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The Classical Explorer

Concertos: February 2009 Archives

Master of Orchestral Texture

Timpani 1C1125

Vincent d'Indy

Symphony #1 "Italian" in A Major (1870-72)
Concerto in E Flat Major for Piano, Flute, Cello & Strings, Op. 89 (1926)

Brigitte Engerer, piano
Magali Mosnier, flute
Marc Coppey, cello
Orchestre de Bretagne/Lionel Bringuier
Timpani 1C1125 63:44

These works, the first and last orchestral works d'Indy wrote, are in different ways, hommages. Although his main musical sympathies lay elsewhere, a sojourn in Italy inspired the young composer to write a Symphonie italienne using Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples as the basis for the four movements in which the influence and model of Mendelssohn's Italian symphony are inescapable. At one point, I'm reminded incongruously of Randall Thompson's third symphony!

The concerto at first evokes J.S. Bach and eventually becomes a sort of neo-classical concerto grosso. This rarely-recorded music helps to round out our knowledge of the composer who to many would perhaps be known only by his Symphony on a French Mountain Air (Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français).

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

Little-Known Prokofieff

Naxos 8.553624

Serge Prokofieff

Symphony-Concerto in E minor for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 125 (1950-51)
Concertino in G minor for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 132 (1952)
Two Pushkin Waltzes, Op. 120 (1949)

Alexander Rudin, cello
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Theodore Kuchar
Naxos 8.553624 67:23

Although Prokofieff's concertos for violin and for piano are staples of the repertoire, his works for cello and orchestra are less well-known and infrequently recorded. The Symphony-Concerto is a reworking of his Cello Concerto, and requires considerable virtuosity of the soloist over its nearly 40-minute duration.

The Concertino is Prokofieff in more whimsical mood, reminiscent of Cinderella. Rudin acquits himself well as does the orchestra, although the timpanist is a tad too enthusiastic occasionally. The waltzes are charming makeweights.

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

Musical Talent Cut Short

Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG3350817-2

Norbert Burgmüller

Overture, Op. 5 (c. 1830)
Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 11 (c. 1836)
Piano Concerto in F Sharp minor, Op. 1 (1829)

Leonard Hokanson, piano
Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra/Gernot Schmalfuss
Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG3350817-2 77:42

Burgmüller was the most talented of his family: his father and elder brother Friedrich were also composers. He suffered from an apparent lack of ambition and indifferent health, and is thought to have died of an epileptic seizure. His music was highly thought of by Mendelssohn and Schumann: these composers are evident influences, as is Schubert. The overture, which is fairly long for the period, was for an incomplete opera, and is quite dramatic. The piano concerto was in part a vehicle for establishing his reputation as a pianist and is reminiscent of Chopin and Hummel. The symphony has only three movements and was the composer's last work. Note that the label is known is some countries as either MD&G or Dabringhaus und Grimm.

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

Dvořák in Prague - A Celebration

Sony Classical SK46687

Antonín Dvořák

Carnival Overture, Op. 92
Humoresques, Op. 101 #1 & 7
Piano Trio "Dumka", Op. 90: Allegro
Slavonic Dances, Op. 72 #2 & 7
Romance in F Minor
   for Violin & Orchestra, Op. 11
Gypsy Melodies
   for Voice and Piano, Op. 55 #4 & 5
From the Bohemian Forest "Klid" (Silent
   Woods) for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 68 #5
Rusalka: "Mesicku na nebi hlubokem"
   (O Moon High up in the Deep Sky)
Psalm 149 "Sing unto the Lord a New Song"
   for Chorus & Orchestra, Op. 79

Rudolf Firkušný, piano
Yo Yo Ma, cello
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Frederica von Stade, soprano
Prague Philharmonic Chorus/Pavel Kühn
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
Sony Classical SK46687 64:50

This compact disc is a companion to the television special broadcast from Prague (available on DVD) from December 1993. The performances are simply wonderful, but special mention should be made of Perlman's outstanding performance of the Romance in F minor for violin and orchestra, and Yo Yo Ma's moving rendition of Klid (Silent Woods) for cello and orchestra. Frederica von Stade's "O Moon High Up in the Deep Sky" aria from Rusalka and "Songs My Mother Taught Me" are glorious. This is a very fine collection of works, and will tempt the listener to find even more of Dvořák's beautiful music.

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

[ Also available on DVD Kultur Video 4211 (96 minutes): Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]