Nobilissima Visione; Paul Hindemith; Schwarz, Seattle Symphony, Yamamoto, McGrath; NAXOS 8572763; 1 CD
A series of powerful, largely radical works in the early 1920s saw Hindemith established as Germany’s leading young composer. In 1936 choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine asked him to collaborate on a ballet project, and Hindemith proposed scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The resulting ballet was Nobilissima Visione (The Noblest Vision). This is the first recording of the complete ballet score, not the three-movement concert suite that Hindemith later extracted. The Five Pieces for String Orchestra is an earlier, spirited work dating from 1927. For more information and the complete track listing, visit naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.572763.
Orchestral Works Volume 3; Zdenek Fibich; Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Stilec; NAXOS 8573197; 1 CD
Less well known than his compatriots Dvořák and Smetana, Zdenĕk Fibich was considered one of the greatest Czech composers of his day. These symphonic poems span the best part of his career, starting with Othello, which emphasizes the intertwined fates of Shakespeare’s main characters. More nationalist in character, Záboj, Slavoj and Luděk impressed Smetana when he was working on Má vlast, while Toman and the Wood Nymph is an evocative and tragic tale of supernatural romantic yearnings. The Tempest encapsulates Shakespeare’s story of storm, shipwreck and reconciliation, and the “symphonic picture.” For more information about this release and a complete track listing, visit naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573197.
Harold en Italie; Hector Berlioz; Slatkin, Orchestre National de Lyon, Berthaud, Radivo; NAXOS 8573297; 1 CD
Drawing on the adventures of Byron’s Childe Harold and the composer’s own Italian experiences as a Prix de Rome winner, Harold en Italie was intended for the great violinist Paganini who, having initially rejected the work, later repented, giving it his highest praise. The brilliant concert overtures, Benvenuto Cellini and Le carnaval romain, are among Berlioz’s most popular works. Quickly taken up by several celebrated violinists of the time, the elegant Rêverie et Caprice is his only work for solo violin and orchestra. Leonard Slatkin’s Lyon recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (8.572886) was described as “quite simply one of the best on disc” by MusicWeb International. For more information and a complete track listing, visit: naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573297.
Battle of Stalingrad; Aram Khachaturian; Adriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Simcisko, Valaskova, Slovak Philharmonic Chorus; NAXOS 8573389; 1 CD
Khachaturian’s involvement in film began in Armenia as early as 1934, and was long-lived and highly distinctive. Until the date of his last film in 1960, he wrote principally for Mosfilm and his scores, including in subsequent arrangements. His own eight-part concert suite arrangement taken from the epic Battle of Stalingrad (1948–50), is a symphonic fresco of high tension. The suite, derived from the score for Othello, reveals the full canvas of Khachaturian’s cinematic imagination, from glorious love music to darker scenes of despair. For more information and a complete track listing, visit naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.223314.
Spanish Dances; Falla, Granados, Mompou; Brazilian Guitar Quartet; Delos DE 3466; 1 CD
The 2011 Latin Grammy winning Brazilian Guitar Quartet’s (BGQ) sixth Delos album pays homage to its rich and varied heritage as exemplified by the music of Spain that gave rise to Latin American music. The album’s 18 selections—mostly dances—are derived primarily from piano works by six of the best-known 20th century Spanish composers. The BGQ offer the richest sonic depth and range of any guitar quartet thanks to the use of two eight string guitars. For more information about the BGQ, visit brazilianguitarquartet.com/en.
Missa Solemnis; Beethoven; Solti, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Donath, Soffel, Jerusalem, Sotin, Edinburgh Festival Chorus; LPO LPO-0077; 1 CD
Beethoven composed the Missa Solemnis between 1819 and 1923 in a late life burst of creativity. He felt it was one of his best works.
This 1982 BBC Proms live recording features an outstanding array of soloists including Helen Donath, Doris Stoffel, Siegfried Jerusalem and Hans Sotin. Sir Georg Solti recorded the Missa Solemnis twice in the studio, once with the Chicago Symphony in 1978 and later a live recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, both only available digitally or as part of boxed sets. For more information about this release, visit lpo.org.uk/recordings-and-gifts/search-recordings/368-cd-beethoven-missa-solemnis.html.
Violin Concertos; Bach, Berg; Kogan, L., Kogan, P., Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rozhdestvensky; Melodiya MELCD1002241; 1 CD
This program is a compilation of Bach and Alban Berg violin concerti recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s by noted Russian violinist Leonid Kogan. The Bach concerto for two violins was recorded with his son, Pavel.
Mr. Kogan was the only performer of Berg’s concerto in the former USSR. Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducts the Big Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio and Central Television. A video (audio only) of Kogan performing the first movement of the Berg Violin Concerto is available here: youtube.com/watch?v=UEMMf_ZFo9E.
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