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July 2009 Archives

Neglected Russian Symphonies

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Chandos CHAN10390

Sergey Taneyev
(1856-1915)

Symphony #1 in E Minor (1873-4)
Symphony #3 in D Minor (1884)

Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Valeri Polyansky
Chandos CHAN10390 63:48

Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (not to be confused with his uncle, Aleksandr Sergeyevich, also a composer) has become much better known in recent years by recordings of his string quartets, his Suite de Concert for Violin and Orchestra, and even an incomplete piano concerto. These two works have some similarities to other Russian symphonies of the period, but gradually Taneyev's fingerprints become more distinct. Note that the work that was long known as his first symphony (in C Minor) is really #4, and is now generally identified that way.

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

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

Bohemian Quartets

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Ami Music 8553142

Franz Krommer
(1759-1831)

String Quartet in F Major, Op. 19 #2 (1801)
String Quartet in D minor, Op. 74 #3 (c1808)
String Quartet in A minor, Op. 103 #3 (c1821)

Marcolini Quartet
Ami Music 8553142

The prolific and successful Czech composer Krommer (František Vincenc Kramár) is best known, if he is remembered at all, for his wind concertos and Harmoniemusik. But he wrote a great deal of chamber music for strings as well, including 26 string quintets and at least 73 published string quartets. Their composition spans nearly his entire mature output, from the three Op. 1 quartets of 1793 to the three quartets Op. 103 written about 1821. The early works owe a debt to Mozart and Haydn, but the later quartets reflect Krommer's embrace of romanticism. The Marcolini Quartet (Jörg Buschhaus & Franke Pöhl, violins; Stefan Schmidt, viola; and Martin Fritz, cello) play on period instruments.

A Second Opinion

The Czech composer Krommer spent some of his career in Hungary but most of it in Vienna, where his reputation in some respects was as high as those of Haydn and Beethoven. His many string quartets, written over a long period, show the influence of both composers, but there are in his writing individual qualities such as an unexpected key change or an unusual theme. The Marcolinis play period instruments and are extremely well recorded.

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

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

Ecstatic Lyricism

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CPO 777287-2

Gian Francesco Malipiero
(1882-1973)

Variazioni senza tema (1923)
Piano Concerto #1 (1934)
Piano Concerto #2 (1937)
Piano Concerto #3 (1948)
Piano Concerto #4 (1950)
Piano Concerto #5 (1958)
Piano Concerto #6 (1964)

Sandro Ivo Bartoli, piano
Saarbr├╝cken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michele Carulli
CPO 777287-2 2SACDs

Malipiero was an extremely prolific composer amd perhaps the most individual Italian voice of his generation. His music is at times similar to that of his contemporaries such as Casella and Pizzetti, but a certain ecstatic lyricism gives his music an unmistakable appeal. The piano concertos, relatively conservative in style and all but unknown, attain at times a shimmering, virtuosic quality.

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

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

Swiss Symphonies

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Guild GMCD7320

Fritz Brun
(1878-1959)

Symphony #5 in E Flat Major (1929)
Symphony #10 in B Flat Major (1953)

Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Guild GMCD7320 68:30

The composer, conductor and pianist Fritz Brun is the most important Swiss symphonist of his generation. He studied with Mengelberg, and had a long, successful career in the concert hall. His fifth symphony is perhaps his most experimental in terms of tonality, while remaining melodic and approachable throughout. The tenth and final symphony is an even more traditional work. His sound world is very much that of Bruckner and Brahms.

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

Moods and Fancies

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Naxos 8.557713

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)

Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3 (1880-81)
Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 5 (1880-81)
Moods and Fancies, Op. 9 (1882-4)

Stefan Veselka, piano
Naxos 8.557713 67:33

These early piano works of Strauss show the influence of composers such as Schumann, Mendelssohn and especially Liszt. If those composers appeal to you, then this CD will too.

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

Nordic Capriccio

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Phono Suecia PSCD710

Erland von Koch
(1910-2009)

Nordic Capriccio, Op. 26 (1943)
Symphony #2, "Sinfonia Dalecarlica" (1945)
Viola Concerto, Op. 33 (1946-66)
Suite #1 from the Ballet "Cinderella", Op. 24 (1942)

Johanna Persson, viola
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/B. Tommy Andersson
Phono Suecia PSCD710 72:41

Yet another neglected Swedish composer, Koch has much to offer. The breezy and energetic Nordic Capriccio and the symphony both have strong links with the music of Atterberg while the viola concerto, as viola concertos often are, is a reflective, somewhat rhapsodic piece. The ballet suite is light and airy. All in all, a very satisfying CD.

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

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

A New Means of Expression

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CPO 777041-2

Ernst Pepping
(1901-1981)

Symphony #1 (1939)
Symphony #2 (1942)
Symphony #3 (1944)
Piano Concerto (1950)

Volker Banfield, piano
North West German Philharmonic Orchestra/Werner Andreas Albert
CPO 777041-2 133:34

Whose music does Pepping's sound like? Difficult to say – occasionally Reger appears, sometimes Richard Strauss, at other times Hindemith. If the music of any of these composers appeals to you, it's likely that Pepping will, too.

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

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

French Works for Winds

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Atma ACD2-2224

Adolphe Blanc
(1828-1885)

Septet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello & Double Bass, Op. 40
Trio for Clarinet, Piano & Cello, Op. 23
Quintet for Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Horn & Bassoon, Op. 37

Les Vents de Montréal
Atma ACD2-2224 73:20

Apart from his work as a composer, Blanc worked as a violinist in chamber groups and in orchestras in Paris. His compositions were almost exclusively chamber works. The delightful music on this CD makes one wonder at his long neglect; the opening theme of the trio, for example, is one that Schubert would not have disowned.

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

Little-Known Swede

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Phono Suecia PSCD719

Yngve Sköld
(1899-1992)

Symphony #2, Op. 36 (1937)
Violin Concerto, Op. 40 (1941)

Tobias Ringborg, violin
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Tuomas Olula
Phono Suecia PSCD719 65:38

The Swedish composer Sköld displays a variety of moods and influences in these two works. The symphony has echoes of Sibelius without sounding particularly like him, and such composers as Elgar and possibly Barber appear fleetingly. The concerto is indebted to those by Szymanowski, but the finale has an almost jokey quality. This label, devoted to Swedish composers, has some interesting music which has mostly been otherwise unrecorded.

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Trumpet