31 MAY 2022


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.
Elcock: Orch Wks V3 (Manic Dancing, Sym 6 "Tyrants Destroyed", Sym 7); Kosterina/Vasiliev/Siber SO [Toccata]
Somehow this label's first two volumes of Anglo-French composer Steve Elcock's (b. 1957) orchestral music (see Toccata-0400 & 0445) slipped under the CLOFO radar. However, here's the third installment, and an impressive one it is!

As is usually the case with their releases, the album booklet has lengthy analyses of all three works, and this time around, they're by British composer-pianist-educator Francis Pott (b. 1957). Accordingly, we'll limit our commentary to some general observations about them.

Proceeding chronologically, Steve's Manic Dancing, Op. 25 (2015) is a one-movement, sonata-form-structured piano concerto. The opening one of its three adjoining sections is an Allegro commodo (Comfortably fast) exposition [T-8] and begins with colorful, vivacious passages for the orchestra [00:00}. It's soon joined by the soloist [00:18] in music that immediately reflects the work's title. It may bring to mind Bohuslav Martinů's (1890-1959) Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani, H. 271 (1938), or even Peter Mennin's (1923-1983) Piano Concerto (1958).

Then it's on to a Largo (Slow) [T-9] one, where the foregoing material is food for a captivating development with a lovely, lyrical midriff [02:31-04:33] having bizarre tuba solos [03:46 & 04:00]. Subsequently, martial passages [05:04] build to a Brucknerian climax, which launches a closing, Tempo primo (Tempo same as first) recapitulation section [T-10]. This becomes increasingly agitated with memories of past ideas and invokes a jazzy "jam session" [03:15] with a strident coda [04:35] that ends the piece brashly.

As of last year, Elcock had completed eight symphonies, and our next selection is his Symphony No. 6 "Tyrants Destroyed", Op. 30 (2017). There's no information regarding the subtitle, and the composer has said, "you must make of it what you can". Anyway, the scoring calls for an extensive percussion section that includes a steel "bell plate" and requires five players.

He describes the first of its two movements as "sonata form without development". Marked Molto moderato (Very moderate), it's a somber sarabande [T-11, 00:01] initially featuring sorrowful cellos, and somewhat reminiscent of subdued moments in Carl Nielsen's (1865-1931) Symphony No. 5, Op. 50, FS 97 (1920-22).

Then the preceding turns funereal with a hymnlike nexus (HN) [T-12, 00:00] that's the subject of several treatments of varying temperament. These range from searching [01:24], resigned [02:09], antsy [02:56] and contemplative [03:34, 04:28, 05:32 & 07:38] to ferociously martial [08:45]. The latter wanes into nostalgic remembrances of HN, which despairingly fade away, thereby ending the movement tragically.

The second one is of Allegro (Fast) persuasion, and gets off to an anguished start [T-13, 00:00] where bits of HN are ingredients for a recapitulative stew. Subsequently, the music waxes and wanes "attacca" into a wistful fugal section [T-14, 00:00]. This becomes increasingly tyrannical, calling forth anguished remembrances of the opening measures [T-15, 00:00].

These also invoke memories of that Double Concerto... mentioned above, and the foregoing culminates in a massive HN-derived, chorale-like episode [03:20]. This brings the symphony to a magniloquent, percussive-bell-plate-laced [04:07, 04:17 & 04:21] conclusion.

It's successor of three years later, the one-movement Symphony No. 7, Op. 33 (2020) completes this release. Made up of seven adjoining sections, the work calls for conventional forces with only two percussionists.

The initial Adagio (Slow) [T-1] starts evasively somewhat like Jean Sibelius's (1865-1957) Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63 (1910-11). This section has a recurring four-note riff (FR) [00:45] and short passage [03:06-03:50] reminiscent of the first measures in Edward Elgar's (1857-1934) Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (1898-99).

It builds into a stormy, Allegro moderato (Moderately fast) one [T-2], where there are intimations of more agitated moments in Anton Bruckner's (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7, WAB 107 (1881-85). But the mood soon becomes dispirited in a brief Largemente (Broadly) marked section [T-3].

This is followed by an even shorter Subito allegro moderato (Suddenly somewhat faster) one [T-4], which calls up an Agitato (Excited) successor [T-5]. The latter is a wild amalgam of previous thoughts, that's all the more raucous for some obstreperous timpani work and rhythmically stabbing incursions of FR.

Then the foregoing ebbs into a dramatic Adagio (Slow) section [T-6], which conjures up the concluding, A tempo andante (At a slow tempo) [T-7] marked seventh one. This opens with a lovely melody that the album notes refer to as a "dream-song" [00:00]. It's the subject of a wistful contemplation with wisps of FR [beginning at 01:49], all of which quietly dies away, leaving the work somewhere in midair.

The Siberian Symphony Orchestra (SSO) under their Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Dmitry Vasiliev along with SSO piano soloist Marina Kosterina give magnificent accounts of these works. They make a strong case for some colorfully scored, well-structured music that's of late-romantic disposition by a composer, who says he's self-taught.

An all-Russian production, the recordings were made during June, 2021, at the recently remodeled Philharmonic Hall in Omsk, Siberia, some 1,500 miles east of Moscow. They present a splendid sonic image in affable surroundings.

The orchestral timbre is characterized by pleasant highs, a good midrange and impressive bass that goes down to rockbottom, particularly in the robustly scored earlier symphony. Comrade Kosterina's piano is well captured as well as balanced against the SSO, and everything considered, this release gets an "Audiophile" rating. Listening to it certainly beats hearing all that depressing news about the Russian invasion of Ukraine!

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y220531)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Frühling, Carl: Piano Quintet Op. 30, Piano Quartet Op. 35; Triendl/Giglberger/Karmon/Glassl/Mijnders [Haenssler]
The review above mentioned Ukraine, and Carl Frühling (1868-1937) was born there in Lviv, but soon moved to Austria. He then studied piano and composition at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien (GMW, Society of Friends of Music in Vienna) between 1887 and 1889.

Subsequently he pursued a life-long career there as a pianist, teacher and composer, but would die in poverty. Much of his music is now lost, and this invaluable release gives us two of Carl's works, which make it a welcome addition to the body of discs having Romantic pieces in the chamber genre.

While his solo piano creations fall into the category of immediately accessible, virtuoso salon music, both of the selections here are more serious undertakings. That said, you'll find they call to mind similarly scored works by the likes of Robert Schumann (1810-1856), Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) and even Richard Strauss (1864-1949).

Our concert starts with the Piano Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 30 (1892). Having four movements, the first marked Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato (Fast, very agitated and passionate) [T-1] is sonata-form-like. It features three groups of thematic ideas that are respectively imploring [00:02], cheerful [01:20] and melodic [01:45].

These undergo a skillful development [02:19] with a dramatic fugal episode [03:35], which calls up a recapitulative one [05:52]. This builds into a commanding remembrance of the movement's opening [08:32] with a scurrying coda [08:44] that ends things definitively.

The next one is an Andante cantabile (Flowing and songlike) offering [T-2] that's as advertised and based on a gorgeous opening idea [00:01]. It's the subject of several, rhapsodic variations that range from amorous [01:26] to whimsical [02:57], commanding [04:01], peripatetic [04:24] and lied-like [05:02].

Then there's an Allegretto grazioso (Lively, but graceful) scherzo {T-3]. This has dainty outer sections [00:01 & 05:17] based on a flighty, opening tune (FO). These surround a songful trio [02:40-05:16] featuring an FO-related, winsome melody (FW). They bring things full circle, and just before the end there's a nostalgic remembrance of FW [05:44-06:18].

The foregoing movement provides a brief respite before the Allegro vivace (Fast and spirited), sonata-rondoesque finale [T-4]. This has a lithe opening melody (LO) [00:01] that soon undergoes a contrapuntally spiced exploration [00:29], followed by a related hymnlike tune (LH) [01:00]. Subsequently, both ideas are briefly bandied about [01:44] giving way to a pause and fortissimo hiccup [02:07] succeeded by an LO-based fugal section [02:10].

This adjoins the return of LH [02:57], which initiates a development of itself and LO [03:16]. Then there's an LH-parented recap [04:01]. Here LO [04:19] escalates into frantic LH passages [05:03], which adjoin a coda [05:51] that ends the piece exuberantly.

Frühling's Piano Quartet in D major, Op. 35 fills out this disc. Although the actual date of composition remains a mystery, there's a stylistic sophistication present that would seemingly indicate it was written sometime after the above work. In four movements, the beginning one is a sonata-form Allegro moderato (Moderately fast) [T-5], which begins with a lovely exposition having a serene first idea (S1) [01:01]

S1 is followed by an animated countermelody [01:21] and pleading third thought [01:51]. Then the foregoing is repeated [03:01], after which S1 initiates a well-crafted development [06:16] and welcome recapitulation [07:56]. The latter has an S1-based coda [10:22] that ends things with a big 🙂.

The subsequent scherzo [T-6] calls to mind one in Schumann's Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47 (1842). It has Quasi presto (Quite fast) outer sections [00:00 & 03:54] featuring a scurrying ditty with a more flowing tune [00:40-01:07]. They lie on either side of a Moderato (Moderate) trio (MT) [01:28-03:53], and end the movement like it started, but with a last whiff of MT [05:12-5:32] that triggers a festive final flourish [05:33].

Restlessness turns to reflection in the Larghetto (Rather slow) [T-7]. It has a somber introduction [00:01] followed by an extended pensive thought (EP) [00:32-03:36], all of which brings to mind Richard Strauss' earlier chamber works, namely the Andante (Slow) in his Piano Quartet in C minor, Op.13 (1883-84). Then EP parents a tender, rhapsodic development [03:37] with nurturing, contrapuntal embellishments. This wanes into a nostalgic hint of EP [08:07] that closes the movement peacefully.

The Vivace (Spirited) sonata-rondo-like finale [T-8] has a jaunty opening theme (JO) [00:00], which bridges into a lyrical second (LS) [00:44]. Then JO starts a pleasing development [01:58], where LS undergoes somewhat amorous [02:43-03:06] as well as melancholy [03:35-04:21] treatments.

After that there's a JO-initiated recap [04:22] with a nostalgic reminder of LS [05:02-05:44]. Subsequently, the music becomes increasingly manic [beginning at 05:45], thereby calling up a spirited coda [06:22], which ends the work and this attractive disc elatedly.

German pianist Oliver Triendl, who's a CLOFO regular (see 30 April 2021), once again gives us outstanding accounts of two more splendid, romantic discoveries. He receives superb support from violinists Daniel Giglberger and Nina Karmon, as well as violist Roland Glassl along with cellist Floris Mijnders. They make a strong case for this undeservedly forgotten composer!

These recordings were made during May 2020 (Quartet) and March 2021 (Quintet) by WDR Funkhaus Köln at the Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal in Cologne, Germany, some 300 miles west-southwest of Berlin. They project an appropriately sized sonic image in pleasant surroundings.

The strings are placed from left to right in order of increasing size, and their overall tone is lifelike with no overhang in the cello's lower registers. Herr Triendl's piano is well captured as well as balanced against them. Everything considered, conventional discs of chamber ensembles don't get any better sounding than this, thereby earning it an "Audiophile" rating.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y220530)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Santoro, Claudio: Sym 5, Sym 7 "Brasília"; Thomson/Goiás PO [Naxos]
Chalk up another important discovery to those enterprising Naxos folks! With this first release in their new series devoted to the music of Brazil and produced in conjunction with that country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they give us two of Claudio Santoro's (born Cláudio Franco de Sá Santoro; 1919-1989) 14 symphonies (1940-89). The ones here are both four-movement works that were written in the 1955-60 timeframe, these being the only versions of them readily available on disc.

The program begins with Symphony No. 5 (1955), which is nationalistic in spirit, but Claudio doesn't actually quote any folk melodies. However, he seasons it with the Lydian and Mixolydian modes, which characterize music indigenous to Brazil's Northeast Region.

That said, the first movement [T-1] is well-knit with Andante mosso (Slow and moving) impressionistic passages [00:01] that may bring to mind Maurice Ravel's (1875-1937) ballet Daphnis et Chloé (1909-11). These are interspersed with excited Allegro moderato (Moderately fast) ones [03:59-04:43, 06:38-07:21 & 10:30-10:56], but in the end the former have the last say, bringing this to a quiet ending. We might also note that the initial Ravelian one has a catchy riff (CR) [03:12] that will parent an idea in the work's final movement.

Then things turn more lively in the next Allegro molto assai (Very, very fast) [T-2], which is scherzoesque. More specifically, this features a spirited dance [00:11] whose colorful scoring includes Brazilian percussion instruments and sprightly repeated notes.

Next there's a Lento (Slow) Tema con variazioni (Theme with variations) [T-3] with an initial main idea (IM) [00:00] based on a Candomblé associated Xangô (aka Shango) chant, that Santoro's fellow countryman, composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) had once used. Then IM is the subject of a contemplation [00:23], under which a related ostinato appears (MO) [01:31].

MO waxes and wanes invoking a subdued IM [03:14] as well as a forceful version of itself [03:43]. This invokes a lofty IM [04:01] that ebbs into nostalgic reminders of MO [04:56], and a wistfully quiet IM [05:30] ends things tranquilly.

The closing movement [T-4] has a Moderto (Moderate tempo) marked opening section featuring a syncopated, perky theme (SP) heard at the outset [00:00]. SP undergoes a series of treatments, which range from headstrong [01:05] to casual [01:39], retiring [02:59], anxious [03:30] and searching [04:10].

All this adjoins an Allegro vivo (Fast and lively) episode [05:58] based on a CR (see above) related, impetuous tune (CI) that charges about. Then CI triggers a frenetic coda [07:34] with a brass chorale version of itself [07:53], which ends the work dramatically.

Santoro's Symphony No. 7 was written in London during 1959-60. Subtitled "Brasília", it accordingly commemorated his country's then newly completed federal capital of that name, and is among the longest as well as most intricate of his works in this genre.

The first movement [T-5] has an Andante (Slow) introduction that opens with a fetching, four-note motif (FF) [00:00-00:03], which will pervade it. FF is the ostinato-like basis for a series of treatments that are alternately Andante (Slow) and Allegro (Fast).

Those in the first category are impulsive [00:00], lyrical [00:40], songlike [02:53], pastoral [05:01] with avian calls [05:43], dancelike [07:33], pensive [08:36] as well as yearning [10:18]. While the ones making up the second range from combative [01:48] to scurrying [03:32], agitated [05:57], excited [09:20] and anxious [11:02]. The latter builds into a great brass chorale [12:10], which gets impressive support from the percussion section, thereby ending this movement in monumental fashion.

The Adagio quasi recitativo (Slow like a recitative) second one [T-6] couldn't be more different! This has a langurous, opening thought [00:00] that's the subject of a pensive, musical essay. It has sporadic, striking fortissimo outbursts [04:13, 04:51, 06:01, 06:46 & 06:58], but comes to a pianissimo conclusion.

A Vivo (Lively) scherzo is next [T-7]. It starts with woodwind chirps [00:00] that give way to a playful, dance-like theme PD [00:20] having a complementary countermelody [00:29]. PD flirts its way through the various sections of the orchestra, and this delightful frolic terminates subito [05:03].

Stylistically speaking, the Allegro molto (Very fast) finale [T-8] is among the composer's most progressive symphonic creations. It has an insistent, percussively reinforced, opening thematic nexus [00:00] that undergoes a subdued developmental treatment [00:38].

This escalates into a more lyrical one [02:14], which becomes whimsical [02:49] and transforms into a lovely amorous section [04:37]. The latter calls up a wild episode [08:29] having a frenetic coda [10:11] that ends the work and disc definitively.

The Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra under their Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Neil Thomson (b. 1966) gives enthusiastic, yet sensitive accounts of both works, making a strong case for their fellow countryman's music. Hopefully, Naxos will soon give us more of Claudio's remaining fourteen symphonies.

The recordings were done 1-6 October, 2018, at the Oscar Niemayer Centro Cultural in the GPO's hometown of Goiânia, some 100 miles southwest of Brasília. They present a generous sonic image in a marvelous venue, and the orchestral timbre is characterized by pleasant highs, a well-defined midrange and clean bass that goes down to rockbottom. Conventional symphonic discs don't get any better sounding than this, thereby earning it an "Audiophile" rating.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y220529)

Amazon Records International