GOULD: Cowboy Rhapsody. HARRIS: Symphony No. 11: 1967. EFFINGER: Little Symphony No. 1, Op. 39. MOORE: Symphony No. 2 in A
Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson, cond.
ALBANY TROY SACD 1042 TT: 68:46
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ORFF: Carmina Burana
Laura Claycomb, soprano; Barry Banks, tenor; Christopher Maltman, baritone; Tiffin Boys' Choir; London Symphony Chorus and Orch/Richard Hickox, cond.
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5067 TT: 60:37
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'TIMBRANDO' - Meredian Arts Ensemble
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCS SA 25508 TT: 55:54
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Here's another winner from Albany/Troy in their series of recordings of American music by the splendid Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Ian Hobson, joining their previous issues of music of Don Gillis: Portrait of a Frontier Town. The Alamo. Symphony No. 7 (REVIEW); Twinkletoes. Rhapsody for Harp and Orchestra. The Encore Concerto et al (REVIEW); Symphonies 1, 2 and 5 1/2 (REVIEW); and Symphonies 3 and 10 (REVIEW). Cowboy Rhapsody could not have been composed by anyone other than Morton Gould; it is a 14-minute fantasy of true Americana. Roy Harris conducted the premiere of his Symphony No. 11 February 8, 1968 (he would write two more symphonies before his death in 1979). It is one of the composer's darker works marked by percussion and brass interjections. Colorado-born Cecil Effinger (1914-1990) wrote his charming Little Symphony No. 1 in 1945 "in the style of Mozart," an example of his conservative writing. There are four movements to this 13-minute work, ending with an Allegro vivace. Douglas Moore (1893-1969) is best-known for his 1956 opera The Ballad of Baby Doe, a vehicle for Beverly Sills early in her career. Moore's first symphony is called A Symphony of Autumn, the second, composed in 1945, was written in 1945, fifteen years after the first. It is conservative, tuneful, and this is its only recording. Hobson and the superb Sinfonia Varsovia play all of this music with commitment, and SACD audio could not be bettered. A wonderful SACD!

This brilliant new recording of Orff's Carmina Burana is a tragic memento of conductor Richard Hickox, who died last month at the age of sixty. I treasure many of his recordings, particularly his Chandos disks of the first six symphonies of Sir Malcolm Arnold. This is a vibrant, dynamic performance of Orff's masterpiece recorded live in London's Barbican Centre November 17/18, 2007. As usual with Chandos, engineering is first-rate, with perfect balances and wide dynamic range.

The Meridian Arts Ensemble is an American group founded more than two decades ago dedicated to presenting challenging newer works. There are 2 trumpets, French horn, trombone, tuba, and percussion. The Ensemble has won many awards, and this is their ninth album, and they call it "a travelogue of sorts" containing some music discovered on their various tours. There is a touch of jazz in their arrangements, and needless to say, the players are outstanding. This album is called Timbrando, Portuguese for 'making a tone' or 'sounding.' and Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal's work with that name is included. The surround sound recording is imaginatively accomplished, and the only negative point is that playing time on this premium-priced SACD is but 55:54.

R.E.B. (December 2008)

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