STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20. Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40.
JONES: Symphony No. 1 (1947). Symphony No. 10 (1981)
GLASS: Sonata for Violin and Piano (arr. for saxophone). Morning
Passage and Escape. from The Hours. Concerto
for Violin and Orchestra (arr. for saxophone).
The NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo was formed in 1926 and over the years has gained respect from the musical world. A number of well-known conductors have been associated with them including Wolfgang Sawallisch (who recorded Beethoven Symphonies 5 and 8), Vladimir Ashkenazy (who recorded Shostakovich symphonies 3, 14 and 15), Charles Dutoit (who recorded Prokofiev Symphony No. 6 and Romeo & Juliet), and André Previn The orchestra also can be heard in a number of important Japanese opera videos made during opera's Golden Age. Now we have these impressive Strauss recordings made in Tokyo's Suntory Hall February 2015. Although Paavo Järvi has made numerous recordings, he has only one disk of Strauss, a Pentatone issue featuring chamber works (REVIEW) . He leads brilliant performances of these Strauss tone poems, and the Japanese orchestra is outstanding, with Fuminor Maro Shinozaki as the sterling violin soloist. The engineers have captured the rich acoustics of the venue, and sonically this is state-of-the-art. Perhaps we really don't need more modern recordings of these warhorses—there are countless others available—but Strauss collectors should investigate this one. Those who love this music surely should also investigate the two recordings conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Strauss dedicated Heldenleben to the conductor and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra .Mengelberg recorded it twice, 1928 with the New York Philharmonic, and iun 1941 with the Concertgebouw. Both are available in magnificent transfers on Pristine.
Welsh composer Daniel Jones (1912 - 1993) is best known for his music written for a radio interpretation of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood, which won the Italia Prize in 1954. His works include 13 symphonies and eight string quartets. This new Lyrita CD offers his Symphony No. 1 which was premiered in 1949, and Symphony No. 10 from 1981. Both symphonies are far too long for their limited musical content, both are prosaic to say the least. These symphonies are neglected by today's audiences and it is easy to understand why. These recordings were made by the BBC January 12, 1990 (No. 1) and March 16, 1990 ( No. 10) with Bryden Thomson and the BBC Welsh Orchestr. Orchestral playing is tepid, audio equally disappointing. Skip this one.
Sony's recent 24-disk set of music of Philip Glass is a major issue for collectors (REVIEW) It included his violin concerto arranged for saxophone by Amy Dickson. The gifted young artist collaborated with Glass on the arrangement, and found it a great challenge as "circular breathing" is required to sustain the extended melodic lines. To commemorate the composer's 80th birthday, Dickson made arrangements for e saxophone of three other works on this disk. She states that the violin sonata is the most difficult music she has ever played. The transcriptions are effective, performances flawless and intriguing. Should you already have the big Sony set, this is an essential supplement.
R.E.B. (March 2017)