HINDEMITH: Symphonic Metamorphoses of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. Noblissima Visione Suite. Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50 ("Boston Symphony")
WDR Symphony Orchestra / Marek Janowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186672TT: 57:26

MAHLER: Sytmphony No 4 in G. Piano Quartet No. 1 in A minor (orch.Colin Matthews)
Miah Persson, soprano. Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Gimeno, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186651 TT: 67:12


REVUELTAS: Sensemaya. BERNSTEIN: West Side Story Symphonic Dances. PIAZZOLLA: Tangazo. GERSHWIN: An American in Paris
Houston Symphony Orchestra / Andrés Orozco-Estrada, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186619 TT: 65:42

This new Hindemith CD offers exhuilarating performances of three of thecomposer's best-knownworks. It begins with the "symphonic metamorphoses" bsed on themes from Weber's insicdntal music for the play Turandot, with four movements ernding with a jazzy March. The three-movement Noblissima visione alsocontains a br4ief match. all given modernistic treatment, sometimes jazzy. Concert Music for Strings and Brass, also known as the "Boston" syumphony as it was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzk and had its premiere April 4, 1951 on the occasion of the orchestra's 50th anniuversary. These vivid performances directed by Marek Janowski areexiting indeed, and Pentatone's engineering staff have captured a bright, impactful sound appropriate for the music. Recordings were made January 2017 in Köln's Philharmonie. It is unfortunate another sh9rt work of Hindemith wasn't included; playing time is less than an hour.

Mahler's bucolic Symphuony No. 4 is perhaps the most popular of all; there are dozens of recordings of it incouding an important historic 1939 performance conducted by Willem Menbgelberg (REVIEW). There also are a number of SACD versions: by Mariss Jansons, Bernard Haitink, Michael Tilson Thoumas, Iván Fischer, and David Zinman. This new issue is admirable, well played by the Luxembourg orchestra, with Miah Persson (also featured in Ivan Fischer's Budapest recording) as soloist in the finale. The only distinction the new version has is the filler, a piano quartet, one of Mahler' earliest works written while he was a student. Many recordings exist of this, but here it is heard in an orchestration by Mahler specialist Colin Matthews. This does not sound like Mahler in any way, pleasant to hear, an oddity for those curious about Mahler at the beginning of his career.

Pentatone's disk called Music of the Americas with Andrés Orozvo-Estrada and the Houston Symphony, is rather oddly titled. In CD notes, the conductor states he was trying to display the variety of "American music." It features two familiar American works by Bernstein and Gershwin .Argentina is represented by Piazzolla's Tangazo, Mexico by Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya. The latter is a favorite, a brief percussion-laden exercise in rhythm. There are many recordings including the famous early one by Leonard Bernstein. Piazzolla's Tangazo, written in 1970, was the composer's attempt at writing "classical" music. It is a rather boring piece that is lugubrious at the beginning before turning to rhythmic sections. This album was recorded Januar / February 2017 in Houston's Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Engineers have opted for a very close-up audio picture, and there is minimal use of rear speakers except for ambient sound. How effective it would have beren had all that percussion been spread about!

R.E.B. (February 2018)