SEREBRIER: "Last Tango Before Sunrise"
Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra. Nestor Torres, flute. Sara Cutler, harp. Nadia Shpachenko, piano. Gnessin Percussion Ensembe Moscow/Ilya Melinkhov. Gabriel Goni-Dondi, flute. Solene Le Van, soprano.
REFERENCE RECORDINGS CD FR743 TT: 62:54
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KORNGOLD: Piano Concerto in C# minor for One Hand, Op 17. CHOPIN: Variations on La ci darem la mano from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Op. 2. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Piano Concerto in C# minor, Op. 30.
Orion Weiss, piano. The Orchestra Now / Leon Botstein, cond
BRIDGE CD 9547 TT: 59:58
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NICKEL: Symphony No. 2/
Northwest Sinfonia / Clyde Mitchell, cond.
AVIE CD AV 2456 TT: 52:59
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José Serebrier (b. 1938) has had a varied career ever since his early days when he worked with Leopold Stokowski in Philadelphia. Better known as a conductor, he composed profusely, but little of his music has been performed or recorded. This site sometime ago praised a concert he gave in 2017 in China's Center for the Performing Arts, available on video (REVIEW). Now we have this disk supposedly focusing on the tango There are world premiere recordings of a number of works: We have the three movement brief (10 minute) Concerto for Percussion, the Piano Sonata and several brief tango-related short pieces. The program ends with the most interesting work, Colores Magicos, written in 1971 when Serebrier was Composer-in-Residence of the Cleveland Orchestra. It actually is an elaborate harp concerto with a brief soprano part and several times has been used as a ballet. Program notes unfortunately do not give sufficient information about this unusual work. The composer wrote the program notes. The stereo recording is exellent.

Here is an unusual combination of works for piano and orchestra. It opens with the Concerto composed by the 23-year old Erich Wolfgang Korngold who had just written his remarkable operaDie Stadt. This was written for pianist Paul Wittgenstein who had in the first World War lost use of his right hand. He commissioned a number of composers to write concertos for the left hand; Ravel's was the most successful. This work is Korngold's least successful work. It seems interminable(28:38) and is highly episodic; there are no magic Korngold tunes and just when one thinks it is over, it goes on, and on. Wittgenstein was soloist at the premiere in Vienna in 1924 with Korngold on the podium; the concerto then virtually disappeared from the repertory and it is easy to inerminable why. This is a minor work in the concerto catalog. Rimslu-Korsakov wrote his only piano concerto 1883-1884 at the suggestion of Balakirev. It is based primarily on two Russian themes, and has four sections. It is not the virtuoso showpiece that attracts major pianists, although Sviatoslav Richter made a recording. The most important music on this new disk is an early work of Chopin, Variations on an aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni written in 1829 when the composer was only 17. It is set of variations on Zerlina's theme La ci darem laa mano. Recordings were made January 200 in Fischer enter for the Performing Arts, at Baird College. The stereo sound is excellent, but musical interest is limited on this release.

Canadian composer Christopher Tyler Nickel has been acclaimed for his numerous scores for films and television, and has received a number of awards. His works also include chamber music, concertos and music for choir.AIE already has issued a disk of three of his oboe concertos. Here is the premiere recording of a major work, Symphony No. 2 written in 2016/2017. On this recording we hear the composer's later revised version. The composer says of it, "“One can think of this music as consisting of mirrors between ideas that equally disturb yet entice. Each side of the reflection is in itself conceivably valid, but when facing each other friction and dissonance are created. The exquisitely alluring and the grotesque exist simultaneously. Perhaps another way to understand the symphony is as a meditation on the state of cognitive dissonance.” It is a single movement work lasting 52:59 beginning with a somber dirge and ending with the same only played louder. I heard nothing here that I would wish to hear again. This surely is not a contemporary masterpiece!The Northwest Sinfonia directed by Clyde Mitchell does what an be done for this sore. The recording was made November 5, 2018 in St. Thomas Chapel, Basstyr University, Washington. Skip this one.

Vast, deep and emotional are apt descriptions of the single-movement, 53-minute-long Symphony No. 2 by Christopher Tyler Nickel. The award-winning Canadian composer elaborates, “One can think of this music as consisting of mirrors between ideas that equally disturb yet entice. Each side of the reflection is in itself conceivably valid, but when facing each other friction and dissonance are created. The exquisitely alluring and the grotesque exist simultaneously. Perhaps another way to understand the symphony is as a meditation on the state of cognitive dissonance.” The entrepreneurial Clyde Mitchell conducts the Seattle-based Northwest Sinfonia on this world-premiere recording.

R.E.B. (June 2021)