CLASSICAL LOST AND FOUND
(CLOFO)
FORGOTTEN MUSIC BY GREAT COMPOSERS AND GREAT MUSIC BY FORGOTTEN COMPOSERS



6 JULY 2011

CROCKS NEWSLETTER

The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the Web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.



The album cover may not always appear.
Bowen, Y.: Syms 1 & 2; Davis/BBC P [Chandos]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Remember that oft-quoted expression “the medium is the message”? Well this CD seems a good example of it, where "the medium" is the compact disk and the flood of forgotten music by classical composers it’s engendered. In this case it’s a couple of symphonies by one of England's most outstanding late romantic personalities York Bowen (1884-1961), whose compositions fell into oblivion until the advent of the CD.

There have since been a significant number of silver discs with his works, some of which featuring his concertos (see the newsletters of 30 September 2006, 8 December 2007, and 18 December 2008), tone poems (see the newsletter of 26 March 2010), and chamber music (see the newsletters of 24 July 2008), we've already welcomed in these pages. And we're happy to do the same for this new Chandos release with the first two of his three symphonies, particularly since this is the world premiere recording of number one dating from 1902.

In three-movements and for a modest orchestra, it's the work of an eighteen-year-old, who was then a student at the Royal Academy of Music. Granted it doesn't have the profundity of a symphony by Stanford (1852-1924) or Elgar (1857-1934, see the newsletter of 15 March 2008), but there's a youthful spontaneity and self-assurance which should endear it to any romantic.

The delicate opening allegro borders on the pastoral, while the warm larghetto is a lyrical gem. The third movement serves as a combination whimsical scherzo and dramatic finale with a couple of themes worthy of Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). It ends the symphony in an invigorating burst of adolescent energy.

A much more advanced undertaking than the first, the second symphony of 1910 was bracketed by the vastly popular ones of Elgar that appeared in 1907-08 and 1910-11 (see the newsletter of 15 September 2007). Surprisingly there are few similarities between them and the Bowen, which for the most part maintains a voice all its own.

The brilliantly orchestrated first movement opens with a commanding five-note motif (CF), which is expanded into the first subject to be followed by a more lyrical folkish idea (LF) [track-4, beginning at 02:53]. The two are worked into a striking development and recapitulated with a frenetic concluding coda laced with CF. Those having sound systems that go all the way down in the low end can't help but be impressed by some frequent, pants-flapping whacks on the bass drum.

The tender lento scored for divided strings with wistful solo wind passages enchants the ear. It couldn't be farther removed from the captivating ionized scherzo, and emotionally fraught finale that follow. The latter is massive, but intricately structured with unifying references to past themes, including CF and LF. Some may even find passages [track-7, beginning at 01:04] that remind them of Gličre's (1875-1956) Ilya Muromets Symphony (No. 3, 1909-11). The final coda is riddled with CF, and builds to a sensational climax ending the work in a state of ecstasy.

Conductor Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic give us highly spirited, inspired performances of both symphonies. While there's no competition for the first, there was an old 2002 Classico release of the second, which would be next to impossible to get today, and not worth the effort if one could.

The recordings are excellent, projecting a wide as well as deep soundstage in the optimal acoustic of Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England. All the instrumental detail present in Bowen's intricate scoring is kept in perfect focus. The overall orchestral timbre is for the most part quite natural with brilliant highs and clean lows that include some seismic thumps on the bass drum. That said, some listeners may find themselves wishing this had been a hybrid disc whose SACD tracks might have produced a somewhat silkier violin sound.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110706)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Czarnecki: Stg Qt 2 (w Kilar & Malecki); OPiUM Qt [CD Accord]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Entitled "Back to Melody," this outstanding debut release of the OPiUM String Quartet will introduce audiences to a relatively new performing group from Poland, whose technical abilities and choice of original program material bring to mind the legendary Kronos Quartet. A concept album at heart, it features contemporary Polish chamber music inspired by folk traditions. Three of the four selections are world premiere recordings, and so indicated by "WP" after their titles.

Those of us who are Eastern European folk music fans have always loved Karol Szymanowski's (1882-1937) ballet Harnasie (1923-31, see the newsletter of 16 January 2007), which is full of folk ditties from the Tatra Mountain region of Southern-Poland/Northern-Slovakia. And Slawomir Czarnecki's (b. 1949) two-movement, second string quartet (1997, WP) [tracks-6 and 7], which is subtitled "Spiski" (aka "Spisz") after an area there, seems cut from the same piece of cloth.

The lovely opening lento conjures up images of peasant women singing to one another across mountain valleys. The final allegro is a frenetic dance like those one imagines Juraj Jánošík (1688-1713), who was a Slavic Robin Hood, might have done with his band of Merry Men.

Wojciech Kilar (b. 1932) is familiar to most through his many film scores, but he also writes distinguished concert music, his Orawa for string orchestra of 1986 being one of his most popular pieces. Presented here in an arrangement for string quartet [track-1} by up-and-coming conductor Krzysztof Urbanski (b. 1982), it's undoubtedly much closer to what you'd hear from a Tatra village folk band.

Named after the Orawa (aka "Orava”) area of southern Poland just east of Spisz (see above), one again envisions Janosik and his bandits cavorting about. It even ends with that whistle/shout Tatra folk musicians give out.

Composer Maciej Malecki (b. 1940) is represented by his Polish Suite for string quartet (2007, WP), as well as Andante and Allegro for viola and string quartet with double bass (2005, WP). Although folk elements are present in both, they're more subtly incorporated into these pieces than the ones above.

In four parts, the suite [tracks-2, 3, 4 and 5] opens with a "capriccio" that begins mysteriously. A lovely extended Magyar-like melody soon blossoms forth, and is periodically interrupted by episodes of energetic folk fiddling. A scurrying "scherzo" with bows to Mendelssohn (1809-1847) follows immediately with arresting, meowing glissandi [track-3, beginning at 01:03]. It ends as the cat crawls back into the bag.

The "melodia" section is a captivating melancholy lullaby that couldn't be more different from the "krakowiak" finale. The latter is characterized by scurrying rhythms and some chromatic chicanery, but every now and then a comely Slavic-sounding romantic melody breaks out [track-5, beginning at 01:31].

Described by the composer as a mini-concerto for viola, Andante and Allegro [tracks-8 and 9] was written for his daughter Magdalena Malecka, who's the OPiUM quartet's violist. Inspired by Jewish folk music, dark passages for the soloist dominate the opening and closing of the moving "andante," filling it with a sense of Semitic doom. They surround an animated hora-like dance section with klezmer overtones (see the newsletter of 16 August 2010).

You'll find it one-eighty-out from the "allegro," where angular motifs and jagged rhythms impart a neoclassicism similar to that in Polish composer Graznya Bacewicz’s (1909-1969) music (see the newsletter of 9 September 2009). It's a tailor-made showpiece for violist Malecka to display her overwhelming command of an instrument, which is frequently the string family's problem child in lesser hands.

The OPiUM quartet was founded in 2004 by four young musicians who'd just graduated from the Frideric Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. It's name is an acronym for "Opus i Universum" ("Work and Universality"), which is meant to emphasize the ensemble's main goal of going their own way as far as programming and performance issues are concerned. And that's exactly what they've done here with this rare repertoire rooted in the Polish folk tradition.

Incidentally the quartet's moniker is apparently also meant to have some association with opium, but as explained in the otherwise excellent album notes, it all sounds pretty sophomoric. Be that as it may, this music is obviously in their blood, and the youthful enthusiasm and technical mastery with which they play it make for enjoyable listening. It leaves one wondering what they’ll come up with next.

These recordings were made on three different occasions in the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall (apparently sans audience), and are consistently excellent. The soundstage projected is appropriately wide and quite deep, but optimum ensemble placement and miking preclude any loss of clarity due to the considerable reverberation in such a large venue. Rich string tone bordering on the bright makes this release a standout for contemporary chamber music enthusiasts as well as audiophiles.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110705)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Huppertz: Metropolis (orig film score ste); Strobel/Ber RSO [Capriccio]
RECOMMENDED BEST FIND (1 CD)
Even after the painstaking 2001 restoration of director Fritz Lang's (1890-1976) 1927 legendary classic Metropolis, film buffs had to settle for a version less twenty-two minutes that were believed to be irretrievably lost. But in 2008 a miracle happened when the missing footage showed up in the vaults of an Argentine film company. The challenge then was to properly integrate it back into the movie. And to make a long story short (see the informative album notes, or better still the documentaries included with the earlier DVD and later Blu-ray restored versions of the film), it was the existing, meticulously annotated manuscripts and printed parts of German composer Gottfried Huppertz' (1881-1937) complete score composed in 1926 that made this possible.

In the process all these tidbits were reconstituted under the supervision of film music expert Frank Strobel (b. 1966), whom many will remember for his highly acclaimed releases of Alfred Schnittke's (1934-1998) movie scores (see the newsletters of 25 July 2007 and 8 September 2009). He's also our conductor here, and along with the Capriccio Records' production staff, now treats us to this immaculately laid out, world premiere recording of an extended suite distilled from the original Metropolis motion picture score.

Unlike most movie music, this can stand on its own! Brilliant orchestration that includes extensive percussion as well as some support from the organ, and the use of unifying leitmotifs hold the listener's attention without the music needing any visual sustenance. A colorful late romantic score incorporating impressionistic, expressionistic and jazz elements, it undoubtedly served as an example to such European expatriate Hollywood composers as Max Steiner (1888-1971, see the newsletter of 18 April 2011), Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957, see the newsletter of 31 March 2011) and Franz Waxman (1906-1967, see the newsletter of 18 April 2011).

Presented in the same order as they appear on screen, all of the cues are individually banded, and fall into three tableaus corresponding to the film's tripartite structure. Highlights in the opening "Auftakt" ("Prelude") include the ecstatic Metropolis main title (EM) [track-1], as well as some machine music [track-2] not too far removed from Alexander Mosolov's (1900-1973; also spelled Mossolov, see the newsletter of 29 June 2010) The Iron Foundry (1926-28) composed about the same time.

There's also a lovely melting melody (LM) [track-5] characterizing Maria, who's the leading female protagonist. This will recur, and might be considered a counterpart of Wagner's (1813-1883) "Redemption through Love" motif in The Ring Cycle (1869-1876).

Other cues of note in the first part include the Dies Irae (DI), which will surface on several occasions, followed by a terrific 1920s dance music sequence (DM, see the newsletter of 10 March 2011) [track-8]. One wonders whether John Williams (b. 1932) knew the mysterious machine-men number [track-10] when he wrote the score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

The second tableau, "Zwischenspiel" ("Interlude"), begins with a moving DI-laced, organ-enhanced cathedral cue [track-16]. It's followed by some spooky laboratory music [tracks-17 through 20] presaging Franz Waxman's score for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). There's also a radiant, heroic idea (RH) representing Freder, who's the main male protagonist [track-17, beginning at 00:57]. The concluding selections [tracks-21 through 23] are an ear-catching blend of DM, RH, and DI rolled into a final rollicking dance of death made all the more sinister by the presence of a skeletal xylophone and funereal organ.

With the title "Furioso" ("Violent"), the final tableau begins anxiously [track-24] with references to "La Marseillaise" [track-25, beginning at 00:03] signifying the revolutionary activities of workers in the movie. The music builds mechanistically to a belligerent climax [tracks-25 through 31] with frequent references to RH. But order is finally restored, and it ends ecstatically with references to RH, LM and EM [track-32] underpinning the conclusion of a silver screen extravaganza you'll never forget!

Superior in content to what's been available before, film music guru Frank Strobel was not only the guiding light behind this extended symphonic synthesis of the original score, but also conducts the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) in this definitive performance of it. The spontaneity and emotional fervor he gets from the RSB musicians breathe new life into Huppertz' inspired music.

Done in the Berlin Radio's Saal 1, the recording projects a wide soundstage in a controlled acoustic. Sounding more like a Hollywood studio productions, clarity is not one of this release's strong points. On the other hand there is a sonic homogeneity which adds to the emotional intensity of the score. Consequently what the disc lacks from the audiophile standpoint, it makes up for musically.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P110704)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Krizhanovsky: Vc Son; Potolovsky: Vc Son, 2 Minis (vc & pno); Domzal/Nawrocka [Acte Préal]
RECOMMENDED BEST FIND (1 CD)
On the heels of those scrumptious cello sonatas by Camillo Schuman (1872-1946) we told you about (see the newsletter of 10 March 2011), here are two more from a couple of Russian composers, who were contemporaries of his. The names of Ivan Krizhanovsky (1867-1924) and Nikolai Potolowsky (1878-1927) may not be household words, but their sonatas on this stunning release from Acte Préalable make it another great disc of discovery for chamber music lovers.

We have Acte Préalable producer Jan Jarnicki to thank for unearthing these in the Eastman School of Music library just a few years ago, and making them available for these premiere recordings done in 2009. The CD begins with the sonata of Krizhanovsky, who was born in Kiev, and at one point studied with Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908, see the newsletter of 30 August 2007) before getting a medical degree. In that regard he was like Borodin (1833-1887, see the newsletter of 30 September 2006), who was not only a scientist, but one of Russia’s most talented amateur composers.

The sonata dates from around 1903, and is in three movements. The opening allegro begins with a stately Slavic theme for the cello, which immediately puts this piece head and shoulders above the majority of romantic efforts in this genre. A second more wistful idea soon appears [track-1, beginning at 02:14], and the two undergo some dramatic developmental transformations full of heated exchanges between the soloists. The movement ends with a brief recapitulation and scurrying final coda.

The andante that follows is a romance based on a beautiful extended melody sung alternately by the piano and cello. Their duet is adorned with romantic figurations that make it all the more alluring, and has a conclusion that's pure magic!

The anguished final allegro is chromatically searching as if looking for the answer to some recondite question. But none is ever found, and the sonata ends with despairing passages for the cello lit by some white-hot piano pyrotechnics. It may bring Anton Rubinstein's (1829-1894) undeservedly neglected cello sonatas (1852-57) to mind.

Born in Moscow and an accomplished cellist, Nikolai Potolovsky is best remembered as a distinguished teacher, but there's nothing academic about his three movement sonata of 1905 [tracks-6, 7 and 8]. It shows he was a tunesmith on a level with Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), and is to these ears one of the most striking chamber music revelations to come along in some time.

After a searching introduction, the initial allegro begins with a gorgeous two-part theme [track-6, beginning at 01:01 and 01:32], the second half of which becomes the subject of a clever set of developmental variations. These end in a powerful restatement of the first segment. The second then returns as the basis for a thrilling coda, ending the movement in a state of desperate agitation.

The largo is exceptional for its supple melody, which the composer handles with infinite skill. He spins it out into a romantically dynamic rhapsody, which starts as a lullaby. It then waxes and wanes with moments of great emotional intensity that approach the operatic. A lovely peaceful ending belies the flamboyant allegro that's about to conclude the sonata.

This begins with another of the composer's arresting two-part themes. The first segment is a stabbing angular idea (SA) in the minor, which mitigates into a second more flowing one [track-8, beginning at 00:43]. A brief transitional development follows, and then the composer gives us a drop-dead tune (DD) [track-8, beginning at 02:48]. All of these are masterfully manipulated, and then DD along with SA, now in a radiant major key, become the ingredients for a killer coda. It ends this powerful sonata in a state of melodic euphoria worthy of Rachmaninov (1873-1943).

As an added bonus, we get Nikolai's Two Miniatures for cello and piano [tracks-4 and 5]. With an opus number of "3" they must have been written about the same time as the sonata, and both are once again the work of a consummate melodist. The gently rocking larghetto could easily be turned into a cradlesong, while the impish outer sections of the scherzino surround a charming cantilena-like interlude.

Superb performances by Polish cellist Jaroslaw Domzal and pianist Lubow Nawrocka make this exceptional music all the more appealing. They play with a Slavic sensitivity, enthusiasm, and technical brilliance that give these long lost pieces a new lease on life.

There's an overriding sense of musicality about these Polish Radio studio recordings, but the soundstage they project would be more convincing had the soloists been placed further apart and a bit more forward. The cello is beautifully captured, and the piano tone generally pleasing, except for occasional moments of digital grain in forte passages. There are a couple of extraneous thumps and bumps in the Potolovsky sonata courtesy of the artists, but this glorious music well makes up for any sonic shortcomings.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P110703)

- AVAILABILITY -
Records International


The album cover may not always appear.
Rajter: Divert, Ste Sym, Pozsonyi... Ste, Sinfta, Imprsn Rhap; Porcelijn/Janá PO [CPO]
CPO unearths additional forgotten classical treasures with this release of orchestral selections by Ludovit Rajter (1906-2000). Born in Slovakia he's best remembered as one of that country's great conductors, but he was also a composer of some consequence, who began his musical education in Bratislava (aka Pressburg or Pozsony).

From 1924 to 1929 he studied in Vienna, where one of his fellow students was Franz Schmidt (1874-1939, see the newsletter of 15 January 2010), whose music he'd later champion. He then returned to Bratislava and began a career as a teacher.

But in 1930 he decided to continue his studies in Budapest, where he became a pupil of Ernö von Dohnányi (1877-1960, see the newsletter 0f 22 June 2011). And it seems the Hungarian master had a significant influence on him, judging from the "south of the border, down Magyar way" elements so prominent in Ludovit's early music.

The program begins with two works written under Ernö's tutelage, the divertimento for orchestra (1932) and Suite Symphonique (1933). The former is a four-part frolic whose mischievous opening allegro has whiffs of folk tunes like those in Kodály's (1882-1967) Hárry János (1926). They're also present in the tenebrous andante, playful allegretto, and skittish piping final allegro. Rajter's colorful scoring makes the piece all the more attractive.

The three-movement Suite... is a more dramatic, cosmopolitan creation where there are German and French influences as well as Eastern European. The first allegro has a severity of purpose reminiscent of Hindemth's (1895-1963) more demonstrative moments, while threads of Poulenc (1899-1963) and friends run through the presto. The molto vivace finale is characterized by a rhythmic vitality, thematic angularity and Eastern-sounding passages [track-7, beginning at 01:42] that seem uniquely Rajter.

The ballet Pozsonyi majális (Pressburg May Festival) of 1938 was also completed in Budapest, but after the composer had finished his studies with Ernö and become conductor of the radio orchestra there. The eight-part suite from it included here dates from the early 1950s, and shows a variety of influences.

Highlights include a skittering overture [track-8] and “csárdás” (“czardas”) [track-13] that bring Smetana's (1824-1884) The Bartered Bride (1866) to mind, while Schubert (1797-1828) would have loved the toy-soldier-like march [track-9]. There’s a nod to Bartok (1881-1945) in the “verbunk” (“verbunkos”) [track-10] and finale [track-15], where the spirit of old Vienna pervades the swirling last few measures.

The two works filling out the disc, Sinfonietta per grande orchestra (Sinfonietta for Grand Orchestra) of 1993 and Impressioni rapsodiche (Rhapsodic Impressions) for strings from 1995, are a different breed of cats from the selections above. The composer seems to have come into his own here with an eclectic, late romantic style that embraces impressionism as well as expressionism.

The four-movement Sinfonietta... is notable for an opening allegro with some passages [track-16, beginning at 02:43] reminiscent of Rimsky-Koraskov's (1844-1908) The Golden Cockerel (1908). Then there's a contemplative andante [tack-18] with an extended trumpet solo, which makes one wonder if Rajter knew Charles Ives' (1874-1954) The Unanswered Question (1906).

Alternating slow and fast episodes make up the Impressioni..., which has all the verve of Sir William Walton's (1902-1983) Sonata for Strings (1971, see the newsletter of 9 March 2006). With an anguished opening and squirrely ending, it's an intriguing mosaic of shifting rhythms and textures that won't disappoint.

The Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor David Porcelijn gives us superb renditions of all the above. His delicate approach to these stylistically multifaceted scores brings out all their detail and whimsy. Let's just hope CPO soon ferrets out more buried Slovak treats, and may we suggest a CD with the music of Mikulás Scheider-Trnavský (1881-1958).

These recordings project a vast soundstage in a reverberant acoustic, which makes for wet sonics. Accordingly those liking a drier more transparent symphonic presence would not classify this as an audiophile CD. On the other hand the orchestral timbre is very musical with a minimum of high-end glare, which tends to smooth the edges of Rajter's polystylistic creations.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P110702)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Weinberg, M. (Vainberg): Sym 3, Golden Key Ste 4; Svedlund/Gothen SO [Chandos (Hybrid)]
AUDIOPHILE (1 SACD)
Forced to flee his native Poland after the Nazis overran it in 1939, Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) eventually took up residence in Moscow at the encouragement of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), who'd seen and was most impressed with the score of his first symphony (1942, see the newsletter of 28 February 2010). He subsequently became a close friend and associate of the older composer, once stating, "I count myself as his pupil, his flesh and blood." So chances are anyone liking Shostakovich will love this new hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0) release from Chandos in their ongoing revival of this Polish expatriate's orchestral music.

His third symphony was originally written in 1949-50 just after Andrei Zhdanov's (1896-1948) "anti-formalism" doctrine was imposed on Soviet composers. This encouraged the inclusion of folk material in their music, the idea being it would make it more accessible to the proletariat. And it seems Weinberg took this to heart as folk songs are quoted in the first two of its four movements. However, for reasons that remain obscure the work was not premiered until 1960, and only after extensive revisions the previous year.

The delicately scored opening movement begins with an airy pastoral theme (AP) followed by another idea [track-1, beginning at 02:25], which the album notes tell us is derived from a Byelorussian folk song. The two undergo a rigorous development that at one point achieves the intensity of Shostakovich's more feverish moments. But the mood once again becomes pastoral, and the movement ends with cool night breezes, twinkling stars, and some final measures that seem to invoke Hamlet's sleep of death.

The following allegro amounts to a scherzo with a whimsical first idea that's cleverly transmuted into a second mazurka-like Polish folk ditty. The two flutter about each other, finally tiring and concluding the movement with a soporific grin.

The symphony's emotional center of gravity is the adagio, which is dominated by a couple of mournful folkish-sounding melodies. These build to a grief-stricken crescendo that fades away with a fleeting glimmer of harmonic hope as the movement ends.

Dmitri's influence is quite apparent in the finale, which begins with a highly agitated theme (HA) recalling the second movement of his fifth symphony (1937). A relaxed waltzlike motif related to AP follows, and turns somewhat sinister with some threatening strokes on the bass drum. These contrasting ideas are ingeniously interworked and recapitulated with cyclic references to material from past movements. The symphony then ends in a spectacular coda based on HA.

Aleksey Tolstoy's (1883-1945) book The Golden Key, or The Adventures of Buratino (1936), is based on his childhood memories of Carlo Collodi's (1826-1890) beloved novel The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883). And the Tolstoy would serve as the basis for the scenario of a ballet the composer would produce a draft score for in 1954-55. Originally called The Adventures of Buratino, unfortunately it suffered the same fate as the third symphony, and wouldn't be performed until 1962 after he’d substantially reworked it, changing the name to The Golden Key.

Then in 1964 Weinberg extracted four suites from it, the last of which fills out this disc. Divided into eight parts, it opens with a spirited dance for Buratino followed by a hypnotic "Elegy". The former may bring to mind Shostakovich's choreographic caper The Age of Gold (1927-30).

Four animated dances are next. The droll first is for a poodle and features a jolly bassoon, while the second has a dancing cricket represented by chirping arpeggios. A waltzing cat worthy of Leroy Anderson (1908-1975, see the newsletter of 30 May 2008) along with a fox execute the pas de deux third, and then a bucktoothed rat whirls about in the furtive fourth.

"The Lesson" which follows is a catchy syncopated minuet succeeded by a jeering galop. The suite closes with "The Pursuit" whose beginning recalls the portentous opening theme in Verdi's (1813-1901) overture to La forza del destino (1862, revised 1869). Alternately bumptious one minute, and walzlike the next, it brings this capricious childlike offering to a festive conclusion.

A protégé of the great Neeme Järvi (see the newsletter of 8 June 2011), conductor Thord Svedlund along with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (GSO) give us A-one performances of these pieces. They make a strong case for the continued resuscitation of Weinberg's considerable symphonic output, which includes twenty-one completed full-scale as well as four chamber symphonies. In that regard, hopefully Chandos will continue to give us more exceptional hybrid Weinberg recordings from Maestro Svedlund and the GSO.

Done in one of the world's finest venues, the Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden, the Chandos engineers have outdone themselves on this disc. In the stereo mode the recordings project a lush but well detailed soundstage in an ideally reverberant space. The multichannel one will give you a center seat in the orchestra.

The instrumental timbre is totally natural over the extended frequency and dynamic ranges resulting from Weinberg's colorful scoring. The high end is notable for silky violins, particularly on the SACD tracks, while the low end features some of the most profound but clean bass drum work one could want. Make sure you take this along on your next audio expedition.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110701)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


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