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The Classical Explorer

August 2009 Archives

Beyond Baroque Bohemia

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Alto ALC1014

Josef Myslivecek
(1737-1781)

Sinfonia in C Major, Op. 1 #3
Sinfonia in D Major, Op. 1 #6

Jan Adam Gallina
(1724-1773)

Sinfonia in E Flat Major

Jan Vent
(1745-1801)

Sinfonia in E Flat Major

Josef Bárta
(1744-1787)

Sinfonia in F Minor

Josef Fiala
(1748-1816)

Sinfonia in F Major

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra/Vojtech Spurný
Alto ALC1014 72:00

Except for the Myslivecek sinfonias, the others are first recordings and for all I know, might be first recordings of any of those composers' music. This CD again illustrates, as if such were needed, the number of interesting Bohemian composers who were working in the eighteenth century. These are no pale imitations of Mannheim school compositions but have flair and originality in great measure, helped by strong and vibrant performances. This is Volume 4 in the series (Vol 1: ALC1001; Vol 2: ALC1002; Vol 3: ALC1003). Tracks from the earlier CDs are available as downloads from Amazon and possibly elsewhere.

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

Norwegian Melodies

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Simax PSC1226

Thomas Dyke Acland Tellefsen
(1823-1874)

Cello Sonata, Op. 21 (21:50)
Piano Trio, Op. 31 (32:58)
Violin Sonata #1, Op. 19 (26:10)

Einar Steen-Nokleberg, piano
Atle Sponberg, violin
Øysten Birkeland, cello
Simax PSC1226 80:58

Tellefsen was a Norwegian pianist and composer who came from a musical family in Trondheim. He later studied with Friedrich Kalkbrenner, and then with Frédéric Chopin. This relationship was pivotal and Tellefsen was strongly influenced by Chopin's music, eventually writing his own mazurkas and nocturnes for piano.

Tellefsen concertized all across Europe and was regarded as one of the outstanding pianists of his time; he was especially admired for his interpretations of Chopin's music. He is primarily remembered today for his piano music, though he wrote several chamber pieces, including the major works performed marvelously here (this is also the longest single CD I have ever encountered). Two more important compositions are the piano concertos, also available on CD (Simax PSC1232).

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

Rich Harmonies and Languorous Melodies

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Chandos CHAN10452

Cyril Scott
(1879-1970)

Cello Concerto (1937)
Symphony #1 (1899)

Paul Watkins, cello
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
Chandos CHAN10452 58:04

Some will have encountered Scott's piano music but only in recent years has much of his orchestral output been recorded. The lyrical and attractive cello concerto contrasts well with the effervescent first symphony, which sounds much like Stanford. Chandos has recorded the other three symphonies – the second in its reworking as Three Dances – his two concertos for piano, the violin concerto and some short orchestral works.

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

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

Wind Music from an Opera Composer

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Naxos 8.553076

Franz Danzi
(1763-1826)

Three Wind Quintets, Op. 56 (1819-20)
Sextet in E Flat Major for 2 Horns, 2 Clarinets & 2 Bassoons

Michael Thompson Wind Quintet
Naxos 8.553076 73:20

Naxos has recorded several albums of Danzi's music for wind ensemble and it's also available on other labels. As you'd expect, there's a lot of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven in these unfailingly charming works.

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

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

Influenced by Stravinsky and Bartók

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Ondine ODE961-2

Einar Englund
(1918-1999)

Symphony #4 "Nostalgic" for Strings & Percussion (1976)
Symphony #5 "Fennica" (1977)
The Great Wall of China (1949)

Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra/Eri Klas
Ondine ODE961-2 64:31

All of the Finnish composer Englund's seven symphonies have been recorded. The two presented here show distant traces of Sibelius but more noticeably of Shostakovich. The Great Wall of China is a less dramatic work and even offers some touches of Bernstein.

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

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

A British Rachmaninoff

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Hyperion CDA66838

York Bowen
(1884-1961)

13 Preludes from 24 Preludes, Op. 102 (1950)
Ballade #2, Op. 87 (1931)
Piano Sonata #5 in F minor, Op. 72 (1931)
Berceuse in D Major, Op. 83
Moto perpetuo from Op. 39
Toccata in A minor, Op. 155 (1957)

Stephen Hough, piano
Hyperion CDA66838 77:20

Recordings of Bowen's music have become more frequent and include the second symphony, at least two piano concertos, and concertos for horn, viola & violin. The piano music, while having some affinity with such English composers as Bax and Ireland, more often shows the influences of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff.

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

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

American Tone Poems

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Bridge 9190

Louis Coerne
(1870-1922)

Excalibur, Op. 80 (1921)

Edward Burlingame Hill
(1872-1960)

Stevensoniana Suite #1, Op. 24 (1916-17)

Horatio Parker
(1863-1919)

A Northern Ballad, Op. 46 (1899)

John Alden Carpenter
(1876-1951)

Sea Drift (1933-42)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Krueger
Bridge 9190 65:48

The four composers represented on this disc range from slightly known to obscure. As might be expected, the music shows the influences of various European composers of the late nineteenth century, and is none the worse for that. If these appeal, Bridge has released more from Krueger's recordings of music mainly by more familiar American composers such as MacDowell and Hadley.

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

Early Champion of Brahms

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Arte Nova 74321-63635-2 (new cover art)

Friedrich Gernsheim
(1839-1916)

Symphony #1 in G minor, Op. 32 (1875)
Symphony #2 in E Flat Major, Op. 46 (1882)
Symphony #3 "Mirjam"in C minor, Op. 54 (1887)
Symphony #4 in B Flat Major, Op. 62 (1895)

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra/Siegfried Köhler
Arte Nova 74321-63635-2 128:51

The main thing you need to know about Gernsheim's four well-crafted symphonies is that in terms of harmony and orchestration they owe quite a lot to Brahms. If they appeal, some of his equally well-crafted chamber music has also been recorded.

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

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