STRAUSS: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite. Symphonic
Suite from Ariadne auf Naxos(arr. D. Wilson Ochoa.
LOKSHIN: Symphony No. 5 "Shakespeare's Sopnnets." Quintet
for Clarinet, Two Vuolins, Viiola and Cello. Variations for Piano.
HALVORSEN: Violin Concerto, Op. 28. NIELSEN: Violin Concerto,
Op. 33. SVENDSEN: Romance.
NEW YEAR'S CONCERT 2017
Here is is an intriguing disk from the remarkable JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic. There are numerous recordings of Strauss' Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, music composed for the comedy-ballet by Molière. Strauss loved trhe story and included the ballet in his opera Ariadne auf Naxos, written in 1912, a year after Der Rosenkavalier. Thus we have n an "opera within an opera." The suite of dances including many dances, interludes and table music, is a delight, played to perfection here. We also have the first recording of an orchestral suite from Ariadne arranged by D. Wilson Ochoa in 2010 for the Nashville Symphony utilizing the composer's original instrumentation, sometimes adding an English horn to provide vocal lines. There are seven different sections following g played without pause, producing a lovely tapestry of Straussian n textures. Excellent performance and fin e audio.
Mieczyslaw Weinberg is a Russuan composer whose work has been unjustly neglected but now is receiving attentiuon it deserves. Another neglected Soviet composer is Alexander Lokshin (1920 - 1987). His music had its admirers (Rudolf Barshai) and detractors (Gennady Rozhdestvensky). He surely broke no musical bounds, but was rather prolific, composing 11 symphonies (ten of which include vocalists) and various other works. Melodia here reissues early recordings of his Symphony No. 5, a clarinet quintet and one of his better-known works, Variations for Piano written in 1953 for pianist Maria Grinberg, who is heard in this performance. Symphony No. 5, composed in 1969 and dedicated to Rufolf Barshai, f really is not a symphony, simply two settings of two Shakespeare sonnets, Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, and That time of year thou mayst in me behold. The boisterous first song is quite different from the mournful second, which often is reminiscent of Mahler, a composer much admired by Lokshin. Both are sung in Russian; texts and translations are provided. The clarinet quintet has only two sections, an opening Andante and a theme with variations. The piano variations, inaccurately listed on the jacket as part of the quintet, is the most interesting work on the disk. It is a rather long piece (24:33) written in the style of Shostakovich. These are rather old recordings, the earliest dates from 1956, but sound quality is excellent stereo. This is a welcome addition to the catalog, and the disk is modestly priced.
Naxos again offers intriguing repertory at modest price, this CD of concertos of Halvorsen and Nielsen, and Svendsen's Romanc. Johann Halvorsen (1864 - 1935) was quite famous during his time, his music often performed. Yet today he is best remembered for his stirring march Entrance of the Boyards. The 1909 premiere of his violin concerto was successful. However, the score was lost and not found until 2015, and shortly afterwards this recording was made—it is the world premiere recording. It is a Nordic-sounding work of considerable beauty, a welcome addition to the repertory. Carl Nielsen wrote his violin concerto (his first concerto) about the same time, and although it is a lovely work, but not typical of the composer's writing. Few major violinists have recorded it. Yehudi Menuhin made an early one, Jonathan Carney (now concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony) made a Naxos recording about 16 years ago, and Maxim Vengerov recorded it much more recent. Johan Svendsen (1840 - 1911) was highly respected during his era. A thorough musician and master orchestrator, his music is often performed and recorded. His Romance is the earliest work on this disk (1881) is a trifle the composer dashed off on the office of his publisher, and it turned out to be one of his most popular works. There are more than 20 recordings of it, but it has yet to attract attention from major violinists. The young Norwegian violinist/conductor Henning Kraggerud,, who already has made a number of excellent recordings of Norwegian music, makes a strong case for all of this music, with perfect support from the Malmö Orchestra and conductor Bjarte Engeset. Excellent;ent audio is another plus.
There seems to be insatiable interest in the Vienna Philharmonic's long-standing series of New Year's Concerts, which have featured just about every major conductor of the time.The 2017 concert (actually there are 3 performances to accommodate the huge public interest), the leader was the dynamic Gustavo Dudamel, who did not disappoint. As usual, we have a group of Viennese classics, a few rarities and the rousing concluding Radetzky March with its enthusiastic audience participation. Audio is excellent, and the concert, with a playing time of a tad more than 80 minutes, is issued on two disks, but they sell for the price of one.
R.E.B. (February 2017)