|BRAUNFELS: Orchestral Suite in E minor, Op.
48. Hebridenyanze, Op. 70. Sinfonia Concertante.
SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto No. 1 in C mino for Piano and Trumpetr, Op. 35.
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F, Op. 102. USTVOLSKAYA: Concerto for Piano,
Timpani and Stringe
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Concerto for Two Pianos. A London Symphony.
German com;poser, pianist and educator Walter Braunfels (1882-1954) was well-knwn and respected during his era. After a performance of his ea1920 opera Der Vogel (he Bird), Hitler was so impressed he asked Braunfels to write a Nazi Party anthem not realizing that the young composer was half-Jewish. This offer was "indignantly tured down." He composed profusely, his works including 10 operas, 5 oratorios concertos for piano and organ, 4 string quartets, and numerous other works. Although his music was relatively well-known early in he 20h Century, it soon fell into oblivion. This SACD contains a five-movement suite for large orchestra (Praludium Courante / Marsch / Sarabande / Capriccio), and two works for soloists with orchestra. Hebridentänze, Op 69, a divertimento on Scottish folk themes for piano and orchestra, and Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola, 2 horns and strings. It is easy to understand why Braunfels' music has been forgotten. Although obliviously this composer has skills, he has little to say of interest. It is always pleasant, but innocuous. Dutton/Epoch is to be commended for giving this relatively obscure composer a chance. Excellent multi-channel audio, as always from the label.
The Piano Concerto by Vaughan Williams had its premiere February 1933 with Harriet Cohen as soloist and the London Philharmonic conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. The concerto was written for her which seems rather odd as she was not a virtuoso and had very small hands that barely could reach an octave. Then, with the com;poser's approval, the work was re-written for two pianos by Joseph Cooper, premiered November 1946. It surely is not one of the composer's finest works; there are three movements and it ends quietly. There is little opportunity fortfor the soloists to shine. There are several recordings including a recent one on Chandos with pianists Helene Mercier and Louis Lortie, Sir Andrew Davis on the podium. Thgis is coupled with the composer's masterpiece, Sinfonia Antarctica. Another great Vaughan Williams work, Symphony No. 2 known as the "London" Symphony, is featured on this new release. This grand brooding masterpiece is given a superb performance by the Royal Scottish Orchestra under Martin Yates' sensitive direction. The recording was made was made January 2015 in Glasgow;s Henry Wood hall, and the engineers have provided a splendid multi-channel audio. The "Londo" synphony is the main reason to have this disk.
This SACD of Shostakovich was one of the first Dutton SACDs, recorded in 2002. Prize-winning pianist Ingrid Jacoby has made a number of recordings including the Beethoven concertos and many by Mozart. She offers proficient performances of these wonderful concertos, but faces stiff competition from later recordings, particularly the scintillating Denis Matsuev performances (REVIEW)\ , and the Marc-André Hamelin recording (REVIEW). And do not overlook the video from the Verbier Festival with Martha Argerich of Concerto No. 1 (REVIEW). On the Dutton/Epoch disk it is perhaps appropriate that the two concertos are followed by the only piano concerto by Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (1919 - 2006) as she was a friend and associate of Shostakovich. This piece, described here as "a concerto for piano, timpani and strings" is a 16-minute work that doesn't amount to much. There is reason for its neglect. Excellent audio, but other recordings of the Shostakovich concertos are preferable.
R.E.B. (November 2019)