LOUIS VIERNE – COMPLETE PIANO WORKS 2
SERGIO MONTEIRO, piano
NAXOS 8.574480 77’01
So often a composer is known for a very small portion of their complete works. In Vierne’s case it is usually the characteristic organ works. This 2nd volume of his piano works reveals another part of his output and it shows that his piano writing is every bit as interesting and enjoyable. The major works here are Douze Preludes, Op 36 and Solitude, Op 49. Throughout these brilliant performances there is huge contrast, inventive and colourful writing and music that I certainly wish to listen to again and hopefully explore at the keyboard. A very welcome issue.
PHILIP LANE – BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC 15
VERITY BUTLER, clarinet
ROYAL BALLET SINFONIA, GAVIN SUTHERLAND, conductor
NAXOS 8.555880 73’39
Volume 15 in this popular series brings the work of a more contemporary composer and arranger, Philip Lane, born in 1950. Opening with a piece that very much continues the tradition of Eric Coates, London Salute (1982). The following six pieces are longer works, the first of which treats the well-known Paganini theme in fresh and often humorous ways in a set of Diversions. The CD ends with another shorter work, one of the earliest pieces here, Prestbury Park.
DANNY ELFMAN & ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK – CONCERTOS
SANDY CAMERON, violin STEWART GOODYEAR, piano
BUFFALO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, JOANN FALLETTA, conductor
NAXOS 8.559925 65’20
Two major works from contemporary American composers sit side by side here in this latest American Classics production from Naxos. Well-known for his prolific film score output Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto “Eleven Eleven” has echoes of his early Batman. There is an interesting note about the subtitle in the accompanying words – apparently the number 11 has special meaning for the composer. Alongside this we have Adolphus Hailstork’s Piano Concerto No 1. This has influences from his Afro-American heritage. Both are in fine new live recordings here.
GYORGY LIGETI – COMPLETE WORKS FOR A CAPELLA CHOIR
SWR VOKALENSEMBLE, YUVAL WEINBERG, conductor
SWR CLASSIC SWR19128CD (2 CDs) 55’27 & 59’48
This comprehensive double CD charts the career of a twentieth century pioneer through his choral music. I was initially surprised and disappointed at how conventional much of the music sounded, based on folk melodies and traditional compositional styles. However as the programme progressed I began to hear precursors of the now very familiar but enchanting contemporary Eastern European/ Scandinavian choral style. Finally in the last few tracks we hear examples of the experimental, a/multi-tonal work which I have come to associate with him, especially from the now very popular Lux aeterna. Fascinating to trace this development.
MARIANO ETKIN – FLORES BLANCAS
WERGO WER 74062 69’55
This CD presents eight chamber works , all from 1992- 2016, towards the end of the Argentinian composer’s life. There are recollections of the works of other composers woven into this music as well as deploying extremes of dynamic and pitch. He makes much use of low wind (including trombone and bassoon) and strings and often writes introspective, slow moving phrases. He is particularly interested in human emotion and experience surrounding dreams and tears. Highly inventive.
GENOEL VON LILIENSTERN – COUTURE
ENSEMBLE GARAGE & OTHERS
WERGO 64392 49’24
Wow! There is so much packed into this short CD that it is going to need many replayings to fully appreciate. A (German) smorgasbord of words, music and other effects in this excellent programme of four recent compositions from Genoel von Lilienstern. Opening with Voz Comercial we first hear a collage of transcribed and recorded excerpts from Spanish speaking radio stations. The closing work draws very much on the sounds and conventions of 1980s pop including an extended foray into the world of syn drums. The title track plays with the contrasts between acoustic and electronic sound sources. Samplers and synthesizers rub shoulders with symphonic instruments, speech and SFX to create an exciting, highly charged musical experience. The graphic design of the booklet, fusing old and new musical technologies is brilliant, too. Encore!
NEILS VIGGO BENTZON – PIANO WORKS
RAMEZ MHAANNA, piano
DA CAPO 8.224737 64’31
Prolific Danish composer, Niels Viggo Bentzon, died in 2000. Here we have a collection of splendid performances of four of his early piano works, the latest of which, Traesnit (Woodcuts), a series of 11 short pieces, dates from 1950. Opening with Partita (1945), there is also a Passacaglia dating from the same year as well as the earliest, Toccata, from 1941. Described as “lush, romantically spirited and among the most technically challenging and creative piano compositions of the last century”, this is definitely music to explore.
DA CAPO 8.224741 62’51
Sustained or rapidly repeating strings, insistent isolated percussion, piano as statement or accompaniment, atonal voice and other avant garde effects all have their place in this debut release from this recently formed specialist Danish collective. Damkapellet’s aim is to highlight “music by artists who define themselves as women, non-binary or transgender”. This is a bold and enjoyable first album of premiere recordings of works by Lo Kristenson, Randi Pontoppidan, Kirstine Lindemann and Greta Eacott.
LUDGER BRUMMER – SONIC PATTERNS
WERGO WER 20782 (2 CDs) 78’56 & 78’41
This double CD set collects a number of compositions by German electronic/computer/algorithmic composer Ludger Brummer, following on from the recent ‘Spheres of Resonance’ album. His music works with various processes to develop the basic elements of sound by expanding, reducing, repeating or morphing. For instance, Amazonas consists of long sustained but slowly developing tones and combines voices with electronics. Between Twilight takes the concept of the trill and moves it from the rapidly repeating frenetic opening section and gradually slows it until the almost static conclusion. There is interest throughout in the variety of tones and the juxtaposition of analogue and electronic, the percussive and the sustained. A further very welcome production.
STEPHAN ELMAS – COMPLETE PIANO WORKS 2 – MAZURKAS
MIKAEL AYRAPETYAN, piano
GRAND PIANO GP928 75’31
This survey of Armenian composer Stephan Elmas’ piano music continues with a volume of Mazurkas. Fine performances from Mikael Ayrapetyan who has made a particular study of Armenian music. Another welcome release from Grand Piano.
DJANGO NOVO & TOV RAMSTAD – THE DISTANCE
Spacey and relaxed, this recording brings a meditative soundscape which combines thoughtful songs and expansive instrumental landscapes together with some spoken word. A range of distinctive instruments are employed including lap steel guitar, harmonica, theravox and accordion alongside more conventional flute, strings, piano and percussion. Samples and electronic treatments also play a part in this dreamy offering.
KALEVI AHO – VIOLIN CONCERTO 2 & CELLO CONCERTO 2
ELINA VAHALA, violin, JONATHAN ROOZEMAN, cello
KYMI SINFONIETTA, OLARI ELTS, conductor
I have enjoyed other recordings of Kalevi Aho’s music and this latest release does not disappoint. Fine recordings of these two recent (2015 and 2013) works make for very enjoyable listening.
BACH 6 WITH 4 – CELLO SUITE No. 6 ARRANGED FOR 4 CELLOS
MOUNT VERNON VIRTUOSI CELLO GANG, AMIT PELED, director
The Bach cello suites posess a purity and vitality all of their own. Here one of them is presented in a fresh way in an arrangement that preserves the original but adds depth in an effective and surprisingly unobtrusive way. As the liner states,
“In times when there are hundreds of recordings of all six suites, it is our humble message to future cellists that these monumental solo pieces can also be looked at from an ensemble point of view”. The Virtuosi’s founder and conductor, Amit Peled believes “that concerts should be free. And musicians should be well paid for their work.” More can be found about the group at https://www.mountvernonvirtuosi.com An enjoyable, fresh take on this timeless music.