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December 2009 Archives

New England Triptych

Naxos 8.559625

William Schuman

Symphony #6 (1948)
Prayer in a Time of War (1943)
New England Triptych (1956)

Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
Naxos 8.559625 60:51

This CD is part of a series of the eight extant Schuman symphonies numbered 3-10, the earlier two having been withdrawn. Both the symphony and the Prayer in a Time of War show Schuman's usual traits, notably his frequent use of brass, and of unusual percussion writing. The New England Triptych, based on hymn tunes by William Billings, is probably the most familiar Schuman work, and receives a good performance here.

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[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Electoral Sonatas

Naxos 8.550255

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata in E Flat Major, WoO 47 #1
Piano Sonata in F Minor, WoO 47 #2
Piano Sonata in D Major, WoO 47 #3
Sonatina in G Major
Sonatina in F Major
Piano Sonata #15 "Pastoral", Op. 28

Jénö Jandó, piano
Naxos 8.550255 68:34

This CD contains some very early works of Beethoven. Naxos's numbering for the three WoO 47 works are piano sonatas #33-35, although this numbering is not always used in other work lists. The two sonatinas are possibly not by Beethoven, but the Op. 28 sonata certainly is.

The WoO 47 sonatas are collectively called the Kurfürstensonaten (Electoral Sonatas), and are tentatively thought to have been written in about 1783. Each runs about ten minutes and while Mozart and Haydn are his obvious models, there are indications of his later work. The performance of the Sonata #15 is also enjoyable, but the main reason for buying this CD is the rarely-recorded early works.

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

Inspired by Homer

Hyperion CDA67766

Lodewijk Mortelmans

Homeric Symphony (1898)
Morning Mood (1922)
Myth of Spring (1895)

Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
Hyperion CDA67766 66:46

The Flemish composer Mortelmans was better known during his lifetime for his songs and piano music. The symphony, which runs about 43 minutes, is in the usual four movements and is inspired by The Iliad and The Odyssey. While Wagner's influence is clearly discernible in some of the orchestration, it is not excessive. The other two pieces are tone poems whose titles accurately tell the listener what to expect.

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

English Works for Piano & Strings

Dutton Epoch CDLX7220

Edward Elgar

Three Movements for Piano Trio

Adela Maddison

Piano Quintet (1916)

Frank Bridge

Piano Quartet in C Minor (1902)

The Fibonacci Sequence
Dutton Epoch CDLX7220 79:26

All of these are first recordings. Two of the movements by Elgar – Rosemary and Empire March – will be familiar to those who know his smaller pieces. The realization by Paul Rooke was done to celebrate his 150th anniversary in 2007. Adela Maddison, who spent some years living in France – where she knew a number of well-known composers, especially Gabriel Fauré – and later in Germany, was better known for her songs and opera. The piano quintet was written on her return to England and reflects the events of the time. The music of Frank Bridge, for many years known principally as Britten's teacher, has recently been recorded more frequently. His piano quartet, suppressed for many years, shows the influence of Brahms, Fauré and Ravel.

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