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Concertos: July 2008 Archives

Sejong Plays Ewazen

Albany 577

Eric Ewazen
(b. 1954)

Concerto for Violin & Strings (2000) 1
Concerto for Oboe & Strings "Down a River of Time" (1999) 2
Sinfonia for Strings (2001)

1 Adele Anthony, violin
2 Linda Strommen, oboe
International Sejong Soloists/Hyo Kang
Albany TROY577 64:27

Listening to this as a blindfold test, you might consider Vaughan Williams or a less well-known English composer such as Howells or Rubbra, or occasionally John Adams, or even Thomas Newman. Ewazen was born in Cleveland and on the evidence of this CD, writes extremely approachable music with passages of great beauty, which is a good enough reason for checking this out.

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

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

The Leeds Concerto

AS&V 905

Howard Blake
(b. 1938)

Violin Concerto, "The Leeds" (1992)
A Month in the Country-Suite for Strings (1986/1993)
Sinfonietta for Ten Brass Instruments (1981)

Christiane Edinger, violin
English Northern Philharmonia/Paul Daniel
Academy Sound & Vision CDDCA905 62:40

The violin concerto is an immediately likeable work with some exhilarating violin writing and orchestration. A Month in the Country uses material from a film score and there are echoes of Vaughan Williams in Tallis Fantasia mode and Britten's Frank Bridge Variations. The sinfonietta is edgier music, giving plenty of opportunity for the individual players.

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

A Czech Anthology

Supraphon 3944

Ilja Hurnik (b.1922)
Four Seasons-Chamber Suite (1952)
Ondráš-Ballet Music (1951)

Jan Kapr (1914-1988)
In the Soviet Country-Cantata (1950) 3

Julius Kalaš (1902-1967)
The Nightingale and the Rose (1956)

Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006)
Violin Concerto #1 (1958-59) 4

Jan Seidel (1908-1998)
Oboe Concerto #2 (1955) 5

Ivan Jirko (1926-1978)
Piano Concerto #3 (1958) 6

Petr Eben (1929-2007)
Piano Concerto (1961) 7

Pavel Bořkovec (1894-1972)
Symphony #2 (1955)

Václav Dobiáš (1909-1978)
Build Up Your Country to Reinforce the Peace-Cantata (1947) 2

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946) 1

1 Eric Schilling, narrator
2 Jan Soumar, baritone
4 Václav Snítil, violin
5 Josef Shejbal, oboe
6 Viktorie Švihlíková, piano
7 František Rauch, piano
2 Prague Philharmonic Choir
2 Kühn Children's Choir
3 Prague Radio Choir
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ančerl
Supraphon SU3944-2 4CDs 258:17

Volume 43 of the Karel Ančerl Gold Edition apparently collects a number of short works left over from the mainly single-CD releases which make up the rest of the series. Apart from the Britten, the remaining works are by composers of what was then Czechoslovakia, Ančerl having left his homeland for Canada in 1968, the year of the Soviet suppression of the Prague Spring. This set gives an interesting insight into the sort of music being written during the fifteen or so years after the war.

Most of the music is upbeat, some even jaunty. The two vocal works remind me of such pieces as Prokofiev's Summer Day, but the words are best avoided! Of the concertos, the standout for me is the Kalabis, but all are worth getting to know. Some of the recordings are in mono but the transfers have been very well done. The set is attractively priced. Recommended for those who like to explore the byways of the byways.

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