<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Rodney Newton / William Sterndale Bennett / Jaap van Zweden Beethoven symphonies

NEWTON: Symphony No. 1 (1967 - 1969). Symphony No. 4 (1975); Distant Nebulae (1979).
Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Mann, cond.
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 04∞9 TT: 70:29
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BENNETT: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1 (1832). Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat, Op. 4 (1833). Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 9 (1834)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Howard Shelley, pianist / conductor
HYPERION CDA 68178 TT: 79:31
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92.
New York Philharmonic / Jaap van Zweden, cond.
DECCA GOLD B 0027056 TT: 72:00
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Toccata Classics focuses on lesser-known composers whose music has been neglected by other companies. This site has praised their releases of music by Emil Tabakov, his Symphony No. 1 and Viola Concerto (REVIEW), and Symphony No. 8 (REVIEW), as well as music of Ferenc Farkas (REVIEW). Now they turn their attention to British composer Rodney Newton (b. 1945) who is highly respected for his music for television and movies. He is a percussionist and a conductor as well. He has written many works for brass ensembles some of which have been recorded. This CD offers premiere recordings of two of his symphonies, the first, composed 1967 - 1969 when he was a student, and symphony No. 4 which dates from 1975. Newton's music shows the influence of Malcolm Arnold, particularly the delightful percussion-laden scherzo from Symphony No. 4. Both of these symphonies are worthy of attention, and it is amazing that this is the first time Symphony No. 4 has been performed. Also we have an impressive brooding orchestral work, Distant Nebulae, written in 1979, sort of an extension of Ives' The Unanswered Question. It is impressive in its changing moods and features a solo trump here played by David Llavata. Paul Mann leads the fine Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra in these recordings made September 2017 in Beethoven Sala de Ensayos de Carranque, Plaza Pio XII, Malaga. Excellent audio. The composer's intriguing comments about the music are included. For sure investigate this. Newton has composed eight symphonies. Let us hope the remainder will be recorded.

The latest release in Hyperion's Romantic PIano Concertos series is Volume 74 which offers three forgotten concertos by an early British composer, Sir William Sterndale Bennett (1816 - 1875). A prodigy, he played concertos when only 12. He wrote his first piano concerto in 1832 and played the premiere to highest praise. Concertos 2 and 3 quickly followed, in 1833 and 1834. Bennett's music and virtuosity were admired by both Mendelssohn and Schumann. The young composer used Mozart as a model for his piano concertos. Each a slow second movement and a lively finale. Jeremy Dibble's comprehensive program notes provide detailed information about each work. Surely all three are charming, even elegant, but hardly major works. The indefectible Howard Shelley, a brilliant pianist featured on many releases in this Hyperion series, does all that can be done for these miniatures, also leading the fine British orchestra. Excellent audio in these recordings made in City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, July 26-28, 2016.

We surely don't need more recordings of Beethoven's Five and Seven, but here is one, with the New York Philharmonic under its exciting new music director Jaap van Zweden. Surely these are vital performances, and perhaps the concept is to assure New York audiences that their dynamic new conductor is as adept in standard repertory as he is in the new. Excellent audio in these live recordings made at Lincoln Cener's David Geffen Hall November 2014 (No. 7) and October 2015. This is a mid-pried CD.

R.E.B. (March 2018)