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   Overtures

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 ]

Australian Modernist

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Naxos 8.570241

John Antill
(1904-1986)

An Outback Overture (1953)
Corroboree (1946)

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd
Naxos 8.570241 49:06

A corroboree is a ritual ceremony with dance performed by Australian aborigines. Antill did much research into aboriginal music, resulting in the ballet on this CD. It remains his best-known work, and is more often heard without dance. It is scored for a large orchestra that includes such indigenous instruments as clapping sticks and a bull roarer, and in many respects is reminiscent of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. The overture is an evocation of the more remote parts of Australia.

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

English Music Revivalist

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Lyrita SRCD.252

Geoffrey Bush
(1920-1998)

Overture "Yorick" (1949) 1
Music for Orchestra (1967) 2
Symphony #1 (1954) 3
Symphony #2 "The Guildford" (1957) 4

1 New Philharmonia Orchestra/Vernon Handley
2 London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
3 London Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
4 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
Lyrita SRCD.252 79:07

This CD of works by the English composer Geoffrey Bush, not to be confused with Alan Bush or William Busch, contains his only two symphonies. There are strong similarities to the music of Walton in terms of rhythm, and there are also traces of Elgar and Arnold. Music for Orchestra has more austere orchestration. The disc demonstrates the excellent engineering that is typical of the label.

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

Lady Godiva and the Nymphs

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Chandos CHAN9821

Vítězslav Novák
(1870-1949)

Lady Godiva, Overture, Op. 41 (1907)
Toman and the Wood Nymph, Op. 40 (1906-7)
De Profundis, Op. 67 (1941)

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Libor PeŇ°ek
Chandos CHAN9821 66:22

Novák is one of the less well-known Czech composers and his reputation rests largely on symphonic poems, orchestral suites and a handful of chamber music. This CD offers an overture and two symphonic poems which are infrequently recorded. The music is powerful and dramatic, and will appeal to anyone who likes Richard Strauss' symphonic poems or Gustav Mahler's symphonies.

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

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

Influential Dutch Musician

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CPO 777209-2

Johann Wilhelm Wilms
(1772-1847)

Symphony #1 in C Major, Op. 9 (1806)
Overture in D Major (1829)
Symphony #4 in C Minor, Op. 23 (1807)

North German Radio Philharmonic/Howard Griffiths
CPO 777209-2 65:13

Although born in Germany, Wilms settled in Amsterdam very early in his career and like Röntgen, became a significant part of Dutch musical life. The influences of Haydn and Beethoven are clear and the jaded collector falls gratefully on releases such as this, a source of interesting and highly enjoyable music given first-rate performances. Other Wilms symphonies have been recorded by Archiv (474508-2) and Challenge Classics (CC72147).

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

Swiss Symphonist

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Sterling CDS1073-2

Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee
(1786-1868)

Overture in C minor (1818)
Symphony #3 "Militärsinfonie" in B Flat Major (1850)

Württemberg Philharmonie Reutlingen/Christopher Fifield
Sterling CDS1073-2 53:22

This Swiss composer's third symphony has some affinity with Haydn's Military Symphony, some of the same sudden moves in unexpected directions used by Berwald, a little of Berlioz's style, and some unusual techniques. Christopher Fifield has made a number of recordings for Sterling, all of unfamiliar music, and makes a very persuasive case for Schnyder's music. To my knowledge, none of his other four symphonies has been recorded.

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

Proponent of the New German School

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CPO 999746-2

Felix Draeseke
(1835-1913)

Symphony #1 in G Major, Op. 12 (1873)
Symphony #4 "Symphonia Comica" in E minor, WoO 38 (1912)
Overture "Gudrun" (1884)

North German Radio Philharmonic/Jörg-Peter Weigle
CPO 999746-2 68:58

Strongly echoing the symphonies of Schumann, Draeseke's well-crafted symphonies provide more evidence that there is still plenty of excellent music awaiting discovery. CPO has recorded the other two symphonies (999719-2 & 999581-2), and there are competing versions on MD&G, which include a piano concerto (MDG3350929-2 & MDG3351041-2).

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

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

An Australian In England

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Lyrita SRCD.314

Arthur Benjamin
(1893-1960)

Overture to an Italian Comedy (1936) 1
Cotillon, Suite of English Dance Tunes (1938) 2
North American Square Dance Suite (1951) 3
Symphony (1945) 3

1 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Myer Fredman
2 London Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
3 London Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
Lyrita SRCD.314 76:50

Benjamin was an Australian composer who spent most of his life working in Britain, and knew well such composers as Bliss and Howells. He is best known for Jamaican Rumba, and although much of his work was light-hearted as in the first three items on this CD, the more serious side of his nature appears in his only symphony, which runs about 45 minutes. It was clearly influenced by World War II and is an essentially tragic work with some of the feeling of Bax and Walton.

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

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

Beyond Schéhérazade

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Naxos 8.553789

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff
(1844-1908)

Christmas Eve: Overture & Suite (1894-5)
Night on Mount Triglav (1899-1901)
The Tsar's Bride: Overture & Intermezzo (1898)
On the Tomb, Op. 61 (1904)
Greeting (1907)

Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Igor Golovschin
Naxos 8.553789 75:19

The first three items, which comprise most of this CD, are from Rimsky-Korsakov's operas. Night on Mount Triglav is an arrangement of Act III of Mlada. On the Tomb and Greeting are short occasional pieces. Everything shows his wonderful orchestration and talent for creating atmosphere. Mount Triglav is not quite as sinister a place as Mussorgsky's Bald Mountain, but has its moments.

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

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

Dean of American Church Music

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Cedille CDR90000039

Leo Sowerby
(1895-1968)

Concert Overture, H251 (1941)
Passacaglia, Interlude & Fugue, H207 (1931/2)
All on a Summer's Day, H325 (1954)
Symphony #2 in B minor, H188 (1927/8) *

Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Paul Freeman
* Chicago Sinfonietta/Paul Freeman
Cedille CDR90000039 60:51

Better known as a composer of church and organ music, Sowerby left quite a lot of orchestral music, including five symphonies. His music is identified by the work list compiled by Huntington. The music presented here has some affinity with that of other American composers of the same era such as Howard Hanson, although with a slightly harder edge, so you will hear the odd phrase which will remind you of Hindemith and, at one point, Mahler's 5th. The slow movement of the symphony would have made an excellent complement to one of John Ford's movies set in Monument Valley, and I mean that as a compliment. Cedille has recorded another CD of Sowerby's orchestral music, including The Prairie.

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

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