GILLIS: Symphony X: Big D. Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait
in Oil. Symphony
No. 3: A Symphony for Free Men.
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." Symphony No. 8
in F, Op. 93.
KLENAU: Die Weise von Liebe und Tod
Some time ago on this site we reviewed an Albany Troy CD of music of Don Gillis's Symphony X, Shindig, Encore Concerto and Symphony 5 1/2 with David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony Orchestra—a superb disk in every way (REVIEW) Now the label has another recording of Symphony X, this one with Ian Hobson and the fine Sinfonia Varsovia. The new one is coupled with the symphonic portrait Tulsa, and Symphony No. 3 subtitled A Symphony for Free Men. Both of these are welcome additions to the catalog. Tulsa, commissioned by First National Bank and Trust and premiered in 1950, is a dynamic 10-minute piece descriptive of the beauty of the city and the area, with scoring that includes six-shooter guns to be fired to signal the start of the land-grab; in this recording Hobson substitutes percussion. Symphony No. 3, premiered with limited success in 1945 with Howard Hanson conducting, is more sedate than most music associated with Gillis, but it has its strong moments. Hobson had to reconstruct the conductor's score from the orchestral parts. Recorded in Polish Radio studios in February 2006, according to CD technical information this originally was a stereo recording (which seems odd, considering the date; perhaps necessary multi-channel equipment wasn't available). The stereo recording has been remastered very successfully for surround sound. Recommended!
RCA Red Seal begins a new SACD series of Beethoven symphonies with a well-filled disk offering symphonies three and eight, performed by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen directed by Paavo Järvi. It is an auspicious beginning to the cycle in every way, particularly because of Järvi's dynamic concept of Beethoven. These are incredibly vigorous performances by a magnificent chamber orchestra that in its nearly three decades of existence has established itself as a leader in its field. The entire orchestra is of virtuoso caliber, horns are magnificent, woodwind solos carefully phrased. In spite of the ensemble's limited size, it conveys the power of Beethoven's music with remarkable clarity. The recordings were made in August 2005 (No. 3) and August 2004 (No. 8) in Scoring Stage Berlin with producer Philip Traugott and recording engineer Everett Porter, who did their tasks magnificently. This is a true winner. I look forward to future releases in this series.
This site reviewed Dacapo's previous issues of music of Paul Von Klenau (1883-1946), three of his symphonies as well as several other works (see REVIEW). The label's interest in music of the Bohemian-born Danish composer continues with this issue of a work Klenau considered to be one of his finest, a vocal/choral/orchestral setting of Rainer Maria Rilke's Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke ("The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoher Rilke"). Rilke (1875-1896) wrote his prose narrative in 1899. It tells the story of the death in action of the author's presumed ancestor, Cornet Rilke of Langenau who was standard-bearer of an Austrian cavalry regiment in Hungary during the 1663 Turkish war. Rilke's setting was immensely popular, selling more than a million copies by 1962. . The influence of Bruckner and Mahler is particularly obviously in this big-scale choral work. The rich, heavy orchestration is highly atmospheric, mostly gentle but with occasional appropriate passages of hunting horns and storm music. Baritone Bo Skovhus is the superb soloist, the Brno Czech Philharmonic Choir is terrific, the Odense Symphony again impresses, and Paul Mann obviously understands this music thoroughly. The surround sound is exemplary, big in scale, broad in dynamic range with rich orchestral textures often not heard in modern digital recordings. Complete texts are provided in German and English. Look into this superlative issue of music not heard very often presented so beautifully.
R.E.B. (September 2007)