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May 2009 Archives

Epic Symphonic Poem

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Hungaroton HCD32608

Leó Weiner
(1885-1960)

Toldi, Op. 43 (1952)

North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra/László Kovács
Hungaroton HCD32608 65:55

Although he left quite a large body of music, Weiner has been given far less attention from the record companies than Bartók and Kodály. Toldi is a vast symphonic poem in a number of scenes. Weiner wrote in a late Romantic style with some general similarities to Liszt and Kodály, and with unmistakable Hungarian elements.

Hungaroton has also recorded his Hungarian Folksong Suite, the ballet Csongor és Tünde, his two violin concertos (HCD32185), and the three string quartets (HCD31687). All are attractive music from a composer too long neglected.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

French Ballets

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Hyperion CDA67489

Jean Françaix
(1912-1997)

Le roi nu (1935)
Les demoiselles de la nuit (1948)

Ulster Orchestra/Thierry Fischer
Hyperion CDA67489 62:49

These are two of several of Françaix's ballets recorded by Hyperion. Le roi nu is based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes, and the young women of the night are cats. Both works show the influence of Stravinsky, and with the wit and charm of such composers as Satie and Poulenc.

[ Available on CD:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Emerging From Obscurity

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Hyperion CDA67569

Charles-Valentin Alkan
(1813-1888)

Concerto for Solo Piano, Op. 39 #8-10 (1857)
Troisième recueil de chants, Op. 65 (c. 1870)

Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Hyperion CDA67569 67:39

It's only in fairly recent times that Alkan has emerged from the obscurity in which he spent most of his life. This is due in no small part to the fact that a technique of a very high order is required to play his music. His Op. 39 consists of twelve studies in the minor keys. Four of them comprise his Symphony for Solo Piano, and three the Concerto. Marc-André Hamelin, who has made a career from playing technically difficult music, plays this concerto superbly.

The six little pieces in the collection of songs use Mendelssohn's Songs without Words as their model. I must emphasise that Alkan's music is not an exercise in empty technique: this is music with substantial rewards. Hamelin has also recorded for Hyperion, among other Alkan, the Symphony, and the Grande Sonate.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Italian Scientist Manqué

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Naxos 8.553706

Alfredo Casella
(1883-1947)

Divertimento for Orchestra "Paganiniana", Op. 65 (1942)
Serenata for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 46bis (1927-30)
Suite Sinfonica "La Giara", Op. 41bis (1924)

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Christian Benda
Naxos 8.553706 62:00

Casella's studies with a number of teachers in Italy and France provided varying influences on his compositions. Those on this CD are in many respects reminiscent of the Stravinsky of such works as Pulcinella and The Fairy's Kiss. Paganiniana uses themes of Paganini, but not the expected one, and elsewhere Casella makes use of Sicilian songs.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet