CZERNY: Grand Nocturne Brillant, Op. 95. Grand Concerto in A minor, Op.
214. Variations de Concert sur La Marche des Grecs de L'Opéra Le
Siege de Corinthe de Rossini, Op. 138.
AUBER: Overtures: La Circassinne (The Girl from the Caucasus). Le
Cheval de bronze (The Bronze Horse). Le Domino Noir (The
Fra Diavolo, ou L'Hotelleerie de Terracina (Brother
Devil, or The Inn at Terracina),
La Fiancée (The Bethrothed), Les Diamants de l
coupmne (The Crown Diamonds).
Marco Spada. L.'Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son).
Carl Czerny (1791 - 1857) was a major figure on Vienna's music scene. A student and friend of Beethoven, he was soloist in premieres of two of Beethoven's concertos. Czerny composed profusely, mostly studies and music intended for students to develop their technique. He is remembered today mostly for these, which are the bane of many beginning piano students. Franz Liszt played some of Czerny's music to great acclaim. This Naxos CD gives us the opportunity to hear three of Czerny's major works. The Grand Piano Concerto composed in 1830, is considered to be one of the first romantic piano concertos. Gramd Nocturne Brillant dates from 1826, the Variations on a Rossini theme were written in 1827 (this is its premiere recording). Chopin was a close friend of Czerny, and his influence is obvious in all thrse works. There are pages and pages of Chopinesque elaborations, seemingly endless. There is good reason why these large-scale Czerny works are neglected. Pianist Rosemary Tuck plays them with great sensitivity and brilliance, and Rikchard Bonynge and the orchestra offer strong support. Fine audio, but limited musical interest.
Naxos has started a commendable series of recordings of music of Daniel-Françoise Esprit Auber (1781 - 1871). He specialized in opera/operetta and composed more than 40 of them, 38 to a libretto buy the famous Augustin-Eugene Scribe. In spite of his fame during his lifetime, Auber's music is forgotten today except for the overtures to a few operas which remain concert hall favorites. There have been occasional recordings of the best known, in particular the fine collection with Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony recently reissued on Mercury. Now we have this new series (Volume I) containing the overtures listed above, only four of the usual; the remainder surely will be new to most listeners. The light sound of the Cannes Orchestra is appropriate for this music and they play with spirit under Wolfgang Dörner's direction. The recordings, made at the JW Marriott Hotel in Cannes in June 2015, are well-balanced and wide-range. Of interest are Robert Lateiners's program notes which give a detailed synopsis of each opera's plot. This is an impressive beginning for an intriguing series. Thanks, Naxos!
There is a major recording of Khachaturian's Symphony No. 2 with the composer conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, a 2 disk set that also includes early Decca recordings of the Piano Concerto (Alicia De Larrocha), the Violin Concerto (Ruggiero Ricci) and Masquerade (Stanley Black) (REVIEW). This is still available and worth investigation. Leopold Stokowski made a recording with the Symphony of the Air, and Neemi Järvi made one with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Khachaturian can be heard at his best in the spectacular ballet Spartacus. Unfortunately, much less inspired is this pompous symphony which is over-long, bombastic and has little to say. The filler is more second-rate Khachaturian, excerpts from his 1954 score for Boris Lavrenyov's play about the life and work of Mikhail Lermontov. We have three brief movements none of which are of particular interest. This new Naxos recording is excellent in every way, beautifully recorded, with the Russian orchestra in virtuoso form. If you're looking for a relatively inexpensive modern refording of The Bells, here it is.
R.E.B. (July 2016)