CDs December 2021

 

HENDRICK ANDRIESSEN – COMPLETE SYMPHONIC WORKS
PHION ORCHESTRA OF GELDERLAND & OVERIJSSEL, DAVID PORCELIJN, conductor
CPO 555 508-2 (4 CDs) 226’34

This very welcome release collects recordings of Andriessen’s four Symphonies together with other works for orchestra including Symphonic Etude, Symphonie Concertante and Kuhnau Variations. There is much to explore here as Andriessen’s music explores 20th century harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary whilst at the same time being rooted in earlier traditions and harnessing the varied resources of the neo-romantic orchestra.

LEROY ANDERSON – COMPLETE ORCHESTRAL WORKS
BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA and soloists, Leonard Slatkin, conductor
NAXOS (5 CDS) 8.505259

This second box set could not be more removed from the one above. Despite a similar sounding surname Andriessen and Anderson are writing very different music. I have long been a fan of so-called ‘Light Music’ and Anderson;s music is usually labelled such. Although the emphasis is very clearly on melody, and sometimes on novelty, much of the content is of perfectly crafted musical miniatures. There is no reason why this music should not be as appreciated in the same way as longer structured, more experimental works. A number of these pieces will be very familiar – The Typewriter, Syncopated Clock, Sleigh Ride, Forgotten Dreams, Blue Tango. Others will be less so – Melody on Two Notes, A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Waltz around the Scale. Often there is humour, not least in the titles – Mother’s Whistler, The Waltzing Cat. Alongside the original miniatures are longer works – excerpts from Goldilocks and arrangements including two Suites of Carols and an Irish and Scottish Suite. A very enjoyable collection of spirited performances.

ERIC COATES – LONDON SUITE
SLOVAK RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Adrian Leaper, conductor
NAXOS 8.555178 71’26

Further light music on this CD which features re-released recordings of both Coates’ London and London Again Suites. Other familiar music here is The Dambusters March and Calling all Workers. Perhaps more interesting are the inclusion of Cinderella, The Selfish Giant and The Merrymakers. A good balance of the well-loved and the less familiar adding up to a very good production.

BRAHMS – COMPLETE SONGS 1
CHRISTOPH PREGARDIEN, Tenor
ULRICH EISENLOHR, Piano
NAXOS 8.574268 64’55

The first volume in what appears to be a very promising series. Here we have recent recordings of Op 32, Op 43, Op 86 and Op 105.

WILLIAM BOLCOM – HORN TRIO / SOLO VIOLIN SUITE NO 2
STEVEN GROSS, Horn, PHILIP FICSOR, Violin
CONSTANTINE FINEHOUSE, Piano
NAXOS. 8.579102 40’26

I am familiar with some of William Bolcom’s organ music and songs but not the music contained on this disk. It is an enjoyable pairing of these two works for very contrasting forces. The musical language is perhaps more reflective in parts of the first work whereas the second sees a return to the often more playful styles that I associate with the music I have heard to date. A short but very welcome release.

PETROS PETRIDIS – REQUIEM FOR THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE PALAIOLOGOS / SYMPHONY NO 3
GOLDEN VOICES OF RUSE, SOFIA METROPOLITAN GOLDEN VOICES & SOLOISTS
SOFIA AMADEUS ORCHESTRA, NIKOLAS MANTZAROS WIND ENSEMBLE,
BYRON FIDETZIS, conductor
NAXOS 8.574354-55 (2 CDs) 2”09’18

Part of Naxos’ Greek Classics strand this is a very enjoyable CD of music from a composer who was new to me. The bulk of the release is given over to the epic Requiem for the Emperor Constantine Palaiologos. There is a filmic quality to this music which draws heavily on Byzantine chant but adds fresh twentieth century colour and often dissonant harmony. Alongside Symphony 3 is also the Concerto Grosso for winds and timpani. Once again I have been challenged to realise how much more music is out there to be explored as this collection of world premiere recordings clearly demonstrates!

VINCENT PERSICHETTI – ORGAN WORKS
IAIN QUINN, Organ of St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
NAXOS 8.559887 73’42

This is a CD I didn’t realise I was waiting for! I had discovered a few of Persichetti’s liturgical settings but none of this instrumental music. He often uses traditional forms and starting points but writes with a fresh and often exuberant style producing music that is substantial and exciting. Iain Quinn’s performances are always of the highest quality and I have been very pleased to be able to listen to him again here with this repertoire.

FROM RAGS TO RICHES: 100 YEARS OF AMERICAN SONG
STEPHANIE BLYTHE, Mezzo-soprano, WILLIAM BURDEN, Tenor, STEVEN BLIER, Piano
NYFOS RECORDS

A collection of recent recordings from artistes associated with the New York Festival of Song this disc includes music and words by the Gershwins, Joplin, Weill, Rodgers and Sondheim as well as less familiar names. This is a very interesting release of mostly less familiar songs in various styles and moods ranging from ragtime to an art song arrangement of the spiritual How can I keep from singing? Several are in arrangements by pianist Steven Blier.

SP

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