HENRI TOMASI – COMPLETE VIOLIN WORKS
STEPHANIE MORALY, violin
ROMAIN DAVID, piano
ORCHESTRE DE LA GARDE REPUBLICAINE, SEBASTIEN BILLARD
NAXOS 8.579091 61’52
These early/mid twentieth century pieces are, as the notes state, ‘little known’. Written in a easy style with melody to the fore and with interesting use of colour and contrasts of virtuosity and emotion. A useful collection of this lesser known French composer’s output.
RUED LANGGAARD – PIANO WORKS VOL 4
BERIT JOHANSEN TANGE, piano
DA CAPO 6.220662 64’27
This further volume of piano music shows Langgaard’s familiarity with the romantic piano tradition. There is much of interest here in these committed performances by Berit Johansen Tange.
ALMEIDA PRADO – COMPLETE NOCTURNES
ALEVSON SCOPEL, piano
GRAND PIANO GP890 70’03
The Brazilian composer Jose Antonio Rezende de Almeida Prado died in 2010 leaving a wealth of interesting and inventive music. Coupled with the 14 Nocturnes here is the earlier work, Ilhas (Islands). Throughout this music we hear how he develops the romantic piano tradition with a number of twentieth century elements and influences including Latin American rhythm, Brahms, Messiaen and Scriabin.
RICHARD DANIELPOUR – TWELVE ETUDES FOR PIANO
STEFANO GRECO, piano
NAXOS 8.559922 65’40
This is a very enjoyable release of world premiere recodings. Contemporary American composer Richard Danielpour’s music brings a wide range of emotion and styles out of the piano. Together with the set of varied etudes we have the exuberant and expansive Piano Fantasy “Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden and two very recent short works, Lullaby and Song without words.
ELGAR – COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS
TOM WINPENNY, organ of Hereford Cathedral
NAXOS 8.574366 86’57
Containing the familiar Organ Sonata No 1 and the Vesper Voluntaries this CD also features Elgar’s own organ arrangements and arrangements by others. These include Pomp & Circumstance March No 4, Nimrod, Imperial March and Organ Sonata No 2. Unknown to me were the Loughborough Memorial Chime and Solemn March from The Black Knight. A comprehensive and enjoyable collection of fine performances by Tom Winpenny on a very appropriate organ.
RUSSIAN BALLADS – PROKOFIEV + SHOSTAKOVICH + KISSIN
GABRIEL SCHWABE, cello ROLAND PONTINEN, piano
NAXOS 8.574377 78’58
In these days of terrible war against the people of Ukraine perhaps we may question whether we should celebrate music from this area. On the other hand it is perhaps good to remember that much of beauty and significance has come from this place in the past.
I have always had an affection for Russian music and here we have a lovely collection of works for cello and piano. Prokofiev takes the lion’s share with three pieces – his Ballade in C minor, Cello Sonata and Adagio from Cinderella. There is another Cello Sonata from Shostakovich and a much more recent one by Evgeny Kissin. Lovely performances.
BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC 11: RON GOODWIN
NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, RON GOODWIN, conductor
NAXOS 8.555193 69’57
This enjoyable series continues with this volume of music by a man known primarily for his film scores. Conducted by the man himself the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra give committed and often energetic performances throughout. I have to say that apart from the opening 633 Squadron Main title theme all of this music was unknown to me and very interesting for that. The London Marathon theme from The Trap is in a similar style as are some other elements of other works here. There are also pieces in very different styles such as the New Zealand Suite and Arabian Celebration. As well as lovely melodies there is some very varied orchestration. Great fun!
BENT SORENSEN – THE ISLAND IN THE CITY
TRIO CON BRIO COPENHAGEN
DANISH NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, JUKKA-PEKKA SARASTE, conductor
DA CAPO 8.226086 58’21
Although Sorensen is often regarded as an introspective writer there is much here that is bold and exciting. This is a welcome release of world premiere recordings of the title track (L’Isola della Citta) and his Second Symphony.
WALTON – THE COMPLETE FACADES
HILA PITMANN, FRED CHILD, KEVIN DEAS, narrators
VIRGINIA ARTS FESTIVAL CHAMBER PLAYERS, JO ANN FALLETTA, conductor
NAXOS 8.574378 53’59
I love the combination of spoken word and music and I especially love Façade for it’s quirkiness and eccentricity that many would say makes it so English. It is wonderful to have this release which combines the original 22 piece composition with Façade 2 (from the late 1970s, with another 8 short movements. This CD also includes another 4 additional numbers which were rejected by the composer during the composition and compilation process. My problem (perhaps one I need to get over?) is that here the narration is by Americans. Of course I have no problem with that generally, and it is done very well, but it is the eccentric roots of this work that makes me long for continuity in this respect.
MATIAS VESTERGARD – IDYLLS, ELEGIES
ESBJERG ENSEMBLE, REI MUNAKATA & MAGNUS LARSSON, conductors
SIGNE ASMUSSEN, soprano
DA CAPO 8.226546 58’21
This is very welcome release gathers a number of early compositions from contemporary Danish composer Matias Vestergard (born in 1989). Eclectic influences can be found in these works, from chorales of the Lutheran church or 1920s jazz. A very interesting introduction to the work of this composer, who was new to me.
LUDGER BRUMMER – SPHERES OF RESONANCE
LUDGER BRUMMER, ZKM Institute for Music & Acoustics/Hertz Laboratory, Karlsruhe
WERGO WER 20772
Slowly evolving, immersive soundscapes are to the fore here in this wonderful compilation of computer/electronic music from Ludger Brummer, Director of the Hertz Laboratory. Reminding me of the delight I took from discovering the music contained in an earlier series from Wergo (Computer Music Currents) many years ago this music sounds fresh and at the same time both other-worldly and pure. Although I couldn’t get the recommended link to work I did find a YouTube recording of Cellularium which shows how the music is paired with a stunning light installation. Eight works are included here, most of them lasting around 20 minutes each. The accompanying notes to each are full of interest and whilst I don’t pretend to understand much of the techniques and processes employed I love this music!
BEN LAHRING – DRIFTWOOD
BEN LAHRING, guitar
This contemplative album of solo guitar music from guitarist Ben Lahring showcases his talent as both performer and composer. There are some beautiful tracks here with sensitive performances highlighting the lyrical nature of the instrument. The self-composed title track is particularly expressive. The centrepiece of the album is the three-part Firstborn of the Dead. Alongside other works of the composer are pieces by Liona Boyd, William Beauvais, Graeme Koehne and one I found particularly intriguing, Searching for a chorale, by Seymour Bernstein, which cleverly reworks material from well-known chorales into something new. A gentle but still at times stimulating recording.
MIRIAM K SMITH, cello
SANDRA WRIGHT SHEN, piano
This is a lovely production, comprising sensitive performances from this wonderful pairing of musicians. Here we find contrasting works from three highly influential twentieth century composers. The longest work is Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata in C major which opens the disk, followed by Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne. The final work is Nadia Boulanger’s Trois Pieces pour violoncello et piano – short but inventive.