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The Classical Explorer

Tip of the Iceberg

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Tudor Musique oblige 7083

Franz Vincenz Krommer
(1759-1831)

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 #1
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 #2
String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 18 #3

Quartetto dì Milano
Tudor Musique oblige 7083 77:26

In his chamber music, Krommer followed the style of Franz Josph Haydn and Wolfgang Mozart, and yet his modes of expression extend from the galant style of the earlier 18th century to Romanticism. These relatively early quartets, published in 1800, show Krommer at the height of his Classicism. In all, Krommer wrote more than 75 string quartets, of which these are numbers 22 through 24.

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

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus ]

American Cityscape

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Telarc CD-80620

Jennifer Higdon
(b. 1962)

Concerto for Orchestra (2002)
City Scape (2002)

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Robert Spano
Telarc CD-80620 66:17

Some may read the dates of composition and bypass this CD, expecting difficult music. It's not. The concerto is in five movements, as is Béla Bartók's, and there are echoes of that work in Higdon's first movement. The music has great power, is inescapably American and is, for me, an important release. Likewise City Scape, a commission by the Atlanta symphony, which portrays aspects of that city, especially effectively in the long second movement. The fine recording, also available as an SACD, shows the music in the very best light.

Read the full Classical Net Review.

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

[ Also available on Multichannel Hybrid SACD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - HBDirect - JPC ]

Classical Czech Symphonies

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Chandos 9740

Václav Pichl
(1741-1805)

Symphony in B Flat Major, Z23
Symphony in E Flat Major, Z24
Symphony in G Major, Z22
Symphony in C Major, Z21
Symphony in D Major "Diana", Z16

London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert
Chandos CHAN9740 68:07

There is some confusion about the symphonies of the prolific Czech composer Václav (aka Wenzel) Pichl, in that some of his work may have been attributed to others, and the work of others attributed to him. A catalogue by Anita Zakin lists 39 symphonies, although other references credit him with many more. The symphonies on this CD are thought to have been written around 1769-70.

Pichl's career took him to Hungary, a twenty-year stint as Kapellmeister to Archduke Ferdinand in Lombardy, and finally to Vienna. With the exception of the last symphony which includes a minuet, all those recorded here are in three movements. This is another in Chandos's Contemporaries of Mozart series. Naxos 8.557761 contains four of his named symphonies, including the Diana Symphony.

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

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

Bohemian Piano Concertos II

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Oehms OC588

Leopold Jan Antonín Koželuch
(1747-1818)

Piano Concerto #1 in F Major, Op. 12 (P IV:1)
Piano Concerto #4 in A Major, Op. 16 (P IV:4)
Piano Concerto #5 in E Flat Major, Op. 15 (P IV:5)

Tomas Dratva, piano
Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Oliver von Dohnányi
Oehms OC588 79:56

The Bohemian composer Koželuch was Wolfgang Mozart's successor as chamber music composer to the Austrian Emperor, and thus contributed to the flourishing of Viennese Classicism. As evidenced by these three lovely works, his 22 piano concertos are full of elegance and refinement, characteristics that helped make his music popular throughout Europe.

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

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

Piano Premieres

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CPO 777446-2

Ignaz Brüll
(1846-1907)

Piano Sonata in D Minor, Op. 73 (1893)
Suite #2, Op. 71 (c.1893)
Suite #3, Op. 76: Legend, Saraband (c.1893)
Suite #4, Op. 80: Cavatina (c.1893)

5 Piano Pieces Op. 57: Romanze (1887)
Seven Albumblätter for Youth, Op. 33 (1878)

Alexandra Oehler, piano
CPO 777446-2 72:51

The Austrian composer Brüll began his career as a concert pianist until composition became his main purpose in life. Much of his career was spent in Vienna where he was a friend of Johannes Brahms, a distinction for which he is probably best known. His piano music shows the influence of various composers, notably Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin, but less so Brahms. Also of interest are his two piano concertos (Hyperion CDA67069) and a CD containing his Symphony in E Minor and Serenade #1 (Cameo Classics CC9027CD).

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

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

German Whipped Cream

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Chandos CHAN9606

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)

Suite from Schlagobers, Op. 70 (1921-2)
München (1939, rev. 1945)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN9606 58:59

Schlagobers, or Whipped Cream, is a scintillating ballet, and one of Richard Strauss's rarely heard works. As you'd expect, it's lushly scored and performed with the usual Järvi touch. München, a five-minute waltz, started life as a tribute to Munich but in its revised form became a memorial for the bombed city.

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

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

Mozartiana by Tchaikovsky

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Philips Duo 454253-2

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
(1840-1893)

Suite #1 in D minor, Op. 43 (1878-9)
Suite #2 in C Major, Op. 53 (1883)
Suite #3 in G Major, Op. 55 (1884)
Suite #4 "Mozartiana" in G Major, Op. 61 (1887)

New Philharmonia Orchestra/Antál Dorati
Philips Duo 454253-2 2CDs 143:23

Tchaikovsky's four suites for orchestra are, of course, far less known than his symphonies. The fourth, which is based on works of Mozart, has had more outings than the others, and the last movement of the third, a theme and variations, has been occasionally released separately. There is much to enjoy in all of them, with the strongest element being the dance. These 1967 recordings by a conductor with a very strong track record in Tchaikovsky, eg his pioneering recordings of the ballets, sound as fresh as when they were first issued.

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

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

Swiss Symphonies

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Sterling CDS-1081-2

Robert Hermann
(1869-1912)

Symphony #1 in C Major, Op. 7 (1895)
Symphony #2 in B minor, Op. 11 (1905)

Württemberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Reutlingen/Christopher Fifield
Sterling CDS-1081-2 74:42

Sterling's series of releases of rare music by Romantic composers visits Switzerland this time. Hermann was a student of Engelbert Humperdinck and a follower of Edvard Grieg. His two symphonies are well-crafted and never fail to hold interest.

Both works are wide-eyed and optimistic, often seeming to depict middle Europe's great outdoors. Though not as grand in conception as Anton Bruckner's symphonies, Hermann's slow movements especially emply a similar pastoral palette.

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

Rare French Works

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Hyperion CDA67294

Gabriel Fauré
(1845-1924)

Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 14 (1878-9)

Camille Saint-Saëns
(1835-1921)

Morceau de Concert in G Major, Op. 62 (1880)

Eduard Lalo
(1823-1892)

Fantaisie Norvégienne (1878)
Guitarre, Op. 28 (1882)

Ernest Guiraud
(1837-1892)

Caprice (1884)

Joseph Canteloube
(1879-1957)

Poème (1918)

Philippe Graffin, violin
Ulster Orchestra/Thierry Fischer
Hyperion CDA67294 71:13

This collection of short French pieces is useful in that few have been otherwise recorded. The Fauré concerto is incomplete but still worth hearing. Some may know the orchestral version of the Lalo fantasy. Nothing here to plumb emotional depths, just enjoyable music.

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

Definitely Not The Planets

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Naxos 8.553696

Gustav Holst
(1874-1934)

Somerset Rhapsody, Op. 21 #2 (1906-7)
Beni Mora (Oriental Suite), Op. 29 #1 (1909-10)
Invocation for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 19 #2 (1911) 1
Fugal Overture, Op. 40 #1 (1922)
Egdon Heath, Op.47 (1927)
Hammersmith, Op. 52 (1931)

1 Tim Hugh, cello
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
Naxos 8.553696 69:02

This well-chosen collection of short orchestral works by Holst gives further evidence, if any were needed, that he was not just a one-hit wonder. The music illustrates his folksong collecting, his fascination with oriental themes, and one of his few works for solo instrument and orchestra. The last two works are both rather dark and mysterious, in the manner of Saturn from The Planets. Lloyd-Jones has a fine track record as a conductor of English music and this very well-recorded CD adds to his reputation.

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

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