KOZELUCH: Sinfonia in A, PosK 1:7. Sinfonia in C, Posk 1:6.Sinfonia in D, PosK 1:3. Sinfonia in G minor, PosrK 1:5
Czech Phuilharmoniuc Chamber Orchestra / Marek Stilec, cond.
NAXOS 8. 8.573527 TT: 76:55

Arias from Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Adriana Lecouveur, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, La Wally, Sur Angeliuca, Andrea Chénier, Edgar, and Lodoletta.
Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano.Münchnerr Rundfunkorchester / Pavel Baleff, cond.
ORFEO CD C89916 TT: 70:00

WAGNER: Symphony in C major. Symphony in E major (fragment).
MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra / Juri Markl, cond.
NAXOS 8.573413 TT: 56:29

HIGDON: Viola Conceerto (2014), Oboe Concerto (2005). All Things Majestic (2011)
Roberto Díaz, viola. James Button, oboe,. Nashville Symphony /Giancarlo Guerrero, cond.
NAXOS 8.559823 TT: 62:47

Czech composer Leopold Kozeluch (1747 - 1818) was a virtuoso pianist who wrote a wide variety of musiuc including operas, ballets, concertos, vocal, chamber music and many works for the piano. He was quite popular during his time, respected byt his peers. Quite a bit of his music has been recorded and now we have this fine nex CD of four of his charming symphonies. Three have four movements, one has but three, and all end with a vivacious presto. Recprcings were made February 2016 in the Czech Reoublic's Pardubice House of Music The Czech orchestra is superb under Marek Stilec's assured direction. Excellent defined audio.

Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova (b.1982) has sung at all major opera houses and appears often with orchestras. She made her Met debut in 2001 in La traviata, a role she sang 9 times. She also sang Liu 11 times, Micaela in Carmen (4), Mim (4), Desdemona (6), Donna Anna (5), and Aida (5). It seems surprising that a major company hasn't picked her up, but she has a number of disks for Orfeo, one each devoted to Verdi, Puccini and Slavic arias. She can be seen in DVD videos of Eugene Onegin and Otello.Her latest solo CD features verismo arias as identified above, and she is in top form. Her beautiful voice is perfectly controlled in these recordings made 2015 - 2016 in Bavaria.No texts are provided . However, as this is being written, I'm listening to her Aida Met broadcast (April 15) which finds her not at her best; she even truncates O patria mia! Perhaps just an off day. Let us hope so.

In his youth, Richard Wagner had great interest in symphonic music and idolized Beethoven. This resulted in a four-movement symphony and two fragments (Allegro con spirito / Adagio cantabile) of a Symphony in E major. Listening to these prosaic exercises one would never suspect Wagner wrote them. The two fragments of Symphony in E were completed and orchestrated by Felix Mottl (1856 - 1911), an accomplished conductor of his time, a composer as well. He also orchestrated Wagner's Wesendonck Liedert. These Wagner symphonies are very well played by the Leipzig orchestra, and audio is excellent. The symphonies are not the only works uncharacteristic of Wagner's later music dramas. We also have the potboiler American Centennial March, commissioned by the city of Philadelphia in 1876, Rule Britannia, an overture composed in 1836, Imperial March, written to mark the 1871 enthronement of Wilhelm of Prussia. A very early work is the overture to his two-act operetta Das Liebesverbot ("The Ban on Love"). Wagner wrote the libretto, and the premiere in 1836 was a total l flop. However, the overture is charming, sounding rather like Offenbach. Some of these early works were commissions—after all, a composer has to eat! But they hardly represent Wagner at his best.

Naxos has another fine issue in their American Classic series, this one devoted to recent works by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon. Her works include many concertos for various instruments, and here we have a concerto for viola premiered in 2015. It was written for Chilean-American master violist Roberto Díaz, who is director of the Cutris Institute. The 21-minute concerto has three movements,and always displays the gentle instrument cushioned by fascinating orchestral textures. It opens with an idyllic slow movement, with long lines to display the beauty of the soloist. We also have occasional jazzy syncopation. This is a welcome addition to the viola solo repertory.

The oboe concerto was written in 2005 inspired by the playing of Kathy Greemback, principal oboe of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In this music Higdon gives the instrument the opportunity to display its lyrical beauty and ability to join other instruments.

The final work, All Things Majestic, dates from 2011 and was commissioned by the Grand Teton Music Festival to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Festival. Higdon is an avid hiker and loved the opportunity to represent in music the grandeur of nature and the mountaiuns.She actually hiked through the area with conductor Donald Runicles for inspiration. Each section if a musical postcard. Most impressive are those representing the grand majestic mountains. All of this music is played to perfection by the excellent Nashville Symphony, all live recordings made in Laura Turner Con cert Hall in Nashville's Schermerhiorn Music Center in2016, CD niotes state both the oboe and viola concertos are premiere recordings; however, another recording of the oboe concverto was issued some time ago on the Equilibrium label.
R.E.B. (April 2016)