concertgebouw that utterly surpasses in color, beauty, and flexibility the 1974 Concertgebouw, as does the sublime SACD sound. As always for this label, it s a concert recording before a well-behaved audience that s rarely heard. The SRSO Fantastique is another animal altogether, antipode to the RCO. Tempos are standard, but accents are fierce, timpani crisp and punchy, low strings often percussively taut. The recording is close, detailed, immediate, and visceral. The program starts with a suite by Rameau played tart and astringent, no vibrato, a convincing simulacrum of a period band, but no competition for the real deal playing gut strings and antique instruments. It s a sly and sneaky warm-up for the vibrato-free approach to the 19th-Century symphony to come, and the SRSO almost gets away with it their skill is great enough that they sound smooth and sweet without vibrato but still their tone is thin. I want more strings, but my ears adjusted soon enough. This is a molten performance, scorching, the musicians tearing into the passions of I and whirling lithely through the waltz II, harps divided left and right at either end of the ballroom. The country scene is tranquil and serene, the agitated central section evoking the fevered passions of I it s a little intense for me. The tubas are guttural and flatulent in IV, palpably taunting our antihero with raspberries as he ascends the gallows the clarity is striking, it can t be ignored. And of course the Sabbath is rowdy and frenzied. Energy is high all through the symphony, orchestra alert and committed, ensemble ultratight. It s very exciting and I think you ll either love it or hate it, though I think most people will love it it would earn an instant standing ovation in concert. A recent surround-sound Blu-Ray by the Lyon Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin (Naxos BD29) that I like a lot finds a happy middle way between Gatti and Harding, combining the former s large string section, vibrato, and blunted accents with some of the latter s intensity and more conventional tempos. Plus, the Naxos Blu-Ray sounds great, combining the warm blend of the RCO concert SACD and clarity of the Harmonia Mundi (plus it includes Berlioz s alternate II with cornet). I m glad to have all three in my collection. WRIGHT BIRD: American Harmonium Pieces Artis Wodehouse Raven minutes Arthur Bird ( ), pianist, organist, and composer, was part of the circle of American students who studied with Liszt in the 1880s. He wrote organ, piano, and orchestral music, chamber works, and a comic opera. Most of it lies forgotten in library archives, save for the Serenade in D for wind instruments which is perhaps familiar to wind players. He spent most of his adult life as an expatriate in Berlin, marrying a German widow in In the German economic collapse in the 1920s he lost his money and died in poverty in Bird was friends with another American student of Liszt s, William Mason, son of Lowell Mason and brother of Henry, who founded the Mason and Hamlin company. In the 1890s 66 January/February 2017

69 they developed a new type of harmonium or pump organ, which they called the American Harmonium. The keyboard compass and the tonal palette was standardized, producing an instrument capable of a wide range of color and expressiveness. It was hoped that this instrument would inspire the composition of high art music and, to that end, Bird was commissioned by Mason and the publisher Breitkopf to compose works to exploit the possibilities of the instrument. He eventually became widely known in Germany as a virtuoso harmoniumist and wrote a number of critically acclaimed works that also sold well. Even though his training was German, these charming pieces could only have been written by an American of this period; they exude the confidence and ebullience of a country coming of age. One of the more interesting textures is his use of the drone, a device that suits the harmonium well. Wodehous plays on a restored 1916 Mason and Hamlin and offers a selection that displays compositional sophistication, period charm, and an astonishing array of color, textures, and expressiveness, all created on a single keyboard. It makes an interesting comparison with Verdin (N/D 2016) in the sounds and the styles of music. The excellent booklet gives an extensive history of the instrument and much information about this little known composer. DELCAMP BLOW: Symphony Anthems God Spake Sometime in Visions; Hear my Voice, O God; O Sing unto the Lord; When the Son of Man; When Israel Came Out of Egypt; I Was Glad New College Choir; St James Baroque/ Robert Quinney Novum minutes Next to Henry Purcell, John Blow ( ) was probably the most accomplished and imaginative composer of the English Restoration period. As a boy he was one of the first generation of choristers of the restored Chapel Royal. He both preceded and succeeded Purcell as organist of Westminster Abbey. He was appointed a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1674 and in the same year succeeded Pelham Humfrey as its Master of Children. He held numerous musical posts at court and from 1687 to 1703 was Master of Choristers at St Paul s Cathedral. He regarded himself primarily as a composer of church music, as he said in the dedication to Queen Anne of his collection Amphion Anglicus (1700), with more than 100 anthems and 12 service settings to his credit. 5 of the 6 anthems here are symphony anthems: multi-sectional works for soloists and choir with an ensemble of strings. In addition to accompanying the voices, the strings generally open the anthem with a substantial instrumental movement (symphony), and there are usually symphonies inserted between some of the vocal movements. Charles II especially admired the genre, and as Quinney observes in his notes to this recording, most of Blow s symphony anthems were written between 1674, when he was sworn in as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and the monarch s death in Symphony anthems from later than 1685 are usually for specific festive occasions. The earliest anthem here is When Israel Came Out of Egypt, dated April 5, Hear my Voice, O God is something of a royal propaganda piece, written on short notice and performed on July 18, 1683, between the conviction and sentencing of the Rye House conspirators who plotted the assassination of Charles and the Duke of York. The text from Psalm 64 upholds the legitimacy of the crown and the punishment owing to treason. God Spake Sometime in Visions is the most grandiose of three anthems Blow wrote for the coronation of James II at Westminster Abbey in It is for eight-part choir, and the accompaniment would have been played by the full complement of the king s 24 Violins. In the more intimate space of the Chapel Royal it is likely that the strings would have been one player to a part, and that is what we have in this recording. The verse anthem When the Son of Man is the only one here without strings. It has never been published, possibly because the Contratenor Decani part, one of the three soloists, is missing from the sources. The reconstruction performed here is by Robert Quinney, who conjectures that the anthem dates from the reign of James II, who established his own Catholic chapel and generally neglected the Anglican Chapel Royal. I Was Glad was written for the opening of the chancel of the new St Paul s Cathedral on December 2, 1697, which coincided with the service of thanksgiving for the Peace of Ryswick. The instrumentation includes a pair of trumpets with the strings. The latest work here is O Sing unto the Lord, written for a charitable concert at Stationers Hall on January 31, It is notable for its virtuosic solo vocal writing. American Record Guide 67

70 The Choir of New College, Oxford, is among the finest of the traditional English choral foundations. Their credentials in the performance of the Restoration and Georgian repertory are impressive. Between 1991 and 1994, when Edward Higginbottom was their director, they took part in the recordings with Robert King and the King s Consort of the complete anthems, service music, and devotional songs by Henry Purcell (Hyperion 44141; March/April 2003). Under Higginbottom, they issued impressive recordings on the CRD label of anthems by William Croft, Maurice Greene, and William Boyce. The present recording is a worthy successor to their earlier efforts. While I could wish sometimes for a more robust sound and incisive articulation and phrasing, it is impossible to find serious fault on technical grounds with these performances. The idiom itself favors graceful elegance or penitential introspection, and Quinney conveys those qualities. A few years ago I reviewed a reissue of a low-cost two-disc set of Blow anthems, originally issued in 1995, performed by the choir of Winchester Cathedral and the Parley of Instruments directed by David Hill (Hyperion; Sept/Oct 2006). Although the 14 anthems recorded there barely scratch the surface of Blow s output of church music, I described the set as the mother lode among recordings of this repertory. Hill s performances are every bit as impressive as Quinney s. Apart from God Spake Sometime in Visions, there is no duplication of repertory, so readers who already own the earlier recording should not hesitate to acquire the new one. It is a must for admirers of Restoration church music. GATENS BOLLIUS: St John s Oratorio Rosenmuller Ensemble/ Arno Paduch Christophorus minutes Daniel Bollius (c c. 1662) composed his Repraesentatio Harmonica Conceptionis et Nativitatis S. Joannis Baptistae some time between 1618 and 1626, while employed as organist and Kapellmeister for Johann Schweikhard von Kronberg, the Archbishop and Elector of Mainz. Kronberg had studied at the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, which led Arno Paduch to surmise that it was this appreciation for Italian music that may have inspired Bollius to compose his oratorio in the Roman style of the early Baroque. Various solo singers are assigned to the scriptural roles of the Archangel Gabriel, Elisabeth, the Prophet Isaiah, the Gospel writer Luke, the priest Zacharia, and the Virgin Mary, while the Populus is represented by a chorus. The Italian style of the early Baroque is most recognizable in the use of monodic recitative, virtuosic divisions, and expressive dissonance. The high divisions sung by the Archangel Gabriel (Simone Schwark, soprano) in Act I give her pronouncements an ethereal character. In Act II the divisions sung by the priest Zacharia (Markus Flaig, bass) make his declarations sound weighty and emphatic. The instrumental parts in the sinfonias rely on the same technique, usually creating virtuosic divisions over a repeating structure. The agility of the recorders (Bernhard Stilz, Anna Schall, and Miriam Grapp) is especially pronounced in the Tertia Symphonia. It is clever how singers shape character with tone color. For example, Johanna Krell sings the parts for Elisabeth in Act I with a full, mature sound, while the following passages for the Virgin Mary (Sabine Götz) evoke a youthful air through a light tone without vibrato. The most evocative use of dissonance appears in the downward chromatic progressions of the Quarta Symphonia. It is a wonderful performance. Notes are in English, but the Latin text is translated into German only. LOEWEN BONI: Mandolin Sonatas; see VALENTINI BORTKIEWICZ: Lyrica Nova; Piano Sonata 2; 3 Preludes; Esquisses de Crimée; Etude; Nocturne Alfonso Soldano, p Divine Art minutes This is Volume 12 in Divine Art s Russian Piano Music series, and it joins other fine recordings of this composer, whose music will appeal immediately to anyone who enjoys the music of Rachmaninoff. I recently reviewed many of the same pieces played by Nadejda Vlaeva (Hyperion 68118, July/Aug 2016). I have also reviewed six of the nine discs by Jouni Somero on the Finnish FC label (9723 & 9736, Sept/Oct 2012; 9740, 9741, 9742, Jan/Feb 2013). Soldano s work here and the recording and booklet qualities all stand up fully to the other recordings. Bortkiewicz s piano writing is stylistically influenced by Chopin, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Liadov. The technical requirements are similar to what is found in Rachmaninoff. 68 January/February 2017

71 With few exceptions, Bortkiewicz s piano writing calls for a very secure technique. He is skillful at writing beautiful melodies, and I find his music generally positive and bright. There is drama, poetry, brilliance, and even some sadness and melancholy (though not to the level we usually associate with Rachmaninoff). He described himself as a romantic and a melodist, with an aversion to what he called modern, atonal, and cacophonous music. In the four Lyrica Nova one hears touches of Scriabin, but these are still solidly in the late romantic style and display Bortkiewicz s melodic skill. Sonata 2 is a big (22 minutes) four-movement work that was first published in Composed in 1942 and premiered by the composer, it was assumed lost for many years. It is striking in its use several times of short phrases from Rachmaninoff s Piano Concerto 2 not a complete tune, but enough for any melody detective to sit up and take notice. The Esquisses de Crimée are four pieces united by a common theme that have a little oriental flavor. The short pieces are all excellent representations of Bortkiewicz s compositional skill with small forms. Soldano (b. 1986) is one of the last longtime students of Aldo Ciccolini. He clearly has an great affinity for this music and has also written a biography of Bortkiewicz. I have enjoyed this many times. HARRINGTON BORTKIEWICZ: Violin Concerto; Othello Sergey Levitin, v; Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martin Yates Dutton 7323 [SACD] 81 minutes Bortkiewicz s concerto (1922) is a substantial entry in the genre. The soloist kicks things off with rhythmically squarish theme. The second subject forms a pleasing contrast, with a beautiful heartfelt melody. An elfin figure forms a third element. The development of these materials alternates fast and slow tempos, but the episodes do connect. The second theme especially gets a movingly lyrical expansion. It s a lengthy movement over 20 minutes but that length is occupied by lots of good invention. Even the cadenza, normally an infallible yawn maker, has real development and casts new light on the themes. This movement alone would make a fine concert piece for violin and orchestra. The wistful slow movement opens with an English horn solo. The contrast to I would be hard to beat. The soloist has what must be a bear s den of multi-stop passages, but they contribute to an eloquent statement. Bortkiewicz the work turns virtuosity into genuine emotion. The diminuendo ending he handles with artistry. III has a relaxed initial manner. Celebratory music suddenly intrudes, leading to a genial march tune. The soloist gets first crack at it, followed by the higher woodwinds with closely voiced harmonies. On this jaunty tune, Bortkiewicz works all manner of ingenious twists and turns. The cozy second theme contrasts a bit but doesn t change the overall mood. The development uses a pair of grandiloquent paragraphs. The soloist gets a last burst of virtuosity before a final review of the march and a compact conclusion. The piece is so good I m surprised it s not better known. The solo part is full of great fireworks, though at 50 minutes it is a stiff assignment. Violinist Levitin has the technique and sound of old school Russian soloists, when the training ran 16 hours a day with meals practically shoved under the door. He has a beautiful tone with total mastery of an exceedingly difficult part resulting in an exhilarating performance. Othello (1914) is a Shakespearean tone poem, with themes for Othello, Desdemona, and Iago. The Moor s theme uses fanfare-like figures, and Desdemona s is a richly scored love melody. Iago s theme derives from Strauss s Till Eulenspiegel. As I make a specialty of tone poems, I was very interested in one I d never heard, but here the composer s imagination lets him down. Some of Othello s fanfares sound more geared to an operetta. Instead of a vicious plotter, Iago s theme suggests a comic prankster. Rather than a fatal tragedy, we get Hijinks in Cyprus. Neither they nor their transformations can sustain a halfhour work, despite good playing from the RSNO and able conducting from Yates. These are both premiere recordings, but the concerto is in every way the star of this release. O CONNOR BRAHMS: Cello Sonatas; 4 Serious Songs Alexander Baillie; John Thwaites, p Somm minutes This would appear to be a cello CD, better handled by David Moore, but I think it may be more a piano CD. Pianist Thwaites plays three different instruments: for the first sonata in E minor he uses a 1860 Rönisch Concert-modell, which is straight-strung with English American Record Guide 69

72 action; for the F major Sonata he plays an Ehrbar, which is cross-strung with Viennese action; and for the Serious Songs he has an 1878 Streicher, cross-strung with English action. So we have increasingly modern pianos to accompany three works that progress through Brahms s career. All sound quite fine with, as we would expect, more clarity but less ripeness and color than with a modern piano. For his part Baillie plays a 1670 Cassini, equipped with metal strings. These sound only mildly metallic, and I often thought I was listening to gut strings. The performances are wonderfully involving and expressive. Tempos are quick by the clock, but they don t sound fast because of the openness and clarity of the instruments. Regarding the classical-romantic divide they seem clearly on the romantic side, with lots of little, telling moments and flexible tempos, and Baillie indulges in asynchronicity or dislocation, where the hands do not play quite together, thus minimizing percussiveness in the piano and providing better separation of voices. I can best compliment this venture by saying the performers are here to play expressive music, rather than simply to fulfill a musicological exercise. It s hard to make a judgement on the Serious Songs since I kept mouthing the words while listening. At any rate the arrangement is effective, using the original song keys, but casting a lot of the material an octave higher than in the vocal original. For the sonatas this would not be a first choice if you re allergic to period style, but it would certainly be worth having as contrast or foil to Du Pre, Ma, or Rostropovich. ALTHOUSE BRAHMS: Liebeslieder Waltzes; Waltzes, op 39 Kimy McLaren, Michele Losier, Pascal Charbonneau, Alexandre Sylvestre; Myriam Farid, p; Olivier Godin, p ATMA minutes This release carries the title Chants D Amour. It contains both sets of Liebeslieder separated by the Waltzes for four-hand piano. All the performers have roots in French Canada, and indeed the label is Canadian. All the singers have impressive resumes in opera, but it is the two men who are most impressive. They blend well, and both have just the right weight for ensemble singing; duets like O die Frauen and Sieh, wie ist die Welle Klar are beautifully done. The women, particularly soprano McLaren, unfortunately have more vibrato than is desirable, and it is hard to read the harmonies in several spots. This problem is most serious when the writing is high and loud. Softer, gentler pieces are fine. Pianists Farid and Godin met more than 20 years ago at the Montreal Conservatory; they continue to collaborate even though Farid now lives in Germany (Godin is still in Canada). They play the waltzes quite well, showing fine touch in the C-sharp major and lots of sentiment in works like the lovely A-flat waltz. In general, though, I find them just a trifle impatient in spots (e.g., the B-flat) where I would milk the music with a little more rubato. They are fine with the singers, but again I sensed that they and not the singers were responsible for moving the music along. For the most part a good recording. A similar approach to the Liebeslieder, but with better women, can be found on Harmonia Mundi (Marlis Petersen, Stella Doufexis, Werner Güra, and Konrad Jarnot Jan/Feb 2008), now part of a two-disc set that includes lovely Schumann vocal quartets as well. ALTHOUSE BRAHMS: Piano Sonata 3; Schumann Variations; Scherzo Gabriele Carcano Oehms minutes This program of three early Brahms compositions constitutes the CD debut of 31-year-old Italian pianist Gabriele Carcano. He is not a major competition winner but has won a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship Award and has participated repeatedly in the Marlboro Festival, which almost guarantees fine musicianship, as is confirmed by this release. The Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5, is often performed and recorded; but the sublime Variations on a Theme of Schumann, Op. 9, and the vigorous Scherzo, Op. 4, are more rarely encountered. They are welcome choices and reveal the pianist s inclinations; others might have chosen instead the Paganini Variations to show off their virtuosity. Carcano s interpretations seem nearly ideal to me and have given me much pleasure. In the sonata his tempo is perhaps a little cautious in I and a little too fleet in II and especially IV, where the left-hand triplets are blurred initially, but these are very minor problems. All performances are sensitive, technically accomplished, and without mannerisms. True, compared to Julius Katchen s classic renditions (London-Decca) they seem somewhat 70 January/February 2017

73 restrained, but it is hardly possible to match Katchen s flamboyance, then or now. Carcano does not have a showy streak at all but rather comes across as thoughtful and introverted. Reinforcing these impressions are two fine cover photographs that show the artist in unforced poses and in interior surroundings presumably chosen to illuminate his character. He must be a fine chamber music player, and I hope he will record such repertoire in the future. The booklet has good liner notes and biographical information in German and English. The sound quality is excellent. REPP BRAHMS: Quartets; Piano Quintet Till Fellner, p; Belcea Quartet Alpha 248 [2CD] 120 minutes The Belcea Quartet has existed for more than 20 years, but only one original member, first violinist Corina Belcea, still remains. Belcea, a Romanian, started the quartet with friends while studying in London, and she continues to be based in that city. Judging from their photo, the other members are all fairly young, so I expected a typical young quartet, full of fire, fast tempos and aggressive playing. Well, I was wrong. Their playing has plenty of energy and emotion, but they are also remarkably subtle and refined. I noted in the very first movement of the First Quartet how nicely shaped and beautiful the music was (and this in Brahms s more ferocious style). In the Allegretto of the same quartet the music around the little triplet figures is coaxed and teased out with great finesse, the instruments showing excellent ensemble. They are not reluctant to play softly when needed. Even the first violinist gets out of the way if the music suggests it. One example in particular struck me: in the Second Quartet the second theme falls to Violin I (at Letter B), but is then repeated in viola (Letter C). For this repetition the violin is almost inaudible and the viola comes through naturally, without having to force. Tempos all seem to be in the normal range with no exaggerations, but a quick comparison with rivals shows them usually slightly slower and more relaxed. All these observations point to their careful preparation and deep musicality; their playing is technically secure, but never exaggerated by excessive speed or virtuosity. The quartet is joined in the Piano Quintet by Austrian pianist Till Fellner. Their approach in this piece seems to be soft-spoken and lyrical, rather than dramatic and assertive. Here, much as I often appreciate a more gentle, musical view, I find it underplayed and tepid; the introduction to IV is too quick and lacks mystery. In fairness I should note that the middle movements are fine. The only other recording I have at hand with the same coupling as here is the Emerson Quartet with Fleisher in the Quintet. The Emerson, ever serious about Brahms, is quicker in all 12 quartet movements. But the Quintet, no doubt with Fleisher in charge, is slower in every movement. I think the Emerson could stand to be more relaxed. Some may prefer the forward pressure of groups like the Emerson (in the quartets), but I find the Belcea almost ideal. I sense the same qualities with the Chiara Quartet, though, and their sound is a little less harsh than the Belcea. The Chiara (M/J 2014) remains at the top of my heap! ALTHOUSE BRAHMS: Serenade 1; Haydn Variations Hague Philharmonic/ Jan Willem de Vriend Challenge [SACD] 63:23 Yet another business-like conductor, who refuses to indulge the music. This is utterly unromantic, suiting our anti-romantic times. The phrasing is cold. The Adagio of the Serenade is anything but it takes only a little more than 11 minutes, and I am used to about 15 minutes (Slatkin, Muti). The orchestra is small about 55 players and Slatkin s St Louis Symphony sounds lush in comparison. Slatkin cares about beautiful sound. SACD doesn t help this one; the sound is generic and non-descript, and the conductor simply wants to drive the music forward. Again in the variations the orchestra is put thru its paces without any sense of awe at the sheer beauty of the music and the sounds. There is logic and coherence, but there is no sensuous beauty. Think of the way it sounded when Bruno Walter conducted it! Efficiency strikes again. VROON BRAHMS: Songs; 4 Serious Songs Matthias Goerne, bar; Christoph Eschenbach, p Harmonia Mundi minutes Goerne gave with Eschenbach a strong performance of Schubert s Schwanengesang (S/O 2012) for Harmonia Mundi as part of his ninevolume project, each with a different accompanist. They turn now to Brahms with a American Record Guide 71

74 somber program about facing sadness, loneliness, and death. The nine songs of Op. 32, while not actually a cycle, recount the lament of a deeply wounded lover whose feeling of abandonment is tempered by the memory of past love as abject bitterness over lost love in the first six Pläten poems yields to tenderness in the final three Daumer poems as he remembers that love. Goerne s growling delivery, so effective in the opening song, Wie Rafft Ich Mich auf in der Nacht, contrasts dramatically with the bliss he conveys in the last song, Wie Bist Du, Mein Königin. His softer tone continues in the following five Heine settings from Op. 85 and Op. 96, which present the nocturnal ambivalence of tranquility and death contrasted with the daytime radiance of the sun. In the end, the melancholy tone wins out with the feeling of drifting forlorn on the wide sea. Goerne s singing here is consistently soft and serene, interrupted with outbursts of angst. It is a marvel to hear the tenderness he brings to Mondenschein as he softly caresses the long lines Brahms spins out. In his late years, as the impending death of his beloved Clara Schumann weighed heavily on him, the humanistic Brahms turned to the Bible for his Four Serious Songs. He completed the work on his 63rd birthday, May 7, 1896 just two weeks before Clara s death choosing texts from Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus on the inevitability of death and concluding with the Apostle Paul s assurance of faith, hope, and love from 1 Corinthians 13. Goerne rages against the dying of the light and also conveys consolation. It is disappointing that he takes the lower option of E rather than G on Liebe in the climactic soaring line near the end of the final song, and it is surprising that he did not spit out the words O Tod, wie bitter bist du in the third song with more feeling. Still this is one of the best accounts available of these immensely moving songs. It would be hard to find a more appropriate baritone for this program. His intensity is almost unnerving. Goerne has just the right vocal timbre for these songs and he does an amazing job of tempering his brawny voice, reducing it from a fierce growl to barely a whisper. Silky smooth legato and close attention to the meaning of the text are great virtues in his singing even though consonant enunciation tends to get buried by the darkness of his throaty timbre and greater emphasis on vowel sounds. Eschenbach explores the darker aspects of the accompaniment and adds his own drama to the songs. This is an exceptionally fine program. I wish it were not so short. Notes, texts, translations. R MOORE BRAHMS: Symphony 4; BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto 2 Kalle Randalu, p; Estonian Symphony/ Neeme Jarvi ERP minutes This release is part of Estonian Records Great Maestros series. I m not sure if they plan to restrict themselves to Estonian conductors, but if so, this may seem a bad joke since Jarvi (along with sons Paavo and Kristjan) may be the only candidates for the honor (and they are all American citizens). At any rate Neeme, now 79, has enjoyed a distinguished career, making some 400 recordings and conducting 157 different orchestras, including in the US long stints with the New Jersey Symphony and the Detroit Symphony. These recordings were made in Tallinn, the city of his birth, in May 2012 (Brahms) and October 2014 (Beethoven). Jarvi has an extensive discography, but Brahms has not played a large part in it. He recorded the symphonies some 30 years ago when Allen Linkowski found his Fourth uncommitted and wayward (M/J 1989), too lacking in basic pulse. Now, many years later, I find him quite the opposite. Tempos are quick and a little rigid in what is basically a classical approach in the mold of someone like Szell (though not nearly so well played!). The regularity of tempos brings some dividends in excitement, but too often I wished for more flexibility and rhetorical quality. Not a bad recording, but neither is it a threat to your favorites. The Beethoven is more relaxed and romantic in spirit. Randalu is a fine Estonian pianist, now living in Germany, where he holds a professorship at Karlsruhe University. His Beethoven is warm and shaped with very little suggestion of Mozart or Haydn. I particularly like his (and Jarvi s) ability to make this a lovely, solid piece rather than just an example of early Beethoven with rococo tendencies! So, a mixed verdict. An enjoyable concerto, where the classical Beethoven piece is given a warm romantic performance, juxtaposed with a tragically romantic symphony of Brahms, which gets a straight, classical reading. ALTHOUSE 72 January/February 2017

75 BRAHMS: Trio 1; BRIDGE: Phantasie Hyung-ki Joo, p; Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne, p; Thomas Carroll, cello Paladino minutes In this clever pairing of youthful pieces, pianist Hyung-ki Joo of the duo Igudesman & Joo joins former principal violinist of Ensemble Modern, Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne and cellist Thomas Carroll for a performance of Brahms s First Trio and Frank Bridge s Phantasie Trio. I heard the Phantasie at Spoleto a few years ago and was amazed I d never encountered it. The opening cello theme is haunting and longbreathed, and the poetic piano tune following is just as memorable. Technically in sonata form, the piece seems one endless flow, moving inexorably toward a thrilling coda, with the piano rippling up and down the keyboard. It is thoroughly romantic in sensibility and melodic generosity, though the idiom is modern. Written in 1907 for a competition, this is young man s music, confident and passionate, but carefully crafted. The whole time I was listening, I was thinking that Bridge sounds like a British Barber or is Barber an American Bridge? The Brahms is also an early work, written when he was 21, giving the album a nice unity (though Brahms did revise the piece later). It too is surging with confidence and power. Brahms can t get enough of the noble opening theme, and neither can we; the hymn-like Adagio is a weightier version of his later slow movements. Pianist Hyung-ki Joo has a welcome delicacy of touch, which helps with the thick textures and with the heavy approach of the two string players. The Sony with Isaac Stern has been my favorite, and Beaux Arts is always the last word in liveliness, but these do not offer the Bridge, which alone is reason to get this release. SULLIVAN BRAHMS: Violin Concerto; String Quintet 2 Ante Weithaas, v; Camerata Bern Avi minutes The Camerata Bern was founded in 1962 as an instrumental ensemble without a conductor. So here we have the Brahms concerto one of the grandest, most symphonic concertos with no one at the helm. The orchestra is greatly reduced in strings: 5, 5, 4, 4, 2. That creates fewer balance problems than you might expect (and this was recorded in concert), and the loss of precise ensemble is minimal. The liner notes contend that the smaller forces allow for more clarity, and I ll admit I heard some details that have always escaped my attention. Tempos are in the normal range, and Weithaas, who is artistic director of the Camerata, plays the difficult score beautifully. The section after the cadenza is quite slow and wonderfully done. There are some losses, though. The main liability is the relative absence of grandeur and heroism. Many spots in the outer movements need the weight and power of a large orchestra; and while the winds are well in balance, we need them to go full throttle from time to time. In short there is nothing wrong with this performance, so long as you accept the premise. In the Quintet the opposite pertains. Here we have a chamber piece, one to a part, but played by string orchestra. The work has been arranged, taking a quintet with double violas (v, v, va, va, vc) and recasting it for the Camerata s usual lineup: 4, 4, 2, 2, plus a double bass. This make the piece less viola-ish, but it sounds fine in this version. Here there is little loss from the original, so I endorse it heartily, particularly if there are string orchestras out there looking for good material. ALTHOUSE BRAHMS: Double Concerto; Trio 1; SCHUMANN: Violin Concerto: II Joshua Bell, v; Steven Isserlis, vc; Jeremy Denk, p; Academy of St Martin in the Fields/ Joshua Bell Sony minutes This release carries the title For the Love of Brahms, which is, I suppose, Sony s brilliant strategy for selling more CDs. Give it a catchy title, and the masses will stand in line to buy it! The liner notes by Steven Isserlis do justify the title by pointing out all the connections among Brahms, the Schumanns, and Joseph Joachim. The performers have chosen the 1854 version of the B-major Trio because the amorous song quotations (from Schubert s Am Meer and Beethoven s An die Ferne Geliebte) were cut from the 1889 revision. We have the Schumann Violin Concerto because it was written for Joachim, and of course Schumann launched Brahms s career. The Double Concerto was a conciliatory offering to Joachim after he and Brahms had a falling out over Joachim s divorce. Well, there you have the Love of Brahms in much abbreviated form. You ll have to get the CD for the full story, including Isserlis s reference to the Marx Brothers. American Record Guide 73

76 If we ignore the above silliness (and the fact that this is a rather strange combination of pieces), it s a wonderful program. The Double Concerto is beautifully played by the soloists and the ASMF, which happily does not sound too small despite their limited size (23 strings). Most striking, though, is the sound of Isserlis s cello, which is almost indescribably sweet and beautiful. The beginning of the Double with its cello solo begged for repeated playings! I have heard Isserlis before he plays on gut strings but I can t recall a more beguiling cello sound ever. The Schumann is represented by only the slow movement. In the original it leads directly into the finale, so here Bell uses a codetta written by Britten for a 1958 Aldeburgh Festival performance in memory of horn player Dennis Brain. The trio is no less impressive. I can t imagine anyone who knows the revised 1889 version thinking the 1854 is superior as a piece, even if Isserlis seems to prefer it. The earlier version is too discursive and tends to ramble on. On the other hand if you know the later work, this would be an introduction to Brahms s original thoughts. We have very few examples of Brahms s compositional journeys (he destroyed everything!), so this is a rare opportunity to see him self-editing. And the performance is first-rate. ALTHOUSE BRAHMS: Violin Sonatas; Scherzo Christian Tetzlaff; Lars Vogt, p Ondine minutes This is Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt s second time around for the sonatas and the Scherzo. I reviewed their first recording together with the Hungaroton set by Barnabas Kelemen and Tamas Vasary (N/D 2004), and I concluded that Tetzlaff and Vogt were eclipsed by their Hungarian rivals. This time around, their approach is more intimate, but it is also much more low-key. This music is far too passionate and varied in mood to be properly served by this treatment. I don t feel the emotions I usually feel when I listen to this music, and I remain uninvolved. Stick with Barnabas Kelemen and Tamas Vasary or the Khachatryan siblings for their remarkable ensemble in parts of these sonatas (Jan/Feb 2014). Tetzlaff plays a violin made by Peter Greiner. Excellent sound. MAGIL Many quotations in this issue are from Susan Jacoby's book, The Age of American Unreason. BRAUNFELS: Don Gil of the Green Pants Prelude, Dance, and Melody; Concert Piece; The Doves Marriage from the Birds; Serenade Piers Lane, p; BBC Concert Orchestra/ Johannes Wildner Dutton 7327 [SACD] 66 minutes These are further welcome installments in Dutton s series of the music of Walter Braunfels. The first two pieces listed are recorded premieres. His opera Don Gil of the Green Pants (1923) derives from a play by Tirso de Molina. I ve never heard the opera, but if these excerpts are a guide, it must be a boisterous, tuneful work. Braunfels includes a theme from Nunez-Robles s song collection Music of the People. It s mostly a series of charming vignettes, scored with total assurance. The music resembles work by Richard Strauss, but with fewer gear shifts in tempo. The Interlude has a humorous mock-moorish theme for added color. The Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra (1946) has in I an intentionally archaic dotted note theme. It begins at a deliberate pace when suddenly the piano butts in, restates it and elaborates on it. The theme then speeds up into the allegro. II has a stately, nearly pompous melody related to the initial motif of I. The attacca finale just about slashes into the quiet ending of II, racing to a breakneck finale. Braunfels s life-enhancing opera The Birds, to use Bruno Walter s description, has made something of a deserved comeback. The Doves Wedding Interlude from the work shares all its purity and sweetness. Apparently cuckoos were invited, with other species chiming in. Near the end, flutes add syncopated bird-cries. The Serenade (1910) is also a work of allure. It has a radiantly extended melody for horn and strings. Its mood has an elegiac dignity. II works a tarantella first on the flute, then on the bassoons into a cute scherzo. Notator Juergen Schaarwaechter regards III as a possible influence on Strauss s Alpine Symphony. With its mellow pastoral mien and quasiyodelling lyric themes, I wouldn t dismiss his hunch. After all, Strauss does quote Max Bruch in that great symphony. IV follows without a break. It quotes from Ride of the Valkyries and near the end, a descending theme again recalls the Alpine Symphony. The work closes with a reminiscence of Wagner s equestriennes. Recorded sound is fine, with performances and direction to match. O CONNOR 74 January/February 2017

77 BRIAN: Symphonies Mark Hindley, org; Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martyn Brabbins Dutton 7330 [SACD] 69 minutes 16 horns! Are you crazy? I can already hear symphony financial managers howling at any prospect of doing Havergal Brian s Symphony 2. The news gets worse: not only does it need The Four Quartets, but also quadruple (plus) woodwind, four trumpets, four trombones, two tubas, three timpanists with nine drums and a percussion battery including a bass drum, three side drums, cymbals, gong etc. plus two pianos, two harps, celeste, organ, and strings divisi in 10 parts. And with a wind band of that size, the strings better not be a scrawny handful of HIP stragglers. He finished the work in 1931, aged 55. Initially he claimed Goethe s Goetz von Berlichingen inspired it; Brian was a lifelong admirer of German culture. Later in life he disavowed this and described it as depicting MAN in his cosmic loneliness: ambition, love, battles, death. Given the mood of much of the work, his second thoughts seem fitter. It must be one of the most densely voiced symphonies of its era. The huge orchestra is used not only for stunning blocks of sound, but also for fine gradations of color. Although overall in E minor, it s the most tonally adventurous of Brian s symphonies, some of its themes approaching atonality. He d met Schoenberg around the time he worked on it and always had respect for the older man s theories. The first theme, played pizzicato, has 11 of the 12 chromatic pitches. Not only this theme itself but phrases from it, like its first three tones, turn up constantly in the work. I has two thematic groups. In the first the themes are chromatic and all include a falling tritone. The lead melody of the second group is almost ordinary it s so diatonic, but the accompanying harmony is at first highly chromatic. The movement mounts to several climaxes, with flickering relief sections of celeste and harps. The diatonic tune reappears with simpler harmonies. After a tremendous tutti passage, the movement tapers off with the two timpanists in open fifths, suggesting E minor. II is in a slow 6/4 meter. Though a lot of it is active, it opens and closes on a dolorous English horn theme. Related to the opening theme in I, it uses 10 of the 12 chromatic pitches. The scoring is highly imaginative, as in a passage where the clarinets play a theme, accompanied by celeste chords and harp glissandos with four flutes each playing their own line of triplets with staggered flutter tongue accents. III, the scherzo, gained fame owing to its use of the 16 horns. It s the most diatonic movement, but there s still a perceptible conflict between the tonalities of C and D. It s a six-minute essay in a brisk 6/8 meter, beginning with detached harp strokes. The two pianos weigh in, then three timpanists playing in harmony. The score has no clue as to where the horn players should be; this recording places them on the right and left ends of the orchestra. As each horn quartet enters, the volume builds to a fine din, the piano parts now almost virtuosic. The furious pace continues till suddenly, as composer John Pickard put it, the music implodes to a quiet section. The movement ends on a dissonant woodwind chord, nearly a stacked up whole-tone scale. IV, the longest movement, begins abruptly. It has the character of a funeral march or at least an oration; it s mostly in a slow 4/4. It includes two figures traceable to Wagner s Gotterdammerung. The first is a string flourish ending in midair, the second nearly a quote of the Death motif from that opera. Its lengthy main theme begins on the clarinet, then higher woodwinds, ending on descending tritones by the horns. It too derives from the chromatic opening theme of the symphony. At several points the flourishing string motif acts as if to stop the progress of the movement. There are grief-stricken episodes, some with chimes, like a eulogy. There s also a beautifully harmonized passage for cellos and basses in seven sections. The movement moves steadily, crescendo by crescendo, till the orchestra hammers the death motif. Topping off the music, the climax from I resounds through the entire ensemble, including eight horns and both pianos, the whole made more brutal by repeated gong-strokes. The pace resumes, but now in a state of quiet depletion. The coda has faint memories of the Gotterdammerung themes, and the symphony ends as it began with two timpanists rolls on E and B, and on the lower strings pp an E minor chord. Michael Doleschell, a fellow Brian Society member and emcee of the CBC radio program Sound Magic observes that people overlook Brian s exploration of extremes in the symphony. His first four need very large to huge orchestras, pushing the bounds of the genre in time and resources. Yet most of his other symphonies use average orchestras and are shorter than average. His gargantuan Symphony 1, the Gothic has a jolting contrast between its American Record Guide 75

78 first and second subjects. Even in Symphony 2, there s a huge orchestra, yet often its textures are delicate and refined. The last time I recall hearing Symphony 14 was on a pirate LP allegedly led by the author Colin Wilson. The symphony (1960) was even for Brian a problem child. He wrote friends about the effort it cost him. Malcolm MacDonald, Brian s Boswell, even called it a noble failure. His analytical essay shows it was a trial for him to make some sense of the music. The bean counters will find no joy here either. Symphony 14 needs an orchestra bigger than Strauss s for Zarathustra. It begins well in a Sibelian vein, with an arresting English horn theme over wandering 16th notes in the strings. There are other fascinating pages. The midpoint of the work has a passage where percussion and suspended cymbal pp plus intertwined harp arpeggios accompany the bass instruments playing a variation of the opening theme. The effect is spectral, otherworldly; you wish it were longer. The closing bars, with a huge cadence seemingly headed for F minor but then massively resolving to F major, are also impressive. Mac- Donald feels it s a mistake, but to me it sounds like the symphony at the last minute lurches back on the right track. Most of the symphony is puzzling, with constantly fascinating starts petering out in 30 to 60 seconds. Brian was extending his already elliptical style to the point where he d take extremely brief phrases and work barely perceptible variations on them. This symphony is one of the transition works into that style. In Symphony 2 many themes are longer, thus we readily hear their transformations. Barring a sea-change of public tastes and listening abilities, his later symphonies will never be repertoire items. Recordings or downloads are really ideal for them. They re short, so people can give them the repeated listenings that help the music make sense. Performances and interpretations of all are first-rate. If you have the Tony Rowe reading of Symphony 2 (Nov/Dec 2007), hang on to it. Rowe has many intelligent insights into the work. Brabbyns s interpretation is excellent, he has a better orchestra, and Dutton s sound is ferocious. In the finale of Symphony 2 the organ pedals seem to erupt from the depths of the earth itself. The symphony is a granitic masterpiece with few concessions to the routine in short, the work of a real artist. O CONNOR BRITTEN: Bridge Variations with VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Tallis Fantasy; STRAVINSKY: Apollo Trondheim Soloists 2L 125 [SACD & Blu-Ray] 70 minutes with ELGAR: Serenade; FINZI: Romance; BRIDGE: Idyll; Old English Songs Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/ Sakari Oramo Alba 387 [SACD] 58 minutes These are chamber orchestras with about 20 players. If you treasure the Karajan Apollo you will find the string sound rather thin on this recording. I also like a big, rich string sound in the Vaughan Williams Stokowski, Ormandy, Slatkin, etc. (The Trondheim people play it very well, though.) Even in the Bridge piece I don t like the insubstantial string sound on 2L; it never gets warm, never stretches forth its arms (so to speak). The Ostrobothnians sound better to me smoother, less edgy (not a good word referring to strings). They avoid works that would gain a lot from a gain in strings, and they play well. I have to admit that the Britten work is not a favorite of mine, but it can be quite arresting if you pay attention. I don t think it has to be played by massive strings; it works with 20 or 21. So do the other pieces on the Alba program. But the programs themselves may influence your choice between these two, and both are bright and clear recordings. The 2L package includes two discs, one Blu-Ray and one SACD. VROON BRITTEN: Songs with Guitar; Songs from the Chinese; Nocturnal; Folksong Arrangements; DOWLAND: Come, Heavy Sleep Ivonne Fuchs, mz; Georg Gulys, g Proprius minutes In speaking of Britten s music one usually defers to the composer s own recordings as conductor, pianist, and supervisor. Peter Pears is often the tenor, and much of the music was written for his unique voice. The guitar music here was written for Julian Bream. When I first played the disc without reference to the performers my ears went into aural shock! What kind of voice is that? A countertenor? An over-indulged soprano? The singer is German mezzo-soprano Ivonne Fuchs. Oh the pain! She too often overindulges in a flattening of vibrato and whiteness of 76 January/February 2017

79 tone a good effect for a train whistle. This is not what Britten wanted. Avoid it! I have no quarrel with Gulyas and his guitar. The texts are included, but in minuscule type. PARSONS BROSSARD: Trio Sonatas; Stabat Mater; see COUPERIN BROWN: Choral Pieces The Crossing/ Donald Nully, Eric Dudley; New York Polyphony Navona minutes Gregory W Brown writes choral music that is contemplative and sometimes ethereal; it is freely tonal, though spiked with occasional dissonance. The choral effects and overall ambiance have a neo-renaissance feeling. Five Women Bathing in Moonlight, set to a Richard Wilbur poem, sets up a moonstruck atmosphere of soft compulsions that weaves through the program. Most of the pieces are sung by the excellent 24-member Philadelphia ensemble, The Crossing, which specializes in new music. Spring is the most elaborately polyphonic, with a pile-up of canons, but it becomes increasingly pastoral, as does the sweetly affecting Portugese song, Entral, Pastores, Entral. The recording is clear and resonant. The acoustic is more up-front in the performances by the four men in New York Polyphony, the other ensemble here. New York Polyphony is strongly masculine, with subtle dynamics; for them, less is definitely more. They do a wonderful job with the Darwin Mass, a more complex and austere piece juxtaposing Catholic liturgy with texts from Darwin; and they convey an eloquent hardiness in the Three American Folk Hymns that end the album: The Dying Californian, Sweet Hour of Prayer, and The Morning Trumpet. These are refreshingly simple, unadorned settings, confidently sung, a robust encore to a gratifying album. SULLIVAN BRUCKNER: Symphony 8 Cologne Radio/ Jukka-Pekka Saraste Profil :38 This was recorded in The conductor mentions the tremendous influence of the Wand recording on him ( in my youth ), but I hear none of that here. It s true that the Wand recording I have (RCA) was made in Hamburg, not Cologne; but did his approach change so much? It takes 87 minutes! It s wonderful! This, by contrast, is utterly ordinary. I think Mr Saraste was learning what he could of Bruckner from the orchestra. The playing is routine and never sounds like a response to inspired leadership. Of course, this orchestra has a beautiful sound, and their routine playing is very good! But there are so many better interpretations. VROON BRYANT: Wind Ensemble Concerto with In This Broad Earth; Alto Saxophone Concerto Joseph Lulloff, sax; Michigan State Wind Symphony/ Kevin Sedatole Blue Griffin minutes with PUTS: Network; BRITTEN: The Sword in the Stone; MAHLER: Um Mitternacht Katherine Rohrer, s; Ohio State Wind Symphony/ Russel Mikkelson, Scott Jones Naxos minutes The big piece on both of these albums is the 5- movement, 35-minute Concerto for Wind Ensemble ( ) by Steven Bryant (b 1972). Commissioned by a consortium of 20 university and military ensembles, it is an important piece that challenges musicians, conductors, and listeners. As befits the title, there is a lot of solo work not so much for one soloist at a time, but for several solo voices. Individuals are in the spotlight, which can expose weaknesses in a university ensemble. There are also spatial separations, with groups in several locations. Two themes are introduced: first an ascending five-note scale motif that ends with a trill, and later a chord progression with a Radiohead rhythm. Both are developed extensively in I, with lots of woodwinds doing lots of fluttering trills. There is a long passage of counterpoint in the horn section (MSU horns sound a little young, shaky). Eventually, things become lively when the two themes are juxtaposed. Finally, I ends with everyone trilling frantically. I proceeds into a mysterious II without pause. A flute solo becomes a duet, is briefly accompanied by muted trombone, taken over by clarinets, finally returned to the flutes. There is brief and rather subtle drama near the end, but flute solo completes the movement. Saxophones jump in energetically to open III, with a pulsating harp note (not unlike the American Record Guide 77

80 pulse in In C ) and Torke-like perky rhythms and harmonies. The brass players are finally given a chance to be noisy; the piece has been very quiet until now. The ending is very cute. IV, at 10 minutes the longest movement, begins ominously, with rumbles of thunder from distant drums. Low brass and woodwinds gradually make themselves heard. The scales descend in this movement. Sounds wobble a little and interact eerily. Several crescendos culminate in assertive passages, each louder than the previous. The Radiohead rhythm and chord progression returns as accompaniment to another flute solo that descends into alto range. V begins with nervous flutes, snare drum with brushes, interjections by muted brass, a sudden and frantic mallet passage, and then everything begins to drive hard. The final minute is amazing, with a wild melody played in unison by many musicians, all while percussion are pounding and low brass are intoning fiercely. A huge open fifth ends the work. The Michigan State recording seems rather distantly miked, the Ohio State one closer. This makes MSU s account more mysterious, OSU s clearer and more direct. The piece is played that way, too: MSU s is quiet, veiled, suppressed for a very long time, to the point where some listeners might wish something would happen. OSU s is more overt and open; there seems to be more action. For example, the walking-bass passage in III (about three minutes in) is subtle for MSU, thumping for OSU. The tuned gongs heard in the beginning of IV can barely be heard in MSU s, clearly heard in OSU s. And so it goes. Both recordings are very good, but I prefer the Ohio State one. How about the rest of the two programs? MSU s is all-bryant: first a swarthy, Coplandlike, four-minute In this Broad Earth (2015). Then a big, three-movement Saxophone Concerto (2014), given a dynamic reading by MSU saxophone professor Joseph Lulloff. In I, Bryant again shows his fondness for the trill. They abound, as do extremely virtuosic saxophone lines. In II (at 16 minutes, by far the longest movement) a very quiet piano introduction serves as a foundation for the saxophone s brief entrance with jazz licks. Muted brasses are added. Another little jazz saxophone entrance, with bass and drum set, is heard. The movement proceeds at a snail s pace. There is great beauty, but to me, this movement is at least twice too long. After that, the 6-minute finale would have to be highenergy, and it is. All in all, it is a very satisfying finale until the final altissimo saxophone notes. Saxophone altissimo is always more shrill than I can bear. The Ohio State recording opens with Network (1997) by Kevin Puts (b 1972). Originally for orchestra, it was arranged for wind ensemble by Ryan Kelly. A brief outburst opens the work and generates all of the frantic activity that follows. Minimalist composer Steve Reich is a strong influence, but only for brief moments. It s meant to be a high-energy program opener, and it is that. OSU s Scott Jones conducts. Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews compiled the music that became this suite from Benjamin Britten s Sword in the Stone (1939), composed for a six-part radio presentation of the King Arthur story. It s obvious that a small group is playing, but the rather brief notes don t reveal the instrumentation. So I dug around to find that it is a septet with woodwind trio (flute, clarinet, bassoon), brass duo (trumpet, trombone), harp, and percussion. The 10-minute piece has six little movements. Introduction and Boys Tunes begins with assertive brass, harp, and percussion and then becomes playful when woodwinds enter. II ( Merlyn s Tune and Tree Music ) is a slow march, III ( Merlyn s Spell and Witch Tune ) lively and spry. IV ( Bird Music ) has lots of twittering, V ( Lullaby ) soothing melodies with harp accompaniment. VI ( Water Theme and End Music ) begins with rippling harp and muted brass, then brings the opening material back for the ending. Fine playing by these principals: flutist Rachel Haug, clarinetist Evan Lynch, bassoonist Eric Malmer, trumpeter Ben Joy, trombonist Anthony Weikel, harpist Jeanne Norton (I presume), and percussionist Mario Marini. Mahler s Um Mitternacht is the fourth of five Ruckert Lieder (1901), the one where the strings players rest while a full complement of winds, brass, harp, and piano perform with the solo singer. Mezzo soprano Katherine Rohrer is soloist here; she has a big voice and emotes passionately. It is good to hear these wind ensemble musicians play Mahler. To summarize: if you want Steven Bryant s Concerto for Wind Ensemble and must choose between these albums, take the one by Russel Mikkelson s Ohio State Wind Symphony for strong playing by ensemble and individuals, generally forthright sound, and variety of literature. Take the one by Kevin Sedatole s Michigan State Wind Ensemble for more reserved 78 January/February 2017

81 playing, quieter overall sound, and more music by Bryant. KILPATRICK BURGESS: Mr WS; Marche pour une Revolution; Mr Burgess s Almanack Brown University Orchestra/ Paul Phillips Naxos minutes Anthony Burgess ( ) is best known as the author of over 60 books, including A Clockwork Orange. He wished, though, that people would know him as a musician who wrote books. These pieces come from his most productive period of composition, the last 18 years of his life. Mr WS (1979), a 9-movement, 35-minute ballet suite, is based on music Burgess wrote for a movie (never made) that was in turn based on his 1964 novel about the life of William Shakespeare. Marche pour une Revolution (1989) commemorates the bicentennial of the French Revolution. And the 14-movement, 26-minute Mr Burgess s Almanack (1987) is scored for an ensemble of 14: pairs of woodwinds, horn and trumpet, piano, two percussion, and timpani. All of the works have elements of the old but very modern harmony. Thus they can sound like translations of early styles into new languages. Good readings by the Brown University Orchestra, which consists mainly of students majoring in something other than music. There are many fine moments, as well as times where youth and modest skill are evident. KILPATRICK BUTTERWORTH: Fantasy; see BAX BUXTEHUDE: Membra Jesu Nostri Vox Scaniensis/ Peter Wallin LAWO minutes In the past 25 years, Membra Jesu Nostri has become one of the most commonly recorded works of Dietrich Buxtehude; and this is my fourth review since The recording by Daniel Hyde and Laurence Dreyfus with the ensemble Phantasm and the Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford (Opus Arte 9023; Sept/Oct 2014) was on my Critics Choice list for The other recordings are also very fine, including the one by Emma Kirkby and Michael Chance with the Purcell Quartet and Fretwork (Chandos 775; May/June 2011) and Brian Schmidt with the Duke Vespers Ensemble and Cappella Baroque (MSR 1530; May/June 2015). Vox Scaniensis, directed by Peter Wallin, shows every bit as much polish as the earlier groups. Each of the cantatas that make up Membra Jesu Nostri meditates on one of the seven wounds Christ suffered in the course of the passion. They begin with a sonata followed by a sequence of recitatives, arias, and choruses. The two choruses of Cantata III, both beginning Quid Sunt Plagae, are particularly striking. They offer good representative illustrations of how this choir likes to lean into dissonances to bring out the inner meaning of the text, in this case concerning the wounds in Christ s hands. Texts and notes are in English. LOEWEN BUXTEHUDE: La Capricciosa; see BACH CANONICI: Between Earth and Heaven Paola Biondi, Debora Brunialti, p; Mascoulisse Trombone Quartet; Maurizio Ben Omar, perc Continuo minutes This is a most unusual combination of instruments, but the music is not so inventive. It is a pleasant cornucopia of new age, Windham Hill type music with occasional spots that reminded me of Claude Bolling s synthesis of light jazz and classical styles. It is very repetitious, with rhythmic and accompaniment patterns over which short four-square melodic phrases are presented and most often repeated. The duo pianists are the core of this work, with the trombone quartet (used in 4 of the 17 sections) serving as a distinct color element (but it seems to always have its parts duplicated by the pianos). The percussionist plays many different instruments: xylophone, cymbals, bells, bass drum, and assorted others, also in four of the movements. The piano sound, particularly the reinforced bass line, made me think that these were electronic, digitally reproduced pianos. I was wrong. There is no mention of anything electronic and there is a picture of the pianists on top of a pair of Yamaha concert grands. The recording studio is probably most responsible for the prominence of the bass notes through microphone placement and sound mixing. Don t get this expecting something like Bartok s unique use of two pianos and percussion. It is mostly laid back, easy listening music that makes few demands on the listener. Performances are very good and the recording is also good if you like the more popular sound- American Record Guide 79

82 ing pianos. The ensemble is accurate and tight. The booklet notes are the (unfortunate) norm for English translations of Italian: tenses, plurals, and word order seem to give translators with limited English many problems. It is often amusing when it shouldn t be, but the points do get made in a roundabout way. The best example from this booklet: the classical styles and forms of Canonici s music are contaminated by rock and jazz styles. HARRINGTON CARL: Symphony 4; Chamber Concerto; The World Turned Upside Down; Geography of Loss Julie Greenleaf, s; Vince B. Vincent, bar; Christopher Ladd, g; ensemble/ Matthew Aubin; Hartt Symphony/ Christopher Zimmerman; Khorikos/ Jesse Mark Peckham New World minutes Robert Carl employs a harmonic language built on expanded harmonic series, which enables freely ambiguous counterpoint over a stable tonal background. His Symphony 4 (2008), subtitled In the Ladder, is an effective, somewhat traditionally romantic example. Its layout corresponds roughly to the standard format, with some adjustments. The movements are continuous. The first is a mysterious march interspersed with expressive contrasting lines. The ensuing drama leads to chaos and eventually distant bells and chilling swirls. The movement ends on a quiet tall chord. Section 2 is an exciting scherzo with intense repeated notes devolving into a bleary climax. The slow movement is composed of broadly expressive lines. The march returns with increased violence until the finale turns back to the slow music mournfully. The overall result, though hardly a candidate for agelessness, is nevertheless effective in its way, and will reward people looking for something different and interesting in the genre. The Chamber Concerto ( ), subtitled The Calm Bee in the Busy Hive, is for two guitars and small chamber ensemble. It is basically a two-movement fantasy on the standard descending four-note death motive ( Andalusian in the notes, but common all through the repertoire). The atmosphere is despondent, affected by the deaths of the composer s parents. The World Turned Upside Down ( ) is a 10-minute essay with Coplandesque leanings, fearful climaxes leading to a grand statement of an English political song from the 1640s hoping for redemption from this damaged world. It further shows Mr Carl s respect for tradition. The title track, The Geography of Loss (2010), expands on the trend of mourning put forth in the Chamber Concerto. The addition of chorus and soloists offers effective underlining. Beautiful, otherworldly chorales are alternated with angular bits of instrumental angst. A baritone solo expresses his father s stay in a hospital ward, while the final ethereal soprano solo offers a tongue-tied transformation. This makes for a moving homage. Mr Carl (b. 1954) teaches at the University of Hartford and is well represented on disc (check indexes). GIMBEL CASADESUS: Piano Sonata 3; see DUTILLEUX CASTELLO: Sonatas 1629 Musica Fiata/ Roland Wilson CPO minutes The instrumental music of Dario Castello (before ) can be thrilling to hear, with players inspired to perform with the utmost verve, flair, and energy. This is fine music, and some of the performances here are very good. For example, Sonata 12 includes echo effects between pairs of cornetto and violin, and it is very well played as the soloists carry off the rapid diminutions with aplomb. In Sonata 9 there is demanding writing for the solo dulzian (forerunner of the bassoon) which here is executed with electricity and panache. Unfortunately, not all the performances are at that level. There are some fine passages in this program, but too often the playing is ragged, lacking momentum, with some tuning problems and some harsh top notes in the sopranoinstrument parts. It tends to be the strings that go awry, and once some instruments go off track there s a loss of confidence and the problems spread through the ensemble. C MOORE CERHA: Chamber Pieces Boulanger Trio AVI minutes Viennese composer Friedrich Cerha was born in 1926 and, much like his one-generationolder countryman Ernst Krenek, has sustained a durable and prolific if stylistically-much-varied career for over 70 years. His earliest music is neoclassic and Hindemithian, but as that fell 80 January/February 2017

83 out of fashion he adopted a Schoenbergian vocabulary, and since then has turned out pieces that follow a variety of yet newer compositional trends. His worldwide fame, however, rests on his completion of Alban Berg s unfinished opera Lulu, which premiered in 1979 under Boulez. For a detailed account of that process, see Patrick Hanudel s review of Cerha s chamber music with clarinet on Neos (Jan/Feb 2013). Other recordings covered in ARG include his cabaret songs on Largo (Sept/Oct 1998), Cello Concerto on ECM (May/June 2008), and chamber pieces with violin on Toccata 199 (M/A 2014). I reviewed that last-mentioned release and liked only the earlier, more traditional-sounding works, so I approached this new program of chamber works for violin, cello, and piano (in various combinations) with low expectations, as all the works on it are from the past 15 years, long after the period when the best pieces on the Toccata program were written. But to my pleased surprise I found quite a bit to enjoy and admire among the five works presented here: Five Pieces for Piano Trio, Nocturne for Piano Trio, Six Inventions for Violin and Cello, Rhapsody for Violin and Piano, and Three Pieces for Cello and Piano. As a bonus for which I m grateful, Cerha gives these works simple names that specify their instrumentation instead of the wordy, pretentious, and mostly irrelevant pseudo-poetic titles (and subtitles) that adorn so many recent compositions. (For obvious reasons, I might add. Does anyone believe that Penderecki s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima would be a renowned staple of the avant-garde repertoire were it dubbed Study in Scratchy String Sonorities?) What makes so much of the music here interesting and arresting is its careful balance of a fully chromatic language and modernist devices (though special effects are used sparingly and judiciously) with the composer s forthright expressive purpose. These pieces are consistently infused with Romantic (with a capital R ) emotion now brittle and restless, now mysterious and nocturnal, now icy and remote, now wistful and tender, now sensuous, now anguished, now elegiac. The melodic lines are lovingly shaped, the textures elegant and transparent, the forms suis generis but psychologically affecting and humane. Clearly, Cerha learned a lot from Schoenberg and Berg, and though the music here is less febrile than theirs it s no less deeply felt in short, more approachable, more lyrical, less craggy and convoluted. And Cerha very wisely avoids going on too long. Of course it helps a great deal that the performances by the Boulanger Trio, as well as Avi s sonics, are flat-out superb. Listen, for example, to the exquisite tonal purity and lapidary phrasing of the florid violin lines and the crystalline transparency of the spare piano figures in the 7-minute Rhapsody (for violin and piano) or the five-minute Nocturne (for piano trio). Almost anything played this well has a chance to shine. LEHMAN CHOPIN: Mazurkas Alberto Nones, p Continuo 116 [2CD] 156 minutes Nones s program includes the posthumous mazurkas, for a complete survey. This is an outstanding performance, even if it does not quite compare to other noteworthy renderings, such as Ashkenazy s and Rubinstein s. As Op. 6 shows, his interpretation is rather textbook, with good voicing, just a hint of rubato, and a nice balanced sound. Op. 7:1 has a nice use of pedal and articulation, but 7:2 could be more tender and muted sometimes. Op. 24:4 and Op. 17:4 could be more delicate, though they are played with great sensibility. KANG CHOPIN: Mazurkas Pavel Kolesnikov Hyperion minutes This young Russian pianist studied with all the right people, including Sergei Dorensky in Moscow, who certainly understands the Chopin mazurkas. Nevertheless, this left me cold. I suppose it could be his choice of pieces. There are 24 mazurkas here, and somehow he managed to avoid all my favorites. Still, he breezes thru them as if they hardly matter. Here they are light, brisk, frivolous, and desultory. VROON CHOPIN: Piano Concerto 2; Nocturnes (7) Maria Joao Pires, Sinfonia Varsovia/ Christopher Warren-Green NIFC minutes The pianist was born in 1944; the concerto was recorded at a concert in 2010, the nocturnes in 2014, when she was 70. The label is something like National Institute of the Chopin Festival, and they make it their business to issue concert recordings that they consider special. Naxos imports their releases. American Record Guide 81

84 The orchestra is small about 45 musicians. They tend to play a background role not only because Chopin wrote it that way, but also, I think, because they are in awe of the pianist. And she is quite wonderful: pearly tone, very clean but never mechanical. She plays a Yamaha, and it is NOT a period instrument, so don t be misled by the word fortepiano on the cover; that s simply the Polish word for piano. I want a stronger orchestra, so this does not enter my special group of favorite Chopin concerto recordings; but I admit that the pianist is amazing. I also respond warmly to the interview with her in the booklet. I think I would really like her as a person. A pianist s humanity and emotional depth (or lack of it) can be quite obvious in her playing can make quite a difference. I believe in this pianist. The nocturnes are amazing. They are among the slowest performances I have ever heard, but they are never slack in any way. They are alive, but they are deep and emotional as well. And her tone is simply gorgeous. So I have no need of another recording of the concerto, and I don t like a small orchestra and don t really like this orchestra at all but I have to have these nocturnes, and I will certainly listen to the concerto again for her wonderful playing. VROON CHOPIN: Piano Pieces Prelude, op 45; Ballade 3; Mazurkas, op 59; Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise with SZYMANOWSKI: 9 Preludes; Mazurkas, op 50 Magdalena Baczewska Paraty minutes Baczewska, Director of the Music Performance Program at Columbia University, is a versatile pianist and harpsichordist. Her excellent interpretive knowledge of Bach and the Baroque period appears in her clean lines and balanced, lyrical Szymanowski and Chopin. I was not familiar with the Szymanowski Preludes, but she performs them with richness and grace. The dense textures of Prelude 5 are finely woven under her fingers. The gradual changes in dynamics show her sensitivity. Chopin s Ballade 3 has an airy quality to the opening, with a slight improvisational touch. Small tempo changes and adjustments are subtly done this Chopin is not rigid, though I wanted more color. The mazurkas have a comfort and ease of execution, but the high point here is the Andante Spianato, with its rich lyricism. The top registers shimmer with color, and her range of sound is solid. She shapes the second theme delicately and securely with slight rubato and sensitive phrasing. The polonaise rhythm is crisp, and the improvisatory lightness she brings to Ballade 3 is communicated here as well. KANG CHOPIN: Piano Pieces Irina Chukovskaya Melodiya minutes The performances are pedestrian and boring. I got so annoyed that I stopped listening before I was through. The selection of pieces seems haphazard and does not make a good program. Included are the early Variations Brillantes and the Bolero, two sets of mature Mazurkas (Op. 59 and Op. 63), Scherzo No. 4, Ballade No. 4, and Waltz in C-sharp minor. The recorded sound is too resonant, which does not serve Chopin well. The artist is Russian. She must be close to 60 years old but appears to have recorded only one previous disc. She shared sixth prize in the 1980 International Chopin Competition. Having followed closely the 2010 and 2015 Chopin Competitions on the Internet, I dare say she would not have progressed beyond the first round with such uninspired playing. REPP CLARKE: Cello Sonata; Rhapsody; I ll Bid My Heart Be Still; Passacaglia; Epilogue; YORK: Dialogue with Rebecca Clarke Raphael Wallfisch; John York, p Lyrita minutes Rebecca Clarke ( ) was one of the best female composers of the past century. It is only a pity that she didn t write more music. The last composition here was written in 1944, soon after her marriage to James Friskin, a New York composer and pianist, after which she wrote little more. She played the violin and later the viola. The present cello sonata was originally for viola. I find I have seven recordings of it on viola and only one other on cello. It was composed in 1919 and is a fine, lyrical work in a romantic idiom but with remarkable individuality between instruments, both of which have important things to say simultaneously. This characteristic is more pronounced and more grand and dramatic in the 1923 Rhapsody, also a four-movement work where one movement 82 January/February 2017

85 leads into the next. This is my first exposure to this fine work that may not have been recorded before. There is greater power here and even more subtle relationships between the two instruments. The other pieces are between four and six minutes in length and are later, except for the lento Epilogue from 1921(?), another strongly expressive piece. John York s 2007 piece is primarily based on Clarke s music. It is more dramatically scored than her style, but it sets off her gentler personality to good effect. The playing is fine, as one expects of Wallfisch. This is a recording that I am happy to have, particularly for the 25-minute Rhapsody and the cello version of the Viola Sonata, but all of this music is from a composer we should hear more of. D MOORE Word Police: soon Everybody avoids the simple word "soon". "We will answer your call as quickly as possible"--common on phone answering devices- -doesn't mean as soon as possible and implies "we will get rid of you as fast as we can; we haven't time for you". "Someone will be with you momentarily" implies the same thing: we haven't got much time for you. "Soon" would be ideal in both cases, but no one seems to know the word. The St Louis Opera always says at the end of intermission "Act 2 will begin momentarily". Nonsense. They mean "Act 2 is about to begin" or "will soon begin". The airlines still sometimes say, "we will be on the ground momentarily"--and again, that is not a fancy word for soon; it carries entirely different connotations--you'd better dash off the plane ("deplane"!) before it takes off again! In an airport recently I repeatedly heard one announcement that made no sense at all--and couldn't possibly to anyone (I think). The end of it had nothing to do with its beginning. So much of our public speech is written by people who can't write and don't know what words mean. (Americans seem to assume that anyone can write--how touchingly egalitarian!) And even educated people just use words the way they hear them used and never bother to find out if it's correct or whether there's a better way to say what they are trying to say. Public English makes us seem a very ignorant society. CLARKE: Trio; Viola Concerto; see Collections CLEMENTI: Piano Concert; see MOZART,FX COPLAND: Here Ye! Hear Ye!; Appalachian Spring Detroit Symphony/ Leonard Slatkin Naxos :29 These were both ballets, but the later one (1944) became much better known. Hear Ye! Hear Ye! was from It s a courtroom drama (a murder trial) with 18 scenes. It was controversial at the time because near the beginning Copland seems to mock The Star- Spangled Banner. In Scene 10 one hears a bit of Mendelssohn s Wedding March. Scene 12 is typical Copland in the style of Appalachian Spring, and Scene 16 is more the jazzy Copland which I have never liked. So it s mostly second-rate Copland, but people who like his music without reservations may be very glad this work has been recorded by a terrific American orchestra and conductor who understand it perfectly. (There was a recording by the London Sinfonietta.) The complete Appalachian Spring ballet, recorded here, takes 38 minutes. The usual suite takes 24 minutes and to be frank leaves out the boring parts. Well, you might want to judge that for yourself, and if so you will be pleased to have this beautiful recording of the whole thing. VROON COPLAND: Appalachian Spring Suite; see CORIGLIANO CORELLI: Violin Sonatas Enrico Gatti; Gaetano Nasilo, vc; Guido Morini, hpsi Arcana 397 [2CD] 127 minutes Although scholarship is admirable and even necessary, too many period performance practice specialists, Gatti included, play like scholars rather than artists. I am often reminded of a graduate student defending his thesis rather than a musician in the throes of creation. Gatti plays a violin made by Lorenzo Storioni in 1789, and Gaetano Nasilo plays a cello made by Barak Norman in Good sound. MAGIL CORRETTE: Les Delices de la Solitude Cristiano Contadin, gamba; Opera Prima Ensemble Brilliant minutes Though Michel Corrette was primarily a keyboard player, he was evidently very curious American Record Guide 83

86 about other instruments, eventually publishing methods and music for voice, all the traditional string instruments (including viola da gamba), flute, and even guitar, mandolin, and hurdy-gurdy. He published around a collection of six sonatas for cello, viola, and bassoon that he titled Les Delices de la Solitude (The Delights of Solitude). There are two earlier complete recordings of this set: Les Voix Humaines (Sept/Oct 2006) using a mix of viola da gambas, bassoons, and cello, and Bassorum Vox (July/Aug 2010), with only cellos; both with a mixture of continuo instruments. On this new release, Cristiano Contadin plays the solo part and the first bass part in Corrette s later Le Phenix for four generic basses on viola da gamba. Corrette s music was published primarily for musical amateurs, and while there are difficult passages, the emphasis is on accessibility. Contadin has the technical ability to make even the hard passages sound easy, and his phrasing and pacing make this a very enjoyable recording. Many of his interpretive decisions are similar to Les Voix Humaines, though the earlier recording uses a variety of solo instruments, illustrating all of Corrette s alternatives (though in Le Phenix Les Voix Humaines do shift parts around). I would recommend either of these two period instrument recordings, but would be remiss if I also did not mention the complete recording on modern bassoons (MSR 1171), though the contrabassoon continuo is a bit unusual. BREWER sounding like friends having a good time. Schwarz and Buckley have a great sense of style. Their unanimity of attacks and releases is remarkable, but that s not necessarily a good thing. I think the music would sound richer with a more casual disorderliness, where the notes do not always have to be played exactly together. Harpsichordists often stagger the voices artistically for expression and clarity in solo music, playing the right hand slightly before or after the left hand s beat, with tempo rubato. It could be done even more so in twoinstrument ensemble. The technical production is not perfect. The acoustic of Von Nagel s workshop would benefit from more resonance. The first Courante of Suite 3 has some ungraceful digital edits. Elsewhere, there are a few audible page turns and some clicks and noises. In some of the dances of Suite 1 there is a chorusing effect where the unison bass line is not always tuned exactly the same across the two instruments. This is especially prominent if one listens with headphones. No other tuning problems call attention to themselves. I see that there is a new recording where this same team has arranged Bach s trio sonatas for two harpsichords. I m eager to hear that, hoping for better acoustics. Overall, this is graceful and pleasant, an important addition to the Couperin discography. It appears that both volumes were recorded in 2013, and then released in 2014 and B LEHMAN COUPERIN: 2-Harpsichord Pieces, vol 2 Jochewed Schwarz, Emer Buckley Toccata minutes The two big items here are Suites 1 and 3 from Les Nations, published in The fillers are three selections from Couperin s books of (mostly) solo harpsichord pieces, and one Forlane from the fourth of the Concerts Royaux. Volume 1, which I haven t heard, had Suites 2 and 4 and similar fillers (Nov/Dec 2014). Couperin did not firmly specify the instrumentation for Les Nations, and ensembles usually distribute the lines to melody instruments with a continuo team. Most of these pieces are recording premieres as arranged for two harpsichords. Where there are only three lines of music, both harpsichordists play the bass line, giving it added power. That option is the composer s own recommendation. The performances are engaging and lively, COUPERIN: Chamber Pieces Aulos Ensemble Centaur minutes The venerable Aulos Ensemble from New York has been around for more than 40 years, playing expertly on period instruments. Here it performs a generous program of Francois Couperin s chamber music, where the instrumentation is up to the performers for arrangement and some improvisation. Couperin published a set of four Royal Concerts in 1722 and eventually followed these with ten New Concerts. We get three of the Concerts here (3, 4, and 8), plus some harpsichord pieces arranged by Aulos for their varied instrumentation. The Kuijken family and friends are more emphatic in their 1973 recording of Concert 8 (Seon). Aulos s harpsichordist, Arthur Haas, competes with himself in Concert 3, which he recorded in 1998 with Susie Napper and Bruce Haynes (ATMA). That was elegant and thin- 84 January/February 2017

87 textured; Aulos has more players and more variety. The Aulos performances sound enthusiastic, and not sanitized: the flutist s breaths are consistently too obtrusive, the oboist misses some notes in a Rigaudon, and the violinist has wayward intonation in a few spots. The addition of theorbo in the basso continuo team gives a nice crunch. Overall this is enjoyable and gracefully stylish. To get all of Couperin s chamber music, I am happy with Musica ad Rhenum s set (Brilliant, 7CD, 2008), but they don t use an oboe in Concerts 3 and 4. B LEHMAN COUPERIN: Tenebrae Lessons; BROSSARD: Trio Sonatas (2); Stabat Mater Lucy Crowe & Elizabeth Watts, s; La Nuova Musica/ David Bates Harmonia Mundi [SACD] 71 minutes There are many fine recordings of François Couperin s settings of the Tenebrae Lessons for Wednesday in Holy Week, and this one can stand with the best of them. In the preface to the original publication of this music, Couperin alludes to his settings of Tenebrae lessons for Thursday and Friday, but they have disappeared without a trace. More s the pity if they were to the same standard as the Wednesday lessons. I never cease to marvel at the sheer eloquence of Couperin s settings. He captures just the right balance between the elegant baroque style of his time and the reverential dignity these texts deserve. That cannot be said of all French baroque settings of them. The character of this music can vary extremely depending on the performance style of the singers and the composition of the continuo ensemble. Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts both demonstrate a vocal flexibility that is more than equal to the clean rendering of athletic lines and baroque ornamentation. At the same time they bring an eloquently plangent quality to these songs of lamentation. There are a few places where I believe vehemence goes beyond the bounds of beauty, but opinions may differ on this. The continuo consists of a light chamber organ (eight-foot flute tone) with viola da gamba and theorbo. They supply a secure harmonic support without ever upstaging the voices. The first two lessons are for solo voice, and the third is a duet. It is customary for the solo lessons to be sung by the vocalists in turn, and they combine for the third lesson. That is the procedure here, and the two singers combine beautifully. In a review I wrote some years ago of a recording by Emma Kirkby and Agnes Mellon (BIS 1575; May/June 2008) I mentioned several other recordings that had come to my attention, each with its own character. My favorite is the recording by Sophie Daneman and Patricia Petibon with William Christie at the harpsichord and Anne-Marie Lasla on the bass viol (Erato 17067; May/June 1997). They are performances of limpid delicacy. The sweet tone of the singers makes the lamentation more touching than any degree of histrionics could, and Christie s sensitive accompaniment alone is almost worth the price of admission. It contrasts markedly with the present recording, though each is excellent in its way. Two trio sonatas by Sebastien de Brossard ( ) are inserted between the Couperin lessons, and the program concludes with his Stabat Mater (1702). In that work the choir alternates with various combinations of voices. In this performance the choir of La Nuova Musica consists of 16 voices. A double bass adds weight to the continuo ensemble. The text is set as a series of very short movements. Brossard was a native of Normandy who attended the Jesuit college at Caen and later the university there, where he studied philosophy and theology. He was self-taught in music. By the later 1670s he was in Paris. He was ordained a priest, and in 1687 was appointed vicar at Strasbourg Cathedral, where he assumed the direction of music. In 1698 he left Strasbourg for a similar appointment at Meaux Cathedral. Brossard was an avid bibliophile and compiled a huge collection of musical scores. His original compositions were largely neglected until the late 20th Century. GATENS COWELL; GRAINGER: Saxophone Pieces Ulrich Krieger; New Hudson Saxophone Quartet; Intersax; Percy Ensemble; Glens Falls Orchestra; New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble/ Charles Peltz Mode minutes When California composer Henry Cowell and Australian-born composer Percy Grainger struck up a friendship in the early 1930s, they discovered a great deal in common childhood interest in composition; brief service in the US Army in World War I; a fascination with ethnic sounds outside the Western norm; and a yearning to push the boundaries of music in the American avant-garde community. If both men could have known how formal history would narrowly remember them after American Record Guide 85

88 their deaths in the 1960s, they may have enjoyed a mutual laugh: Cowell as a weird ultramodernist who loved tone clusters and Grainger as an endearing champion of folk music and wind bands. In reality, they were much more complex. Cowell regularly delved into folk traditions for inspiration, and Grainger worked to invent a Free Music Machine that would bypass the middleman of human performance and transmit the intricate sounds and rhythms of the composer s brain directly to the listener. In his latest release German performer, composer, and California Institute for the Arts faculty member Ulrich Krieger notes one more aspect that Cowell and Grainger shared: their love for Krieger s instrument, the saxophone. Here, Krieger presents each composer s complete original oeuvre for solo saxophone or saxophone ensemble, a compilation of both published and unpublished works, all recorded between 2003 and Krieger s chief collaborators are the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet, a group dedicated to American music; Intersax, Krieger s avant-garde saxophone quartet; the Percy Saxophone Ensemble, another Krieger invention; and members of the Glens Falls (NY) Symphony and the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, both under the baton of their director, Professor Charles Peltz. Other guests on the album include Eric KM Clark (violin), Steven Feiler (alto saxophone), Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano), Christian Kalberer (harmonium), Adrianne Pope (violin), Birgitt Schmieder (piccolo oboe), Derek Stein (cello), Mona Tian (violin), Marcus Waibel (piano), and Andrea Young (voice). The Grainger part of the program is a mix of favorites and forgotten pieces. The latter includes Random Round (1914), a modular aleatoric piece for flexible, unspecified ensemble that predates Terry Riley s minimalist landmark In C by a half century; The Merry King (1939), a folk song from Sussex, England; The Immovable Do (1939), one of the earliest introductions of the drone into Western music; and The Lonely Desert Man Sees the Tents of the Happy Tribes (1943), a brief work with flexible scoring and Native American influences. Readers will recognize the setting of Ye Banks and Braes O Bonnie Doon (1932); the Irish reel Molly on the Shore (1938); and the sailor song Lisbon, also known as the first movement from his band masterpiece Lincolnshire Posy (1937). The Cowell part of the program is less known: Chrysanthemums (1937), a short song for voice and chamber ensemble that includes saxophone; 60 (1942), a saxophone trio birthday present for Grainger; Sailor s Hornpipe (1949), a brief saxophone quartet later re-written and re-branded for German- American pedagogue Sigurd Rascher and his students as Sax Quartet (1961), which is also included; Air and Scherzo (1961) for solo alto saxophone and orchestra, a piece for Rascher that pays homage to Celtic music; and Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 18 (1964), a duet for soprano saxophone and contrabass saxophone dedicated to Rascher and also the last entry in the composer s Hymn and Fuguing Tune series that combined the American hymn with Baroque counterpoint. All of the performances have good energy, phrasing, and dynamic contrast, but the playing varies widely. True to the spirit of folk music, the saxophone playing is generally diffuse and reedy, with dubious intonation; and in his effort to be expressive in his solo pieces, Krieger comes across as wild and unrefined. The New Hudson Quartet has the best clarity and polish, laying down fine renditions of Grainger s Lisbon, though the group s soprano and alto saxophonist Paul Cohen has a somewhat frail tone in his solo Molly on the Shore. The supporting casts are mixed, too. Franzetti and Waibel are solid at the keyboard when called on, but the Glens Falls Symphony strings struggle with tone and intonation in the Cowell Air and Scherzo, and the pick-up group that takes on Cowell s Chrysanthemums is somewhat clumsy with balance and tuning, too often burying the solo voice. The closing track, though, is highly rewarding. Here, Charles Peltz leads 15 NEC students in a 15-minute world premiere recording of Grainger s eerily prescient Random Round with a fascinating score set: soprano, mezzosoprano, tenor, violin, viola, cello, guitars, mandolin, flute, oboe, soprano saxophone, piano, and percussion. The performance is thoroughly professional, vibrant, and mesmerizing, transporting the listener to distant worlds and back again, and the sensitive soul will melt in the beauty and immediacy of the music. More than any other selection, Grainger s genius is on full display, for while he invites the performers to create their own work, his materials are a dissertation on where he feels his art must go, even long after his own time. HANUDEL 86 January/February 2017

89 DAUGHERTY: Tales of Hemingway; American Gothic; Once Upon a Castle Zulli Bailey, vc; Paul Jacobs, org; Nashville Symphony/ Giancarlo Guerrero Naxos minutes Michael Daugherty s Tales of Hemingway (2015) is a four-movement cello concerto inspired by material from the writings of the novelist. I is from a short story ( The Two Hearted River ), a beautiful slow movement depicting the devastated returning soldier. II is a fantasy on For Whom the Bell Tolls with plenty of roaring Spanish battle music. III is a sad cantilena on The Old Man and the Sea, and the finale is more Spanish drama from The Sun Also Rises. The cello writing is suitably spectacular and expressive, and Mr Bailey gives a brilliant performance. American Gothic (2013) is a three-movement tone poem on the paintings of Grant Wood, a favorite subject of Iowan Daugherty. It is a nice slice of Americana. I is a wild scherzo, II a gentle portrait of Iowa in winter opening with a somber bass flute solo, and the brilliant finale includes plenty of Coplandesque hoedown, ending with a sturdy nudge nudge wink wink Gift to Be Simple. Then there is a thrilling standing-ovation coda. Once upon a Castle (2015) is a four-movement concerto for organ and orchestra on impressions of Big Sur and the Hearst Castle. Opening with Gothic flavor insinuating the castle and its surrounding birds, the first movement builds to suitably noble transcendence. II depicts the atmospheric pond on the premises and closes insistently with grandeur. III is an argument between Kane and Marion (referring, of course, to the Orson Welles film), and the finale is a thrilling toccata, leading to a heroic conclusion. Mr Jacobs is brilliant. This is a sensational release, which goes along with so much of Daugherty s recent work. As I think about this, I m delighted by the excellence of so much American music written in our time; all who herald the deathknell of our art form just have no idea. This really is a golden age, especially here. There are so many composers to list, but it would be unfair to leave any of them out. Just read our magazine. The same could be said for the state of our orchestras. This might sound strange to oldtimers, but if there is a better orchestra than Nashville s these days I can t wait to hear them. Engineering is fantastic. As always, inviting and thorough notes by the composer. At the Naxos price, there s really no excuse. GIMBEL DAVIES: Ebb of Winter; Hill Runes; Last Door of Light; Farewell to Stromness; Orkney Wedding with Sunrise Sean Shibe, g; Scottish Chamber Orchestra/ Ben Gernon Linn minutes This release reveals the two sides of Peter Maxwell Davies: the inaccessible side and the less known, crowdpleasing Scottish populist. The former opens the program with the most recent work, one of his last, with his fatal leukemia in the background. Ebb of Winter (2013) is a concert overture with prescient title. The opening motif appears in various guises all through the work, with typically turgid development, but it is often interrupted by heavenly visions. A gloomy march often drifts by quietly. Despairing wind solos appear toward the end, preceding a brief recap ending with noble sorrow. The work ends with an atypically serene major triad. The work goes along well with his powerful final symphony (10, J/F 2016), which was soon to follow. The earlier Hill Runes (1981) are five short pieces for guitar. Typically ambiguous, they make little impression, but seem to be standard guitar repertoire. I don t see how they fit in the program. Last Door of Light (2008) fits better. Opening with dotted snarls, it immediately projects more of those mystical visions, this time paired with notably Wagnerian nature motifs. The usual Davies meandering dominates most of the action, though those quiet visions always appear. A brief, puzzling scherzo episode results in more of those despairing string solos, before anguish takes over along with pounding timpani. The work ends in bafflement. These late works are, in their way, eloquent and expressive, though the subject matter requires empathy. The remaining, substantially earlier works couldn t be more contrasting. Farewell to Stromness (1980) is a lovely folk tune arrangement, here for guitar solo. And An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise (1985) is a chain of Scottish folk tunes, complete with bagpipes, that belongs happily on any Pops concert, though the occasional weird interlude might put some off. So this is an odd collection, important for the later works, the pleasant earlier ones atypi- American Record Guide 87

90 cal but instructive. What audience this entire release will appeal to is something of a mystery. Notes lack dates of composition, which is ludicrous under the circumstances. GIMBEL DEAN: Etüdenfest; Shadow Music; Short Stories; Adagio Molto & Mesto; Testament Swedish Chamber Orchestra/ Brett Dean BIS 2194 [SACD] 66 minutes Brett Dean (b 1961) is a member of the Berlin Philharmonic viola section and won the ultralucrative 2009 Grawemeyer Prize. His music leans toward contemporary neo-avant-gardeism, with much moody mystery and bursts of chaos. Etüdenfest (2000) has typical string etude patterns floating over a static background with sparks and explosions and occasional fits of chaos. A piano appears in the coda practicing arpeggios. Shadow Music (2002) is in three movements. I continues to be typical: anger over a quiet background, mournful development, and hysterics leading to a climax. II opens with a funeral march and gets spooky: a gradual build-up, then more chaos ends abruptly. The final movement follows the same basic pattern, this time ending with a ludicrous ellipsis. Short Stories (2005) is five interludes for string orchestra. All have titles. There is a sad chorale with quiet plunkings, a scherzo with a violent coda, slow smoke with sparks, some vaguely inaudible dots followed by the usual chaos, and a final elegy with mutes. The final two works involve Beethoven s Quartet 7 (Op. 59:1). Adagio Molto e Mesto (2013) is an extraordinarily cold arrangement of the quartet s slow movement for string orchestra. The lack of intimacy and unstylistic graciousness makes this enterprise suspect. It s followed without pause by the orchestral Testament (2008), a brief essay on Beethoven s Heiligenstadt confession. Mournful slow music with microtones underlie the flute that Beethoven could only imagine. The quartet was written after his deafness became apparent, and fragments of it appear as if it were being written, only choked and discombobulated. Its first movement drifts in as well. Although I thoroughly understand Mr Dean s intention of penetrating an artist s unconscious, I could do without this interpretation of the great quartet. I have reviewed Mr Dean s music (M/A 2014, BIS 2016), and that recording included a competing version of Testament. The cover here claims that Dean is now one of the most internationally performed composers of his generation, but I see no evidence of that on this side of the pond. GIMBEL DEBUSSY: Children s Corner; Claire de Lune; La Plus que Lente; 2 Arabesques; RAVEL: Valses Nobles et Sentimentales; Alborada del Grazioso ChromaDuo Naxos minutes At some point Debussy wanted to compose for the guitar, but like many composers didn t really know how the instrument works. He attempted to contact Francisco Tarrega, then the leading guitarist in Europe, for advice. The painfully shy Tarrega never responded to him, so we have nothing from Debussy but transcriptions. I ve never forgiven Tarrega for that. So here is a full disc of works by Debussy and Ravel. The latter transcribed at least half of his own piano works, but for orchestra, and the results are magical. So how are these transcriptions for two guitars? Mostly magical. I have reviewed the ChromaDuo (they omit the space) with much praise (N/D 2012). That program was six works, five of them world premieres, so there was nothing to compare them to. But these works are all well known in their piano originals. An effective transcription needs to fit the new medium sufficiently well that the listener is satisfied, not longing for the original. These come close and often achieve that goal. The best is Valses Nobles. I was a bit surprised at the Ravel, but the delicacy of the original really suits the two guitars. Claire de Lune seems a touch stiff, for some reason. I know that works for two guitars: Bream and Williams, among others, have recorded it beautifully. The music, of course, is uniformly beautiful, and the performances are quite fine Smith and MacDonald are perfectly paired, and they have not just beautiful tone, but a wide range, and they play with suitable Gallic restraint. But sometimes I miss the sound and weight of the piano the articulation isn t right, or perhaps I miss the pedaling, something guitar simply cannot do. But if you don t have a strong attachment to the piano sound, you will find this quite enjoyable. But I must propose, now and for all time, a moratorium on guitarists doing Alborada del Grazioso. The rapid glissandos and other figurations just don t work on guitar not when 88 January/February 2017

91 Ricardo Iznaola did it as a solo, not when the ChromaDuo plays it as a duet. Don t. Just don t. KEATON DEBUSSY: Images; Jeux; Le Plus Que Lent San Francisco Symphony/ Michael Tilson Thomas SFS 69 [SACD] 60 minutes When Images was recorded in May 2014, Thomas was in his detached mood: not only detaching phrases from one another but breaking longer phrases into detached miniphrases, thus destroying any continuity of line or lyricism. The violins have no luster, and the oboe and English horn solos at the opening of Gigues are straightforward without poetry (poetry is not a Thomas strength). These qualities are often a standard approach for this conductor, and for me it destroys any impressionist atmosphere. in all three movements his tempos are very business-like and unyielding, even in places where Debussy requests subtle variations. I hear plenty of short, crisply played rhythms, but not much transparency in a score that is flooded with instrumental colors. Important harp and celeste details are buried most of the time, as are runs, counter-rhythms, and brief solos. I suspect this is because the microphones were hung very close to the orchestra to avoid audience noise. Another result of close recordings is that instruments never sound pp or soft at the very start of Perfumes of the Night they are mezzo-forte and louder! But don t blame it all on the engineers; a detached Thomas is also to blame. For the complete Images Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony (now on Warner) are superb, but for Iberia only Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony are incomparable, especially if you can find the JVC reissue that is a lesson in the ways that the sound of an original recording can be detrimentally affected as it goes through the many layers of processing before winding up on a compact disc. The JVC sound is the purest and truest I ve ever heard anywhere. What a difference a year and a half earlier makes. In January 2013 Thomas was hot for Jeux. Even though the introduction marked pp (soft and dreamy) sounds mezzo-forte and I couldn t hear the shimmering strings underneath the violins melodic line, Thomas s continuity and flow here are highly poetic and his rhythms really infectious qualities that are essential if this disjunct ballet music (one of Debussy s least tuneful works and one of my least favorites) is to work. This performance certainly charmed me! In Thomas s introductory liner notes he say, Debussy orchestrated Le Plus Que Lent for a kind of cafe orchestra that included the Gypsy cimbalom, which adds to the alternatively brooding and ecstatic mood. The conductor opens with a very prominent cimbalom, which retreats to the background for the rest the work s six minutes. I didn t hear any brooding or ecstasy here, though I certainly felt the cafe element (refer to comments in the first paragraph). It felt more cute than nostalgic. FRENCH DEBUSSY: Epigraphes Antiques; see ROUSSEL DELARUE: Nuncqua Fue Pena Mayor & Inviolata Masses; Sacred Pieces Brabant Ensemble/ Stephen Rice Hyperion minutes This is an important addition to the discography of Pierre de la Rue, adding new recordings for two masses. The Nuncqua Fue Pena Mayor Mass (printed in 1503) is based on Juan de Urrede s villancico, which is found not only in Spanish manuscripts but also in others from the Low Countries. The Phrygian mode of the villancico, often used for laments, inspired some unusual harmonic writing, including ending the first four movements on G but returning to E for the final Agnus Dei. There have been other recordings of the Mass on this same villancico by Francisco de Peñalosa (for example, Helios 55326), but ensembles that perform mostly sacred polyphony seem to avoid recording the villancico. The Inviolata Mass, which the booklet notes tell us has a sunny disposition, was probably composed later (between 1506 and 1516) and is based on the Marian sequence, Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria, also used for a famous motet by Josquin. Also included are Delarue s Salve regina VI for four voices and his Magnificat sexti toni. The Brabant Ensemble has released a number of significant recordings on Hyperion, for example Clemens non Papa (M/J 2011), Lassus (J/F 2012), and Brumel (M/A 2015 search the ARG index for Brabant to find many more). On this recording there are only nine singers, and these are not the hyper-polished performances of the Tallis Scholars. There is some roughness, especially around the sopranos; but there is also great vitality to Stephen Rice s interpretation of renaissance American Record Guide 89

92 polyphony. The booklet has an excellent essay about the music along with the texts and translations. My only regret is that the De Urrede villancico was not included, as it is hard to find a complete recording. BREWER DELLA CIAIA: Keyboard music, all Mara Fanelli, hpsi; Olimpio Medori, org Tactus [3CD] 160 minutes Azzolino Della Ciaia ( ), a nobleman, became a knight at age 7. He was an amateur composer, mostly of vocal music. Most famously, he designed and helped to build an organ with five manuals and three pedalboards. In his biography he seems an enterprising and impressive fellow. Unfortunately, his keyboard music is ugly, boring, dilettantish, and often absurd. The modulations and dissonances arrive in ways that sound haphazard, and the repetitive ideas go on for too long. Imagine music that sounds like floor sweepings dumped into pickle juice and garnished with fake whipped cream. And then, it repeats. His harpsichord pieces are six sonatas of four movements each. Mara Fanelli takes 109 minutes here, while Attilio Cremonesi in his recording (Pan) took only 77 by cutting some repeats. Both these harpsichordists are admirably prepared and take the silly musical gestures seriously, doing what they can with the material. There have been several other recordings as well. I have not seen any other recording of the organ pieces. There is an organ Pastorale that someone added to one of the few extant printed copies of this book, and it s the most attractive piece here: 14 minutes of wandering through unrelated scales and novel registrations. The rest of the organ music is only 36 more minutes, including an earnest Mass setting where Paolo Fanciullacci sings the Gregorian-based melodies. Everything is well documented in this deluxe package, and the sound and performances are excellent, for what that s worth. B LEHMAN DIEPENBROCK: Elektra Suite; Marsyas Suite; The Birds Bamberg Symphony/ Antony Hermus CPO minutes Alphonse Diepenbrock ( ) was the Richard Strauss of the Netherlands. His music is almost as appealing as Strauss at his best. I think of him as the best Dutch composer since Sweelinck, 300 years before. Hans Vonk on Chandos does these same three pieces (with The Hague Philharmonic) but adds in the Hymn for violin and orchestra (J/A 1990; reissued with more music on two discs, J/F 2003). Vonk was a wonderful conductor. Riccardo Chailly conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Elektra and The Birds, and the orchestra makes that a truly beautiful recording (Donemus, N/D 1996). I can t think of the Bamberg Symphony and this conductor as on the level of those others. I can t hear it either, though I can accept this as a good recording if you can t find one of the others. It is only fair to note that this Dutch conductor has taken a special interest in Dutch romantic composers and has recorded two discs with this orchestra of Wagenaar (M/A 2010 & J/A 2015). Neither he nor the orchestra is out of its (his) element; they know the music and the style. (Other Dutch romantic composers worth knowing are Van Gilse also on CPO and Zweers; see our index.) VROON DOSTAL: Die Ungarische Hochzeit Jevgenji Taruntsov (Graf Stefan Bardossy), Regina Riel (Janka), Thomas Zisterer (Arpad Erdody), Anne-Sophie Kostal (Etelka); Osnabruch Bad Ischl Festival/ Marius Burkert CPO [2CD] 120 minutes Nico Dostal was one of the last holdovers from the Silver Age of operetta that almost ended with Lehar s Giuditta (1934; N/D 2016). German operetta was not dead, but it was laid out nicely for others with much lesser talent. By 1939, when Die Ungarische Hochzeit (Hungarian Wedding) came along, German operetta had moved from Vienna to Berlin. The Nazi regime had eliminated much of the top and middle-level musical talent and heavily censored the content of what was left. Nico Dostal was one of these holdovers, and this operetta is a product of that period. As the world conflagration was gearing up, this looks back to happier times and deals with rural situations and simplistic problems that are easily resolved (with a happy ending). The plot includes all of operetta s usual suspects; royalty, royalty in disguise, royals who switch roles with their servants, thwarted rural lovers, and mistaken identities. There is a visit by Empress Maria Theresia to a mass rural wedding ceremony which she has assigned to Count Bardossy to officiate. The Count, who 90 January/February 2017

93 doesn t want this duty, has his servant, Arpad, dress as him and go in his place. The village ladies all want the false-count s attentions, while the real count arrives in disguise as a peasant and falls in love with Janka, the local Mayor s daughter. After considerable misunderstandings and some trickery and hurt feelings, everyone pairs up with the right person just in time for the Empress s arrival. The plot devices and period relate to earlier operettas, mostly Strauss s Gypsy Baron, Zeller s Vogelhandler, and Lehar s Countess Maritza. The nostalgia is laid on thick. The story takes place in Hungary, and there are lots of gypsy-inspired melodies, dances, and violin flourishes. Given the horrific treatment of the Gypsies by the Nazis, the Gypsies are not mentioned at all. Based on the compositional time frame this is not surprising, and the well-researched and informative German and English booklet makes very pointed remarks about this and the plot s description of the characters as rural types. Although popular for a short time, the show faced the major problem of most forgotten shows: the characters are not interesting, their predicament is ho-hum, and you don t care how it all ends. Dostal s music is so old-fashioned you might mistake it for Johann Strauss, Jr; and, although very melodic, it is pretty forgettable. The show is innocuous and thus probably pleased the Nazi regime. The Osnabruck performance is good and the singing is often very beautiful. Some of the performers overplay their parts, though everyone tries to breathe some life into the wooden characters. The orchestra plays well, and the sound is excellent. There is no libretto. I would only recommend this for die-hard operetta fans. FISCH DOWLAND: Songs & Lute Pieces Thomas Dunford, lute; Ruby Hughes, s; Reinoud van Mechelen & Paul Agnew, t; Alain Buet, b Alpha minutes Lachrimae Elizabeth Kenny, lute; Phantasm/ Laurence Dreyfus Linn 527 [SACD] 57 minutes The 16th and early 17th Centuries appear to have been a golden age for domestic chamber music in England. Vocal music in the form of madrigals and accompanied songs flourished alongside instrumental consort music. The two discs under consideration present a generous helping of works by John Dowland ( ), one of the great masters of that period. Thomas Dunford s recording with four outstanding early music singers dates from Of the 15 tracks, 8 are solo lute pieces. Of the songs, 4 involve the full quartet of voices, and 3 are duets. In his notes to the recording, Dunford ranks Dowland with Bach and Monteverdi as one of those composers who perpetually enrich us, who allow us to approach their intelligence and to understand things differently. Non-lutenists may find such an assessment extravagant, but it is a conviction that Dunford brings to these performances, and the result is impressive. Dowland was particularly noted for his melancholy, a quality that suffuses most of his output. Born a Protestant, he was received into the Catholic Church during a sojourn in France. He intensely desired an appointment as lutenist at the court of Elizabeth I but was refused. It is likely that his religious affiliation was an impediment. Dunford is convinced that Dowland s four published Books of Songs and his Lachrimae were intended to impress the queen and induce her to grant him the appointment. A court appointment finally came from James I in 1612, and Dowland published nothing thereafter. Dowland remained faithful to the tradition of Renaissance counterpoint at a time when Italian basso continuo technique was sweeping through Europe. He wrote music of great precision, yet it must be presented with improvisatory spontaneity, as Dunford points out in his notes. That is certainly the character of these performances. Another clue to the character of Dowland s songs lies in the format of their publication. They are printed with the individual parts facing in different directions, so a group of singers and players seated around a table could all read from the same copy. My only complaint is that when the four vocalists are singing together they give the impression of performers standing on a platform and singing to an audience rather than four friends around a table. This is much less the case with the duets. Dunford brings an exquisite intimacy to the solo lute pieces. Tacked on to the end of the program is a modern song with lute accompaniment, sung in the style of a pop ballad rather than classical early music. There is not a word about it in the notes or track list! In contrast with the selection of songs and lute pieces presented by Dunford, the record- American Record Guide 91

94 ing from lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and the viol consort Phantasm gives the entire contents of Dowland s 1604 publication Lachrymae. Its music is for a consort of five viols (or violins) with lute. The lute parts may sound superficially like continuo realization, but they are fully written out in tablature, and they contain a fair amount of material independent of the strings. The collection opens with seven passionate pavans whose titles refer to different sorts of tears. Each begins with the stepwise melodic descent of a perfect fourth that is easily Dowland s best-known musical idea. There are surreptitious allusions to music by other composers, including Lassus and Marenzio, that are likely to escape most modern listeners but not the players of the time. Like the Books of Songs, Lachrimae is printed so as to be read by players seated around a table. Following the 7 pavans are 14 additional dances, each bearing the name of a person, including the composer himself ( Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens ). A few years ago I reviewed a recording by Laurence Dreyfus and Phantasm with organist Daniel Hyde of Consorts to the Organ by William Lawes (Linn 399; Nov/Dec 2012). I was bowled over by what was possibly the finest viol consort playing I had ever heard. The present recording upholds that dazzling standard. There is always a keen sense of phrase trajectory; nothing is ever static. This is achieved not by anachronistic dynamic shadings, but from the players clearly knowing where the phrases are going, playing them accordingly, and interacting with one another as of one mind. The tone is luscious and warm, not the thin and wiry sound that some viol players produce. It appears that this recording was occasioned by the acquisition in 2015 by the library of Magdalen College, Oxford, of a rare original print of the publication. The original owner of the copy was Sir Charles Somerset, who matriculated at Magdalen in In a sense, the copy has returned home. The booklet includes some fine photographs of the binder s cover (stamped C.S. ), the title page, the table of contents, and several pages of music. GATENS There is little evidence to suggest that Americans have either the desire or the will to lessen their dependency on the easy satisfactions held out by the video and digital world. --Susan Jacoby DURUFLE: Requiem with 4 Motets; Cum Jubilo Mass Patricia Bardon, mz; Ashley Riches, bar; Tom Etheridge, Richard Gowers, org; King s College Choir, Age of Enlightenment Orchestra/ Stephen Cleobury Kings minutes with TAVENER: Song for Athene; ELGAR: They are at Rest; others Jennifer Johnston, mz; Neal David, b; Guy Johnston, vc; Matthew Jorysz, org; Clare College Choir/ Graham Ross Harmonia Mundi minutes Both of these discs contain the Duruflé Requiem. Harmonia Mundi uses the version for solo organ; the other is Durufle s original for organ and chamber orchestra. Both are extremely well performed, with two fine choirs. The Choir of King s College is, or course, an all male choir; the Clare College Choir is mixed. It produces a fuller, richer sound with more color and power. The male choir produces a purer, more ethereal sound. Neither is really better than the other. I prefer the mixed choir because I enjoy the strength and timbre of their singing, especially in the soprano section. Harmonia Mundi also gives us a more reflective program they title the release Remembrance. In addition to the Duruflé we hear music by John Tavener (his exquisite, heartbreaking Song for Athene ), Edward Elgar ( They are at Rest ), and a number of 16th Century composers including two of England s finest, Thomas Tomkins and Thomas Weekles. They both did settings of When David Heard from the book of Samuel, and it s fascinating to hear their contrasting settings of the same text. Abide with Me is heard in a beautiful arrangement by Graham Ross. Elgar s elegiac setting of They are at Rest was commissioned by Sir Walter Parratt to be sung on the anniversary of Queen Victoria s death. It is always worth hearing again, especially as beautifully as it s performed here. The King s College program is all Duruflé, giving us lovely performances not only of the Requiem, but of his Four Motets on Gregorian Themes and the Cum Jubilo Mass, dedicated to the composer s wife in honor of the Virgin Mary. It calls for an exclusively baritone choir with baritone soloist, orchestra, and organ. The premiere was given on December 18, 1966 at the Salle Pleyel with Camille Maurane as the soloist (he had also been the baritone soloist at the premiere of the Requiem in 1947). Ash- 92 January/February 2017

95 ley Riches sings very well both here and in the Requiem, justifying his growing reputation as one of England s finest young baritones. The two mezzo soloists are very good and an interesting contrast to one another. Jennifer Johnston has more of a mezzo sound (where she is accompanied by Guy Johnston s beautiful cello); Patricia Bardon sounds more like a contralto. Neal Davies sings with great assurance in the little he is given to do. I wish Duruflé had made his role larger. The sound on both discs is excellent; the Harmonia Mundi is a bit more resonant, the King s College a little dryer. Both come with well-written program notes and texts and translations. REYNOLDS D UTILLEUX: Along the Waves; 6 Little Pieces; Blackbird; Sonata; CASADESUS: Sonata 3; Toccata Cicilia Yudha, p Navona minutes Indonesian pianist Cicilia Yudha presents an unusual and enjoyable recording of post-second World War music by Robert Casadesus and Henri Dutilleux. Many of us grew up with Casadesus s piano recordings, but he also wrote music of his own. His Sonata 3 is a charmer: elegant, lively, and concise, very French in its determination to resist heaviness. Cicilia Yudha plays it with a light, wistful touch, and she performs the Toccata with just enough crunch. Henri Dutilleux is best known for his orchestral music. A post-impressionist in the shadow of Debussy and Ravel, he is a master of shifting, pointillistic effects of shadow and light. These qualities characterize his piano music as well. The Six Little Pieces are all about elegant patterns and colors. The big piece on this album is the finale, Dutilleux s sonata from 1946, which evokes a sensuous world that seems late 19th Century even though the harmonic idiom is modern. The opening movement grabs our attention right away with a driving main theme and an elegantly sinister second subject. The next movement, a song of somber repose with a misty middle section, shows more of an impressionist influence. The playing in this quiet movement is mesmerizing, with generous peddle and an unerring sense of color. Sometimes performed alone, the finale is a clangorous chorale with variations, sometimes fierce, sometimes lyrical, a bit menacing but also exhilarating. There is a touch of Messiaen, and the high ambition is similar; it s gripping from beginning to end. Robert Levin s powerful performance on ECM, which I reviewed in 2010, offers formidable competition; his coda in particular a series of magisterial final chords will knock you out of your chair. With Levin, you get all of Dutilleux s piano music not a bad thing, but you will miss the Casadesus pieces. Yudha brings out the colors and nuances in all these pieces, including Dutilleux s charming miniature, Blackbird. She has a crisp, lucid sound reinforced by the excellent recording made at Oberlin. SULLIVAN DVORAK: Piano Quintet; String Quintet Vogler Quartet; Oliver Triendl, p CPO minutes Two wonderful pieces on the same disc not that common. The string quintet is first (Opus 97), and it seems thin here. It sort of bounces around and never gets substantial. When the piano comes in for the other quintet it is a great relief. Still, I hear nothing special about that performance either. CPO presents both in very clear sound with no atmosphere. VROON DVORAK: Requiem Simona Saturova, Jana Sykorova, Tomas Cerny, Peter Mikulas; Brno Philharmonic/ Petr Fiala ArcoDiva 130 [2CD] 94 minutes Dvorak s Requiem, written for the Birmingham Festival when the composer was 50, has never achieved wide popularity. It is, to be sure, a mature work, full of Dvorak s effective melodies, but it suffers from an overdose of the meditative and contemplative. If you want to argue that Verdi s Requiem is too theatrical, you could also aver that Dvorak s isn t theatrical enough! Put in simpler terms (as I ve done before), this piece would be better were it 30 minutes shorter. The work, though, does have its impressive moments, like the Quam olim Abrahae fugue; and if you re not in a rush, the many devotional sections are indeed beautiful. These Czech performers under Petr Fiala are in full sympathy with the music. Soloists are all good, though soprano Simona Saturova sometimes reveals too much vibrato. The chorus, num- American Record Guide 93

96 bering about 75, is also fine, and they are recorded fairly close up. But I think I prefer the Prague Philharmonic Choir under Sawallisch in the Supraphon choral box (4187). The Brno Philharmonic is also first rank. To sum up, this is a fine recording more idiomatic than Herreweghe s (Sept/Oct 2015). Ancerl s old 1959 performance has been remastered on Supraphon 3673 and is still a contender; and the Sawallisch is as good as any but it is even slower than Fiala s! ALTHOUSE DVORAK: Slavonic Dances Cynthia Raim & David Allen Wehr, p Connoisseur Society minutes This is an older recording (2007), just released, by two of Connoisseur Society s mainstay pianists, who are always welcome on my CD player. I have several of their individual and duo discs in my library, and they are all of exceptional quality. As a duo, both their Brahms Waltzes and Hungarian Dances (CS 4222, Sept/Oct 1999) and Rachmaninoff Suites and Duets (CS 4214, Jan/Feb 1998) are reference recordings. Dvorak now joins them. Publisher Simrock had such great success with the first set of Brahm s Hungarian Dances (1869) that he requested a second set and grew impatient when Brahms didn t supply one soon enough. Dvorak was approached, and his first book of Slavonic Dances was the result in 1878, making him an overnight sensation. Wehr s excellent program notes state that following a very happy performance of the Brahms, they began looking for a new project, and the Dvorak was a logical choice. These are musically satisfying performances. Every little nuance and each voice is balanced without ever losing track of the whole. Many of these works follow the format that was first established in Liszt s Hungarian Rhapsodies of a slow opening section, followed by a much faster dance that begins quietly and builds in both volume and speed, with occasional backtracking, to an exciting conclusion. For two pianists to keep a dead-on ensemble with these kinds of changes running through the pieces is nothing short of astonishing. These are well-known and often heard works (often orchestral versions see below). This is one of the best piano duet recordings to come my way in a long time. HARRINGTON DVORAK: Slavonic Dances Czech Philharmonic/ Jiri Belohlavek Decca minutes Talk about frustrating! Donald Vroon is right: there is no engineering standard anymore for the major labels, not even Decca. One Czech team recorded the Opus 46 set in December 2014, and another the Opus 72 set in October 2015, and the sound is quite different. In Opus 46 each section of the strings plus woodwinds plus brass has its own set of microphones, but the engineers place all of them front and center as they audibly manipulate the balances they seem to think they re the conductor, not Belohlavek. Not that it makes much difference. Here are a music director with total control but not a spark of spontaneity and a rich, opulent orchestra that purrs like a Lamborghini but without any style. I ve always said, Nobody does dance music like the Czechs or maybe that s my prejudice because I grew up with the quick-stroked, upturned, lean, cat-like alertness of Karel Ancerl and Karel Sejna, whose complete Slavonic Dances, one of his few stereo recordings made for Supraphon in 1959, remains the sine qua non of interpretations. Yes, the early stereo is dated, but it s more than acceptable, and I simply can t help but compare any recording to Sejna s spontaneous combustion in these dances. What a contrast to Belohlavek, who lacks in seven of the eight Opus 46 dances the essential element: that inimitable Czech style. The only exception is 5. Then come the other eight dances in Opus 72, recorded nine months later. Here there is no spotlighting by the engineers. Details are quite clear, yet overall the sound is not transparent rather, everything is to some degree on a two-dimensional plain. But once I got used to the sound, I pretty much forgot about it at least the engineers left the interpretation and balances to the conductor. But here Belohlavek does have that Czech style. Tempos are spry, phrases are short-stroked and buoyant, rhythms are articulated, long flowing themes work well over the toe-tapping substratum, and the orchestra itself is having a grand down-home time, especially in 1, 3, and 5. Belohlavek s glass is half-full, but Sejna s is filled to the brim. FRENCH The only kind of politics that does not lend itself to video images is any political appeal to thoughtfulness, reason, and logic. --Susan Jacoby 94 January/February 2017

97 DVORAK: Symphonic Variations; Slavonic Rhapsodies Prague Philharmonia/ Jakub Hrusa Pentatone [SACD] 61 minutes I was thrilled to hear that the violins sound truly Czech. But the engineering (and maybe the size of the orchestra, which I suspect is less than full) don t really let them shine. In the Rhapsody 1, for example, they don t soar, and they are overruled by other parts of the orchestra. The result is not beautiful, not moving just noisy. Rhapsody 2 is never very exciting. No. 3 is well liked, but I don t think this performance is anything special. The 22-minute Symphonic Variations can be very dull; in fact, they usually are. Here they plod and seem interminable. There are good recordings; see our Overview. So initial hopes for this release were not fulfilled. VROON DVORAK: Violin Concerto; Romance; Mazurka; Romantic Pieces Jan Mracek, Czech National Symphony/ James Judd Onyx :34 Perhaps it was unwise of Dvorak to put ma non troppo after each movement s tempo designation. The concerto is the usual Allegro- Adagio-Allegro, but non troppo (not too). In the past violinists and conductors pretty much ignored the non troppo and played it fastslow-fast which, I would argue, it really is, despite the non troppo. But tempos over the years have tended to even out it s one of my major complaints about conductors and Dvorak s marking only encourages that. Often it is hard to tell a fast movement from a slow one. This isn t that far off, but all three movements take 11 to 12 minutes. When Josef Suk recorded it in 1960 it was 9:59, 11:30, and 10:10. This one is 12:06, 11:04, and 11:15. See what I mean? It s not outrageous, but I would like the Adagio to be slower and the Finale to be faster. I think the contrast is inherent in the music and in the concerto form. Actually, the Vengerov/Masur recording, which we liked very much, is also more smoothed out than Suk, but not as much as this one (July/Aug 2001). The violinist is fine, but excellent violinists are everywhere these days. There are very Czech moments in the music where Mr Judd sounds a bit earthbound rather than airy and fiery. Suk had the Czech Philharmonic under Ancerl, and that is unbeatable still. Orchestras and conductors have been losing their national flavor for more than half a century, so you often have to go back to the 1960s for that. It s special, but it s not essential. I m sure Dvorak was glad to hear this played by English and American orchestras. The Czech orchestra on this recording is one of four or five in Prague. It was founded in 1993, and its main conductor is Libor Pesek. They sound pretty much like any other orchestra. The romantic Pieces (same music as the Miniatures) are always welcome, as is the Romance. The latter is with orchestra, as is the Mazurka (mazurek), a rather short piece that is very nice but seldom heard. The excellent pianist in the Four romantic Pieces is Lukas Klansky. I thoroughly enjoyed all this, and my complaints should not be considered fatal to the recording. It s wonderful music all of it and it comes across, even if sometimes I thought of other recordings. I m adding it to my collection. VROON DVORAK: Noonday Witch; Quartet 12; see Collections ELGAR: Symphony 1; In the South St Cecilia Orchestra/ Antonio Pappano ICA minutes I know the orchestra from its many opera recordings for Decca in the LP era. It was not a great group, but it knew the music and style, and most of the time it did its job well enough. On the other hand, I heard it in Rome in the late 1990s under Wolfgang Sawallish, no less and it sounded worse than I ever heard it on LP. Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, is known best to me as a conductor of Italian opera. All of this is an odd combination for Elgar, to put it mildly. Worry not. It seems that every professional orchestra is good these days. The performance of the symphony is a fine one quirky yes, but with plenty to offer, partly because it is different. The recording I can most relate it to is the angular one by Charles Mackerras, though Pappano s reading works better. When the orchestra picks up the tune after the opening, it does so with a touch of the operatic that comes as no surprise, though the movement as a whole is not the last word in lyricism. Its motion is a little up and down with strong American Record Guide 95

98 downbeats. It rises and falls in and out of the texture in a halting manner that soldiers on, as if to pore through this unpredictable movement in search of something different. The result is sunnier and less brooding than most. Toward the end, at the last big climax, it slows down steadily until almost coming to a halt, but it never loses its motion. When the main tune returns, it does so with unburdened relief. Pappano s II is one of the jauntiest around, again with a slightly exaggerated restless approach. There are deeper readings; Pappano doesn t find the darkness that lurks, but it doesn t sound as if he is looking for it. The result is legitimate, nonetheless, and the performance works better than I may be making it sound. Very interesting is the famous slow ending that serves as a haunting transition to the Adagio. Pappano s approach is not darker so much as reflective. Slow movements are often called the heart of this or that symphony, and that certainly can be said for this Adagio and this reading of it. It is warm, still with some of the aforementioned up and down, and the dreamy middle section is very effective. The finale is at once easy to pull off and full of traps. There is a feeling of both here, though in no way does that detract from the whole. The playing is strong and urgent, the sudden transition to that dreamy section in the middle is very well done, and the ending is exuberant, with more made of those trumpet thrusts than usual and to good benefit. This is not the greatest Elgar First out there, but it is very good and more cohesive than the Mackerras. The top British orchestras are more sumptuous than Santa Cecilia, particularly in the strings, but the Italian ensemble sounds good in a way that gives Elgar s very British symphony a subtle Italian accent. In the South, Elgar s great tone poem inspired by a visit to Italy and drawn on the style of his friend Richard Strauss, is another matter. Forget good and Italian accent. This reading is one of the best. It comes off as a tone poem performed by people familiar with opera I can almost hear it telling a story and there is nothing quirky about that. The big parts are bold, exuberant, and full of energy; and the heavy march is brawny yet warm. The moonlight scene is breathtaking, and the surging and exciting music after that to the end is thrilling. Good as the orchestra sounds in the symphony, it sounds even better here. In the South was recorded in 2013, a year later than the symphony. This is one case where a coupling work makes a disc worth buying, and I say that without decrying the symphony performance in any way. The sound is excellent, and the notes do their job. HECHT ENESCO: Piano Pieces Suite 2; Prelude & Fugue; Sonata 3; On the Name of Fauré Josu de Solaun Grand Piano minutes Suite 1; Prelude & Scherzo; others Josu de Solaun Grand Piano minutes These are volumes II and III from Grand Piano s series of Enesco s keyboard music; Sang Woo Kang was pleased with the first (Grand Piano 705, Nov/Dec 2016). Enesco wrote the Toccata from the Second Piano Suite, Des Cloches Sonores, in 1901 and added the Sarabande, Pavane, and Bouree in He submitted the suite to the Pleyel competition that year, and the jurors Debussy, D Indy, Massenet, and Cortot awarded it first prize. It is a stunning, impressionist work, but in Enesco s own harmonic voice. The Pavane is breathtaking the melody is marked quasi flute, and there is a uniquely Romanian sound that counters both the impressionism and the bell-like writing that is the basis of the suite. The movement, florid yet bucolic, fanciful yet muscular, stopped me in my tracks. The bells still reverberate in the Prelude and Fugue in C, also from There are nods to Bach in it, of course, but they are woven deftly into the sonic fabric and sound perfectly natural. Its only flaw is the predictably-repeated four-bar phrases in the long Prelude. The Fugue has quite the sweet demeanor and a very unusual feel for a fugue. I think it s in 12/8, and the subject has several groups of three eighth notes followed by three eighth rests; so, there s a lot of space in the phrase. Enesco treats the form almost as the foundation for a structured fantasy: after a few gently-rocking minutes, he adds a layer of Mozartean 16th notes over the subject and builds the piece to a grand conclusion. The Piece sur le Nom de Fauré is Scriabinesque, as the notes put it, and over the course of its two minutes, it brings together several wandering voices. The Third Sonata is playful and full of flourishes in I; its lightness and wit are French, 96 January/February 2017

99 but the harmonies and rhythm have a distinct Romanian flavor. II has flurries of notes as well, and when bird songs meet dissonances in an equatorial haze, the passages resemble Sorabji s hothouses, of all things. III begins with similar trills and sprays of notes, though they are more concise, and it isn t long before a toccata arises from it all. Because of its rhapsodic nature and reliance on small note values, it s a less satisfying work than the Second Suite. I have the feeling my opinion is at odds with most of our other reviewers, though; Mark Lehman liked Nicola Meecham s recording (Somm 81, Nov/Dec 2009): Her exquisite rendition of II suffuses Enesco s dreamy raptures with a radiant glory that lingers in the memory long after the music ends. Volume III consists of works written from 1894 to The Scherzo and Ballade are the earliest; Enesco was 13 when he wrote them, and they re solidly-written beginner pieces without much personality. The Prelude and Scherzo is from 1896; the scoring is more inventive and the harmonies more advanced s Barcarolle and La Fileuse show the young composer progressing, less weighed down by the Germanic influence. The First Piano Suite, Suite in Ancient Style, has the skeleton and muscles of older forms like preludes and fugues, but now and then it charges off into new, experimental territory, and those times are the best. The closing Presto is a fascinating flurry of notes, the least ancient of all the movements. The Impromptus in A-flat and C, from 1898 and 1900, are even better, flowers planted in the soil of Chopin, Schumann, and Fauré, growing toward their own sun. The sound is good, though it could be better; the piano is too far back. De Solaun is a wonderful pianist, especially in the colorful worlds of the Second Piano Suite. His sonata performance compares well to Dinu Lipatti s 1943 broadcast (EMI 63038), though De Solaun has a slightly heavier touch. Notes are in English and French. ESTEP ENESCO, ARENSKY: Trio 1 Trio Enesco Genuin minutes I m usually suspicious of composer juvenilia, so I wasn t too excited to hear the 16-year-old Enesco s Trio 1 from Sometimes I m happy to be wrong. Despite Enesco s youth, it is remarkably mature and confidently wrought. It s backward-looking and derivative, about halfway between Beethoven and Brahms (with some Lisztian pianism here and there), with a stormy I, gracious and ambling allegretto II, soulful and flowing III (like early Beethoven), and a heavy-footed, bouncy, virtuosic tarantella finale that relaxes sometimes into otherworldly visionary reverie anticipating Enesco s middle-late style. I was impressed enough by both performance and composition to buy the companion CD pairing Trio 2 with Fauré s trio (Genuin 14309). The Arensky Trio 1 on the present disc is excellent, but it d make more sense to collect all Enesco s trio works on one disc rather than spread them over two paired with works collectors already have. The recording is very good, with realistic balance among musicians, and round, strong bass (important in the Arensky). Both string players use ample vibrato and have sweet intonation. The Enesco is certainly worth your time and money, no mere curiosity or musicologist s delight. WRIGHT FAGO: Cantatas & Ariettas Riccardo Angelo Strano, ct; Cappella Santa Teresa/ Sabino Manzo Toccata :33 Francesco Nicola Fago ( ) was a respected Neapolitan composer and a younger contemporary of Allesandro Scarlatti. In addition to a number of operas and large-scale sacred music, about 50 of Fago s solo cantatas and shorter ariettas remain in manuscripts, from which this recording selects 8 for solo alto. Particularly impressive is Fago s Lagrime di Cordoglio (Tears of Sorrow), which is filled with effective harmonies (including a number of unexpected Neapolitan sixth chords). Riccardo Angelo Strano, has excellent diction and very effective blending of his lower and upper registers. Also, Sabino Manzo offers a very stylish and unobtrusive continuo realization and is ably assisted by Giuseppe Petrella on theorbo and guitar. There are three short instrumental interludes, but the Kapsperger Capona and the Corbetta Partie de Chacone seem to be rather distant from Fago s milieu. The Sinfonia di violoncello solo e basso by another Neapolitan composer, Francesco Paolo Scipriani ( ) is not only an appropriate selection but also a fascinating composition. The booklet includes informative notes and full texts and translations. BREWER American Record Guide 97

100 FALLA: 7 Folk Songs; El Amor Brujo; GARCIA LORCA: Old Spanish Songs Estrella Morente, s; Javier Perianes, p Harmonia Mundi minutes Morente is a flamenco singer; her voice is expressive and dusky, but it doesn t have the resonance and strength that comes with classical training. In the 2006 movie Volver, she supplied the voice for a flamenco song that Penelope Cruz lip-syncs to. My familiarity with the genre doesn t go very far past the pop-flamenco of the Gipsy Kings, but I listened to a few of Morente s songs, and she is quite good on her home turf. Hearing her in this context is strange but not unpleasant. Once I got used to the difference, I enjoyed the Falla; the Garcia Lorca is rather dull. Perianes is a superb pianist the suite from El Amor Brujo is thrilling, and his accompaniment is impressive. The sound is perfectly clear and velvety. Notes and complete texts and translations are in Spanish, French, and English. ESTEP almost a minute longer than Thibaud-Cortot. Needless to say, Ingolfsson-Stoupel s fires do not burn as hot. The tempo modulations are not as effective either, because the sense of slowing the music s propulsion is not as great. Of the three duos, Thibaud-Cortot is far and away the best. Thibaud s range of color, modulation of vibrato, and expressive glissandos place him in a far different league from Ingolfsson. Despite the antique sound, I found myself responding more to Thibaud-Cortot than to the two more recent duos. I cannot warm to Violin Sonata 2. Fauré s creative juices seem to have dried up by the time he wrote it in ; it is a product of the intellect, not the heart. It is no wonder that it is rarely performed or recorded. Even though their timings are much closer than in Sonata 1, I think Dumay and Collard manage to give the music more impetus than Ingolfsson and Stoupel do. They have a broader tonal palette too, especially Dumay. Ingolfsson plays a violin made by Lorenzo Guadagnini in MAGIL FAURE: Violin Sonatas Judith Ingolfsson; Vladimir Stoupel, p Accentus minutes Gabriel Fauré s Violin Sonata 1 is a perennial favorite of the concert hall and recordings, and many of the great violinists have recorded it. Icelandic violinist Judith Ingolfsson and Soviet-born and -trained, French pianist Vladimir Stoupel have now recorded it in very clean, modern sound. They are technically accomplished, but what they lack is personality and energy. I listened to two other recordings of the sonata for comparison, the first by Jacques Thibaud and Alfred Cortot recorded in 1927 and the second by Augustin Dumay and Jean- Philippe Collard recorded in the mid-1970s. I listened to several others before I chose these two, and they just happen to both be French. Following are the timings of the four movements. Sonata 1, Thibaud-Cortot: I 6:48, II 6:38, III 3:43, IV 4:36; Dumay-Collard: I 7:04, II 7:38, III 3:49, IV 4:58; Ingolfsson-Stoupel: I 9:46, II 8:31, III 4:15, IV 5:31. We cannot compare Ingolfsson-Stoupel s I with the others because they take the repeat, but their II is almost one minute longer than Dumay-Collard and almost two minutes longer than Thibaud-Cortot. Their III is a few seconds longer than either French duo, and their IV is a half minute longer than Dumay-Collard and FINNEY: Pilgrim Psalms Margot Rood, s; Charles Blandy, t; Christian Lane, org; Harvard Choruses/ Andrew Clark Gothic minutes Pilgrim Psalms was premiered in 1946, but the texts and tunes employed by Ross Lee Finney ( ) date from the 17th Century. The Puritans may not have plighted their musical troth with bitonality, mixed meters, harmonic 4ths, and zippy syncopations, but their psalm tunes shine through the modern idiom thanks to the creativity and respect accorded them by an adept composer. The thought of taking in 13 psalms in a row might give one pause, but there is a lot of variety in Mr Finney s writing. Psalm 3 comes across as a full-scale motet, Psalm 24 puts The King of Instruments through its paces as the splashy organ part accompanies the stately, off-centered rhythms of the melody. We get jaunty rhythms and sonorous tones from the gentlemen of the choir in Psalm 5 and a plaintive tenor solo in Psalm 137. (He s good, too.) Two of the Psalms come dressed in the garb of Preludes for Organ. Psalm 55 brings the tenor and choir together for a mournful commentary on the omnipresence of sin, while Finney s zippy Psalm 150 manages to tip a stylish cap to both Vaughan Williams and Mendelssohn! (I think it s the best of the bunch.) 98 January/February 2017

101 Spiritually rapt settings of poems by Archibald MacLeish start and end the Psalmfest. The Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium, Radcliffe Choral Society, and Harvard Glee Club are fully committed to the music under Andrew Clark s direction, as are the soloists and organist. Texts are included, which is great fun owing to the funky 17th Century spelling the Puritans used. Whether you file this under Sacred or Americana, it will make a nice addition to your collection. GREENFIELD FISCHER: Harpsichord Suites Tony Millan Brilliant minutes JCF Fischer ( ) is best known for the ways he inspired young JS Bach: with his Ariadne Musica a model for Bach s preludes and fugues in all keys, and with his early published suites of little musical flower bushes (Musicalisches Blumen-Buschlein, 1698) that blended the fantastic style with the expected dance forms. In 1738 he published a Musicalischer Parnassus of nine suites, each dedicated to one of the Muses. Four of those are here, along with three of the flower-bush suites. The recordings by Mitzi Meyerson (MDG) and Luc Beausejour (Naxos, two discs) are good ways to get all nine of the Parnassus suites. Meyerson omits some repeats and gets everything onto one disc; Beausejour includes a filler of Suites 2 and 8 from the 1698 set. It s good to add Tony Millan s recording, and I hope he makes another one with the five other Parnassus suites. His vigorous delivery makes Beausejour sound relatively cautious. Meyerson s performance has attractive sparkle, like Millan s, but her omission of repeats makes the music seem superficial and short-winded. I also like Millan s way of improvising elaborations in the arpeggiated sections, rather than merely rolling chords up and down. I don t know of any recordings of the 1698 flower bushes, other than the Beausejour (2 and 8) and Millan (5, 6, and 8). They are not all suites in the conventional sense, but aggregations of one to six movements in the same key, plus a Praeludium. Suite 5 has only the Praeludium plus an Aria and variations. Suite 8 is only the Praeludium and a Chaconne. By changing a few details, Millan gets around a technical challenge: these early suites need either a pedalboard or a short octave layout in the bass, making the left hand s stretches and sustained notes reachable. It s music worthy of more attention and recordings, especially Suite 1 with its harmonic sophistication that reminds me of Marchand s music. There are tuning challenges in this repertoire: four of those eight early suites from 1698 go beyond needing 12 notes in the octave. Millan tunes badly for two of the three he chose (Suites 5 and 8). Suite 6 would have gone better with a lower D-sharp, since the piece does not need any E-flat. In Suites 5 and 8, his D- sharp, E-sharp, and D-flat are all terrible, and his fifth from B to F-sharp is more sour than it would ever need to be (simply sounding like a tuning error). These crudely out-of-tune spots make the melodies sound lumpy. I d recommend this anyway. Most of it still sounds good. B LEHMAN FISCHER: Composer Portrait 1 Channel minutes Ivan Fischer (b. 1951) is founder and music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. He also composes on the side, apparently prolifically. This disc seems to be the first of a series; it has seven pieces for a variety of forces. This is an odd collection. Outside of a dopey little brass Fanfare (2011) for kids, the pieces are all vocal works on generally sober topics. La Malinconia is a sour meditation for female chorus, flute, and bass clarinet. Spinoza Translations are trivial observations by the great philosopher translated into Dutch, which Mr Fischer finds wonderfully amusing. They are in fact trivial observations, given just as trivial settings, for soprano and small chamber group. A Nay Kleyd is a little pop ditty in Yiddish about metaphorical dressing. German-Jewish Cantata is a bizarre conglomeration of quasi-bach, a little circus music, and even a little Rilke, set for soprano, trumpet, and strings. Shudh Sarang Sextet, for strings, combines French galop, sickly episodes, melancholy lyricism, Yiddish whining, an Indian dance with tabla, more galop, deterioration, and eventual hysterics. The effect is numbing. Finally, Tsuchigumo is a satirical opera in six languages for two singers, one dancer, and a child. It is a rather perverse interpretation of a Japanese Noh play about a wounded soldier and a spider, written for his children. You ll need to consult the libretto for details. The music, which drifts between jazz, Bach, China, American Record Guide 99

102 wild dances, Yiddish choruses, and Loony Tunes, matches the odd libretto. This is the weirdest concoction I ve seen in years. Notes by the composer. Texts and translations. Blue on black lettering on the box is a hard to read. Performances are what you might expect. GIMBEL FLEGIER: Songs Jared Schwartz, b; Thomas Demer, va; Mary Dibbern, p Toccata minutes French composer, poet, and graphic artist Ange Flegier ( ), famous and popular in his lifetime, is almost entirely forgotten now. His name does not appear in our index, though I do recall hearing his best known song, Le Cor, in a collection some years ago. All 13 songs of this program except for Le Cor are called first recordings or first modern recordings. The notes by Hervé Oleon supply a helpful precis of his life. He offers an explanation for Flegier s relegation to the margins and his deserved place in musical history. During the Roaring Twenties, the French musical community rejected that generation of composers, who, still working in the aesthetics of the 19th Century, were not innovative enough for the new wave an unjust judgement for composers caught between two aesthetics, but who were also forward-looking and laid the foundation on which flourished the creative energies of Debussy, Satie, and Ravel and, after them, Poulenc, Milhaud, and Honegger. This release offers a good opportunity to discover Flegier s songs in fine performances: Schwartz and Dibbern make a strong case for them. His rich basso cantabile voice sounds smoother and more elegant than in his (still excellent) Fauré disc of last year (J/A 2015). His vocal coloring, use of contrasting dynamics, and feeling for the text combine to make his readings engaging. He sings with gentleness and lyricism. As in his Fauré program, his voice is very good when he is singing quietly, and fortunately much of the music calls for softer dynamics. When he pushes it louder it starts to get coarse. His low range is impressive, particularly in Le Cor, which ends with a resounding low D, and in La Neige, as King Charlemagne s grief is expressed in a twooctave descent from a high D-flat to a low D- flat sustained for two long measures. Dibbern offers skillful collaboration; the accompaniment carries much of the drama. One song, Apaisement (Tenderness), includes a viola obbligato, and the trio captures well Verlaine s concluding line that This is the moment of bliss. If you like French melodies I expect you ll be enchanted by this. Notes, texts, translations. R MOORE FORQUERAY: Harpsichord Pieces Blandine Rannou Alpha 322 [2CD] 158 minutes Justin Taylor Alpha minutes Antoine Forqueray s music is for viola da gamba solo with basso continuo accompaniment. The pieces are extremely difficult. The standard harpsichord arrangement is at least as popular now as those original pieces. It was published by the composer s son, and probably composed by the son s wife, an expert harpsichordist. It has thinner textures and simplified harmonies, perhaps reflecting a change in aesthetics for a new generation. Among many recordings of that arrangement, my favorite is Ketil Haugsand s, conveying nobility and power. These two releases are serious challengers. Blandine Rannou s is an extensive rearrangement, based only loosely on the published edition. She restores some of the original harmonies from the ensemble version and often changes the texture. (I approve of this process; my own graduate thesis in 1994 was on this topic of rearranging Forqueray s harpsichord music for more intense effects.) Rannou s performance of La Angrave is especially ferocious. So is La Boisson. In La du Vaucel of Suite 3, her arrangement is simpler than the published version, and more poignant by leaving the texture empty. This release of Alpha 322 is a reissue of Zig Zag 80301, recorded in November 2007, not reviewed in ARG. The old version has much sturdier packaging and a more informative booklet. I don t detect any difference in the mastering of the discs. Justin Taylor is now 25 and was the Bruges Competition winner in This recording debut was part of his prize. His playing is brilliant, with a tendency to go for sweet tenderness. I d like some of this music to sound gruff and more physically challenging, simulating vicious bow-strokes from this composer, who played like the devil. But Taylor s refined delivery is convincing. He also rearranges the music considerably (he studied with Rannou), but confines most of his elaborations to the 100 January/February 2017

103 repeats. He plays Suites 1 and 5, plus his own arrangement of a suite for three violas da gamba. He includes Duphly s and Couperin s two short pieces honoring Forqueray. I never get the sense that he is showing off, even in the flashiest passages. Everything he does here illuminates the music, making it sound both noble and humble. His performance of La Sylva in Suite 5 is stunningly beautiful, with his control of time through all the unsynchronized notes. This is a must-hear album. B LEHMAN FRIEDMAN: Piano Pieces Joseph Banowetz Grand Piano minutes Transcriptions Joseph Banowetz Grand Piano minutes I recently reviewed a program with several piano works by Ignaz Friedman played by Russian-American pianist Margarita Glebov (S/O 2016). That recording also contained works by two of his contemporaries, though the bulk of the music was by Friedman. What we have here is more of his piano works. Only the 4 Preludes, Op.61, and a few of the transcriptions are duplicated. Friedman ( ) hailed from the golden era of virtuosos, and he has largely been ignored as a composer. To be truthful, there is nothing that one might describe as a major composition. They are all character pieces heavily influenced by Grieg, Rachmaninoff, and Medtner. All are creative, more than pleasant to the ear, and lush with the sound world of late romanticism. Six Viennese Dances based on themes sung by baritone Eduard Gartner supplied royalties to the singer s widow, and were generously published ascribing the baritone as composer and Friedman as arranger. They have the scent of slightly faded flowers, but contain just enough original harmonies to make each a gem to listen to. The Op. 27 Piano Pieces are melodically quite lovely and occupy the sound world of Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and Grieg even Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. Banowetz plays with affection and expressive warmth. The five Strophes Op.71 may be brief in duration, but contain much that is inventive and rewarding. This music can easily be embraced for its creative originality in a world no longer with us. The nine Stimmungen Op.79, are dedicated to Rachmaninoff and might well have come from the master s pen. Grieg is here as well. It s imitative perhaps, but done to perfection by an artist of great imagination and skill. Number 8 boldly ventures unapologetically into Scriabin s world. The 15 transcriptions range from Bach to Scarlatti to Gluck. If they are less interesting than Friedman s original pieces they are all professionally done. Some, like the Scarlatti sonatas and Couperin piece, give us the originals in a new guise. Everything is tasteful. It is sort of like what Sir Thomas Beecham was doing with his orchestral transcriptions of Handel delicious and enjoyable. Fine recording, good notes, and playing of notable expertise. BECKER FRIEDMAN: Piano Quintet; see ROZYCKI FROBERGER: Keyboard Music Magdalena Hasibeder, hpsi, org Raumklang 3503 [2CD] 140 minutes Yannick Varlet, hpsi, org Continuo minutes Glen Wilson, hpsi Naxos [2CD] 127 minutes Johann Jacob Froberger ( ) has two convenient ennials in 2016 and 2017 (400th anniversary of his birth, 350th of his death). There have been many recent recordings of his music to celebrate. Here are three more. Magdalena Hasibeder s album has the title Froberger s Travels, tracing his cosmopolitan career across Europe. She intersperses his music with music from ten other composers whose music he knew: Matthias Weckmann, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Louis Couperin, Alessandro Poglietti, Johann Caspar Kerll, Johann Steigleder, Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Giovanni Gabrieli, Wolfgang Ebner, and Michelangelo Rossi. She is superlative on both harpsichord and organ. I ve kept listening to this repeatedly for pleasure, beyond the assigned duty to review it. The Poglietti piece about chickens and Kerll s about a cuckoo have been novelty favorites of mine for many years, and she plays them brilliantly here on organ. The Froberger selections are mostly the best-known character pieces, the ones Froberger s enthusiasts will recognize as his greatest hits. Hasibeder has an uncommonly expressive touch on the harpsichord, making these some of the best recorded performances I have heard. The harpsichords are French and American Record Guide 101

104 Italian. The organ is in Vienna, built in 1642, tuned in meantone. Rossi s Toccata 7 at the end of the organ disc is extremely chromatic, startlingly weird. Yannick Varlet offers a variety of toccatas, canzonas, suites, capriccios, ricercars, a fantasia, the tombeau for Blancrocher, and Froberger s meditation on his own future death. He switches back and forth from harpsichord to organ, and the booklet does not say which instrument to expect. That information is only deep in the booklet at page 23, showing the registrations chosen for the eight organ pieces. The French organ is tuned in a circulating temperament based on Corrette (a century after Froberger s death): more moderate than Hasibeder s regular meantone, but still crunchy. His unspecified harpsichord temperament sounds like 1/6 comma (like Wilson s), altered to match the music s sharps and flats. Varlet s performances handle the music with good poise and sensitivity, not doing anything extreme. The harpsichord is a modern copy in German style. Next to these two albums that I d call unqualified successes, Glen Wilson s set is a little bit disappointing. His playing and research are excellent, but the choice to cut most of the repeats is the deal-breaker. Most of the suites take only three to six minutes without repeats, and the music does not have time to develop its effects. Wilson plays modern reproductions of Italianate and Ruckers-style (Flemish) harpsichords. Some of the program notes are only on Naxos s web site, not printed in the booklet. This set would be a good lowpriced introduction to Froberger s music for listeners who don t intend to collect a bigger set. I have mentioned some other favorites in my reviews of Bob van Asperen s recentlycompleted series in 2016 (S/O, N/D). B LEHMAN FURRER: Enigmas 1-6; Voices-Still; Cold and Calm and Moving Helsinki Chamber Choir; Uusinta Ensemble/ Nils Schweckendiek Toccata minutes Works for Choir and Ensemble by Swiss Beat Furrer (b. 1954), who has spent most of his career in Vienna, studying with Haubenstock- Ramati and founding avant-garde ensembles like Klangforum Wien. Enigmas I-VI ( ), for mixed a cappella choir, are extraordinary settings of elliptical texts by Leonardo. These depart stylistically from Furrer s often predictable modernisms. Instead, the music includes an almost Orffian primitivism, with a touch of chanting minimalism blended with avant-gardist experimental gestures, whispers, noises, extended silences, slow glissandos, and chaos. For the most part these are fresh approaches, and the settings are expressive and apt. With the exception of the too-long and recent 5, these are all arresting and would make exciting additions to the choral repertoire. The Helsinki Choir is masterly. On the other hand, Voices-Still (2001), for mixed choir and ensemble, is entirely composed of tired avant-garde-isms and easily could have been written 40 years ago. The text, from Virgil, deals with the disappearance of Eurydice after Orpheus looked at her. Taken from an earlier nonrelated work taken out of context the piece is at best abstract and makes the usual unmemorable impression. The earliest work, Cold and Calm and Moving (1992), for flute, harp, violin, viola, and cello, is in the mobile form so common in the 60s pages are interchangeable and filled with enigmatic materials. These are quiet and moody, built around the typical rising ninth, symbolizing the composer s ex-wife. There is the usual angular but relatively lyrical flute solo out of, say, Maderna, and the normal chaotic interruptions. Perhaps this is more palatable and less offensive than other examples of this type, but we have heard this all before, and it is pretty late in the day to be doing this sort of thing but this is Furrer s usual professional stomping grounds. Kairos 1238 (M/A 2006) is an interesting collection of his piano works performed well by Nicholas Hodges. Furrer is an interesting figure, and if it interests you, this release is worthy of your attention. Fans of choral music should certainly take pains to hear the Enigmas. GIMBEL FUX: Symphonies & Overtures Lucia Froihofer, v; Michael Hell, hpsi; Neue Hofkapelle Graz CPO [2CD] 122 minutes The music on this program is derived entirely from Johann Joseph Fux s first publication Concentus Musico-Instrumentalis, ut Vulgo Dicimus, Divisus. Whether he calls them symphonies or overtures, each work consists of a suite of courtly dances. Some movements have programmatic titles, which suggested to Klaus 102 January/February 2017

105 Hubmann that the publication might be intimately tied to Emperor Joseph I, to whom it is dedicated. The lively II of the Symphony in B- flat is titled Libertein, which seems to confirm certain historic details of Joseph I s life. Fux is an underrated composer. His operas and sacred choral works are well crafted and very appealing. In the capable hands of the Neue Hofkapelle Graz, it would appear that Fux s orchestral music also ranks with the best of his time. Notes are in English. LOEWEN GADE: Quartet; Trio Movement; Scherzo Ensemble MidtVest CPO minutes Does this look like an unusual program? I assure you, it is. I don t usually think of Niels Gade ( ) as a composer so exploratory that he couldn t decide how to put his works together, but that is how he is presented here. That doesn t mean that these works are not worth a hearing. The string quartet that opens the program has been recorded before by the Copenhagen and the Kontra Quartets (Marco Polo & BIS 545, M/A 1996, Baumann). Carl Baumann also reviewed another recording by the Cailin Quartet (Classico 337, M/A 2001). He enjoyed all three but particularly recommends the Kontras because they restored a fifth movement. Well, surprise! Ensemble MidtVest adds a sixth movement. Their additions turn out to be the Allegro non troppo and Andantino con moto that the Copenhagen recording plays as their first and second movements. MidtVest plays for their first movements the Allegro and Allegretto that the Copenhagen omits. I find that choice not as satisfactory since the Allegretto is not a slow movement really and makes the work sound a bit strange. But we can play all of these pieces in any order and this new one is recorded in fine sound and played with accuracy and feeling. Now it is on to a big 14-minute piano trio Adagio and Allegro con fuoco. The liner notes reproduce a description of what Gade was portraying in this work though one hardly needs that to enjoy this strong and subtle piece. Finally we have an also experimental Scherzo for piano quartet. Neither of these works have been recorded before, to my knowledge, and they are well worth hearing. Each movement recorded here can stand alone and is well worth hearing. D MOORE GALLES: Harpsichord Sonatas Michele Benuzzi Brilliant minutes The Catalonian composer Josep Galles ( ) didn t get an entry in the New Grove Dictionary, and there is only a short paragraph about him in Baker s. This disc presents 13 of his 23 extant harpsichord sonatas: 1-4, 6-9, 11, 12, and There is a modern edition from Comparison with Domenico Scarlatti s style for sonatas is obvious: the figurations and form are similar. I like the sound of these more than Antonio Soler s. Like his, these sonatas (especially 3, 4, and 6) are too long for their inventiveness when all the repeats are taken without much further embellishment. Benuzzi s harpsichord is a modern copy after Mietke. The choice of a German-styled harpsichord is odd; it sounds smooth and mellow, with long sustained notes. An Italianate harpsichord wouldn t. The unspecified temperament (sounding like Vallotti s) gets progressively crunchy in the keys farthest from C major, bringing out the adventurous modulations. I d like some more sweetness in the flat keys, but this works, and I know I m hypersensitive to this problem. Other than Rafael Puyana s recording of a few sonatas, Benuzzi s appears to be the only recording. It fills a repertoire gap, and Benuzzi plays with a sensitive touch. It sounds as if he is fluently on autopilot in the longer pieces, but then listens to himself and the instrument better in his short improvised cadenzas. I wish he had cut some repeats to give us more sonatas or made this a two-disc set with them all. Despite my picky complaints here, I recommend this recording to listeners who like to explore obscure Spanish sonatas beyond Soler s and Scarlatti s. The music is attractive. Galles s only other known music is a few organ versos in a manuscript. B LEHMAN GANGI: 22 Studies Andrea Pace, g Brilliant minutes Mario Gangi ( ) was the founder of the Roman School of Guitar at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory. His degree was in double bass and composition (probably because professors of guitar were rare when he was in college), but he was active as a professional guitarist, skilled in jazz and classical playing. He American Record Guide 103

106 wrote, among other things, a three-volume pedagogical set for beginning to intermediate players, and the 22 studies make up the third volume. The set covers all standard guitar technique scales, chords, arpeggios, counterpoint but this is more than just exercises. These are concert etudes the concept invented by Liszt and Chopin and the music is absolutely delightful. It reminds me of Julio Sagreras s more advanced material, but with an Italian accent rather than Argentine. Or, perhaps more aptly, it s like Castelnuovo- Tedesco without the sophistication. Nothing sounds especially demanding, though there is plenty of excitement, along with some touching lyricism. I m happy to get to know this, and I ll incorporate the works in my own teaching. I first heard Mr Pace in January/February 2015 his recording with Cristiano Poli Cappelli of the collected duo works of Castelnuovo-Tedesco, a really joyous recording that earned a spot on my best of the year list. His website includes several discs of chamber music; this seems to be his first solo disc. His playing is fine, full of joy and affection, with a beautiful tone and complete technical command. Phrasing is always tasteful and expressive. This is a real find. KEATON GARDNER: Symphony 2; VEALE: Symphony 2 Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martin Yates Dutton 7332 [SACD] 68 minutes Here we have world premiere recordings of fine symphonies by unfamiliar composers. John Gardner ( ) was a WW II RAF veteran who spent many of his civvie years teaching. His Symphony 2, finished in 1985, is definitely a modern piece but in a traditional vein; its movements explore various moods. In I, over a quiet timpani roll, the clarinet plays a lengthy theme, its latter part quite chromatic. The horns take up a figure derived from the clarinet solo; then comes a martial portion. The music is tonal but subtly shifts through several keys. Its development has some Sibelian woodwind writing. At the end, the clarinet theme returns, timpani roll and all. The general mood of the movement is meditative. II, the scherzo, is whimsical and humorous, with several solos from various instruments interlocking. It artfully drifts off into silence. III, the slow movement, has the emotional power of Shostakovich, but with more interesting textures. It opens with what s really a broadly drawn-out shake, then a melancholy, attractive English horn solo. A lengthy string melody follows over a steadily moving bass. A short timpani figure becomes significant punctuation on the way to a grimly impressive climax. In the ensuing calm, the English horn returns. Gardner elaborates on its opening bars to a pensive close, but the tension s still there. The concluding rondo starts with pairs of contrapuntal tunes. A tune annotator Chris Gardner calls Turkish pays conscious homage to Mozart s march. After some cleverly intermeshed woodwind writing comes a gracious melody. The Turkish theme, now on the trumpets, passes through some variations, a solo tuba commenting on the action. The ending of the symphony is as approachable as it is effective. I d summarize it as a good symphony with a great slow movement. John Veale ( ), though mostly self-taught, did study with Wellesz, Sessions, and Roy Harris he was the latter s only English student. He was a movie composer; The Purple Plain and High Tide at Noon are among his scores. After beginning a good concert career, his music became non grata, especially in BBC circles. Those were the years at the Beeb of Fuhrer Glock and his precious bloody Serial Killers (merci Ned Rorem), where anyone not feeling the necessity for serialism was to evaporate, I suppose. How could we have been so delusional? Veale s music began a comeback in the 80s; Symphony 2 dates from The music begins with an English horn solo. The bass elaborating on this takes us to the ingratiating second subject over an ostinato figure. The general mood is one of wariness, like the beginning of the Vaughan-Williams Symphony 4. Even the peace is uneasy. About halfway through, the tension eases up, using a sinuous woodwind theme with inventive follow-through phrases. The drama returns on striding pages with percussion icing. The English horn theme helps form a soft ending cadence. The brief scherzo moves fluently, with occasional slower interjections and a sardonic chorale. The slow parts are often a matter of longer note values than a slower beat. In III, a tragic string theme cedes to an English horn line marked lugubre. Veale marks the movement as a whole with bitterness and profound sadness. The music moves to a solidly fleshed-out climax. Its quiet after- 104 January/February 2017

107 math has brief cries of abandonment from the clarinets. It ends over throbbing bass pulses. In the finale, after a syncopated figure, the horns get going over a steadily pounding accompaniment. This leads to a fugal passage developed with panache. An introspective section recalls earlier emotional losses. An English horn enters over irregular pulsating rhythms, followed by a bass clarinet solo with further dark sounds. Via a reprise of the fugue subject, the symphony gradually drives to a stirring conclusion. The recording of both symphonies is excellent. The players sound completely at ease with the music. Yates s conducting best paces the works to show off their many sonic assets. O CONNOR GIBBS: Crossings; The Enchanted Wood; Vision of Night; Dusk; The Cat and the Wedding Cake; 4 Orchestral Dances Ben Dawson, p; Charles Mutter, v; BBC Concert Orchestra/ Ronald Corp Dutton 7324 [SACD] 78 minutes Cecil Armstrong Gibbs ( ) wrote in both weighty and lighter styles. His great choral symphony Odysseus (Nov/Dec 2008) is a first rate example of the former. This release is a fine cross-section of the latter. Crossings (1919) is a suite written for a play by Walter de la Mare Gibbs was a great admirer of that underrated writer. The music is endlessly tuneful and charming, with attractive orchestration. It resembles Vaughan Williams in a popular mood, but with less modal themes. The Enchanted Wood (1919) is a dance for violin and strings, skillfully laid out. It s a pleasing piece; the impressionist harmonies have some whole-tone spice. Visions of Night (1923) is a tone poem inspired by a couplet of Ernest Henley. It starts with an English horn theme played over pulsing string chords. These begin a crescendo, which breaks off, followed by an orchestral climax. The volume diminishes over a suspended cymbal roll; then comes an extrovertive segment with varied woodwind solo passages. There s an impressive climax with a fanfare of three trumpets at its peak. The music then dies away, becoming indistinct, with triplets tied over the bar lines till the bass line resolves almost. As an orchestral nocturne, it s a decided success. Dusk (1934) was a birthday commission for the current Queen Elizabeth. A slow, elegant waltz, it became so popular that Gibbs was in danger of becoming a one-tune composer. The 1942 Suite for Violin and Orchestra is a Back to Bach effort with fascinating details. The Rigaudon movement has lively and wellvoiced lines, ingeniously divided for deft giveand-take. It s just as entertaining as similar efforts by Strauss and Stravinsky. The Cat and the Wedding Cake (1953) is a genial piece best described as the cat s meow (violin glissandos), followed by a cake walk. The Four Orchestral Dances (1959) are likeable pieces. One has the title Graceful Dance, but they all are. They re accommodating works with unusual sonority, harmony, and even contrapuntal lines. They weren t played then, which is a shame. It would ve been a novelty in the late 50s for audiences to hear music actually written to please people. This release makes a strong case for music of both charm and substance. Like Elgar, Gibbs composes even his breeziest pieces with the same degree of craft and detail he uses in his largest works, such as the Odysseus Symphony. These performances are skilled and stylish, recorded with warm sound. Corp conducts the music with the same high degree of care that Gibbs composed it. With the exception of the tone poem, all these are premiere recordings. O CONNOR GILARDINO: Au Pays Perfume; Parthenicum; Capriccio Etneo; Concertino di Hykkara Angelo Marchese, g; Adalgisa Badano, hpsi; GliArchiEnsemble; Sinfonica Siciliana Winds/ Giuseppe Crapisi Brilliant minutes Fascinating music from Gilardino composer, performer, teacher, and scholar, and one of the leading figures in the guitar world. Three of the works are world premieres. The concerto was released before, also on Brilliant, with two other concertos by him, each with a different soloist (J/A 2014). The title of this release, Sicilian Guitar Music is perhaps a bit misleading. The music was inspired, in the composer s imagination, by his association and experience with Sicily not by any indigenous music of the island. As I wrote in that review, knowing that Hykkara was a city in ancient Sicily (when it was known as Magna Graecia) only sets a mood of other-worldliness, rather than narration. All the works are essentially neoclassical, with high levels of dissonance in the fast passages often alternating with slower lyric passages. Au Pays Perfume is described as five American Record Guide 105

108 inventions for guitar and harpsichord. There is little precedent for that combination, though Ponce has a couple of pieces and Stephen Dodgson wrote a suite for John Williams and Rafael Puyana. The combination does work well. The fast movements crackle with energy, high levels of dissonance, and wide leaps. The two slower movements are more lyrical. The fourth, marked Andante quasi adagio in preghiera (in prayer) is deeply moving. The other two new works are for solo guitar. Parthenicum is a three-movement sonatina, and Capriccio Etneo is a virtuosic tour de force, appropriate for a work inspired by an active volcano. All of this music is recent, written between 2012 and He often uses repeated two-bar figures that then change and develop gradually the effect is a bit minimalistic, though with high levels of dissonance. His solid craftsmanship prevents this from becoming a mannerism. The orchestra is a blend of two regional Italian groups and sounds just fine, as does harpsichordist Adalgisa Badano. Angelo Marchese is a Gilardino student, and he describes him as one of the most fearless champions of my music. Indeed, courage is just what is needed for Gilardino s music, and Marchese has it and more. His playing is outstanding. Unless you have a low tolerance for dissonance, you ll find much of interest here. KEATON GINASTERA: Concerto for Strings; Symphonic Studies; Casals Glosses; Iubilum German Symphony Berlin/ Arturo Tamayo Capriccio minutes Alberto Ginastera ( ) is certainly the best-known of Argentine composers, has a commanding position among Latin-American composers generally, and has numerous works, both chamber and orchestral, with secure places in the repertoire. So am I exposing my lack of sensitivity when I say that these four relatively late orchestral works leave me cold? The style sounds like dry and desiccated high modernism, without any admixture of dance, popular music, or the culture of Latin America generally quite a journey for a composer who is known for works like Impressions of the Puna, or Estancia. Perhaps there are Germans who like this stuff; I can t imagine I ll be listening to it again. T MOORE GLINKA: Varations; Nocturnes; Greeting to My Homeland Ton Nu Nguyet Minh, p Capriccio minutes Mikhail Glinka ( ) is generally considered the founder of Russian classical music. Today we most often hear his energetic Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla, but there is the full opera and its predecessor A Life for the Tsar and other orchestral works. He wrote many songs and a fair amount of piano music along with some chamber music. Without Glinka, we would not have the music we so readily identify as Russian from the Five, Tchaikovsky, and their successors. Before Glinka, classical music was written in Russia in the prevailing European styles by transplanted Europeans. When Liszt first visited Russia in 1842, Glinka, although a leading Russian composer, was largely neglected. Glinka was a fine pianist and was at a concert and banquet in Liszt s honor. Based on the music here, Glinka was well acquainted with many of the piano innovations we attribute to Liszt. Nguyet Minh is a Vietnamese born, Moscow trained pianist, who has taught at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music for the past 30 years. Her awards include Tchaikovsky, Smetana, and Francesco Neglia competitions in Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Italy. She makes considerable music out of some of the rather mundane variations and knocks the socks off of the Lisztian variations on a theme from I Capuleti e I Montecchi. The Nocturnes are very much in the style of Glinka s teacher, John Field; and that gives Nguyet Minh a chance to put her phrasing on display. The largest work here is the 28-minute, four-movement suite A Greeting to My Homeland (1847). It contains another set of variations (on The Last Rose of Summer ), a Mazurka, a Barcarolle, and an extended Priere. Most of the music here is not readily available, and the performances are first rate. This is an essential foundation for Russian piano music collections. HARRINGTON GOETZ: Piano Concertos; Spring Overture Davide Cabassi, Magdeburg Philharmonic/ Kimbo Ishii Naxos minutes The only other recording of both Goetz piano concertos is on CPO with pianist Volker Banfield and the Hanover Radio Philharmonic 106 January/February 2017

109 under Werner Albert. While that is an excellent recording of an impressive reading, this one almost trumps it with the inclusion of the Spring Overture as well. I used the word almost since pressed to choose I would call it a toss up, the delightful Spring Overture notwithstanding. Hermann Goetz ( ) had a tragically short life. Still, in his brief time he managed to produce a small body of music of exceedingly high quality. While he lived in the musical realm of Mendelssohn and Schumann, his music has all of the natural flow, inevitability, and distinguished thematic material one expects of a first rate composer. Chances are, that once you discover Goetz you will want to acquire all of his works and that is easy since they are limited in number. I cannot think of anything by this composer I do not like from his chamber works to his piano music, his small body of orchestral and vocal works, and his delightful Shakespeare-based opera The Taming of the Shrew. The first concerto is a student work, though you would never know it since Goetz began as stylistically mature. The ideas are fresh, untroubled, and gloriously melodic. There is no struggling with form or awkwardness in handling his materials. Italian pianist Cabassi has the technique for the abundance of Lisztian rhetoric. He also has the experience and temperament to make the most of what the composer offers. His tone is warm and sparkling, though placed very forward in the sound spectrum. He has an impressive, if limited discography. Both the Taiwanese-born conductor and the German orchestra are skilled performers. Concerto 2 followed six years after his first. It is a longer, more extended work, yet remains pretty much in the same territory established by Concerto 1. It too is a lovely work, with memorable ideas, and should continue to draw smiles from listeners attuned to mid 19th Century romanticism. Needless to say, I loved every minute. The Spring Overture dates from 1864 his first spring in Switzerland. As with that country it is impossible not to become addicted to its beauty and to the way its scenery is put together. CPO has another recording of this piece, and the difficult to find Genesis label has one as well. All do the piece full justice, though the sound on Genesis is a little distant. Hans von Bulow was especially proud of his one-time student, and George Bernard Shaw found much to praise as well. It was inevitable that Naxos eventually turn its attention to this composer. There can be nothing but praise for their efforts. BECKER GRABOIS: Horn Pieces Love Triangle; Civil War; Moons of Mercury; Raga; Harry Lewis; March; Not Much but Air Names; Cairo Sunset; The Misfits; Cloud 10; Chew Your Soup; Lost and Found; Rio DJ; Oaxaca Cathedral; Dusk, Autumn, Midwest; Love Meant Living Alone Daniel Grabois; Rick Moran, bg; John Ferrari, drums Summit minutes 16 electro-acoustic creations by horn player Daniel Grabois his sounds modified by the software Ableton Live with percussionist John Ferrari and bass player Rick Moran. Most of the sounds are electronic, though we can usually hear some horn in there. We often hear several Graboises at once. Sometimes we hear instruments he invented norebo and bouchero but he does not tell us what they actually are, nor when they are played. Love Triangle has a horn ensemble as back-up to wild-sounding, weird wind instruments and jazz bass and drum set. Civil War has a military snare drum and a sort of mournful electronic horn with a drone. A blessedly brief Raga has a hollow drone with a truly annoying, raspy, meandering sort of melodic sound. Harry Lewis is reggae-based. Not Much but Air Names has intricate rhythms played by several horns with drums and bass, but also more of those very annoying sounds something like electronic crumhorns. And so goes this program. Daniel Grabois is a member of the Meridian Arts Ensemble and horn professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. KILPATRICK GRAINGER: Saxophone Pieces; see COWELL GRANADOS: Liliana; Suite Oriental; Elisenda Dani Espasa, p; Barcelona Symphony/ Pablo Gonzalez Naxos minutes This is the final release in Naxos s three-volume set of Granados s orchestral music with these forces, all from last year. Lawrence Hansen spoke highly of the first volume (Naxos , J/A 2016), really only finding fault with the film score, Torrijos, for not standing well on its own. He said that the interpretations were idiomatic, the orchestra s tone was lush and florid, and American Record Guide 107

110 the sound was first rate, and I heartily agree. In his review of the second volume (573264, N/D), Stephen Wright also enjoyed the gorgeous, flexible, supple orchestra and the three pieces in Granados s Spanish nationalist style. He wrote, Granados found his unique compositional voice late, in his 40s, and described the earlier works the bulk of that program as inhabit(ing) a rather faceless international style about halfway between Debussy and Strauss. As with so many pieces, the four-part symphonic poem Liliana, from 1911, succumbed to lost-manuscript-itis; it was originally a setting in Catalan of a poem by Apel-les Mestres with long orchestral interludes. Pablo Casals arranged this suite from surviving fragments in 1921, five years after Granados died. Several Straussian moments are immediately obvious, even though the composer was already in his mid-40s. There is little overt nationalism, too, outside the last movement, and that is mainly confined to the percussion parts in II. As colorful and ingratiating as the atmosphere is, the themes are a bit weak, though I would not call them faceless. Preludio y Salutacion al Sol is the best. The Oriental Suite (Arabian Suite), from the late 1880s, is more memorable, putative late maturity be damned. Granados reused the themes from II and III later in life. I sets the scene, and the following three movements carry most of the weight. III, Oriental March, and IV, Two Dances, are the most exotic, yet they are still restrained. Granados knew not to overdo things. Elisenda was composed for soprano and small ensemble and had four movements; only the last had any singing, and it was a setting of another Apel-les Mestres poem. That finale has been lost entirely, and these first three movements are an arrangement Granados made for piano and chamber orchestra. It is the gem of the program: a restful, sentimental, ravishingly-orchestrated suite. The first few times I listened to the album, I was stunned at how it closed with such a relatively subdued movement. As much as I would like to hear the lost IV, I am quite taken by what we ve been given. And I cannot imagine a warmer, more loving performance than this. Maestro Gonzalez and the orchestra are to be commended for their extraordinary musicality. ESTEP GRIEG: Piano Concerto; Lyric Pieces Alice Sara Ott; Bavarian Radio/ Esa-Pekka Salonen DG minutes The playfulness and whimsy of this album is apparent from the title, Wonderland, also a play on Ott s first name (Lewis Carroll, anyone?). The cover of the album is flecked with origami butterflies. The recording itself is mixed, though decent: her expressivity often hinders us from hearing the bigger landscape of each work. Although the performance has its moments, it is too liberal with the tempo, either dragging or too fleeting. Strengths of Ott s playing include her ability to spell out the nuances of these staples. The Lyric Pieces are played very straightforwardly, and are clean and well-articulated but not understated. Her approach is not as good with the Piano Concerto, which needs to sound more fiery. KANG GUERRERO: Regina Caeli; see PALESTRINA HAHN: Violin Concerto; Sonata; Romance; Nocturne Denis Clavier; Dimitris Saroglou, p; Lorraine Philharmonic/ Fernand Quattrocchi Maguelone minutes Here s just the album for some recording fanatic who thinks he has everything! This world premiere recording of the thoroughly romantic 30-minute Violin Concerto composed in 1928 by Reynaldo Hahn ( ) will make anyone wonder why it isn t standard repertoire. It has excellent writing for both soloist and orchestra. Franck and Chausson come to mind in I, though Hahn has his own unique voice. Denis Clavier is the rare concertmaster who is not just playing at being a soloist but is the real thing. His spot-on intonation and use of portamento enhance his long-lined lyricism. The orchestra is rhythmically quick and upbeat, almost balletic in I. Clavier and Quattrocchi harmonically underpin one another solidly; orchestra and soloist are given equal footing. II is a chant d amour with a clever mix of 2/4, 5/8, 3/8, 3/4, and 2/4 time signatures that give this romance emotional suspensions and built-in rubatos. III is very lively and rhythmically upbeat, with harmonies and melodies that echo back to I. The orchestra playing is superb, as is the warm, resonant, beautifully balanced engineering. If the album didn t advertise the fact, I d never have 108 January/February 2017

111 thought the concerto was recorded in concert (except for the applause at the end). My only criticism is that soloist and conductor should have paid more attention to the animated markings in I, and in II they take that mix of time signatures rather literally, missing the music s emotional waxing and waning. Still, this is a solid and beautiful performance that made me fall in love with this new concerto. What this album (dated May 2016) doesn t say is that all the recordings here were first issued in 2002 as part of a two-disc album of Hahn s music. The violin concerto was issued with other discmates in 2013 (Sept/Oct 2013). The liner notes here say nothing about the music itself. The other works are for violin and piano and are just as romantic. Clavier, this time with Saroglou, again lacks emotional depth in the five-minute Romance, which seems odd since they fill the really lovely seven-minute Nocturne (a dead ringer for Franck) with liquid, tender expression. Clavier holds the very extended concluding enharmonic high E right to the end without quavering a bit. Talk about Hahn being ignored! I listened to the 23-minute Violin Sonata (1927) with a score from the Eastman School of Music. The old catalog card inside the back cover was never used; the more up-to-date date due sheet opposite it was stamped only once, in May This peerless performance captures the full spirit of each movement. The problem with the sonata is that the lovely melodies and modulations in I ( not slow, tender ) are not meaty enough; they are not sufficiently developed and wear out their welcome over nine minutes. II (veloce) is a giddy tour de force like Prokofieff on good behavior. In III ( moderate, very at ease ) the 7/8 time signature is split into three followed by four beats, giving the music, once again, a built-in rubato, here with a lyrically laconic flow; it is a wonderful invention until it suddenly reverts to a portion of I s exposition, which works better here because it isn t dragged out for nine minutes. The works for violin and piano are warmly recorded and beautifully balanced. Don t let my few reservations hold you back from discovering some beautiful music beautifully performed. FRENCH HANDEL: Apollo & Daphne; Il Pastor Fido Overture Mhairi Lawson (Dafne), Callum Thorpe (Apollo), Ensemble Marsyas/ Peter Wheylan Linn minutes Handel s extended (over 40 minutes) cantata portrays Apollo s failed attempt to seduce the nymph Daphne, ending in her transformation into the laurel tree, whose leaves thereafter became his symbol. The score lacks a prelude or any culminating conclusion, but its succession of recitatives and arias does capture the characters and their shifting emotions. There have been a goodly number of recordings made of the piece over the years. The best are not seriously challenged by this new one. The two singers certainly deliver their roles adequately in vocal terms, Lawson in particular. But their inherent vocal personalities are rather at odds with the characters they are supposed to represent. Thorpe sounds like every family s scruffy old uncle, and Lawson suggests a pre-pubescent teenager who has little sense of what life is about. They don t carry the story very convincingly. The real star here is the Ensemble Marsyas. There are 20 period-instrument players, including Wheylan himself on bassoon (which is allowed a nice solo at one point). These players shine in the exclusively instrumental material that here precedes the cantata as filler. The major item of that kind is the unusually large (22 minutes) overture to Handel s early opera Il Pastor Fido some of whose six movements the composer reused elsewhere. There also two brief Arias for winds (with some injudicious drumming added). The tone of the Marsyas players bends towards understatement rather than insensitive energy. I especially like the sunny, smiley sound of the two period oboes. Unusually probing booklet notes by David Vickers, with full text and translation. My recommendations for the cantata are Carina Gauvin and Russell Braun (Dorian 90288: M/J 2001) and Roberta Invernizzi and Thomas Bauer (Glossa : no review). BARKER Great works of art--works that will retain their value and give the best return over time--have their own life and will outlast us. Academe should be a savings and not a spendthrift institution. Like public museums, universities are essentially conservative, curatorial. Camille Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture American Record Guide 109

112 HANDEL: Cantatas & Sonatas Recondita Armonia Ensemble Brilliant minutes This release has too many strikes against it to be taken too seriously. The program is tailored and I do mean cut and trimmed to serve the interests of the performers, not of Handel. Not one of the five pieces offered here is presented as the composer wrote it. The three cantatas (Ah, che pur Troppo e Vero, Dolce pur d amor l affanno, and Care Serve, Aure Grate) were written for the soprano voice. But this group has no soprano, only a tenor, so he sings it an octave down. As for the two sonatas, the one in F was written for oboe and continuo, the one in B minor (usually known as Op. 1:1) was intended for recorder and continuo. Since this group has no players of oboe or recorder, it gives the melody part in both to viola da gamba. Of course, it is perfectly true that such music, in its day, could be adjusted to the performers and circumstances of the moment. But these are not ephemeral performances of a moment. They are recordings, of fixed existence, and in such circumstances the composer s wishes ought to be honored or some other music be played. Even such seemingly puristic arguments might be bypassed if these adjusted performances were of exceptional value. But they are not. Morata has a respectable tenor voice, but not one that catches your ear; and he does not seem much engaged in the emotions and meanings of the text, in what are rather bland readings. The instrumentalists are competent, but bring little conviction or enthusiasm to their work. Simplistic notes, with no vocal texts, and no idea given as to their meaning. The booklet cover art is inappropriate and badly identified. So just don t bother. BARKER HANDEL: In Italy, Vol. 2 Benjamin, Mary, Sophie Bevan, London Early Opera/ Bridget Cunningham Signum minutes This succeeds the first program in the series that the Bevans and Cunningham have devised for the Signum label (423: J/F 2016). This one completes their attention to Handel s Italian years. Meanwhile, these performers have already released a third volume, one of two devoted to Handel at Vauxhall (S/O 2016), representing the composer s long years in London. The contents here parallel the first program. Each of the singers has solos as show pieces. Soprano Sophie has the smallest: a recitative and aria from the oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. Soprano Mary has a cantata, the substantial Poiche Giuraro Amore. Baritone Benjamin has an aria from the Psalm Nisi Dominus, the pungent cantata Dalla Guerra Amorosa, and an aria from the serenata Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo. But the three singers also join in a pair of two-section trios written for two sopranos and bass, with continuo. Cunningham gets to play on the harpsichord three short keyboard excerpts, and she leads her ensemble of 18 players in the overture to the opera Agrippina. All parties are very effective in their assignments, as last time. A good deal of this music is familiar on records, but the trio rarities are good fun. Once again, the booklet notes are full and informative, and complete vocal texts are supplied, along with English translations. But, also as last time, the contents are stingy. There is plenty of unused space here and a great deal of further material that could have filled it. BARKER HANDEL: Piano Concertos, op 7 Matthias Kirschnereit, German Chamber Academy, Neuss/ Lavard Skou Larsen CPO [SACD] 75 minutes Yes, I did a double take when I saw a CD cover for Handel piano concertos. They are actually the Opus 7 organ concertos played on a modern Steinway with a chamber orchestra of modern instruments. The same artists have already recorded the Opus 4 concertos (CPO , M/A 2014) as well as the organ concertos that are not part of either set ( ). The six concertos of Opus 4 were prepared for publication by Handel himself. The concertos of Opus 7, on the other hand, were compiled after Handel s death by his copyist and amanuensis, John Christopher Smith, and published in There is no guarantee that any of this music is transmitted as the composer intended. Handel wrote the concertos for himself as soloist, and some of the keyboard parts are fragmentary, since he would often play extemporaneously and cue the orchestral players for their entries. But these works are of such high quality as to be worthy of Handel. 110 January/February 2017

113 Baroque keyboard writing can easily sound unwieldy and ponderous on a modern piano, but here it does not. Matthias Kirschnereit knows how to manage the phrasing, articulation, and dynamics so as to keep the music lively and transparent but never brittle or anemic. He freely introduces unwritten ornaments and flourishes, varies keyboard figures from what is written, and sometimes plays doubled octaves in the left hand. All of this is in keeping with the composer s extemporaneous approach to the solo parts. Kirschnereit makes this music sound almost as if it had been written originally for the piano. GATENS HAYDN: Quartets, op 20: 1-3 Chiaroscuro Quartet BIS 2158 [SACD] 75 mins This set of quartets is known as the Sun Quartets because of an engraving of the Sun (reproduced here) on the first published edition. I first listened to this as the Sun was rising on a New England fall day. Nice setting, but the performances didn t quite live up to it. The quartet uses old instruments. As played here, they often sound nasal and white (and sometimes whistly) because of the gut strings and lack of vibrato. The players are fluent, and their musical choices are usually sensible but not remarkable (sensible is not a term of praise in Haydn quartets, which often veer in unexpected directions). In the best movement here the Capriccio of Quartet No. 2, with its anticipations of the Seven Last Words they present a mysterious and somber approach to the music. These are solid but not compelling performances. There s a kind of surfacy complacency in this playing that can t be saved by the occasional strikingly soft and superbly in-tune pianissimo passage. Haydn is the hardest quartet master to interpret. He wants his players to be simple, humorous, earnest, and grim, often in rapid succession. He s not the composer of the comfortable middle, where these performances live. The problem is not only the instruments. The Festetics Quartet (the premiere old instrument ensemble in this repertoire) managed to make its performances alive in nuance and full of color. We don t get that here. If you go past the old instrument world, the Alban Berg Quartet and the Lindsays have things to offer in this music that these players cannot approach. BIS offers its usual superb engineering. CHAKWIN HAYDN, JM: Serenade in D Virtuosi Saxoniae/ Ludwig Guttler Capriccio minutes Michael Haydn wrote a number of serenades and at least four in D (as well as at least one in D minor). The Perger catalog lists this one as P 87. I have P 43 in a Hungarian recording. But this is the one where the orchestra sings (yes!) Adio at the end of the Finale, then adds another movement, making nine altogether. This recording is reissued; it was made in It sounds as fresh as new, and it was made before everyone decided to apply the antiquing treatment to the Haydns. This is not great music; it is routine classical period background music. I think today it would serve well in restaurants or art galleries. VROON HEISS: 4 Lyric Pieces; Sonatina; 5 Flute & Cello Pieces; Chamber Concerto; Whimsies; Soliloquy; Serenade Fenwick Smith, fl Albany minutes It s a measure of the insularity of American music making that two of the most prominent figures in the Boston musical scene, composer John Heiss and flutist Fenwick Smith, seem to be close to invisible nationally (or as one might say in Boston, outside Route 128 ). Heiss, as flutist and composer, has been active at the New England Conservatory for almost 50 years; he has an extensive catalog of published compositions, for a variety of instruments, not simply flute. Fenwick Smith is a familiar face and sound to any Boston concert-goer from participation in many ensembles in the city, and was second flute in the Boston Symphony from 1978 to his retirement in He has a number of previous CDs, presenting music as varied as Arthur Foote and Ervin Schulhoff. This seems to be the first disc devoted exclusively to the works of Heiss, and is arranged chronologically, moving from the Four Lyric Pieces for unaccompanied flute of 1962 to the Serenade for flute and harp of Heiss s voice is neither avant-garde nor retrospective. The Sonatina (1962) has large dollops of Hindemith, but that is since it began as a parody (of Prokofieff as well, but that is less evident to my ears). Early music makes its appearance in a Dufay cadence in the Five Pieces for Flute and Cello. The most modern idiom is in the Chamber Concerto (1977), from a time that was about the high-water line for American Record Guide 111

114 High Modernism nationally, before the tide started back out. The music is absorbing, and Smith s performances are exemplary. Composer Martin Amlin accompanies him in the three works for flute and piano. A beautiful program, of interest to both flutists and music lovers generally. T MOORE HELSTED: Decet; Quartet Danish Sinfonietta DaCapo :34 Gustav Helsted ( ), with 35 opus numbers distributed over his 67 years, is not well known either to record collectors (a violin concerto, a cello concerto, and a romance for violin and orchestra have previously appeared), or to music bibliographers (he is not in Grove or in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart), so that my first notion was that he must be a contemporary composer, not a late romantic. In fact, the impression that Helsted makes in the opening of his Decet, Op. 18 (from 1891) is of someone walking down the same paths as Mahler, with the string quintet (violins, viola, cello, double bass) laying down a placid D major harmony decorated individually by bird songs from the wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet in A, bassoon, horn). The middle movement is a Slavic-sounding set of seven variations on a 16-bar theme in F-sharp, followed by a Scherzo and Finale that seem to be built over related material and seem to be building towards a boisterous climax that never quite arrives. The String Quartet is more outwardly passionate, as one might guess from its key of F minor; and despite some modern touches and its late date (1917, close to the end of Helsted s life), still belongs entirely to the 19th Century. The performances and recording do full justice to a composer that on the evidence of these works deserves a firmer place in the repertoire. T MOORE HOLST: Planets; Somerset Rhapsody; MATTHEWS: Pluto Royal Philharmonic/ Owain Arwel Hughes RPO minutes This is a reissue from 2004 that I do not think was issued domestically. It is a decent Planets but nothing special. It is clearly cut and defined along classical lines. Tempos are moderate, with some odd slower speeds here and there. The bass is weak, especially in the first four planets. It improves after that but is never great. Whether that is the recording or the conductor s balancing is not clear. It is especially true of Mars, though the quiet midsection has impressive mystery. Hughes s chamber music approach to Venus comes off as too lightweight. The clean and clear Mercury is a little too reserved. Jupiter is exciting in its laid-back way. The weak bass plays up the violas in the big tune, but at least the violas sound very good. Things begin to improve with Saturn. There is good presence and better bass, though it would be nice for the string basses to come out more toward the end. Uranus continues the improvement. Although the euphonium at the opening is too soft, the rest generates some power and excitement. The excellent Neptune is clear cut but mysterious, with the choral entry very well done until Pluto jars the listener back to Earth with a cinematic modernism that has nothing in common with Holst and spoils a perfect ending to a great work. This is one of at least four recordings that includes Pluto, composed by Colin Matthews in How to add the new planet? His solution was to carry on from where Neptune leaves off [and] not to make a break so Pluto begins before Neptune has quite faded. The final chorus of Neptune extends into the beginning of Pluto. The new movement begins quietly before giving way to three periods of modernistic clashing chords, two of them angry, before receding into the distance. Because of the way Pluto is attached, if you want Neptune to fade away as usual, you are pretty much out of luck. The other three Pluto recordings that I know are Elder (Nov/Dec 2001), Lloyd-Jones (Sept/Oct 2002), and Rattle (Jan/Feb 2007). Our reviewers liked Lloyd-Jones and Rattle and liked Pluto. Mr Haldeman was so-so about the Elder performance. He liked Pluto as a piece but called it a failure as a planet. The early Somerset Rhapsody is appropriately sweet and boisterous, but Lloyd-Jones does just as well on a nicely programmed Holst disc for Naxos. HECHT HOOVER: Requiem for the Innocent New York Virtuoso Singers/ Harold Rosenbaum 4Tay minutes Contemporary choral music is a difficult genre, because the economic basis for the production of new works for chorus that once existed is essentially gone for good, except a very few isolated locales. The Lutheran church 112 January/February 2017

115 in Germany? The Roman Catholic church in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, the Americas? The Singverein of secular Germany? Nichts, nothing, nada. And this has an effect on the kind of language that a composer can use, since so many choruses are predominantly amateur. New York is one of the very few places in the USA where one may find fully professional choruses, of which the New York Virtuoso Singers is one. This disc is labeled Contemporary Choral Works, Volume 1. Katherine Hoover is among the best known of contemporary composers. This piece was her response to the 9/11 attacks, felt particularly painfully in New York. They produced a variety of artistic responses, including On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams. I am no fan of Adams generally, but he produced a masterwork, a work that managed to contemplate the otherworldly, almost incredible effect of the event, erupting into the continuities of daily life. I don t have the same emotional response to Hoover s Requiem, a concert work, not a liturgical one, which includes some of the texts from the traditional Catholic mass for the dead. In some sense, her musical instincts are almost too raw, too painful, too obvious I feel that my emotions are being manipulated. The use of the organ has too much of the frightening effect of horror and hellfire, and the downward plunging musical motives are too evidently reminiscent of both tears and bodies falling. I am sure that both composer and performers are satisfied with the music and this recording of it, but I am not convinced that it is a work for the ages. T MOORE d INDY: Symphony 2; Souvenirs; Istar Variations; Fervaal Prelude Scottish National Orchestra/ Jean-Luc Tingaud Naxos minutes Although there are a handful of French symphonies as good as D Indy s Symphony 2, I can t think of one that s better. It has attractive melodic content, imaginative scoring, and all the headwork necessary for a work to count as great. Years back, people regarded it as too abstruse. This comes from its mysterious opening motto figure, which uses all diminished intervals. That figure reappears often in the symphony. It s followed by another enigmatic theme. The infectious main theme of the movement played on the horns is all air and sunlight. As the music progresses, the motto figure gets more and more of a harmonic context, and thus gets easier to grasp. II begins with a variant of a theme from I. There s an interlude with a jaunty dotted-note melody first played by the two harps in unison. D Indy interweaves these elements with complete mastery. III has the violas at a moderate pace playing, if not a folk tune, certainly a theme influenced by folk idioms. France has a treasure trove of folk tunes that her composers have used sparsely. We hear the dotted-note tune from II mixed in as well here. Then a bright trumpet theme appears, worked up with kaleidoscopic orchestration. The movement ends on a rapid quote from the folk song. IV, like I, opens mysteriously with a variation on the motto theme. Part of its development uses a formidably constructed four-part fugue. A galloping 5/4 section builds on the introduction to this movement, leading again to the dotted-note melody from II. It forms the basis of a tremendously orchestrated climax, then a decrescendo. D Indy expands from this quiet start to a lengthy crescendo culminating in a grand chorale where he lays on every color in his palette till the motto has the last word. Romain Rolland said D Indy hardly eliminates anything; he organizes. Whatever his methods, they resulted in a superb symphony. The tone poem Souvenirs (1906) is a memorial to his wife, who died of a brain hemorrhage. He d been away and got back in time only for her to die in his arms. It s one of his most underrated works. The opening bars are full of restrained grief, looking forward to Koechlin in their stark stoicism. The slow introduction quotes a plaintive English horn theme. This is his beloved, and it appears in several guises through the piece. There are several extroverted, even celebratory sections in the work, no doubt recalling better times. In some of these, d Indy applies color in brief swipes like Debussy s later Jeux. The two composers respected each other, though their disciples did not. D Indy often conducted the younger man s music. The closing bars return to the mood of the introduction. Like Ravel, its emotions are reticent, but quite real. Istar has always been one of D Indy s most ingenious concepts. As in the program prefacing the score, the goddess Istar ritually removes her raiment till she s in her birthday suit. To reflect this, he puts the variations first, some of them highly ornamental. Then at the end comes the theme itself, accompanied by a wonderful countertheme on the horns. It American Record Guide 113

116 appears with unadorned beauty in simple octaves. Performances are excellent and sympathetic. Tingaud s conducting shows the numerous interconnections that make the symphony such a masterpiece, but not at the expense of making enjoyable music. At 42 minutes, it s about midway in length between its competent competing readings. He also leads the tone poems eloquently, though, like everyone nowadays, he takes Istar s unclad scene much too fast. The score has no such direction, and beauty of such purity should never be rushed. Recorded sound is excellent, with good balances. The symphony especially has a host of fascinating details and you can easily hear them. O CONNOR JANACEK: Quartets 1+2; On an Overgrown Path Energie Nove Quartet Dynamic minutes The quartets are heavy, pushy, and rather slow. Some parts are beautifully played, but others are too harsh, like the mocking outbursts in 1:III. The main problem is that there s no mystery, and that s too big a fault to overlook in these pieces. On an Overgrown Path is a transcription by Jamil Buirghauser, and it works very well. The quartet plays it better, too, though the violins again push so hard that their sound becomes distorted. ESTEP JOHNSON,CH: Considering Matthew Shepard Conspirare/ Craig Hella Johnson Harmonia Mundi [2SACD] 1:45 Craig Hella Johnson s Considering Matthew Shepard (2016) is an oratorio for Matthew Shepard, the young man who was murdered in 1998 in Wyoming for the crime of being gay. He met a couple of fellow students (perhaps) in the University of Wyoming bar, was then kidnapped, taken to a field, and crucified, left to die strapped to a fence. Local hicks celebrated in the streets. Mr Shepherd became a martyr. This moving work is one of many written about the event, but perhaps the most expansive musical treatment. This was written for the magnificent Chanticleer, and it employs a variety of texts set in a wide variety of styles, including hymnody, chant, blues, jazz, gospel, Broadway, pop, country, English pastoral, and folk. So much variety might give some listeners pause, but the overall effect works well. The piece is heartbreaking and sustains its grand length with ease. The Bach passions serve as a model. The work opens with the prelude to WTC 1, and closes with it. There are spoken and musical recitatives and chorales as well as solo arias in all of the above styles (it might be argued that Bach s style is just as eclectic). In fact, I guess, this is a St Matthew Passion. The spoken texts are interspersed with the music seamlessly. The story is rehearsed in an almost biblical manner, with appropriate musical commentaries. Some of these are particularly moving: I am like you expresses sympathy for Matthew s murderers. There is an exquisite setting of The Lord Is My Shepherd toward the end. The music of the protesters, shouting crucify him, is bloodcurdling, as well as the singing of the anthropomorphized fence. The lullabies of the deer that kept him company as he was dying will make you weep. And so it goes. The quality of the music in each style may be deemed shaky, but that may come with the territory. What is consistent is this group s always gorgeous singing and the composer s impressive musicianship and musicality. This is a piece that is intended for the widest possible audience, but never condescends or commercializes. None of this is modernist : there is no atonality or dissonance. Harmonies are extremely simple, as are the textures. Listeners for whom sentimentality is anathema should run away screaming. If you are made of steel, you probably will not respond to this, but many others will. Texts included. GIMBEL JONGEN: Symphonie Concertante; Passacaglia & Gigue; Sonata Eroica Christian Schmitt, org; Saarbrucken Radio/ Martin Haselbock CPO [SACD] 68 minutes The Symphonie Concertante is nearly the polar opposite of the famous, aggressive Virgil Fox performance. I have not heard the Hubert Schoonbroodt recording (Koch , Jan/Feb 1992), but Diederik de Jong appreciated its gentleness in his review of the Fox (EMI 65075, Nov/Dec 1994). This one goes beyond gentleness and into dullness, and the organ suffers from a vague sound just as the Fox suffers from an in-your-face sound. De Jong makes the valid point that this is a piece for 114 January/February 2017

117 orchestra with organ, not the other way around. Now, IV on its own is splendid, but I would have liked it better had I, II, and III not nearly left me comatose. I greatly prefer the thrill of the Fox, though it is almost abrasive and the organ is too prominent; if the Fox makes you turn away from the music, this might be the performance for you. The Sonata Eroica is a grand, single-movement work written for the inauguration of the organ in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. It has a traditional three-part structure, though more loud-soft-loud than fast-slow-fast. Schmitt does a superb job at showing off the colors of the organ in Luxembourg s Philharmonic Hall. The Passacaglia and Gigue is for orchestra, and for my money it is the most interesting piece on the album. The Passacaglia is subtly colored, and there is a pleasant balance between the stalwart rhythms and the sensual harmonies. The Gigue opens with light drums, and the first theme is oddly spare for a jig. The name might suggest a Baroque feeling, but the whole piece is a pleasant confounding of expectations. The orchestra plays beautifully. The sound is rich but soft, and the volume level is low. Notes are in German and English. ESTEP JOSQUIN: Masses, Pange Lingua & De Beata Virgine Metamorphoses & Biscantor/ Maurice Bourbon Arrese minutes This new release includes two of Josquin s most famous Masses. Bourbon faces very stiff competition; there are six earlier recordings of the Pange Lingua in the ARG index, including very good ones by the Janequin Ensemble (Jan/Feb 2009), the Westminster Cathedral Choir (Mar/Apr 1993, reissued Jan/Feb 2012), and an unreviewed earlier recording by the Tallis Scholars (Gimell 9). There are seven listed for De Beata Virgine, including two I own by the Theatre of Voices (July/Aug 1995) and the Tallis Scholars (Mar/Apr 2012). As I have noted in earlier reviews, Maurice Bourbon s ensembles tend to be small (here ten singers, including the director), and the addition of women has lightened the textures from his earlier all-male ensembles (Mar/Apr 2011 & May/June 2014). What I noticed more on this new release was Bourbon s idiosyncratic shifts of tempo in movements and an increasing use of vocal orchestration by shifting between two voices and one voice per part. These create a very different aesthetic from most of the other recordings. In his rather arch booklet notes (in the form of a fictional dialog with Josquin), Bourbon even describes the end of the Credo of the De Beata Virgine as a slow ecstatic waltz. I would still recommend the more traditional interpretations by the Tallis Scholars, though I also have a fondness for the timbres of the boy trebles from the Westminster Cathedral Choir. BREWER KABELAC: Symphonies (8) Prague Radio Symphony/ Marko Ivanovic Supraphon 4202 [4CD] 240 minutes Czech composer Miloslav Kabelac ( ) concentrated on orchestral music symphonies in particular. Though some of these have been recorded individually (see our index), Supraphon has now issued a first-ever four-disc set of all eight of them, in new, verywell-played-and-recorded performances by the Prague Radio Symphony under Marko Ivanovic. This complete cycle of Kabelac s symphonies is certain to interest listeners drawn to big, powerful, impassioned symphonic statements written in a serious, tonally-based Mittel-European language with family resemblances to such near-contemporaries as Shostakovich, Honegger, Bloch, Martinu (at his darkest, as in the Double Concerto), Karl Amadeus Hartmann (especially his earlier works like the Concerto Funebre), Grazyna Bacewicz, Henk Badings, Herman Koppel, Jean Martinon, and many another brooding Russian, German, Slav, Scandinavian, Frenchman, and Switzer. As with so many other artists of his generation, Kabelac was deeply marked by the terrible wars and their aftermath of threatened or actual Soviet domination that afflicted so many in his lifetime. These scars are predominant in almost everything he wrote, and his music is almost always agitated and either tragic or obsessively seeking religious redemption. Therein lies both the strength and the weakness of Kabelac s symphonies. The pervasive darkness, the fixation on turmoil and pain, is moving and majestic, but also constricting. Too often the sound and emotional tenor of the music carry a heavy baggage of psychological damage that makes it seem too predictable and too similar from work to work. Perhaps realizing this, Kabelac takes care to American Record Guide 115

118 vary the orchestral (and vocal) forces: each symphony is scored for a different performing ensemble and exhibits a different sonic profile. That, abetted by the evident sincerity and integrity of his work, compels a measure of attention and admiration despite the music s somewhat forbidding nature. Kabelac s first two symphonies are war symphonies. No. 1, from 1941, is for string orchestra and percussion and makes effective use of low, tolling drums, their long-spanned reverberations beginning the work and establishing at once its solemnity and massive sonority. 2, begun during the conflict and finished in 1947, offers more color than its predecessor and is written for full orchestra with an extensive solo saxophone part adding its own melancholy commentary to the often-martial struggle presented in the orchestral proceedings. Symphony 3, for organ, brass, and timpani, was completed in 1957 and premiered the next year by Karel Ancerl (who championed and sometimes recorded Kabelac s music). It has a distinctive timbral signature and a menacing quality that, led by the musing organ, edges sometimes into funereal spookiness but sometimes leads the brass and drums in annuciatory fanfares. This unusually-scored symphony makes an especially strong individual impression, partly because of its stentorian performing forces but also because of its striking thematic ideas, harmonic richness, and emotional conviction. No. 4, from 1958, is for chamber orchestra and in a somewhat lighter spirit than its predecessors, as the notes put it. But don t expect Francaix-like froth or Prokofieff s spunk; this is still Kabelac and only the two allegros are more-or-less cheerful. The symphony s two lentos are still grim, if with a tincture of Stravinskian lucidity and ceremonial dignity. The work as a whole is compelling, though, and, along with 3, it s the best of the lot. Symphony 6, subtitled Concertante, is from Here Kabelac enlarges the performing forces by adding a dominant solo clarinet part along with two pianos. He also supplies a tape-recorded drone of muted strings to accompany the slow II. Despite that, and notwithstanding the occasional use of mildly exotic melodic inflections (here and in the other later symphonies), the idiom remains essentially traditional. Symphonies 5, 7, and 8 all incorporate vocal parts, all intended to convey the composer s spiritual convictions. 5, from 1960, adds a wordless solo soprano, which may enhance the overall liturgical cast of the work but at same time generates a certain amount of impatience with its nearly three-quartersof-an-hour s-worth of strident brass-choir, scurrying strings, and incessant meaningless warblings from the soprano. 7, from 1968, adds a spoken recitation drawn from the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation to the orchestral music. 8, from 1970, for the un-symphonic combination of solo soprano, choir, organ, and percussion, also uses Biblical texts and was written specifically for performance in a church. Texts for 7 and 8 are not included in the booklet, making it harder to respond to the emotional import of these works. That, combined with my personal antipathy to symphonies with a vocal component, detracted from my appreciation of the music. Frankly, if voices are to be added to dramatic orchestral music, I m more drawn to the imaginative scorings, beautiful melodies, and evocative otherworldliness of Howard Shore s film score (also for chorus and orchestra) for Lord of the Rings than to Kabelac s later symphonies. And comparison of any 15 seconds from Janacek s stupendous Slavonic Mass would instantly blow away anything in Kabelac s settings of religious texts. Janacek s masterpiece overshadows almost all such modern-era sacred compositions. Kabelac has his ardent admirers, and I found a number of things to admire and enjoy in these symphonies, especially 3 and 4. On the other hand he too often goes on too long, is too dependent on ostinatos and other repetitive figurations, and too easily satisfied with shopworn gestures and drab, generic-sounding themes. These faults, combined with a certain heavy-handedness and a sensibility impervious to wit, brevity, innocent joy, or sensuousness, can make listening to his music tiresome. LEHMAN KAHN: Sonatas 1-3; Variations on an Old Song; Suite; pieces Elina Vahala, v; Oliver Triendl, p CPO [2CD] 118 minutes Robert Kahn was a Jewish German composer who lived from 1865 to He studied with Friedrich Kiel and Josef Rheinberger and even took some lessons with Brahms, who had taken a liking to him. Arthur Rubinstein, Wilhelm Kempff, and Nikos Skalkottas were even- 116 January/February 2017

119 tual students of his. He was expelled from the Prussian Academy of Music in 1934 but stayed in Germany anyway, leaving for England in December, He was a romantic composer until the end of his days; his music is lyrical and thoroughly tonal, and his textures are clearly indebted to Brahms, though they are more transparent. His moods tend to be sunnier, too. He had a firm grasp on how to structure a piece effectively, and his general compositional skill was very well developed. The trouble is, the lighter pieces lack the sparkle of a Mendelssohn and the intense ones lack the emotional high points of a Brahms. As singing as the melodies often are, they lack personality. In the faster pieces, Kahn relies too often on a Hungarian Dance-lite style. I found a lot of beauty to appreciate and skill to admire, but not once was I moved, and only once or twice was I even surprised by a cadence or a turn of a melodic phrase. The Third Sonata is probably the best piece here, with several touching places in I and a Slavic feel in II; III has a contemplative introduction and some effective polyphony. The ending is heavenly. The five-movement Suite has a good bit of musical meat to it, along with an enjoyable touch of naivety. The sound is reverberant and flattering. Vahala is expressive and varies her tone judiciously, though she often goes slightly out of tune on higher notes seemingly more from excitement than anything else. Notes are in English and German. ESTEP KAZHLAEV: Piano Pieces Chisato Kusunoki Grand Piano minutes Dagestan composer Murad Kazhlaev was born 1931 in Baku, Azerbaijan of Lak ethnicity (one of the tribal people of Dagestan). This places him now in his mid 80s. That was a mighty long time to await discovery in the west. Composer and pianist have become good friends, with this recording prepared under his guidance. The three-movement Romantic Sonatina of 1952 is lightly modernistic, with occasional flashes of Gershwin and Ravel and with a bit of Rachmaninoff stealing in in the slow movement. While it is a not unenjoyable period piece, the jazz elements add just the right salsa to promote enjoyment for general audiences. 6 Preludes (1956 & 1961) are lyrical and expressive in a manner not too distant from Khachaturian and Kabalevsky, but with virtuosic excursions further into harmonic astringency. One movement seems ready to burst into a slow I Got Rhythm ; another is like a wild mouse ride with strong rhythmic inflections. Picture Pieces of , revised 2010, consist of nine titled pieces. They range from a slow cocktail piano style in Sunrise to a delightfully light music Welcome Overture from Favorite Melody (1953) keeps to the cocktail piano style, and Students Waltz holds us in the semi-pops. Silent Film is in movie chase style, while As in the Old Days (1971) is mock Baroque. The most interesting works are the 10 folk song pieces of the Dagestan Album. While still lighter in texture, their use of Avarian, Lak, Dargin, Lezgin, and Kumyk songs is irresistible at least if you like exotic folk songs. German born and London based pianist Kusunoki is certainly at one with the composer. The notes are decent and the sound full and natural. If no overwhelming discovery, Kazhlaev is very pleasant and easily assimilated. If you require more, look elsewhere. BECKER KENNY: Dragon Voices John Kenny Delphian minutes I m a fairly avid brass history buff, but I have never before heard of the carnyx, an instrument of war with a long vertical tube and a bell shaped like a boar s head complete with movable tongue. Played with force by great numbers of warriors, the massed sound must have been weird and fearsome. Artifacts verify its existence. The Gundestrup cauldron, a large silver bowl from about 150 BC, was found in a peat bog in Denmark. Among its decorations is an army with soldiers blowing on long vertical tubes with what look like animal heads at the top. One of those actual heads, made of bronze, was found in a peat bog in Deskford, Scotland. It s amazing how many brass instrument ancestors have been found in peat bogs. John Kenny is a trombonist, professor at the Guildhall School in London and the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland, and a music archaeologist who spends much of his time with reconstructed old instruments. Several are heard here: the Deskford carnyx, Tintignac carnyx, Loughnashade horn, plus conch shells and accompanying crotales and seed pod shakers. No printed music exists from the time American Record Guide 117

120 when these instruments were made, so the 21 pieces offered here are entirely by John Kenny. They are long and slow, rather meditative. The playing techniques are those of the didgeridoo (low drones, circular breathing, multiphonics, animal sounds, weird whoops and squeaks) plus whatever Kenny dreams up. He tends to use vibrato, too. Plenty of information and beautiful photos in the booklet. KILPATRICK KERLL: Requiems Vox Luminis; Scorpio Collective; L Acheron/ Lionel Meunier Ricercar minutes This recording presents Requiem Masses by two of most distinguished Viennese composers in the generations immediately before Mozart. Of course Johann Kaspar Kerll ( ) and Johann Joseph Fux ( ) were fine composers in their own right, but Jerome Lejeune frames his notes to emphasize the precedent these works set for Mozart s Requiem. In the hands of these astute musicians, it is possible to compare the refinements of each composer. The concerted style is perhaps the most obvious similarity between them. That is, each composer divides the text between tutti and solo ensembles. The orchestra accompanies the voices, but the instruments sometimes also get involved in the drama of the text. For example, the alto trombone in Fux s setting of Tuba Mirum calls to mind the sound of the trumpet, just as Mozart would do in his setting of this text. Both Kerll and Fux are excellent contrapuntalists. The sinuous opening of Kerll s Introit, low in range and in hushed tones, evokes a certain lugubrious quality that seems to paint the eternal meaning behind the words Requiem aeternam. The music sounds ominous and even somewhat worrisome about the soul s progress toward salvation. Perhaps this would have made sense to an audience still recovering from the ravages of the Great Plague of Vienna in Kerll had studied with Carissimi and Frescobaldi in Rome, and so had learned from the best how to use music to advance a text. Fux s achievements as a contrapuntalist became widely known through his famous treatise, Gradus ad Parnassum; and his expertise is obvious in every movement of his Requiem. On the other hand, Kerll s frequent recourse to a strictly chordal style of writing in the Sequence Dies Irae seems to foil the excitement of polyphony. Singing Dies Irae, Dies Illa in the style of a chorale seems to infuse Kerll s music with a certain Lutheran austerity. Using a viol consort to accompany singers adds to the lamenting tone of the music, the same way it does in the laments of Kerll s contemporaries Johann Michael Bach and Dietrich Buxtehude. For an informed comparison, one might listen to Michael Chance s recording of Buxtehude s Jesu Membra Nostri with Fretwork (Chandos 775; May/June 2011). Fux s orchestration, on the other hand, sounds much closer to Mozart s, with his delicate contrasts of harmony, timbre, and instrumentation. Notes are in English, texts in Latin only. LOEWEN KERN: Sally Emma Grimsley (Sally), Alex Corson (Blair), Bryan Elesser (Connie), Adam Cannedy (Otis), Claire Kuttler (Rosie), Light Opera of New York/ Gerald Steichen Albany minutes Sally is Jerome Kern s 1920 musical that introduced musical star Marilyn Miller. Originally designed as a small scale show to be called The Little Thing for Kern s intimate Princess Theater, it became a full-scale Ziegfeld production to show off Ziegfeld s protege, Ms Miller. Instead of writing an all new show, Kern relied on songs he had already written and changed some of the lyrics. The most famous song, Look for the Silver Lining, was written with BG De Sylva, not one of Kern s regular lyricists, and other songs were lifted from other Kern shows. The plot also seems lifted from other shows. With Ziegfeld s spectacular production, Miller s star-making performance, and Kern s songs, the show ran for an unheard of 570 performances it was one the most famous Broadway shows in the 1920s. Ms Miller was so identified with Sally and Look for the Silver Lining that her 1948 movie biography was given that title. Judy Garland became identified with the song when she played Miller in the soporific 1946 Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By. You can still see Miller s charming performance in the 1929 movie version (with some of Kern s songs) on a Warner Archive DVD. Sally is considered a transitional show in American musical theater, moving away from European operetta traditions still prevalent in Victor Herbert s shows. Although there is a 118 January/February 2017

121 good deal of American optimism and spunk in the title character, the plot has European operetta trappings in the Cinderella plot, disguised and deposed European royalty, and the standard secondary comic couple. Herbert s earlier show, The Only Girl (1916), another Light Opera of New York presentation I reviewed earlier this year on Albany 1590 (J/F 2016), seems much more progressive than Sally s oft-told story of a poor girl who becomes an overnight Broadway star and marries a rich American Prince Charming. This is the first complete recording of the show s score with some limited dialog to indicate the story s progression and how the songs fit into the plot. It contains the most famous songs, Look for the Silver Lining, Wild Rose, and Whip-Poor-Will along with other songs not heard in years. It also includes the Butterfly Ballet from the original production that was so famous it was included in the 1929 movie (though with some different music). It s always good to finally hear these long neglected shows. Unfortunately, the LOONY recording doesn t make a convincing reason for reviving something this stale. Although it s worth listening to, the plot is contrived, the dialog affected, and the additional Kern songs mostly unmemorable. Except for the well-rehearsed small orchestra, the performances are semi-professional. Emma Grimsley as Sally is the only performer who has a pleasant voice and stays in character. Alex Corson as Blair (the male lead) is under-powered and unconvincing. For comparison, listen to John McGlinn s recording of Whip-Poor-Will on EMI s Jerome Kern Treasury (101715). The song was lifted from Kern s failure Zip Goes a Million (1919) for re-use in Sally. The singing, acting, and performances by Jeanne Lehman and George Dvorsky far out-class anything on the Sally recording. I credit LOONY director Gary Slavin and conductor Gerald Steichen for their noble effort in unearthing this musical, but a better production is needed to make Sally convincing. The sound is good, and the English booklet is well-researched and interesting. FISCH KHACHATURIAN: Clarinet Trio; see Collections The job of higher education is not to instruct students in popular culture but to expose them to something better. --Susan Jacoby KUJALA: CybOrgan; Hyperchromatic Counterpoint Susanne Kujala, org; Veli Kujala, acc, elect; Uusinta Ensemble & TampereRaw Alba minutes At first I didn t know what to think of this live electronics; pre-recorded multichannel tape; quarter-tone tuned accordion! Sounds so 60s. But I was pleasantly surprised and interested by the CybOrgan piece. It is a three movement work that explores music s relation to the cosmos the music of the spheres. This is achieved with an imaginative, other-worldly use of a string ensemble, organ, and electronically generated sounds controlled by an infrared camera that responds to movement. I also never realized the extent of the accordion world, particularly in Europe, where serious study can be pursued at the Berlin Hochschule. It is more than a polka instrument and capable of playing elaborate, sophisticated music. The quarter-tone tuned version is like nothing you have ever heard. These are committed and splendid performances of both pieces. The music of the cosmos created us; we now create music for the cosmos. Informative notes on the performers and the music. DELCAMP KURTAG: Quartets Molinari Quartet ATMA minutes Hungarian Gyorgy Kurtag (born 1926) has accrued a large international reputation on the basis of compositions that mostly consist of very small fragments. This segmentation into diminutive musical spans is apparent even in his (comparatively) longer works, like the 14- minute Quartet, Opus 1, that begins this program of his complete music for string quartet and is broken up into six tightly-wound miniatures that average two minutes each. The movements (if that s what they are) of some of the later quartet pieces are tinier still, pared down to haiku-like shards measured in mere seconds. (Officium Breve in Memoriam Andre Szervansky has 15 movements but takes only 12 minutes, Hommage a Andras Mihaly 12 movements in 9 minutes.) Perhaps we should be grateful for Kurtag s brevity. Yes, these sere, sad, wispy concatenations of disjunct, static, atonal rattles, squiggles, and scratches are jeweled in their Webern-like perfection, but they re also so restricted in gesture, scoring, texture, and American Record Guide 119

122 mood, and set forth so emphatically as hieroglyphic aphorisms, that one has only to imagine them dragging on for durations longer than well, any longer than they are to be dismayed at the prospect. The receptive listener one who might like to imagine what a hybrid of Webern and Bartok would sound like will find things to enjoy here, as I did. The best sections, though, are almost always in the memorial reliquaries, where excerpts from the music of the honored dead are quoted. Indeed, the most touching and by far most beautiful thing on the program is taken from the lovely andante of Szervansky s String Serenade, which Kurtag places at the conclusion of his tribute. The Quartet Molinari plays Kurtag with admirable authority and nuance, and the recording manages an ideal balance of detail, presence, and ambiance. Readers interested in this repertoire should also see David Moore s review of the Keller Quartet playing several of these same pieces on ECM (Mar/Apr 1997). LEHMAN KUUSISTO: Play II+III; Valo; Logisto; Jurmo Jaako Kuusisto, v; Riitta-Liisa Ristiluoma, va; Jan- Erik Gustafsson, vc; Heini Karkkainen, p; Meta 4 BIS 2192 [SACD] 54 minutes An engaging collection of chamber music, almost all of it involving violin, by the fine Finnish violinist-composer Jaako Kuusisto. (I reviewed his impressive Violin Concerto on BIS 2020, J/F 2014.) Kuusisto s music is tonal, romantic, cognizant of idioms such as impressionism and minimalism, but always with a distinct Scandinavian bent. These pieces are fantasy-like, with free forms but an always disciplined consciousness. Everything seems deliberate and rational, though never predictable. Play III (2008), for string quartet, opens with a big chord and continues with virtuosic cadenza-like activity, which shouldn t be surprising given its creator. There is plenty of passion and expressive contrast. Valo (2009), for violin and piano, takes Debussy as a point of departure. The music is a Finnish Joyous Isle with breathlessly floating dance and rippling sweep. Play II (2006), for violin, viola, cello, and piano, is built around a lively scherzo, but contrasted with quiet mystery. Loisto (Light) (2000), for violin and piano, is a relatively brief piece that forecasts much of the composer s later language: lyricism invaded by darkness and mystery composed in fresh but coherent sequences. Jurmo (2013), for piano solo, is the one work on the program without violin. It is inspired by an island off the coast of Finland and is an evocative piece that would be welcome on any modern piano recital. Filled with gentle quasi-minimalist ostinatos, it is both tender and radiant, and will be a wonderful surprise for audiences and piano fans. Kuusisto is a name that should become increasingly familiar. I don t see a publisher mentioned in the credits, but I hope his music is well distributed in this country. GIMBEL LASSUS: Song of Songs Namur Chamber Choir, Clematis/ Leonardo Garcia Alarcon Ricercar minutes This new release includes two major works by Lassus, the Mass on the spiritual chanson Susanne un jour and the Magnificat on Cipriano de Rore s madrigal Ancor che col partire, and eight motets with texts from the Song of Songs. Most of the motets are performed by a few singers with instrumentalists from the Clematis ensemble, though the eight-voice Osculetur me osculo is sung a cappella by 13 singers. For the Magnificat and Mass Alarcon uses 16 singers with a positiv organ as a colla parte accompaniment. In either configuration, the singers blend well and Alarcon shapes the rise and fall of the polyphonic parts with great sensitivity. The recording was made in the Saint- Sebastien Church in Stavelot, and the ambiance has just enough reverberation so that the clarity of Lassus s writing is not compromised. I prefer this new recording of the Mass to the earlier release by the Oxford Camerata (Mar/Apr 1995) which has significantly slower tempos. BREWER LEGRENZI: Sonatas & Balletti Clematis Ricercar minutes The 16 players in the Clematis ensemble are very fine advocates for the music of Giovanni Legrenzi ( ). The ensemble s combination of size, range, and depth means that no one has to force his sound and overplay. Having the right size and mix of instruments (including 5 violins, harp, 3 bass viols, organ, theorbo, bassoon) not only offers a wide palette of timbres but also minimizes the risk 120 January/February 2017

123 of tuning and stridency problems that can arise from overplaying. The sound is fresh, lively, and warm. Clematis is very adept at expressing all the nuance and range that Legrenzi s music inspires: from the most sweet and suave violin to energetic pulsing bass-line rhythms and organ and bassoon combining with two solo violins in La Squarzona (Opus 8) to fashion an engaging array of color and sound. The music comes from the five surviving volumes of Legrenzi s sonatas and balletti, published starting in 1655 and ending with the posthumous Opus 16 in Some pieces are fugal, others are dance movements such as Corrente and Sarabanda; some have sinuous chromatic lines, as in La Cornara a Due Violini, where in the Clematis interpretation the two violins are accompanied by organ. Careful and appropriate decisions were made about which Legrenzi pieces would be recorded in each of the two recording locations, and the fine booklet notes include a description of how playing in the double organ loft in San Bernardino Church, Molfetta (near Bari, Italy) gave Clematis experience in coordinating with the organist and in choosing instruments to fit the physical space. (The violone was too big to fit.) The booklet also includes photos and organ specifications. C MOORE LEOPOLD I: Sacred Pieces Cappella Murensis; Cornets Noirs/ Johannes Strobl Audite minutes Leopold I ( ) was more than a music lover. In his youth he had an excellent musical training under Antonio Bertali. And he appears to have had enough talent to compose at least 69 works, most of them for voices. The program includes four of his most substantial pieces: two motets, Stabat Mater and Motetto de Septem Doloribus Beatae Mariae Virginis Vertatur in Luctum Cythara Nostra ; a Mass for the Dead; and a setting of three lessons from the first nocturne of the Office of the Dead, titled Tres Lectiones I. Nocturni Pro Defunctis Piae Claudiae Felici Lugens Maestusque Leopoldus Posuit et Musicis Legibus Distinxit. These works exhibit solo vocal writing with continuo, chorus with orchestral accompaniment, and instrumental sonatas to open each one. It is not the most inspiring music of the period, but it sounds glorious in the hands of these fine musicians. Leopold I combines choir and soloists with some skill, and the sonatas for cornetts, trombones, strings, and continuo sound quite lovely. There are striking moments in each work. For example, the setting of Lachrymantem et Dolentem in the Motetto de Septem Doloribus Beatae Mariae Virginis has a descending chromatic subject for the opening point of imitation that seems to express the weeping inherent in the text. The Mass for the Dead, composed in 1673 for Leopold s first wife (and niece) Margarita Teresa, shows heartfelt pathos in its restrained use of dissonance in the setting of Requiem Aeternam. Notes are in English, but the texts are translated into German only. LOEWEN LIAPOUNOV: Piano Pieces 2 Florian Noack Ars [SACD] 79 minutes This young Belgian pianist has chosen a daunting task for himself: to record all of this composer s piano music. While the first volume does not seem to have been reviewed in these pages, this one has several first recordings. The ferociously difficult Transcendental Etudes, once the sole territory of Louis Kentner (still available), will have to await a future release. Will this pianist be ready to pick up the gauntlet left by Kentner? On the basis of this recording, most definitely yes. Noack, winner of the Rachmaninoff International Competition, the International Robert Schumann Competition, and the International Music Competition in Cologne, has technique to compare with the best. More important, he is capable of the most gentle poetry and can produce a sound of gossamer delicacy when needed. From the rapid passagework of the Novelette, Op.18, to the lovely gentleness of the Barcarolle, Op.46, to the pixie-like humor of the Humoresque, Op.34, no praise can be too high for the magnificence of such playing. Readers unfamiliar with the composer will find a kinship with Balakirev. The 3 Pieces Op.1 show Liapounov s gorgeous melodic and virtuosic writing early on, and the 7 Preludes of Op.6 regale us with their blistering speeds. Chopin is brought to mind several times in these pieces. That Liapounov had an obsession with finger dexterity is demonstrated in all of this music. Heard end to end, is exhausting. Chant du Crepuscule, here getting its first recording, is one gentle piece. Entirely Russian in its American Record Guide 121

124 melancholy, it shows both composer and performer capable of restraint. The longest piece here is the Variations on a Russian Theme, Op.49. After stating his theme Liapunov can t resist launching into a series of highly challenging variations. Still, they are quite varied and, with a spectacular fugue, make for a satisfying set. The four-movement suite, Fetes de Noel Op.41, begins with a truly gentle Christmas Night, followed by a stronger Procession of the Magi, a folk-like Christmas Carolers, and a lively concluding movement with many musical quotations. It is a joy to listen to, and not too far removed from Liszt s Christmas Tree Suite and the opera Christmas Eve by Rimsky- Korsakoff. The timing for this suite is incorrect on the back. The timing in the booklet is correct. I will definitely be investing in the rest of this series. The SACD sound is all you could ask, the notes are very good, and the pianist is beyond words. Liapounov lives again, and it s about time. BECKER LISZT: Orpheus; see Collections LOCATELLI: Violin Concertos Lisa Jacobs; String Soloists Cobra minutes The Italian virtuoso is famous for his Opus 3 set of 12 violin concertos, often referred to as The Art of the Violin. These contain 24 Cadenzas or Caprices that explore the boundaries of violin technique in the early 18th Century. This is three of those concertos: 1, 2, and 4. I reviewed Igor Ruhadze s recording of the Caprices (July/Aug 2016) and noted that Locatelli wasn t as inventive a composer as Paganini. I feel the same about these concertos. They cannot compare with the concertos of Vivaldi. They are competently composed and pleasant, but not exciting or moving. Dutch violinist Lisa Jacobs and The String Soloists play them very well and very cleanly, and anyone interested in hearing this music would do well to listen to this. Jacobs plays a violin made by a member of the Ruggieri family of Cremona in Very good, full sound. MAGIL The more obsessed people are with infotainment, the less likely they are to read anything. --Susan Jacoby LOURIE: Piano Pieces 1 George Koukl Grand Piano minutes Arthur Vincent Lourie ( ) was born into a Jewish family in Belarus and was originally called Naum Israilevich Luria. He then changed his name and nominally changed his religion to Catholicism so he could marry a Polish woman. (In good old Russia mixed marriages were not permitted.) At the St Petersburg Conservatory, where his teachers included Alexander Glazounov, he came under the influence of Scriabin, whose late piano works were a source of endless fascination. His life included passionate love affairs and a need to embrace art and poetry. He eventually died in Princeton, New Jersey in relative obscurity. Lourie turns out to be a pretty darn good composer too good to have been left in the attic trunk all these years. The Five Fragile Preludes, Op. 1, have a natural flow to them, and an inevitability that is both rhythmically and harmonically arresting in an impressionism somewhat redolent of Debussy mixed with early Scriabin. While exceedingly brief, they are lovely, perfect jewels. Two Estampes, Op. 2, keep us in this gentle impressionism, but extend the statements to include the whole-tone scale and dynamic contrasts. The mazurkas of Op.7 are about as unlike Chopin as one can get, and the four poems of Op. 10 push us further towards Scriabin. This time it s the composer in his more advanced harmonic idiom. While so far we have been denied anything that could be called fast, the mostly slow, but flexible tempos are handled imaginatively enough so that things are never dull. Laurie as Futurist and mystic takes over from here; his music definitely moves in the modernist direction so despised by Stalin. Not until track 24 do we get a tempo increase in a piece called Upmann, A Smoking Sketch, a 1917 sort of Golliwog s Cake Walk as seen thru a distorting prism. The Petite Suite of 1926 finds us looking backwards to an amalgam of Poulenc and the neo-classical, complete with a bit of the composer thumbing his nose at us. This irreverent humor continues into the final Dialogue with a touch of jazz. All of this is well described in Anthony Short s notes, a recording of demonstration quality, and a pianist totally in tune with the music. Fascinating, but do not attempt to swallow all of it at one time. BECKER 122 January/February 2017

125 MAHLER: Symphony 4, arr. Stein Festival Ensemble Spannungen Avi minutes. Mahler is not precisely my fach so I will refer you to the review of this work (recorded by Jean Deroyer, issued on Skarbo) by Roger Hecht (Sept/Oct 2013). He considers all the recordings of this 1921 chamber arrangement. From our vantage in the 21st Century, it is almost impossible to comprehend the level of rejection that this overwhelmingly placid work caused at its first performances. Stein s view of the work reinforces the light and cantabile aspects that are already present, and the rendition by Tetzlaff and company takes that even further the first movement comes in at a shorter time than almost any other performance you will find, and the small forces means that the solo lines, beautifully played, are much more present in the mix. Soprano Christiane Oelze doesn t sound so innocently childish (too artful, and the sound is certainly not white), but that does little harm to what is a delicious and charming recording with excellent sound (you won t realize it weas in concert until the applause). T MOORE MALISZEWSKI: Symphony 3; Piano Concerto Peter Donohoe; Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martin Yates Dutton 7325 [SACD] 71 minutes Witold Maliszewski ( ) spent much of his life in Warsaw, but he was actually Russianborn. His Symphony 3 in C minor opens with a diatonic, classically balanced theme. Its second subject is calmer; both can support development. There is a dark, very chromatic fugato interlude before the more classical themes resume. The movement is mostly in the minor mode, but its peroration into the major makes a good effect. II begins with alternating brass and woodwind chords. Annotator Bret Johnson says its dotted-note theme resembles Elgar. Its development certainly has some of Elgar s intensity. The opening chordal exchange returns, and the movement s dynamics diminish to its end. III is a theme and variations on a light allegretto melody. The variations, though not especially distinguished, are competent and tuneful. The finale starts with a Russiansounding dance, followed by a syncopated theme first heard on the bassoons. The chord progression that opened II returns, and the syncopated theme helps generate a festive finale. The work is conservative for 1907, but it has life and color. If you enjoy Glazounov s symphonies, you ll enjoy this. The Piano Concerto (1938) begins with a chorale in heavy chords alternating in the treble and bass, then repeated by everyone. The second theme has the contours and the beauty of a Rachmaninoff tune. The scoring has colorful touches, such as the use of the piccolo to top out some phrases; and there s a lot of skillfully applied percussion trim. The piano part even in lyric themes sometimes spices up its line by doubling it in major seconds. The keyboard part generally is terrific, full of both flair and content. II is more in a French vein like Ravel or even Florent Schmitt. The themes have good rhythmic motion, aided by syncopations and dislocated pulses. III has a similar mood to II, though it s a bit faster. Its main theme is a decorated waltz followed by further dance-like work. The waltz theme returns, now elegantly laid out for the strings, while the soloist elaborates on it, contrasted with some burlesque writing for the brass. The scoring is decidedly more French with far less doubling than the symphony. A perky trumpet tune near the end is pure Mediterranean. In the context of the whole concerto, the dark opening seems more like a feint. The symphony recording is a world premiere; the concerto is its first digital recording. Pianist Donohoe has complete command over the music, whether in the grand manner of I or the lighter textures of II and III. Yet another case where off the beaten path is well worth the walk. O CONNOR MARINESCU: Harmonic Fields; Shadows; Focus; Echoes; Sway Dzovik Markarian, p; Daniel Kessner, fl; Aaron Smith, perc; Nimbus Ensemble/ Young Riddle Centaur minutes Romanian composer Liviu Marinescu (b 1970) studied with Adrian Iorgulescu in Bucharest, Edwin London at Cleveland State University, and Lawrence Moss at the University of Maryland. He has been a member of the California State University at Northridge music faculty since Two of these works are for chamber orchestra, and three are for solo instrument with electronic sounds. Harmonic Fields (2010) is for flute and clarinet, violin and cello, piano and percussion. Much of the action consists of sustained chords or clusters with pitch- American Record Guide 123

126 es that wax and wane and often rub, with deliberately approximate intonation. The more dramatic Focus (2008) is scored for woodwinds and brass quartets, string quintet, piano, and percussion. Its sustained sonorities are not about intonation conflicts, but more about an overall architecture that is ephemeral at first, bigger and more intense in the middle. It also has an imposing pedal pitch, played by the low instruments, that appears midway and is alone at the end. Fine readings by Nimbus Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra that works closely with Cal State-Northridge. Someday I will try to discover why some electronic music sounds cheap and tinny, but some is amazing and impressive. I suppose quality of equipment might have something to do with it, and maybe the composer s choice of sounds. Also, there s the question of how the sounds are generated: by synthesizer or by traditional instrument, then modified electronically. In the case of the 12-minute Shadows (2012), where sounds were prerecorded from inside the piano, those sounds were already rich and fantastic before Marinescu did things with them. Add them to what pianist Dzovik Markarian is doing, and you have a fantastic piece of music. Adding to the enjoyment is the strong tonal center in three of the last four minutes, after a big V-I in the bass at 7:16. The last minute is strange and enigmatic. The same techniques are heard in the 10- minute Echoes (2009). First, flutist Daniel Kessner prerecorded all manner of sounds on a variety of flutes (including bass), and then Marinescu did electronic things with them. In the performance, Kessner interacts with his own modified sounds. For a while the action is all fast staccato bursts. Then things become calm, with low and sustained sounds, sometimes seeming like a flute quartet. As in the piano piece, a tonal center is a strong element. Then breathy sounds are heard, and the work ends with sharp, percussive flute sounds. The album ends with Sway (2013), where percussionist Aaron Smith is accompanied by recorded sounds while playing various nonpitched drums and metal instruments. The quality of the sounds is terrific; there is depth and richness, and there is surprise. With this kind of music, you can close your eyes and let your imagination go. KILPATRICK MARINO: String Concertos & Sonatas Stefano Montanari, v; Marino Ensemble/ Natale Arnoldi Tactus minutes These pieces by Carlo Antonio Marino ( ) have not been recorded before. Some of the performances have a nice stately flow in their slower movements (the opening concerto is one example), and in others there s a nice energy and verve. The ensemble has chosen to have a recorded sound that is quite bold and sometimes on the edge of what some would regard as too vigorous, but I find the full sound to work well and suit the music. But it is disappointing that often the strings are harsh because they are not in tune, especially in the top registers and rather thin. C MOORE MAROSI: Tuba Concerto; Rhapsody; 3 Dances Roland Szentpali, tu, saxhorn; Bence Szepezi, cl, tarogato, sax; Gyor Symphonic Band/ Ferenc Szabo (2707 Kinnon Drive, Orlando, FL or ) Here is an all-hungarian album with music by composer-conductor Laszlo Marosi, who teaches conducting at the University of Central Florida, earned MM and PhD degrees at Florida State University, conducted various orchestras and bands in Hungary, and wrote a book about the history of Hungarian military music. Roland Szentpali, whom I know as a composer of rollicking low-brass music (N/D 2014: 211, J/F 2015: 216), is himself a rather rollicking low-brass player. In Morosi s 3-movement, 20- minute Tuba Concerto (2002), Szentpali unleashes very brassy sounds harder, edgier, harder-tongued than I care for. He is not shy, and we can hear him even when the orchestra is at fortissimo. In a fierce Ritual, there are repeated-note melodies and lots for everyone to do. A big tuba bellow ends the movement. II is a mournful, dissonant Dirge. III ( Rhymes ) is playful in a madcap, maniacal way. A wild, folk-flavored Rhapsody (2012) has soloist Bence Szepezi on clarinet, later on a folk instrument known as tarogato, and then on saxophone. The middle section is truly exotic, with strange harmonies and melodies and with the weird tone of the tarogato (something like a cross between clarinet and saxophone). In 3 Dances (2007), the two soloists team up, Szepezi on saxophone and Szentpali on saxhorn (basically a euphonium). I is all mixed meters and fast playing by everyone, including 124 January/February 2017

127 impressive fast unisons by the entire band. II is slower but with the sense of inexorably increasing pressure. III is a marvelous culmination, a whirling mix of styles (including jazz) and jaw-dropping feats of virtuosity. Hats off to conductor Ferenc Szabo and the Gyor Symphonic Band for an amazing album. KILPATRICK MARTINU: Julietta Juanita Lascarro (Juliet), Kurt Streit (Michel), Frankfurt Opera/ Sebastian Weigle Oehms 966 [2CD] 150 minutes Bohuslav Martinu s strange opera Julietta (1938) is based on a play by Martinu s friend, surrealist Georges Neveux. The composer wrote the libretto himself. He began in French from the play before deciding to compose from his Czech translation. The opera s 1938 premiere took place at the Prague National Theater. Neveux attended and confessed that the opera was better than his play. The opera, strange as it may be, was one of Martinu s favorites among his works. The complex plot is difficult to follow, and this is a bare description. Three years before Act I, Michel visited a small port town and was enthralled by the song of a woman named Julietta. The opera begins with his return to the town in search of her. He meets many townspeople, asks where a certain hotel is and if they know Julietta. The answers are coherent in themselves but essentially stream-of-consciousness gibberish, for no one in this town remembers anything. They speak only in the present, often saying what pops into their heads. Sometimes, when an accordionist plays, some semblance of memory returns to people nearby, but not enough to matter. Michel interests them because he remembers things, and people are desperate for memories. He is so prized that he is named mayor! When he finds Julietta, she has no memory of their earlier meeting, but like everyone else on the prowl for memories, she wants his and grills him for them. That exasperates Michel, she flees, and Michel rashly shoots her. No body is found, only a shawl, so Michel is not charged. In Act III, Michel goes to the Central Office of Dreams quite fitting because this whole mess may be a dream. Michel is advised to flee (wake up?) or go mad, but when he hears Julietta singing again, he returns to where everything started. The opera ends or, more to the point, rewinds. Julietta is almost a cross between opera and musical theater. It has only one true aria, a great deal of parlando singing, and a lot of spoken dialog. There are two leads, but this is mainly an ensemble work with a large interacting cast. The strongest musical influence is a misty Stravinsky (the bassoon solo from the Rite, the drum interludes from Petrouchka, etc.), some Debussy in the harmony (plus a little from La Mer in an English horn solo), as well as some input from Les Six. A good deal might not be heard as typical Martinu if you are familiar only with the symphonies. Some of the best music is in the orchestra and presages those symphonies. Indeed, Martinu lifted one part of Act II into his Sixth Symphony (1953). The large orchestra is often used sparely and intermittently, especially in the first act, where most of the spoken dialog is heard. One trick to appreciating this opera is getting through this act. The pacing is fast, with the orchestra darting about amid the fast parlando dialog, often creating a cartoonish impression. From Act II on, the music takes on more breadth and beauty in the orchestra, and that is where you start to hear the more symphonic material. We also hear long sections where a singer is evocatively accompanied by a single instrument, such as piano or English horn. There is some great music here, but there is still the parlando and dialog, so the musical theater impression lingers. The opera s three recordings are based on stage productions in French, Czech, and German. The French one with Charles Bruck is cut and has not been well received (J/A 1991). The Czech, conducted by Jaroslav Krombholc, is very good (also Moses, M/J 1993). All the singers are fine, and Krombholc s conducting brings out the spiky, lean nature of Martinu s writing. I have not heard the CD, but the LP sound is better than some critics have indicated in reviewing the CDs. This new Frankfurt performance is terrific. The opera sounds heavier and warmer in German, and the sound is fuller than the Czech recording. The Frankfurt orchestra is grand, and Sebastian Weigel is every bit as good in his German way as Krombholc was in his Czech. The mostly German cast is first rate; and its softer, more lyrical but still powerful voices, in comparison with Krombholc s brighter one, fit well with Weigel s conception. The result comes across as more romantic and substantial than the Krombholc, as well as less edgy in temperament. Many will prefer the Krombholc for that reason and because it is more Czech and authentic, but the Weigle is hard to resist. One major problem with Julietta is dealing American Record Guide 125

128 with the libretto, because this opera is libretto driven. All three recordings are of productions sung in the language of the country of performance a necessity with this work. The words go by fast, leaving you wanting to know what is said, finding it laborious to keep up with titles, realizing that on one level at least, there is not much to be gained in understanding what is said, while on another you really want to know and need to know to appreciate the surrealism. (Yes, the opera can be as confusing as that sentence.) The book that came with the Krombholc LPs contains the Czech libretto and translations in English, French, and German. I think the CD booklet retains that material. The new Weigle supplies the German libretto but no translation. (I don t know the Bruck, but it should probably be ruled out.) I listened to the Krombholc with the libretto long before acquiring the Weigle, so when I listened to the latter, I knew what was going on and enjoyed it for the beautiful performance that it is. I have no idea how I d react if I had never listened to a performance with the libretto. I suspect the opera would have much less meaning. I am not sure how this opera works just hearing the music. The ultimate answer is a DVD, but I am not aware of one. I would never make a final judgement on the work without seeing it. The booklet with the new recording supplies a good synopsis, a little on Martinu and the opera, and way too much on dreams and memory, all in German and English. If you are hesitant about Julietta, look into the Supraphon recording of Three Fragments from the Opera Juliette prepared by the composer (with two singers) and Suite from the Opera Juliette arranged by Zbynek Vostrak, both with Charles Mackerras and the Czech Philharmonic (Lucano, Nov/Dec 2009). That recording contains some of the best music from the opera. Mr Lucano s response to it will be echoed by many listeners: he disliked the opera but loved the excerpts. HECHT MASSENET: Piano Pieces Maurizio Zaccaria Aevea minutes Jules Massenet ( ) won the Premiere Prix in piano at the Paris Conservatoire in 1859 at the age of 17. His early attempts at earning a living as a pianist were not effective from a financial aspect, and his first acceptable earnings as a musician came as a drummer in the orchestra of the Theatre Italien. There he played at the first performance of Gounod s Faust. By the time Massenet won the Prix de Rome in 1863, he had essentially abandoned the idea of a career as a pianist, though he supported himself by giving lessons. He met Liszt in Rome and at his request gave lessons to a daughter of one of his rich patrons, who later became his wife. The music here spans 40 years ( ) and shows a continuous stream of beautiful melodies in short character pieces. Some are of quite challenging difficulty, others more modest. The harmonic language Massenet employs follows the styles of Saint-Saens, Fauré, and even touches on Ravel and Debussy. Most pianists are probably only acquainted with Massenet s orchestral reductions when accompaning arias from Manon or Werther, something I have done in the past week. Zaccaria has won prizes at many competitions and brings technical and musical abilities to this music that one needs to perform Rachmaninoff s Piano Concerto 3. The program opens with Valse Folle, a virtuosic work that shows how Alkan might have written the Minute Waltz. More than half the music chosen for this delightful program is contained in Dix Pieces de Genre (1867) and a set of 7 Improvisations (1875). We are repeatedly reminded that Massenet was a melodist and a skilled composer. These 17 pieces include everything from fugues to Carillons to Tarantellas. The Improvisations especially have moments when you could mistake them for impressionist works. There are other pairs of pieces titled Black and White Butterflies, Impressions of Sleeping and Quick Waters, a brillian Toccata, and a Lullaby for the Madonna. We finish off with a couple of opera transcriptions: Aragonaise from Le Cid and the most familiar Meditation from Thais. Performance and sound quality is very good here. Booklet notes were originally in Italian, and the English translation leaves something to be desired. I grew tired of reading about Massenet s price when he won the Prix de Rome. This was completely new music for me, and I will come back to it often. HARRINGTON The general decline in American civic, cultural, and scientific literacy has encouraged political polarization because the field of debate is often left to those who care most intensely--with an out-of-the-mainstream passion--about a specific political and cultural agenda. --Susan Jacoby 126 January/February 2017

129 MATHIAS: Choral Pieces Lift up Your Heads; Ave Rex; Wassail Carol; As Truly as God is Our Father; Jesus College Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis; Toccata Giocosa; All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee; The Lord s Prayer; An Admonition to Rulers; Salvator Mundi St Albans Abbey Girls Choir & Lay Clerkes/ Tom Winpenny, org; Peter Foggitt, p; Michael Papadopoulis, org, p Naxos minutes William Mathias ( ), a Welsh composer, wrote in nearly every genre. He is best known today for his choral music, which still holds a very prominent place in the repertoire. Much of it is liturgical and is distinguished by an engaging melodic language, infectious rhythm, and use of rare and exquisite texts, often drawn from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. This is an excellent selection of sacred works ranging from his 1961 All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee to the 1992 Lord s Prayer, written four months before he died. Winpenny directs an first-rate choir which gives vigorous, exciting performances. The girls, ages 8-14, sing with technical assurance and intelligent musicality, proving that children do not have to be patronized and are fully capable of performing adult music. Notes on the music, texts and translations. DELCAMP MENDELSSOHN: Symphonies 1+4 London Symphony/ John Eliot Gardiner LSO 769 [SACD & Blu-Ray] 62 minutes This is not worth bothering with. Think how many excellent recordings of Mendelssohn symphonies you have heard. If this is different at all it is just a matter of a few faster than usual tempos (though the Andante of No. 1 is pretty slow). There are no nuances that make Gardiner s conducting better than anyone else s, and the orchestra sounds small rather than lush. There s nothing romantic here. In fact, after you have listened to the whole disc you will probably end up where I did (first sentence of this review). VROON Word Police: Vastly overused PR words inventive, innovative, insightful, thoughtprovoking, powerful, passionate, exciting, diverse, curated, experience MENNIN: Symphony 9; see Collections MEYERBEER: Opera Selections Hjoris Thebault, s; Pierre-Yves Pruvot, bar; Svetoslav Obertonov Choir; Sofia Philharmonic/ Didier Talpain Brilliant minutes This 2013 recording is subtitled Meyerbeer in France. Meyerbeer is probably best known for his Grand Operas, which include melodious scores, impassioned singing, beautiful orchestrations, and spectacular evening-long productions. Many listeners have complete recordings of his four French operas; Robert le Diable, Le Prophete, Les Huguenots, and from a later period, L Africaine. In between, he also composed two French comic operas; L Etoile de Nord and Le Pardon de Ploermel (later known in its Italian version as Dinorah). This 2013 recording from Bulgaria with French and Bulgarian forces includes arias, duets, and choral selections from all these operas. Although extremely popular in the 19th century, Meyerbeer s operas fell out of favor owing to the huge production demands, the taxing singing roles, and the audience s desire for plots where lyrics had greater importance. If you are not familiar with Meyerbeer s operas, this is a good introduction. What you ll hear are beautiful melodies which explain a character s motivations, create atmosphere, and act as showpieces for the singers, but don t necessarily move the plot along. Most of the librettos were written by Eugene Scribe, whose plots and plays were a source for many operas, including Verdi s Sicilian Vespers. All the selections are typical of Meyerbeer s style, but they are obviously only short samples from very long operas. The selections are certainly interesting, with good performances from the soloists and chorus. What I noticed was that Meyerbeer s music doesn t seem to have changed very much from 1831 through The only musical difference is heard in the last opera, L Africaine (1865), completed by others after Meyerbeer died, which includes some exotic music and orchestration that relate to the India-based plot. Ms Thebault offers strong, solid singing with only occasional shrillness. Mr Pruvot, who sounds like Robert Merrill, is also good, but has a blustery voice and a tendency to sing very loudly. Subtlety in not his forte, but possibly Meyerbeer s music does not allow for other than a park and bark declamatory style. The Bulgarian chorus sings at a lower volume than American Record Guide 127

130 the soloists so their French pronunciation is difficult to gauge. The orchestra plays very well and the sound is good though diffuse. If you want to become familiar with Meyerbeer s French output, this is a good place to start. The music is beautiful, the orchestrations quite accomplished, and the performers are good. Brilliant offers an interesting booklet in French and English that gives the history of the operas and the period, Meyerbeer and performer backgrounds, and plot synopses. An easy-to-read 24-page libretto of the selections in English and French may be downloaded from Brilliant s website. FISCH MILANOLLO: Elegiac Fantasy; Variations; Elegiac Adagio; pieces Valentina Busso, v; Eliana Grasso, p Musica Viva minutes Teresa Milanollo was born in 1827 in Savigliano, Italy; she showed musical promise early on, and when she was 9 her family moved to France to seek training for her and opportunities for performance. Those opportunities came: in 1841, Auber and Berlioz acclaimed her playing, and from 1842 to 1848 she and her younger sister, Maria, a pianist, toured Europe. Maria was nicknamed Mademoiselle Staccato and Teresa Mademoiselle Adagio. Maria died of tuberculosis in October, Teresa began composing and touring the next year, leaving the concert stage in 1857 when she married a French army officer. After that, she only played charity concerts. She died in Paris in Her writing is on the conservative side of romanticism; she avoided emotional and virtuosic extremes, and her music is clear and approachable. The Grand Adagio Elegiaque, in memory of her sister, is restrained and tasteful, as is the touching Lamento. The Impromptu is a little darker and more active, if not quite turbulent. It could be argued that these three are derivative and deservedly forgotten, but I would not be convinced. Their sobriety and logic are too attractive. A straightforward transcription of Schubert s Ave Maria can be skipped. The Humorous Variations on an Air of Marlborough is definitely forgettable; salonstyle sets of variations were never the pinnacle of 19th-Century artistry to begin with, but Marlborough is far from the top. The Humorous Variations on Rheinweinlied, with the original theme by Johann Andre, is somewhat more interesting. The Grande Fantaisie Elegiaque is in four movements and lasts about 20 minutes. It resembles the variations in structure, but its tone is closer to the first three pieces mentioned. The more serious pieces are the best. Busso plays expressively and compellingly. Her intonation gets a little off track sometimes, and she struggles too much with the whistle tones, double-stops, and filigrees in the variations. More competence and panache would help sell them, but they would still only be good for two or three hearings. Grasso is fine, but the uninventive piano parts don t give her much to work with. The sonics are decent though somewhat dry; notes are in Italian, French, and English. ESTEP MILHAUD: Suite Francaise; see Collections MOLLER: Guitar Pieces Song to the Mother; A Star in the Sky, A Universe Within; From Her Source to the Sea; 6 Preludes; A Night Flame; Nocturne; Ananda; Future Hope Matthew Fish Soundset minutes Johannes Moller as a performer was on my Best of the Year lists for 2015, for his Mertz disc with Laura Fraticelli (M/A 2015).I had the pleasure of hosting them at my university last week for a concert and master class, and heard him as composer for a substantial part of that recital. I came away deeply impressed. I know he was aware of Mr Fish s recording, and that he was quite pleased with it and having heard him do his own works, I can easily see why. He plays with a high level of skill, and has mastered Moller s often intense demands almost as well as the composer himself. His music has an impressive range, and much of that is represented here. It is tonal; and, though it can be highly chromatic, it is more likely to be static than highly dissonant. The simplest on this recording are the six preludes, from a projected set of 24 in all major and minor keys they often seem like inventive etudes, dealing with particular figurations on the guitar. Many express a deep spirituality Song to the Mother is to Mother Earth; and the title piece of the album, From Her Source to the Sea, is the passage of water from a high mountain to the ocean. Some passages are as calm as a still, deep river, others pass through rocky rapids. It uses a scordatura of an open G minor chord. The Nocturne was com- 128 January/February 2017

131 missioned by Fish, and for it Moller studied Chopin s model of developing melodic figurations in an improvisational fashion. This is not a new path, but Moeller comes closer to Chopin than any other guitar composer I know. The most fascinating music here (three of these pieces) comes from his time in India. A Night Flame is based on an Indian raga similar to the Western harmonic minor scale. It is based on the harmonic stasis of Indian classical music, developing a comparable melodic complexity, and building to a wild climax. Ananda, a Sanskrit word for bliss, and Future Hope also come from that journey the latter named for a children s service organization, Future Hope India. It is the closest I ve heard a Western composer really assimilating the style of a non-western classical tradition. And, though it is not represented here, Moller also has a series of works inspired by Chinese classical traditions. The music is all quite fascinating, often achingly beautiful, and always played with exquisite taste and complete technical command. An exciting discovery! KEATON MOLTER: Orchestral Music & Cantatas Camerata Bachiensis Brilliant minutes Johann Molter ( ) spent his career in northern Germany working as a violinist and composer at the courts of Karlsruhe and Eisenach. The notes indicate that Eisenach was stocked with fine singers by the time Molter arrived there in 1733, which would account for the virtuosic style of the two cantatas on the program beginning In Petto ho un Certo Affanno and Care Erbette, Amiche Piante (Julia Kirchner). The program also includes three of the common types of 18th-Century orchestral music a sinfonia, concerto, and overture suite. The Sinfonia in D and Concerto in A are composed in the familiar three-movement form, and although there is no tempo indication for outer movements, the normative layout was a fast-slow-fast form. The one characteristic that unifies the entire program is the gallant style. Textures are dominated by solo treble instruments (especially Roberto De Franceschi, flute and oboe) or voice supported by a lucid and harmonically stable accompaniment. The effect is really quite lovely. Molter is a master of the gallant style, and Camerata Bachiensis has put together a polished program. Texts and notes are in English. LOEWEN MONTEVERDI: Vespers Ensemble San Felice, La Pifaresca/ Federico Bardazzi Brilliant [2CD] 89 minutes Of all the scads of recordings of this music, this new one is by far the ugliest. Bardazzi is determined to make it sound like no other. He is on plausible grounds in taking a stand on clef interpretations and transpositions. And he is in good company in placing Monteverdi s movements in plainchant liturgical context, though he piles in a heap of extra ones at the end, including a chanted prayer (and a soprano solo!) But most of the chants are sung in octaves by women and men mixed. The tempos chosen are generally fast, and they are often complicated by sudden changes all scramble and no relishing of the beauties in the writing. The most disruptive element is his constant interpolation of a drum to line out foursquare metrical pulses. This jarring intrusion is bad enough in the psalms, choral reprises in concertos, the hymn, and the Magnificat; but it utterly disfigures the remarkable Sonatas sopra Sancta Maria. His argument for this, in his contentious booklet notes is that there were prohibitions against using a military drum in church, and that implies that the practice has already been fairly widespread without offering any evidence whatsoever of such a practice in Monteverdi s works. The solo singers are variable, and the 28- member chorus is quite respectable, if the overloaded instrumental forces often seem under-rehearsed. The performers are recorded at a distance, the vocal soloists in the concertos very far away. Extreme uses of directionality are carried out with too much exaggeration in the Nisi Dominus The booklet includes full Latin texts, but no translations. I had to force myself to finish listening to these two minimally filled discs, particularly thanks to all the drum-whapping. Jaded Monteverdians who are desperate for something really fresh may find this set curious. All in all, though, this is certainly on my list of most avoidable recordings of Monteverdi s remarkable score. BARKER American Record Guide 129

132 MOSCHELES: Cello Sonata; see Collections MOUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata 5; 10 Preludes; 3 Poems; 2 Piano Pieces Antonii Baryshevskyi, p Avi minutes Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the most original sets of piano pieces ever written. Much of it has been in my own repertoire for over 40 years. This new recording is one of the best to come my way. Baryshevskyi, born 1988 in Kiev, Ukraine plays in a very personal, musical way without going to any excess. He keeps the music in the bounds of what the piano can effectively do, even though it cries out for the big orchestral sound so many have given it over the years. He does not play the fast sections at a breakneck speed (note especially Limoges and Bab-Yaga ), but certainly has the technique to do so. I found the clarity of his voice-leading and shaping of even the most virtuosic sections a revelation. There is no question that the next time I revisit this score, I will have a bunch of fresh, new ideas that this recording has given me. The Scriabin works are likewise wonderfully played. Here, rather than specific musical pictures, Baryshevskyi creates impressionist colors and gestures. The 8 Preludes from Op. 11 are very carefully ordered (not sequentially) to form a cohesive group. I often listen to these (and play a few as well), but I hear some new things here. Both Rachmaninoff and Horowitz took similar approaches to groups of these Preludes. Sonata 5 is the first single movement sonata Scriabin composed and the start of his use of his mystical chord. The last group of pieces contains Poems, an Album Leaf, and Preludes. It takes us to the end of Scriabin s life and music that even today has a unique, modern sound to it. This is a recording to treasure. HARRINGTON MOZART,FX: Piano Concertos; CLEMENTI: Concerto in C Howard Shelley, St Gallen Symphony Hyperion :33 Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was the famous Mozart s sixth child and was born about six months before his father died, so although he made the most of his name he could hardly have learned anything directly from his father. And you have to feel sorry for him, working in his father s shadow. He died in poverty at the age of 53, but he wasn t a total failure, and he had a decent career in the Ukraine. He just couldn t get anywhere in Vienna. We have reviewed his two piano concertos before, commenting that he was imitating his father s style. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn t. Maybe the first of these concertos (in C) is better than one or two early ones by his father; and the second concerto (in E-flat) sometimes sounds like Hummel but I prefer Hummel! Klaus Hellwig recorded them in Cologne with the excellent radio orchestra (Koch/ Schwann; S/O 1988); but, as Carl Bauman said when he reviewed the Novalis recording (J/A 2006), newer recordings have been better. You know Hyperion. The sound is bright and crisp and a bit close-up. Its jewel-like clarity will appeal to many readers. There is no atmosphere, but that doesn t seem a great loss in this music. The Clementi is the same music as his Piano Sonata, Op. 33:3; but scholars cannot agree on which came first did he add the orchestra to the sonata, or did he decide that eliminating the orchestra would allow solo pianists to buy it (play it)? Bruno Canino s recording of the Clementi seems preferable to me (Naxos; Nov/Dec 2014). The pianist is more expressive, the Rome orchestra warm and full but still refined. The sound is richer, too. Clementi wrote on the second movement, con grande espressione, and it s certainly grander on Naxos than here. So I may keep this for the FX Mozart pieces, but for Clementi I will turn to the Naxos recording. VROON MOZART, L: Serenade; 2-Horn Concerto; Sinfonia in G Aljoscha Zierow, tpt; Fabrice Millischer, trb; Carsten Duffin, Philipp Romer, hn; Bavarian Chamber Philharmonic/ Reinhard Goebel Oehms minutes Leopold Mozart s Serenade in D was discovered in Seitenstetten, Austria, in the 1970s. This is not its first complete recording, but it is the first I ve heard. There are lots of recordings of two portions: the two-movement Trumpet Concerto and the three-movement Trombone Concertino. The notes tell how the 9-movement, 42- minute Serenade would have been performed. The orchestra played the lively, intricate, bouncy I (Intrada) while entering the enclosed outdoor performance space. Next comes a lilting Andante, given a brisk walking tempo by Rein- 130 January/February 2017

133 hard Goebel, and then a brisk Minuet. Then come two interludes in the form of concertos; the audience expected them but would have been surprised by the choice of these instruments. The Trumpet Concerto was found (bearing the date 1762) and became part of the standard repertory well before the entire Seitenstetten manuscript was discovered. As in the previous movements, conductor Goebel wastes no time with it; the Andante goes at the fastest tempo I have heard. It is followed by a livelier Allegro Moderato. Aljoscha Zierow, a member of this orchestra, is the fine trumpeter. Next comes the alto trombone piece. When it is played as a stand-alone concerto, it is usually done in Allegro-Adagio-Minuet order, but here it is Adagio-Minuet-Allegro. Conductor Goebel gives the Adagio (a dreamy piece that I really love) by far the fastest tempo I have ever heard, but it sounds good anyway. This account of the final Allegro is a lively and elegant beauty. Fabrice Millischer is the very fine alto trombonist. The entire work comes to an end in a zippy Presto, played with gusto by this excellent orchestra. For people especially interested in the concertos, this is a nice account of the trumpet one. Other excellent ones are by baroquetrumpet specialists Niklas Eklund (N/D 1996: 255) and Crispian Steele-Perkins (J/F 2002: 237), and valved-trumpet players Rolf Smedvig (Mar/Apr 1994: 216) and John Wallace (July/Aug 2001: 246). As for the trombone piece, I like this new one very much but am still smitten by Jorgen van Rijen s reading on alto sackbut (Nov/Dec 2008: 213). Otmar Gaiswinkler is also wonderful (J/F 2005: 229). So, how about the rest of the album? First there is the Concerto in E-flat for two horns, and it is a treat to hear. The orchestra sounds terrific: wiry yet resonant, bursting with energy in the vigorous opening measures. Horn players Carsten Duffin and Phillip Romer have refined tone qualities, technical skill, and great high notes. II has conflict between a jagged and stern orchestral theme in C minor and a pleasant and lyrical horn one in E-flat. The conflict is never resolved. III is a jovial celebration of the hunt, as are so many finales in horn works from the 18th Century. This ingratiating work has a number of fine recordings by such horn duos as Hermann Baumann and Radovan Vlatkovic (Decca), Hermann Jeurissen and Michael Holtzel (July/Aug 2010), and the Tylsars (May/June 1990). This new one is as good as any. The album ends with the four-movement, 21-minute Symphony in G, known as the New Lambach after the monastery where it was copied. For a while, it and another symphony known as Old Lambach were argued over by musicologists. Some could not believe that Leopold Mozart was capable of writing the charming, creative, and relatively modern New one, and that the more prosaic Old one was composed by his more gifted but very young son Wolfgang. KILPATRICK MOZART: Arias Pavol Breslik, t; Munich Radio/ Patrick Lange Orfeo minutes Peter Schreier, t; Dresden Staatskapelle/ Otmar Suitner Berlin minutes Here we have two fine tenors overlapping in almost all of their Mozart aria selections. Pavol Breslik won the 2005 Young Singer of the Year from Opernwelt magazine and has sung all over the world in a variety of roles (Lenski, Nemorino, Alfredo, and Mozart tenor roles). He made his Met debut in 2009 as Ottavio and sang Ferrando there in Peter Schreier made his Met debut in 1967 as Tamino and also sang Ottavio. It is perhaps coincidental, but understandable, that both singers made their Met debuts in Mozart roles. Both are excellent singers, their voices and techniques first-rate. What s interesting is how they approach this music; it shows how musical styles have changed between the late 60s and the present. Alternating between the two singers in the same arias is most revealing. Schreier and Suitner are more leisurely. Suitner gives Schreier time to shape and shade the music in a way that probably seems dated to Breslik and Lange. Lange s tempos are always faster than Suitner s. After hearing his account of Un aura amorosa from Cosi, I couldn t help wondering why Breslik was in such a hurry. Neither tenor has difficulty with the coloratura that Mozart wrote in some of these arias. Breslik sounds nimble and fleet, Schreier nimble, but a little more cautious. I was surprised that neither tenor sings the long run in Il mio tesoro in one breath, snatching a quick breath halfway through. Breslik sings with more overall bravura, displaying excellent coloratura (and a fine top C in the interpolated cadenza) in the more difficult version of Fuor del mar from Idomeneo, an aria not on Schreier s disc. Schreier displays more personality and a fuller, richer tone in his selections. American Record Guide 131

134 In the concert aria Misero! O sogno (written for Johann Adamberger, the first Belmonte) Breslik conveys the man s desperation, but I would be willing to bet that Schreier would supply even more color and variety (I think Schreier did record this for EMI on a collection of Mozart concert arias some years back). This is not a case of one singer being better than the other both are very fine. If I prefer Schreier s voice overall, I certainly enjoy and respect Breslik s gifts. If you re a Mozart tenor buff I d recommend both discs. The sound on is excellent. Orfeo offers translations for the opera selections, but you re on your own for the concert aria. Berlin Classics assumes you know these arias too well to need translations. REYNOLDS MOZART: Piano Concertos 8+24; Sonata 11; Fantasia, K 397 Wilhelm Kempff, Bamberg & Berlin orchestras/ Ferdinand Leitner Praga minutes What you can t miss listening to these reissued DG recordings is that Wilhelm Kempff (who died in 1991) was a very poetic pianist. Almost any pianist playing Mozart today sounds mechanical next to Kempff. With him everything is delicate, sensitive, eloquent, phrased for meaning and beauty. Some writers call this kind of playing romantic. I call it musical. Music is a romantic art, and as music today becomes less romantic it is also less inspiring and it is dying. Why would anyone prefer today s mechanical playing to this? It s perverse. No wonder music no loger grabs people on a personal level: it is played impersonally. No. 8 has never been done better, though Serkin was pretty good. No. 24 may have to deal with the wonderful competition of Clifford Curzon with Kertesz, but no pianist plays it better than Kempff. The sonata is perfect. These are recordings, beautifully remastered. I don t think DG is still around; it had four concertos on two discs, without the sonata and fantasia (S/O 1995). VROON The new media lords are trying to meet readers at their own level of cultural and civic literacy--as demonstrated by the cutbacks in book reviews and classical music coverage-- instead of attempting to raise the level of public knowledge and discourse. --Susan Jacoby MOZART: Piano Concertos 17+27; Piano & Violin Concerto (fragment); Fantasy in C minor Sophie-Mayuko Vetter, p; Rainer Kussmaul, v; Hamburg Symphony/ Peter Ruzicka Oehms minutes The year is Mozart lies close to death from a mysterious disease, and whispers with dying breath the last notes of his last piano concerto to Xaver Sussmayr while wife Constanze mops her husband s fevered brow, the great composer bequeathing to posterity his artistic epitaph: a summation of his creativity in the genre that brought him so much success and fame. Of course that s all fiction, yet a spurious performance tradition has stuck to Mozart s 27th piano concerto: treating it as a funeral eulogy, valedictory and resigned. Ms Vetter and Mr Ruzicka are steeped in this tradition, delivering I and II without spine, every phrase wilting away in etiolated sighs, welcoming the last rites, though the finale perks up a bit like an Irish wake, a celebration of life to remember fondly the deceased in his prime. The energy of the finale carries into Concerto 17 here Vetter and Ruzicka are more lively, but the pale, vibratoless strings of II make me want to stop the disc. I often think we will never hear a modern orchestra play Mozart with sweet, vibrato-suffused strings. Vetter s Steinway at least conceals the sickly period-afflicted orchestra. And she improvises a lot, practically recomposing sections of each concerto s slow movement, even inserting fleeting slides and roulades in fast passages. It s imaginative and distracting, and I think that s the point. Mozart started work on a violin and piano concerto, but dropped it after four minutes of music. It s bottom-drawer Mozart, simplistic and repetitive, like a hackneyed imitation of the master. The concert ends with the strange 10-minute fantasy for piano and violin, here including just the 42 or so notes Mozart wrote for the violin. Vetter is poignant and heartfelt, relishing the painful crushed-note dissonances as impressive as her Brahms I reviewed a while ago (J/A 2015), though she s traded in heavy breathing for occasional humming! Good sound plus an interesting booklet essay by Ms Vetter, who s also an excellent writer. WRIGHT 132 January/February 2017

135 MOZART: Quartets 16+19; Divertimento in D Van Kuijk Quartet Alpha minutes This quartet was founded in 2012 and the players are young and enthusiastic. They play old instruments or perhaps modern copies (the notes don t say), and they play in socalled historically informed style minimal vibrato, often short phrasing, choppy accents, etc. If you like the style, this may be worth exploring. The two quartets are part of Mozart s set dedicated to Haydn (who taught him a thing or two about the genre) and 19, called the Dissonant because of its mysterious opening, may be the greatest quartet Mozart wrote (as well as my introduction to Mozart quartets in the 1970s when I was an aspiring violist). The dissonant opening is a famous example of Mozartean humor, but my favorite joke in the piece is the simple music that opens the body of the movement. In Mozart s day, quartets were often sight-read and it s easy to imagine a quartet taking Mozart s Allegro marking seriously and charging forward through the relatively simple opening music only to be cut to pieces when the elaborate passagework appears a little later. The players here, though they are fond of speed, dont t fall into the trap and do a fine job of pacing the movement. So what can we make of these performances? Taken on their own terms, these are decent readings: the players get around the notes handily; and their tempo. voicing, and expressive decisions make sense. But the old instruments can glare or whistle or wheeze; and sometimes, as in the big cadences of 16:I, the straight sound produces an aural effect that sounds harsh and disruptive not in the sense that Mozart has pushed our boundaries, but more like someone is badly out of tune or knocked over a music stand. The little Divertimento suffers least from the performance style. It s simple music, the players ham it up and fly through it, and it still sounds lovely. There are lovely recordings of all six of Mozart s Haydn quartets from the Alban Berg (Teldec), Hagen, Talich, Italiano, and other distinguished ensembles. Unless you insist on old instruments, stick with one of those. CHAKWIN MOZART: Wind Serenades in B-flat & E-flat European Chamber Orchestra Winds/ Santiago Mantas Divine Art minutes In our Woodwind Overview (Nov/Dec 2005) we recommend members of the American Symphony/Stokowski (Vanguard), Bavarian Radio Orchestra/Davis (RCA), Marlboro Alumni/Moyse (Sony or Boston), and on period instruments, Nachtmusique/Hoeprich (Glossa) and Ensemble Philidor (Calliope). The first one, from 1966, was outstanding for its time but owing to the unvarying vibrato from the first oboist might now be better replaced with newer recordings, such as members of the Orchestra of St Luke s/mackerras (Telarc). Stokowski s recording has a spaciousness not found here, and the ensemble sounds larger than nearly all others, including this one. Given the considerable competition, what distinguishes this release? Karl Haas, the German-British musicologist and conductor who died in 1970 (not the German-American radio personality who died in 2005), discovered that the fourth movement in the E-flat Serenade, a minuet, had not one but two trios, and recorded the additional trio section in 1959 in the work s original sextet instrumentation. This appears to be the first recording with eight instruments. Haas also discovered that measure 19 in that movement did not belong and should be cut. Is it worth purchasing a CD to hear about two minutes of Mozart you ve never heard before and about two seconds less that didn t belong? This performance of the serenades on modern instruments is mellifluous and blended. In the Grand Partita s opening movement the phrasing can be somewhat literal and the accents harsh. Tempos in the B-flat Serenade suit the piece, but all the fast movements in the E-flat Serenade need more energy. The Adagio is perhaps too fast, especially if you were to compare this earthbound rendition at 4:12 with members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (DG) taking a heavenly 6:02. There are places where the group plays slow appoggiaturas rather than fast ones. If you d like a fine performance of the B-flat Serenade, nearly though not quite top tier, and a dull, unsatisfying performance of the E-flat one, here it is. Not long ago (M/A 2014) Patrick Hanudel praised members of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony for their renditions of the Serenade in B- flat and Fantasia, K 608. Consider that choice or one of the recordings mentioned above. GORMAN American Record Guide 133

136 MOZART: Zaide Sophie Bevan (Zaide), Allan Clayton (Gomatz), Jacques Imbrailo (Allazim), Stuart Jackson (Sultan Soliman), Darren Jeffery (Osmin); Classical Opera Orchestra/ Ian Page Signum minutes Mozart s Zaide is a fascinating fragment, While working on it, the young composer accepted a commission to write Idomeneo, his first mature opera, followed closely by Abduction from the Seraglio. Zaide was abandoned and never finished. What we have left are two acts; no clues exist as to whether the ending will be tragic or happy, and, of course, we have no idea what music might have come from the genius of Mozart. What we do have are several arias, a duet, a trio, a quartet, a chorus, and two melodramas, where spoken dialog is accompanied by the orchestra. According to Ian Page s introduction, Mozart was impressed by this technique, but he never used it in his mature Gernan operas. The music that exists is certainly worth hearing, and here it is performed as well as one is likely to hear. My favorite piece is the trio at the end of Act I for Zaide, Gomatz, and Allazim. Ian Page and his Classical Opera group specialize in this music, and no one plays or sings it better. Special mention should be made of Sophie Bevan, Allan Clayton, and Jacques Imbrailo, who portray the three leading roles with great musicality and feeling. A good background essay by Ian Page is included, as well as the full text. SININGER MUHLY: Confessions Teitur, singer; Holland Baroque Nonesuch minutes This is a 2016 collaboration between composer Nico Muhly (b. 1981) and Faronese singersongwriter Teitur, inspired by the silly animal and home videos relentlessly posted on YouTube. Teitur (Lassen) took comments and materials from these videos and compiled them into brief vignettes forming a sort of song cycle. These are accompanied by a small Baroque ensemble playing quasi-minimalist underpinnings to Teitur s mild and unassertive pop singing. The topics are moody and gently despairing, dealing with the blankness of contemporary life. Their familiarity is both moving and depressing. Any humor is distant and in the background at best. This project is by no means unattractive and most arresting. GIMBEL MURCIA: Selected Pieces Private Musicke/ Pierre Pitzl Accent minutes I ve reviewed Pitzl and his ensemble, Private Musicke, three times before (S/O 2009, J/F 2012, J/A 2013 the last one of my Critic s Picks for the year). I also reviewed his solo disc (S/O 2014). Now he and his band are back with works by Santiago de Murcia, and my response is the same as always charmed and delighted. The ensemble this time is mostly plucked strings Baroque guitars, bass lute, theorbo, and the birimbao, an African instrument that consists of a single string across a bow with a gourd as sound amplifier. There is also a percussionist, and one member plays the gamba. This fits the Baroque guitar repertory performances are based on limited tablature with the expansion to other instruments expected, along with improvisations based on the harmonic outlines of the piece. Without time travel, we ll never really know what those performances were like, but Pitzl and his colleagues sound convincing, stylish, and expressive, with lots of sparkle, albeit a subtle sparkle. I enjoyed this recording very much. KEATON NANINO: Sacred Vocal Music Arsi & Tesi Vocal Group/ Tony Corradini Toccata minutes Giovanni Maria Nanino ( ) was an important musician in 16th-Century Rome, holding significant church positions and composing a variety of sacred vocal music. This program offers a good mix of forms Mass, motets, Magnificats and ends with a Lassus composition on one of Nanino s Magnificat settings. The mixed vocal ensemble Arsi & Tesi chose to sing without accompanying instruments, lowering the pitch to align with modern SATB voice ranges. In some places (such as the lowest parts of the Credo) the singers strain to reach the notes, so that the bass line is weakened instead of being the solid engine that supports and propels the polyphony forward. The voices then tend to drift apart from each other, both in flow and pitch. There is some nice delicacy and animated flow in the Lassus piece. I praised a fine recording of Il Trionfo Di Dori by the Arsi & Tesi ensemble (Tactus 134 January/February 2017

137 590003, S/O 2014: 214) but this one is not up to that standard. Notes, bios, texts, translations. C MOORE NEWMAN, M: Quartets (2) Malibu Coast & Kairos Quartets MAH minutes ( ) Maria Newman (born 1962) is the youngest daughter of renowned film-music composer Alfred Newman. David Moore liked her three concertos (Jan/Feb 2014), approving their highly listenable idiom and rich scoring; and James Harrington praised her piano sonata and ballet for two pianos (Nov/Dec 2014), both programmatic works, as American in character, tonal, melodic, and well worth hearing. The two string quartets on this new release date from the 1990s and are (like her piano music) inspired by extra-musical narratives in this way not so different from her father s cinematic scores. Quartet 2, subtitled Lauds, is in five compact movements that total 15 minutes. The idiom is indeed tonal and melodic as Harrington says, and richly scored as David Moore points out. The tunes are catchy but unsubtle, with simple, oft-repeated folk music-style phrases; the large-scale architecture is rudimentary but works well enough here. The emotion is demonstrative and open in its sincerity, clearly directed at a naive religious exaltation that s at once uplifting, touching, and a bit cornball evoking, perhaps, the sort of music her father might have turned out for a Hollywood Biblical epic. The Malibu Coast Quartet, led by the composer on first violin, plays with plenty of energy and a fair amount of polish, and is well recorded. Quartet 1 is, at 40 minutes, over twice as long as Quartet 2, and played by a distinctly inferior group, and not as well recorded. The piece is recognizably by the same composer but shows her at her most self-indulgent and uncritical, stringing out a far-too-lengthy hodgepodge of clunky musical snippets lacking any musical coherence whatsoever. (It purports to be a sonic depiction of Oscar Wilde s story, The Birthday of the Infanta, and attempts to carry out this absurd plan with a childish and futile literalism.) As goes the proverbial cynic s observation about life, it s either just one damn thing after another, or the same damn thing over and over again. LEHMAN NORDAL: Choralis; Adagio; Langnaetti; Epitafion; Leidsla Iceland Symphony; Johannes Gustavsson Ondine minutes. Icelandic composer J n Nordal (1926-) has not yet become the flavor-of-the-week in the American contemporary music scene, as often happens with particular foreign nationals who resonate with some aspect of our concerns (Golijov, for example), and has not stimulated musicological or theoretical consideration. At 90, he is perhaps two generations older than the youngest cohort of composers now active, and so the aesthetic concerns here are far from theirs, still very much high modernist, especially given that the five works (a substantial portion of his small total output of orchestra music) date from between 1966 (the Adagio) and 1982 (Choralis). The affects of these works is so similar that a na ve listener might easily think that the disc is one large piece in five movements. The sound is dark, meditative, serious, depressive perhaps in that sense reminding me of the music of Peteris Vasks. The opening of the last work (Leidsla) can serve as typical. It begins with a long-held unison in the violins (about 18 seconds), joined by dissonances in the strings, and finally a jarring entry in the bass register of the piano not a soundtrack for a bright and sunny day. Philip Greenfield registered ambivalence about a previous disc of Nordal s choral music (Jan/Feb 2009). I can be more enthusiastic. This is important, serious, deep thinking; and the performances are as fine as could be wished. I hope this will serve to get these works onto more American orchestral programs. T MOORE OFFENBACH: La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein Lucia Valentini-Terrani (Duchess), Carla di Censo (Wanda), Carlo Allemano (Fritz), Thomas Morris (Baron Puck), Richard Plaza (Prince Paul), Bernard Imbert (Baron Grog); Bratislava Chamber Choir; Italian International Orchestra/ Emmanuel Villaume Dynamic 7764 [2CD] 132 minutes Formerly released on Dynamic 173 (J/A 1997) this production is from the 1996 Martina Franca Festival. It is a reconstruction of the original 1867 opera buffa that premiered in Paris. Many changes were made over the years, with and without Offenbach s consent partly because of the farcical take on the French American Record Guide 135

138 army, which was not taken lightly by the military (think of their response to the Dreyfus Affair). Offenbach also fashioned some of the characters after some notable personalities, who also didn t appreciate being parodied. La Belle Helene and Orpheus in Enfers had outrageous scripts that made fun of the French bourgoise through the use of Greek myths, but the Grand Duchess struck closer to the premiere audience s French national persona. Offenbach or local censors made further changes because some French references didn t transfer well into other countries. A standard production version was finalized after Offenbach s death in 1880 that pretty much cleansed the operetta of most offenses. That version is usually performed and recorded today. The informative booklet in English, Spanish, and French relates the many sources used to recreate this original version. The plot involves a visit by the titular Duchess to a military camp where she is immediately attracted to Fritz, a handsome but low level soldier, who is in love with Wanda. The Duchess improves Fritz s rank from Private to Corporal, then Marshall, and then General, all in the first act. The Duchess is there to marry Prince Paul, but she keeps delaying the marriage because it will slow down her male conquests. The Prince, Major-Domos, and other regal assistants run around through most of the show trying to reel in the Duchess or cover-up her indiscretions. Wanda and Fritz finally get together and the Duchess marries the Prince. A lot of beautiful music, dancing, and general mayhem ensues, usually at high speed and with lots of shouting. Still, you can t dampen Offenbach s delightful and bubbly score and Jacques Halevy s frenetic scenario. This performance is good, though the recording, apparently using stage-front floor microphones, is very noisy lots of foot pounding, set moving, and general noise from moving people and props around. It s distracting and sometimes louder than the performers. As the performers move away from the front of the stage, their volume changes dramatically so that you can t really tell what language is sung or spoken (it s French, sung mostly by Italians). Owing to the microphone placement, the chorus sings in some unrecognizable language and the orchestral sound is diffuse. This improves in the 2nd and 3rd Acts, but I may have just become used to all the noise. Without a libretto (not included) it s hard to identify the changes to the revised score or what is being said in the extended dialog sequences. The very audible audience must be having a good time; there is lots of applause, and the final dance scene (sort of a can-can) is repeated three times. The cast is lively and the singing is very good when you can hear it through all the stage noise. Conductor Villaume does a good job keeping the show lively, and the cast seems to be having a good time reacting to the audience s pleasure. There have been several other recordings. I am most familiar with stereo highlights on EMI 63415, which also includes highlights from Offenbach s Fille du Tambour Major. It has definitive French performances by Eliane Lublin and Raymond Amade and others with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra. Complete recordings I ve heard include an early 1950s Urania (later an Everest LP) in dim sound conducted by Rene Leibowitz with the Orchestre Pasdeloup. More recently it was on a Preiser CD (M/A 2006). Probably the best recorded and most idiomatic performance is with Regine Crespin, Mady Mesplé, and Alain Vanzo, conducted by Michele Plasson on Sony. A more recent recording starring Felicity Lott is conducted by Marc Minkowski on Virgin (M/A 2006). FISCH ONSLOW: String Quintets Elan Quintet Naxos minutes The unusual nature of these quintets is evident from the first notes of Op. 45, a quiet solo for double bass! Georges Onslow ( ) wrote a large number of these works, particularly in his later years. Actually, Op. 45 was originally intended for two cellos. I must say it sounds highly effective with a bass on the second cello part. Op. 67 was actually intended for the bass, Onslow having been sold on Domenico Dragonetti s playing of one of his cello parts when a cellist didn t show up. Op. 45 has its first recording here, according to the liner. I have a CD of Op. 67 played by the Quintetto Momento Musicale (MDG , J/F 2007: Baumann). That recording is a little richer in sound than the Naxos, but the actual playing is about on a par with it, that is, both are played with involvement and technical polish. Onslow is a composer of imagination and beauty, and these are highly interesting and worthwhile works. D MOORE 136 January/February 2017

139 PAGANINI: 24 Caprices Kinga Augustyn, v Roven minutes Polish-born violinist Kinga Augustyn began her studies in her native country and completed them in the United States under Dorothy Delay, Cho-Liang Lin, and Naoko Tanaka. She is now based in New York. This is the first recording of hers that I have heard. Merely getting through all of these grueling works is a major accomplishment, and she does more than that. Her technique is secure no matter what Paganini throws at her, and her octaves are exceptionally pure. This is a safe acquisition for anyone who wants to hear this music played well, but even more impressive are James Ehnes in his first recording for Telarc, especially in the last few Caprices (Sept/Oct 1996); Itzhak Perlman (Sept/Oct 2000), and Massimo Quarta (July/Aug 2005). Just as impressive as the aforementioned in matters of technique but most musical of all is Thomas Zehetmair in his first set on Teldec (March/April 1994). MAGIL PALESTRINA: Mass, Papae Marcelli; Motets with GUERRERO: Regina Caeli; VICTORIA: Mass, O Quam Gloriosum; Motet New York Polyphony BIS 2203 [SACD] 72 minutes More and more these days, the polyphonic music of the Renaissance is taken away from choirs of size and taken hold of by chamber vocal groups, usually one singer per part. Generally speaking, that shift may lose some of the majestic sonority of choral performance, but wth the reward of much greater clarity of part writing as well as a closer approximation of what contemporaneous performance practice would have been. New York Polyphony is certainly one of the leading minimalist vocal groups today. As in many of their earlier releases, there is a theme, and this time it is Roma Aeterna. For 16th Century Rome, Palestrina is undoubtedly the central figure, and he is the dominant one here. The longest work here is Palestrina s most celebrated work, and the one collectors will particularly want to know about: the Missa Papae Marcelli for six voices. Joined with it are two of this composer s fourvoice motets, Tu es Petrus and Sicut cervus. Against that we have another Mass, the fourvoice O Quam Gloriosum of Victoria, with a brief four-voice Regina caeli by Guerrero. In each of the two masses, some approximations of liturgical contexts are supplied: for Palestrina, an Alleluia, Offertorium, and Communio in Easter plainchants; for Victoria, two motets on the Gaudent in caelis text, one by Victoria himself, the other by Palestrina! The performances are exemplary. New York Polyphony regularly consists of only four male singers, but for the Palestrina (and the plainchant), they are joined by three guest singers, a countertenor, tenor, and bass. Their blending of voices makes for a lot of really smooth and beguiling singing. Palestrina s sixvoice writing flows with particular richness, spiced by subdivisional dialogs, in a monumental totality. Even writing for four voices, Palestrina still weaves beautiful tapestries of sound. If Guerrero s four-voice writing is robust in its own way, there is a nice contrast in Victoria s more lean, less monumental textures. If I have any criticism, it is that the NYP seems to be slipping into such a relishing of their beautiful sonic textures that they are also slipping into retarded pacing. Especially in Palestrina s Mass, which here runs 30 minutes (without the plainchant), there a a quality of slowness the goes beyond even what large choirs sometimes impose. At any rate, a distinguished recording: suavely beautiful sound; good booklet notes and full texts with English translations. BARKER PALMGREN: Piano Concertos (3); 7 Violin Pieces Henri Sigfridsson, p; Jan Soderblom, v; Pori Sinfonietta/ Jan Soderblom Alba 385 [SACD] 72 minutes Selim Palmgren ( ) belongs to that group of Scandinavian composers including Dag Wiren and Uuno Klami whose music admits the influence of Sibelius, both sarcastically and ingenuously sometimes, but takes it cue mostly from contemporaneous international styles, from the radical French Les Six to romantics like Rachmaninoff and modernists like Prokofieff and Stravinsky. Case in point is the first work on this program, Piano Concerto 2, subtitled The River, that starts so promising with delicately shimmering Sibelian string tremolos, bassoons and low piano octaves ascending slowly from wintry snowdrifts, as morning twilight illuminates an icy landscape. I thought: finally, the piano American Record Guide 137

140 concerto Sibelius never wrote! But then the piano takes over with its first melody and the effect evaporates into perky and bluff conventional late-romantic figuration, without harmonic daring, without distinction or originality. Sometimes the wintry mood of the intro returns, but the stuff in between is generic post-romantic fill. Sections without piano are the best, so it s quite disappointing for a concerto it starts with such promise and then goes nowhere. Concerto 1 from 1905 is laughably retrograde, evincing no stylistic fingerprints of the 20th Century it could be a lost work by Moscheles or Spohr. It s mildly diverting, but strictly one for the musicologists and completists it has no tunes, the pianism is hackneyed and old-fashioned, the work has no substance. Concerto 3 is titled Metamorphoses but bears no comparison to Vagn Holmboe s metamorphosis technique of continuous development. Instead, after a florid and grandiose introduction, it s a theme and variations on a simple diatonic tune resembling a national anthem. Sure, it s no Rachmaninoff Rhapsody or even Dohnanyi Variations on a Nursery Theme, but it s the most entertaining concerto here and easy to digest at one hearing. The piano writing is flashy and filled with satisfying Lisztian virtuosity, the orchestration colorful and confident, including passing allusions to Sibelius, even a striking quotation of the master s violin concerto. I think it could be a surprise audience favorite at a pops concert. The violin and piano pieces are part Grieg, part domesticated paying-the-bills Sibelius at his most virtuosic, a suite of seven charming miniatures including a humoresque, Oriental serenade, and (my favorite) a closing Prayer. Conductor Jan Soderblom plays a mean fiddle, his tone handsome and pleasant. Notes are comprehensive and interesting, sound and performance immaculate. The weak link here is the composer. WRIGHT PEPUSCH: Venus and Adonis Ciara Hendrick (Venus), Philippa Hyde (Adonis), Richard Edgar-Wilson (Mars), Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen/ Robert Rawson Ramee minutes Johann Christoph Pepusch ( ) has always been treated as a pigmy in the world of the giant Handel. Pepusch arrived in London about 1697, settling there as violinist, harpsichordist, and composer for a decade before Handel arrived to conquer the city s musical life. Though German in origin, he was devoted as Handel was to be to the theatrical styles of Italian music. He is remembered today, if at all, as the collaborator with John Gay in assembling the music for The Beggar s Opera (1728), but he was an active composer himself, writing both instrumental and theatrical music in the Italian style. He composed numerous songs and cantatas with English texts, hoping to win English tastes to the stillalien Italian musical idiom. His most important theatrical venture of this kind was Venus and Adonis. He called it a masque, in the older Stuart tradition, but it was indeed a miniature opera seria of Italian stamp secco recitatives, da capo arias, wind-and-string orchestra, and all that. It was well received in 1714, and was revived often. It was followed by three more (and even more concise) works of this type, including The Death of Dido (1716). For the libretto, Pepusch used an English text by actor and impresario Colley Cibber. They drew on Ovid and other sources to combine two mythological stories: the affair of Venus with Mars, and Venus s infatuation with the handsome mortal huntsman, Adonis. In good Italianate theatrical style, Cibber has the intrigues between the three lead to Mars s rejection of Venus just at the time Adonis is mortality wounded by a wild boar leading to Venus s descent into despair and madness. What gives interest to Pepusch s opera is that it seems to have been an influence on Handel. In the years the two expatriate musicians worked simultaneously in the service of the lavish household of James Brydges, Duke of Chandos; and when Handel created for that master his first dramatic work in English, Acis and Galatea, he not only learned much from Pepusch s Venus and Adonis but he even used in his masque two of the singers who had appeared in the older composer s work. Certainly Pepusch set a very good example in his masque, proving that the English language and Italian musical techniques could be bent to work together. His casting involved Margherita de L Epine (later Handel s first Galatea, and also Pepusch s later wife!), who was an experienced travesty singer with a coloratura voice that created a quite youthful Adonis. In that character Hyde is ardently convincing. The first Venus was a contralto, very agile and with a wide range. Here Hendrick is very able in the fireworks, but she is more a 138 January/February 2017

141 soprano than a contralto in color. It is often difficult to tell the two ladies apart, beyond a slightly greater vocal roundness and weight in Hendrick. The first Mars (and then the first Acis for Handel) was the tenor James Blackley. Edgar- Wilson here sounds a rather lightweight and hardly martial Mars. And, in fact, in Pepusch s revivals of the work he shifted the role to a bass-baritone. All in all, this is a highly capable performance. The singers dig into the emotions of their characters. The 15-member period orchestra is admirably adept. The notes are excellent, and the full libretto is given though the booklet is another of those hostile pasted-in jobs. This recording does at last put Pepusch and his work back into proper importance. That said, while Pepusch s score is very good, and honestly enjoyable, it pales beside what Handel was to do, from Acis on. If Pepusch was not a musical pigmy, he was by no means comparable to the giant Handel. In addition to full libretto and translations, the ample booklet also contains extended and probing notes by conductor Rawson. But Rawson, in making the clear case for Pepusch s work as a model for Handel, quite bypasses a parallel question that arises. Did Pepusch know of an important earlier English masque on this subject by John Blow ( ) from 1683? Since that was a work for court entertainment, it may not have circulated widely. BARKER POULENC: Les Biches; see ROUSSEL PROKOFIEFF: Piano Concertos 1, 3, 4 Olli Mustonen; Finnish Symphony/ Hannu Lintu Ondine minutes Prokofieff as Bach. Mustonen avoids the sostenuto pedal, and his touch is dry and articulated. Prokofieff is well known for his wrongnote melodies, and to these Mustonen adds wrong-beat accents and wrong-hand accents so that notes I don t usually notice or think about impress themselves on my attention. It reminds me of Glenn Gould s detached playing style, though Mustonen is not mocking the music, but stamping his mark on these oftrecorded concertos. The orchestra is crisp and dry, too, almost pointillistic sometimes; but they squeeze on the juice whenever Mustonen gets too parched (the middle movements of Concerto 4). It s effective in Concerto 3, making the music more quirky and playful, nervous, less romantic, more like a game, though the vapid Concerto 1 sounds even sillier than usual more heart and soul helps this weakest of Prokofieff s concertos. Concerto 4 is the left-hand one for Paul Wittgenstein and, unlike Wittgenstein favorites Erich Korngold and Franz Schmidt, it eschews any illusion of two hands. Prokofieff instead emphasizes the emaciated and skeletal effect of one hand at the keyboard, writing mostly one note at a time in a single line and no chords. The slow II graciously evokes a bit of two-hand illusion, and Mustonen wisely indulges the sostenuto pedal, but otherwise his sec articulation is ideal for this strange and recondite but interesting concerto that hints at Prokofieff s great Romeo and Juliet ballet just around the corner. Sound quality is close, clear, detailed. This is very stimulating not the sort of thing you can ignore while reading or cleaning the house. Little details and idiosyncrasies keep grabbing your attention. WRIGHT PROKOFIEFF: Symphonies 4+7: Bergen Philharmonic/ Andrew Litton BIS 2134 [SACD] 82 minutes 6+7: Netherlands Radio/ James Gaffigan Challenge [SACD] 73 minutes These have Symphony 7 in common not a piece that is often recorded, though it can be found in complete sets. I have always liked Previn s EMI recording best, and I still do. He takes I a little faster (Moderato) and the Andante (III) a little slower than either of these. It sounds better that way to me. It is not a profound work, like 4 or 6 and there s a limit to how expressive a conductor can be in this music but the Andante is labeled espressivo by the composer, so that s permission to indulge a little. Neither of these recordings matches the Previn, but in such straightforward music there is not a big range of interpretation. Mr Litton, by the way, gives us both endings: the quiet one and the return to the opening theme of the movement. I don t much care for Mr Gaffigan s No. 6. It seems too fast all around. I think the middle movement (Largo) should be heavier and more emotional, and III (Vivace) needn t be so fast to be lively and makes more sense slower, especially its main theme, and especially after the Largo. Some things lose comprehension when fast as in talking. Symphony 4 is based on the Prodigal Son American Record Guide 139

142 ballet; it s very moving music and also seldom recorded. Andrew Litton makes the Andante more tranquil (Andante tranquillo) and less passionate than other recordings I know. It s probably too gentle, but it s still nicely done and feels more thoughtful almost meditative. I prefer Kitaenko s recording, and I like the Cologne orchestra better than the one in Bergen, too. The best recordings I know of 4 and 6 are by Ormandy on Columbia LPs; and, as far as I know, they have never been on CD (so I have kept the LPs). Erich Leinsdorf also made great recordings of them in Boston, and those have been issued on CD. The BIS recording in Bergen is more immediate than the Dutch recording, which sounds back in the hall. So the latter is more blended and warmer, but the Norwegian sound seems more vital and more detailed. When it comes to sound, you have to decide what you prefer. For me the BIS recording is more tempting than the other. Mr Gaffigan just seems too cool. VROON PROKOFIEFF: Violin Concertos; Sonata Vadim Gluzman; Estonian National Symphony/ Neemi Jarvi BIS 2142 [SACD] 60 minutes This is probably the worst recording of Concerto 1 I ve ever heard. There is bad ensemble right off the bat between Gluzman and a solo flute and pair of clarinets. At first I thought it was Jarvi who was sluggish; then I realized that Gluzman s constant rubato is the other major problem. The two obviously are either underrehearsed or don t see eye to eye. Gluzman makes the solo line sound like hard work rather than a seamless, effortless flow. Also, tempos are unsteady, the engineering shoves the violin upfront, where it often sounds monotone forte, and makes important orchestral passages hard to hear in a dry acoustic. In addition, Jarvi makes the orchestra sound third-rate quite a contrast to his son Paavo, who makes it sound world-class in his recording of selections from Grieg s Peer Gynt. In Concerto 2, recorded 13 months earlier by a different team (Take5 Music Production apparently even BIS has started hiring outsiders to do its recordings), Gluzman and Jarvi are on the same page. The flow is more lyrical, ensemble is better, and lines are shaped more in I and II. But in III rhythmic rushing returns, and in the introduction a passage with two oboes, two clarinets, and a bassoon is incredibly sour. The Sonata in D for solo violin was recorded not in Tallinn but in Bremen in a wiry, raw acoustic, shoving the violin in your face with little relief. Again, Gluzman s use of rubato makes phrases in II lose their rhythmic weight where s the downbeat in this strictly four-four music? And in III it s almost impossible to tell that the music is in three-quarter time until about measure 16. Both concertos are far better with Shaham, Previn, and the London Symphony on DG and Bell, Dutoit, and the Montreal Symphony on Decca. FRENCH PURCELL: Opera Suites Academy/ Neville Marriner Capriccio minutes Neville Marriner, who died in October at the age of 92, made this recording in 1995 this is a reissue. There are preludes and dances and even songs (without words) from The Fairy Queen, The Indian Queen, King Arthur, and Dioclesian. Mr Marriner was no fan of period performance practice, so you will hear healthysounding instruments and expressive playing. It reminded me of the wonderful old recordings of Handel s Water Music and Royal Fireworks. It s terrific music and beautifully played. It will make you wonder why no one is doing this kind of thing anymore. VROON RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto 2; Fantasy Pieces, op 3; Vocalise; 6-Hands Pieces Alexandre Tharaud, Liverpool Philharmonic/ Alexander Vernikov Erato minutes The concerto is beautifully played and recorded. I cannot say that it displaces old favorites; I cannot say that it is the best I know. But I can say that there is essentially nothing to complain about. 50 years ago the music was often played more romantically at least by the best pianists and orchestras. But that shows up in minor things: hesitations, rubato, ardor, nuances. Sometimes very romantic performances are not as well recorded. The Bachauer was wonderful, but many will consider it old now. Many of us like Ashkenazy with Previn. Among fairly recent recordings we like Thibaudet (in Cleveland) and Ogawa. But Tharaud 140 January/February 2017

143 belongs in that select company at least that s the way it seems right now. Time will tell. The other pieces are fine; I really like Opus 3, which many dismiss as the early, very romantic Rachmaninoff. (It includes the Prelude in C-sharp minor.) The other two pianists in the two six-hands pieces are both Alexanders as well (Melnikov and Madzar). VROON RACHMANINOFF: Trios; see TCHAIKOVSKY RAVEL: Valses Nobles; Alborada; see DEBUSSY RAWSTHORNE: Symphony; see Collections REGER: Clarinet Chamber Music Stephan Siegenthaler; Conrad Muck, Tilman Buning, v; Ivo Bauer, va; Matthias Moosdorf, vc; Kolja Lessing, p Oehms 1845 [2CD] 117 minutes Inspired by the autumnal works of Johannes Brahms and the playing of Richard Muhlfeld, the Principal Clarinet of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, fin-de-siecle German composer Max Reger turned to the clarinet early and often in his short career. He finished his own pair of clarinet sonatas at age 27; dashed off a pair of miniatures for clarinet and piano just two years later, the Albumblatt and the Tarantella ; completed a third clarinet sonata at age 35, and bade farewell to the romantic era and perhaps his own truncated life at age 43 with the Clarinet Quintet in A, the same key as Mozart s. In a two-disc set, Swiss businessman and clarinetist Stephan Siegenthaler offers the composer s entire output of chamber music for his instrument. The German pianist, violinist, and academic Kolja Lessing sits at the keyboard and contributes the liner notes; and the Leipzig Quartet joins Siegenthaler for the clarinet quintet. Reger s wandering themes, extra-chromatic harmonies, and run-on phrases can make his music difficult to feel and absorb, and over the past decade several clarinetists have endeavored to give his clarinet oeuvre legitimacy and credibility. Here, Siegenthaler and his colleagues present one of the most convincing cases. Their performances are thoroughly committed, bursting with dramatic phrasing and vivid color, swimming deep beneath the notes, and immersing the listener in the poignancy and emotion that many others miss. Even when structure and direction seem hopeless to grasp, the music has drive, purpose, and meaning; and at the very least, Reger invites the audience to forget his formal intentions and simply live in the moment. Siegenthaler could not have chosen better collaborators. Lessing is a master artist, boasting outstanding technical command, precise touch, ease of phrasing, and profound understanding; he almost appears to have an open conversation with the composer on stage. The Leipzig Quartet has a fairly transparent sound for a late romantic piece, but the counterpoint in the quintet is crystal clear all through, and the group offers superb teamwork and unity of sentiment. Every note and phrase is full of sadness and nostalgia, and if the sonatas have an air of detachment, even in the best of renditions, the quintet here has palpable warmth and immediacy. The soloist at the heart of the concert, though, is tougher to evaluate. Siegenthaler handles all of the composer s technical requirements ably, and he displays the same high level of knowledge, insight, and awareness of his partners. He infuses his lines with utmost sincerity and sympathy, and he pays great attention to his role in the texture. His sound spreads too easily at loud volumes, and in his effort to be expressive he often loses control of his intonation. That is too bad, because the performers here have a truly rare and extraordinary connection with his Reger and his music. HANUDEL REGER: 2-Piano Pieces Trenkner-Speidel Duo MDG minutes This is labeled as Reger s complete works for two pianos three large works, about 25 minutes each. MDG has impressed me in similar big, complex late-romantic piano duo repertoire: Trenkner-Speidel performing Scheherazade, Bolero and Pacific 231 (MDG , N/D 2010), and Trenkner-Zenker doing Mahler Symphonies 6 and 7 (MDG , J/F 2000). Reger s compositions (from ) owe much to Brahm s Haydn Variations. Two of the three works here are titled Variations and a Fugue using themes by Mozart and Beethoven, The third is Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, similar in style and presentation to the variations, but on a grander scale. The Mozart Variations is one of Reger s most famous works and certainly the most accessible and entertaining of the three here. The theme was originally used by Mozart for a American Record Guide 141

144 set of variations in Piano Sonata 11 in A. The Beethoven theme is Bagatelle Op. 119:11; and owing to its genial nature, Reger s writing follows suit, until the last pages of the Fugue, which build to quite a powerful conclusion. Reger s style tends towards complex, chromatic, even bombastic writing, but these are held in check up until the end. Pianists Evelinde Trenkner and Sontraud Speidel are up to every demand of these outstanding works. Their ensemble is perfect and their experience with large orchestral arrangements allow them to coax an amazing amount of colors and effects from their pianos. I must admit that one of these would be the major piece on a recital, but three of them back to back make for heavy listening. Still, it is good to have all three available in MDG s superior sound, with an informative booklet essay. HARRINGTON REGER: Orchestral Songs & Arrangements Stefanie Iranyi, mz; Rainer Trost, t; Paul Armin Edelmann, bar; Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic/ Gregor Bühl Capriccio minutes Here are six orchestral songs of Max Reger and his orchestrations of songs by Grieg, Brahms, Wolf, and Schubert. If you are familiar with Reger s music primarily through his turgid organ works that often sound like they are on chromatic steroids, you will find this a surprise; they sound like early Schoenberg or other post-romantic composers. Edelmann and Iranyi alternate in the Reger songs; Trost sings two by Grieg; the three alternate in six by Brahms; Edelmann sings four by Wolf; and for Schubert Trost sings three Gesange des Harfners and Erlkönig while each of the others sings one. Reger s own orchestral songs can be judged on their own terms. His orchestration of the others calls for a different judgement. Does what he does with Grieg, Brahms, and Schubert songs sound like how they might have orchestrated them? Not to me. The Wolf songs perhaps fare better. If you re used to hearing more vocal shading, dynamic contrasts, and general subtlety in lieder singing, you will find these renditions more like operatic selections. The singers are good, the orchestral playing is good, the balance of voice and orchestra is good, and Bühl keeps things moving at a sensible and orderly pace. If you re interested in hearing a few of Reger s own orchestral songs and a sampling of his orchestration of mostly familiar songs of others, here s a good chance to do so. For me this is more of a novelty than anything I ll probably turn to again. I prefer the original songs with their piano accompaniment. The percussive agitation of the piano accompaniment sets the anxious tone for Erlkönig in a way strings can t match. The booklet includes notes in German and English translation. Texts are in German only. R MOORE REGER: Solo Violin Sonatas, op 42 Ulf Wallin CPO minutes Max Reger wrote these four sonatas in 1900 and dedicated them to the violin virtuoso Willy Burmester. They are probably the first works of their kind since Bach of a respectable level of compositional skill and emotional engagement. These works obviously have Bach as their model, and this is most obvious in the long variations movement that closes the last sonata. This is impressive music that I find more emotionally engaging than I usually find music by Reger. You can hear the influence of his beloved Brahms and even a smattering of Schumann in the use of themes that sound anthemic or folk-like. Swedish violinist Ulf Wallin is the ideal interpreter of this music. His performances are heartfelt and intelligent, his technique immaculate, and his tone and intonation unfailingly pure. Good sound. MAGIL REZNICEK: Golden Oriole Overture; How Till Eulenspiegel Lives; Violin Concerto; Prelude & Fugue; Night Music Sophie Jaffé; Berlin Radio Symphony/ Marcus Bosch CPO minutes Welcome to another album (see HAHN in this issue) for a recording fanatic who thinks he has everything. Three of these works by Emil von Reznicek ( ) are absolutely gorgeous, one is still fascinatingly beautiful even in our day, and only one is without charm. And they re all played marvelously in recorded sound that is a model of stereo spread with transparent textures and warm resonance on (as the old London LPs used to say) a full frequency range recording. The Golden Oriole Overture (1903) opens with a clarinet solo and other nature sounds 142 January/February 2017

145 (move over, Mahler). Its 11 minutes have echoes of Richard Strauss s unusual modulations, the atmosphere of A Midsummer Night s Dream, and the innocence and playfulness of Humperdinck s Hansel and Gretel. Woodwinds twitter away amidst Marcus Bosch s ability to capture the work s light buoyant style and the orchestra s exquisite playing. How Till Eulenspiegel Lived (1900) is more pure romanticism. The introduction has a double trumpet fanfare (left and right) followed by woodwinds, before the full orchestra introduces the main theme. Wit is the nature of this 14-minute interlude in the form of an overture. It includes a lovely bassoon cadenza, violin and French horn recitative, superb woodwind filigree, and brilliant orchestration, all tied up into Reznicek s unified conception. The strings here are especially gorgeous with their upturned releases at the end of phrases. Rhythms have sharp attack, the timpani are buoyant, and accents are upbeat. Nachtstück (Night Music) (1905) for violin, horn, harp, and strings is nine minutes of sublime languishing in a lush atmospheric pool. The sumptuous textures Sophie Jaffé and Marcus Bosch create are like a dream of love. It is heart-stoppingly beautiful. I can t believe that the 11-minute Prelude and Fugue in C minor (1912) has been kept under wraps since Richard Strauss conducted its world premiere in Berlin in The liner notes say this recording is only its second performance. What a gem! The colorfully orchestrated folk-like prelude has more arpeggiated twittering, but it s the fugue that s distinctive. It s based on a whole-note scale, which results in non-traditional harmonies that Reznicek inventively fits into traditional romantic writing call it pre-hindemith on good behavior. Bosch uses the orchestra s rich palette to capture the fugue s dramatic build and quiet resolution. The only disappointment on the album is the 23-minute Violin Concerto (1918), here in its original Konzertstück form. There s lots of violin twittering with woodwind accompaniment, and far too many arpeggios and modulations that break up any continuity of melodic lines. The concerto is written in a virtuoso style sort of Paganini-lite versus the melodic style of a Brahms or Beethoven. Even the Scottish dance that is the basis for III loses its lyricism because of constantly interrupting arpeggios and modulations. Soloist and orchestra perform very well here, though Jaffé s lean tone with little color mutes any of the concerto s warmth, despite her expressive depth, sweet shaping of phrases, and flexible line. Engineers also place her a bit too forward. But the problem here is the work itself rather than the performance. Despite that, here are four glorious works (out of five) with colorful orchestration, infectious rhythms, lyrical melodies, developmental progressions, highly effective contrasts, and a sense of playfulness and wit, all splendidly performed and gorgeously engineered. The Berlin Radio Symphony has never sounded so good. FRENCH RIBERA: Magnificats & Motets De Profundis/ David Skinner Hyperion :51 This is the debut recording by this all-male choir of 25 singers from Cambridge. The claim is made in the booklet that it presents concerts of Continental Renaissance polyphony at the original low pitch. The repertoire chosen is, except the Beata mater, all first recordings of motets and Magnificats by Bernardino de Ribera, most of whose works are preserved in an incomplete manuscript in the archives of the Toledo Cathedral, where he was maestro de capilla from 1563 through While it is never stated explicitly, it is likely that Bruno Turner was responsible for filling in the missing bits of these works, and he supplied the informative booklet note. Turner places Ribera s musical style between Morales, who was a strong influence, and Victoria. There are very effective passages, such as the 11 repetitions of Absalon, fili mi in Rex autem David, which descends in imitation by semitones, and the intricate canons that conclude the Doxologies of the Magnificats. The blend and tuning of the singers is exemplary, but I would have enjoyed more clarity in diction and polyphony (it helps to follow the texts and translations in the booklet). Even so, this recording of Ribera is another reminder of the untapped repertoire of renaissance polyphony that I hope they will continue to explore. BREWER RIES: Variations; Fantasies; Introduction & Rondo a la Zingaresco Michael Tsalka, fp Naxos minutes One would expect that this noted student of Beethoven would find it difficult to avoid the influence of the master, and that is certainly the case for most of his music. At the same time, one would be hard pressed to find much American Record Guide 143

146 negative to say about such a powerful influence. Interest in Ries has been reviving in the past several years, and most of these rarities are first recordings. While Ries falls short of the Bonn master in sheer genius, Nothing here is inept, uninteresting, or pure thievery. The use of a fortepiano might deter some listeners, and the three instruments used here vary only slightly in sound. At worst, they can sound boxy and clumsy. Variations on La Sentinelle and Variations on The Old Highland Laddie are pleasant enough without challenging the listener, and the Variations on a Cossack Song is mildly entertaining. Ries certainly chose simplistic themes to elaborate. The fantasies The Dream, Op. 49, and Resignation, Op.109, are made of sturdier stuff. The first is somewhat brooding, with an unstated program. Resignation follows the strophes of Schiller s poem about a departed who now seeks relief from his lifetime piety (particularly concerning women), but is denied these pleasures by his eternal maker. It s all very expressive even elevating in an obvious way. The Introduction and Rondo represents a technically brilliant, late example of his love for the wild and exotic. Perhaps so, but I would definitely not look for anything to start the blood rushing or the adrenaline flowing. The sound is good, and Tsalka does his non-exciting best with the goods in hand. It s not bad especially if you are exploring the long forgotten byways of the keyboard literature. BECKER RIES: Cello Sonata; see Collections RODRIGO: Songs Jose Ferrero, t; Marco Socias, g Naxos minutes Joaquin Rodrigo s songs for voice and guitar may not be as well known as his instrumental music, but they rank among his finest efforts. The works heard here come from 60 years of his career, covering a rich stylistic range. The accompaniment for all but 7 of these 24 songs is guitar transcriptions by Socias, recorded here for the first time. Less than a year after this was recorded in Spain in May 2015, Jose Ferrero died in his home in Chinchilla from a heart attack at age 43. This recording is issued in his memory. The program includes 7 of Rodrigo s 10 settings of short and concentrated poems by Antonio Machado. The longest work of the program at 6:29 is Aranjuez, Ma Pensée, Rodrigo s 1988 adaptation of the Adagio from his 1939 Concierto de Aranjuez, with text in French by his wife recalling their memories of life in Paris and of their many happy walks around the park and gardens of the Baroque Palace of Aranjuez on the outskirts of Madrid. Ferrero had a sweet and vibrant voice that was ideal for these songs. Most of them are gentle and reflective, and he sings with appropriately varied dynamics, much of the time in mezza voce. His full range of dynamics is displayed beautifully in Aranjuez, Ma Pensée. He effectively reduces his voice to a mere whisper at the end of Tu Voz y Tu Mano on the words my heart is waiting for you, and his soft singing in Romance de Durandarte is exquisite. Socias s sensitive and expressive accompaniment is exemplary. Notes by the performers and the composer supply useful background on the songs. Naxos refers you to their website for texts and translations. R MOORE RONTGEN: Songs Robert Muuse, bar; Micha van Weers, p Challenge [SACD] 64 minutes Julius Röntgen ( ), member of a distinguished German musical family, was a pianist, conductor, concert organizer, cofounder of the first conservatory in Amsterdam, and one of the pillars of musical life in the Netherlands from 1877 on. His catalog of compositions is extensive and includes 22 symphonies, 16 solo concertos, 12 piano trios, 20 string quartets, 15 string trios, and many vocal works. Our index lists 18 reviews of his instrumental music, but only one review of his vast body of vocal music Aus Goethes Faust for soloists, chorus, organ, and orchestra. In his time, he was a dominant musical figure; in our time his music, apart from these recordings, is mostly unfamiliar and is seldom performed. Röntgen was a close friend of Brahms and Grieg, and you can hear their influence in his music. He maintained his Late Romantic style, though later in life he experimented with atonal music. In his final eight years he composed 100 works, mostly chamber music and songs. Röntgen was best known as an accompanist to famous soloists of his time. Baritone Johannes Messchaert, then one of the foremost singers, championed his music and 144 January/February 2017

147 selected him as his accompanist. A close friendship and performing relationship developed between them that would endure for 33 years. The 25 songs of this program were composed from 1889 to 1928 and are presented in order of composition. There is a rich variety of styles, from his earlier Grieg-like songs to his later more intense and introspective ones. His portrayal of an annoying hen in a railroad station is amusing with its intimations of a Viennese waltz. I can hear references to other composers in his music, whether intentional or not, as though fragments of what he played as an accompanist found their way into his own music. His writing often sounds derivative of at least four composers I could identify. The through-composed ballad Prometheus the longest song of the program (7:48) with the protagonist s raging against Zeus carried largely in the strikingly intense accompaniment has a very Brahmsian quality. (In 1887 Röntgen performed Brahms s second piano concerto with the composer conducting.) The influence of Mahler is unmistakable in Röntgen s Chinese Songs of 1916 that use the same Hans Bethge texts Mahler used in Das Lied von der Erde though never approaching Mahler s achievement. (One of the songs sounds like a Mahler Wunderhorn song. Another sounds like the chorus of blessed boys from the Eighth Symphony.) He sets the same Nietzsche text ( O Mensch! Gib Acht! ) Mahler used in his Third Symphony but without Mahler s probing depth. The final song of the program, Charon (2011), an English language song with text by the composer s brother-in-law, may be a reference to Mahler s Kindertotenlieder with its words But art thou a small and tender child. The performances are sufficiently good to give Röntgen s songs a fair hearing. I don t find Muuse s slightly nasal vocal timbre endearing, but he pays careful attention to the text with illuminating use of dynamics and vocal shading. Weers handles the challenges of the songs adeptly, particularly in the lengthy Prometheus. Notes, texts, translations. R MOORE The real power of junk thought lies in its status as a centrist phenomenon, fueled by the American credo of tolerance that places all opinions on equal footing and makes little effort to separate fact from opinion. --Susan Jacoby ROOST: Spartacus; Poeme Montagnard; Sinfonietta Osaka Philharmonic Winds/ Jan Van der Roost Naxos minutes A few years ago, a recording of wind-band music by composer-conductor Jan van der Roost was a knockout (May/June 2014). They were epic pieces about big subjects especially Sinfonia Hungarica, which portrayed legendary Hungarian leaders like Attila the Hun. This new release opens with the heroic, cinematic, thunderous Spartacus (1988). Next comes the 17-minute Poeme Montagnard (1997), which is quiet for a while, but then becomes big. One delightful touch is a passage for recorder quartet, which takes us back a few centuries. Its music is then passed around various sections of the band, the rhythm becomes more irregular, and soon we are looking at the distant past through a modern lens. The album ends with a four-movement, 24-minute Sinfonietta (2004), which bears the subtitle Suito Sketches (Suito is a nickname for Osaka, Japan). Here we find the same elements: an impressive story, huge sounds, surprising harmonic twists. All of this is wonderful music, and Roost s band gives it superb readings. It must be a treat for them to play such larger-than-life music, and to be conducted by the composer. KILPATRICK ROPARTZ: Violin Sonatas 1+3; Cello Sonata 1 Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabedian, v; Henri Demarquette, vc; Francois Kerdoncuff, p Timpani minutes Guy Ropartz ( ) was a Breton, a student of Cesar Franck and others. Long-lived as he was, his style maintained the lyrical romantic atmosphere of the 19th Century and is none the worse for that. He was a composer of conviction and beauty. This completes Timpani s coverage of the sonatas, unless there are more that I don t know about. Volume 1 was covered by Joseph Magil (N/D 2014) who liked it a lot, as I do this one. If it is the violin sonatas that interest you most, Elaine Fine much enjoyed Cantoreggi s recording (Pavane 7491; J/F 2006) of all three. This series is well played and recorded warmly. D MOORE American Record Guide 145

148 ROSE: Choral Pieces Feast Song for Saint Cecilia; 3 Addison Anthems; Evening Canticles in C minor; Chichester Service; Chimes; Upon Westminster Bridge; If I Could Tell You; Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount; Lines for the Magdalen Choir; 2 Carols; Behold, I Make All Things New; The Lord s Prayer; Lilia Agricolae; Lord, I Have Loved; O God, Who Didst Give the Law to Moses; Praise ye the Lord Estonian Philharmonic Choir; Ene Salumäe, org/ Gregory Rose Toccata minutes Bernard Rose ( ) was a highly respected church musician and composer who spent most of his career as Organist and Informator Choristarum at Madaglen College, Oxford, where he was renowned as a choir trainer and pedagogue. He composed mainly sacred works, both for the Magdalen Choir and on commission, and was the editor of the complete works of Thomas Tomkins. He is best remembered today for his widely used setting of the Preces and Responses for Morning Prayer and Evensong. The music is elaborate, beautifully crafted, set to splendid texts, but as a whole does not sustain my interest. It is difficult, vocally exacting, academic, and lacks any compelling emotional engagement. The excellent choir, conducted by Rose s son, produces a beautiful sound and delivers terrific performances with some fine solo singing. The booklet has notes on the composer, music, and texts. DELCAMP ROTA: Chamber Pieces Rocco Parisi, cl; Andrea Favalessa, vc; Gabriele Rota, p Brilliant minutes Since Claudio Monteverdi of the late Renaissance, Italy has produced many of the leading theater composers of Western music. Even as Mozart and Wagner offered fierce competition, Italian opera remained unbowed; and when the 20th Century splintered some of that tradition, several Italian composers found their calling in film. Near the top or probably right at the top stands Nino Rota and his memorable collaborations with directors Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, and Francis Ford Coppola. Yet Rota also left behind a large catalog of fine chamber music for keyboard, strings, and winds; and in recent years several endeavors have been launched to bring this music to light. Here, noted Italian musicians Rocco Parisi, Andrea Favalessa, and Gabriele Rota team up for a Rota chamber recital: the Clarinet Trio (1973), the Clarinet Sonata in D (1945), the Allegro Danzante (1977) for clarinet and piano, The Spirit in the Old House (1950) for solo clarinet after the incidental music for the Ugo Betti play; and the Variations and Fugue in 12 Keys on the Name of Bach (1950) for solo piano. The performances have energy and expressive intent, but much of the playing is too rough around the edges. Parisi sports a thin, amateurish sound that often spreads; a choppy and forced vibrato; bad intonation; and poor sonic control, especially in the high register. Favalessa has the poise of an experienced soloist and an incredibly wide dynamic range, but his sound sometimes comes across as coarse or strained, particularly at loud volumes. Gabriele Rota is given his introduction amidst the turbulence of the Trio as Parisi and Favalessa compete for space in a crowded texture. Yet his strong touch, clean technique, and full tone distinguish him at once, and later his intense and vigorous personality emerges fully in the Variations and Fugue. At the same time, his playing has a persistent percussive quality, and his volume level stays mostly between mezzo-forte and fortissimo. Some of the composer s writing calls for this, namely in its dark and modernist turns; but other passages have a romantic and introspective character, and though Rota endeavors to paint a contrasting soundscape, he never quite flips the switch. HANUDEL ROTT: Symphony Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg/ Constantin Trinks Profil minutes At age 16, Hans Rott ( ) was studying at the Vienna Conservatory. By the time he was 18 (1876), his parents were dead, and he had visited Bayreuth, where he saw the Ring under the auspices of his local Wagner Society. The next year he graduated from the conservatory as a favorite organ student of Anton Bruckner, then returned to study composition with Franz Krenn. He lived in the church where he was an organist. There he entertained friends, including Gustav Mahler, who was also in Krenn s class. In 1878, Rott s entry in a composition competition was met with derision, partly over its Wagner associations, to which Bruckner rose in protest: Stop laughing, gentlemen! 146 January/February 2017

149 You will hear great things from this man in the future. Bruckner later tried to find Rott a decent job but failed, leaving the young man to fend for himself as an organist and teacher. Meanwhile, he expanded his failed competition entry into his Symphony in E, which he completed in He was offered a decent job in the Alsatian city of Mulhausen, but in an effort to stay in Vienna, he applied to the state for a financial grant and asked conductor Hans Richter to perform his new symphony. Neither came through. He also entered his symphony in a competition and played it for Johannes Brahms, one of the judges. Brahms brusquely rejected it, complaining of its Wagnerisms and the fugal theme in the finale, which resembled a melody from his own First Symphony (not so obvious). Rott had no option but to leave Vienna for Mulhausen, but Brahms s rejection had broken a young man who was not that stable to begin with. On the train, Rott pointed a gun at a fellow passenger who had lit up a cigarette, and ordered him to stop smoking because the vengeful Brahms had stashed dynamite in the car. The incident landed him in a mental hospital in Vienna, where he continued to compose. Six months later, the state approved Rott s earlier request for a grant, but it was too late. Rott would remain hospitalized until he died from tuberculosis in By then he had destroyed many of his works, but two friends saved about 80 of them, one of which was this symphony. It is bursting with ideas, not all of them developed according to the rules. Vienna was conflicted between the alleged conservatism of Brahms and the vision of Wagner, and Rott s work offended both camps. Mahler examined the score in It is impossible to estimate what music has lost in him. His genius soars to such heights even in his first symphony, written at the age of 20, and which makes him the founder of the new symphony as I understand it, though he did not reach entirely what he wanted. It is as if someone swings back to throw a javelin as far as he can and does not quite hit the goal. Yet I know what he is aiming at he and I seem like two fruits from the same tree, brought forth by the same soil, nourished by the same air. He could have been so infinitely much to me and perhaps the two of us together would have fairly exhausted the content of this new age that was dawning for music. Mahler never conducted the work, for reasons that are not clear. What is clear is that much of Mahler s music reflects Rott s symphony, written eight years before Mahler s First. This is a great work, unwieldy though it may be. What kind of composer might he have become had his life been better and longer? Would he have eclipsed Mahler, or would the two of them, as Mahler suggested, have combined to take music in a different direction than Mahler alone had taken it? Several of Rott s works have been recorded, and there are 11 or 12 issues of the symphony, 7 reviewed in ARG. This new performance led by Constantin Trinks is one of the best. It is thought out, beautifully played with moderate tempos, and nicely recorded. Its beginning is songlike, hushed in its way, and solemn. Trinks controls build-ups well, both in the approach to a march passage and later when things open up for the closing chorale. II begins with a touch of Parsifal and like I is warm and solemn, with controlled, balanced climaxes. Everything is well paced, and the long hymn to the end leads nicely to the chorale. The vigorous opening dance to III catches its spirit very well. What would seem to be a trio opens contemplatively with good balance between strings and clarinets. The horn solo is excellent, and the trumpet s bird call ear-catching. That trio becomes almost a movement in itself. In the music anticipating the fugue from Mahler 5 the strings produce a fine resonance, and almost everything else is festive, yet controlled. The finale is grand. As Mr O Connor put it, The movement opens with pizzicato strings picking out a theme, then a majestic series of overlapping horn fanfares originating in Bruckner, and carrying us forward to Mahler. There are bits of III in the early parts and a Wagnerian chorale harmonization. The several solos are beautifully played, and the horns are resplendent as they approach a grand orchestral tutti. From there, fanfare figures culminate in a big climax. The oboe solo that follows turns inward, and a yearning string melody emerges before proceeding to exaltation. As for that Brahms subject of the fugue, Rott treated his melody differently than Brahms did his, repeating and changing orchestration, as well as laying textures more than developing. The result is majestic. This is music that is hard to control over a long expanse, but the recordings I know do it well. Gerhard Samuel s pioneering one is solid, clean and detailed, and its American directness works well. Trinks is the most Austrian and may be the best of the lot. Heard right American Record Guide 147

150 after the Samuel Trinks is about a minute longer it may seem to unfold too slowly, but taken by itself that impression fades. The sound is good, and there is a lot of interesting material in Profil s booklet notes. Gerald Fox s extensive review of the Samuel pointed out many of the parallels between Rott s symphony and Mahler s music (Jan/Feb 1990). Steve Haller discussed many in his review of Sebastian Weigel s recording (Sept/Oct 2004). He also raved about Leif Segerstam s performance, which is the slowest by far. Haller was particularly impressed with the powerful brass of Segerstam s Norkopping Symphony, which dominate that performance to an amazing extent, perhaps too much. Haller noted that some people thought the brass seemed strong because of a shortage of strings, but he believes that the brass are simply powerful. Perhaps, but in listening, I wondered if parts were doubled in many places. Segerstam is an irresistible wallow. The much faster Hansjorg Albrecht is the anti-segerstam, and it works, too (Jan/Feb 2015). I don t know the others covered in ARG: Weigel, Davies (Nov/Dec 2002), and Ruckwardt (Mar/Apr 2014). HECHT ROUSSEL: Bacchus & Ariane Suites; DE- BUSSY: Epigraphes Antiques; POULENC: Les Biches Suite Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Kazuki Yamada Pentatone [SACD] 76 minutes I ve gotten to know Roussel in the last few years through The Spider s Feast and a few other pieces, and Bacchus and Ariane is fairly new to me. The first time I listened to it, I wrote down two adjectives: blustery and primitive. I then looked at Roger Hecht s review of Stephane Deneve with the Scottish National Orchestra (Naxos , Nov/Dec 2007), and he wrote, I ve always thought of this piece...as a cross between wild primitivism and impressionism. As Mr Vroon has pointed out, it can come across as crude if the conductor spends too much time with the whip and the orchestra s sound tends even slightly toward the brash. He noted that the Deneve avoided that and recommended the Naxos as a no-brainer. I ordered the Naxos, and, wow, is it good! Oddly enough, it made the Pentatone more approachable, too; when I returned to it, it seemed to have mellowed. It s still not quite at the level of the Naxos, though it is close. The Naxos is a standard CD but the sound is richer, and Deneve s pacing puts it in a class of its own. Debussy took seven interludes from his incidental music to Les Chansons de Bilitis and arranged them for piano duet, intending to orchestrate them. He never did, so Ernest Ansermet made this version in the 1930s. They are concise and enticing, and a few are dreamily open-ended. Les Biches, roughly translated as the bunnies (the human kind), is a ballet depicting three bachelors enjoying some good times in post-war France. The music is sensuous but not decadent, certainly less lascivious and garish than Gaite Parisienne. The playing is warm and refined, though after hearing Deneve in the Roussel, I would love to hear what he could do with the Debussy and Poulenc. Notes are in English, French, and German. ESTEP ROZYCKI, FRIEDMAN: Piano Quintets Jonathan Plowright; Szymanowski Quartet Hyperion minutes This is the second disc of Polish chamber music by these musicians, the first including the excellent piano quartet and quintet of Zelenski and Zabreski (Hyperion 67905). In the realm of chamber music, a line can be drawn from Chopin through Zelenski to the Scharwenka brothers and Paderewski that ends finally a generation later at the composers here, Ludomir Rozycki ( ) and Ignacy Friedman ( ). Both their quintets, from 1913 and 1918, bear no trace of Szymanowski s radical exoticism and dissonance that would inspire the aggressively modernist generation to come. Both are in a designated key, C-minor, are in a solid late-romantic idiom, and are well crafted chamber music with a good blend of symphonic heft and conversational intricacy. Rozycki s quintet is in three 14-minute movements, fast-slow-fast, but much of the music in outer movements is expansive, the harmonic movement leisurely, the longbreathed and hypnotically repetitive melodies soaring above purling, Chopinian piano figures. The sonata-form I broods and sighs, the first melody group in minor, second in major, both groups gentle and melancholy; and the development is also gentle and ruminative, like Schubert. The Adagio (II) is a smoldering elegy with passing funeral march allusions, which reveals one weakness of Rozycki s craft: his sometimes predictable melodic transforma- 148 January/February 2017

151 tions. The rondo III at first dispels the pervasive gloom with a jaunty theme, but then revisits at length the funereal II and restless I. Conventional dramaturgy since the days of Beethoven promises a triumphant coda, and Rozycki delivers, after a satisfying and convincing struggle. It s a long work, but doesn t feel too long, and is the stronger of the quintets here. Friedman s quintet is Germanic more Brahms, Strauss, and Reger than Chopin or Paderewski. The 15-minute sonata I contrasts a surging and desperate minor-mode first subject with one of those amiable and gemutlich second subjects familiar from Brahms and Schubert. The development is cheerful, weaving evanescent wisps of the dramatic first subject group through the gently ambling secondary melodies. II, also 15 minutes, is eight variations and a coda on a mournful theme, the variations exploring a nocturne, waltz, and barcarole, with a penultimate slow-burn fugue (on a long and discursive subject) that, rather than intensifying over its course, slowly relaxes and dissolves into a three-minute ostinato coda that s like the sun setting behind a wall of hazy clouds in autumn, mesmerizing and magical. I wish Friedman ended his quintet there but, bowing to convention, he tacks on the obligatory finale, a structurally confusing rondo Epilog revisiting themes from I and II in a hodgepodge that adds up to nothing. It s certainly the weakest movement but one can stop the CD player after II. Performances are enthralling patient and pensive. We re lucky to have such talented and ardent performers take on this rare repertory. The sound is to Hyperion s usual high standard, great balance among all players. More, please! WRIGHT RUBBRA: Choral Pieces Tenebrae Nocturns; 3 Motets op 76; 5 Motets op 37; Mass, Cantuariensis The Sixteen/ Harry Christophers Coro minutes Edmund Rubbra ( ) is one of those unjustly neglected composers. Aside from his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A flat, the carol Dormi Jesu and three hymn tunes commissioned for the Cambridge Hymnal, his music is little known and mostly forgotten. Though he is best-known for his orchestral music, including 11 symphonies, choral music was a constant through his career and reflects his strong spiritual convictions. Rubbra himself said the highest function of music is to release one from personal preoccupation in order to know something of the Divine forces that shape all existence. This is a marvelous program beautifully sung by The Sixteen. I was particularly entranced by the extraordinary Tenebrae Nocturns, which display the composer s love of counterpoint, his harmonically challenging use of tonality, a subtle use of dynamics, and fluid vocal writing informed by the texts. This is a splendid introduction to a composer whose choral music deserves to be better known. Notes on the composer, the music, texts, and translations. DELCAMP SAINT-SAENS: Piano Quintet; Quartet 1 Andrea Lucchesini, Cremona Quartet Audite minutes The Piano Quintet has not been recorded often; the same composer s Piano Quartet has been recorded more. I have three recordings of the quintet, and I have grown to like it a lot. The Hyperion recording is British Nash Ensemble and dominated by the piano (Sept/Oct 2005). It is very straightforward but still quite pleasant. The Naxos (Sept/Oct 2013, coupled with the Piano Quartet) has excellent piano work from Cristina Ortiz and very sweet, sensitive playing by the Fine Arts Quartet (American). This one is more passionate than the others, and the pianist may be the best of the three. It is never rushed, but it comes across the way Italian males tend to do: eager and arduous but not especially tender. I like it! But I will need to keep the Naxos for the beautiful contrast. Certainly this recording deepened my respect for the music: there s more here than I realized. The string quartet (No. 1 in E minor) also seems to be a better piece than I had thought probably again it s the Italian passion and the German engineering. It still has some boring moments; Saint-Saens often wrote almost automatically. This is a beautiful recording. VROON SAINT-SAENS, CHAUSSON: Piano Quartets Schubert Ensemble Chandos minutes Saint-Saens and Chausson are a study in contrasts, one a prolific and financially successful career composer and child prodigy, the other a American Record Guide 149

152 self-critical perfectionist who took up composing in his late 20s and, thanks to an inheritance, never wanted for money. They make apposite disc mates, the slick, charming, superficial professional complemented by the serious and always profound dilettante. Both quartets, written 20 years apart, start off cheerful and animated, then turn to the minor mode from II through IV, finally concluding in a sunny major, reprising themes from I. Saint-Saens s harmonic language is of course simpler, as are his developments, and the serenely triumphant coda of IV is more asserted than hard-earned and exultant like Chausson s. Chausson s harmonies are more slippery and chromatic than the conservative Saint-Saens, his forms plastic and opaque, like Wagner filtered through Franck. A couple recent Saint-Saens recordings pair the quartet with his quintet (Naxos , well received by the Editor, Sept/Oct 2013 see also above) and his early unpublished piano quartet plus the Barcarole (MDG , Nov/Dec 2009). On the latter SACD, the Mozart Quartet employs a beguiling variety of textures and I prefer it to the Schubert Ensemble here, but the program is just too much Saint-Saens I want more red meat, not one pastry after another. So, though the Schuberts are strait-laced and sober next to the effervescent Fine Arts Quartet on Naxos or imaginative Mozarts on MDG, they satisfy me, and their inclusion of Chausson is perceptive and sensitive. Also, their habit of clinging to the first note of phrases wrings a bit more pathos and heart out of the airy Saint-Saens than others. Sound is gorgeous. I ve found my new favorite recording of the Chausson piano quartet. WRIGHT SALVATORE: Organ-Alternatim Masses Federico Del Sordo, org; Nova Schola Gregoriana; In Dulci Jubilo/ Alberto Turco Brilliant minutes In the last issue of ARG (N/D 2016) I reviewed a very fine program of organ-alternatim masses composed by Claudio Merulo and performed by exactly these same vocal ensembles, organist, and conductor (Brilliant 95145). This program, of music by Giovanni Salvatore (c 1629-c 1688), is just as fine and offers both a complement and a contrast to the Merulo recording. Conductor Alberto Turco has a deep connection to this music, and his command of the repertoire brings these organalternatim masses vividly to life. Although the liturgical purpose, use of chant, and alternatim structure are very similar to Merulo, Salvatore s organ music is composed very much in the Neapolitan style. Some passages are strikingly chromatic, and the chromaticism is accentuated (especially to modern listeners, attuned to equal temperament) when played as here in meantone tuning, with large and small semitones alternating to produce a colorful and rather acidic or tart flavor. Salvatore s fidelity to the Neapolitan tradition, exemplified by the music of Ascanio Mayone and Giovanni Maria Trabaci, is particularly evident in the complex development of counterpoint that moves from the locus classicus of the Ricercar to the greater stylistic luxurians that Salvatore favoured in many of the versi he included in the Masses. Primarily secular genres such as capricci and canzone francesi were often played after the Epistle, and toccatas and other types of composition are also included. This is virtuosic and idiomatic Italian organ music, extremely well played by Federico Del Sordo. The organ, in Rieti (central Italy) at the San Pietro Martire church, was built in 1678 by GB Boccanera and restored by Emilio Piccinelli in The high quality of the whole production, including fine notes, photos, organ specification, and bios, is testament to the skills of all involved. C MOORE SATIE: Piano Pieces Sports & Divertissements; 6 Gnossiennes; Messe des Pauvres; Sonatine Bureaucratique; Pieces Froides; 2 Preludes; Petite Ouverture; Le Piccadilly; Rag-Time Parade; La Diva de l Empire Marcel Worms Zefir minutes 7 Gnossiennes; 3 Gymnopedies; Sonatine Bureaucratique; 5 Waltzes; Chapitres Tournes; Prelude; Avant-Dernieres Penses; Le Piccadilly; Croquis & Agaceries; Embryons Desseches; Descriptions Automatiques; Heures Seculaires & Instantanees Noriko Ogawa BIS minutes Erik Satie ( ) is a very popular classical composer, both with pianists and listeners. His music is agreeable and easy to listen to, yet quirky and sophisticated. The technical requirements placed on pianists are not excessive, but the musical demands abound. Almost everything on the two discs here is groups of short (1-2 minute) pieces, only occasionally exceeding 3 minutes. I have many single discs 150 January/February 2017

153 and two box sets of complete piano music (Thibaudet, 5CD, Decca , Nov/Dec 2003 & Ariagno, 6CD, Brilliant 93559, Sept/Oct 2008). As much as I enjoy Satie, one CD is usually plenty for a single listening session. On a few occasions in the past month, I listened to these two discs back to back and found my attention waning towards the end. Marcel Worms (b. 1951) is a Dutch pianist with a number of solo and chamber CDs to his credit. He has assembled an excellent and varied collection of Satie pieces. The variety of colors he uses is captured with a beautiful piano sound. His extensive program notes are unusually informative and well written. Were it not for two incorrect notes in Sports et Divertissements and the absence of Satie s most popular Gymnopedies, I would call this the perfect disc to get if you only wanted one Satie CD. Ogawa s multi-volume Debussy piano music on BIS was a best of the year choice back in With this disc, she is beginning a Satie series played on an 1890 Erard piano. BIS has always been a top choice for piano sound and booklet contents. The older piano sounds a little more brittle than a modern piano not as mellow and balanced as the Steinway on the Worms recording. Ogawa also plays the music a bit more forcefully, and does include the Gymnopedies. If forced to pick just one, it would be Worms recording. One of the incorrect notes that bothered me is in Tango from Sports et Divertissements and is also played by Thibaudet, so I am guessing that there is a published version with an error. I used a copy of Satie s very clear manuscript when I played this piece. The other note is really a reversal of two notes in Satie s quote of Le Marseillaise at the end of The Races. I can forgive these because the remainder of the program is so good. Ogawa has a different approach to Satie, and I certainly look forward to her continuing series. HARRINGTON SCHMIDT: Hussar Variations; Fantasia; Chaconne Jasminka Stancul, p; Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic/ Alexander Rumpf Capriccio minutes Viennese composer (born in Slovakia) Franz Schmidt ( ) began his musical studies as a piano student of his mother and was considered something of a prodigy. Later he studied composition with Robert Fuchs and cello with Ferdinand Hellmesberger at the Vienna Conservatory. He was also interested in the organ. In 1896 he joined the Vienna Philharmonic and Court Opera as a cellist, remaining with the Philharmonic until 1911 and the Opera until After that, he devoted himself to composing and teaching cello, piano, and theory at the Vienna Academy of Music, retiring in Schmidt s music was unknown for many years because its composer was under a cloud of Nazism. He had voted yes on the Anschluss referendum and began a propagandistic cantata called German Resurrection but died before finishing it. Robert Wagner did him the favor of completing the work, which was performed in Vienna in As annotator Christian Heindl points out, all this was going on when Schmidt was in ill health in the last year of his life. Beyond that, he was politically naive and not known for anti-semitism. Whatever the case, his music has finally emerged, particularly his oratorio, Book of Seven Seals, the opera Notre Dame, four symphonies, chamber music, and several organ works. The Fantasia for piano and orchestra was composed in 1899 but lost for a century. It was first played in 2013; this is its first recording. It may be the best of Schmidt s three works for this combination, but of particular interest is that it contains the roots of Notre Dame, completed in 1904 (or 1906). The delightful, somewhat Mendelssohnian passage that makes up the first of its three sections is heard right after the opera s prologue and a few places thereafter, including the Christmas Carnival music. The second section is a long, gorgeous, and silvery orchestral passage first heard in the opera when the military officer Phoebus sings about his love for the Gypsy, Esmeralda. It reappears later as an Intermezzo (without voice this time and often heard on orchestra concerts) before the final scene of Act I. Schmidt s mother and paternal grandfather were Hungarian, and there is a Hungarian and Gypsyish strain to this passage. The piano concludes with a sonorous cadenza that muses on this material before joining hands with the orchestra to finish the section. Three big orchestral chords set off a spirited, good natured finale that would not be uncomfortable in a major concerto. Schmidt s huge orchestration of his Chaconne in C-sharp minor for organ (1925, with the orchestra version in D minor, 1931) is the most overtly impressive work here. It is almost a tone poem. The five-note theme works its American Record Guide 151

154 way from the basses through the orchestra for a grand and majestic 27 minutes. Quite startling is how the piece changes mood about half-way through to something resembling a scherzo, with the winds carrying the theme over darting and trilling string accompaniment. At one point you can almost hear an organ in flowing passages for clarinets and flutes. The brass and strings then stride forward in grand fashion, and the chaconne continues through the orchestra with a variety of techniques. (Tchaikovsky would appreciate the pizzicato string passage.) The drawn-out, massive ending lets out all the stops. Like Schmidt s Beethoven Variations and Dohnanyi s Nursery Variations, Variations on a Hussar s Song (1931) begins with a long, contemplative introduction that seems independent of the main theme. It is also the strongest part of the work. What follows is 15 variations and a coda all divided into four groups. The Hungarian-rooted theme is in a pronounced duple rhythm, similar to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with a tail phrase at the end. Its heavyish metric quality does not disappear quite enough into Schmidt s working of it, meaning you will be more conscious of the theme than you should be. The 11th and 12th variations in the strings are the high points, partly because they contain a hint of that glowing section I noted in the Fantasia. This piece is repetitious sometimes, and that tail can be annoying. My feeling that Hussars is not among Schmidt s best goes against its reputation. These performances are first-rate. Pianist Jasminka Stancul has the rich touch and technique for the Fantasia. Conductor Rumpf is solid, and the orchestra has the right German sound. I know of two other Hussars: Hans Bauer (part of a collection of music by Franz Schrecker and Ferruccio Busoni, Jan/Feb 2011) and Vassili Sinaisky. Rumpf moves the piece along better than Bauer, and I like his slightly faster tempo and brighter orchestral sound. I don t know the Sinaisky, but Don O Connor, who likes the work more than I do, praised it. Sinaisky also offers the competition in the Chaconne (Nov/Dec 2010). He and Rumpf are good, and tempos are similar; but again, Rumpf moves the music along better. I also prefer the warmer German string sound, and Capriccio s recording, which brings out more detail from the depths of the orchestra. The notes are good and to the point. Lovers of Franz Schmidt should not hesitate. When you buy this, please put in a plug for someone to reissue Schmidt s opera Fredigundis, or better yet, to make a new recording. HECHT SCHMITZ, C: 5 Miniatures; Rhapsody; The Playful Lark; SCHMITZ, A: Brass Trio; Hexachord Fantasy; Tango Fantasy; SCHMITZ, E: Reflections; Trio; Big Changes Ahead Various performers Ravello minutes Quite a family of composers, the Schmitzes. Father Alan is a theory-composition professor at the University of Northern Iowa, son Christopher a theory-composition professor at Mercer University, and son Eric a jazz professor at SUNY Oswego. The album offers three works by each, starting with Christopher s Five Miniatures for alto saxophone and mallet percussion, which has a pensive Prelude, harddriving Wind Corridor, eerie Water Diamonds, whimsical Night Tower, and goodnatured Bear the Bee. Monty Cole and Marcus Reddick are the fine saxophonist and percussionist. Also by Christopher is a 10-minute Rhapsody, where violinist Amy Schwatz Moretti and pianist Elizabeth Pridgen engaging in meaningful dialog. Pridgen is also pianist in The Playful Lark, where flutist Kelly Via plays soulfully. Alan Schmitz s six-minute Brass Trio is given a rather studious reading by the Northern Iowa Faculty Brass Trio (trumpeter Randy Grabowski, horn player Yu-Ting Su, and trombonist Anthony Williams). They are probably doing what the composer wants, but I found myself wanting something exciting to happen. An eight-minute Hexachord Fantasy seems less restrained, possibly because the harmonic language is more dissonant, or maybe because of the interesting instrumentation: flute (Emily Duncan), clarinet (Thiago Ancelmo de Souza), violin (Leonardo Perez), cello (Anthony Loughlin), piano (Korak Lertpibulchai), and two percussionists (Andrew Thierauf and Wannapha Yannavut). David Gompper conducts. The nine-minute Tango Fantasy, played by violist Julia Bullard and guitarist Todd Seelye, has both dance and pensive musings. Eric Schmitz s jazz proclivity is clearly heard in the 10-minute Reflections, a thoughtful work with fine solos by English horn player (yes, jazz English horn) Charles Pillow, electric guitarist Bob Sneider, bassist Jeff Campbell, and drummer Rich Thompson. A lovely Trio makes us aware that flugelhorn (Brian Shaw), 152 January/February 2017

155 English horn (Andrew Blanke), and cello (Hyugrai Kim) can make remarkably similar sounds and blend quite beautifully. Jazz trombonist Michael Davis plays all four parts and improvises expertly in the lively, Latin-flavored Big Changes Ahead for tenor and bass trombones. KILPATRICK SCHNITTKE: Violin Pieces; Suite in the Old Style Roman Mints; Katya Apekisheva, p Quartz 2116 [2CD] 89 minutes Alfred Schnittke is not as fashionable as he was in the Perestroika era, but he remains an important composer. Sonatas 1 and 3 are gruesome and bleak. 1 announces a renunciation of serialism and the beginnings of polystylism, with references to Brahms, Wagner, and Beethoven, garishly distorted and crushed by dissonance. 3, a cry of despair, written after Schnittke had suffered a sroke, has minimal gestures and skeletal textures. The Adagio has a hushed, grim beauty. Here the polystylistic approach disappears ; what is left is an encounter with the Grim Reaper. The rest of the program, including a polka and a setting of Stille Nacht, is a huge relief. Gratulationsrondo, a Mozartean romp, is played with great delicacy. The neo-baroque Suite in the Old Style puts us in a welcome world of charm and innocence, with new colors supplied by Olga Martynova on harpsichord and the percussion duo of Andrey Doynikov and Dmitri Vlassik. The sizzling ballet is a particular delight. Olga Martynova s harpsichord is wonderfully stylish in the Minuet, and the surreal, bell-like sonorities in the Pantomine are enchanting. Schnittke did have wit and was capable of moments of levity in a dark world. Roman Mints plays all these pieces with love and authority; listen to Stille Nacht, which begins straightforwardly, then gets spooky and sinister. Katya Apekisheva is the superb pianist. Violinist Mark Lubotsky and Irina Schnittke, the composer s widow, offer strong competition for Sonata 3 on their Ondine recording. 3 actually opens this set, for good reason: Mints wanted the album to move from darkness to light; presenting it chronologically, with the grim Sonata 3 at the end, would probably drive some in the audience to kill themselves. SULLIVAN SCHOENBERG: Verklarte Nacht; see Collections SCHUBERT: Songs Roderick Williams, bar; Iain Burnside, p Delphian minutes This is the second volume of Burnside s survey of Schubert s songs for Delphian, each volume to be recorded with a different singer. Almost all of the 22 songs in this thoroughly satisfying recital are among Schubert s most familiar, including seven Rellstab songs from Schwanengesang. This wisely designed program comes with the title Der Wanderer and presents songs of journeying, farewell, and human fallibility; songs that are more reflective alternate with songs that are more energetic. For this volume Burnside has employed a most felicitous singer in Williams. The two have collaborated often and with laudable results. His performance of English songs has been exemplary. This release makes it abundantly clear that his gifts as a lieder interpreter are also commendable. Williams has an ideal voice for lieder, gently lyrical but with enough bite where needed. His admirable agility in articulating moving passages clearly (as in Der Schiffer ), sweetness of tone, employment of a variety of vocal color, and storyteller s ability to articulate and elucidate the text reveal him to be a consummate artist. He is on a short list of best singers of art songs today. Burnside s playing is up to his usual high standards. He plumbs the dark depths of Der Wanderer (D.489) and allows the carefree abandon of the first of the two Der Schiffer (D.536) settings to sparkle. Williams wrote the excellent program notes. He has set the bar high for any future volumes in this series. Notes, texts, translations. R MOORE SCHUBERT: Winterreise Alan Bennett, t; Albert Tu, p Centaur minutes Here is yet another Winterreise to join a crowded field. It is a respectable performance, and if you want to add another tenor reading to your collection there is no reason not to get this. Technically the performance is OK, but Bennett s somewhat monochromatic singing and matter-of-fact approach to the cycle does not convey enough of its harrowing nature. Bennett and Tu are colleagues at the Yong American Record Guide 153

156 Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore. Brief notes, texts, translations. R MOORE SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata; see Collections SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto; BEETHOVEN: Kreutzer Sonata Zuill Bailey; Ying Quartet Sono Luminus minutes No, I didn t get it wrong! These are arrangements of the Schumann Cello Concerto made by Bailey and the quartet in consultation with composer Philip Lasser, and Beethoven s Violin Sonata 9, made by Mr Anonymous in 1832, by which time it was clear that the composer couldn t get at him or her since he had been dead for four years. The release is titled Re:Imagined. The players are excellent and lively. Bailey plays the Schumann very well, and the arrangement works since Schumann s original scoring was not notable for woodwind colors or timpani bashing. Yes, one may miss the orchestra, but the music is all there. The Beethoven is not arranged for cello solo, though there are a few passages to keep him busy. There is a good deal of alteration in the music in terms of balances, and the violin part is shared by all, as are the piano lines. The result is highly interesting, at least the first time through, though I wouldn t want to replace the original with it. The recording is fine. D MOORE SCHUMANN: Piano Pieces Kinderszenen; Arabeske; Blumenstuck; Kreisleriana; Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Forest Scenes; Fantasy; Albumblatter; Carnaval; Bunte Blatter; 3 Little Pieces; Romance 2 Vladimir Feltsman Nimbus 6324 [3CD] 225 minutes Feltsman s follow-up to the Album for the Young is an extensive recording of Schumann piano works. In the Kinderszenen his rubato is quite romanticized, which works well. In No. 13, I do not care for how the left hand and the right hand do not come together. He is able to summon a variety of interpretations by altering the pedal use in Kreisleriana; his voicing in the lyrical sections in the first movement is quite nice. In II his fluid playing works very well, with sweeping phrasing and a creative use of tempo and rubato. The way he stretches out his ending is perfect. Feltsman emphasizes lyrical ideas in the well-crafted Fantasy, Op. 17. All of this is playing that does not think simply in terms of metrics, but emphasizes phrasing and the beauty of melody. Feltsman has the versatility and artistic temperament to be considered one of the great Schumann pianists. KANG SCHUMANN: Piano Pieces 6 in Canonic Form; Forest Scenes; Fantasy Pieces; Gesange der Fruhe; Variations Soo Park, Mathieu Dupouy Herisson minutes Park programs lesser-known works of Schumann on a period piano (Gebauer, 1850). Compared to Feltsman, her renderings seem opposite: more academic than artistic. The Op. 56 duet studies with Dupouy are rather understated, though nicely done. I am not as impressed with the Waldzenen, where she overemphasizes the downbeats far too much. She presents the three Fantasy Pieces seriously and passionately. The gorgeous Gesange dur Fruhe, one of my favorite Schumann works, is both consoling and wrenching, though the tempo sounds labored. This is recommended to listeners interested in some of the more overlooked works, performed on a period piano. KANG SCHUMANN: Symphonies 2+4 St Cecilia Academy/ Antonio Pappano ICA :21 Cappella Aquileia/ Marcus Bosch Coviello [SACD] 69 minutes Schumann is generally very hard to bring off in our anti-romantic age. Here are two more failures. First, the Italian recording. Since No. 4 is usually pretty awful, I spent most of my listening time on No. 2. The string sound is never warm or rich; sometimes it is sour and thin. The introduction is very slow, then the Allegro ( non troppo ) is too fast. II (the Scherzo) is too fast in all sections. The trio is not a contrast at all. It is true that in the score there is no tempo change, but I am convinced that Schumann would have expected it and found it unnecessary to notate it. The Adagio is marked espressivo. It is the romantic heart of the work, and Pappano misses it entirely. There is no rhapsody here, no ecstasy. It s just business as usual. This is an English conductor, you know not Italian. The 154 January/February 2017

157 tempo is not too fast, but I was left utterly unmoved. But then I am used to Bernstein, and not very many conductors understood Schumann as well as he. The last movement is OK not extreme in any way, good or bad. But it is annoying to hear the applause. No. 4 is utterly ordinary if possible, even more ordinary than 2. The greatest recording of this remains after all these years Furtwangler s. Bernstein in Vienna is almost as good (he seems to copy the Furtwangler). Only those two give us a real Romance in II. There is an exposition repeat in IV, but often conductors do not take it (Furtwangler, Barenboim, Dohnanyi). It is hard to tell who does and who doesn t, because tempos vary so much. I can only say that Pappano takes it fast. 30 seconds of applause are added into the timing. Only Barenboim and Dohnanyi take it faster (by a few seconds). These recordings are from concerts in 2010 and The second disc has a handy write-up explaining what the orchestra is. Cappella Aquileia is the resident orchestra of the Heidenheim Opera Festival. Heidenheim is between Stuttgart and Augsburg. Marcus Bosch was its founder. Set up as a small, chamber-oriented force and inspired by original performance practices, the ensemble always gives a distinctive interpretation of classical and particularly romantic orchestral music. I would have a lot of fun mocking their distinctive interpretation, except that I don t hear anything distinctive here at all. They sound utterly unromantic, but so do the Italians under Pappano and so does almost everybody recording the Schumann symphonies in the last few decades. It s all business, and it goes flying by. The Andante, by the way, is the fastest on records less than 8 minutes long. Espressivo? And why on earth play Schumann with a chamber orchestra? Sometimes it gets discouraging that so much useless recording is taking place. There must be young conductors who understand romantic music. VROON SCHUMANN: Violin Sonata 1; Fantasy Pieces; BRAHMS: Scherzo; BACH: Sonata 4 Itzhak Perlman, v; Martha Argerich, p Warner minutes This is better than Perlman and Argerich s first recording together (May/June 2000). There wasn t much intensity to the playing, and I think that Perlman s earlier recordings of the Kreutzer Sonata and the Franck Sonata with Vladimir Ashkenazy were better. The Schumann Violin Sonata was recorded in concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in July The duo obviously enjoys this music, really digging in to it, and there are very musical adjustments to the tempos, as in Argerich s superb recording with Gidon Kremer. This is one of the best readings of this work that I have heard. The rest of the program was recorded in Salle Colonne in Paris in March of this year. The Fantasy Pieces are arranged from the original works for clarinet violin parts appeared with the original publication. Elastic tempos reign here too, all for the good of the music. These are charming performances, but Perlman lacks his former energy. The Scherzo from the FAE Sonata also lacks the intensity that a younger Perlman could have brought to it. Energy is also lacking from the faster movements of Bach s Violin Sonata 4. I usually prefer to hear this with harpsichord, but I make an exception for Glenn Gould, who drew a leaner tone from his piano for Bach and played more staccato, differentiating the articulation of each hand in his recording of this sonata with Jaime Laredo. Gould knew how to make this music sound like a trio rather than a duet. The best thing here is the fine Schumann sonata. You will find the rest played better elsewhere. MAGIL SCOTT: Melodist & Nightingale; see BAX SCRIABIN: Allegro de Concert; Allegro Appassionato; Fantasy; 4 Impromptus, 9 Piano Pieces Sonyeon Kate Lee Naxos minutes This is Lee s second volume of Scriabin, and I gave the first a positive review (Naxos , May/June 2016). That was limited mainly to short early works from Many opuses that contain three or four short works should be presented complete and weren t. I have a similar criticism this time around, but there are also three big works here, and the Impromptus were written as two sets of two. They are complete. The two Allegro pieces are youthful, substantial works, 7 and over 11 minutes long. They are full of difficulties that remind us that Scriabin was given a gold medal in piano performance at the Moscow American Record Guide 155

158 Conservatory. His friend and classmate Rachmaninoff won the silver medal. The two reversed their medals in composition. When Scriabin died and Rachmaninoff put together an all-scriabin memorial recital, the Fantasy was one of the large works on the program, and he remarked that it was so difficult that it took him a full day to learn it. Korean-American Lee won the 2010 Naumburg Competition and is currently a professor of piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory. Naxos gives her beautiful piano sound and extensive, detailed notes. She has an excellent feel for Scriabin s music, and this series already shows real promise. I can t wait for her to get into the sonatas. HARRINGTON SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata 5; Preludes; see MOUSSORGSKY SHOHAM: Draw Me a Sheep Guy Mannheim, vocals; Dalit Leder, narr; Alex Gruzberg, p; Li-Ron Choir/ Ronit Shapira Romeo minutes This is a little hardcover book with about 20 pages of story and illustrations and a disc tucked inside. The story is an adaptation in Hebrew by Sara Shoham (translated into English) of Le Petit Prince, the very famous 1943 novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The lovely illustrations by Inbal Leitner are very similar to Saint-Exupery s own watercolors in the original book. The recording is of a concert performance, complete with occasional audience noise. Narrator Dalit Leder begins by reciting in Hebrew, and then the Li-Ron Choir (of Herzliya, Israel) begins to sing Echo with piano accompaniment by Alex Gruzberg. It is quiet, haunting music with lots of overlapping, ascending fifths and a goodly amount of ambience. In the eight selections that follow, the choir portrays the prince and Guy Mannheim the various characters encountered by him: The Drunkard, The Businessman, The Lamplighter, The Conceited Man, and so forth. The selections range in length from 13:55 ( The Fox ) to 1:09 ( The Farewell ). It is enjoyable to hear the beautifully spoken Hebrew. The all-female choir sounds lovely, soloist Mannheim has an excellent voice, pianist Alex Gruzberg plays expertly, and the music itself often has an otherworldly quality. KILPATRICK SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony 11 Bulgarian Radio Symphony/ Emil Tabakov Gega minutes This is the fourth release in Tabakov s Shostakovich cycle. His Seventh was phenomenal (Gega 382, M/J 2016), and his Fourth and Eighth were quite good (Gega , M/J 2015). No. 11 was written in 1957, and though it was the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, Shostakovich chose to depict musically the failed revolution of 1905, when troops fired on an unarmed crowd of people delivering a petition to Tsar Nicholas II at the Winter Palace. The symphony was also written in the shadow of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, brutally put down with the help of Soviet troops. It is truly cinematic; each powerful movement has its own descriptive title: The Palace Square, The 9th of January, Eternal Memory, and Tocsin. There is little abstraction: Shostakovich used several popular revolutionary songs as themes, and his vivid scoring makes his points easy to grasp immediately. Tabakov and his Bulgarians often come just short of the needed intensity. The first movement, with its icy, windswept Palace Square, is serene, not grim. The trumpet solos have a hint of optimism to them, something I ve never heard in a recording. That is not necessarily out of place, as it makes me think of the hopes of the petitioners, but it does contradict the idea of impending tragedy. The turbulent II is better, with some potent climaxes and quietly-threatening brass. Tabakov s sense of the emotional arc in III makes it his best movement, and the colors coming from the low woodwinds are fascinating. IV is crisper and punchier than any recording I ve heard lately, and it makes a satisfying finish. I still prefer the Petrenko (Naxos , July/Aug 2009); Brian Buerkle recommended the Wigglesworth SACD (BIS 1583, July/Aug 2010). The sound is clear if a bit dry it was recorded in a studio. Notes are in English and Bulgarian. ESTEP SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony 15; Michelangelo Suite; Novorossiisk Chimes Sergei Kopcak, b; Czech Philharmonic/ Eduard Serov; Prague Radio/ Frantisek Vajnar; USSR Radio/ Arvid Jansons Praga minutes The symphony is with the Czech Philharmonic; it is a concert performance from The sound is of pretty good quality, but there is a 156 January/February 2017

159 little hiss. I has plenty of vim, and II is slow and spacious; the atmosphere created by the brass chords reminded me a lot of Messiaen something I d never thought before. The brass section has some difficulty lining up their entrances, though. After that impressive slow movement (15:29 long, not the 5:29 listed in the booklet), III is rather roughly played and lackluster. IV comes across as slack and incoherent, as if Serov couldn t get things pulled back together. The engineers cut out the applause, but there is plenty of extraneous noise: coughs, taps, etc. There are only eight movements from the Michelangelo Suite; the booklet says they are from a 1980 studio recording, but there are many suspiciously audience-like interjections. Kopcak has a bright, clear voice, but he sings without much emotion; it is an incomplete, unsatisfying performance. The notes tell us nothing about the stately, anthemic Novorossiisk Chimes, but I have found that it reuses material Shostakovich had written in 1943 for a contest for a new national anthem in the USSR. It is brief and both somber and touching. In summary, I ll keep this for 15:II, but I m glad I didn t spend any money on it. The sonics are bright, and the strings are harsh sometimes. The booklet (English and French) has several errors, and I have no idea why it twice calls this trio three last works. Novorossiisk Chimes is from ESTEP SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Sonata, arr flute; Viola Sonata; see Collections Preludes, op 34; see AUERBACH SIBELIUS: Symphonies 2+4 Philharmonia Orchestra/ Karajan Praga minutes This is an oddity. Nowhere are we told that Symphony 4 was not recorded in stereo. (Karajan recorded it for EMI in 1953; he later did it in stereo for EMI 1978 after having done it for DG.) The cover says genuine stereo lab, but it never claims true stereo sound. The cover also says Praga Digitals ; these are remastered and made digital, but the original sound is, of course, not digital. On the back of the booklet the release is titled Two Paradoxal Symphonies (whatever that means); on the back of the box they are called Sibelian Antitheses. The back of the box has only one paragraph in English, but it is riddled with errors it even mentions a composer named Malher. Well, No. 2 (1960) sounds wonderful, though our Overview lists a number of more thrilling and more romantic performances. As we mentioned when reviewing it in July/Aug 1998 (p 229), Karajan is not very romantic, except in III. The Karajan 4th is recommended twice in our Overview (July/Aug 2014), but neither is this recording. The DG is similar to this one in tempos and spirit, but the later EMI is much slower and more brooding (which I think better suits the music), and they both have better sound though Praga has worked wonders with this 1953 sound. VROON SMOLKA: Poema de Balcones; Walden, Distiller of Celestial Dews; Slone & Smutne Stuttgart Radio Vocal Ensemble; Martin Homann, perc/ Marcus Creed Wergo minutes I had the misfortune to begin listening to this collection with the largest work here, Walden, The Distiller of Celestial Dews, and that performance reveals some uncomfortable truths about the music of Martin Smolka, a Czech (b. 1959) whose work has not gained international renown and likely has not even penetrated the tight circles of choral music and its aficionados. The SWR Vocal Ensemble has a pronunciation of the English that is neither of the region around Thoreau s pond (the texts are excerpted from Walden) nor a conceivable native style; and its intonation of the broad diatonic leaps, in unison, of the composition seems unacceptably far from true. The lack of attention to the pronunciation is exacerbated by the omission of any of the texts from the booklet. I defy even the most attentive listener to actually transcribe the words as sung. Both the remaining works seem to use the texts (Spanish from Lorca, Polish from Tadusz Rozewicz) as frames for hanging vocal effects on, whether the ringing results of closely voiced dissonant harmonies (like Ligeti) or percussive enunciation, rather than to a close reading of the expressive possibilities of the poems. To their credit, the tuning of the choir is better here. Smolka has a large oeuvre; the works for chorus are only a small part. It might be interesting to hear his pieces in other genres. T MOORE American Record Guide 157

160 SOLER: 6 Concertos for 2 Keyboards Philippe Leroy, Jory Vinikour, hpsi Delos minutes There have been recordings of Antonio Soler s six concertos on two organs, two pianos, or two harpsichords. This is the best one I have heard on harpsichords. LeRoy and Vinikour make the music sparkle with lively articulation and good humor. Both of them studied with Huguette Dreyfus. John Phillips built both these Florentine-style harpsichords. They match well, and the stereo separation of the recording brings out the antiphonal effects. I m not moved much by Soler s other music, but these concertos are engaging. B LEHMAN SOR: 24 Progressive Lessons; 6 Little Pieces Norbert Kraft, Jeffrey McFadden, g Naxos minutes Canadian artists Norbert Kraft and Jeffrey McFadden are both among the most highly respected guitarists of their generations. Kraft s career has produced many acclaimed performances and recordings, but for the last many years he has been the chief guitar producer for Naxos, probably the most important label promoting the finest emerging guitarists in an increasingly crowded field. McFadden has recorded nine discs for Naxos, including my favorite, the 25 etudes of Napoleon Coste. He was the first DMA graduate in guitar from the University of Toronto, studying under Kraft. So what do we get when such fine artists turn their attention to the student repertory of Fernando Sor? Much delight, as it turns out. Sor was probably the best composer (not player, though he was certainly fine) of the Golden Age of the Guitar, and I was often reminded of his connection to Schubert. He was a melodist first, and that allies him more with Schubert than Beethoven among the giants of his age. The playing is uniformly fine. This music holds no technical challenges to these players, but each performs with artistry and grace. Nothing is eccentric, but neither is their treatment dry, in an attempt to supply a simple model for students first to get the notes right. Now, I don t think this will be of much interest to non-guitarists the studies range from beginning to intermediate in their technical level, and none invites contemplation. But there are many guitar students and teachers across the world, and this can be recommended to all of us. KEATON STANFORD: Stabat Mater; Song to the Soul; The Resurrection Elizabeth Cragg, Catherine Hopper, Robert Murray, David Soar; Bach Choir; Bournemouth Symphony/ David Hill Naxos minutes Stanford holds a secure place in the pantheon of British composers, but when I first heard his Stabat Mater I naughtily thought it ought to be subtitled The Virgin Mary meets Brünnhilde. That first acquaintance came in the form of a 1997 recording by Richard Hickox with the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and BBC Symphony (Chandos 9548) claimed as the work s first recording. It was written in 1906 for the Leeds Festival of the following year. Stanford called it a Symphonic Cantata. It is an expansive setting that takes three quarters of an hour in performance. Prelude and Intermezzo (I+III) are purely orchestral. Stanford s approach is unabashedly dramatic, with a decidedly Wagnerian leaning. Powerful as the music is, the sturm und drang of Stanford s setting is often at odds with the devotional quality of the text. My first impression of this was that the sound is not as warm as it could be. The ear adjusts to that. The sound of the earlier recording is smoother but more distant; and on the whole, I prefer the clarity of the present one. Hill s soloists are very fine, but I find their sound a little less mature and seasoned than Hickox s singers. Hill fills out the program with two shorter but still substantial works by Stanford for chorus and orchestra. The Resurrection was written in 1875 while the composer was a student of Carl Reinecke. It is a setting of Catherine Winkworth s translation of the poem by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock that Mahler later included in his Second Symphony. Stanford conducted the first performance in 1875 with the Cambridge University Musical Society. He made revisions to the score the following year, but the work was not performed again until The remaining work here, Song to the Soul, was intended for an American tour that never took place. In 1913 Horatio Parker, then professor of music at Yale University, invited Stanford to conduct performances of his Second Piano Concerto and Fifth Irish Rhapsody and accept an honorary doctorate from the university. Stanford offered to write a new choral work based on settings of poems by Walt Whitman from Both poems are now more 158 January/February 2017

161 closely associated with settings by other English composers: Toward the Unknown Region (1907) by Vaughan Williams, and Joy, Shipmate, Joy! from Songs of Farewell (1930) by Delius. The tour was originally planned for 1914, but had to be postponed to By then wartime conditions made a transatlantic voyage too risky. The piece was not published or performed until May of 2015, when David Hill directed a performance by the Irish National Symphony and Chorus in Dublin, Stanford s birthplace. Readers looking for a recording of these choral rarities will not be disappointed. Hill has previously distinguished himself as an interpreter of Stanford. In 1997 and 1998 he directed three discs of Stanford s cathedral music for Hyperion. They were later issued as a boxed set (Hyperion 44311; March/April 2013). They are unsurpassed. GATENS STOJOWSKI: Violin Concerto; Romance; WIENIAWSKI: Gounod Fantasy Bartlomiej Niziol; BBC Scottish Symphony/ Lukasz Borowicz Hyperion minutes This is part of Hyperion s romantic violin concerto series. The Stojowski (1899) begins with a dramatic orchestral gesture, immediately repeated bye the soloist. The composer often develops his melodies by elaborating on one of their phrases. But for all its decor, the music satisfyingly combines tunefulness and good form. A repeated timpani figure could pay homage to Beethoven s Violin Concerto, or even his Symphony 5. II echoes Mendelssohn in the best sense with clear extended themes. They re intelligently worked out so as to support the narrative line of the movement. The movement uses a harp for subtle accents. Tovey wrote that you should never use a harp in a violin concerto, but this music might have changed his mind. III alternates faster and slower episodes. The faster ones are in irregular meters to suggest a Polish folk dance. The opening theme Stojowski transforms into the second subject, an attractive slower melody. The overall impression of the work is virtuosity combined with brains. The solo part has what must be devilishly difficult register jumps, often up to one note in the middle of a busy line. The orchestration is lively raffish even. The work has no cadenza. The Romance (1901) was dedicated to the great violinist Jacques Thibaud. It s melodic with an impassioned center section. For all its brevity, it s emotionally a fully charged piece. The full title of the Wieniawski is Fantasy Brilliante On Themes From Gounod s Opera Faust. Among the familiar numbers it quotes are the Calf of Gold and Waltz from Act II. To quote Miss Brodie, For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like. It s pure kitsch end to end. Unlike such arrangements by other composers (Liszt?) Wieniawski s capers offer no understanding or new view of Gounod s great opera. The violin part mindlessly cavorts over its registers, occasionally interrupted by some cute stunts with harmonics. I once had a friend who couldn t get enough of violin calisthenics and would have loved this piece. There are a great many recordings of it. The performances of this varied menu are excellent, with good sound. The orchestra plays well, and Borowicz s conducting is highly responsive. Niziol offers exceptional work, playing with refined, accurate tone. His clean phrasing and feeling for line, aside from its solid innate musicianship, also defines and advances the formal structure of the music. O CONNOR STRADELLA: La Circe Jenny Campanella (Circe), Teresa Nesci (Zeffiro), Marco Scavazza (Algido); Concerto Madrigalesco/ Luca Guglielmi Stradivarius minutes This charming serenata is billed here as an operetta, but that is misleading. A serenata is merely an evening s short entertainment, using a small cast and orchestra, often with a mythological subject a miniature opera. La Circe was first performed May 16, 1668 at the Palazzo Olimpia Aldobrandini Pamphili (Villa Belvedere) in the hills of Frascati. The instigator of the celebration and commissioner of La Circe was Princess Olimpia of the Pamphili family. She knew that the just as Leopoldo De Medici was about to be raised to the purple (to become a cardinal). What an opportunity for lavish display! Stradella chose as his librettist the Arezzo poet Giovanni Filippo Apolloni. The text has 23 brief sections of recitative and aria, only three of them lasting a shade more than two minutes. A sinfonia to begin and end the piece are the only purely orchestral sections. The singers are two sopranos and a baritone. Stradella has limited his orchestra to two violins, a basso di viola, a theorbo, a harpsichord, American Record Guide 159

162 and an organ. The conductor plays the two keyboard instruments. More music by Stradella has been added to the serenata: two sinfonias (Nos. 17 and 22) and a toccata per cembalo (keyboard). Such lovely music deserves a lovely performance, and this recording is just right. The three soloists sing with regal delicacy. As is often the case in recordings of Baroque music it is the instrumental ensemble that is the star of the show. With their period instruments, acidic tone, and atmospheric, colorful hue, the Concerto Madrigalesco sweeps along with majestic elan. Italian and English text included. PARSONS STRADELLA: San Giovanni Crisostomo Renato Dolcini (Crisostomo), Francesca Cassinari (Eudosia), Alessio Tosi (Teofilo), Carlo Vistoli (Inviato), Arianna Lanci (Testo), Harmonices Mundi/ Claudio Astronio Brilliant :10 It was only recently that I reviewed the first recording of this curious oratorio by Alessandro Stradella (Arcana 389: M/A 2016). Now we have a second recording, made at concerts in August Readers may refer to my earlier review for comments on the work itself. Suffice it to say that it is about the confrontation in the early years of the 4th Century between the Byzantine Empress Eudoxia and the Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostom. The drama is palpable, even if fictional characters are added to the story, including the conventional Testo or narrator. I found the earlier recording, conducted by Andrea de Carlo, quite excellent in general, with a few especially strong singers. I can say the same about Astronio s team. Again, I found special strength in selected singers: soprano Cassinari as the Empress, baritone Dolcini as the Saint, and contralto Lanci as the Testo. I can recommend either recording to collectors of Baroque rarities. Both releases have booklets with informative notes, but in the Arcana release both the full text and multilingual translations are given, whereas Brilliant shirks half its responsibilities by providing only the Italian text. BARKER The debasement of the nation's speech is evident in virtually everything broadcast and podcast on radio, television, and the Internet. --Susan Jacoby STRAUSS: Alpine Symphony Frankfurt Opera Orchestra/ Sebastian Weigle Oehms minutes Goteborg Symphony/ Kent Nagano Faero minutes Sebastian Weigle has been the General Director of the Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra since His reading of Richard Strauss s Alpine Symphony is the fourth volume of an Oehms series of recordings of Strauss with this orchestra. What I have heard from the series has been distinguished, and this one continues that tradition. It starts a little uneasily with some odd balances, most obviously a slightly emphasized tuba, but by Ascent everything settles down, and a fine performance ensues. Entry into the Forest signals that this will be a spirited walk through the Alps, with some very fine playing in the violins. Through Thickets and Undergrowth seems hurried, but in time Weigle makes his case. Glacier has a no-nonsense beginning, not as loud as some readings, but it gets on with it convincingly. By Dangerous Moments, it is clear that this is a well balanced performance. Weigle is always in control, but here he gives his principal oboe some liberty, with excellent results. Vision is evenly done with sleek strings and controlled brass. The build-up to the storm is a study in dramatic anticipation, and the storm itself has the character of a storm without overplaying it. Note the sheets of strings that come on like waves of rain. I don t recall hearing this so effectively before. Weigle displays his opera credentials in the way the orchestra creates a true sense of relief over the end of the storm. The brass is nicely tasteful in Quiet Settles, and that slight tuba overbalance in the opening is tempered the second time around at the end. This Alpine is sweeping, powerful, bracing when it needs to be, as well as coherent, well thought out, and cleanly phrased. The Frankfurt orchestra has the right color for Strauss, and the sound is excellent. I have reviewed several new recordings of this work recently, and the trend has been for them to be a little more classically structured and less romantically powerful than the great classics from Rudolf Kempe, et al. This one fits that pattern and is the best of the new ones I have heard. The notes present some interesting thoughts about the Alpine Symphony,. The notes with Kent Nagano s recording describe how different his reading is from everyone else s. For these performances and recording a new approach was taken [not] to 160 January/February 2017

163 express the bombastic aspects, but the subtle emotional changes, the colors and nuances of the vast and impressive landscape and the wanderer s instinctive response to it, which is also expressed in the huge orchestral apparatus [that brings out] new shades and depths... So this is an interpretation that is more lyrical and classically oriented than the usual Germanic romanticism. It can even be described as something one might expect from a Scandinavian orchestra more than a German one, turning the Alpine Symphony into perhaps a Scandes Symphony. The notes go on about the Gothenburg Symphony s long relationship with Strauss, including recent performances of Alpine Symphony and its intent to record more of Strauss s orchestral works. They also point to Nagano s history as Music Director of the Bavarian Opera, his insights into Strauss s music and the Strauss tradition, and that he can draw on information from authentic sources in the Strauss family. That, plus more material about the orchestra and conductor, is about all the notes tell us. It is all tendentious and a bit hyperbolic, but the performance presents a strong case to back it up. The reading is not bombastic, and it is more subtle and lyrical than other performances, revealing new shades and depths as well as some different colors. The strings are not rich and broad in the typical Germanic way with Strauss. Rather, they are sweeter and more silver than German gold. Phrasings are unusual here and there, and some tempos are faster than normal. The sound is not as rich as with Weigle and maybe not even as detailed. The brass are more recessed; the winds are more prominent than usual, but that seems more a matter of design and balancing than engineering. There is plenty of bass. The opening is deliberate, with the chords a little separated and the atmosphere more covered. (The latter may not be intended.) As the music moves on, it becomes clear that textures are lighter than usual. Entry into the Forest is mysterious, light, and songlike in the quieter places. Note the reticent trumpets in Wandering by the Brook and the quick sleekness in Flowering Meadows. Thickets is almost bubbly. Glacier is more emotional than grand, and Vision is more melodic than grand. The storm is rushed to the point where this variant from the norm is less convincing than the others. Note in Sunset how the violins are dominant over the dirge in the brass. And so it goes. The Nagano does not qualify as one s only recording of Alpine Symphony and probably not a second, but perhaps a third? It is interesting and entertaining, and it does make a case for itself. One point of warning. I would not play it after hearing one of the standard or Germanic recordings. I made that mistake, and my first response was extremely negative. It took a couple more hearings before I started to appreciate its good qualities. If you have seen the 2006 video of Alpine with Nagano conducting the German Symphony in Berlin, this new one is warmer and about a half-minute slower. The major difference is the Germanic orchestral sound. What kills it is the gimmicky, nervous video direction, replete with quick-cutting and sometimes score-independent close-ups. The director uses the hall lights as stars for the Nacht movements, but even worse is how she moves the camera around during the storm, as if to simulate a ship battered by waves and induced seasickness. A ship and seasickness in the Alps? Both recordings present the work in 22 tracks. Neither translates the German titles. HECHT STRAUSS: Festive Prelude; Till; see BEETHOVEN Oboe Concerto; Heldenleben; see Collections STRAVINSKY: Italian Suite; Divertimento; TCHAIKOVSKY: Memory of a Dear Place; DESYATNIKOV: Like the Old Organ-Grinder Aylen Pritchin, v, p; Lukas Geniusas, p Melodiya minutes Stravinsky s Italian Suite is given a fine reading, with lots of life, humor, and tenderness. Pritchin uses a very breathy tone in some of the slower movements; it could drive some listeners to distraction, I m sure, but it didn t bother me. Leonid Desyatnikov s Wie der Alte Leiermann was written for the 200th anniversary of Schubert s birth, and it is based on the final song from Die Winterreise. The notes quote a critic who says that Desyatnikov stands up for the right of a modern man not to be original at all costs; Leiermann, in fact, reminds me a lot of Schnittke from the tonal cribbing of another composer s work to the abrasive phrases that interrupt it. It is 14 minutes long about 11 dull, repetitive, unoriginal (dare I say it?) minutes longer than it should be. Tchaikovsky s Souvenir d un Lieu Cher follows the Desyatnikov much better than I thought it would. The romantic favorite is a showcase for Pritchin s smooth bowing; he American Record Guide 161

164 really plays beautifully, though he lacks ardor. He should be more aggressive in places, especially with his dynamics; lovely as it is, the Meditation needs more contrast. Stravinsky s Divertimento from The Fairy s Kiss is here in a transcription by Samuel Dushkin. As in the Tchaikovsky, Pritchin just sounds a little toothless. We praised Lydia Mordkovitch (Chandos 9756, May/June 2000, with the Suite Italien and other Stravinsky pieces) for her forceful artistry and for how her playing (burst) forth from the speakers with such elemental energy... Pritchin skates over too many phrases. The Adagio and the circus of the Coda are exceptions, but they do not quite make up for the rest. He joins his outstanding accompanist at the piano for a four-hands encore, Desyatnikov s pop-influenced Children s Disco. The sound is excellent; notes are in English and Russian. My Sony CD player took a long time to start playing the disc, and even completely failed to once or twice; my Yahama handled it fine, though. ESTEP STRAVINSKY: Mass, Cantata; Ave Maria; Credo; Pater Noster; 3 Sacred Songs Ruby Hughes, s; Nicholas Mulroy, t; St Mary s Cathedral Choir, Edinburgh; Scottish Chamber Orchestra Soloists/ Duncan Ferguson Delphian minutes The choir is a very young one, with boy and girl choristers at the core of the sound. They re very good, too, though I can t say they accomplish great things with Stravinsky. The Cantata fares best, with excellent soloists, the world-class Scottish orchestra, and the youngsters entering smartly into the spirit of the 15th and 16th Century poems that so interested the composer. The annotator apologizes for Stravinsky s inclusion of two extravagantly anti-semitic verses in the tenor s Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. Political correctness run amok, or a useful reminder that polemical history can lead to some mighty funky theology? Your call. I like the Pater Noster as well, but the rest of the motets pass uneventfully; even the Gesualdo-inspired Cantiones are played pretty straight. This isn t a bad recording of the Mass, but it s dwarfed by Richard Marlowe s Trinity College Choir on Conifer and Reinbert De Leeuw s Netherlands Chamber Choir on Philips. (See Choral Masterpieces Overview, N/D 2000.) In the wonderful Credo alone, articulation is gummy, the rhythms don t jump, and the great, organ-like wind crescendo before the last round of Hosannas is uninspiring. If you need a Cantata, then, this could do. Otherwise, there s better Stravinsky out there. GREENFIELD STRAVINSKY: Octet; Soldier s Tale Suite; The Wedding Virginia Arts Festival Players; Les Noces Percussion Ensemble; Virginia Symphony Chorus/ JoAnn Falletta Naxos minutes Anyone interested in The Soldier s Tale should be aware of the alternate text commissioned from Kurt Vonnegut by the New York Philomusica in The American Chamber Winds recorded it on Summit, and in J/A 2010 David Schwartz reported a high quality performance in sound that renders a few of the instruments tinny and canned. Violinist Tianwa Wang is offered in this recording of the suite from The Soldier s Tale, and she plays a 1729 Guarneri lent from an owner in Singapore. She keeps fine company here, interacting with clarinetist Ricardo Morales and others in a spirited rendition with sound that raises no such complaints. Stravinsky s Wind Octet (1923, rev. 1952) is a long set of variations with short movements before and after, for a total of about 15 minutes. The writing can have a gloriously shrill quality that some listeners might identify as French. Its first performance was in Paris, led by the composer. All these instrumentalists are excellent; many moments of touchy coordination and potential for disconnect are handled well. The brass players have fine sounds but use hardly any vibrato. Overall, Stravinsky is served with all the professionalism and polish a listener could wish for. The Wedding was written for the renowned expatriate Russian Ballet company, and Diaghilev is said to have been moved to tears when he heard it. After the London premiere, HG Wells wrote a thoughtful encomium. This 1923 work in four scenes was written for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and bass with four pianos, percussion, and mixed chorus. As a result, the spatial aspect to the sound is critical to an effective recording, and this performance has been picked up and balanced superbly. Any listener to the ballet-cantata deserves the texts, which Stravinsky wrote himself. Since they re in Russian, the English would help too. We get only a synopsis in the booklet with pictures of the Todd Rosenlieb Dance Company at the Virginia Arts Festival. Whatever soprano Rebecca Nash is singing, she usually does it with lots of intense vibrato. 162 January/February 2017

165 I found Robert Breault s clarion tenor far more agreeable, with mezzo Robynne Redmon and bass Denis Sedov nearly as good. The competition, significant despite the rarity of performances, includes Stravinsky (in English, with stunningly august pianists), Robert Craft, Ernest Ansermet (who led the premiere), Karel Ancerl, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Peter Eotvos, James Wood, and on SACD, Daniel Reuss. Rene Bosc has recorded the version of half the score, which uses 2 cimbaloms, harmonium, and pianola, on Harmonia Mundi (not reviewed). Only two scenes were completed that way, and the total time for that recording is only 36 minutes, with the 1923 version. The booklet is only in French and doesn t have the texts, but the program and performances might outweigh that drawback. GORMAN STRAVINSKY: Petrouchka; Wind Symphony; Orpheus London Philharmonic/ Vladimir Jurowski LPO minutes This has to be one of the most perfunctory, mundane, least joyful recordings of Petrouchka (1911) ever made. The notes are there, but that is all; it has no magic. The Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920) was written in memory of Debussy. I have always found this style of Stravinsky s dry and rather tedious, even though there is apparent good humor. The orchestra plays the livelier passages decently, but the chorale parts are moribund. Orpheus fares the best. Its action is restrained and subtle, and the orchestral palette relies mostly on the strings. Several scenes, like Pas d action, are tender; some, like the second Interlude, are herky-jerky. The slower scenes are winsome, and they are a side of Stravinsky I hadn t really encountered before. Besides the bland, earthbound playing, the orchestra sounds small and often weak, especially in Petrouchka. There are much better recordings available see our Overview (M/J 2001). ESTEP STRAVINSKY: Violin Concerto; Pulcinella Suite; Game of Cards; Movements David Oistrakh, v; Margrit Weber, p; Concerts Lamoureux/ Bernard Haitink; Philharmonia/ Otto Klemperer; Bavarian Radio/ Igor Stravinsky; Berlin Radio/ Ferenc Fricsay Praga mins Oistrakh attacks his opening grace notes like a call to arms, a harbinger of his searing, sometimes painful take on Stravinsky s neoclassical violin concerto. He s recorded far forward, the orchestra under Haitink an afterthought chattering away in the background. It s gripping, even harrowing. The charming Pulcinella Suite conducted by Klemperer has tart, pungent, nasal woodwinds like you never hear anymore. Strings are scruffy and metallic, brass raucous. It s the most entertaining performance here a real hoot, and more than a historical curiosity and it is now my favorite performance of the suite. Stravinsky conducts his own Game of Cards in concert, and the orchestra gets through it mostly unscathed (a bit of ragged ensemble sometimes) but sounds indifferent to the music. Concertgebouw under Neeme Jarvi (Chandos 7120) is more alert and polished than these forces, but fans of composer-conducted performances will want this anyway. Movements employs Schoenberg s method of composing with 12 tones which are related only with one another, but is more pointillistic in the manner of Webern, its emotional temperature cool, not overheated like most Schoenberg. This is an old-fashioned echt-modernist interpretation, deconstructed and severe. Recent recordings of 12-tone music are smoother, romanticized, and more beautiful, but lack the frisson and edge-of-your-seat (or edge-of-your-teeth) angst you get here. The sound is tolerable, with some shrill climaxes (keep the volume low), all early stereo, except Game of Cards Praga adds a dollop of reverberation to the monaural recording to create a convincing stereo illusion. WRIGHT STRAVINSKY: Apollo; see BRITTEN Word Police: Closure This word means the end or conclusion of an argument or disagreement. There is no such thing as "school closures" or "road closures". Those are closings. SUBOTNICK: The Double Life of Amphibians Joel Krosnick, Erika Duke, Dane Little, vc; Joan La Barbara, s; Juilliard Quartet; CalArts 20th Century Players/ Stephen L Mosko Wergo mins This is a reissue of material originally on Nonesuch LPs from the 1980s. It includes Axolotl for cello and electronic ghost score, Ascent into Air for a large group and computer American Record Guide 163

166 generated sounds; The Last Dream of the Beast for soprano, two cellos, and ghosts; and A Fluttering of Wings for string quartet and same. There have been CDs of some of these, but the attraction of the present release is that the composer was instrumental in the performances and that all of these pieces make up a single overall composition. Morton Subotnick s music is not to everyone s taste. His emphasis on electronic sound, though colorful and moving in its way, results in a concentration on sound rather than musical development. If you can take over an hour of this where little occurs but ear-tickling noises, by all means go for it! Axolotl is the least sonically eventful of these works. There is 17 minutes of cello sounding through an electronic buzzer that jiggles the tone endlessly. Ascent into Air is much more sonically interesting, with many more instruments and more variety of music 24 minutes in length. The Last Dream is back to jiggle sound but La Barbara s soprano line helps up to a point. A Fluttering is for string quartet and fluttering ghosts but it is in four contrasted movements. All of this is sonically interesting but whether one can take it as music for the ears is a question I must answer in the negative. Not enough happens in the way of musical structure, and it goes on too long to hold my attention. Subotnick has a good ear for sound but not for musical development. The playing is excellent, what one can hear of it through all the electronics surrounding it. I m glad to have it, but will I listen to it? D MOORE SULLIVAN: Macbeth; The Tempest; Marmion Overture Mary Bevan, Fflur Wyn, s; Simon Callow, narr; BBC Orchestra/ John Andrews Dutton 7331 [2CD] 127 minutes We tend to know Arthur Sullivan only for his operettas with WS Gilbert and perhaps as the composer of Onward, Christian Soldiers. He was, though, very active elsewhere, both with librettists other than Gilbert and in non-theatrical pieces. If, like me, you see Gilbert and Sullivan works, despite their undeniable silliness, as charming and wonderful, you ll appreciate this. At opposite ends of his career Sullivan wrote incidental music for two Shakespeare plays. His music for The Tempest appeared in 1861 as his final examination piece at the Royal Academy of Music. The first public London performance came in 1862 to such acclaim that it was repeated a week later. According to Will Parry s notes, Charles Dickens called it a masterpiece; and the young Sullivan, only 20, was suddenly famous and would remain so until he died in His Macbeth came in 1888, written for Sir Henry Irving s version of the original; the production ran six months. Sullivan s style, tuneful and atmospheric, is ideal for incidental music. More complicated music would compete with the drama, and added detail and sophistication would be either obtrusive or largely inaudible in the context of a staged play. The CDs are something of a tease. Taking both works together, we have more than 50 snippets from the plays, most with Simon Callow, an excellent speaker. There are a few independent orchestral pieces, such as the beginnings of acts, but basically we hop through the plays, relying on our memory of the plots to supply context for the musical numbers (many are melodrama spoken dialog with orchestral accompaniment). And no texts are supplied. In obvious spots (like music for the witches) Sullivan s ability to find appropriate descriptive music is very apparent. Elsewhere, though, he is no less apt at reinforcing the mood and emotion of the moment. The BBC Singers and two sopranos make appearances, but they have relatively little to do. The main attraction is Callow, who characterizes vividly and who, incidentally, created the role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer s Amadeus in In addition to the incidental music we have the 13-minute Marmion Overture, a concert overture written on Sir Walter Scott s poem. It premiered in 1877, but has survived mainly in shortened form as overture to Sullivan s King Arthur, written in It is a good piece, rather like Weber, and this is its first complete recording. This is recommended if you are interested in Shakespeare. The music is tuneful and charming and makes few demands on us listeners. The performers are all very good, and John Andrews does an excellent job with the BBC Orchestra. ALTHOUSE SZYMANOWSKI:Preludes; see CHOPIN 164 January/February 2017

167 TABAKOV: Bulgarian Dances; Symphony 8 Bulgarian Radio/ Emil Tabakov Toccata minutes Prolific Bulgarian composer-conductor Emil Tabakov (b. 1947) credits Shostakovich, Brahms, Scriabin, and Strauss as major influences. I m afraid that s all wishful thinking. The Five Bulgarian Dances (2011) contrast Bulgarian foot-throwing action with bits of Borodin. These can get pretty wild, but their drones and lack of progression get tiresome. I doubt they ll be hits on the pops circuit, where they probably belong. Symphony 8 (2007-9) (there are 9 so far) is a sprawling 43-minute three-movement affair, with nearly half of it interminably slow and suffocatingly dreary. A whiny rising three note chromatic motive reappears constantly. There s plenty of mystery and gloom, with occasional growls and anguish. Harmony is static and doesn t progress much. Climaxes resort to pounding. Development is primarily mush. A predictable Dies Irae-ish melody and fading tritones appear toward the end. I found it intolerable. The orchestra is provincial. GIMBEL TAVENER: Choral Pieces Wellensis Mass; Lord s Prayer; Love Bade Me Welcome; Preces & Responses; Psalm 121; Song for Athene; Prayer for the Healing of the Sick; They Are All Gone Into the World of Light Wells Cathedral Choir/ Matthew Owens Signum minutes Excellent singing from the 44 boy and girl choristers, male altos, and men of the Wells Cathedral Choir. They perform the Wellensis Mass with proprietary flair, which is fitting because it was written for them and named for their city and church. The Mass has grown on me as I ve played it, especially the Kyrie, which shimmers as it ascends, and the mournful Agnus Dei, which depicts the Saviour s burden so vividly. The Gloria still sounds high, hard, and shrill to me; but I ll hang in there since the rest of the program is so worthwhile. Song for Athene and the Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis among Tavener s greatest hits are quite beautiful, as is the warm and devout Prayer for the Healing of the Sick with a text from the Orthodox Service of Holy Unction. It s one of the composer s loveliest works, and you ll be pleased to make its acquaintance. Also included are three sets of Preces and Responses, which were premiered at Wells at Evensong in May, The longest one (9 minutes) flies by because it is so sweet to the ear. (If you find yourself looking at your watch, it s you not the music.) The sound is so clear and present, it s hard to believe it was recorded in the broad expanses of a great church. Another of the cathedral s treasures is part of this release: the Icon of St Andrew, which makes for a striking jacket cover. Wells, as I ve said before, can get lost on a list of English churches that includes the likes of Westminster, St Paul s, Canterbury, Lincoln, Durham, Salisbury, Ely, York, and the splendid chapels of Oxford and Cambridge. But it is awesome in every sense, and the cathedral choir enhances the holiness of its sacred spaces. GREENFIELD TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto 2; Concert Fantasy Eldar Nebolsin, New Zealand Symphony/ Michael Stern Naxos minutes Here s another Tchaikovsky Second Concerto that leaves me cold (see July/Aug). The most obvious problem that you will notice right away is the harsh, almost nasty sound of the orchestra in I. Again there is no majesty and no emotion. I don t even hear that in II, which again is uncut but pretty straightforward. Yes, it s gentle but how can you avoid that? It is not sweet and delicious, as it should be. You should have Tchaikovsky s Second Concerto, but not this recording. VROON TCHAIKOVSKY: Quartets 1+3 Heath Quartet HM minutes The playing is utterly English: neat, clean, and correct (almost dainty ) but without anything a Russian would think of as warmth, richness, or emotion. It won t do. VROON TCHAIKOVSKY: 16 Songs for Children Glinka Boy Choir; Alexey Goribol, p/ Vladimir Begletsov Melodiya minutes The first ten years of Tchaikovsky s life were relatively happy and harmonious, and the theme of childhood took on a deeply personal tinge at later stages of his life. In the period of 1878 to 1883, Tchaikovsky created two chamber cycles: Children s Album for piano and 16 Songs for Older Children. The notes for this release go into considerable detail about the origins of this work; there haven t been many American Record Guide 165

168 recordings of it. It is performed here by a boy choir singing in unison for all of the songs. I have no complaints about the performing forces. The Boy Choir of the Glinka Choir College sings beautifully with great charm. The pianist, Alexey Goribol, brings out the colors in Tchaikovsky s piano writing; and conductor Vladimir Begletsov offers contrast in tempo and rhythm to keep the program from becoming dull. But and it s a big one no texts or translations are supplied, not even in Russian. The titles of the songs are given, but these only give one a general idea of what they are about. Since this music is not familiar to many people outside Russia (or even in Russia) one would hope for at least summaries. I d still recommend this for the music, but you d better brush up on your Russian if you want more from this than Tchaikovsky s music. REYNOLDS TCHAIKOVSKY, RACHMANINOFF: Trios Trio Solisti Bridge 9465 [2CD] 112 minutes with GOLDENWEISER: Trio Trio Schafer Then-Bergh Yang Genuin [2CD] 132 minutes Trio Solisti s violinist scoops into her notes, plaintive and yearning. Ensemble is willful, impatient, ragged sometimes. Tchaikovsky s second-movement fast variations are aggressive and strident, the 12-minute variation finale pressured and manic (rather than joyous like Trio STBY), so we know how it will end; this is mock-triumph, empty and hollow like the march III of Tchaikovsky s Symphony 6. The cataclysmic and funereal coda pauses for breath to synchronize the trio a couple times where I want it to sound dangerous and irrepressible, barely controlled. Both Solisti strings, but especially the violin, are aggressive, often abrasive. The Solisti s pianist introduces a little hiccup, a repressed sob, into the grim descending main motif of the Rachmaninoff Trio. It s distracting and detracting Mr Schafer with STBY plays it straight (as does every other recording I ve heard). Also, the gentle and aching second section s feathery and mysterious ascending piano figure, rather than float smoothly up the keyboard, has its momentum disturbed every few notes by Mr Neiman s heavy thumb punctuating every beat, and it ruins the soaring effect. The best performance is saved for the shortest and least significant work here, Rachmaninoff s 1892 Trio 1. The Solisti don t overthink or overinterpret this abbreviated rehash of Tchaikovsky s mighty trio, but just play the notes straight an approach that would have helped in the other Rachmaninoff trio. Trio STBY s program goes from Tchaikovsky s trio in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein to Rachmaninoff s trio in memory of Tchaikovsky, ending with Goldenweiser s trio in memory of Rachmaninoff. Though it s an obvious program, it s done here for the first time on records. And all three trios have the same structure of extended sonata-style I, variations II, and coda reprising the first movement. I really like the STBY s way with Tchaikovsky: tempos are ideal, they take their time in slow passages of I and II (why make haste through this 50-minute leviathan?), deeply inhabit and characterize each variation of II, then bounce carefree and joyous through the final variation, surprising any unsuspecting listener at the tragic and volcanic reprise of I and funeral march coda. Just one fly in the soup: the violin is a bit loud and strident, the piano a little recessed. If only the engineer pushed the microphone closer to the piano and away from the violinist! The Rachmaninoff is perfect, the best I ve heard. The first movement is three minutes slower than Solisti, glowering, implacable, lumbering ever-forward like a juggernaut. The pianist pauses and lingers forever on his solo transitional passages between sections I love the patient inevitability. And violin is not strident here, better balanced with piano the balance I want in the Tchaikovsky. The variations theme is played by harmonium, as Rachmaninoff first scored the trio in Did you know that? I didn t. Rachmaninoff scratched the harmonium in his 1907 revision, and this is the first recording to restore it. Its wheezy character is touching and poignant. The variations are good, all repeats ignored (thank you it s long enough as it is), and the flawed, uninspired coda is OK, but no trio makes much of this disappointing finale. Goldenweiser s trio is comforting after the lugubrious Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, like hearing Fauré s Requiem after Berlioz s. The 15-minute I is valedictory, discursive, and flowing like one of Nikolai Medtner s less memorable excursions, and there are fleeting references to Rachmaninoff s trio. The motifs and harmonies are slippery and elusive but beautiful and also reminiscent of Medtner. The theme and eight variations are slow, except the short scherzando 4th and noble 166 January/February 2017

169 march 8th. The coda is marked tranquil, and it is, the music fading away wistful and at peace. This trio demands a lot from the listener but is worth your time stick with it and you ll be rewarded. Though it s two discs for the price of one, I d avoid the Bridge set it s OK for a onetime concert. Trio STBY achieves near perfection in their three works, except the violin is too close and piano too distant in the Tchaikovsky, but balances are ideal in the Rachmaninoff and Goldenweiser recorded at a different time and with a different engineer. This full-price set gets my most fervent recommendation for the Rachmaninoff and Goldenweiser alone. STBY s Goldenweiser trio is the best available right now, far better than the Kogan, Rostropovich, Goldenweiser recording which is hard to find anyway. The sound, other than my complaint about the Tchaikovsky, is marvelous, rich, and exactly how a world-class trio sounds in concert. You ll be glad you bought this set. WRIGHT TCHAIKOVSKY: Memories of a Dear Place; see STRAVINSKY TELEMANN: Cantata; Concertos; Overture Clare Wilkinson, Florilegium Channel :46 An engaging program with a few flaws. One flaw is the muddle of literature. This is obviously a program meant to show off the undisputed talents of some 14 players, in chamber-scale renditions, one player per part. Of the six works presented here, four are examples of Telemann s concertos for endlessly varied combinations of soloists, with strings and continuo: in E for flute, oboe d amore, and viola d amore,; in A minor for recorder and viola da gamba; in D for flute; in A minor for recorder, oboe, and violin. But then, in odd contrast, there is a cantata for the Feast of the Three Kings, from the Harmonischer Gottes- Dienst collection (1725). Finally, there is an orchestral suite or Overture in F where the ensemble is given new scope with two horns and bassoon. Without question, the performances are superb. These players are well established in the front ranks of performing Baroque music. In her one appearance, soprano Wilkinson sings with ringing conviction and stylishness. At least the first of the concertos is a wellknown and much-recorded item; most of the rest is not so familiar. One distinct flaw, however, involves the F- major Overture. It has seven movements, of which just the first four are here. The last three movements are absent, and are to be had only on download. Now, this is a very generous release in terms of time. But the minutes simply ran out, forcing this awkward cop-out. All that suggests last-minute panic, resulting from inadequate planning. Could the choices of repertoire not have been adjusted to allow a proper fit for the contents? Well, in every other respect, this is a commendable release, so you just have to put up with its spatial jolt. At least for now, Channel issues this release in a two-disc set: the second disc is a 71-minute collection of 16 excerpts from recordings made by Florilegium for the label over the years. BARKER TOMKINS: Anthems; Canticles; Consort Music; Organ Pieces Sing unto God; Thou Art My King; Above the Stars; O Lord, Let Me Know Mine End; Rejoice, Rejoice and Sing; Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis from the Fifth Service Daniel Hyde, org; Phantasm/ Laurence Dreyfus; Magdalen College Choir/ Daniel Hyde Opus Arte minutes Thomas Tomkins ( ) was born to a family of church musicians in St Davids, Wales. His father was organist of the cathedral there, and while very little is known of the early life and musical training of the younger Tomkins, it seems certain that he was a chorister at St Davids. The family moved to Gloucester in 1594 where the elder Tomkins was appointed minor canon and later precentor of the cathedral. The younger Tomkins may at some time have been a pupil of William Byrd. By 1620 he was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and was for the greater part of his career organist of Worcester Cathedral. As his dates indicate, he suffered under the suppression of cathedral music during the Commonwealth, though he remained nominally the cathedral organist and resided in the cathedral close for the rest of his life. The five verse anthems on this recording and the evening canticles of the Fifth Service survive with accompaniment for viol consort. As Daniel Hyde points out in his notes to the choral works, it is a genre that has stylistic links with the consort song and probably originated in the Elizabethan Chapel Royal. Laurence Dreyfus observes in his notes on the American Record Guide 167

170 consort music that Tomkins wrote for viol ensemble over the whole course of his long career. The pieces included here sample some of his most striking compositions for three to six viols that stamp the composer s personal imprint on the consort style. Three of the pieces are fantasias, and the rest are in dance forms: pavan, alman, and galliard. The intense chromatic writing of the six-part Fantasia 17 may remind listeners of Gesualdo. The six-part Pavan & Galliard 18 is notable for a restless oscillation between major and minor. Daniel Hyde completes the program with three of Tomkins s organ pieces. Elsewhere in this issue (see Dowland) I have expressed my admiration for the artistry of Laurence Dreyfus and his viol consort, Phantasm. Better consort playing can hardly be imagined. The choir of Magdalen College, Oxford is one of the outstanding traditional English choral foundations, and their performances here can hardly be faulted on technical grounds. Sometimes the solo voices in the verse anthems are hard to hear against the background of the viols, but the ear adjusts. There are not very many recordings devoted entirely to the works of Tomkins. Some that have come to my attention may have much to recommend them, yet tend to be less than warm and engaging. One exception is a recording by an ensemble of six outstanding early music soloists and the viol consort Fretwork (Harmonia Mundi ; Sept/Oct 2003). The anthems are the same as on the present recording, but with a flavor of domestic chamber music. The contrast is quite striking. GATENS TORKE: Manhattan Bridges; Winter s Tale Julie Albers, vc; Joyce Yang, p; Albany Symphony/ David Alan Miller Albany minutes Two recent stabs at the standard concerto genre by Michael Torke. Three Manhattan Bridges (2014), for piano and orchestra, is in the standard three movements. Rachmaninoff is the model, placing Torke in the unexpected neoromantic camp. In fact, if he were cloned with Gershwin this would be the result. The first movement opens with a declamatory statement and its thoughtful extended answer and goes on to dance in typical Torkean fashion, joyful and bouncy. As is the norm, a relaxed second theme follows, with mellow jazz harmony not a flavor I m especially fond of. The expected closing follows. The development is thorough. There s the expected cadenza. The slow movement is a gentle after-hours nocturne. The cheery last movement is again set up as a sonata form with a meandering development, complete with circle of fifths. There is ample drama and romantic angst. And the rapid coda is straight out of Rachmaninoff. Wild standing ovations will ensue. Winter s Tale (2014), for cello and orchestra, is only loosely based on the Shakespeare. The piece is in five movements, the first of which has a motive contained in it that will be gradually uncovered to supply the main element of the remaining movements, which move with circular, somewhat minimalist progression. Most of this is gentle and lyrical, and, as with all this composer s music, well-adjusted and smiling. As always, even though the piano concerto is at least on the surface somewhat different from what we might expect (probably not a bad thing), all of this is worth hearing, though better placed in the context of the rest of his work. Performances are all expert. GIMBEL VALENTINI: Mandolin Sonatas, all; BONI: 3 Mandolin Sonatas Pizzicar Galante Brilliant minutes Roberto Valentini (c ) was born Robert Valentine in Leicester in England. In his early 20s he moved to Rome, italicized his name, and lived there until he died. Little is known of Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni other than that he worked in Bologna and Rome around the second quarter of the 18th Century. This collection brings together all Valentini s known sonatas for mandolin with continuo, and three of Boni s. The notes say that these are the first published sonatas for mandolin anywhere. That alone makes the recording important, but in addition, the music is quite delightful, full of energy and charm. More than once I thought the music sounded like Vivaldi, who wrote several concertos for mandolin. The ensemble, Pizzicar Galante (Anna Schivazappa, mandolin; Fabio Antonio Falcone, hpsi; Ronald Martin Alonso, viola da gamba; Daniel de Morais, theorbo) produces a rich sound, with theorbo added to the harpsichord on some of the tracks, and just theorbo and gamba on a few of the sonatas. Schivazappa s mandolin playing sparkles she clearly loves this music. If you have any fondness for Baroque chamber music, you ll find much to enjoy here. KEATON 168 January/February 2017

171 VAN HOOF: Songs Wilke te Brummelstroete, mz; Peter Gijsbertsen, t ; Jozef de Beehouwer, p; Antverpia String Ensemble Phaedra minutes Flemish composer and conductor Jef van Hoof ( ) wrote about 120 songs, most of them unpublished, in late romantic style. This program presents 36 songs in order of composition. Aside from three settings of German texts, all are in Dutch. The texts come from an unusual variety of authors, many of whom are as little remembered today as the composer, and are about relationships, religion, and children. Songs about innocent children became, according to the notes, a theme that was to haunt the composer all his life. A set of seven Children s Songs presents alternating points of view by parents and children. After 1925 he wrote very few songs and devoted his attention to music for brass and carillon until around 1936 when he entered a new creative period and composed chamber music, large-scale works (including six symphonies), works for solo piano and organ, sacred music (including four masses), and more songs. Songs of the Cross (1948), a set of five deeply pietistic Marian songs of Christ on the cross, was originally written for voice and piano and soon arranged by the composer for string accompaniment, the version heard here. This is perfectly lovely music that grows on me with repeated hearing. Like so much music that never made it into the enduring repertoire it s not likely to be heard often in performance, so this is an opportunity to hear it performed in a way that makes a good case for it. The two singers share the duties about equally. Brummelstroete is the more accomplished singer and brings tenderness and expressiveness to Songs of the Cross. Gijsbertsen has a warm and vibrant voice and is at his best in the more introspective songs like At Night where he conveys that Love withered and now I am alone with my misery. His middle and lower voice has baritonal richness; his upper voice has brightness. Beehouwer accompanies ably, underscoring the humor in Unlucky Day of Love. The string ensemble adds a lucent aura to the concluding Marian songs. Notes, texts, translations. R MOORE VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fat Knight; Henry V Overture; Serenade to Music James Clark, v; Royal Scottish Orchestra/ Martin Yates Dutton 7328 [SACD] 75 minutes The Fat Knight is actually the suite from Vaughan Williams s 1928 opera Sir John in Love. He left a two-piano score, which conductor Yates orchestrated in A Street in Windsor hits the ground running with a full-throated horn theme and a tender cello interlude. Falstaff at the Garter Inn includes the drinking song Back and Side Go Bare as well as a burlesque trombone solo. John Come and Kiss Me Now develops with true gusto. At the end, as Falstaff enters the inn, this tune gets a truly grand transformation. Page s House is where Mistresses Page and Ford compare notes about Falstaff s pledges of love to both of them. The music is quieter, but its sliding chromatics speak of stratagems and spoils. A Field Near Windsor includes the familiar Greensleeves worked out in considerable detail. Overall, it s a fine movement, though with a bit too much jiggery. Ford and Mistress Ford is from the episode where Falstaff, hidden in a laundry basket, gets dumped into the Thames. The music at first is tender, possibly for the Fords reconciliation. The second part of this movement is a scherzo with its phrases crossing the bar lines, ending with offstage chimes. Midnight at Windsor begins with some mystic chords, then comes dance music for a troupe of actors dressed as fairies. The episode has a robust Handelian tune. The finale develops Vaughan Williams s tune See the Chariot and Hand Here of Love. The suite ends with the music originally accompanying the words the world is but a play. The overture Henry V is Yates s orchestration of a band piece. It s a fine, healthy work, making use of the Agincourt Song. Walton also quoted this in his great score for Olivier s film of Henry V. The Serenade to Music is played in its arrangement by the composer for full orchestra only. This music is so radiantly beautiful that I think it might even survive a transcription for bandoneons. But one does miss the voices because, aside from the supremely great vocal writing, Vaughan Williams sets Shakespeare s text so intelligently and movingly. Performances are terrific, with conducting to match. Yates s orchestrations pick up the composer s style completely; and the performers sympathy with the idiom would be hard to match, never mind beat. If you like your American Record Guide 169

172 Vaughan Williams beefy and full-blooded, soup s on. The first two entries are world premiere recordings. O CONNOR VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Organ Pieces & Transcriptions New Commonwealth Prelude; Wasps Overture; Preludes on Welsh Folk Songs; Viola Suite; Wedding Tune for Ann; Wedding Canon for Nancy; Aberystwyth Fantasy; Largo from Symphony 1; Prelude & Fugue in C minor; Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes; Tallis Fantasy; Dirge for Fidele; Passacaglia on BGC; Greensleeves; Land of our Birth; Alla Sarabanda; Lento from Symphony 2; Let all the World David Briggs Albion 21 [2CD] 121 minutes Like his compatriot Elgar, Vaughan Williams played the organ, was fascinated by it, used it in many of his orchestral and choral works, but wrote only three substantial organ pieces; the preludes on Welsh folksongs and hymn tunes, and the Prelude and Fugue in C minor. Everything else is an arrangement, transcription, or original work of minimal significance. Each disc has a complete program of both types of pieces, admirably played by the world-renowned virtuoso, David Briggs. He plays on a magnificent instrument found in Sacred Heart Church in Wimbleton, England. Built between 1886 and 1901 by JW Walker & Sons, it was renovated by Mander in 2010 and is a period instrument in every way, perfectly suited for the aesthetic and sonic landscape of this music. Briggs handles it superbly and manages to bring out colors, without the availability of modern playing and registration aids. As part of the restoration, the tubular pneumatic action was completely restored, which respects the original concept and the way this influences the player. High points include Brigg s transcription of the Wasps overture, the Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes (the second, Rhosymedre, will be familiar to all organists), the Fantasia on Aberystwyth (by his friend Henry Ley), and the magnificent and rarely heard Prelude and Fugue in C minor. As with most transcriptions and arrangements, some work better than others. I don t think the Tallis Fantasia is effective; it should be, as the organ does what the strings do best: sustain. Briggs keeps it moving and makes an extraordinary effort to pull it off, but this organ can t replicate the lushness of the original. I would love to hear it on the Philadelphia Wanamaker organ. Everything else is splendid, the playing magnificent, and the wonderfully produced booklet intelligent and illuminating about the composer. He loved Bach s music; he enjoyed the big sound of the organ; it is realistic to presume that he might have been a rather different composer without his studies and work as an organist. DELCAMP VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Songs & Orchestral Pieces Jennifer Johnston, mz; Roderick Williams, bar; BBC Symphony/ Martyn Brabbins Albion minutes This program presents world premiere recordings of four works that span more than 50 years of the composer s life made in conjunction with BBC Radio 3 for Albion Records, the recording label of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society. The album title is Discoveries, referring to one newly discovered work and others heard here in new orchestrations. They are presented in chronological order of composition. The performances are all first rate. The program begins with Three Nocturnes for baritone and orchestra (1908). For texts VW turned to the work of his favorite poet at the time, Walt Whitman. The first and last settings for voice and piano were orchestrated by Anthony Payne. The missing second nocturne of the three was discovered unexpectedly in 2000 in the composer s fully orchestrated form. This is the first recording of the three nocturnes as a set. For me this is VW at his best. There is no baritone I would rather hear singing English song than Roderick Williams. His performance of the Nocturnes is sumptuous. Such elegant legato singing perfectly conveys VW s pastoral mood in these songs; his tone is luxurious in Smile O Voluptuous Cool- Breath d Earth, elegiac in Whispers of Heavenly Death, and longing in Out of the Rolling Ocean. There is a gentle quality to these songs, and Williams caresses Whitman s words with great tenderness. The program concludes with one of his final compositions, Four Last Songs ( ), with texts by his wife Ursula and orchestrated in 2014 by Anthony Payne. Jennifer Johnston sang the first performance in Payne s orchestration at a 2013 Proms concert and was available to record it for this release. Her splendid singing is warm and lustrous. In between are two orchestral works. A Road All Paved with Stars is a symphonic 170 January/February 2017

173 rhapsody arranged by Adrian Williams from the opera The Poisoned Kiss. It begins in VW s lush and oceanic style, moves into a march, suggests a love theme, presents the kiss of death, and ends triumphantly. At 27:05 it is nearly half of the total program. That is followed by Philip Lane s reconstruction of a documentary film score for Stricken Peninsula made towards the end of WWII about the struggles of the population in southern Italy following the collapse of the government. The orchestral works have moments of vintage VW, but the overall effect, and not just in Stricken Peninsula, is of listening to movie music. Martyn Brabbins, recently named as music director of the struggling English National Opera, brings out the breadth and warmth of the orchestral pieces and neatly handles the transitions in both works. This is a significant addition to the VW discography. Informative notes about the compositions with statements from Payne, Williams, and Lane; information about the artists; texts. R MOORE VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Tallis Fantasy; see BRITTEN VEALE: Symphony 2; see GARDNER VICTORIA: Mass; see PALESTRINA VIVALDI: La Cetra, op 9 L Arte dell Arco/ Federico Guglielmo, v Brilliant [2CD] 106 minutes This recording of the 12 concertos from Vivaldi s Opus 9 (La Cetra) is a part of a boxed set of all Vivaldi s music published with opus numbers (plus the cello sonatas) released as Brilliant There have been recordings of this set on modern instruments, but the best comparisons are with the period instrument performances by Monica Huggett (1987, EMI), Simon Standage (1989, Oiseau Lyre), and Rachel Podger (Nov/Dec 2012). Huggett s interpretation is very understated by today s standards and represented the period instrument aesthetic of just the notes. Standage and Podger are very similar, even if separated by 23 years, in that there is more expression and some flexibility of tempo, though Podger has a better sense of line and greater freedom of improvisation. Guglielmo, who is also the principal soloist, enters with an approach that seeks to be original, evident right in Concerto 1, which starts with an improvisation on Vivaldi s original bass line (similar to a Bergamasca) and eventually adds the beginning ritornello with pizzicato strings an idea not indicated by Vivaldi. While most of the recording is respectful of Vivaldi s music, there just a few too many occasions when Guglielmo has chosen rather idiosyncratic bowings just to be different from earlier interpretations. The ensemble is one person per part, so the solo-tutti contrasts are perhaps more subtle than with a larger ensemble. While it is hard to beat Brilliant s price, I would recommend Podger s recording for consistency and musicality. BREWER VIVALDI: Laudate Pueri; Cantatas; Arias; Sinfonias Johannette Zomer, s; Tulipa Consort Channel :40 This is a nice program, devoted mainly to showing off the talents of soprano Zomer as if we needed proof of them by now. The large portion of music she sings here is in Latin. The largest work is a 25-minute setting, in ten movements, of the Psalm, Laudate Pueri. Much shorter is the three-movement Ascende Laeta, one of the introduzioni he wrote to precede Psalm settings (in this case, the Dixit Dominus. In between we are given a Latin motet, O qui Caeli Terraque Serenitas, running about 14 minutes. (The third of its four movements employs a lovely melody that Vivaldi used elsewhere, notably in one of his chamber concertos.) Also in Latin, but from a very different kind of writing, are three arias from Vivaldi s one surviving oratorio, Juditha Triumphans two arias for Judith herself, and one for Vagaus. These arias point up Zomer s very artful differentiation in the texts she is singing. In the Latin settings, the writing calls for strong affirmations of faith, with allowances for virtuosic display. The oratorio arias, on the other hand get from Zomer just the right degree of laidback and sensual vocal qualities. Her voice is as lovely and well-rounded as ever, as her artistry only seems to grow. As foils to the vocal material, we are given two examples Vivaldi s numerous sinfonias for strings and continuo. One of them is the brief and familiar one titled Al Santo Sepolcro, which the Tulipa group invests with a devout and almost mystical intensity. This is my first encounter with this group of period-instrument players (16 here), and I find them alert and stylistically sensitive, with fine energy when it is required. I am also American Record Guide 171

174 charmed by their choice of name, so appropriate for a Dutch ensemble. The recording is exemplary. Unfortunately, though the booklet has fine notes, the texts are not supplied an irritating deficiency in material like this. BARKER VIVALDI: Violin Sonatas & Trios, op 5 L Arte dell Arco/ Federico Guglielmo, v Brilliant :31 As with the recording of La Cetra (above), this is an extract from a boxed set including all Vivaldi s music published with opus numbers released as Brilliant Again Guglielmo is the principal violinist and plays the four solo sonatas and first violin in the two trios. In contrast to La Cetra I can fully recommend this release over the comparable complete recordings of Opus 5 by I Filarmonici (May/June 1996) and Baltic Baroque (2014, ERP 7214). Both of the earlier recordings have rather lackluster violin playing, especially in the solo sonatas, but there is a rich violin sound on this new release and imaginative but unobtrusive support from Guglielmo s continuo players. It also seems that in these chamber works Guglielmo has reigned in his attempts to be original, and that allows his musicality to support Vivaldi s invention rather than his own. BREWER VREBALOV: Sea Ranch Songs Kronos Qt Cantaloupe minutes This is a film (DVD) and soundtrack for the 50th anniversary of the environmentally friendly community in Northern California known as the Sea Ranch, accompanied by music by Aleksandra Vrebalov (b. 1970). The community, a co-op containing 2300 properties, is now a commercial center, though the idea is to preserve the integrity of the beautiful gifts of nature on the Pacific coast. The film is essentially a travelog, filled with slightly doctored and enhanced cinematography and liberal avant-garde-ish effects. Ms Vrebalov s score begins with a Kashia Native American song, after which a vast dissonant chord appears. A bell introduces a Russian liturgical hymn reflecting the beautiful chapel, since the Russians were the original settlers in the 19th Century. An archaeologist reads data about the locations to be built on, followed by comments by the original architect. Ms Vrebalov s music is tonal in the postminimalist sense, with radiations of the harmonic series, drones, and repetitions, mixed with plenty of Virgil Thomson-esque Americana. The ocean occasionally makes an appearance in the background, peaceful, but sometimes rough and turbulent all reflected in the music. An episode of coyotes, imitated by an altered piano, comes in toward the end. The work concludes with final words from the residents extolling the magnificent effort and their gratitude, one of them even wishing that she could die of a heart attack there so she would never have to leave. The general ambience is pure California, and pure 60s. Old hippies like me, who grew up close to similar cooperative communities will feel nostalgic and be blown away by the beautiful scenery, especially if they re not from Northern California. Hallucinogenic drugs would likely add to the enjoyment. The Kronos is thoroughly apt. Helpful explanatory notes. GIMBEL VULPIUS: Motets Capella Daleminzia/ Rene Michael Roder Querstand 1523 [2CD] 134 minutes Melchior Vulpius (c ) spent the most active part of his musical career in Weimar, where he held the position of Cantor and Latin teacher at the church school of St Peter and Paul. The several collections of music he published in the decade before he died are mostly Latin and some German sacred polyphony. This program of 23 six-part and 5 seven-part motets is culled from Vulpius s Cantiones Sacrae I. Texts derive from the Psalms and Gospels. Vulpius s motets are composed in the stile antico. They are harmonically rich, full of chordal writing, yet with frequent excursions into imitative polyphony. Dissonance is carefully controlled, though it does sometimes appear in melodic sequence. For example, the opening point of imitation in his setting of Psalm 51 (Miserere), includes an upward chromatic gesture. It is, in fact, strongly reminiscent of Josquin s setting of the same text. The performance of Capella Daleminzia is very well crafted. Peering through the texture, it is clear that the voices are individually refined. Yet when Röder brings them together, they are thoroughly blended, making it to difficult to distinguish the sound of one voice from another. It is the sign of a well-groomed 172 January/February 2017

175 ensemble. Notes are in English, but the texts are translated into German only. LOEWEN WAGNER: Overtures & Orchestral Excerpts Berlin Radio/ Marek Janowski Pentatone [2SACD] 2:11 A program like this is bound to appeal to me. Wagner s operas are too long to allow frequent listening, but the orchestral parts are very beautiful. Here s what we have on these two discs, in excellent sound: Parsifal: preludes to I and III Siegfried Idyll Siegfried: Entracte before Act III Gotterdammerung: Siegfried s Rhine Journey & Funeral Music Flying Dutchman Overture Lohengrin Overture & Act III Prelude Tannhauser Overture & Act III Prelude Tristan & Isolde Overture & Act III Prelude Meistersinger Overture & Act III Prelude I have liked much of what Janowski has recorded in the past ; I am especially impressed by his Bruckner in Paris and Geneva. But this recording bored me. Almost everything is business as usual; there are no special moments. Yes, he has conducted all the operas (he is 77 years old); and yes, he knows how to avoid pitfalls. But this is not much more than extremely efficient more German efficiency than 19th Century romanticism. Many tempos seem too fast, so the music is pushed along rather than unfolding naturally. For example, the Meistersinger Overture takes 8:44 Bernstein takes almost 12 minutes. There is no magic here. In most of this music we have Klemperer, Walter, Stokowski, and Ormandy; we don t need this. I expect to be deeply moved by Wagner, and I was not. VROON WALTER: Piano Quintet; Violin Sonata Patrick Vida, Lydia Peherstorfer, v; Sybille Häusle, va; Stefanie Huber, vc; Le Liu, p (Qn); Ekaterina Frolova, v; Mari Sato, p Naxos minutes Many of us of a certain (advanced!) age grew up with the warm, congenial recordings of conductor Bruno Walter ( ). In his early career, while still in the orbit of Mahler (his senior by only 16 years), he saw himself also as a composer. These works come from the first decade of the last century. The Quintet was written in 1904, and the Violin Sonata, dating from 1908, was Walter s last chamber composition and the only one published. The stylistic advances in Vienna, seen in Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, and indeed even Mahler, seem to have had little effect on Walter s composition. The sonata, which ironically sounds like the earlier of the two pieces, is rather like Brahms; and the quintet is clearly late romantic in style, but with not too much angst. Had Walter continued composing, I suspect we would have had another Reger. The music shows excellent skill and craftsmanship with everything sounding right, and we don t hear missteps. Nonetheless one might wish for more distinction in the thematic material, greater evidence of originality. So, no hidden masterpieces here, but good solid music, worth an occasional hearing. The performers, mostly Austrian, but coming from as far as Russia, China, and Japan, were all born decades after Walter died, but they play with understanding and fine technique (both pieces are fairly difficult). A welcome recording, then, and recommended to lovers of late romantic chamber music. ALTHOUSE WALTHER: Hortulus Chelicus Sean Yung-Hsiang Wang, v; Matthew Dirst, hpsi, org; Barrett Sills, vc Centaur 3493 [4CD] 255 minutes The German Baroque violin virtuoso Johann Jakob Walther ( ) composed two major collections of violin pieces. The second of the two, known as Hortulus Chelicus (1688), consists of 28 works for violin and continuo. Most of them take the form of a dance suite. Each of the four discs also includes a substantial one-movement sonata, and those are the most engaging works on the program. Wang points out in his notes that Walther s music represented the height of violin virtuosity in his time. While listening, one might be reminded of the technical difficulties of Biber s violin music; but I cannot think of another Baroque composer before Corelli who might have matched the technical demands of this music. The quality of this repertory and the playing is exceedingly high. Sean Yung-Hsiang Wang is a brilliant violinist. The technical demands of the music are no obstacle to his musicianship. And Matthew Dirst and Barrett Sills are sensitive in their continuo playing. It would be rash to single out any individual work as better than another, as they are all so American Record Guide 173

176 full of genius. But the one-movement works are noteworthy. The D-major Serenata exhibits considerable invention, with its various excursions into folk-like dance tunes and a marvelous pizzicato texture. The Capricci are laced with a dizzying series of variations over a ground that takes one s breath away. LOEWEN WARD: Consort Music Phantasm Linn :50 This recording was made in March of 2009 and was first released that year and reviewed by Ardella Crawford (J/F 2010). It is now reissued, with the same catalog number, in Linn s Echo series of reissues. John Ward (c ), one of the late- Elizabethan composers who extended English Renaissance music into the early Stuart era, wrote both vocal and instrumental music. In the latter category he wrote almost entirely for viols. His chief legacy is two collections, one of 12 Fantasias for 5 viols, the other of 7 for 6 viols; there is also one 5-voice In nomine composition and two for 6 parts. Some of them have been sampled in recordings, but this release brings all 23 pieces together for the first time. Like his madrigals, these consort works are not audience music in our terms. They were created for the pleasure and stimulation of the performers. One can readily recognize Ward s skill in teasing his players with melodious flow in polyphonic texture, and with harmonic tricks. The five-voice Fantasia No. 3, for instance, is a clever study in extended chromaticism: the textures meander from one suspension to another, as if we are never to be sure of cadence or tonality. The playing combines alertness and fine color with an appropriate leisureliness. Phantasm recorded another program, of Ward s vocal and instrumental pieces, also reissued in the Echo series (Mar/Apr 2015). BARKER WESTON: Choral Given Sound; Rivers of Living Water; My Heart Hath Trusted in God; Truth Tones; Magnificat; Nunc Dimittis; O Daedalus, Fly Away Home; Ashes; Ma at Musings; Messe Ancienne Avi Stein, org; NOVUS NY; Trinity Youth Chorus & Choir/ Julian Wachner Acis minutes Trevor Weston is a Professor of Music at Drew University in New Jersey. Julian Wachner, whom we ve admired in these pages as both a conductor and composer has championed Mr Weston s music before, having programmed his existing works and commissioned new ones. For example, Ma at Musings for choir and two percussionists (2004) was composed for the Providence Singers Maestro Wachner was conducting at the time. Their association goes back even further, as the two knew each other when both were students and choristers at St Thomas Choir School in Manhattan. Wachner now presides over a musical fiefdom in Lower Manhattan where he oversees hundreds of events annually as Director of Music and Arts at Trinity Wall Street. At that venerable house of worship, he conducts not only the choir but Trinity s Baroque Orchestra and NOVUS NY, the church s resident contemporary music ensemble. All of these folks perform at a high level, and the Youth Chorus conducted by Melissa Atteburg is right up there with them. Mr Weston is an eclectic composer to say the least, so be ready for jazz chords, some stomping and clapping redolent of South Carolina s Low Country, Near-Eastern and African influences, and a cantus firmus reminiscent of the spritual, Wade In the Water. He s also more than capable of connecting with the Anglican tradition he learned in school, as his broad and stately Magnificat demonstrates. His short Mass (3 sections, 11 minutes) tips its cap to the early Renaissance as it flows melismatically by. I m also interested by the aforementioned Ma at Musings. Ma at is the ancient Egyptian notion of the universal balance that underlies all things. In four movements for eight voice parts and percussion, Weston breathes contemporary musical life into words of wisdom etched on pyramid walls some 4,000 years ago. This is music worth getting to know, though I wouldn t say it s compelling enough to jump across the choral boundary to become mandatory listening for all. But choral aficionados will be interested to hear what Trevor Weston and his schoolmate Julian Wachner have come up with here. GREENFIELD WIENIAWSKI: Gounod Fantasy: see STOJOWSKI WILLIAMS: Symphony; see Collections 174 January/February 2017

177 WILLIAMSON: Organ Pieces Peace Pieces; Reurgence du Feu; Epitaphs for Edith Sitwell; Little Carols of the Saints; Elegy JFK; Fantasy on This is my Father s World; Mass of a Medieval Saint Tom Winpenny Naxos [2CD] 99 minutes Malcolm Williamson ( ) was a significant figure in the 1960s and 70s, often referred to as the most commissioned composer in Britain. He was born in Australia, settled in London in 1953, and enjoyed a meteoric rise as a composer and performer, and was eventually appointed Master of the Queen s Music in His output includes numerous organ works, six piano concertos, seven symphonies, ballets, chamber music, vocal and choral works, and ten operas. He possessed a formidable keyboard technique and often performed his own organ and piano compositions. In 1952 he converted to Roman Catholicism, immersing himself in religious music. Inspired by the technical, theoretical, and spiritual aspects in the music of Messiaen, he produced dozens of liturgical works for organ and choir. He served as organist of St John the Evangelist in London in the 1970s and 80s. There he played a 1962 JW Walker organ, one of the first in England to reflect the influence of the Baroque-inspired organ reform movement. I find much of this music academic and emotionally bereft typical 60s and 70s dissonant style harsh, ugly lots going on and full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Mass, Little Carols, and Elegy JFK are the most interesting, in the style of liturgical improvisation he was well known for. Winpenny is a fine player and manages the technical demands with ease and a fluid musicality. Playing on the organ the composer presided over, he makes as good a case as possible for this music. Excellent notes by the performer and specification of the organ. DELCAMP WINTEREGG: Reflections of Qoheleth; 2 Souvenirs; African Fanfare; Popular Variations on a Classical Theme; China Crossing; The City; Daniel Zehringer, tpt; Franklin Cox, vc; Jerry Nobel, perc; Don Compton, bass; Steve Aldredge, p; Wright State University Faculty Brass Navona minutes Daniel Zehringer has been trumpet professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, since Here he plays works by Steven Winteregg, composition professor at Cedarville (OH) University. I have heard and enjoyed his music twice before (M/J 2000 & M/A 2008: 235). Zehringer starts with an unaccompanied piece a bold move, but trumpeters tend to be bold people. The 5-movement, 9-minute Reflections of Qoheleth (author of the book of Ecclesiastes) opens with a Prologue that makes it clear that Zehringer is a strong, skilled, and tasteful player. A Time for Searching is contemplative, Chasing the Wind a muted scamper, A Time for Loving a warm study for flugelhorn, and A Time for Living a varied and exciting finale. As it turns out, it is the piece I enjoyed most. The big piece is The City, an entertaining work for trumpet and piano. The city is Chicago, and the style is jazz. Two Souvenirs, for flugelhorn and cello, was inspired by travel in France. Postcard from Narbonne is a quiet dialog, Train to Nowhere a little more animated. The 4-movement, 12-minute China Crossing, for brass quintet, has a rather imperialsounding Beijing, pensive Hangzhou (with odd clicks meant to sound like rattling sticks at a monastery), rather wacky and jazz-like Shanghai, and a polyglot mix of styles in Hong Kong. Popular Variations on a Classical Theme was intended for a symphonic trio (trumpet, bass, percussion) to play in schools. It begins with the Going Home melody from Dvorak s New World Symphony, then proceeds to five lighthearted variations in styles from the 1940s, 50s, and so forth. There is nary a word about Zehringer s collaborating musicians, so I dug around to find out that Don Compton is a Dayton-area bassist. Everyone else is a member of the Wright State University music faculty: cellist Franklin Cox, pianist Steve Aldridge, percussionist Jerry Nobel, and of course the Wright State faculty brass quintet (trumpeters Zehringer and Eric Knorr, horn player Jonas Thoms, trombonist Gretchen McNamara, and tuba player Thoma Lukowicz). KILPATRICK YSAYE: Solo Violin Sonatas; see BACH YUN: Quartet 1; BEETHOVEN: Quartet 11; WEBERN: Langsamer Satz; AHN: Arirang Novus Quartet Aparte minutes I know I shouldn t list a four-work disc under one composer, but the quartet by Isang Yun is by far the longest work here and the one taken by the players most seriously. It is 35 minutes in three movements and has not been record- American Record Guide 175

178 ed before. Yun ( ) was a Korean-born composer who ended up in Germany and has been much recorded. Anton Webern s 1905 piece was written while tonality was still the rule for him. It is lovely and opens this program with relaxed beauty. It is followed violently by Beethoven s Serioso Quartet, his shortest and in some ways his most intense quartet. The Novus plays it with an early-music tendency towards lack of vibrato, here used for intensity. They get through it in 20 minutes, leaving us breathing fast and waiting for more. The opening of Yun s work is an appropriate follow-up, mingling lyricism, basic tonality, and non-vibrato passages with violence and different styles that develop into an all-over direction that makes itself felt as we continue. This is the earliest work I have heard by Yun, written in The three movements end by pulling themselves together thematically into one. The program ends with a lovely setting of a Korean folk song by Sung-Min Ahn. The Novus Quartet is a nicely polished group that plays with a variety of methods and expresses the music to fine effect. They are recorded at some distance, giving them space to be dramatic or distant in tone. They cover the ground to good effect. I enjoyed this program. D MOORE ZELENKA: Trio Sonatas Ensemble Zefiro Arcana 394 [2CD] 105 minutes Jan Dismas Zelenka was a Bohemian composer who was friends with Telemann and JS Bach. Bach admired his work enough to have some of it copied. The six trio sonatas, written in Vienna in , were the first of his works to be rediscovered in the 20th Century and were published in the 1950s. Zelenka s music is known for its inventive, unexpected harmonic twists, rich counterpoint, and extreme technical challenges. Oboists Paolo Grazzi and Alfredo Bernardini and bassoonist Alberto Grazzi shine with elegant, virtuosic playing; and the supporting instruments are kept out of the way, so that the music never becomes muddled or busy. This music boasts extensive contrapuntal development and rich sonorities, and all but one piece are in the four-movement sonata da chiesa style. The two oboists are nicely matched in sound and style, and the entire group displays beautiful, cogent phrasing. The six sonatas have been recorded out of order, with numbers 5, 6, and 2 on one disc, and 1, 3, and 4 on the other. I am not usually a fan of music performed on period instruments, but this recording is both convincing and satisfying. The trio sonatas are gorgeous, and Ensemble Zefiro performs them superbly. PFEIL ZIMMERMANN: Symphony; Concerto for Strings; Music for King Ubu s Dinner; Genovese Carousel Cologne Radio/ Peter Hirsch Wergo minutes Bernd Alois Zimmermann ( ) remains a prophetic and charismatic figure of the German avant-garde half a century after his suicide, occupying a place in his homeland somewhat like what Peter Maxwell Davies does in England. A student of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, he shared his teacher s uncompromising but non-doctrinaire aesthetics and defiance of authoritarian repression. Ever the iconoclast, he wrote symphonic works, ballets, chamber pieces, and operas, many of them violent, tormented, and excessive, others raucous, surreal collages of earlier music that foreshadow post-modernist irony. A strain of political activism and theatricality runs deep in everything he produced. Zimmermann s 1951 Symphony in One Movement, here in the first recording of its original version, is, though a compact 18 minutes long, far and away the most significant work on Wergo s exceptionally-well-playedand-recorded program. It begins with a glowering organ and martial orchestral thumps and bumps that together might be setting the stage for a Godzilla movie, though there is more zoned-out hallucination than menace in the symphony s later quiet episodes. Formally the music is a sort of demonic march with interludes, but it seems to follow a stream-of-consciousness progression rather than any recognizable symphonic plan. In short, this is a volatile mash-up of stark contrasts unconcerned with logical connections, and as such I was prepared to dislike it. But to my surprise I found the symphony quickly pulled me in and riveted my attention. Is this owing to the fierce conviction that imbues every minute of this tightly-wound and highly compressed music, or the imaginative soundworld it creates, or the psychodrama it projects, or the subterranean consistency of impulse beneath the surface welter? 176 January/February 2017

179 British Symphonies ALWYN: Symphony 5; ARNOLD: Sinfonietta 1; BAX: Symphony 1; BENNETT: Symphony; BERKELEY: Symphony 3; JOUBERT: Symphony 1; MOERAN: Sinfonietta; RAWSTHORNE: Symphonic Studies; ROOTHAM: Symphony 1; RUB- BRA: Symphony 4; SEARLE: Symphony 2; WILLIAMS: Symphony 2; WORDSWORTH: Symphony 3 Lyrita 2355 [4CD] 315 minutes These performances are well known to aficionados of British orchestral music and the great Lyrita catalog. They range from the only available recording of a given work to one of the better of the few that are available. The playing is stellar, and the Lyrita sound is legendary. Most appeared first on LP, but a few I have seen only on CD. I collected all of them over the years and suspect I have plenty of company. I discussed almost all these recordings in two Overviews: English Symphonies I don t know, but I can attest that the piece casts a spell and, like the Ancient Mariner, doesn t let go until its tale is told. I haven t heard the reportedly more coherent revised version (which entirely omits the organ as well as some of the more disruptive sections), but conductor Peter Hirsch, in his annotations, argues persuasively that the original version is more searching, unpredictable, and powerful. His apocalyptic rendering of the work must surely substantiate this argument. As will also Allen Gimbel s lukewarm response to the recording of the revised version (Capriccio 5213; M/A 2015), which he finds troubling and serious but too sectionalized. Almost exactly as long, every bit as unbridled and transgressive, but entirely different in character, Music for King Ubu s Dinner is a sequence of eight short movements intradas, pavanes, lullabies, marches evoking scenes from the savage ceremonies of Alfred Jarry s embodiment of the marauding Id presented in his famous Dadaist plays about King Ubu. (Hirsch describes Ubu as a grotesque vision of the provincial bourgeois who rises to become dictator a mix of buffoon and serial killer, simpleton and monster...a warning, macabre and comic at the same time.) Zimmermann s response to Ubu s outrages is itself suitably outrageous: he pilfers every single note in the piece from earlier compositions, threading together snitches and snatches from the whole history of music (jazz, concert music ancient, classic, and modern, vernacular ditties and dances, and who knows what else) culminating in the final Brainwashing March, a confabulation of Ride of the Valkyries, the 1812 Overture, and a berserk pile-driver on the rampage that depicts Ubu s educated advisors falling one by one through a trap door to their death a symbol of the fate of a free academy under the reign of a tyrant, as Hirsch puts it. The program is filled out with two shorter, less ambitious, less disturbing items. Genovese Carousel, from 1962, is a clever suite of six 16th and 17th Century dances subjected to mildly anachronistic distortions. (This became the seed for Zimmermann s Ubu music four years later.) The 1948 Concerto for Strings is a rather Hindemithian exercise of the sort that Karl Amadeus Hartmann might have turned out in his student days. I like the concerto, but readily concede that the distance from this workmanlike effort to the Symphony in One Movement of just three years later could be measured in parsecs. LEHMAN COLLECTIONS Collections are in the usual order: orchestral, chamber ensembles, brass ensembles, bassoon, cello & double bass, clarinet & saxophone, flute, guitar, harp, harpsichord, miscellaneous, oboe, organ, piano, trumpet & brass solos, viola, violin, wind ensembles, early, choral, vocal. (Sept/Oct 2010) and British Orchestral (Jan/Feb 2010). I ll touch on them briefly here. WILLIAM ALWYN: Symphony 5. The faster sections are rhythmic and brassy, and the slower parts are eloquent and moving, particularly the funereal final section. Alwyn here conducts the London Philharmonic in an often lingering, airy performance on the light side compared to David Lloyd-Jones and Richard Hickox. L-J may be the best of the three. A better choice for this set would have been Alwyn s reading of the Third Symphony. MALCOLM ARNOLD. Nicholas Braithwaite s dullish performance of Sinfonietta No. 1 is the weakest entry here. If you like Arnold s lighter sinfoniettas, Pople, Dilkes, and Barra are stronger alternatives. Lyrita would have served Arnold better with his slow but compelling reading of Symphony 4. ARNOLD BAX: Symphony 1. Myer Fredman produces excellent balances between American Record Guide 177

180 power and romance with a bold, tough statement that misses some lyricism. Vernon Handley captures the work s grandeur and majesty better than anyone. Thomson is too broad and romantic, but good in the slow movement. Lloyd-Jones is too tough and brassy. Baxians should have Handley s full set, with Fredman s First a good supplement. WILLIAM BENNETT (Sterndale-Bennett). The Symphony in G minor is a pleasant, work, typical of pre-elgar (1867) English symphonies with their touches of Mendelssohn, et al. It is a minor work that does not fit this program stylistically. Much better would be the inclusion of Barry Wordsworth s fine recording of Arthur Benjamin s vastly underrated symphony. LENNOX BERKELEY: Symphony 3. This is a highly concentrated, partly serial work, with touches of Honegger, Stravinsky, and Milhaud. The composer s recording (here) is taut and gripping, with a polished London Philharmonic. Some may prefer Hickox s softer, darker effort. JOHN JOUBERT: Symphony 1 shows influences of Stravinsky, Walton, and Britten. Overall, it strikes me as neoclassical Alwyn, which is not a bad thing. It is a high-spirited work, with more than a few suggestions of menace. Handley and the London Philharmonic are perfect choices for a piece that deserves a wider hearing. EJ MOERAN: Sinfonietta is more lightly scored, leaner, and more sprightly and folklike than the Symphony in G minor. It s in the vein of Walton but less romantic. Boult s warm and genial treatment here is excellent, but Lloyd-Jones produced an exhilarating performance that I like even more. I don t know the Del Mar or Hickox. Moeran would be far better represented by Boult s great reading of the symphony. ALAN RAWSTHORNE: Symphonic Studies was his first big orchestral work. He was under the spell of Hindemith at the time, and the German s voice weaves loud and clear through its melody and harmony. It s striking, full of enthusiasm and energy, and it is more varied and rich than his pieces that followed. Braithwaite and the London Symphony are broad, direct, and symphonic here. Lloyd-Jones is more exciting and brings out some Frenchtype atmosphere in the slower passages. CYRIL ROOTHAM: Symphony 1 sounds like several English war symphonies. Its warm signature theme appears and reappears. I once called it not a great work but stirring, warm, and marked by the fingerprints of Bliss, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Moeran, and Bax. I now consider it one of the treasured discoveries from Lyrita. The recording, led by Braithwaite, is rich and worthy. EDMUND RUBBRA: Symphony 4 has one of the most beautiful openings in music. The slow movement is especially imposing and beautiful. Norman Del Mar is expressive but sometimes forced and ill at ease here. Handley is the best interpretively, though the sound is not great. Hickox is decent but literal, and he tends to plod, especially in the exquisite opening (but not seriously). Del Mar will do, but a better sample of his Rubbra is Symphony 3. HUMPHREY SEARLE: I don t like Searle s serial symphonies at all, but he has his admirers, as do these recordings. No. 2 is less fragmented than its predecessor and has a touch of lyricism and tonality. The Lento is one of the most atmospheric movements of Searle s symphonies. III is grotesque and urgent before a crunching final climax. Krips is the conductor. GRACE WILLIAMS: The first movement of Symphony 2 plays off a militant snare drum riff and angular trumpet fanfare. II is gentle, emotional, and consolatory. The Scherzo returns to the angular, strident nature of I, with touches of Vaughan Williams. IV begins tranquillo, then adds a touch of Mahler to Williams s processional style. Handley makes a strong case. WILLIAM WORDSWORTH: He is a modern composer, but tonal. His style reveals a strong intellectual approach to composing. The modernism comes from his use of restless fragments and motifs, colorful orchestration, and the lack of long-limbed melodies. His structures are tight and not spare so much as economical. The style is rugged, restless, rhythmically driven, lively yet powerful in the fast movements, and eloquent in the slow ones. Braithwaite s performance of Symphony 3 is excellent. If you are interested in the British symphony and have none or only a few of these, this is an attractive set. If you have several, the reasonable price may still make for a worthy purchase. HECHT The 9 Muses music astronomy dancing history comedy tragedy elegy poetry oratory 178 January/February 2017

181 Dream of the Song BENJAMIN: Dream of the Song; LINDBERG: Era; RIJNVOS: Fuoco & Fumo; TAN DUN: The Wolf Bejun Mehta, ct; Dominic Seldis, db; Comes; Netherlands Chamber Choir/ George Benjamin; Concertgebouw Orchestra/ David Robinson, Tan Dun RCO minutes This is a sampler of recent commissions by the Concertgebouw. George Benjamin s Dream of the Song is a song cycle for countertenor, chamber orchestra, and chamber choir, on poems by a couple of Hebrew poets and Lorca on the misery of life. Benjamin s language is cosmic and despairing in contemporary, nontotal style. Magnus Lindberg s Era is a lush fantasy credited to the influence of his compatriot Sibelius s Symphony 4 (7 seems to be even more in the background, though its free neotonality and Scandinavian tone clearly bears an even more immediate relation). Richard Rijnvos s Fuoco e Fumo is a smoldering tone poem depicting the remnants of the fire that consumed La Fenice opera house in Venice in The work is appropriately smoky and static. Finally, The Wolf is a three-movement concerto for bass and orchestra based on a Mongolian folk tale. The music uses folk material; it s virtuosic and crowd-pleasing. Like most samplers, this is a hit or miss affair, with the music well made and performances predictably excellent from this wonderful, bronze-hued orchestra. Texts and translations. Recorded in concert. GIMBEL Danse Macabre SAINT-SAENS: Danse Macabre; DUKAS: Sorcerer s Apprentice; DVORAK: Noonday Witch; MOUSSORGSKY: Night on Bare Mountain; BAL- AKIREV: Tamara; IVES: Halloween Montreal Symphony/ Kent Nagano Decca minutes Normally this kind of thing is hard to review, because there are six composers, and one may be good but another not so good. That is not the case here: nothing is very good. The orchestra plays well, of course one expects that. The conductor has nothing to say I have also come to expect that. Every piece has been recorded better except that I don t know about the Ives, which is ugly and forgettable. Beecham, Stokowski, Kertesz, and other great conductors have made something of these pieces; Nagano does not. VROON Serebrier Recordings LEE: Veri; MENNIN: Symphony 9; SEREBRIER: Poema Elegiaco; Nueve Adelaide Symphony, Belgian Radio/ Jose Serebrier Urlicht minutes Better have a stiff drink before you put on this wild, sometimes wacky release of music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Presented for the first time on CD, these are some of Jose Serebrier s rarest recordings, first issued on Finnadar and Dharma. A certain kind of officially sanctioned grimness from American music in mid-century characterizes the Ninth Symphony by Peter Mennin, the president of Juilliard. Full of sinister trills and dark brass ruminations, the Lento (I) begins and ends with a stark motif in the bass. II is also slow, more lyrical, with elements of wistfulness, in Mennin s words, and a poetic fade-out. The finale (presto tumultuous) is brassy and restless; sinister timpani and spitting brass deliver a suspense-filled build-up and a blustery ending. This symphony is dark from beginning to end, but has a pessimistic eloquence. Serebrier s Poema Elegiaco, originally called Funeral March, is just as grim. Leopold Stokowski, who was 88, was uncomfortable with the title, so for the premiere, Serebrier slightly reworked the piece and retitled it. It s still pretty dour, though it gets increasingly lyrical toward the end and delivers a poetic fade-out ending. The other pieces have more varied emotional contours. William Lee s Veri, by a composer known for his work with jazz, is rhythmic and violent, but also playful and tender. Serebrier s Nueve is a multimedia happening redolent of its time: striking, colorful, and well recorded. The bass soloist is the terrific Gary Karr, who also acts as a spare but dramatic narrator. It is full of aggressive brass and lively riffs for percussion and timpani. The recorded sound is vivid; the transfers from LP were done with skill by producer Gene Gaudette. SULLIVAN The 7 Arts music painting sculpture architecture poetry speech dance American Record Guide 179

182 Sinopoli in Dresden SCHUMANN: Symphony 4; STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben; WAGNER: Rienzi Overture; LISZT: Orpheus; WEBER: Oberon Overture; SINOPOLI: Costanzo Porta Homage; Tombeau d Armour III; Symphonic Fragment Kai Vogler, v; Peter Bruns, vc; Dresden Staatskapelle/ Giuseppe Sinopoli, Sylvain Camberling, Peter Ruzicka Profil 7053 [2CD] 142 minutes This is Volume 35 of a series of concert recordings from the Dresden Staatskapelle. The performances are from 1993 to 2004 and conducted mainly by Giuseppe Sinopoli, who was Principal Conductor of the orchestra from 1992 to The highlight is a warm, romantic reading of Ein Heldenleben. There is boldness and drama, too, but none of the sharp edges of the Reiner or the molded power of the Karajan, to name just two. The Hero is slow and more sleek than pulsating or throbbing. The Critics are light and clean cut, though Doctor Doring s tuba sounds withdrawn, lurking, and ominous. The Hero s Companion seems weary and insecure at first, but in time settles in as languid and dreamy. When the critics return, they are met adroitly by the crisp trumpet fanfare. Many conductors pull out all the stops in The Battle, but this one is on the slow side and sounds almost studied. It is not powerhouse music, and there is nothing exultant about the ultimate triumph. If anything, the Hero s win is more relief than celebration. It is fitting that Peace and Retirement are on the slow side, beautiful and languorous. The Dresden Staatskapelle s warmth and indulgence were meant to play music like this and in this way. This is not a great Heldenleben, but it is a very good one. The character of the following works follows suit. Richard Wagner s Rienzi Overture builds slowly from the opening, and the violin melody is sleek. Tempos are slow, but they move along. Sinopoli s muscle works well, though the faster parts could be a little lighter and quicker. Carl Maria von Weber s Oberon Overture opens with a beautiful horn passage; the trumpets that follow are sweet, as are the delicate violins. The second theme has a nice quiet sheen, and the faster music is exciting, full, and lush in a way that looks forward to Wagner. Franz Liszt s Orpheus follows the pattern with a nice building performance, moderate tempos, dark coloring, and sweet violins. On the other hand, Sinopoli seems uncomfortable with Robert Schumann s Fourth Symphony. Everything sounds hurried, impulsive, and awkward in terms of structural timing. The slow opening sounds rushed for no good reason, and what follows skims the surface with undue heaviness in spots. The uncomfortable tempo relationships in II do not fit together well, producing an effect that is tossed off and matter-of-fact. The powerful transition from III to IV is the high point of the performance, but IV itself returns to uncomfortable with a lot of too obvious accents. The whole performance seems nervous, led by a conductor in a hurry to get it over with. If you want a fast, somewhat aggressive performance, the often maligned Solti reading with the Vienna Philharmonic is better. Sinopoli s Hommage a Costanzo Porta (1975) is the second movement of the threemovement Pour un Livre a Venise. Prima Raccolta: Costanzo Porta. Venetian School composer Costanzo Porta was known for his sacred motets, and Sinopoli s Hommage is freely treated in the manner of a motet (Sinopoli). It is a quiet little piece where The original counterpoint [Porta was known for his counterpoint] loses its initial form and is split by the tone color into various layers. What that and the rest of the booklet description seem to mean is that the line goes from instrument to instrument as it proceeds. The result is touching and brilliantly carried out. The Cello Concerto (1978), the third movement of Tombeau d Amour, begins slowly in a web of sound and a touch of the trading of motifs technique heard in Hommage. Sinopoli then reverts to the standard bag of tricks from the serial modernism of the time ( ): jabbing brass, orchestral roars, dissonance for the sake of dissonance, technical outbursts, etc. That is countered by the cello s long held notes, raging pizzicato, rough-sounding playing near the bridge, and technical outbursts. Sylvain Cambreling conducts this work. The short Symphonic Fragment from Lou Salome is from Sinopoli s suite from his eponymous opera (1981). The slow introduction (apparently a common device for Sinopoli) is neobergian. The rest is faster, drawn from the aforementioned bag of tricks it becomes loud and angry before a quiet ending. Peter Ruzicka conducts. The booklet is full of pictures and essays about Sinopoli and the orchestra. The material about the standard works is very good. Notes for Sinopoli s pieces are informative but, as is often the case with notes for serial works, hagiographic and too cerebral. For all the standard works here, the 180 January/February 2017

183 recording is slightly distant, warm and blended, but short on detail. You get a solid, reasonably accurate picture of this great orchestra, but that is about it. The acoustic for Sinopoli s works is much closer (the cello sounds ten feet tall) and more detailed, with a lot more presence. I will leave the reader to speculate on why. I will say that if all the standard works (save for the Schumann) were recorded with half the sonic detail given to Sinopoli s, you might have something here. As it stands, there are plenty of great performances of the standard works, and there are better engineered recordings of the Dresden Staatskapelle. When the only truly unique and compelling product of almost 2-1/2 hours of music is a five-minute piece, you know you are in trouble. HECHT Mosaic SCHUBERT: String Trio; BORODIN: String Trio; KRASA: Tanec; KODALY: Intermezzo; ENESCO: Aubade; BURKHARDT: Holidaze; BACH: Organ Trio, S 583; STRAUSS: Bavarian Folk Song Variations; WASHUT: Soneando Trio 826 Blue Griffin minutes Trio 826 is a female group consisting of Susanna Klein, violin, Julia Bullard. viola, and Hannah Holman, cello. It has been together for five years and has a smooth and polished sound that goes along with the program they are playing. Schubert s one-movement trio is an early, relatively classical piece written in The Borodin is a set of variations on a folk song, originally written for two violins and cello, here arranged by Bullard. Hans Krasa ( ) wrote his dramatic Dance in the Nazi concentration camp that was to kill him later in The mood is highly effective and everchanging. Kodaly s early Intermezzo of 1905 contrasts well with it, bringing us back to the positive in life rather than Krasa s premonitions of death. Or does it? It ends with some sad thoughts. Enesco s 1899 piece, written early in his life, is a thoughtful dance scored with nice pizzicatos in places. It leads well into Rebecca Burkhardt s 2015 tribute to jazz singer Billie Holiday. It is very blue in color. Bach s organ trio is appropriated by the group for their and our amusement. OK. Early Richard Strauss appears with an 1882 set of variations, quite lovely and written with panache. The program ends with a work actually composed for Trio 826 in 2011 by Robert Washut (b. 1951), another set of variations with jazz undertones on a Cuban theme attractive. This is a highly listenable program of short works played with involvement by a fine trio. Many of the pieces are new to the world, at least in this format. I think we all would enjoy it. D MOORE Aleksic String Trio BEETHOVEN: Trio, op 9:1; HERZOGENBERG: Trio 1; DOHNANYI: Serenade in C Gramola minutes It is hard to look on oneself as a critic of a recording of this nature. The program is arranged chronologically (a habit of my own) and consists of two popular compositions (by Beethoven and Dohnanyi) surrounding one by Heinrich von Herzogenberg ( ) that is just as lovely, if less known. They are all beautifully played and recorded in rich, atmospheric sound. There are other fine recordings of all of these works but not together. If the program delights you (it is delightful), you will not go wrong with this investment. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is that the violinist, violist, and cellist are two youthful sisters and a brother who have been working together for the last ten years. They are from the Balkans and are portrayed in several photographs on the cover and in the liner notes. D MOORE Rootsongs DVORAK: Quartet 12; TAYLOR: 4 Spirituals; VIS- CONTI: Ramshackle Songs Ollie Watts Davis, s; Jupiter Quartet Azica minutes This imaginative album combines a string quartet based on spirituals with four spiritual arrangements and an homage to Tin Pan Alley an amiable mish-mash of Americana that hangs together well. Dvorak wanted this quartet to sound American, much as he did the Ninth Symphony, and that is communicated here. The syncopations and sense of openness are infectious. Dvorak wrote it in a three-day burst of inspiration in Spillville, Iowa, and the Jupiter players make it sound zestful and full of optimism. The slow movement, based on a spiritual is full of nostalgic lyricism and rich sonorities; the Vivace finale, with its churning trills and chugging rhythms, bursts with good cheer. The recording captures the sonorities of all four strings with warmth and realism. The Miro Quartet, in a recording I reviewed for ARG, plays this music with a special lightness; here we get an unhesitating richness sometimes resembling a small orchestra, though the American Record Guide 181

184 Jupiter Quartet makes sure we hear subtle shifts in dynamics and colors. The Tokyo (Sony) and Cleveland (Telarc) quartets also supply strong competition in this quartet, and I ve always liked the warm-hearted Guarneri reading from 1972 (RCA). None of these have a setting of spirituals and a new Americana piece on the same program. Don Visconti s imaginative Ramschackle Songs are an homage to Tin Pan Alley, sometimes tuneful, sometimes cacophonous, sometimes sagging and drooping. The Jupiter players revel in the harmonics, cacophonies, and odd hesitations. The mournful, droopy finale, Disposable You is, in Viscontis words, a meditation on obsolescence and how worn out and much-loved things have a way of touching us despite the vast emotional and temporal spaces that also tend to render them quaint and antiquated. One thing that never sounds antiquated is the sound of spirituals, as demonstrated by Andrew Taylor s arrangement of four spirituals. These are idiomatic and respectful to the material while adding expressive preludes, postludes, and nuances. Ollie Watts Davis sings Ride Up in the Chariot with intensity and soul. Taylor s dark string sonorities and juicy slides in Deep River work well for the piece; and Davis performs it with husky authority, never overdoing it or making it sound operatic. The finale, He s Got the Whole Work in His Hands, is exhilarating. SULLIVAN Trios From Our Homelands Clarke, Babadjanyan, Martin Lincoln Trio Cedille minutes Other than her viola sonata, Rebecca Clarke s superb trio is her most recorded work. It s an excellent work and one that any lover of Shostakovich s chamber music will enjoy. It s evocative and tightly composed, united by a recurring fanfare motif, here buried sometimes in the texture, not as obvious as the Lion s Gate Trio I reviewed before (J/A 2015). Also, the rhythms of the final Irish jig are square, less sprung than the Lion s Gate. Still, it is a very good performance, just different: it s more patient and atmospheric, with less emphasis on structural clarity. The trio of Arno Babadjanyan ( ) is his most recorded work. Heard blind, almost any listener would think it s by fellow Armenian Aram Khachaturian based on its rhythms and melodic contours, especially the vigorous and muscular finale that s straight out of Gayane or Spartacus. I is big-boned, brooding, and declamatory, piano redolent of early Rachmaninoff like his famous C-sharp minor Prelude. The slow movement is tender and singing, like Khachaturian shorn of his modernist dissonance. It s from 1952 but sounds more like The album s title applies not at all to Swiss composer Frank Martin s Trio on Popular Irish Melodies, a charming and winsome piece reminding me of Grieg s late piano work Slatter. Its three movements set Irish folk tunes in gently dissonant 20th-Century harmonies. It s quite warm and approachable for a composer whose music, though colorful, is often cool and cerebral. Where Clarke s Irish jig is implied, Martin s Gigue finale puts the highstepping tune front and center, as do the musicians. The recording is powerful, clear, with honest balance among the players, the piano s bass notes well caught, full and resounding essential for the beefy piano textures of Babadjanyan s trio. Both strings have sweet and manicured tone and intonation, yet plenty of fire without harshness in fortissimo passages. You re in good hands with these fine musicians and Cedille s excellent sound. WRIGHT Towards Verklarte Nacht Gabriella Sporgi, Mantua Chamber Orchestra Sextet/ Alessandro Maria Carnelli Brilliant minutes It was, if you ll excuse me, a brilliant idea to create a program like this for a recording. The big piece here, Verklarte Nacht, has been recorded dozens of times. A performance like this one very good but not astonishing would have vanished into the catalog and wound up as a remainder under normal circumstances. I don t think that will happen now. At least I hope not. So the recording offers a look at Verklarte Nacht in context. We get to hear a series of works that preceeded and influenced VN, arranged for string sextet. First is the Ricercare from Bach s Musical Offering: counterpoint and singing melody. I couldn t help reaching back in my memory to the Webern orchestration, a magnificent reworking of Bach in a sound language from 200 years later. Next are three songs (Brahms: Liebestreu, Schoenberg: Der Wanderer, Berg: Nachtigall ) with Sborgi, who is a very solid mezzo, 182 January/February 2017

185 though her top notes are somewhat squally. The point here is how Brahms paved the way to Schoenberg s complex harmonies and how Schoenberg and Berg saw the path that Brahms had blazed and went down it. Then we have a pair of works by Alexander Zemlinsky, a piece from his suite From a Man s Life called Fate, and a song, Mayflowers were Blooming Everywhere, for voice and sextet. The idea here is that Zemlinsky was an important influence on Schoenberg s concept of sound. Following that, we re on to Schoenberg himself three fragments for sextet and then the masterwork itself with a fragment of a variant reading of the end of the first section and beginning of the second. Carrelli writes that his performance of VN follows Viennese norms of the time when it was written. There s some rhetorical freedom here, but nothing that will shock a listener who knows the recordings of the piece. The variant passage from VN and a few of the other pieces are first performances. This is a valuable recording if you want to take a deep dive into the musical ancestry of VN. The recording that actually takes the work apart and shows what it s made of hasn t appeared yet. Carrelli s players are accomplished enough to do justice to the works here. If you take VN in isolation, the orchestral versions by Karajan (in studio for DG, in concert for Testament) and Stokowski are superb, as are the sextet versions by the Prazak Quartet, the Hollywood Quartet, the Emerson, and the Talich. The most powerful message here is how magnificent a work VN is, how it can set the spirit alight, as it does in this performance. Carrelli led these performances in connection with a book that he has written about VN. That makes sense, but the language of Mahler 10 and of Wagner s Tristan and Parsifal is an important and unacknowledged influence on this work. I hope he covered it in the book. CHAKWIN 7 Kings Grabois, Sanford, Ballou, Jacobs, Maggio Meridian Arts Ensemble Innova minutes It has been a couple of years since we last heard from Meridian Arts Ensemble. They open with horn player Dan Grabois s 7-minute Migration (1996), and this is how it went for me: when I listened the first time, I merely heard a typically kaleidoscopic, genre-crossing Meridian Arts Ensemble piece. Then I read composer Grabois s notes and learned that the piece is loosely based on the melodic and harmonic material from Schubert s song Der Konig in Thule. Whoa I certainly didn t catch that when I listened. So I listened to the song, then to this piece again, and sure enough: Schubert s first phrase is right there in the trombone part at 0:55. You won t notice it unless you are looking for it, because lots of other things are happening at the same time. And later, near the end (6:31): there it is again, big as life, the whole group playing Schubert s melody and harmonies. I m very impressed and quite captured by this terrific piece. David Sanford wrote the 5-movement, 23- minute Seven Kings in 2010, having been inspired by the title of Orson Welles s play Five Kings, after musing on the highly complex counterpoint of the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band, and after imagining a third trumpeter as a member of that legendary group. (Such imaginations composers have!) So this piece is scored for the six members of MAE plus trumpeter Dave Ballou. I is a Prologue that begins as a meandering, quiet, muted trumpet solo. Others begin playing, and eventually it is complete chaos, until things taper off at the end. II ( Contrapunctus I ) opens with a drum set solo by John Ferrari. Soon the group is playing fast, intricate, unison rhythms; then there is complex counterpoint, then there is pointillism, then there is complex lyricism, and then the movement ends quietly. III ( Chimes ) has bell tones by a trumpet, then by a second trumpet, then by others over held drones, then bell tones by mallet percussion. After a lull, bell tones begin piling up until the air is thick with them. IV ( Contrapunctus II ) is a wonder: section after section of complex counterpoint, each full of rhythm, each different. It is a true Meridian marvel, and one hopes V ( Act V ) might bring this twittering machine to a quieter close. And it does, with sustained sonorities and little hints of the previous action. Trumpeter Dave Ballou is the composer of the 13-minute For Brass Quintet and Percussion (2007). He says that the piece comes from pondering the difference between improvisation and composition. Both are composition, he says, one merely faster than the other. So how does this piece go? In the first section, sustained pitches underlie trills and a rising bass-drum rumble. A later section does indeed sound improvisatory, but there are also some simultaneities. Another section has closespaced, sustained chords, each slightly altered American Record Guide 183

186 from the previous. Near the end there is a fast, slurred melody that becomes a unison effort, but then it fragments and becomes complex. The ending is intense but then suddenly trails off. This piece is yet another MAE marvel. Edward Jacobs s 14-minute Passed Time (2006) was composed in reverse order: the chorale at the end was composed first, and everything else was formulated to wind up there. At the beginning, a melody is created when each member seamlessly passes a fragment to another. Soon this piece becomes another complex, intricate marvel that makes us wonder how the composer can dream it up, and how the group can execute it so deftly. Robert Maggio says that his 5-movement, 18-minute Revolver (1996) is a musical response to Jim Jarmusch s haunting western movie Dead Man. Extreme Western Frontiers is loud with big sounds, fast snare drumming, and double-tonguing. Unfamiliar Terrain is slow and a mite comical, like an exaggerated and wobbly saunter, with big vibratos and wah-wah sounds. Thrown into a World is the opposite: fast and relentless, and increasingly so, all the way to the excruciating ending. With Nobody s Help (Lost and Badly Wounded) is muffled at first, and it staggers along in fits and starts. Eventually it becomes very intense, then tapers way down at the end. Finally, in Opened to the Fragility (Slipping Away), quiet brasses are gradually overtaken by increasingly aggressive drums. The drums cease at their noisiest moment, and then the brasses gradually fade away. My hat is off to Meridian Arts Ensemble, once again, for making sport of such complex pieces. One of the key elements, I suspect, is that John Ferrari is such a terrific drummer. But each individual is outstanding, and together they are better. The other members are trumpeters Jon Nelson and Tim Leopold, horn player Daniel Grabois, trombonist Benjamin Herrington, and tuba player Raymond Stewart. KILPATRICK Lastlap McKee, Kazik, Drake, Nazaykinskaya, McComas, Danner, Younger, Salfalder, Theisen Tromboteam MSR minutes Tromboteam has been a trombone quintet since Its young members, all excellent players, attended graduate schools and are pursuing careers and advanced degrees in farflung locations. The group commissioned these pieces in Kevin McKee s 7-minute Last Lap begins with the sound of racecars zipping past, a sound effect skillfully executed with glissandos and flutter tonguing, plus some added ambience. Then it becomes a noble, heroes-savingmankind kind of piece that often reminds me of Ewazen. That same quality is heard in I ( Fanfare ) of James Kazik s 4-movement, 8- minute Trombone Quartet 3. Raucous glissandos punctuate a varied II ( Scherzo-ish ). III is a pensive Tribute. No reason is given for why IV is called Basal, but it has lots of repeatednote, Morse code-like rhythms. Nicholas Drake s Fanfair Play has each member of the group sharing the musical materials, as when children engage in fair play. Polina Nazaykinskaya s 7-minute Pavana is full of stirring, sometimes jarring sonorities that sound great as played by this ensemble with its well-matched sounds. Inez McComas s 10-minute Spinner is about the relationship between the daily news and the machines that disseminate it, between the story and the telling. Synthesized sounds (especially a great bass drone in the beginning) and recorded sounds (urban, camera shutters, people talking) are heard, both alone and with the trombones who play Morsecode rhythms much of the time. The sense of urgency is palpable, and I wondered where it was all leading, how it would culminate. Although the ending is not as great as I had hoped, I enjoyed this work very much. Greg Danner s light and lively Ice Cream City has a bass-driven pop groove in Rocky Road, cheeriness in Mint Chocolate Chip Boulevard, and bubbly syncopation in Brainfreeze Expressway. Dorn Younger s little Five Cousins is 1940s-style close harmony. I have greatly enjoyed two concert band pieces by Kathryn Salfelder (Sept/Oct 2014: 215 & Jan/Feb 2016: 217), who teaches at MIT and the New England Conservatory. Here her ingenious, 5-minute Fanfare and Fugue opens with a dissonant fanfare, uses the letters of her last name as the basis of a rather mournful fugue subject, then ties both portions together in a coda. The album ends with the big piece, Alan Theisen s 3-movement, 13-minute Crescent City Postcards. Lake Pontchartrain Waltzes is wistful, but All Last Night Sat On The Levee And Moaned is a rumination about Hurricane Katrina that includes dissonant quasi-improvisations over the spiritual Deep River. The mood brightens in the polystylistic Throws. Tromboteam s fine players are Jennifer 184 January/February 2017

187 Griggs, John Grodrian, Sarah Paradis, Ben McIlwain, and Craig Watson. KILPATRICK Cello Rising DEGLI ANTONII: Ricercata 10; GALLI: Sonata 3; GABRIELI, D: Sonata in G; TELEMANN: Sonata in D; BOISMORTIER: Sonata 2; BOCCHERINI: Sonatas in B-flat & A Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann; Bjorn Gafvert, hpsi; Karl Nyhlin, g BIS minutes To a cellist this is a curious adventure and a test. It traces the composition of Italian cello sonatas from the 1680s to Boccherini in the 1770s. Some of these works have been recorded before, but it is interesting to hear them all together. The earliest composer is Giovanni Battista degli Antonii ( ), whose 1687 Ricercar may be a first recording. It is from his Op. 1 collection for cello and is a lively, low register 4- minute piece. Domenico Galli ( ) has had his sonatas 1, 2 and 5 recorded before, but I have not run into this one. Its three movements last only about as long as Antonii s ricercar. The sonata by Domenico Gabrielli ( ) was previously recorded by Richard Tunnicliffe (Cello Classics 1016, M/J 2008). Bruno Cocset has also included it on his Agogique CD, La Nascita del Violoncello (July/Aug 2012, p 228). Both of those recordings include two versions of this work and they appear to disagree about which version came first. The present recording appears to use the one with a Presto finale rather than the other version s Prestissimo. All three readings are effective, though Cocset employs a great variety of instruments in his program, both for himself and the basso continuo line. Now we move ahead to Telemann ( ) and Boismortier ( ). Telemann s sonata is found in his large collection Der Getreue Music-Meister, published in 1729 and recorded complete on a five-disc album by Camerata Koln (DHM 77239, March/April 1993). Other individual recordings are by Cunningham (Virgin), Kuijken (Denon), Dornenburg (Centaur), and Duftschmid (Arcana). Boismortier s Op. 50:2 is played by the Concert Spirituel on an all-boismortier program (Gloss ; M/J 2005). Bakamjian takes all the repeats and plays beautifully (Quill 1010, S/O 2011), McNames (Plectra 20703, M/J 2008)), and Lussier play it on bassoon with a different slow movement (MSR 1170, J/A 2006: Schwartz). Brinkmann plays both Telemann and Boismortier with more improvisation than anyone else and a more early-music attitude towards phrasing. Her reading is effective. Finally we reach Boccherini, whose cello sonatas are characterized by a greater virtuosity than anyone else s up to his time. At least, that is how they are played here. For a detailed study of these sonatas, you should try the Cello Overview (M/A 2009). Sonatas 4 and 8 are showy and lovely works with more memorable melodies than the earlier composers came up with. The earlier and more virtuosic version of the A-major Sonata is played here with some passages so high in the sky that they seem unlikely to be what the composer wrote. They are played beautifully, at any rate. This version reverses the customary order of movements, beginning with the Adagio, then the Allegro, and finishing with the Affetuoso. Brinkmann and company do a fine job of putting across all of this material. The continuo lines are played entirely by harpsichord or baroque guitar, so the clarity is there without competition from a second cello, though I also like them done with a melodic instrument supporting the bass line. Still, I can recommend this to you. The Boccherini is to me the major selling point, particularly the relatively unexplored version of the A major Sonata, but the whole program is well worth hearing. The recording is clear. D MOORE Overtures to Bach BACH: 6 Solo Cello Suite Preludes; GLASS: Overture; YUN: The Veronica; IYER: Run; SIERRA: La Memoria; SANFORD: Es War; WOOLF: Lili uokalani Matt Haimovitz, vc Pentatone minutes This curious program employs a contemporary piece to introduce each of the Bach preludes. The new works were commissioned by Haimovitz for this purpose and were all written in What is that supposed to accomplish, Matt? It just makes everybody look bad next to the master. Or does it? Well, starting with Philip Glass (b. 1937), his Overture is pleasant a thoughtful piece that tends to emphasize the key of E minor, to which Bach answers back in G with his more concise Prelude. Then we meet Du Yun (b. 1977), whose setting of The Veil of Veronica begins with a lot of virtuosic high-register slithering followed by some low-register sliding and canoodling for 12 minutes, gradually getting more serious but also more deliberate- American Record Guide 185

188 ly out of tune. The piece ends with a long concentration on the note A, where Bach s D minor Prelude takes over with much more effective expression. Vijay Iyer (b. 1971) then runs in to show off C major, perhaps hoping that we ll get tired of it before Bach gets here with his version. He manages to make the Bach sound somewhat repetitious. Roberto Sierra (b. 1953) writes a harmonically and technically inventive piece where he tends to get hung up around one note. But then, so does Bach. David Sanford (b. 1963) tunes the cello s top A string down to G, thus echoing Bach s tuning for Suite 5. Sanford also tunes the C string down to B to make things more resonant. This contrasts interestingly with Luna Pearl Woolf (b. 1973) whose piece is written for cello piccolo, a five-stringed instrument with a top E string for which Bach s Suite 6 was written. Like Bach, Woolf s musical portrait of the last queen of Hawaii emphasizes both top and bottom of the instrument s range to good effect. The overall impression of this project is positive. It was an unusual idea and has been taken seriously by the composers, who have added their own programs to their pieces, increasing the variety and meaning of their contributions. Haimovitz plays all this with flair and conviction, as one would expect. The Bach numbers tend to be rather speedy and perhaps influenced in performance by their contemporary surroundings, but the emphasis here is on the music of today, and Haimovitz clearly feels that Bach would be influenced by today s music as it is by his. D MOORE Songs & Lullabies McGuire, Roberts, Beamish, Strachan, Stanley, Sweeney, Wilde, Irvine, TRB, De Simone, Turnage, Alberga, Jackson, Shave, Boyle, Macmillan, Hellawell, Butler Robert Irvine, vc Delphian minutes Here is a collection of short works for solo cello commissioned by the cellist. Profits from the recording will be donated to Unicef. 19 pieces are involved, lasting from two to sixand-a-half minutes. Some of the composers are fairly well known; others are new to these ears. The thought behind this project was the death of children for lack of health care or from conflict in their homelands. All of the composers donated their pieces. Eddie McGuire (b. 1948) begins the program with his Elegiac Lullaby, a pretty and thoughtful 4-minute piece. Roland Roberts (b. 1963) follows with an Elegy for the Children of War, that contrasts the violence of war with the sadness of death. Sally Beamish (b. 1956) presents Miranda Dreaming, with nice vocalsounding lyricism. Duncan Strachan (b. 1987) begins his Zarabanda with a gentle pizzicato passage followed by some drama, but no dance. Jane Stanley (b. 1976) presents us with a Winter Song replete with mid-to-high register lyricism. William Sweeney (b. 1950) describes Caolas, a spot in the Hebrides, first with a low vocal register answered by birds, then with a soprano register melody answered by fat animals on the ground. That s what it sounds like to me, anyway. David Wilde (b. 1935) finally projects a dance with his Invocation and Waltz for children in need, though the actual dance is only a small part of the piece. Robert Irvine s son Tom Irvine (b. 1990) suggests Safety by moaning and groaning on an overcrowded boat, not a bad piece to hear, but hardly represented by the title. John de Simone (b. 1987) writes a grumpy, scratchy, vaguely pitched piece that is supposed to evoke Bach s Prelude to Suite 1 but better conforms to its title of Misremembrance. Mark-Anthony Turnage (b. 1960) turns in Amelie s Tango, or so he says. It has a nice melodic sense, but I couldn t dance to it. Eleanor Alberga (b. 1949) gives us a lively Ride Through that is a much dancier piece. Gabriel Jackson (b. 1962) offers actual verses and variations in his untitled piece, but it only goes on for 2-1/2 minutes. Jacqueline Shave (b. 1960) writes Tili tili Bom, a 6-1/2-minute piece that begins with a knock at the door followed by a pizzicato passage, a folk-sounding melody, silence, harmonics, a groan, and a knock to get out. Rory Boyle (b. 1951) writes Baloue, a Scots word for lullaby in a serious vocal-sounding number that actually sounds like a cello! James MacMillan (b. 1959) Knock Knocks at the door again, but he never gets in. Now our soloist (b. 1963) expresses himself in an emotional statement concerning an Imagined Child. Piers Hellewell (b. 1956) contributes A Frieze and a Litany, another description of a scene in Scotland with lots of double-stop counterpoint, then single loneliness with occasional sound-effects. This mood continues with Thomas Butler (b. 1983) whose Lament is similar but with more sound effects and harmonics. Finally we meet Brian Irvine (b. 1965) with an Elegy (for Peter) full of violence and slither. There is too much variety to have a 186 January/February 2017

189 straightforward attitude towards the music. On the other hand, the general feeling of thoughtful sadness and sympathy comes across clearly, and there is some lovely music here played with involvement and feeling by Irvine. D MOORE Duo Sessions KODALY: Duo; SCHULHOFF: Duo; RAVEL: Sonata; HALVORSEN: Passacaglia Julia Fischer, v; Daniel Muller-Schott, vc Orfeo minutes The repertoire of violin-and-cello duos is small and mostly from the past 100 years or so. Violinist Julia Fischer and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott have gathered four of the bestknown and most popular examples of the genre on this very-well-played-and-recorded Orfeo program, which will certainly be enlightening and enjoyable to people unfamiliar with this wonderful combination, though of less interest to string-chamber-music aficionados (like me) who likely already have these works in several recordings. Fischer and Muller-Schott s playing is both very polished and notably excitable at times almost a bit too much so: climaxes are strongly underlined and fierce, tranquil sections dimmed down to near inaudibility. But it s all exquisitely precise and tonally gorgeous. The Kodaly Duo is suitably rhapsodic and wayward, the Schulhoff droll and inventive, the Halvorsen stately, and the Ravel far and away the most significant creation on the program and indeed on any list of violin-and-cello duos quite marvelous. There s nothing else like it for two strings, and nothing else like it in Ravel s ouevre. It s austere yet sensuous, probing and sometimes chromatic yet timbrally rich, inventive yet thoroughly idiomatic in instrumental textures and effects. And the hauntingly beautiful slow movement, written in 1922 in memory of Debussy, has emotional depths that Ravel seldom plumbs. If you don t know this masterpiece that s reason enough to get this release along with the cleverly adorable role-reversing photograph of the two musicians on the back of the booklet. LEHMAN Early Romantic Cello Sonatas by Moscheles, Ries, Hummel Marco Testori; Constantino Mastroprimiano, p Brilliant minutes This is a program that rather satisfies my ears, made up as it is of early romantic cello sonatas that relate well to each other. Sonically it is interesting since the pianist is playing an Erard fortepiano that has a warm but somewhat miniature sound that can be forceful without drowning the cello. The overall effect of the recording and the performance is warmly intimate. This is music that was written during Beethoven s later life by friends of his. The three sonatas are all in three movements but their handling of sonata-form is not always clear-cut so that they often sound as if they were improvising in an intelligent and warmhearted way. The big sonata by Ferdinand Ries is particularly remarkable for this since he mingles the introduction with the Allegro in an original way, treating it as a theme to be developed with the rest. The sonatas by Ries and Hummel have been recorded before, though only the Hummel has been done since the Cello Overview (M/A 2009). That recording by Martin Rummel and Christopher Hinterhuber (Paladino 19, M/J 2013) used Friedrich Grutzmacher s revision of the cello line to make it more interesting. The present recording uses Hummel s original, which emphasizes the piano line. The sonata by Ignaz Moscheles is his first, written in 1814 and dedicated to Hummel. It is a lovely work that has not come my way before, full of variety of feeling and imaginative gestures that are handled with involvement by the present players. The cellist gives the impression that he is less assertive than the pianist sometimes, since he generally maintains a low vibrato and a leisurely mood except when the pianist pushes him a bit, when he suddenly goes full out for a minute. Actually, they work together well and are clearly enjoying themselves. All three of these sonatas are major works. Even if you have the Hummel and Ries in other readings (and there are some fine ones) you might find the Moscheles worth your investment. The sound is warm and full. D MOORE French Cello DEBUSSY: Sonata; FAURE: Elegie; Berceuse; Papillon; Apres un Reve; VIERNE: Le Soir; Legende; SAINT-SAENS: Romances, opp 30+51; The Swan Henrik Dam Thomsen; Ulrich Staerk, p DaCapo minutes This is a pretty little program. It begins seriously with the great Debussy Sonata played with passion and detail. The clarity and attention-getting accents, particularly in Staerk s piano-playing, make this a rather individual American Record Guide 187

190 and satisfying reading. Thomsen s playing is also a plus, and the recording contributes to the effect. One tends to consider the four Fauré pieces as making up almost a sonata of their own, his Lullaby a fine slow movement and his Butterfly a scherzo. The two little pieces by Louis Vierne are attractive, and Saint-Saens steps in to good effect with his two lovely Romances and Swan. I somewhat miss the intensity shown in the Debussy, but it is a touching program as it stands and makes me want more from these two musicians. D MOORE Havana Moon D Rivera, Del Aguila, Jofre, Villa-Lobos Mariam Adam, cl; Liana Gourdjia, v; Evelyn Ulex, p; JP Jofre, bandoneon Steinway minutes Imani Winds clarinetist Mariam Adam and German pianist Evelyn Ulex call themselves the TransAtlantic Ensemble as a nod to their enthusiasm for music on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, they place a spotlight on living Latin American composers. Russian violinist Liana Gourdjia and Argentine-born Harlem based bandoneon performer Juan Pablo (JP) Jofre join the duo on several of the tracks. Cuban clarinetist-composer Paquito D Rivera (b. 1948) is the star of the program with his jazzy and eclectic four-movement suite, The Cape Cod Files (2009), written for acclaimed American clarinet and piano duo Jon Manasse and Jon Nakamatsu. He also lends clarinet-and-piano versions of his Habanera, Vals Venezolano, and Contradanza from his 1994 multi-movement wind quintet Aires Tropicales. The remainder is a collection of miniatures: Uruguayan-born American composer Miguel del Aguila (b. 1957) offers Tango Trio for violin, clarinet, and piano and Silence for clarinet and piano; and JP Jofre (b. 1983) contributes his own Sweet Dreams and Primavera for clarinet, bandoneon, and piano. Heitor Villa-Lobos ( ) is no longer living, and thus maybe a partial exception to the album s theme, but his solo piano pieces Valsa da Dor (1932) and Skyline of New York (1939) fit nicely on the concert. The scores invite the listener into dream worlds of intense feeling and exuberance, and while most readers will know D Rivera and Villa-Lobos, the Del Aguila and Jofre contributions deserve just as much attention. The Jofre Sweet Dreams and Del Aguila Silence are wonderfully poignant, and the Del Aguila Tango Trio and Jofre Primavera are catchy and creative. The performances only scratch the surface of possibility. Adam plays with a hollow and reedy sound that sometimes makes her high register shrill and her intonation wobbly, and while she has a good legato and some nice jazz inflections, most of her ideas are plain and most of her phrasing is dull. Ulex has excellent command and technique, but she allows her musicianship to blossom more fully in her solo pieces than in the chamber collaborations and even then, several aspects of the scores could use more development and elaboration. The strongest part of the album are the guest tracks, where Gourdjia and Jofre inspire their hosts with their contagious energy and effortless virtuosity. HANUDEL Debut Recital Bernstein, Brahms, Burgmuller, Francaix, Widmann Bettina Aust, cl; Robert Aust, p Genuin minutes A production of the German Music Project and German Radio and Culture, this release is an introduction to the 2015 German Music Competition winner Bettina Aust, a protege of renowned clarinetists Sabine Meyer and Pascal Moragues. Her older brother Robert, a 2012 scholarship recipient of the Competition, already has a budding career as a keyboard soloist and chamber musician. The program is standard recital fare the Bernstein Sonata, the Brahms Sonata No. 1, the Burgmuller Duo, the Francaix Tema con Variazioni, and the Widmann Fantasy a contemporary favorite, especially in Germany. The liner notes rarely discuss the composers and the music, choosing instead to offer biographies, artist photographs, a discourse on the Competition, and an extended interview with the soloist. The effort is decent but not yet ready for a knowledgeable audience. Bettina boasts good technique, a creamy legato, and a nice soft color, and she handles Widmann s sonic obstacles very well. At the same time, her sound easily spreads at loud volumes, her intonation is sometimes shaky, and her interpretations are rather conventional. Robert has an excellent command of the keyboard, and he relishes his role as an equal partner, digging into the notes when required or simply creat- 188 January/February 2017

191 ing a misty backdrop for the clarinet. Even so, he tends to drive past some of the special moments, especially in the Brahms; and some of his note-heavy passages are dry. Serious listeners will yearn for more polish and emotion. HANUDEL Trio Solari Bartok, Khachaturian, Knight, Milhaud Sean Yung-Hsiang Wang, v; Chad Burrow, cl; Amy I-Lin Cheng, p Centaur minutes Violinist Sean Yung-Hsiang Wang teaches at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in New York s Hudson Valley, and clarinetist Chad Burrow and pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng are faculty at the University of Michigan. Since 2005 they have toured and performed as the Trio Solari, and here they give a recital of three cornerstones for their medium: the Khachaturian Trio (1932), completed during the composer s graduate studies at the Moscow Conservatory; the Milhaud Suite (1937) from the composer s music to the Jean Anouilh play The Traveler Without Luggage; and the Bartok Contrasts (1938), requested by Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti and financed by the young American swing clarinetist Benny Goodman. The Trio asked for a new piece from Oklahoma City University composer Edward Knight. His response is Sea of Grass, Ocean of Sky, a substantial contribution to the violinclarinet-piano repertoire that puts to music letters written by a settler in the Oklahoma Territory trying to persuade his fiancee living back east to join him. The three-movement 20- minute work is full of sprawling American lyricism reminiscent of the infinite prairie and horizon of the Great Plains. The concert is very professional, replete with clear and gorgeous timbres, clean and effortless technique, and natural and graceful teamwork. Readers who need skilled and polished renditions of the Bartok, the Milhaud, and the Khachaturian should be pleased; and the Knight is a brilliant new addition to the repertoire, by turns elegant, witty, wistful, and inventive. The score has the feeling of a spirited conversation between three old friends on a country porch at sunset, and whenever one senses a tip of the hat to Copland, the music always takes off in a surprising and mischievous direction. At the same time, the overall presentation tends to be safe and conservative. In the moments when the trio succumbs to the composer s power, as in the final movement of the Milhaud or in last measures of the Bartok, the process is very rewarding; but too often the group stays one step removed, testing the temperature of the water, and finally sticking to a handful of dynamics, colors, and moods. The Milhaud needs more bite; the Khachaturian needs more mystery; and the Bartok needs more violence and heartbreak. Even the Knight has avenues of imagination not yet explored. Still, in an age where anyone can make a recording, the Trio Solari sets a high standard of playing and meets it. HANUDEL Live in Sicily Borrometi, Morricone, Piazzolla, Piovani, Rota, Schifrin, Stadler Gianluca Campagnolo, Giovanni La Rosa, cl; Sebastiano Mole, Tommaso Piazzese, fl; Valerio Battaglia, Saro Lorefice, g; Giuseppe Blanco, db; Salvatore Incatasciato, perc Amadeus minutes Italian clarinetist Gianluca Campagnolo pays tribute to four Sicilian friends who played important roles in his music career. The program begins with the Caprice No. 3 for solo clarinet by the late 18th Century Viennese clarinetist Anton Stadler ( ), one of Mozart s favorite wind players. There are three pieces by the relatively unknown 19th Century Italian composer Federico Borrometi ( ) his Fantasia on Bellini s La Sonnanbula for clarinet and piano; his Polka No. 5, also for clarinet and piano; and his eight clarinet duets. In the middle of the program, Campagnolo makes a specific dedication to Sicilian expatriates in Argentina: the Winter movement (Inverno Porteno) from the Astor Piazzolla Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (1970). The scoring here clarinet, flute, electric guitar, double bass, piano, and percussion is very similar to the original violin, electric guitar, double bass, piano and bandoneon. Orchestra aficionados know the version for solo violin and string orchestra brilliantly arranged by Leonid Desyatnikov (b. 1955) tp be played with the Vivaldi. The last four selections take the listener to the movie theater: the Nino Rota Waltz from The Godfather (1972), arranged for flute, clarinet, and piano; the Ennio Morricone Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso (1988), also arranged for flute, clarinet, and piano; the Nicola Piovani theme from La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful, 1998), arranged for clarinet, guitar, piano, and percussion; and the Lalo American Record Guide 189

192 Schifrin theme from the television series and later film franchise Mission: Impossible, arranged for clarinet and piano. The title of the album implies that all of the performances took place in concert, but only the closing Schifrin seems to have an audience. Even so, the recording quality is bad. The piano is dry and tinny in one selection and blurry in another; and the Piazzolla, which requires the largest group, is muddy and poorly balanced; the bass lines are almost always lost, and at loud volumes the recording crackles. In his previous albums Campagnolo has come across as an amateur player with decent fingers, and though his effort is better here, his sonic command is still wobbly, his pitch still sags, and when he gets excited he can lose a lot of control. His dynamic range is good, but his color palette is small, and he offers few insights and ideas. His colleagues vary in ability. Cancellieri is a respectable keyboardist, and fellow clarinetist La Rosa is a keen and sensitive duet partner, but flutists Mole and Piazzese struggle with tone and intonation. The rhythm players are reliable, and they add a nice folk element to their selections. HANUDEL English Fantasy Dankworth, Hawes, Reade, Todd Emma Johnson, cl; BBC Concert Orchestra/ Philip Ellis Nimbus minutes British clarinet soloist Emma Johnson teams up with the BBC Concert Orchestra to present contemporary British music for clarinet and orchestra written expressly for her. The program includes the Suite from the 1987 BBC production of The Victorian Kitchen Garden by television composer Paul Reade ( ); the Woolwich Clarinet Concerto by the late jazz clarinetist and bandleader Sir John Dankworth ( ), named after the London neighborhood that Johnson calls home; Concerto for Emma by jazz pianist and composer Will Todd (b. 1970); and the recently completed Clarinet Concerto by the neo-romantic composer Patrick Hawes (b. 1958), who resides in rural Norfolk, England. British maestro Philip Ellis, a popular guest conductor all through the United Kingdom and abroad, especially for ballet, takes the baton. The music extends from the sweet English pastoralism in the Reade, the Dankworth, and the Hawes to outright swing and splashes of Gallic orchestral color in the Dankworth and the Todd. Though already well known, the Reade is always a delight to hear; and American clarinetists looking for fresh scores should take a serious look at the Hawes, a beautifully written and affecting neo-romantic throwback to Finzi and the brief nationalist flourish in British music. The Dankworth has been around for two decades, but it still has an inventive and alluring postmodernist character that stands out from the other works. The Todd is an interesting piece with promising moments, but it winds up with a few too many film cliches. Johnson offers her trademark British timbre, a sonic concept that emphasizes the outer edges over the inner core. In lyrical lines cast at a mezzo-piano she shapes and integrates her sound nicely, and it contributes greatly to her expressive phrasing. In moments of intense fervor, volume, and excitement, though, she often overblows her thin reed and allows her throat and oral cavity to move too much, resulting in a spread tone, squawky notes, sloppy technique, and bad intonation. By contrast, Ellis and the BBC Concert Orchestra are excellent all through, rendering each score with superb execution, musicianship, and professionalism. HANUDEL Chamber Music Berg, Brahms, Schumann, Weber Anatoly Kamyshev, cl; Ivan Monighetti, vc; Andrey Gavrilov, p Melodiya minutes The Russian label offers a reissue of a 1982 recording by noted Russian clarinet soloist Anatoly Kamyshev performing four recital favorites: the Weber Duo Concertant, the Schumann Fantasy Pieces, the Brahms Trio in A minor, and the Berg Four Pieces. Joining him are international cello soloist and former Rostropovich protege Ivan Monighetti and keyboardist-conductor Andrey Gavrilov. The concert has the air of a competition, intent on impressing a jury rather than making a personal connection. In the slow movements Kamyshev and Gavrilov play with genuine lyricism and appropriate color, though sometimes the emotion seems forced, as when Kamyshev overdoes his vibrato or when Gavrilov dryly pounds the keyboard. In the fast movements, they show off their outstanding technique with excessively daring and aggressive tempos; and while their display is breathtaking and thrilling, they miss a lot of the music between the notes. Kamyshev employs a free blowing set-up 190 January/February 2017

193 to execute articulated passages at the chosen speeds. He sometimes forgets to respect the limits of his reed, and when he does his tone and intonation go awry. Gavrilov s clarity and finger speed are so good that he simply becomes a machine and renders the score as a made-to-order etude. Serious listeners will enjoy Monighetti. He plays with a beautiful singing voice and great artistic awareness, and his presence alone raises the level of musicianship. He also adapts easily to his colleagues, blending effortlessly into their sound world and tempos. HANUDEL Lessons of the Sky Amram, Decruck, Rogers, Swerts Clifford Leaman, sax; Joseph Rackers, p Equilibrium minutes University of South Carolina faculty members Clifford Leaman and Joseph Rackers present a recital of 20th and 21st Century works for saxophone and piano. The program begins with the title piece, Lessons of the Sky (1985) by Arizona State University composer Rodney Rogers and then offers one of the neglected saxophone works of neo-impressionist French composer Fernande Decruck ( ), her Sonata in C-sharp written for legendary French performer and pedagogue Marcel Mule. The last three works are more recent entries into the repertoire: Breaking (2011), a suite of ten short character pieces by University of South Carolina professor John Fitz Rogers; Greenwich Village Portraits (2014) by noted American film and theater composer David Amram; and Klonos (1993), a virtuosic fantasy by Belgian composer Piet Swerts. The concert is a path down the new and unknown, and it offers almost something for everyone: contemporary American lyricism, Gallic impressionist charm, jazzy wit, and brusque modernist portraits. Leaman plays with vigor, poise, smooth legato, nimble fingers, and a fine soft dynamic color; and Rackers complements him with beautiful tone, touch, balance, and technique. Not every saxophonist will be sold on Leaman s sonic concept it has a distinct nasal quality, and at loud volumes it can spread a little and some listeners may wish for deeper and more personal phrasing. Still, the album is a good addition to a saxophonist s library. HANUDEL Traceur Beaser, Bermel, Epstein, Foss, Gompper, Schwantner Michael Norsworthy, cl; David Gompper, p New Focus minutes Michael Norsworthy is the Principal Clarinet of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and a faculty member at the Boston Conservatory, where he teaches clarinet and serves as Director of Contemporary Music Performance and Chair of the Woodwind Department. David Gompper, a former Fulbright Scholar, is a Professor of Composition and the Director of the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa. Their recital here favors American composers and contemporary music. German-born Lukas Foss ( ) moved to Philadelphia in 1937 with his family, studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Tanglewood, and became the pianist of the Boston Symphony. Before his commitment to the avant-garde, he developed his identity in a neo-classical period influenced by the American populism of Copland and Bernstein, and he later stated that his early Three American Pieces (1945) were written at a time when I was in love with my newly adopted country. Pulitzer Prize winning minimalist composer Joseph Schwantner appears with his Black Anemones (1980), a song on a Spanish poem by American poet Agueda Pizzaro, here transcribed for clarinet; postmodern composerclarinetist Derek Bermel contributes his Schizm (1993), a work originally for oboe and piano that explores a variety of world music, from the Middle East to the Caribbean; Robert Beaser, longtime Professor and Chair of the Composition Department at Juilliard, offers the highly eclectic six-movement Souvenirs (2002), originally commissioned by the piccolo committee of the National Flute Association; Marti Epstein, Professor of Composition at both the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College, contributes Nebraska Impromptu (2013), a commission from Norsworthy that reflects on the composer s childhood in the landscape of the Great Plains; and Gompper concludes the presentation with his Traceur (2015), a work inspired by mathematics and running, conceived at the MacDowell Artist Colony in New Hampshire. The music is accessible modernism, full of delightful tunes, motives, and rhythms that take startling twists and turns in harmony and phrasing, sometimes decorated with glissandos, growls, and multiphonics. Norsworthy American Record Guide 191

194 and Gompper meet these challenges with sensitivity and spirit, rendering the slow movements as contemplative prayers and the fast movements as joyful dances. Norsworthy has good fingers, a remarkable ease with extended devices, and a lively and affecting persona, yet his soft reed can undermine his work. While it enables his lovely and haunting pianissimo whispers, it also causes him to lose sonic finesse above a mezzo-forte, where it results in a thin, squawky sound, muddy execution, and shoddy intonation. Gompper is a steady force all through, with excellent touch, athletic technique, and a broad dynamic range; but he could have more presence in some of the more extroverted movements. HANUDEL A Breath of New Life 18th Century Recorder Saskia Coolen; Patrick Ayrton, hpsi; Rainer Zipperling, gamba Globe minutes Despite the relative paucity of surviving repertoire for the instrument (with a few more late baroque collections of sonatas surfacing in European libraries), professional recorder players, trained above all in the Netherlands, continue to delve assiduously into the instrument and its history. This marks the sixth disc for Coolen on Globe over the last dozen years; it presents an aural exploration of six distinct recorders (one sopranino and five altos) from museums in the Netherlands and private collections. These are heard in sonatas for recorder and continuo by Wassenaer, Fesch, and Nozeman (the latter two originally published for violin), as well as a selection of tunes from a manuscript collection held in The Hague, plus two suites for gamba and continuo (Hacquart, Schenck) and one for harpsichord (Bustijn), also by composers from the Low Countries. The execution of the project is lovely not only the choice of repertoire and their recordings, but also the booklet (Dutch-English) and its design. Each copy of the pressing of 1000 is numbered. T MOORE Alive in the Studio SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Sonata; DUNKEL: 4 Visions for 4 Flutists; MORENO: Episodes; MUSKAL: Sof; Mechanofin Paul Lustig Dunkel, Laura Connesser, RIE Schmidt, Tanya Witek, fl; Peter Basquin, p; Tony Moreno, perc MSR minutes The Shostakovich cello sonata played on the flute? I m sorry. Too many of the tunes have been altered in the middle because they don t fit on the flute in their original shape. One never knows when this will occur, and the end result is more Dunkel than Shostakovich. Also a number of notes have changed from the original, not to their advantage. Then we meet Dunkel as a composer for four flutes. He hopes his piece is amusing. It is, since it is made up of quotations from other music we all have heard, treated in a colorful, lighthearted manner by everything from piccolo down to alto flute. It is pretty amazing how many different tunes Dunkel manages to exploit in 16 minutes of playing around. It almost causes me to forgive him for the Shostakovich, but not quite. Now we meet Tony Moreno (b. 1956) with a two-movement work lasting 15 minutes for four flutes and percussion. This one was commissioned by Dunkel and gives us a sort of jazz approach to the flute. It also includes a percussion cadenza that goes on for several minutes. Our last adventure is by Tamar Muskal (b. 1965), two pieces for flute and piano. Sof is a four-minute elegiac piece; Mechanofin is rhythmically jazzy and goes on for 17 minutes. Is this serious? It hasn t been set up as such by the rest of the program. This is a moderately amusing recording played well. I will keep it but will I play it often? Well, all but the Shostakovich transcription. D MOORE Patchwork Enesco, Muczynski, Prokofieff, Schulhoff Raquele Magalhaes, fl; Sanja Bizjak, p Evidence minutes When they were in their 20s, Georges Enesco wrote his Cantabile and Presto as an examination piece for the Paris Conservatory and Erwin Schulhoff wrote his sonata for French flutist Rene Le Roy. During World War II, Prokofieff wrote his flute sonata with the playing of Boston Symphony flutist Georges Laurent in mind; and Muczynski s sonata was submitted to a competition (which it won) held by Jean-Pierre Rampal in conjunction with his summer masterclasses in Nice. Thus there is French influence in each piece. The composers origins in Eastern Europe also connect the program. These players portray the nuances and mercurial changes found here admirably. Much of the credit for this goes to Sanja Bizjak for her back-up, which is no less enjoyable in the playful Schulhoff Scherzo than in the mystery of its slow movement. The Prokofieff sonata is given a probing account that is alter- 192 January/February 2017

195 nately crisp and dramatic. The pair discover points of pianissimo other performers don t embrace, and their rendition of the first movement in particular gives it considerable heft. The sonata by Robert Muczynski is everything it should and can be. Although lovers of flute music are likely to have other recordings of each selection, renditions as compelling as these deserve to be heard. When she was 14, Brazilian flutist Raquele Magalhaes won first prize in the ABRAF National Competition, and French flutist Alain Marion offered her a fellowship to study with him at the Paris Conservatory. After getting its coveted first prize, she went on to obtain a PhD in music pedagogy from Philippe Bernold at the Lyon Conservatory. There is a smoothness in her playing that you may notice more than anything else, along with its spirit and verve. The recording has a well balanced sound that has a wide range between its loudest and softest points. Booklet notes contributed by Denis Verroust of the Jean-Pierre Rampal Association wouldn t rescue this recording if it were bad, and in this case add little to its luster since the playing is so fantastic. GORMAN Russian Dreams Denisov, Prokofieff, Samonov, Taktakishvili, Tsybin Irina Stachinskaya, fl; Phillip Moll, p Melodiya minutes This program of 20th Century sonatas by Russian and Soviet composers plus one bonbon the Tarantella by Vladimir Tsybin is played with a very full and potent sound by competition winner Irina Stachinskaya and an accompanist we re used to hearing with James Galway. That Tarantella has so many notes it seems to go on for longer than four minutes. There are many recordings of three of these selections, but it s less common to find them together and played this well. This release, then, is easily self-recommending for both its program and the excellence with which it is performed. Give Irina Stachinskaya an hour and let her beguile you with her Russian charms! GORMAN Some Measures for Living George Pope, fl; Eric Charnofsky, p Crystal minutes. This anthology of recent works for flute and piano by American composers could probably demonstrate that the level of skill and invention in musical composition has never been higher. How many flutists, or lovers of contemporary music, or simply music lovers, can say they are familiar with the work of Nikola Resanovic, Carl Riley, Ron Newman, Nancy Daley, Eric Charnofsky, Roger Zahab, or Joseph Makholm? (Who?) I think the number is likely to be very small. And yet flutist George Pope has put together a fine collection of highly attractive works. Pope is based in Ohio (he played flute at the Akron Symphony for a quarter-century), and some of the composers have links to the Midwest. The idiom generally is, let s say, midcentury French tonal, mostly, with some spice, lyrical, cantabile, not too noisy, not too aggressive. Two of the works draw on jazz Newman s Improvisation, Somewhat Reasonable tangentially, Makholm s sonata quite explicitly. The most conservative idiom is certainly Daley s In Cynthia s Garden, where II, Strawberries, begins with an unabashed domi-sol-do-sol triadic motive. The most modern piece is Charnofsky s Four Characters, but not so much so that it might cause alarm or irritation. The whole outing is very well played by Pope and Charnofsky. If I were a flute teacher, I d want to have a copy, with scores for all the pieces. T MOORE Invocaciones II+III Ponce, Velazquez, Hernandez Moncada, Halffter, Aldana, Enriquez, Mabarack, Chavez, Reyes, Uribe, Antunez, Syrse, Ruiz-Velasco, Villaneuva, Vazquez Duo Mexico con Brio Urtext 260 [2CD] 121 minutes This set follows up Invocation I, released in 2010, and also presenting contemporary Mexican compositions for flute and piano. I found it charming, beginning with the informal and funny portrait of the two artists on the cover. The two discs are divided by date (20th and 21st Century), but there s not so much difference in style. Flutist Reyes studies at the School of Music of the Universidad Veracruzana in Jalapa; her accompanist Goila was born and trained in Cluj, Romania, and immigrated to Mexico in A few of the works included here have been recorded previously, either on LP or CD Diptych I by Manuel Enriquez, Huesped de las Nieblas by Halffter, and the three little lollipops by Ponce. Otherwise these seem to be first recordings. Virtually all the composers will be unknown to American listeners. Reyes is a compelling artist, and she has an American Record Guide 193

196 effective partner in Goila. All their efforts here will be welcome, but some of the pieces deserve special mention. The Two Pieces for Solo Flute by Leonardo Velazquez (Elegy, and Theme with Variations) deserve to join the broader repertoire they are absorbing and very effectively written for the instrument. (Alas, I don t find any published edition yet). Huesped de las Nieblas (Guest of the Fogs?) by Rodolfo Halffter is slow, atmospheric, and atonal. Kuri Aldana s Sonata de Santiago concludes with a captivating dance movement, Guajira, a word that in Cuban Spanish refers to a person from the country, and in Mexico to a gossip. Jimenez Mabarak s Five Pieces are lyrical and accessible. The second disc includes works of three women composers Diana Syrse, whose Beauty and Strength recalls early 20th Century French writing and harmonies; Mariana Villanueva, whose Psyche begins with atmospheric sounds in the piano, with extended techniques evoking Japanese images, and two pieces by the flutist herself, an unaccompanied solo ( Sattwa ) and a relatively sparse Dialog for flute and piano. An excellent collection that should make the Duo many friends in the Americas and even further. T MOORE Baroque Passion Telemann, Bach, Goldberg, Händel, Hasse Elisabeth Schwanda, rec; Bernward Lohr, hpsi Rondeau minutes Elisabeth Schwanda has several earlier CDs: music by André Cheron and GB Fontana with the ensemble Affetti Musicali (Mar/Apr 1999) and a recent disc of solo alto recorder on Rondeau. This 2016 set includes four substantial and familiar works for recorder and continuo by Telemann, Handel, and Bach, filled up with two works for solo harpsichord by Goldberg and Hasse. In many ways this is rather a conservative outing, not only in terms of the repertoire (no new ground here), but also in terms of the playing and approach and even the recorded sound. The tempos, the articulation, the expression everything is quite moderate, technically adept, but far from pushing the envelope. There s nothing extreme here, nothing that would make you drop your teacup in alarm. The accompaniment is with harpsichord only, discreetly in the background. All of the works should be familiar to aficionados the C major Essercizi Musici sonata by Telemann, the extended D minor Fitzwilliam sonata by Handel, the E minor Bach sonata for flute (heard here on voice flute), and the E minor Methodical Sonata of Telemann, also on voice flute. Bernward Lohr does a fine job on the Goldberg Prelude (short, Bachian) and the Hasse Sonata in F (very galant, from a generation later than the rest of the program). T MOORE Manuel Barrueco, guitar Chaconne: A Baroque Recital BACH: Cello Suite 1; Chaconne; WEISS: Suite in D minor; SCARLATTI: 5 Sonatas Tonar minutes (PO Box 5331 Timonium MD 21094) Tarrega! Tonar minutes China West BACH: Violin Sonata 6; TORROBA: Estampes; PIAZZOLLA: Fuga & Misterio; Revirado; YI: China East Suite; ASSAD: Enchanted Island; Chaplin Suite with Beijing Guitar Duo Tonar minutes Medea GRANADOS: La Maja de Goya; ALBENIZ: Espana; Rumores de la Caleta; Cordoba; Torre Bermeja; Tango; Mallorca; SANLUCAR: Medea Tenerife Symphony/ Victor Pablo Perez Tonar minutes Now in his early 60s, Manuel Barrueco is one of the leading guitarists of his generation. It is odd that in the ten years I ve reviewed for this publication, I ve never reviewed any of his recordings, so I was delighted to get four discs for this issue. He used to be with EMI, but now releases his recordings and transcriptions through Tonar Music maybe his own label. I think they only deal with Barrueco s recordings, including the old Vox Box and most of the EMI recordings, along with a few releases by his proteges, the Beijing Guitar Duo, and a solo disc by Meng Su, one of the Duo (reviewed in this section). There will be no surprises here. Barrueco is a mature artist at the height of his power. He is, for me, the most apollonian of players his technique is absolute, his expression restrained but always moving, always in the finest of taste. There s a rightness about his interpretations, a sense of the inevitable, that this is the way the music must go. He is consistently satisfying, always delivering musicianly performances, models for what the guitar should 194 January/February 2017

197 sound like. And I m glad to see that so much of his printed music is available through Tonar his old transcriptions of Albeniz and Granados proved him a master of arranging, and most of the music on these discs is available now. The Baroque disc begins with Bach s first cello suite. He plays almost entirely without slurs, which could sound rough from a lesser player, but Barrueco makes everything flow like oil. The transcription is very much in the vein of John Duarte s approach (and of Bach himself his lute suite 3 is his transcription of the Cello Suite 5), with occasional felicitations like some lovely harmonies added at the beginning of the courante. It s a fine performance of my favorite of the suites. The Scarlatti Sonatas are all familiar in other transcriptions, but his performances are a real delight. If I prefer Alberto Mesirca s set (S/O 2011) for his sheer sparkle, I wouldn t want to be without these, and there are no duplications between the two. The Weiss is one of his better sonatas actually a suite, though he used the terms interchangeably and it s played with great elegance. Then we come to the Chaconne surely one of the greatest works of the Western Canon. Barrueco has performed it since the age of 12, and his arrangement and interpretation have grown with him. This performance was from a time of great sorrow, after the passing of both his parents in one year and Bach composed the work just after the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara. It has become a profound funeral ode here, and his performance has a granitic, inexorable progression, the architecture of a great monument. It is among the most powerful I ve ever encountered. The disc of Tarrega has been around for a while. Francisco Tarrega is important to the development of the modern guitar, as teacher, composer, transcriber, and performer. His composition rarely rises above the level of salon pieces but rather charming salon music in the right hands. It is easy to play badly, with a distorted rubato and exaggerated feeling, and that s too often how it is heard from lesser players. But Manuel Barrueco clearly loves and respects this music, and gives us a performance of taste and honesty. He makes no attempt to present all Tarrega s music, but he does add some of his better transcriptions. This includes two works by Joaquin Malats, Serenata Espanola and Serenata Andaluza. The first work is well known, and Barrueco plays it with almost no rubato, as if to clear off all the cobwebs of its performance history. I did not know the Andaluza, which he performs rather more freely. Both approaches work well. He also gives us Schumann s Traumerei, a Mendelssohn song without words, and the scherzo from his first string quartet I love that scherzo, though I ve only heard it played by me and Segovia. All the greatest hits are here, and I can t name a piece that isn t here that I d miss. If you want a single collection of Tarrega, this should be it. David Russell s set is only available used at outrageous prices, and this easily surpasses my old favorite, Mats Bergstrom on Naxos (M/A 2010). The China West disc is a trio performance with the Beijing Guitar Duo, Meng Su and Yameng Wang. The duo has been received with great acclaim in recent years they re fast getting the reputation as among the world s finest. I did not know that they were Barrueco s proteges he met them in a performance in Hong Kong and invited them to study with him at the Peabody Conservatory. He then joined with them as a trio, and has been performing with them since He can certainly be justly proud of them his publicity shot with the duo is the only phot here where he is smiling. Their performance is exquisite consistently joyous yet subtle, technically flawless, beautiful (see Meng Su s solo debut, reviewed below). The program begins with his transcription of Bach s sonata for violin and harpsichord in G, S It s full of Bach s joy, and lends itself easily to guitar trio one player takes the harpsichord left hand, one the right, and one the violin. The work has one movement for harpsichord alone, played as a guitar duo. Moreno Torroba s Estampas is another joyous work, in eight movements. It was originally for four guitars. I have played it, ages ago, but I lost the music. I don t recall that any of it was especially virtuosic, so players of this caliber could surely reduce the duties to three guitarists with few problems. Piazzolla, like Tarrega, is easy to play badly, but these artists get the rhythmic character of the two pieces just right. The China West Suite is by Chen Li, a Chinese composer who was caught up in Mao s Cultural Revolution and sent to a labor camp. She later was allowed to enter the Central Conservatory and eventually completed her training in the US, where she now lives. The work, originally for winds and transcribed by Barrueco, is a fascinating combination of sounds, indigenous Chinese styles combined with a touch of Western modernism. The program ends with two works by Sergio Assad, surely one of the most interesting guitar com- American Record Guide 195

198 posers currently active. The Enchanted Island was written for the trio and was inspired by Havana s Barrio Chino, one of the largest concentrations of Asians in Latin America. It s a particularly beautiful work, combining Afro-Cuban rhythms with pentatonic melodies that suggest Chinese music. The closing work is Assad s medley of music from Charlie Chaplin movies. I was not aware that Chaplin had initially aspired to be a violinist and always had a strong involvement with the music for his movies. His goal was that the music should give the comedies an elegance that the comedies would otherwise lack and, judging from this music, it did. Medea begins with six works by Isaac Albeniz and one by Granados and even if he had not mentioned it in the notes, I can hear that he thinks of the two composers differently, as he should. Albeniz s music is earthier, infused with the language of Andalucia, which never lost the influence of the Moors who invaded and occupied most of Spain for centuries. Indeed, he often said I am a Moor. Granados was a Catalan, born near to and studying in Barcelona, and has more in common with mainstream European music than Albeniz, though he is also clearly a nationalist. These are all different from the set of transcriptions Barrueco did ages ago from the Suite Espanol, but still with all the deft touches of a master transcriber. La Maja de Goya was originally for female voice and piano. There is an interesting story about when Barrueco first learned the work. I studied in Miami for ten years with Barrueco s first US teacher, Juan Mercadal, in the 70s, just after he left to study with Aaron Shearer at Peabody. People there still remember him as a young man, and some still call him Manuelito. A friend in the guitar community, a dedicated amateur, told me that Barrueco, at the age of 14, came to his house and asked to borrow the music to the piece. He told him that he was leaving the next day, and wanted to work on the piece during his trip, so he asked him to bring it back the next day, assuming he d photocopy it. When he returned the music, my friend packed it away, and Barrueco asked if he d like to hear him play it he had learned this rather demanding piece overnight, from memory, perfectly, at the age of 14! Still plays it perfectly. Medea, based on the ancient Greek legend, was written by Manolo Sanlucar for the Spanish National Ballet and was later arranged as a suite for orchestra and flamenco guitar. Sanlucar began as a flamenco guitarist, and as he grew as a composer, achieved a synthesis of flamenco and classical orchestral composition. Barrueco, in collaboration with the composer, arranged this suite. Flamenco is substantially improvised, and though it sounds superficially like classical guitar, it is in fact quite different in many subtle ways. The instruments are even different. Barrueco writes that he had to change his playing to adapt to the demands of this work, but he has done that quite convincingly. The only thing I know that is remotely like this is Moreno Torroba s Concierto en Flamenco, written for Pepe Romero I d love to hear what Pepe could do with this piece. These four discs were issued separately and are not available as a set, but I thought it sensible to look at them together a document of one of our most important guitarists at this stage of his career. KEATON Leyendas ALBENIZ: Asturias; Sevilla; MANJON: Aire Vasco; FALLA: Spanish Folk Songs; RODRIGO: Invocacion & Danza; PIAZZOLLA: Estaciones Portenas; TARREGA: Recuerdos Thibault Garcia, g; Edgar Moreau, vc Erato minutes I reviewed Mr Garcia s debut album (S/O 2015) a program of such difficulty that it would terrify any guitarist and he performed not only with courage, but with an accomplished musicianship unusual in anyone twice his age. If this program is somewhat less impressive, it is only because there is more competition in the literature he performs. For instance, I prefer Jacob Cordover s more expressive performances of the Albeniz works (N/D 2016). The Falla cycle is a fine choice if you want the cello version, though I also enjoyed David Leisner and Zuill Bailey (M/J 2016). If you want guitar and violin, you ll also find remarkable performances by Alberto Mesirca and Daniel Rowland (J/A 2016) and Duo Sonidas (M/J 2012). The Invocacion y Danza is a strong performance, as good as Joao Carlos Victor (below), though neither matches the fiery intensity of Xuefei Yang (M/J 2011). What does stand out is the Piazzolla, all four seasons of his Estaciones Portenas. This is easy to play badly, but Garcia is completely convincing a masterly technique and an idiomatic but not overblown interpretation. Everything here is done beautifully. If there are more satisfying performances, nothing dis- 196 January/February 2017

199 appoints, and I can t name a better performance of the Piazzolla. Don t miss this because the guitar currently enjoys an embarrassment of riches. KEATON Lute Pieces Bernard Hofstotter Querstand minutes The program opens and closes with magnificent chaconnes by Silvius Leopold Weiss ( ) and David Kellner ( ). When thinking about Baroque chaconnes, I find it useful to remember that French theatrical works usually concluded with massive chaconne movements. The variation structure allowed dancers to develop their virtuosic gestures; and when played by instrumentalists, it allowed them to show off their technical innovations. The chaconnes flank two works by JS Bach the second cello suite and the chorale prelude Ich Ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ from Orgelbüchlein, both transcribed by Bernhard Hofstötter. There is also a Sonata in G by Weiss consisting of a suite of French dances. Hofstötter s playing is very sensitive. His arrangements sound like authentic lute pieces, the way he trims the music to the characteristics of the instrument. LOEWEN Toryanse OURKOUZOUNOV: Toryanse Tales: RAK: Kaygorod; Balalaika; DOMENICONI: A Step to Paradise; Toccata in Blue; MORAITIS: Sketches 1+9; DROZD: Adagio; PIAZZOLLA: Suite Troileana; ASSAD: Fantasia Carioca Dimitris Kontronakis, g Soundset minutes Fascinating performance! This is a collection of works that is exotic even by the standards of the international guitar. It opens with Atanas Ourkouzounov s Toryanse Tales, based on a Japanese legend that involves the first seven years of a child s life, and a children s song that is often played at street crossings. The composer manages to evoke Japan without cliches, and several interesting effects are demanded. Kontronakis is fully up to the challenges. Stepan Rak is Czech, but his works here evoke Russia Kaygorod is a morose waltz with an appropriately Russian sounding melody, and Balalaika is a 9-minute tour de force that demands, among other things, a rapid tremolo with the last finger of the right hand the one finger guitarists don t normally use. Again, Kontronakis plays with admirable conviction and control, with electrifying results. Both the Domeniconi works have considerable jazz influence a slow, intense ballad, and a virtuosic toccata. Greek composer Thanassis Moraitis wrote his Sketches for Kontronakis in 2010, and both evoke traditional Greek music, dances for the bouzouki. And not everything is so exotic Polish composer Gerard Drozd evokes Bach in his moving Adagio. Nearly everything by Astor Piazzolla is a transcription he played his own music for his ensemble, and the instrumentation varied. This transcription of Suite Troileana is from his tribute to his longtime musical partner, bandoneonist Anibal Troilo. The recital ends with Serio Assad s virtuosic Fantasia Carioca, his tribute to the citizens of Rio de Janeiro. This piece is occurring more and more often in guitar recitals, most recently in Pavel Kukhta s recital (N/D 2016). That was a fine performance, but Kontronakis is every bit as fine. I ve often reflected that, after a wildly turbulent first 70 years of the last century, nothing new has emerged since about 1970 minimalism was the latest new -ism to arise. At that point, after the extremes of Darmstadt and aleatory, anything was possible. Composers since then have taken an eclectic approach, using whatever fit their particular vision from the infinity of possibilities. One thing that has not been fully explored is some sort of synthesis with the other classical traditions of the planet. This recording, and Matthew Fish s release of the works of Johannes Moeller, reviewed in this issue, might be the start of that new direction. Whether that is true or not, this is a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable release. KEATON Meng Su, Guitar WILLIAMS: Avener s Theme; Rounds; CASTEL- NUOVO-TEDESCO: Sonata; TARREGA: Waltz; Rosita; BACH: Suite in E; WALTON: 5 Bagatelles Tonar minutes A recording like this makes me want to gather Florestan, Eusebuis, and Master Raro, and just say Hats off, gentlemen, a genius. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I am excited about the level of artistry of many emerging guitarists. Surely, I get plenty of discs not ready for the national stage and even decline to review many that would just get a panning. But nearly every issue I find someone who really American Record Guide 197

200 merits praise. Meng Su stands out among those as one of the very best. First, the program is amazing three huge masterworks, each of which would be enough to supply weight to the program; and each is performed beautifully, as fine as any, despite the heavy competition. What make her playing so special is her control of sound every note is important, every sound is shaped with love and exquisite taste. It s not just her tone it s also her dynamics, articulation, the transparency or density of the sound, the attention to the functions of multiple voices. I ve heard the Castelnuovo-Tedesco in a dozen or more performances, and I ve played and taught the Bach and the Walton. Meng Su made each seem like I was hearing them for the first time and that the music was inexpressively beautiful. There is virtuosity, but never for its own sake. These are not the fastest performances of the works you ll hear, but they are among the most beautiful. She even throws in a couple of Tarrega s salon pieces, but treats them like great music. Listen to her breathless beginning of the tacky little Gran Vals, a subtle crescendo sung like a simple but exquisite Schubert song, and you ll realize that the piece isn t tacky at all. The performance is bracketed by works by John Williams the film score composer, not the guitarist. Avener s Theme is a touching melody arranged from the score to the film Munich, lovingly played. Rounds is his first work for solo guitar, first recorded by Pablo Villegas (N/D 2015 in Collections) it s a dark work, but it s beautiful and moving, and Su performs it even better than Villegas. Meng Su is from Quingdao, China, and has performed with Yameng Wang as the Beijing Guitar Duo since 2009, earning rave reviews. In 2013 the duo joined the venerable Manuel Barrueco (their teacher at Peabody) and have performed as a trio see China West reviewed above. She only launched her solo career in 2015 after winning the Christopher Parkening Competition. But in any combination she is a sublime artist, and I wish her well in what will surely be a great career. KEATON The more time people spend before the computer screen or any screen, the less time and desire they have for two human activities critical to a fruitful and demanding intellectual life: reading and conversation. --Susan Jacoby Van Gogh Fire SAINZ DE LA MAZA: Rondena; RUIZ-PIPO: Cancion & Danza 1; GIULIANI: Sonata Eroica; GERHARD: Fantasia; GARCIA ABRIL: 2 Cantares; LAURO: Suite Venezolana; TORROBA: 2 Characteristic Pieces; BARRIOS: Mazurka Apasionata; Confesion; Estudio di Concierto Marko Topchii, g Contrastes minutes Since 2007, Ukrainian-born Marko Topchii has placed first in 28 international competitions, with a few second places listed in the back of the booklet. I heard him first in a collection of concerto performances from the winners of the JoAnn Falletta Guitar Concerto Competition he won in 2014 and performed the Villa- Lobos concerto for that collection (S/O 2016), which was on my Critic s Choice list for that year. His playing is all one would expect technically fine, musically mature, perfectly tasteful. I can t quite explain why I wasn t as overwhelmed with this recording as I was with, for instance, Meng Su s exquisite release (above). The only thing I can put my finger on is that the program isn t quite as cogent as one might hope for. Even the title is confusing Van Gogh Fire. There is a quote about music from Van Gogh in the notes, but what s the connection with fire? Still there is much to enjoy. Ruiz-Pipo s Cancion y Danza is less thorny than his usual work and reminds me of the Mompou series of the same names, music I dearly love. I also love Giuliani s last published work, the Sonata Eroica. Topchii plays it with more Haydn than Beethoven, but truth be told, the music itself has more Haydn than Beethoven. I still prefer Pepe Romero on Philips, but you won t find this a disappointment. I wish he had programmed all Torroba s Characteristic Pieces the opening Preambulo serves as an introduction to the whole work, not just one piece, and themes are recalled in the final movement. I enjoyed hearing Lauro s suite in a complete performance, and a very fine one at that, and I m glad to see Garcia Abril s lovely music appearing more often. The three Barrios works are rather seldom heard and tastefully done. If the program doesn t hold together as an organic whole, the individual parts are all worth hearing. KEATON 198 January/February 2017

201 Joao Carlos Victor DOWLAND: 3 Fantasies; RODRIGO: Invocacion & Danza; MENDELSSOHN: Venetian Boat Song; TARREGA: Mazurka; RIOS FILHO: Repeter; CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO: Sonata Naxos minutes Mr Victor was the 2015 winner of the Tarrega Competition in Benicassim. Born in Brazil, he currently resides in Basel and has studied with Franz Halasz, among others. He is as impressive as most of the players in Naxos s Laureate series an impressive technique, mature musicianship, with a wide range of programming, inventively presented. My favorite part of this recording is the three Dowland fantasies. I ve often thought that there are relationships among those works he will write two or more pieces with similar materials, as if his imagination was too fertile to come to a single conclusion. There are three works that are based on a chromatic scale, two descending Forlorne Hope and one without a name, 71 in the Poulton catalog and one ascending, Farewell. Victor plays all three, one at the beginning, one at the end, and one in the middle. This is Dowland at his richest, the most chromatic music from the Renaissance that s not by Gesualdo, and it is deeply affecting. You wouldn t play the three works together, but scattering them through the program was quite effective. The Tarrega is tastefully done. The piece presented as Venetian Boat Song is a transcription from Mendelssohn (Song without Words). The program lists Tarrega as composer. Unfortunately, this came to me in the same issue that reviewed Barrrueco s masterly release devoted entirely to Tarrega, with each of these works sounding even better. And his performance of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Sonata, while perfectly fine, can t compare to Meng Su s amazing performance of this masterwork, the finest ever. His Invocacion y Danza is competitive with Thibault Garcia s, though neither is better than the other, and neither has the flaming intensity of Xuefei Yang s (M/J 2011). All three are reviewed in this section. The Rios Filho is a world premiere an intense, craggy work that reminds me of Eduardo Morales-Caso s music. But get this for the Dowland, and you won t be disappointed in any of the other performances. KEATON Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, sel Ton Koopman, hpsi Capriccio minutes This is a reissue of a recording from 1986: a decent collection of greatest hits from the Fitzwilliam manuscript, but nothing special. The best things here are the Amarilli setting and the Pavana Dolorosa by Peter Philips Koopman makes them tender and mellifluous. The Byrd and Farnaby pieces go well, too. Other pieces are filled up with too-fast trills and twitchy-fingered graffiti. His ornamentation in Picchi s Toccata goes outside the scale and sounds absurd. Morley s Fancie is one of the most interesting pieces, but Koopman s touch is heavy and percussive. Some of the pieces sound weird in the Werckmeister 3 temperament a nonsensical and ahistorical choice for this repertoire. Program notes are minimal, and the sound lacks high overtones. B LEHMAN Better Angels STRAUSS: Oboe Concerto; BARBER: Canzonetta; Summer Music; JANACEK: Mladi; BLACK- FORD: The Better Angels of Our Nature Emily Pailthorpe, ob; BBC Symphony/ Brabbins Champs Hill minutes This is a very well-balanced recording, with a mix of solo and chamber works, and shows off oboist Emily Pailthorpe s nuanced playing very nicely. It opens with the concerto by Richard Strauss, written in 1945 when he was in his 80s. This is a gorgeous, challenging piece, and isn t performed often enough. Pailthorpe and the BBC Symphony do a lovely job with it, demonstrating excellent balance and coordination between soloist and orchestra. She plays with a rich, singing sound, impressive dynamic contrast, and warm musical lines. The seamless interplay between orchestral winds and soloist is icing on the cake. Barber s Canzonetta was also written late in life and published posthumously. It was intended as one movement of a concerto for Harold Gomberg, which Barber didn t live to complete. It s full of wistful yearning, with the composer s trademark chromaticism transforming into distant, less tonal harmonies. It closes with a sense of resignation and release. Summer Music, written in happier times for the composer, is a staple of the woodwind quintet literature. Pailthorpe and her BBC colleagues give a very fine performance of this lovely but tricky piece, capturing the rocking indolence, playfulness, and exuberance perfectly. American Record Guide 199

202 Janecek s Mladi was written for wind quintet plus bass clarinet. The group again plays with precision, beauty and style, but a little less convincingly than in Summer Music. The Better Angels of our Nature is a concerto written for Pailthorpe in 2013 by English composer Richard Blackford, inspired by the passionate plea for reconciliation in Abraham Lincoln s inaugural address of Its single movement has two sections, separated by the bugle call Taps. The opening begins with oboe fanfares over sustained strings, which gives way to a brisk, muscular allegro, which is followed by string chords based around the interval of a perfect fifth, representing the mystic chords of memory from Lincoln s words. After Taps the better angels theme of the oboe emerges from silence. It then builds in intensity by expanding the intervals of the theme, increased dynamics, and added sections of the orchestra. The piece ends with a quiet phrase based on the harmonic series. Pailthorpe and her colleagues play beautifully and convincingly. The Blackford is an eloquent, haunting piece, definitely worth hearing on its own, but when combined with the rest of the program, particularly the Strauss and the Summer Music, it should not be missed. PFEIL Airs, Blues, & Dances TIPPETT: Prelude; BENNETT: 4 Country Dances; Arabesque; DOVE: Music for a Lovelorn Lenanshee; POWERS: In Shadow; BRAY: Late Snow; MATTHEWS: Montana Taylor s Blues; GRIME: 3 Miniatures; TAVENER: Little Missenden Calm; PHIBBS: Vocalise James Turnbull, ob; Libby Burgess, p; Ensemble Perpetuo Champs Hill minutes Michael Tippett s Prelude: Autumn (arranged by Meirion Bowen) is from a 1958 cantata called The Crown of the Year, made up of instrumental preludes representing the four seasons. An introspective opening is followed by a sprightly, insouciant allegro, with a quote from the German folksong O wie wohl ist mir am Abend. The piece ends with quiet music similar to the opening. In 2000, composer Richard Rodney Bennett became fascinated with an anthology of dances from John Playford s Dancing Master (1651). He set many of those tunes for a variety of instruments. Each movement is short, none more than three minutes. The first, called A New Dance, is cheerful but contemplative. Lady Day, the second dance, is winsome, with rippling piano accompaniment suggestive of Fauré. The Mulberry Garden is a nostalgic and lyrical stroll through an English garden, and Nobody s Jig retains its high-spirited dancing character, a fine way to end this group of miniatures. His solo oboe piece Arabesque uses an entirely different musical language, not entirely tonal. In Turnbull s hands, the music dances and turns with graceful ease. Jonathan Dove s Music for a Lovelorn Lenanshee is an 11- minute fantasy based on the Irish popular tune My Lagan Love about a fairy mistress. It opens with a plaintive statement of the tune, which is then spun into a development of the theme of contrasting moods, which include a lively jig, a radiant, exultant section with touches of Steve Reich, and a transition to a long oboe line accompanied by sparkling piano writing, combining the sounds of Poulenc and John Adams. The piece closes with a quiet return to the introspective mood of the opening. Judith Weir s Mountain Airs is an adaptation of Scottish dances written in 1988 for flute, oboe, and clarinet. After the Dove, this piece is strident and harsh, with lots of sustained, doubled pitches in the high treble range, and musical language more evocative of Bartok than Scotland. II sounds a bit like parts of Petrouchka, but less angular, more gently lilting. III is the only one that sounds traditionally Scottish with a dancing melody over a drone figure. The next few works have a more abstract musical language. Anthony Powers s In Shadow is a set of untitled miniatures in an abstract style. His music is often based on the tensions between various states, and In Shadow is in this category. Darkness is portrayed as elusive, sinister, skittering, or oppressive in these strongly characteristic movements. Late Snow by Charlotte Bray was inspired by a poem by MR Peacocke. The poignancy of the poem takes shape in music that is alternately mournful, nimble, and anguished. Mr Turnbull manages the many technical challenges easily and convincingly. David Matthews s Montana Taylor s Blues offers needed relief from the abstract style of the preceding pieces. The title refers to Arthur Montana Taylor, an inventive barrelhouse pianist a style that originated in the bars of Texas railroad towns as boogiewoogie music in the late 1800s. Matthews s piece is dreamlike and rocking, with touches of blues and gospel. There s a return to the abstract with Helen Grime s 3 Miniatures brief, untitled movements with characteristic, 200 January/February 2017

203 contrasting styles. I is slow and shimmering, II capricious and nimble, III introspective and moody. John Tavener s organum-style writing in Little Missenden Calm feels a bit static and labored. Although scored for wind quartet, the very long lines and slow tempo might work better for strings. The program ends on a mysterious note with Joseph Phibbs s Vocalise with its haunting, lyrical oboe line over gentle, luminous piano writing. Oboist James Turnbull and his collaborators, pianist Libby Burgess and the Ensemble Perpetuo, handle the many colors and technical challenges with ease and fluency. Turnbull is known as a strong proponent of contemporary music and is obviously comfortable in each of these dramatically different works. PFEIL David Heller, organ COOK: Fanfare; PACHELBEL: Partita Werde Munter; BACH: Schmücke dich; Toccata, Adagio, & Fugue; BRAHMS: Chorale Preludes; FRANCK: Chorale in A minor; WHITLOCK: Folk Tune; LINDBERG: Old Summer Pasture Song from Dalarna; HOWELLS: Master Tallis s Testament; PHILLIPS: Fugue on the Carillon d Alert Raven minutes A program of standard fare, recorded many times. The large, 2009 Letourneau organ does not have much character and the room is dry. Heller is currently on the faculty of Trinity University and Associate Organist at St Luke s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas. He is a fine player but is too careful in the first half of the program, with somewhat perfunctory renditions of the Pachelbel and Brahms pieces. When the Franck started my ears perked up, and I became engaged in a wonderfully musical and exciting performance of this masterpiece. It is as if the performer wakes up for the second half of the program. Notes and specification. DELCAMP Oslo Cathedral BACH: Toccata & Fugue in D minor; GRIEG: Holberg Suite; SANDVOLD: Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune; LINDBERG: Old Summer Pasture Song; NORDSTOGA: Rosa; REGER: Chorale Fantasia on Wie Schön Leuchtet; GOUNOD: Meditation on Bach s Prelude in C Kare Nordstoga, org LAWO minutes Norstoga delivers rock-solid, clearly recorded performances on a splendid 1998 Ryde and Berg organ. His Bach is middle-of-the-road, neither historical nor a grotesque parody. His exciting, vigorous performance reminded me what a marvelous, unique work it is. The Reger, one of the more approachable of his larger works, is enjoyable, musical, and beautifully played as is the Grieg suite, though there is no indication who did the transcription. A showcase for this organ and for the vigorous and very much alive Scandinavian organ-playing tradition. But why end with the Gounod? Notes, photos, and specifications. DELCAMP Husum Organ Book 1758 Druckenmüller, Zeyhold, Zinck, Bruhns, Anon Manuel Tomadin Brilliant [2CD] 113 minutes When we think of the North German school of organ composition, we think mainly of figures like Weckmann, Scheidemann, Tunder, Reincken, Lübeck, Buxtehude, and Bruhns, whose careers spanned the 17th Century. The music here is mostly by North German composers of a later generation, musicians who were contemporaries of JS Bach. They represent a new artistic direction. Bendix Friedrich Zinck ( ) was appointed organist of the City Church in Husum in That is where Nicolaus Bruhns ( ) had served from 1689 until his untimely death. Zinck was appointed cathedral organist at Schleswig in 1771, but while he was at Husum he compiled a manuscript collection of organ music that he completed in The works from that collection form the contents of this recording. The manuscript is now in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. Of the composers here, the only one likely to be familiar is Bruhns. He is represented by an adagio movement that is very likely an inner slow movement from a larger work now lost. Hinrich Zinck ( ), the uncle of BF Zinck, was organist at Wilster from 1743 to Christoph Wolfgang Druckenmüller ( ) was appointed organist at St Matthias Church in Jork in 1708 and Verden Cathedral in Marx Philipp Zeyhold ( ) served as organist at Drochtersen. Jork and Drochtersen are two towns on the Elbe between Hamburg and the North Sea. There are several anonymous works in the collection, and they may be by two or three different composers. Most of the pieces in the manuscript 12 out of 17 are concertos in the Italian style in three or four movements. Unlike the concerto transcriptions that JS Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther wrote for the court of Weimar, American Record Guide 201

204 the pieces in the Husum Organ Book are original compositions for the organ. One cannot make sweeping claims on the basis of a single source, but the predominance of such concertos in this manuscript suggests a marked aesthetic shift on the part of North German organists. The traditional North German organ genres were not entirely forgotten, but BF Zinck gathers such pieces together to form multi-movement works comparable to concertos, as he does with a Prelude, Fugue, Adagio, and Chaconne in D by his uncle Hinrich Zinck. It appears that BF Zinck took a free hand in editing, re-composing, and re-combining movements of the pieces in the collection in two cases substituting slow movements. These concertos may not be music for the ages, but they are genial, fresh, and entertaining works. Tomadin s performances are solid and stylish. Two historic instruments are heard here, built in the Netherlands around the time much of the music was written. The pieces by Druckenmüller are played on the celebrated fourmanual Arp Schnitger organ of 1721 at St Michael s Church, Zwolle. All of the other pieces are played on a two-manual organ of 1733 by Albert Anthoni Hinsz at St Peter s Church, Leens. The two instruments are quite different in size, but similar in tonal character. As heard here, both benefit from a warm and reverberant acoustic without sacrificing clarity. Action noise is audible from the Hinsz organ, but I have heard far worse from other historic instruments. GATENS Organism KARLSEN: Sonata De Profundis; MADSEN: Tombeau de Dupré; FLEM: Ecclesia in Mundo Terje Winge, org 2L 123 [SACD] 69 minutes These three substantial works from the rich Norwegian organ repertoire use traditional forms in a dissonant tonal language. Kjell Karlsen has written music in most genres, including organ works inspired by the Lutheran tradition. De Profundis takes its inspiration from Psalm 130 and is a powerful portrayal of the text, using Luther s hymn tune Aus Tiefer Not in the final movement. Dramatic. Trygve Madsen likes to pay tribute to older composers by quoting from their works. His tribute to Dupré is in the form of a typical fivemovement French organ symphony Prelude, Fugue, Scherzo, Cantabile, and Finale. The Fugue theme is based on the name Marcel and the Finale brings back themes from the other movements. Virtuosic, crunchy, exciting. Kjell Flem is an active composer, pianist, and organist. Each of the three movements takes its inspiration from some aspect of the French liturgical tradition: Ecclesia in Mundo is modeled on Messiaen; Communion is typical of the quiet, meditative style traditionally improvised during Communion; Jubilus is a virtuosic, improvisatory Sortie (Postlude). Winge is a fine player, well up to the technical demands, and delivers compelling performances. He plays on a wonderful five-manual, 94-stop Jorgensen organ built in I really like this recording. Notes on the music and specification. DELCAMP Emil Gilels Seattle Recital BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata 21; CHOPIN: La Ci Darem la Mano; PROKOFIEFF: Sonata 3; Visions Fugitives; DEBUSSY: Images 1; RAVEL: Alborada del Gracioso; STRAVINSKY: Danse Russe; BACH: Prelude DG minutes This recording of Gilels s 1964 recital at the Seattle Opera House captures the pianist in his preferred setting and during his fifth tour to the United States. Gilels is at the height of his powers here. Though the Beethoven Sonata 21 sounds rather stiff, with some dropped notes, the spirit and energy of the piece is intact. The sheer range of sound and technical prowess he displays in his Debussy makes it satisfying. Prokofieff s Third Sonata (the composer authorized Gilels to premiere the Eighth Sonata) is a standout, a nice contrast from the Chopin variation that precedes it. The downside of such recordings, often made for private rather than public consumption, is the uneven quality. Though the engineers have done a fine job, there is too much distracting audience noise. KANG Benjamin Grosvenor: Homages BACH: Chaconne; MENDELSSOHN: Preludes & Fugues 1+5; FRANCK: Prelude, Chorale, Fugue; CHOPIN: Barcarolle; LISZT: Venezia & Napoli Decca minutes Grosvenor is acclaimed as one of the best in a generation of young pianists that includes Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov. This pianist has tremendous talent. With the Mendelssohn Preludes and Fugues, his ability to separate the voices in the fugue is magical. While the open- 202 January/February 2017

205 ing tempo of the Busoni Chaconne is too brisk, the range of sound and ability to build climaxes is impressive. It s obvious that his approach to the piece looks at the big picture: phrases, rather than beats. The Chopin Barcarolle is too driven, with too much aggressive momentum, but the beautiful tone and balance is present. His Ravel also has amazing clarity and sharp articulation, but does lack a certain delicacy. His immaculate technique in the Rigaudon more than makes up for it, though. Enchanting playing. KANG She Rose and Let Me in LIBERATORE: She Rose and Let Me in; RABO- NIOVITCH: Star Dazzling Me, Live and Elate; SCHUMANN: Fantasy; SUK: About Mother Eunmi Ko, p Centaur minutes This is an unusual, colorful program of 19th, 20th, and 21st Century piano music played with a disarmingly supple touch by pianist Eunmi Ko. Joseph Suk s About Mother is a set of charming character pieces I had not hear before. How She Sang At Night to Her Sick Child, the third piece, is particularly poignant, and Ko brings out its subtle colors. Gilad Rabinovitch s Star Dazzling Me, Live and Elate, commissioned by Ko, is a somber meditation on themes by Messiaen and Mahler. John Liberatore s She Rose and Let Me in is a lively, unabashedly classical set of variations on a Scottish folk tune. After this array of short pieces comes a beautifully voiced, impeccably organized performance of the Schumann Fantasy. You won t get the passion of Horowitz or the depth of Mitsuko Uchida here, but you will enjoy Ko s intelligence and subtlety. She begins the piece with a youthful spring and moves straight ahead to the gorgeous ending, letting the music speak for itself. SULLIVAN Change of Keys HAYDN: Sonata 50; BEETHOVEN: Sonata 30; CHOPIN: Ballade 1; SCHUMANN-LISZT: Widmung; DEBUSSY: L Isle Joyeux; BARTOK: Sonata Carol Leone, p MSR minutes Carol Leone presents a recital full of brilliant, exciting piano music from the standard repertoire. The unique aspect of this collection, alluded to in its title, is not really of any audible importance. Nevertheless, Leone is an expert on keyboard history, and her booklet notes are worth reading. She argues against the one size fits all nature of piano keyboards, noting that there is an average of one full inch difference between men (8.5) and women (7.5) pianists. Having one piano with three different keyboards, each with a slightly different key size is certainly unique. Pianists who have been known to use pianos with varied key sizes include Beethoven, Liszt, Joseph Hoffman, and Daniel Barenboim. Historical keyboard instruments over 300 years confirm that the distance of an octave has varied from about 5 to 6.7 inches. The standard today is 6.5 inches. Even with the size variances in Leone s keyboards (5.54, 6.0, 6.5), the only difference in sound would result from how the felt hammers were voiced, which to my ears is not noticeable. Yet three pictures of Leone s right hand playing the same chord on the three keyboards supports her argument that using the smaller keyboard has kept her hands healthier and expanded her repertoire. She plays Haydn on the standard 6.5 inch keyboard, Beethoven on the 6.0 and the remainder on the 5.54 keyboard. I have big hands (stretch to 10 inches) so I don t shy away from Rachmaninoff or any other composer whose music was written by or for someone who can easily play a 10th with three notes in between. The smaller keyboards here would certainly affect my accuracy and probably drive me nuts. Leone plays everything quite well, and I was pleased to listen many times over the course of a month. She is up against formidable competition in every work here. Despite my having favorites for all of these pieces, I found this recital musically very satisfying. I would go out of my way to hear her play, and imagine that she is an excellent teacher. HARRINGTON Love Story: Cinema s Golden Age Valentina Lisitsa, p; BBC Concert Orchestra/ Christopher Warren-Green, Gavin Sutherland Decca minutes Movie themes, particularly piano music, have dominated many movie scores from the early silent days. With the entry of talkies, romantic piano music became more predominant, usually in composer biopics, and as romantic and sensuous music sometimes played by a romantic, but frustrated pianist or an offscreen pianist. The best example of the offscreen pianist to enhance a film s romance is Rachmaninoff s Piano Concerto No 2, in David Lean s Brief Encounter. The British often American Record Guide 203

206 used the piano to enhance a movie s romance think of Richard Addinsell s Warsaw Concerto from the 1940 film Dangerous Moonlight and Charles Williams s Dream of Olwen from the forgotten British film While I Live (1947). Both became very popular as concert pieces. Pianist Valentina Lisitsa performs those two pieces, along with many lesser known ones from a variety of British, Russian, and American films and television shows. The composers include Shostakovich, Richard Rodney Bennett, Nino Rota, Carl Davis, and Robert Farnon, among others. Also interesting is Charles Williams s uncredited score for The Apartment (1960). It is probably one of the most memorable movies themes of the 1960s (made famous by Ferrante and Teicher), but was originally written for The Romantic Age (1949). His name does appear on the sheet music. Miss Lisitsa s selection is good and she plays with the expected amount of romantic angst that the composers wrote to match a film s passions and drama. The BBC Concert Orchestra accompanies her in arrangements as good as the film s original sound and appropriate to the music. The booklet in English, German, and French has good information about the composers and use of the music in the films. FISCH Natasha BRAHMS: Sonata 2; KAHANE: Sonata; PRO- KOFIEFF: Sonata 7; BALAKIREV: Islamey Natasha Paremski, p Steinway mins This release, with a title more appropriate for a young wunderkind, presents Natasha Paremski, a Russian-born American pianist now in her late 20s who is enjoying a busy career. Two of her several previous recordings have been reviewed favorably in ARG (Sept/Oct 2012; Mar/Apr 2014). The first of those had exactly the same program as the present one minus the Balakirev piece. Indeed, this is a reissue. The choice of works shows off Paremski s technique, which she has in spades. She plays with energy, accuracy, and fine expression when needed. Her own liner notes and her serious mien on the cover convey her commitment to the music. There is a certain lack of warmth in her playing, which may be largely owing to the repertoire. Dynamic contrasts are large, and ritardandos are sometimes exaggerated to emphasize moments of calm. I compared Paremski s performance of the Brahms sonata with the excellent one by Peter Rösel (Berlin 292) and found it to be of similar quality, though I prefer Rösel s slower tempo in II. The second sonata on Paremski s program was written for her by Gabriel Kahane (b. 1981), a New-York-based singer and songwriter. Only II is songlike, though with curious harmonies; I and III are technically demanding in a conventional way and fairly dissonant. Paremski s expressive performance surely does the work full justice, but after listening to it three times I have not come to love it. While some influences of Prokofieff are detectable, the following work, Prokofieff s own Seventh Sonata, itself hardly endearing, is a much more striking composition whose steeliness seems to attract young pianists like moths to a flame. Paremski s biography on her personal web page starts with a comment from James Harrington in ARG (Sept/Oct 2012): Comparisons with Argerich should not be given lightly, but Paremski is so clearly of the same temperament and technique that it is unavoidable here. Listening to Paremski immediately after Argerich s 1979 concert recording (EMI 56975) makes it clear that they do not have the same temperament and probably not the same technique either. Argerich is volatile and a good deal faster in both I and II, whereas Paremski is more controlled and precise. Balakirev s Islamey is the only new recording here. It was recorded on a Steinway Spirio, a high-resolution player piano, and played back on a different instrument. A player piano recording can be edited not only to correct wrong notes but also to change timing, dynamics, articulation, and pedaling (and a Japanese editor is credited for that track). This makes any such recording suspect as a truthful representation of the artist s playing. It is an impressive rendition nevertheless, though several brief relaxations towards the end weaken the momentum of this high-wire act of virtuosity. Katchen is rhythmically more incisive. Text and photography in and on the cardboard case are generally in good taste, but in addition to the silly Natasha title in front there is a truly idiotic blurb on the back. Such kind of nonsense can only diminish the attraction, at least to serious music lovers, of what is essentially a fine recital by a serious and competent young artist. REPP 204 January/February 2017

207 Master and Pupil BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles; Sonata 30; CZERNY: Rode Variations; Funeral March for Beethoven; LISZT: Sonata Melvyn Tan, p Onyx minutes Tan s programming emphasizes the compositional genealogy stretching from Beethoven to Czerny and Liszt. The liner notes inform us that Beethoven taught Czerny, who then taught Liszt free of charge, almost daily. Tan is known for his interest in historical performance, particularly with the fortepiano, so I was interested in how his knowledge of the instrument would inform his interpretations of these works on the modern instrument. My quibbles are with respect to rhythm. In the Liszt sonata the rhythmic construction could be tighter, and there is some wavering of tempo. While I do like his ability to elongate the phrasing, the playing is not as polished as others I have heard. He nonetheless gives us a sound and convincing performance, and his chords are not harsh and are instead balanced and warm. The opening of Beethoven s Piano Sonata 30 sounds rather punchy, and II is rather brisk. His playing is cooler, and if you want a more incisive Hammerklavier you may be disappointed. I have heard fiercer playing from Tan, on the fortepiano. Tan is on top form with the Czerny works. The trills and runs in the Variations are precisely deployed, with great freedom. Though the Funeral March sounds rudimentary in skilllevel, Tan makes the most of it with beautiful singing lines and solid rhythmic structures. KANG Wind from the East Pipkov, Hadjiev, Vladigerov Victoria Terekiev, p Gega minutes At first glance, this recording seems really interesting. A second glance reveals a miserly playing time that almost threatens to negate the fascinating repertoire. All of the composers are Bulgarian. The pianist, born in Milan of a Bulgarian father and an Italian-Bulgarian mother, teaches at the Milan Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado. The three composers are roughly contemporary with each other. Lybomir Pipkov s Bulgarian Suite Op.2 has six movements. Completed in 1928, it is definitely of its time and is less nationalistic than the others. While it certainly does not sound like his teacher Paul Dukas, in its acerbic way it holds the interest without bludgeoning you over the head. There is a seriousness of purpose here, and a power not always found in works of this nature. Sometimes it sounds like Bartok, sometimes Villa-Lobos or Shostakovich. It works well in its mild modernism and keeps one admiring its sharp contrasts and forceful projection. Parashkev Hadjiev s 19 Melodic Etudes are more exotic sounding fragmented snippets of melodic and rhythmic charm. Only four of them last more than a minute; many sound like leftovers from Balakirev s Islamey. Like that work, these pulse with rhythm and energy and are very challenging to play. Because of their brevity it is best to hear them as a sequence, and perhaps as an integral work. The best known of this trio is Pancho Vladigerov. The five Bulgarian Songs and Dances, Op. 25, are nationalist and lushly romantic. While relatively few of his works are currently available, I understand that a recording of all five of his piano concertos is under way. It is difficult to ignore the vigor and spirit of these pieces. They are lovable gems and deserve to find their way into the repertory. The Forest is Winding luxuriates in an exposition of almost improvisatory exotic sounds. Small-steps Horo flitters like some giant moth darting about and uses dissonance as a coloring. Nine Years have Passed is an expressive andante of radiant beauty. Like the forest of 1, it unfolds in an almost improvisatory manner. Gods Horo incorporates strong extroverted rhythms. While I am not happy about the timing, I strongly urge the acquisition of this recording. For some out-of-the-ordinary music of high quality, interest, and enjoyment, all well recorded, and brilliantly played, the Wind from the East blows forth gloriously. BECKER Classical Elements Albert Tiu, p Centaur minutes Earth, Air, Water, and Fire are the elements around which Tiu groups his recital. He includes both the known (Debussy, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, etc.) and unknown (Berio, Messiaen, Mompou). There are five selections for each element, and they make for interesting groupings. Earth, for example, includes Liszt s Forest Murmurs, Rachmaninoff s Lilacs, Debussy s American Record Guide 205

208 Hills of Anacapri, and Berio s Earth Piano. All are very well played and most satisfying as a grouping. Air takes us to Debussy s Wind in the Plain in a stunningly dramatic presentation, The Night Winds by Griffes, Berio s Air Piano, Messiaen s Reflection in the Wind, and The Wind in the Ruins by Ibert. Each brief piece is chosen for its effect, and rendered with lapidary perfection. Water includes Debussy s Reflections in the Water and Ravel s Fountains in poetically drenching performances, along with Berio s Water Piano. Berio also figures in Fire ( Fire Piano ). The only other composer to be represented in all four elements is Debussy ( Fireworks ). Tiu must have taken great pleasure when he included Falla s Ritual Fire Dance. Tiu has prepared his own notes, and, rare for this kind of themed recital, states his reasons for including each piece. To give an added personal touch we are even told that he is an ice hockey fan and supports the Pittsburgh Penguins. His previous recital, Nocturnal Fantasies, was called by James Harrington one of the most inventive recital programs ever seen or heard (M/J 2011) and this one qualifies as well. Even more important is the playing, which perfectly captures the essence of each piece and links them together. I was also impressed with Louis Brassin s transcription of Wagner s Magic Fire Music and the atmospheric performance of it. Add in the generous playing time, superlative sound, and a Steinway D that speaks with unforced clarity. BECKER Yojo, 19 BEETHOVEN: Sonata 23; CHOPIN: Sonata 2; Scherzo 1; CHRISTEN: Irini; Rally Yojo, p TYXart minutes Yojo (b. 1996) is a pianist who uses only one name, and at age 19 this is his 4th CD for TYXart. As a composer, he is Yojo Christen and has included his own compositions and improvisations on his recordings. A child prodigy for sure, but he is rapidly getting to the age where we expect more than that. With unabashed hyperbole, his website says How happy the cultured world would be if it could listen to recordings of the 15-year-old Arthur Rubinstein. They would be interesting, but probably only in passing. The cultured world would no doubt choose a Rubinstein performance from his mature adult years. Now if Yojo becomes the kind of pianist Rubinstein was, I ll be first in line to look back on this recital and compare its youthful exuberence and excitement to what the mature artist has become. These are fast performances that make the most of dynamic contrasts. This is probably most effective (and called for by the composer) in Beethoven s Appasionata, especially the first movement. Some big repeats are skipped (Appasionata III and Chopin I). The loud, accented moments tend towards a harsh sound, and the fast sections tend to all be played with a detached rapid finger technique. I d like some of his nice legato playing from the slower, beautiful sections of these works in the fast sections. Yojo s balancing of the sections of Chopin s Scherzo, while retaining the excitement and giving an overall structure to the work would benefit greatly from a close study of performances by Horowitz and Argerich. His own pieces are busy, a little jazzy and flashy, but only encore material. HARRINGTON Running at the Top of the World RESKIN: Sonata; PLOG: Sonata; ROKEACH: Running at the Top of the World Paul Futer, tpt; Susan Nowicki, p MSR minutes All of these trumpet-piano works are new to me. Charles Reskin s 3-movement, 22-minute Trumpet Sonata (2007) has a lyrical I with changing meters, a colorful yet tonal harmonic language, and a lively piano part. The mellow II is for flugelhorn, and soloist Paul Futer s tone is beautiful: a sort of light-warm rather than dark-warm. III is lively, of course, but almost always lyrical. It is a very attractive piece, and Futer s full, unforced tone makes it even more so. Anthony Plog s 4-movement, 15-minute Trumpet Sonata (2010) begins with a bell-tone line, played in unison by trumpet and piano, then proceeds to a muted, staccato, repeatednote theme. Chromatic meanderings ensue. These elements return, modified, at the end of the movement. II has cup-muted trumpet wandering alone, then piano wandering alone, then both wandering together. In III, straightmuted trumpet handles an intricate, twisting, slurred line. IV is first jagged and dissonant, then light yet still dissonant, then demonic with a driving bass in the piano, then dreamy and so it goes through a fascinating final movement. I continue to be impressed by the music of Anthony Plog. 206 January/February 2017

209 The album ends with Martin Rokeach s 3- movement, 13-minute Running at the Top of the World (2012). The notes unveil nothing; there is no explanation of the title. So one guesses it is about long-distance running, perhaps at high altitude, and perhaps this accounts for the perpetual-motion and almost otherworldly feeling in all three movements. Fantasia is a little strange, with many repeated notes by both trumpet and piano, yet with interesting harmonic progressions. The perpetual motion slows near the end, and then becomes assertive. The ending is quiet and muted. Desolato has the same odd repeated notes, the same perpetual motion, as in I. Running at the Top of the World is also strange, but it is fascinating. I very much enjoy these pieces, Paul Futer s terrific trumpet tone and playing skills, and pianist Susan Nowicki s expert collaboration. KILPATRICK Inspirations Kosma, Dinicu, Piazzolla, Morricone, Fauré, Bizet, Hahn, Daquin, Jobim, Peirani, Bach, Sarasate, Weill, Bonfa Romain Leleu, tpt; Ensemble Convergences Aparte minutes Romain Leleu is a young trumpet player who has become well known in France. Here he offers a program of light classics, most arranged by Manuel Doutrelant for trumpet and string quintet. Ensemble Convergences is the excellent string quintet. Leleu opens with Les Feuillets Mortes, a very French song from 1945 that we know as Autumn Leaves. The arrangement is very nice, with the trumpet playing the unadorned melody, the strings playing deftly. In Dinicu s Hora Staccato Leleu shows off his doubletonguing skills while playing in an understated manner. The Fuga y Misterio from Astor Piazzolla s Maria de Buenos Aires has a vigorous beginning and ending, a sensuous middle. Ennio and Andrea Morricone s Cinema Paradiso is melancholy, Gabriel Fauré s Apres un Reve quite lovely in Doutrelant s arrangement. Leleu shows technical skill in Bizet s Fantasy from Carmen, even more so in Louis- Claude Daquin s Coucou. Renaldo Hahn s Heure Exquise is lovely. And so it goes through this program, Leleu playing tastefully, everything sounding beautiful. KILPATRICK Frederic Mellardi, trumpet Enesco, Poulenc, Saint-Saens, Rauber, Satie, Stravinsky, Tomasi, Chpelitch, Gabaye Eric Aubier, Alexandre Baty, Stephane Gourvat, tpt; Francis Orval, hn; Guillaume Cottet- Dumoulin, trb; Miklos Schon, Laurent Wagschal, Claudia Bara, p; Orchestra of Paris soloists Indesens minutes Frederic Mellardi is principal trumpet of the Paris Orchestra. Here he offers chamber music with a distinguished roster of musicians. The selections are culled from albums recorded in 2011 and This account of Camille Saint- Saens s sunny, neo-18th-century Septet (1880) is one of the best. My other favorites are by trumpeter Charles Schlueter and his Boston Symphony colleagues (Jan/Feb 2002: 237), by trumpeter David Guerrier (Erato), and by the London Schubert Players (Nimbus). Eric Satie s little Sonnerie and Igor Stravinsky s slightly bigger Fanfare for a New Theatre are given incisive readings by Mellardi and trumpeter Stephane Gourvat. Pianist Miklos Schon joins Mellardi in Francois Rauber s 4-movement, 14-minute Humeurs (Moods, 1989). It is a very attractive work, and it is given an excellent reading. I ( Decide ) does indeed sound decisive. Plaisant is varied in mood, Lent is melancholy, and Gai is virtuosic and witty. Those works were recorded in Paris at Temple Saint-Marcel, and the sound is crisp and reverberant. The piano sounds very good in them. So it is strange that the sonics for George Enesco s dark-hued Legende, recorded in that same church, are quite poor: the Mellardi and pianist Claudia Bara seem distant, and we hear too much church. The reading of that wonderful piece is unhurried and emotional, but the listening is unpleasant. The rest of the program was recorded in Sainte-Maries-aux-Mines at St Pierre de l Hate Church. The sound is good. Andre Chpelitch (b 1962), himself a trumpeter, wrote his 4- movement, 9-minute Suite Heteroclite (Irregular Suite, 2005) for Mellardi. I am especially taken by the energetic and virtuosic II ( En s amusant ). There are three brass trios, including one that is firmly in the repertory. Francis Poulenc s deceptively difficult Sonata (1922) for brass trio sounds terrific in this account by Mellardi, horn player Francis Orval, and trombonist Guillaume Cottet-Dumoulin. Orval s big tone is a plus, so things are quite stable when horn and trombone switch between middle and low voice. All three players sound American Record Guide 207

210 very secure and manage to bring out the work s quirky character without sacrificing tone or intonation. The same players are joined by pianist Schon in Pierre Gabaye s ever-pleasant Recreation for brass trio with piano. I m not really fond of Henri Tomasi s Suite for three trumpets, but this is a fine reading by Mellardi, Alexandre Baty, and Eric Aubier. KILPATRICK On Safari Naigus, Daugherty, Schultz, Basler, Szaran, Lowe, Young MirrorImage Horn Duo; Tomoko Kanamaru, p MSR minutes The first album by this fine horn duo consisted mainly of arranged selections from operas (Sept/Oct 2009: 246). Here MirrorImage offers original works for two horns and piano, all but one commissioned by these players (Lisa Bontrager and Michelle Stebleton, horn professors at Penn State and Florida State Universities). The pieces have an unusual common theme: safari. In Mark Schultz s 5-movement, 13-minute Uneven Ground, Meerkats has funny mouthpiece-only sounds. Elephants is an amusing and heavy dance. Gazelles seems too smooth and quiet to depict leaping with grace, but A Chimpanzee Interlude has the performers making monkey sounds. Zebras and Big Cats is dramatic and includes big, inside-the-piano sounds. In a similar vein is Luis Szaran s 5-movement, 7-minute Rastros, which depicts Paraguayan animals. Lawrence Lowe s 3-movement, 12-minute Hunt has a portentous Prelude, dramatic Chase, and contemplative Aftermath. I gravitated to the pieces that have unusual sounds and at least occasional dissonance. The others are rather syrupy sweet, the horns exchanging phrases and playing in nonstop thirds or sixths, the piano playing rippling figures, and all in a very ambient acoustic. One such work is enough for me, but you might enjoy James Naigus s Journey s Call or Reverie, Michael Daugherty s Prayer, Paul Basler s Majaliwa. KILPATRICK The mistakes we make thru generosity are less terrible than the gains we acquire thru caution. --Thornton Wilder A Timeless Place Shchedrin, Broughton, Persichetti, Truax, Bernstein, Rowles, Piazzolla, Recio, Ewazen, Sparke, Bennett William Stowman, tpt; Damian Savarino, b; Randall Zwally, g; Eric Forst, perc; Richard Roberson, Jonathan Kadar-Kallen, Kirk Reese, Patrice Ewoldt, p; Daniel Unholtz, org; Messiah College Wind Ensemble/ Bradley Genevro Klavier minutes William Stowman is trumpet professor at Messiah College, a small school near Harrisburg PA. I have heard him before and am always impressed by his round but firm tone and technical skills. Here he is soloist in 11 selections. The program opens with Timofei Dokshitzer s arrangement of Rodion Shchedrin s Im Stile von Albeniz (1973), originally for violin. It is a slow, rather sly work that always seems ready to take off but never does. Richard Roberson is the fine pianist. Jonathan Kadar-Kallen is pianist in Bruce Broughton s lovely Folk Song and Philip Sparke s Song and Dance, which has a really beautiful Song and a terrific, up-tempo Dance. Kirk Reese is the fine pianist and capable improviser in jazz composer Jimmy Rowles s pensive Timeless Place. Getting away from the trumpet-piano medium, Stowman works with organist Daniel Unholtz in Vincent Persichetti s Hollow Men, originally for trumpet and strings, arranged by the composer for trumpet and piano, often played with organ. In this reading, the organ is a big but not overwhelming presence. In what is the most unusual arrangement on the album, Eric Forst plays marimba and prayer bowls in Leonard Bernstein s Simple Song. The prayer bowls are quite beautiful at the beginning, but the marimba is startlingly close in the first moments. Randall Zwally is guitarist in Astor Piazzolla s wistful Cafe Trumpeter Stowman manages to play the high passages nicely, not loudly. Bass-baritone Damian Savarino and pianist Patrice Ewoldt are heard in Matthew Recio s 3-movement, 11-minute Chronology of Storms. There is nary a program note with this album, but I learned that singer Savarino commissioned the work, Recio was a graduate student at Indiana University when he composed it in 2014, and texts are by Jenna Lanzaro. They are about the anticipation, arrival, and aftermath of a hurricane. Trumpeter Stowman solos with the Messiah College Wind Ensemble in three works. Judging by the sound, he apparently plays 208 January/February 2017

211 flugelhorn, then switches to trumpet in Bert Truax s very syrupy Love Song. Eric Ewazen s well-known Ballade is almost as syrupy, but it at least switches between major and minor every few seconds. The album ends with Robert Russell Bennett s 10-minute Rose Variations (1955), a piece that lets Stowman show technical skill. The same account is included in a Messiah College Wind Ensemble album, reviewed later in this issue. KILPATRICK Inspired by Brahms Ewazen, Kellogg, Brahms Michael Thornton, hn; Yumi Hwang-Williams, v; Andrew Litton, p Albany minutes It takes just seconds to recognize Eric Ewazen s distinctive style in his Trio (2009) for horn, violin, and piano: the constantly rolling chord progressions, arpeggiated piano parts, syncopated and intricate rhythms, almost total absence of dissonance, rapid harmonic rhythm, and angular melodies that seem less like melodies than simply notes lifted from the chords. There is always much seriousness and never brevity; Ewazen has much to say. This four-movement work is about 20 minutes long. Daniel Kellogg s 9-minute Glorious Morning has more than enough, especially in the truly bombastic middle section. The ending is poignant and a relief. Nothing can approach the Brahms Trio (1865) for profundity, quality of instrumental conversation, and drama. There are many recordings, of course, and this is a very good one though I dislike conductor-pianist Andrew Litton s way of pounding the keys at the biggest moments. Horn player Michael Thornton, principal of the Colorado Symphony and on the faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has a dark sound. Violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams has a big tone and plays with passion and understanding. KILPATRICK Chant d Automne Hartmann, Grunelius, Hindemith, Fischer Wim Van Hassett, tpt; Nora Fischer, s; Koen Plaetinck, timp; Eriko Takezawa, p; Budapest Festival Orchestra/ Ivan Fischer Channel minutes Belgian-born trumpeter Wim Van Hassett, a professor at the Freiburg Music University and former member of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, has made two fine albums (May/June 2012: 214 & July/Aug 2015: 204). Here he offers an autumn-themed one. First question: why would we want yet another recording of the Hindemith Trumpet Sonata? We wouldn t, unless it has something significant to say. Sure enough, this one does it is the best I have heard. Hassett s dynamic range is amazing, with the steely fortissimos we would expect but also whispering pianissimos. He and pianist Eriko Takezawa play this piece with expression quite fitting for a work composed just as World War II was beginning. A similar 1930s-Germany story underlies Karl Amafeus Hartmann s 3-movement, 15- minute Concertino for trumpet and seven solo instruments. It began with a Lied, composed in 1932 (recorded by Finnish trumpeter Jouko Harjanne, July/Aug 1995: 252). The Concertino was composed (with Lied revised and shortened for II) and performed once in 1933, and then it disappeared. At that point, Hartmann refused to allow any of his music to be performed in Germany. Only in 2000 did the Concertino resurface. This is apparently not its first recording, but I know of no others, and it is good to at last hear a piece that has such a history. The instrumentation pits the trumpet against an odd woodwind quartet (clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon) and an odd trio (trumpet, horn, tuba). I (Toccata) is a little wacky, a sort of theatre-of-the-absurd thing. Lied is mournful, with paraphrases from Stravinsky s Sacre du Printemps. III ( Quodlibet ) also reminds me of Stravinsky, gives virtuosic tasks to everyone, and has fascinating changes of ensemble timbre in midpassage. I m not sure if the ending, with trumpet on a C and the ensemble on a B, is amusing or troubling. The album includes two pieces in their first recordings. Wilhelm van Grunelius s Chant d Automne was inspired by the fearsome sight of the North Sea as winter approached, by the very gloomy 1857 Baudelaire poem, and by the flugelhorn s melancholy tone. Grunelius scored this 12-minute piece for flugelhorn, timpani, and strings, and he made it a dreary, maudlin thing until almost halfway through, when it becomes agitated. The ending is calm, but it is cold outside, the sky is dark, the trees skeletal, and the window of our miserable hut is streak d with rain. Ivan Fischer scored his 5-movement, 10- minute German-Yiddish Cantata for soprano, trumpet, and strings. [Also reviewed under FISCHER in this issue Ed] The notes say it is a somewhat more hopeful piece than Grunelius s, but I don t think so. It is a very American Record Guide 209

212 uneasy meeting of two worlds the very structured German (neo-baroque music) and the Yiddish (free-form music) and we know full well how that meeting turned out. A string trio plays a one-minute baroque-style prelude, and then soprano Nora Fischer joins Hassett (on muted trumpet) in a quiet rendition of a Yiddish lullaby. A touching little German aria with poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke then leads immediately into a Yiddish one with wrenching poetry by Abraham Sutzkever and 1920s degenerate style music. The achingly beautiful finale Grabschritt is on a Goethe poem and sounds like Bach. Wim Van Hassett is a superb trumpet player. Soprano Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra strings sound wonderful. All texts included, even Baudelaire s Chant d Automne and Alle Menschen mussen sterben, quoted by Hindemith at the end of his Trumpet Sonata. KILPATRICK Textures Price, Vollrath, Bogdan, Boehm James Zingara, tpt; Chris Steele, Valentin Bogdan, p; Denise Gainey, cl Ravello minutes James Zingara is a professor of trumpet at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He opens this program of new pieces with an unaccompanied one by his UAB colleague William Price, the 9-minute Sans Titre VII (2010). The notes say that the work explores both physical space and musical distance as determinants of musical form. Huh? What does that mean? I suppose muted trumpet sounds distant and high vs low notes might be musical distance, but how do they determine form? Well, never mind. Although a 9-minute unaccompanied piece might fit better in the middle of the program, this one is attractive and interesting. Composer Price is also represented by another 9-minute work, Ich bin Maroon, Part I (2013), and by another head-scratcher of a liner note. The work, it says, shows the composer s abiding interest in pandiatonicism, free atonality, traditional dance forms, hyperbolic rhythmic syncopation, and thematic development. I have no idea what hyperbolic rhythmic syncopation is. At any rate, the piece is scored for trumpet, clarinet, and piano. Combining trumpet and clarinet is rather rare, but I like it both instruments can sound mellow but can also turn quite strident. When they play in unison, either can sound most prominent, but their sounds can also blend into a single sonority. The miking sometimes direct or indirect makes each wind instrument seem near or more distant. The enjoyable sound-study is played very well by the UAB Chamber Trio (Zingara, clarinetist Denise Gainey, and pianist Chris Steele). Two of the works are for trumpet and piano. Carl Vollrath s beautiful and touching For the Mark of Time (2002) is a remembrance of someone who died young. Although Zingara and pianist Steele give it an appropriately dark-hued reading, I would enjoy it more if Zingara s vibrato were not so prominent. Calentin Mihai Bogdan is the pianist in his own Out of the Blue (2014). The album ends with Ovid s Dream (2011), a three-movement work for trumpet and computer-generated sounds by Jeffrey Boehm. Each movement ( Chaos, Air and Sea, Earth ) is based on Ovid s notions of creation as set forth in his Metamorphoses. These sounds are not very impressive, so this piece doesn t do much for me. KILPATRICK Monodialog TELEMANN: Fantasias 1, 6, 10; HINDEMITH: Sonata, op 25:1; STRAVINSKY: Elegy; WIESEN- BERG: Monodialog Guy Ben-Ziony, va Genuin minutes Here is a program with personality. It begins with Telemann s 10th Fantasia for violin played on the viola a fifth lower. The point is that it begins with what sounds here like a conversation between two instruments played with two separate personalities by Ben-Ziony. What with the prevalence of contrapuntal passages in all of these works, the title of the program fits it well. Hindemith s 1922 sonata continues the conversational trend, and it is surprising how well his idiom blends with Telemann s. There have been many recordings of this sonata, and this one holds up well against the competition. The Stravinsky Elegy is another well known work for both violin and viola and offers a thoughtful moment between Telemann s Fantasias 6 and 1. Now we reach the Monodialog by Menachem Wiesenberg (b. 1950), a 13-minute piece of great dramatic force that offers the real reason for investing in this, unless you are simply a viola fan and like the program. It continues the contrapuntal trend, something Ben- Ziony handles with unusual individuality. So does the composer. The piece ends with a duet 210 January/February 2017

213 between the player and a voice that is supposed to be his, but sounds more like a woman s to me. At any rate, it is a lovely piece and an effective program well played. D MOORE Viola Collection CLARKE: Concerto; DALE: Romance; WAL- THEW: Mosaic in 10 Pieces; WARNER: Suite Sarah-Jane Bradley, va; Halle Orchestra/ Stephen Bell Dutton 7329 [SACD] 76 minutes The works in this collection are orchestrations of chamber pieces. Although good to begin with, they do gain from the added color. Rebecca Clarke s Viola Concerto (1919) uses an orchestration by the Canadian composer Ruth Lomon, born in The piece itself is an utter beauty. I begins with a fanfare-like figure for the soloist, expanded to a rhapsodic theme. The lyrical second theme offers good contrast. II, the scherzo, has a light, nearly gossamer accompaniment, with poetic use of the celeste and harp. III opens with a slow pastoral melody by the soloist exploiting to the maximum the low register of the viola. An interesting detail is the soloist playing a tremolo sul ponticello and in a reversal of roles, the orchestra entering bit by bit. The movement recaps the opening fanfare of the piece, then comes a clarinet cadenza also reminiscent of I. The fanfare motif gets whole-tone extensions, taking the work to an abrupt close. Lomon s orchestration perfectly reflects the style of the time when the music was composed. Benjamin Dale ( ) composed in a postromantic style. When he was on his way to the 1914 Bayreuth Festival, WW I broke out. Dale was interned in Nuremberg as an enemy alien and in his enforced leisure time was able to compose some works. The orchestral version of his Romance dates from It was once the center movement of a three-part suite and still resembles a condensed concerto. You wish it were longer, so well does it use the viola s special sonorities. The second subject is an elegantly beautiful melody, followed by a more decorative arabesque. The orchestra sounds large and varied in color. Richard Walthew ( ) composed his Mosaic in 1903 and scored it in It s a series of piquant little sketches, some as short as 30 seconds or so, all of them tuneful and enjoyable. The piece has the effect of a theme and variations. Harry Waldo Warner ( ) was married to Whistler s favorite model (no, not his mother!), Rosa Pettigrew. His music was popular between the world wars. The Suite is in three movements: Fantasy, Lament, and Caprice. Fantasy has a nearimprovisational opening at a moderate pace. The ensuing allegro effectively uses multiplestop writing. Lewis Foreman believes the Lament is a eulogy for a specific wartime event. Its theme is a good one, the emotional effect increased by a pulsating accompaniment. It has the feel of a continuously unwinding melodic thread. The Caprice opens in whimsy, enhanced by irregular meters. It has a slower lyric center section, but even that could be part of the caprice before a very rapid end. Soloist Bradley remarks the composer marks it con fiducia, which I interpret as swagger. Dutton s sound is good, with lively presence. Bell chooses good tempos, and the Halle furnishes consistently good support. Sarah- Jane Bradley plays with exceptionally strong presence in every register. Her tone has a grainy woody quality that really brings out the viola s sound. She has a knack for supporting the arc of a melodic line for maximum coherence, which makes the entire program a treat. The recordings of the first three works in orchestral form are world premieres, as is the recording of the Warner. O CONNOR Bach 2 the Future SUTTON: Arpeggiare Variations; YSAYE: Solo Violin Sonata 3; BEAMISH: Intrada & Fuga; BACH: Solo Sonata 3; DAVIES: Sonatina; STRAVINSKY: Elegy; SIBELIUS: Happy Musician Fenella Humphreys, v Champs Hill minutes This is the second Bach 2 the Future release I ve had to review from Fenella Humphreys (March/April 2016). Like that earlier release, this contains a solo sonata by Bach, the third. The next earliest composition here is Eugene Ysaye s Solo Violin Sonata 3, written in 1923, which Humphreys plays in an appropriately red-blooded manner. The most recent are the Arpeggiare Variations by Anthony Sutton and the Sonatina for Violin Alone by the late Peter Maxwell Davies, both from The Sutton begin with a fresh, melodious theme, but the variations aren t inventive enough. The Davies is a single movement, beginning with a brief quotation from the beginning of Sibelius s Violin Concerto. It surprised me that the work doesn t sound avantgarde. It is, rather, mostly slow and meditative and definitely tonal. Sally Beamish s Intrada e Fuga is more avant-garde and expressionist. The Intrada American Record Guide 211

214 reminds me a little of Takemitsu and some modernist film scores, and its use of drones recalls the hardanger fiddle music of Norway. The Fuga is virtuosic and impish. The major work here, both in stature and length, is the Bach sonata; and Humphreys again shows that she is a very thoughtful interpreter who does not just play as she was shown in the conservatories. Few violinists solo Bach is this interesting. She also plays the Stravinsky Elegy better than I have ever heard before. The last work on the program is Sibelius s Happy Musician, which sounds like a lovely folk melody played with double stops that remind me a bit of the hardanger fiddle. Fenella Humphreys has again shown that she is an exceptional violinist with rare musicianship, a perfect technique, and a beautiful tone. She plays an 18th-Century violin from the circle of Peter Guarnerius of Venice. Good sound. MAGIL Sonata-Song BACH: Chaconne; PENDERECKI: Sarabanda; CARTER: Figment 4; HARBISON: Sonata; KHACHATURIAN: Sonata-Song; BRITTEN: Elegy; SILVESTROV: Lacrimosa Milan Milisavljevic, va Delos minutes Here is another viola solo program that starts off with a violin transcription. Unlike Monodialog (above) this one gets through the baroque in one 15-minute piece, leaving us in the 20th Century for the remainder of the program. At least Krysztof Penderecki s contribution is written in memory of Bach. It was originally written for cello, part of his 1994 Divertimento, but he transcribed it himself for viola. It is a lovely, thoughtful piece. Elliott Carter s 2007 Figment 4 continues the thoughtful trend, though he continually interrupts it with loud comments. John Harbison s Sonata for Viola Alone is a fine follow-up to the foregoing, a 13-minute four-movement work that makes a strong impression though it was written early in his career. After all of this relative modernity, Aram Khachaturian s 12-minute Sonata-Song, written late in his life, is also modern. I would not have marked it as Russian in origin, either, though it is more tonal than the others. It is a piece that we should hear, partly to know what was in this composer s mind in his late years. Benjamin Britten s Elegy was written when he was 16. I had not been aware that Britten played the viola. He employs the sound of the instrumemt to fine effect in this piece. Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937) puts us back in counterpoint land, ending the program with beauty and thoughtful sadness (Lacrimosa). This is a quietly intense program well played by Milisavljevic, who is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. The music is unusual and his liner notes are helpful. D MOORE Fin de Siecle Busser, Hue, Hahn, Debussy, Chausson, Honnore, Vierne, Durosoir, Enesco, Ravel Lawrence Power, va; Simon Crawford-Phillips, p Hyperion minutes Lawrence Power is one of the best and most interesting violists alive. He has assembled here a program of music from around the beginning of the last century. An audience of that time would have been much more accustomed than we are today to a recital composed, like this one, entirely of short pieces. Such a program would also more likely have had works by composers who are not so well known today. The program begins with a piece by such a composer, the Appassionato by Henri Busser. Although you rarely see Busser s works on concert programs today, this tempestuous piece is quite good and very enjoyable. Georges Hue s Theme and Variations is also a fine work, though, like Busser s piece, hardly represents the most advanced styles of the early 20th Century. Reynaldo Hahn s Soliloquy and Forlane opens with a somewhat slow, yearning feeling and moves into the spritely Italian dance. It was written in 1937, but it could have been written half a century earlier. Beau Soir, the hit song penned by the teenage Debussy, is very effective and affecting in Power s hands. A Piece by Chausson is very lovely and flows along enchantingly for six minutes. Leon Honnore is represented by his Morceau de Concert. It has bits of bravura and a feeling of heroic striving. Louis Vierne s Two Pieces, Evening and Legend, are lovely. Lucien Durosoir s Stained Glass is the most unusual work here. Durosoir isolated himself from the music world of Paris, but he incorporates occasional 20th Century techniques like polyrhythms. His medievalism is just quirky enough to be interesting. This is the best performance I have ever heard of George Enesco s popular Concert Piece. Power brings out its drama and contrasting moods better 212 January/February 2017

215 than anyone I have heard before. Ravel s Kaddish is played in a powerfully heartfelt manner. This is an excellent program made even better by two superb performers. We can count ourselves lucky that we live in a time when such a great viola and piano duo exists. I always look forward to their next release. May their contract with Hyperion extend to infinity. Power draws a magnificent sound from a viola made by the Bolognese maker Antonio Brenzi around MAGIL Rachel Roberts, viola SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata; BRITTEN: Lachrymae; SHOSTAKOVICH: Sonata Lars Vogt, p Avi minutes Rachel Roberts is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She often performs as a soloist and chamber musician internationally. This is the first time I have heard her. Schubert s Arpeggione Sonata has been an orphan practically since it was composed in The sonata has found a home with various instruments since then, including the violin, viola, cello, and flute. Roberts plays it on viola and seems comfortable with the piece s technical demands. Her I is just a bit underpowered, but she plays the other two movements very beautifully. Benjamin Britten s Lachrymae, a set of variations on the song by the great Elizabethan composer Dowland, fares just as well in her hands. She does a very fine job with the Shostakovich too, conveying its mood of despair and resignation with the occasional sardonic touch. Lars Vogt s contribution to the success of this recital is just as important, and I don t this it would be as effective with a lesser pianist. As fine as these performances are, I must alert the reader to a recording of the Britten and Shostakovich that is in a class by itself. Yuri Bashmet and Sviatoslav Richter recorded them in concert in Germany in the 1980s the definitive recordings of both works, especially the Shostakovich (July/Aug 1998). MAGIL Good conversation involves give-and-take and interruptions. If you can't interrupt, you are not having a conversation; you are just giving speeches. Soaring Solo Biber, Telemann, Schnittke, Toch, Bacewicz, Hovhaness, Hindemith, Rolla, Aguila, Bunch, Mamlok, Say Stephanie Sant Ambrogio, v, va MSR minutes Stephenie Sant Ambrogio has produced another disc of music for solo violin and viola. This one is a mixture of music spanning the 17th through 21st Centuries. She plays Grazyna Bacewicz s Polish Caprice for violin from This delightful, somewhat exhibitionist piece is one of the better modern works presented here. Ernst Toch s Three Impromptus for solo viola are more mildly modernist and melodious. Alessandro Rolla s ( ) Caprice 1 for viola is a gentle, pastoral work that is not very technically demanding. Telemann s Fantasy 10 for violin is sprightly and spirited. Sant Ambrogio plays Biber s great Passacaglia with plenty of emotion and lets it heat up toward the middle. From My Garden for violin by Ursula Mamlok is supposed to represent the garden of her home in San Mateo in the summertime, but I don t find her type of expressionist impressionism convincing. I was surprised to hear a work that I had not heard in decades, Chahagir for viola by Alan Hovhaness. The title means Torch Bearer in Armenian. I used to play this when I was in high school and was pleased to hear that she shared many of my interpretive decisions. Fazil Say s Cleopatra for violin was written for the 2010 Henri Marteau International Violin Competition. It reflects Say s Turkish origins and includes some virtuosic techniques though it is hardly a pyrotechnic showpiece. Kenji Bunch wrote his Sarabande for violin in It has a stately rhythm and a quiet, lonely mood. Miguel del Aguila s Cutting Limes was commissioned for this disc. It has jaunty, Latin rhythms and a delicate central section played mostly in bell-like harmonics. Hindemith s Solo Violin Sonata Op. 31:2, subtitled The Weather Outside Is So Beautiful, may be the best known work here. The last movement is a set of variations on Mozart s song Longing for Spring. This is perhaps the most lyrical performance of it that I have heard. Alfred Schnittke s Fuga for violin, written when the composer was only 19, closes the program. An early piece, it doesn t yet have the polystylistic elements that would distinguish his mature works. It sounds fairly safe and academic, as you might expect for something written in 1953, the last year of Stalin s life. American Record Guide 213

216 Sant Ambrogio teaches music at the University of Nevada at Reno and plays a finesounding violin made by JB Guadagnini in Milan in 1757 and a viola made by Jacek Zadlo of Chicago in MAGIL The Great Violins 2 Bull, Mozart, Augundsson, Gounod, Grieg, Braga, Heyerdahl Peter Sheppard Skaerved, v; Roderick Chadwick, p Athene minutes I was very interested when this arrived. Ole Bull ( ) was one of the leading violin virtuosos of the 19th Century and the greatest Norwegian violinist. Bull also was keen to acquire some of the finest Italian violins, and one of these is played here, a Grand Pattern Nicolo Amati made in The program he has assembled is music that Bull either wrote or might have played. Several pieces by Bull are here, mostly for unaccompanied violin. Several imitate the folk style of the hardanger fiddle, a Scandinavian type of violin with sympathetic strings. This interest in national style is to be expected of one of the leading romantics of his era. The longest work by Bull is an unaccompanied work that was actually completed by Skaerved. This is the American Fantasy, which contains variations on the tunes Jordan s a Hard Road to Travel, Pop Goes the Weasel, Arkansas Traveler, Home Sweet Home, and Yankee Doodle. These are an occasion for the kind of pyrotechnics that Bull, an heir to the traditions of Paganini, was famous for. There is one work by Bull, Et Saeterbesog (Mountain Vision), that has piano accompaniment. Here the violin again imitates the hardanger fiddle. There is also a work by Grieg, arranged by the French virtuoso Emile Sauret, as seems appropriate. Digterens Hjerte (The Poet s Heart) is a reflective piece. Grieg said it was Bull who made him want to write truly Nordic music. Bull certainly showed the way with his fairly direct appropriation of hardanger fiddle style. Mr Skaerved was wise to include Mozart s Violin Sonata K 301. Bull loved Mozart and often played his music in recital. This release is an interesting exploration of music that was or might have been played by one of the great romantic artists on one of his prized violins. The Amati is obviously excellent and sounds fine on all strings and all registers. It had spent much of the last century locked in a bank vault. It is in an unusually fine state of preservation owing to its lack of use. It is good to be able to hear it again playing the music that so many heard from it when it was played by its greatest owner. MAGIL Pinchas Zukerman BERG: Concerto; BEETHOVEN: Romance 2; FUCHS: 9 Fantasy Pieces; JOACHIM: Hebrew Melodies Marc Neikrug, p; London Philharmonic/ Zubin Mehta Biddulph [2CD] 89 minutes I m immediately suspicious when an album cover says first release of 1995 recording (Berg and Beethoven), 1992 (Fuchs), and 1994 (Joachim). Why have they been in the can so long (apparently in Sony s archives)? With Berg s Violin Concerto and Beethoven s Romance in F, one wonders why Biddulph let them out. In the Berg neither Zukerman nor Mehta have the foggiest idea where they re going. Most measures are played metronomically. Where s the urgency or forward passion? The Bach chorale in III is plodding. And ensemble between soloist and conductor is weak here s Mehta at his amorphous worst. The Beethoven is taken at a lugubrious pace; Zukerman holds his notes for absolutely full value, and the orchestra s textures are thick. They give the music no breathing room; they wallow. And the engineering for the Beethoven is dreadful: simple woodwinds drown the strings. What a world of difference in the collection of Fantasy Pieces by Robert Fuchs ( ). Zukerman and Neikrug mix Opuses 40:2,3; 74:1,2,6,7,9; and 82:1,5 in an ideal order so that each piece varies from what comes before and the shifts from one key to the next are never jarring. This is so vital here because each of these works is so romantically gorgeous. The liner notes compare Fuch s music to Brahms s. Fair enough, except that Fuchs comes without Johannes s sullenness or relentless crossword-puzzle logic. He not only writes beautiful violin lines but creates piano parts that both support and enrich the violin s melodies so much so that it is impossible to appreciate the violin melody without hearing the piano simultaneously. In fact, Fuchs has an even richer gift for melody than Brahms. And one can hear all this because Zukerman is at his soaring romantic richest, Neikrug digs out all the genius of the piano part, and the engineers give both instruments full dynamic range and ideal balances. Here is 31 minutes of pure heaven. 214 January/February 2017

217 I was hoping for more of the same in Joseph Joachim s three Hebrew Melodies, but here Zukerman plays the viola without the consummate confidence he brings to the violin. Also, his instrument has a very dark, rich tone that only serves to emphasize the low tessitura of Joachim s viola line and the morose, elegiac character of all three movements (5, 8, and 10 minutes). The piano part is rather ugly, with lots of chords, parallel octaves, and often a great distance between the right and left hands that results in an empty sound. Also, the composer has so thoroughly put these melodies through the romantic wringer that he has washed out their Hebraic character. Was it the music itself, the performance, or both that made these 23 minutes seem interminable? FRENCH American Voices Oquin, George, Grantham, Barber, Bernstein, Higdon, Giroux, Thurston, Beaser, Williams, Mackey US Air Force Concert Band/ Larry Lang Klavier minutes We can always count on a first-rate recording from the US Air Force Concert Band. The big piece is Ryan George s high-spirited An Ge Fhiain (The Wild Goose, 2014). Wayne Oquin s 8-minute Tower Ascending (2009) is about skyscrapers; it begins quietly but becomes exciting by the end. Donald Grantham s Let Evening Come, inspired by the lovely Jane Kenyon poem of that name, begins and ends quietly. Its dramatic middle seems too big for the poem, but it is a beautiful piece. This is my introduction to Jennifer Higdon s Fanfare Ritmico (2000), a fast-paced piece about fast-paced life. Evening Snow At Kambara is a movement from Symphony 4 ( Bookmarks from Japan ), by Julie Giroux, and it is lovely. Of the two movements from Robert Beaser s The End of Knowing (2014), I especially enjoy Follower, with baritone Benjamin Park. It has stark dissonance, haunting moments, and poignancy. Three marches are included. Robert Thurston composed Burst of Blue for this band in John Williams s For The President s Own is intricate, difficult, and spectacular. Ringmaster s March (2013), by John Mackey, is a wacky tribute to the circus march. The program also includes transcriptions of the Overture from Samuel Barber s School for Scandal, and of Profanation from Leonard Bernstein s Symphony 1. KILPATRICK Atlantic Chamber Winds Rudin, Bukvich, McAlister, Weinstein Russell McCutcheon, conductor Mark minutes These pieces are products of the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, formed to introduce, inspire, and educate young musicians to the joys of chamber music through shared music making and commissioning. They are performed here by the Atlantic Chamber Winds, which apparently has some connection with the Sunderman Music Conservatory at Gettysburg College. The album was recorded there, and some ensemble members are on its faculty. Rolf Rudin s Six Dances (2006) sound like old ones, though the melodies and harmonies are often modern. Daniel Bukvich s 7-minute Inferno (2009) alternates fierceness with gentleness. Clark McAlister s Quilting Bee (2002) consists of studies on old American songs: He s Gone Away, Sweet Betsy from Pike, Shortnin Bread, and She ll be Comin Round the Mountain. The album ends with a pleasant Andante from Michael Weinstein s Serenade for 15 Instruments (2000). This is nice music, and the playing is committed, but intonation is often approximate. KILPATRICK Timeless Nowlin, Jenkins, Kabalevsky, Sullivan, Bennett, Lauridsen, Pryor, Jeanjean, Wiedoeft, Tchaikovsky, Marquez, Fillmore Brigham Young University Wind Symphony/ Don L Peterson BYU minutes This excellent album offers a number of classic concert band works. I always enjoy hearing a good band in Joseph Wilkens Jenkins s American Overture (1953), having played it often as a high school band member. This reading is terrific. For some reason, I never enjoyed playing Robert Russell Bennett s Suite of Old American Dances (1949), but I enjoy hearing it now. Dmitri Kabalevsky s Overture to Colas Breugnon (1938), in Donald Hunsberger s transcription, races by at a good clip here. The Opening and Finale of Pineapple Poll are suitably bubbly and good-humored. One piece that has become a concert band staple, but that I don t enjoy hearing, is Morten Lauridsen s O Magnum Mysterium. It always disappoints me, because the woodwind timbres always seem too breathy, intonation too approximate. A good choral performance of this work is magical and simply can t be matched by an instrumental one. American Record Guide 215

218 Next come several works with soloists. Arthur Pryor s Fantastic Polka is a trombone solo from the early 20th Century. In this setting by Andrew Glover, soloist Lyman McBride gives the work a wonderfully acrobatic reading all the more impressive because he was only a student when this recording was made. So was clarinetist Csaba Jevtic-Somlai, the fine soloist in Guisganderie, a cheery little technical display by Faustin and Maurice Jeanjean. And the entire saxophone section is heard in Rudy Weidoft s sparking little 1920s early-jazz Saxophobia. An arrangement of Tchaikovsky s Dance of the Jesters (Snow Maiden) is played with gusto. The performance of Arturo Marquez s Conga del Fuego Nuevo is passionate. The album opens with Ryan Nowlin s Let Freedom Ring (2013), a setting of My Country Tis of Thee. Touching flute and trumpet solos are heard after a rousing opening and before the stirring ending. And the album closes with Henry Fillmore s march Rolling Thunder (1916), played at blistering circus-march tempo, giving the trombones plenty of chance to show their virtuosity. Terrific band, outstanding recording. KILPATRICK Under Western Skies McKee, Ewazen, Morales, Stephenson, Collins Richard Stoelzel, Rex Richardson, tpt; Grand Valley University Symphonic Winds/ Kevin Tutt, Lowell Graham Klavier minutes There must be a composer s handbook that tells how to create vast and awesome sonic vistas, sounds that are ominous but seem to offer a small ray of hope for the future of mankind. If not, then the first few seconds of this album could serve as a template. Heck, the first two chords would do it. Have your low brass play a low major chord, give the melody to low horns, and have the second chord be a minor subdominant. Et voila: impressive, ominous, maybe even cosmic. That s how Kevin McKee s Under Western Skies (2015) begins. Then two trumpet soloists begin to play, and they are very good but the sound seems wrong. We are too close to them, their bells are only a few feet from our ears, and their rather brass tone qualities have no chance to bloom. The sound for the band is perfect, for the soloists not good. Part of the problem is that trumpeters Richard Stoelzel and Rex Richardson are playing loud most of the time, including in their low registers. If they were at about the same distance from us as the band, we would enjoy this much more. Trumpet sound is not such a problem in Eric Morales s 3-movement, 19-minute Concerto for Two Trumpets (2013). Perhaps Stoelzel and Richardson are not playing so loudly, maybe there is less low-register playing, perhaps they are standing a few more inches away from the microphones. It is an enjoyable piece, too, with an exciting Boldly, expressive Rubato, and expansive western Allegro. James Stephenson composed A Little R&R for these trumpet players in He has them playing various instruments, including flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet, and he has them engaging in some very fast and intricate dialogs. He wrote It s About Time in 2014 for symphonic trumpeter Charles Schlueter and jazz trumpeter Marvin Stamm. That lively and inventive work ends the album. Stoelzel is the soloist in Eric Ewazen s lovely Ballade For a Ceremony (1999) and Brendan Collins s Stomp (2015). Kevin Tutt conducts those works, Lowell Graham the 2-trumpet pieces. The Grand Valley State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, augmented by a number of faculty and guest artists, sounds very good. KILPATRICK The Sun Will Rise Again Gould, Stamp, Oquin, Bennett, Camphouse, Sadler, Forbes, Chang, Saint-Saens, Sparke, Ford Jocelyn Goranson, fl; William Stowman, tpt; Eric Henry, tu; Mark Ford, Eric Forst, perc; Bruce Yurko, org; Messiah College Wind Ensemble/ Bradley Genevro Klavier minutes This small-college wind ensemble impressed me a few years ago (May/June 2014: 224), and now I m impressed again. Most of these works are emotionally stirring. Morton Gould s Fanfare for Freedom is a great opener and given an excellent reading. Wayne Oquin s moving and deeply sonorous Solemn Place reminds me of Lauridsen s O Magnum Mysterium. So does Guy Forbes s 4-minute O Nata Lux (2010), an arrangement of a choral work. Chang Su Koh s Lament (2002) is sad, of course. Philip Sparke made this arrangement of The Sun Will Rise Again shortly after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in And Mark Camphouse s stirring Homage to the Dream (2013) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the famous Martin Luther King speech. 216 January/February 2017

219 Several works have soloists. Bruce Yurko, known to me as a composer, is organist in Jack Stamp s setting of Psalm 150. Messiah College music department chairman William Stowman is the strong but warm-toned trumpet soloist in Robert Russell Bennett s Rose Variations (1955). Messiah College tuba instructor Eric Henry is soloist in Brian Sadler s little Action Sonata (2014), a 4-minute ditty that borrows from and imitates commercial filmand television-music techniques. Flute instructor Jocelyn Goranson is heard in an arrangement of Saint-Saens s Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, a piece I have grown quite fond of because of trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov s astonishing recording (Nov/Dec 2000: 281). The tempo is quite slow here, but it s a terrific piece anyway, and Ms Goranson s tone is lovely. And percussion instructors Mark Ford (University of North Texas) and Erik Forst (Messiah College) are fellow marimba soloists in Ford s Stubernic Fantasy (2012), at 13 minutes the big piece on this recording. Stubernic is a word combining the name of friends (Stuber) with the country they visited (Nicaragua). The work is in an energetic Latin style. Fine performances by these young musicians. Sound is vivid, though the bass sometimes booms. KILPATRICK Wine Dark Sea Welcher, Grantham, Ticheli, Mackey University of Texas Wind Ensemble/ Jerry Junkin Reference minutes Dan Welcher s Spumante, this album s 7- minute opener, is a minimalism-sparkled froth of a piece that was composed in 1998 for the Boston Pops. Donald Grantham s J ai été Un Bal has become a wind band favorite, with its atmosphere of a Louisiana folk dance. Especially enjoyable in this reading is a lively duet between tuba and euphonium, whom I wish I could praise by name. This is my third time around with Frank Ticheli s 22-minute Clarinet Concerto (2010 Jan/Feb 2014: 229; March/April 2014: 217). Ticheli skillfully and cleverly honors great American clarinet composers here. Rhapsody for George begins with the famous Rhapsody in Blue clarinet glissando, then gives the clarinetist seemingly endless virtuosic things to do. The quiet ending is a surprise and a marvel. II (Song for Aaron) reminds us of Copland but does not quote him. It includes a long and lovely trumpet solo and some high-pitched clarinet-ensemble chords. Riffs for Lenny is good-natured, energetic, and jazz-tinged. Nathan Williams is the excellent clarinetist who gives this most interesting work an outstanding reading. Not a word of information is included about him in the notes one would think the University of Texas-Austin would like us to know that he is clarinet professor there. The big piece on this album is John Mackey s Wine Dark Sea, commissioned by this ensemble. It is enjoyable to read Mackey s description of how he and his wife write music. This represents several episodes from The Odyssey. In Hubris, where a prideful Odysseus is struck down by the gods, the music begins as a noble march, becomes tumultuous, and ends bleakly. In Immortal Thread, So Weak, a beautiful harp solo by Vincent Pierce and a long one by a clarinetist (rosters in alphabetical order prevent identification), represent the nymph Kalypso restoring Odysseus back to health. Finally, The Attentions of Souls has Odysseus at the end of the earth, facing the underworld. The movement goes from weird to ferocious to triumphant. Terrific piece, excellent recording. KILPATRICK Like a Moth to a Flame Cuong, George, Respighi, Milhaud, Stravinsky West Chester University Choir & Wind Ensemble/ Andrew Yosviak Mark minutes Good sounds right from the start in this album. Viet Cuong s 8-minute Moth (2013) is an energetic, unpredictable, agreeable little thing. Instrumental sections sound very good together, soloists are confident. Sudden things happen. Sound is very vivid (especially the cymbals that seem quite close), and the ending is galvanic. This young composer (b 1990), a PhD candidate at Princeton, would seem to have a bright future. More of the same kind of energy opens Ryan George s 9-minute Riff Raff (2012), but it is jazz-infused. Ominous saxophone solos are heard in the quiet middle section, and then the work drives hard to the end. I never knew that Ottorino Respighi wrote a piece for concert band, but sure enough, the American Bandmasters Association commissioned the 7-minute Huntingtower in 1932 for a John Philip Sousa memorial concert. The first half of the piece is dark, as befits a work named for a rugged old Scottish castle. Once the action begins, it becomes an all-out gallop. It is good to hear Darius Milhaud s 5- movement, 16-minute Suite Francaise (1944) American Record Guide 217

220 for the first time in years. This reading shows ease, good taste, a chamber-music approach, and enjoyment of beauty. The program ends with Stravinsky s Mass ( ). The performance is excellent, the craggy sonorities sung with assurance, the more tonal ones blended well. But the recorded sound is odd: the singers seem only a few feet away. A little bit of distance would make this more comfortable to hear. That said, I am quite impressed by this effort by the West Chester (PA) University Wind Ensemble and Concert Choir. Excellent preparation by their directors Andrew Yozviak and David DeVenney. KILPATRICK 3 Decades Anonymous 4 Harmonia Mundi minutes Here, as a type of tombeau for Anonymous 4, the members of the ensemble have selected their greatest hits from three decades of recordings for Harmonia Mundi (see ARG index). The selections do favor their many recordings of medieval music, but even their more recent performances of American traditional music have their place. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant about the potential contrasts, but when I heard the ballad Wayfaring Stranger right after the medieval English sequence, Jesu Cristes Milde Moder, I was rather surprised at how medieval the 19th Century harmonization sounded. Their musicmaking will be greatly missed, but these recordings have set standards of musicality that other ensembles can only hope to emulate. BREWER Granada, Weed Bouhassoun, Liar Elmaleh, Driss El Maloumi, Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hesperion XXI/ Jordi Savall AliaVox :33 This is the latest of Savall s CD books, even if it is cast in a standard CD-size album. Like so many of its predecessors, it explores multiand intercultural patterns in the music of the past. This one also is from a public concert in June It uses the history of the city of Granada (with its fabulous palace of the Alhambra) as its platform. The program follows that history in a series of seven subdivisions, period by period. The scope is somewhat broader than the dates in the album title suggest: there were already five centuries of Muslim rule over the Iberian peninsula before the regimes that ruled from Granada were established, so the program has a fuller context that allows attention to Savall s interest in how the cultures of Christians, Jews, and Muslims coexisted for centuries. Savall pulls back from what has become the long assumption about the centuries of Muslim rule in al-andalus: that such coexistence was not only genuine but generally harmonious in contrast with the world of intolerance imposed by the Christian Reconquista. One of the three long essays presented in the book is by Catalan historian Dolors Bramln, titled The Fallacy of the Fabled Three Cultures, which offers critical perspective on traditional stereotypes. Nevertheless, Savall s goal of exploring cultural dialog is earnestly pursued. There are 24 tracks. Four of them do not contain music but texts, read in the original by Manuel Forcano, one of the designers of this program. Their inclusion made sense for the public concert, but they are a disruption when listening to a record though translations of the texts are given, along with full texts and translations. Of the 20 tracks with musical selections, 2 are in Hebrew, 2 are in Ladino, 4 are in Arabic, 2 are in Latin, 1 in Galician, 4 in Castilian (Spanish); and 5 are instrumental. Only three actual composers (Alfonso El Sabio, Carlo Verardi, and Juan del Encina) can be credited. A number of the tracks are simply improvisations in traditional styles. Each selection is pegged to an event in Granada s history. With two or three exceptions, the musical selections are not explicitly connected with the events, but serve more as scene-setting music-in-the-time-of examples. Savall employs eight singers and instrumentalists of Eastern backgrounds, in his usual patterns of inter-cultural collaboration. I am not qualified to appraise their work, but they balance well with the period-music singers and instrumentalists, and the performances maintain high musical standards. Of the three major printed essays, two are devoted to the history and importance of Granada (which was to be the last stronghold of Muslim rule). A detailed chronology of its Muslim rule and Spanish epilogue ( , ) is also given. These sets of written material are given in Spanish, French, English, Catalan, German, and Italian. There is also a number of color illustrations. 218 January/February 2017

221 This seems to me one of the better of Savall s thematic CD books. It is the strongest of his explorations of cultural interaction, without the preachiness that has burdened its predecessors. And, despite some glitches, it offers some very unusual, satisfying listening. BARKER the booklet essay. I found that following the text, especially on second hearing, helped me savor the music even more. English notes, bios in Italian, texts in Latin. Notes include summaries of the stories about St Minias. C MOORE Officium Sancti Miniatis Gregorian Chant from 12th-Century Florence Coro Viri Galilaei/ Enzo Ventroni; Ensemble San Felice/ Federico Bardazzi Bongiovanni minutes This timeless and beautiful music is from the oldest Antiphonary (collection of antiphons) of the Florentine church. It dates from the 12th Century and was transcribed by musician and researcher Giovanni Alpigiano, who also wrote the booklet essay. This program honors the 3rd-Century St Minias, who is closely connected to the spread of Christianity in early Florentia. The Officium Sancti Miniatis is the veneration of St Minias, recorded at the saint s namesake Basilica di San Miniato al Monte in Florence. The acoustic surroundings are very resonant, and that gives an attractive and otherworldly bloom to the sound. It s almost like a soft drone or shimmer of overtones, and given the nature of the music, it s not inappropriate to call it a halo. The music is chant: antiphons, readings, and responses. Directed by interpretive musicians expert in understanding its meaning, the music is performed by vocal groups (of men or women) in a style that makes manifest the prayerful qualities of chant. The following passage from the fine booklet essay not only offers important historical context but also gives the modern listener direction about how to listen: The historical basis of this sung prayer is the Passion of Minias, the oldest we know (BHL [Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina] 5965), accompanied by liturgical texts of praise and honor. Through them, the invisible presence of the saint takes on a vivid, luminous aspect that emanates into the congregation. In the case of the divine office of St Minias, the responsories, inspired by the life of the saint as narrated in his Passion, are true songs of meditation designed to generate prayer that is born through listening. Though I m not a Latin scholar, I was able to follow the texts while I listened. I know some Latin (and its similarities to English) and I drew on the outlines of story of St Minias in Mary Star of the Sea Metcalf, Smith, Dunstable, Smert, Godric of Finchale, Power, Anonymous Gothic Voices Linn minutes This recording of musical settings of Marian devotional texts combines music of the 13th to 15th Centuries with the work of two contemporary composers: Joanne Metcalf (b 1958) and Andrew Smith (b 1970). The vocal ensemble Gothic Voices, founded in 1980, is primarily an early music ensemble, devoted to bringing medieval music into the mainstream. Their outstanding virtuosity and scholarly integrity guarantee that this is not a cheap popularizing of early music, but a communication of the vitality that is inherent in the medieval repertory. They also perform modern works, especially ones with medieval associations, like the pieces by Metcalf and Smith. The program is in two parts. Part I is concerned with the mystical side of Marian devotion. It includes three of the ten movements of the cycle Il Nome del Bel Fior (1998) by Metcalf, based on a passage from Canto 23 of Dante s Paradiso. At the risk of using a loaded term, Metcalf s music here tends to be minimalist, in that she often unfolds a very brief text very slowly in music that involves a fair amount of repetition. In addition to the Dante cycle, the program includes her Music for the Star of the Sea, whose text consists only of the vowels o and a and the words Ave maris stella in a piece that takes eight minutes. On the other hand, the fourth movement of the Dante cycle gives 15 lines of the poet s text in a concise setting. Metcalf s music alternates with examples of medieval polyphony, with special emphasis on the mellifluous writing of 15th-Century English composers like John Dunstable, Leonel Power, and Richard Smert. Part II is concerned with the human side of Mary, particularly in reference to the Incarnation and her sorrow at the Crucifixion. The centerpiece is a monophonic setting of the 13th-Century English poem Stond Wel, Moder, Under Rode, based on the sequence Stabat Iuxta Christi Crucem. Also in this part of the program are Andrew Smith s largely American Record Guide 219

222 homophonic settings in two movements of stanzas from the medieval English poem. The program concludes with an exuberant anonymous polytextual motet of the 13th Century, Alleluia psallat/ Alleluia concinat. These performances are nothing short of amazing for their unanimity of ensemble, perfectly blended tone, and flawless intonation. The recording was made in the friendly acoustic of Boxgrove Priory, West Sussex. The sound is rich and somewhat dark. GATENS Exilio: Sephardic Songs La Roza Enflorese; Alfama Quartet Pavane :32 This is presented as a program of Sephardic and related music. In fact, it might more properly be presented in the composer section under the name of Philippe Malfeyt. His fingerprints are everywhere. Of the 14 selections, 4 are original compositions of his, 2 vocal (setting texts by Pablo Neruda) and 2 instrumental. The remainder are his arrangements of 7 songs vaguely identified as Sephardic without any clarification of their traditions of transmission. There is also one labelled Trad. Catalan. And two are Malfeyt s arrangements of pieces from the Renaissance Cancionero de Palacio (one by Juan del Encina). Malfeyt plays in almost every selection, on oud. His arrangements use a mix of old instruments (recorders, percussion) and modern ones (accordion, string quartet). Most call also on the services of Edith Sant-Mard (identified, pop-style, merely as voice ), a soprano with a neat and often very affecting style. Listeners who come to this release expecting authentic Sephardic songs in performances that respect their original substance and integrity will be disappointed. People who want a pretty cocktail-hour collection of what might be called quiet nightclub music might welcome the absence of antiquarianism and the mush of soothing sounds. But have no illusions about what you are getting. Texts and translations. BARKER The Lion s Ear La Morra/ Corina Marti, Michal Gondko Ramee minutes Subtitled A Tribute to Leo X, Musician Among Popes, this very fine program gives credence to our historical understanding that the musical life of Leo s court was unimaginably rich and vibrant. Leo X was a Medici Pope (born 1475; reigned ) and son of Lorenzo Il Magnifico. La Morra demonstrates masterly skill in choosing and sequencing repertoire and in interpreting this 15th- and 16th-Century music with touching, sensitive, and engaging beauty. The sacred, secular, Latin, Italian, vocal, and instrumental are combined in ways that deeply enfold and involve the listener. In one sequence, the anonymous Se Mai, Per Maraveglia is performed by an introspective duo of male voice and lute to offer an eye-witness meditation on the death of Christ; then Pisaro s multi-voice unaccompanied motet O Vos Omnes expands the grief beyond one spectator using the familiar sorrow-filled text from Lamentations; then the voiceless duo of recorder and lute (played by the ensemble s two directors) presents Craen s Ecce Video Celos Aperto as an evocative reflection that goes beyond words. Other pieces, such as Isaac s Fortuna Disperata, Sancte Petre, convey fervent and pious happiness; another piece by Isaac is a motet honoring Leo X; and two instrumental pieces by the Pope himself are included. The program concludes with Josquin s Salve Regina. This recording also exemplifies the best type of collaboration between scholars and performers. By happy coincidence, the musicians of La Morra and scholar Anthony M Cummings share a mutual friend who knew that both unbeknownst to each other were fascinated by and simultaneously working on music from Leo X s realm, and who then introduced them to each other. Cummings s 2012 book is called The Lion s Ear (Lion = Leo), whence the title of the release. Notes, texts, translations, bios, in a 54-page booklet. C MOORE Serpent & Fire Arias for Dido & Cleopatra Anna Prohaska, s; Giardino Armonico/ Giovanni Antonini Alpha minutes This release advances a very promising idea: contrasting operatic treatments of the two fabled queens of Antiquity, by composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. But dubious policies qualify this. The craze for providing relief interludes of contrasting music has been run to extremes. In a collection of 22 pieces, 7 items are exclusively instrumental and (with one exception) utterly irrele- 220 January/February 2017

223 vant to the theme: pieces by Purcell, Matthew Locke, Dario Castello, and Luigi Rossi. A second compromise is in the choices of vocal excerpts, at least two of which are arias not for one of our queens but for a subsidiary character. For all that, we are given an interesting and varied survey of ways these two queens have been represented in Baroque opera, by both famous and obscure composers. For the tragic Carthaginian queen, we have four sources: Francesco Cavalli s Didone (1641), Henry Purcell s Dido and Aeneas (1689), Christoph Graupner s Dido, Konigin von Karthago (1707), and Johann Adolf Hasse s Didone Abbandonata (1742). For the serpent of the Nile we also have four sources: Daniele da Castrovillari s La Cleopatra (1662), Antonio Sartorio s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (1677), Handel s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (1724), and Hasse s Marcantonio e Cleopatra (1725). Notice that Hasse is the only composer here to have treated both queens. The selections capture the two queens in varied moods and characters, so that there is variety aplenty in the 13 arias (4 with recitatives). Prohaska is winning a strong reputation for Baroque performing, and this program shows her generally to good advantage. I did find that in the first Purcell aria she applies a straight and almost hooty tone that was quite off-putting. But for the rest she sings with fullbodied strength and with nicely varied color and dramatic feeling. Antonini s group participates with wellestablished period-style playing, complete with his characteristic penchant for fast tempos. Fine recorded sound. The booklet contains good notes on the vocal selections but not a word about the instrumental ones. It does give full texts with translations. But the booklet is unhelpfully pasted into the cardboard album. BARKER Court of Christian IV Les Witches Alpha minutes King Christian IV of Denmark ( ) was one of the most important patrons of music in the early 17th Century. He does not appear to have been a musician himself, but had a good ear for talent at a time when musicians were in abundant supply. He is well known for his patronage of English, German, and Netherlandish musicians. For some of them, his court was a refuge: for Heinrich Schütz, who was escaping war; and for John Dowland, who fled from the disappointment of rejection in England. The centerpiece of the program is the restored but unaltered organ at Frederiksborg castle, built in The program was partly designed to take advantage of its unique timbres both in ensemble and as a solo instrument. Dances dominate the program, but none by Schütz or Dowland. Except for perhaps Samuel Scheidt, Tobias Hume, and Thomas Simpson, most of these composers are not well known. The works of a few of the lesser-known composers stand out. The Sine Titulo by Johann Schop (c ) is a staggeringly virtuosic piece for violin, brilliantly performed by Odile Edouard. Sylvie Moquet s lyra viol technique in John Maynard s Pavin is wonderfully expressive. The complex polyphony of Johann Vierdanck s Canzona betrays the composer s Netherlandish roots, and yet the graceful transitions from one affect to another bears the impress of the stile moderno. The setting of Vater Unser im Himmelreich by Johann Lorenz is perhaps the best illustration of the registrations available on this organ. Notes are in English. LOEWEN Mi Palpita il Cor Dominique Labelle, s; Musica Pacifica Navona :11 The Musica Pacifica ensemble of five players (recorders, violin, gamba, theorbo, harpsichord) shares with soprano Labelle a kind of double-barreled recital. There are five works here. Two of them are exclusively instrumental, as showcases for the ensemble: Giuseppe Sammartini s Trio Sonata in B minor, Op. 1:6, and the Third of Telemann s Nouveaux Quatuors of The latter, at about 23 minutes, is actually the longest item here, carrying rather to excess the idea of spacers between the main material. That main material is three cantatas. One is a novelty by the once-revered Agostino Steffani. Another, also in Italian, is the very familiar Handel cantata, Mi Palpita il Cor. And, finally, the also familiar early cantata by Rameau, Orphee. Labell is well recognized by now as an outstanding exponent of Baroque vocal music. Here she is true to form in vocal beauty and stylish sensitivity. But she seems far more comfortable in the French music of Rameau than in the Italian pieces. The instrumental work is confident and elegant if just a trifle bland. Whether it is my American Record Guide 221

224 ear or bad microphone balances, I found the recorder playing recurrently overbearing. The notes are good; full texts with English translations. BARKER Choral Music for Epiphany BAX: Mater Ora Filium; LASSUS: Omnes de Saba; SHEPPARD: Reges Tharsis; BYRD: Ecce Adventit Dominator Dominus; PALESTRINA: Tribus Miraculis Ornatum; CLEMENS NON PAPA: Magi Veniunt ab Oriente; MOUTON: Nesciens Mater; POULENC: Videntes Stellam; HOWELLS: Here Is the Little Door; Long, Long Ago; BING- HAM: Epiphany; WARLOCK: Bethlehem Down; Benedicamus Domino; NILES: I Wonder as I Wander; CORNELIUS: The 3 Kings; BERKELEY: I Sing of a Maiden; arr ROSS: O Worship the Lord; Hail to the Lord s Anointed; As With Gladness Men of Old Clare College Choir/ Graham Ross Harmonia Mundi minutes This anthology of music inspired by the Epiphany gets off to a terrific start as the young co-ed singers from Clare jump enthusiastically into Orlando di Lasso s exuberant Omnes de Saba. If gold and incense have ever changed hands more joyously, I haven t heard about it! But you really find out how good this choir is when you hear Jean Mouton s Nesciens Mater, Poulenc s Videntes Stellam, and Long, Long Ago by Herbert Howells performed in succession on tracks 7, 8, and 9. Mouton s canonic lines glow as they ascend. The crystalline images of Poulenc s writing are luminous to a fault until the ruffles and flourishes attendant to the entrance of the Three Kings return us to the earthly realm. Enter Herbert Howells, whose staunch, resolutely British writing evokes an entirely different feel. Wherever the music heads and in these consecutive works it heads all over the place the singers are right there with it. Peter Warlock s ebullient Benedicamus Domino and Arnold Bax s Mater Ora Filium (which gives the anthology its title) also are especially good. I had never heard Bax s 10- minute work for unaccompanied double choir before, and am pleased to have made its acquaintance. Sir Arnold s writing can be the picture of restraint; but when he lets go, the polyphony goes bonkers. It s a terrific piece. ( Mother, Pray Thy Son is its English title.) Maestro Ross interpolates three of his own hymn settings into the program as palate cleansers, and they do the job quite nicely. (He knows what to do with a descant, too.) The sound is a bit fuzzy owing to the reverberant church setting, but choral details are fully audible. GREENFIELD Haec Dies Easter Lassus, Taverner, Scheidt, Vaughan Williams, Byrd, Martin, Bassano, Palestrina, Haller, L Heritier, Rachmaninoff, SS Wesley, Hadley, Stanford Matthew Jorysz, org; Clare College Choir/ Graham Ross Harmonia Mundi minutes This is also part of the series from Clare College, Cambridge, of music for the seasons of the church year. The program is arranged according to the liturgical order of the day, beginning with a polychoral setting by Lassus of the office hymn at Lauds, Aurora Lucis Rutilat, and concluding with his Eighth Tone Magnificat on Aurora Lucis Rutilat for Vespers. In between are Taverner s Matins responsory Dum Transisset Sabbatum, various settings of Proper texts for the Mass on Easter Day, and three accompanied English anthems that might be sung at Evensong. The music ranges chronologically from Surrexit Pastor Bonus (Communion antiphon) by Jean l Heritier (c1480-c1551) to Haec Dies (Gradual) by Matthew Martin (b 1976), commissioned for the choir and recorded here for the first time. A complete track list can be obtained at the label website. The performances leave a mixed impression. The choral sound is very good, but somewhat brighter than I prefer. Ensemble and intonation are first rate. Much of the time it feels as if the choir is too close, and merely adjusting the volume does not help. I cannot describe these as subtly nuanced performances. Wesley s Blessed Be the God and Father and Stanford s Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem sound prodded and impatient to me. Much of the time the organ sounds too prominent for purposes of accompaniment, leading to a seemingly competitive jumble of voices and instrument at climaxes with everything sounding forced. I miss the spaciousness and dignity that allow these pieces to sound to best advantage. GATENS God So Loved the World: English Choral Cologne Figural Choir/ Richard Meiländer Carus minutes This is very well done. It is mostly early music (Parsons, Blow, Byrd, Morley, Tallis) with a few later pieces (Parry, Stanford, Stainer, Elgar). Most are sung in English; but some are in 222 January/February 2017

225 Latin, as they were written. Texts are given in the language sung. Notes are in German only, but that matters little. A few pieces have organ accompaniment, usually subtle; most are unaccompanied. The choir is 40 adults, which I vastly prefer to boychoirs, though tastes vary on this matter. But we have plenty of recordings of this music with English men-and-boys choirs, and it is good to hear a mixed adult choir and Germans, too! There is no reason on earth why a German choir can t do these pieces as well as any English one. And they do. As far as I can figure out, a figural choir is a choir that sings in four parts, as opposed to one that sings monophonically. It s a German term with plenty of history behind it. To us an SATB choir is perfectly normal, but at one time it was new. At first the program looked odd: Stainer between Tallis and Gibbons? But it works pretty well. The choir s English is rather good, but be prepared for theh instead of thuh for the. The recordings were made in churches in Bonn and Dusseldorf, and the acoustics are good. Probably a reader who has sung in a church choir has sung a number of these; the best known are God So Loved the World by Stainer and O For a Closer Walk with God by Stanford, both from around The polyphony of some of the earlier pieces is more difficult! VROON Word Police: Iconic revisited We complained in 2010 (M/A, p 23) that this word was becoming trendy. By now it is completely out of hand. Publicity people can't use it enough. (In May/June we complained that one major-label publicist used it 3 times on one page.) A former ARG writer, John Boyer, helped me create this list of words that have been displaced by "iconic": type, typical, formulaic, symbolic, representative, exemplary, standard, usual, popular, classic, traditional, celebrated, renowned, familiar, characteristic, famed, well-known, respected. It is always bad when one word replaces many others. It is a cheapening and an impoverishment of language. In 2010 "iconic" was only beginning to take hold, but it was clear to us that all the trendy publicists were going to jump on the bandwagon. They have. 20th Century American Psalmody Volume I: Make His Praise Glorious ADLER: Psalm of Dedication; IVES: Psalm 90: HOVHANESS: Make A Joyful Noise; PINKHAM: Thou Hast Loved Righteousness; Behold How Good and How Pleasant; Thou Has Turned My Laments Into Dancing; Open to Me the Gates of Righteousness; NELSON: O Lord, Thou Hast Searched Me; STARER: Psalms of Woe and Joy; HANSON: How Excellent Thy Name; THOMPSON: The Lord Is My Shepherd 70 minutes Volume II: By the Rivers of Babylon LOEFFLER: By the Rivers of Babylon; THOM- SON: 3 Antiphonal Psalms; De Profundis; SCHOENBERG: De Profundis; TAYLOR: Sing to the Lord a New Song; BERGER: The Eyes of All; NEWBURY: Psalm 150; NEAR: My Song Shall Be Alway of the Loving-Kindness of the Lord; ADLER: Psalm Trilogy; NESWICK: Hallelujah! Sing to the Lord a New Song; STARER: Give Thanks to the Lord; WHITE: Cantate Domino 56 minutes Volume III: The Lord is My Shepherd SUSA: The God of Love My Shepherd Is; IVES: Psalm 100; ROREM: 2 Psalms & a Proverb; HOV- HANESS: Make Haste; PINKHAM: The House of the Lord; STARER: Proverbs for a Son; ADLER: Psalm 23; MILHAUD: Cantata from Proverbs; JAMES: By the Waters of Babylon; NESWICK: I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea 66 minutes Gloriae Dei 899 [3CD] Gloriae Dei Cantores/ Elizabeth Patterson Those of us who ve manned the choral desk over the years have had a lot of positive things to say about Gloriae Dei Cantores, the distinguished amateur choir based on Cape Cod. The group has recorded a great variety of music, but their dominant legacy, I suspect, will be the voice they have given to American composers of sacred music. Here are three such programs released as a set some two decades after they came onto the market individually. Make His Praise Glorious Volume I was reviewed by our redoubtable editor (S/O 1998). Lindsay Koob expressed his admiration for The Lord is My Shepherd (Jan/Feb 2003). I will stroll down Memory Lane with them for a bit before sharing some thoughts on The Rivers of Babylon, which I don t think we got to when it was issued in Mr Vroon was thrilled with GDC s wonderful account of Charles Ives s Psalm 90, and he ll get no argument from me. It is the longest work on the program at 11 minutes and is, without question, the most memorable. Ives was after a shimmering sound to bring the psalm s devout American Record Guide 223

226 poetry alive ( And let the beauty of the Lord our God be on us ), and the choir obliged him with luminous, spiritually-charged singing. Also memorable is Randall Thompson s glowing 23rd Psalm, accompanied by a harp that sounds on loan from the angels. The boss fussed some at the other composers, but I find appealing stuff from some of them as well. Robert Starer s psalms sung in Hebrew are attractive, and I ve always admired Daniel Pinkham, whose music is well crafted and enjoyable to sing. I also like Ronald Nelson s Psalm 139, especially when the solo violin cuddles up to the voices near the end. Lindsay Koob really liked The Lord is My Shepherd, though he took issue with the group s penchant for over-enunciated consonants, which distracted him as he listened. Ives s weird evocation of the 100th Psalm, the warm and lovely works by Ned Rorem, and Milhaud s cantata scored for women s voices, oboe, cello, and harp were singled out for special praise. (Milhaud s choral writing became part of the American songbook when he immigrated 1940 as France was falling under Hitler s yoke.) Milhaud s excerpts from Proverbs can be lyrical, passionate, percussive, and a mite edgy depending on where you come in. I find much to enjoy in By the Rivers of Babylon. I had never heard that title psalm sung to the music of Charles Loeffler before. Loeffler ( ) came to the US from Germany and became the first-ever assistant concertmaster in the history of the Boston Symphony. Composed for organ, harp, cello, two flutes, and women s voices, his lush, melodic evocation of that famous text sounds like Fauré and not bad Fauré either. Jean Berger s Eyes of All (from the Ashrei, Psalm 145) has been a favorite since college, and it s beautifully sung here. I also like the jaunty, asymmetrical rhythms of Samuel Adler, and Gerald Near s My Song Shall Be is a lovely work. You also can sample veddy British American fare from Clifford Taylor, Kent Newbury, and Robert Starer. (Starer even adds the brass in the manner of Vaughan Williams.) One quibble I ve had with the Cantores over the years has been the distant recorded sound they seem to prefer. You ll hear that lack of immediacy here as well, especially in the various solo lines that sound tremulous and strangely far off. Still, we re fortunate to have an American choir that taps into the spiritual energy of our 20th Century psalter with so much conviction and joy. GREENFIELD Old Colony Collection Kent, Linley, Avison, Chapple, Webbe, Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn Ian Watson, org; Guy Fishman, vc; Handel & Haydn Society Choir/ Harry Christophers Coro minutes This recording from the spring of 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston with performances of music that was then popular, taken from a collection published around that time. The Old Colony Collection of Anthems was published by the Old Colony Musical Society of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, founded around the turn of the 19th Century. The Handel and Haydn Society (H+H) had been founded to improve the style of performing sacred music and introduce into more general use the works of Handel and Haydn and other eminent composers. The trustees and members of H+H found the Old Colony Collection admirably suited to their objectives, and in the first year of their existence authorized the purchase of copies. H+H were not merely customers, but collaborators in expanding the collection. At the outset, H+H requested the inclusion of five choruses from Handel oratorios and the glee When Winds Breathe Soft by Samuel Webbe the elder ( ). Teresa Neff, the current Christopher Hogwood Fellow of H+H, describes the collection as a varied array of compositions that were sung on both sides of the Atlantic including anthems, glees, arrangements and adaptations, and selections from Handel oratorios. In some instances, the generic divisions could be indistinct. For instance, serious glees were often referred to as anthems, whether their texts were sacred or secular. The later Georgian period is probably the most neglected in the history of English church music. Among the rarities presented here are verse anthems by James Kent ( ), who was a member of the Chapel Royal, organist of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1731, and organist of Winchester College and Cathedral in 1738; Thomas Linley the elder ( ), who was primarily a composer for the theater; and Samuel Chapple ( ), blind from early childhood from smallpox, but organist of Ashburton, Devon, from 1795 to his death. No one could describe these works as profound, but they are elegant and often contain very attractive solo vocal writing. Adaptations were a prominent part of the sacred vocal repertory of that time. The present program contains two adaptations by Sir John 224 January/February 2017

227 Stevenson ( ) with sacred poems by Thomas Moore. Sound the Loud Timbrel is based on a melody from a concerto by Charles Avison ( ), and Hark! the Vesper Hymn Is Stealing to a Russian air sometimes attributed without apparent evidence to Dmitri Bortniansky. Mozart s O Isis from The Magic Flute was often adapted to sacred words, and here it is sung in an arrangement for solo voices and choir to Moore s Almighty God, When Round Thy Shrine. Excerpts from Messiah and Israel in Egypt found in the Old Colony Collection round out the program. Included as a bonus track is Peace I Leave with You by Mendelssohn. The performances here are as technically unimpeachable as we have come to expect from Harry Christophers. The choral tone is warm and well blended. The music is rendered with sensitivity and apparent affection. GATENS Veiled Light Engelhardt, Pew, Horvath, Takach, Schmidt, Rahman, Maglione, Chilcott, Unterseher, Betinis, Burchard, Jeffers, Kolm Miami University Men s Glee Club/ Jeremy D Jones Albany minutes In order to prepare for this review, I did something a little unusual. Albany s notes are excellent, with brief biographies of the composers and comments from them about their compositions. Texts are also printed with translations where necessary. I sat and read the poems aloud before listening to each composition. Then I turned out the lights, slipped on my headphones, and activated my CD player. I m glad I did. The music here (all written by contemporary composers, the oldest Ron Jeffers, b. 1943) encompasses many styles, incorporating various instruments and vocal soloists in response to the texts. Most compositions are a cappella. Listening to the richness of the singing I was almost overwhelmed and made my myself stop every few selections, not only to absorb the music, but to recover from the performances. The Miami University Men s Glee Club is well known, and one can hear why. Under Jeremy D. Jones they blend and listen so well to each other that it s almost too rich. I listened in vain for some faulty intonation or solo voices that stuck out jarringly from the musical fabric, but heard nothing of the kind. The program opens with Michael Engelhardt s Gaudete!, a text that celebrates the birth of Christ. It is juxtaposed with layered harmonies and accented dance rhythms, and yet with its various percussion parts sounds at first a little formidable. It all leads to a joyous climax. The program is arranged so that one hears a contrast of styles from selection to selection. The next piece is Douglas Pew s ethereal Lead Gently, Lord, evoking with its quiet power a very different atmosphere. All of the compositions are first-rate. Anthony Maglione s Night, Veiled Night presumably gives the release its title In his own words, The work is not an attempt to recreate Indian music, but a merging of this lovely Indian text with my distinctly Western compositional style. The work begins with a drone over which the cellist serves as a means to bind these styles through notated improvisations on an Indian raga. Cellist Pansy Chang performs these very effectively, and the choral writing is splendid. Bob Chilcott, a former singer with the King s Singer s, contributes a harrowing setting of Edwin Brock s Five Ways to Kill a Man. And then, in appropriate contrast, we hear Reginald Unterseher s Steady Light, a piece (again in the composer s words) dedicated to our heroes, those people who made the choice to be the light for us. Abbie Betinis s Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, compiled from poems by Vachel Lindsay, is heartbreaking. The poet imagines Lincoln returning to his neighborhood home in Springfield, Illinois only to discover that so much of his work on behalf of peace and harmony has been in vain. Betinis writes music of solemnity, but also hope. I look forward to hearing more of her work in the future. Ron Jeffers s I Have Had Singing beautifully captures the essence of the text that is paraphrased from Ronald Blythe s Aknefield, Portrait of an English Village. A hardworking 85-year old plowman recounts his daily arduous life with little experience of life s simple pleasures with the lone exception of singing. I would recommend a break after every few selections, if only to prolong the pleasure. The sounds this choir makes should be absorbed and savored. REYNOLDS Meditatio MacMillan, Tavener, Gudmundsson, Leifs, Lauridsen, Whitacre, Sigurbjornsson, Sevarsson, Esenvalds, Thorvaldsdottir, Skelsson, Ingi, Part Reykjavik Schola Cantorum/ Hordur Askelsson BIS minutes Although you would not know it from the outside, the 14 works brought together here by the 18 singers and conductor of the Schola Cantorum are unified by their connection to the tra- American Record Guide 225

228 ditional Christian feasts of All Saints and All Souls days, normally observed on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. In the US, Halloween is mostly what remains of these holidays (the eve of All Saints), and in Latin American culture the Day of the Dead (All Souls). Both can be traced back to the pre-christian observation of Samhain (still the name of the month in Irish). But the sameness of all the pieces is just a bit too much (unless that s what you are looking for) think bleak, pale, early winter light, everything very quiet, still, no spiritual agitation. The traditional requiem mass has a bit of fear and trembling in it (hell-fire, brimstone, the end of the world, death). Not here. But it must be granted that the performances are at the very top level beautiful tone, the purest intonation, the best of ensemble, lovely lines. T MOORE Let Me Fly Go Tell It on the Mountain, Psalm 23, Someplace, Shenandoah, Elijah Rock, Let Me Fly, Dixie, Abide with Me, others Arrangements by Stacey Gibbs, Moses Hogan, James Erb, Norman Luboff, Jonny Priano, others University of South Dakota Chamber Singers/ David Holdhusen Navona minutes I hadn t heard the University of South Dakota Chamber Singers before, though their leader, David Holdhusen, certainly has solid credentials. He got his PhD in Music Education from Florida State University and has won many awards for excellence in choral music and teaching. His choir here is stunning. Every section has its own rich sound and yet blends seamlessly with the others. He has basses who can sing well below the staff and a couple of sopranos who can sing high notes considerably above high C, all while meshing with the final chords. The choir also sounds like they re enjoying the music, actively listening and responding to each other. Some of the arrangements I ve heard (and sung) before: Norman Luboff s melting version of Dixie, Moses Hogan s vibrant account of My Soul s Been Anchored in the Lord. There are several original selections by Jonny Priano, a music educator based in western Pennsylvania who gets choral commissions from across the United States. I love the slow build of his Psalm 23, the reassurance of his Do Not Fear, the richness of There is a River. These are pieces that should be in the repertoire of all contemporary choral groups. Robert Decormier s version of Let Me Fly builds to a thrilling climax, capped by one of those high soprano notes. It s so well-blended that it doesn t attract attention to itself. Everything here is performed superbly. I felt exhilarated after hearing this and went back to listen to several selections again. The sound is top notch: warm, intimate, and clear. Any admirer of fine a cappella choral singing or of American choral music in particular should hear this. No texts, but the choir s diction is so sharp you won t need them. REYNOLDS Polska: Polish Choral SZYMANOWSKI: 6 Kurpian Songs; GORECKI: 5 Kurpian Songs; LUTOSLAWSKI: Folk Songs on Soldier Themes; PENDERECKI: Cherubic Hymn; Veni, Creator Spiritus; HAUBENSTOCK- RAMATI: Madrigal SWR Vocal Ensemble/ Marcus Creed SWR minutes The two sacred works by Penderecki one sung in Latin, the other in Russian are already familiar to some listeners and are accessible by mood and spiritual intention. The Madrigal by Roman Haubenstock- Ramati is whispered, hissed, and yelled in German. The text is pretty much superfluous, as is the music itself. Everything else, though, is sung in Polish and is full of rich story-telling. Szymanowski and Gorecki take us to the Kurpie region of Northeastern Poland where horses run, oxen plod, waltzes are played, nights are especially dark, and through it all the name of Jesus is praised. A pair of Lutoslawski s Soldier Themes (there are 10 altogether) also are part of this musical exploration of Polish life. So how s your Polish? English translations are not repeat not supplied. And while that may not matter so much in Penderecki and that noisy Madrigal, it pretty much short-circuits our understanding of the Kurps and the soldiers. And, frankly, that annoys me enough to wave off Maestro Creed and his SWR without a second thought. The more temperate among you might decide differently. If you do, you won t be disappointed by the singing, which is exceptional. But if you seek a measure of understanding along with your sound, you ll be as frustrated as I was. GREENFIELD 226 January/February 2017

229 Hole in the Sky: Choral GJEILO: The Spheres; WHITACRE: She Weeps Over Rahoon; LAVOY: As I Walk the Silent Earth; PAULUS: Pilgrim s Hymn; The Road Home; COP- LAND: At the River; HENSON: And Dream Awhile; BRITTEN: Jubilate Deo; VICTORIA: Kyrie; FORREST: Good Night, Dear Heart; MENDELSSOHN: Veni, Domine; PART: Da Pacem Domine; BRUCKNER: Locus Iste; DURU- FLE: Tantum Ergo PARKER: Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal Westminster Williamson Voices/ James Jordan GIA minutes I would tear a hole in the sky so I could pull out the heart of the moon for thee, wrote Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass. That line, which is sung in Thomas LaVoy s As I Walk really gets to conductor James Jordan, who appropriates it as the title of this anthology. There are certain pieces of music, Jordan says in his notes, that by their very nature tear a hole in the sky ; and that s what governed the inclusion of works into the program. Britten s Jubilate Deo and Alice Parker s Harps Eternal have some kick to them, but all were crafted to bring light and serenity to sacred spaces. That s how they re sung by the men and women of Westminster s Williamson Voices. They are two balanced chamber choirs that perform in residence at Rider College in New Jersey and across the pond at Oxford University s Choral Institute. I find their Locus Iste beautiful, though a bit pale for Bruckner. Everything else is glorious. Jump in anywhere; into the dreamy swirls of the Kyrie from Ola Gjeilo s Sunrise Mass, or Mendelssohn s evocation of the angels in Veni, Domine, or Eric Whitacre s haunting depiction of James Joyce s encounter with disconnected love, or the synthesis of memory and silence reached in Thomas LaVoy s As I Walk, or the bittersweet wistfulness of Dan Forrest s Good Night, Dear Heart. Most moving of all is the glowing 6-part Kyrie from Victoria s Officium Defunctorum where the polyphony oozes so delicately out of the massed voices that the more static sustaining harmonies wind up dominating the texture. (Never has Thomas Luis been made to sound so much like Arvo.) This is the kind of singing and conducting that reaches to our hearts through that hole in the sky. I will live out the life I must live with your song, Lewis Carroll continued on. Life, what is it but a dream? GREENFIELD Theo Adam 90th Birthday Edition Wagner, Strauss, Mozart, Bach Berlin 824 [3CD] 183 minutes Born August 1, 1926 Theo Adam is 90 years old this year and still going strong. Most of his career has been in Europe, but there were 17 Met appearances (debut in 1969, last seen in 1988, all in Wagner) and he has developed a following. He has made many recordings, including two famous Ring cycles (as Wotan with Bohm and Janowski, both still widely available), a studio Meistersinger under Karajan, and any number of lieder and oratorio discs. When I told an Austrian friend of mine that I had these discs for review, he remarked, Oh, Theo Adam! Such a beautiful voice! Yet many listeners might not agree. Adam s voice is not and never was one of those sheerly beautiful sounds that one associates with the likes of Ferdinand Frantz, Kurt Moll, and more recently, Matthias Goerne. The tone itself can be rather gritty and shallow, and even in his younger days the voice was not conventionally beautiful. What Adam had in abundance was intelligence, musicality, stamina, and imagination. His diction is always excellent, especially in German. There is never any doubt that he knows what he is singing about. These three discs show him to excellent advantage and in his vocal prime. The Wagner-Strauss disc has him singing extended excerpts from Parsifal, Flying Dutchman, Meistersinger, Tristan, and Walkure, all of which he went on to record complete (studio or otherwise). There s little he doesn t know about how to shape or polish this music. He shows his extended vocal range (which must have been nearly three octaves) in the Strauss excerpts from Rosenkavalier and Frau ohne Schatten. Although I wouldn t vote him the most congenial or funniest Ochs I ve ever heard, he has absolutely no problem with any of the notes. His Mozart arias may not be to everyone s liking. He sings in the style that was then common in Germany: few appoggiaturas, no ornaments, Germanic-sounding Italian. I was surprised that Sarastro s two arias were not included. He sings Figaro and the Count s arias from Marriage of Figaro, Leporello and Don Giovanni s arias from Don Giovanni, Papageno s arias from Magic Flute, two pieces from Zaide, and one concert aria, Manner suchen stets zu naschen. He lacks some of the charm of the most gifted Mozarteans, but he gets the job done professionally and well. American Record Guide 227

230 The Bach arias are taken from complete recordings of the Christmas Oratorio and St Matthew Passion and from several cantata recordings in the 1960s and 70s. All of them display Adam s mastery of the Bach style and his authority with the texts. As his voice grew older it became less steady, and he could be a trial to listen to (his Alberich for the Haitink Ring on EMI won t win him any bel canto awards), but here Berlin Classics has managed to present his voice at its steadiest and freshest. Even if one doesn t always relish the actual tone there is much here to explain Adam s prominence both on stage and in the recording studio. REYNOLDS And Bright Blows the Broom Vaughan Williams, Griffiths, Sibelius Rolf Bromme, bar; Aniuchka Mukherjee, p Nosag minutes It s sad that this was released at all; it s one of those recordings you hate to criticize but must. I m sure Rolf Bromme is much loved by many, but these performances are simply terrible and the sound is dull and muddy. The booklet is in Swedish except for some English texts. I was able to find information about Bromme on the Nosag website, which describes him as a bass-baritone who, after many years as a choir singer in among others The Philharmonic Choir of Stockholm, now has taken the step to sing as a soloist with many of his own concerts. Here he murders works of Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, John Alan Griffiths, Nielsen, Lars-Erik Larsson, and Tchaikovsky. At least you can laugh at Florence Foster Jenkins; here you just wince. R MOORE Allegro Io Son Lawrence Brownlee, t; Kaunas City Orchestra/ Constantine Orbelian Delos minutes A couple of years ago (S/O 2014) I reviewed a disc of Rossini arias by Lawrence Brownlee, also with the Kaunas forces under Constantine Orbelian. Now we have the other two major bel canto composers, Bellini and Donizetti. This recording is another fine performance by Mr Brownlee. We hear the same lovely tone in these arias, but these composers do not demand the coloratura agility needed in the Rossini. Instead the singer needs to be able to sing the long legato lines that make up most Bellini and Donizetti show pieces, along with plenty of high notes. Mr Brownlee sings everything beautifully. For Bellini, he sings two selections from Puritani, a role he has sung at the Met. He has the beautiful legato line, punctuated by the spectacular high notes that Bellini demands. The Donizetti arias come from three of the composer s popular comic operas: Don Pasquale, Elixir of Love, and Daughter of the Regiment, including Tonio s Ah mes amis, with its famous nine high Cs. All the arias from these works are perfect choices for the tenor, who fits all these characters well. But he includes also some more dramatic arias, such as Ange si pur from La Favorite. I hope this is a clue that Mr Brownlee may explore some of these works in the future. The little booklet includes texts and translations and bios of Mr Brownlee, Mr Orbelian, and three supporting singers. SININGER Il Etait Une Fois Jodie Devos, s; Caroline Meng, mz; Giardini Quartet Alpha minutes Il Etait Une Fois (Once Upon a Time) is described on the jacket as an imaginary opera about fairytales revisited by the romantic era. The opera s music is based, inspired, or used by the composers in fairytale settings and creatively re-used to tell a Cinderella story. The program is difficult to describe, but it is thoroughly enjoyable, and the performers sing each selection with emphasis and grace. Some of the music is songs, arias, or duets by famous composers (Offenbach, Chausson, Rossini, and Massenet) and by less known ones (Severac, Toulmouche, Isouard). The music is very beautiful, and although the styles are dissimilar, the overall effect is enchanting. As detailed in the French and English booklet, the creators, which include the singers and quartet, use the music to create an intricate and often delicate sound to establish different moods in the storytelling: Insouciance, Melancholy, and finally Rejoicing. The concept is unique and very effective. The performances are outstanding. I haven t heard singing of this high level in many years. Ms Devos and Ms Meng have splendid, solid, and beautiful voices that emphasize the words with remarkable meaning and clarity. The Quatuor Giardini plays splendidly in the instrumental selections and to accompany the singers. The sound is excel- 228 January/February 2017

231 lent, and a complete French and English libretto is bound into the jacket. FISCH Notte Magica Il Volo, Placido Domingo; Teatro Massimo Palermo/ Marcello Rota, Placido Domingo Sony minutes One of the many photos in the effusive and gushing booklet shows that this outdoor concert was performed before thousands of people in front of the Duomo in Palermo, Italy. The concert is a tribute to the original Three Tenors. In this case, Il Volo, the tenor trio, is joined by Placido Domingo. So it s actually three pretenders plus one original. Based on the wild audience response, they must have gotten their money s worth. For the rest of us, it s a questionable premise, unless you enjoy so-so singing of Italian opera and other songs ( Tonight, My Way ) sung in a heart-on-thesleeve manner. The one saving grace is Placido Domingo, who gives his usual polished performance, but he s done that on innumerable recordings. Domingo and Marcello Rota share the conducting duties and know when to add a big finish to the already too dramatic performances. The sound is distant and diffuse. Unless you re a fan of Il Volo, you can skip this. FISCH Alto, Viola, Piano BRAHMS: 2 Songs, op 91; WOLF: Kennst du das Land?; LOEFFLER: 4 Poems; PETITGIRARD: Le Fou d Elsa Cecile Eloir; Pierre Lenert; Cyprien Katsaris Piano minutes I am, as I m sure you re aware, one of the gentlest of critics, and seldom will I come right out and say a recording shouldn t have been issued, but this is one. The program is good enough, ranging from the well-known Brahms viola songs, going to some lovely, atmospheric Loeffler, then to six contemporary songs by Laurent Petitgirard (b. 1950), and including an arrangement of Wolf s Kennst du das Land? by Bruno Gousset. The Petitgirard, a cycle of six songs recorded for the first time, ranges from passages of quite accessible writing to sections where the music is downright thorny. Triads and traditional consonance make occasional appearances, though the works certainly lack tonal grammar. The problem with this is simply put: for such a long program with a single singer you need someone top flight, and Eloir is simply not up to the task. Her voice lacks a solid core, and her vibrato is too uncontrolled. All too often her tone is just unpleasant. Were she one of four in an orat