WUORINEN: Eighth Symphony (Theologoumena_ (2--5 - 2006). Fourth Piano Concerto (2003).
Peter Serkin, pianist. Boston Symphony Orch/James Levine, cond.
BRIDGE CD 9474 TT: 59:39

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique."Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.
Czech Philharmonic Orch/Semyon Bycghkov, cond.
DECCA 483 0656 TT: 63:53

Lang Lang, piano; other artists
SONY 533292 TT: 71 min.

Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wuorinen (b. 1938) is a prolific American composer respected by all. He has written numerous works for solo instruments, concertos, chamber music, symphonic music and operas, some of which have been recorded. This site mentioned a video of his opera Brtokeback Mountain (REVIEW). He had a champion in conductor James Levine who always promoted music by American composers and commissioned several works from Wuorinen for the Met Orchestra and the Boston Symphony. The Piano Concerto No. 4 was commissioned by the BSO for Levine and pianist Peter Serkbn who premiered it in Boston 2005. Symphony No. 8 appeared two years later. This disk contains the world premiere performances of both works. Several years later, Wuorinen wrote another work for piano and orchestra for Serkin, Levine and the Met Orchestra. Neither the Symphony or the Concerto are audience friendly. Don't look for soaring melodic lines or memorable themes. It all sounds rather academic rather than inspired, and although I respect the performances, which surely are definitive, this is not music that I would choose to listen to again. The very intricate, detailed music must be incredibly difficult to perform; however, I doubt many would be aware of any performance mishaps. .Audio is excellent, and for those intrigued by the contemporary music scene, this is quite valuable.

It could hardly be said the catalog needs more recordiungs of Tchaikovskyi's symphonic works—yet Decca is planning one, and here is the first release, with Semyon Bychkov and the Cxzech Phiharmonic. Bychkov can be an exciting conductor—his recent Summer Concert video is a knockout (REVIEW). He has recorded little Tchaikovsky; some years ago for Philips he recorded the opera Eugene Onegin, and Symphony No. 6 with the Concertgebouw. This new CD containins Syumphony Nol 6 and Romeo and Juoiet. Over the next few years, the label will issue all of the symphonic works. This is not a very auspicious start for the cycle. A program note bhy Bhuychkov states, "harsh sforzandi contradict the idea of resignatgion and the acceptance of death." The famed Czech orchestra is in virtuoso form, but this is a civil Pathétique rather than an exciting one, which also could be said of Romeo and Juliet. The recording was made in Prague's Dvorák Hall August/September 2015. Excellent, well-balanced audio. It is u9nfortunate Decca doesn't release this series in surround sound. The SADCDs of Tchaikovsky's symphonies (including Manfred) on Pentatone at mid-pricei are preferred versions.

Lang lang, always on the lookout for new audiences, here is featured on a CD devoted to music about and inspired by New York City. Many musicians collaborated on this crossover disk, all top artists in their specialties. Supposedly, New York Rhapsody "rediscovers the dazzle and the soul of America's most symbolic city." We have music of Copland, Bernstein, Gershwin, and many other composers, mostly in special arrangements in which Lang Lang is heard along with Andra Day, Herbie Hancock, Kandace Springs, Lisa Fischer, Lindsey Stirling Sean Jones, and Madeleine Payroux. If this is the sort of music you enjoy, m here it is in a first-class presentation, beautifully recorded.

R.E.B. (October 2016)