RIES: Variations in F on a Beloved French Song La Sentinelle
Op. 105 No. 1. Fantasy in E flat The Dream, Op. 49. Variations in C
on a Favorite
Scotch Air The Old Highland Laddie Op. 105 No. 2. Fantasy in A flat on
Schiller's poem Resignation Opl 109. Variations in A minor ona Cossack
Song Op. 40 No. 1, Introduction and Rondo in E flat : à la Zingaresco.
Marin Alsop continues to impress. Her Baltimore Symphony Naxos recordings of symphonic works of Dvorák are among the best, and the same can be said of her Prokofiev symphony series with the São Paulo Orchestra. Alsop has been Chief Conductor of this superb orchestra since 2011, and obviously they have remarkable rapport. This latest disk offers one of the most difficult Prokofiev symphonies for both performers and audiences. Symphony No. 6 is a strange, fragmented work with a shattering discordant climax. The coupling is much lighter, a pleasant suite of six waltzes taken from other works: Cinderella, War and Peace, and Lermontov. Recordings were made August 1/2, 2014 in the Schubert Club in St. Paul, Minnesota apparently when the orchestra was on tour. Excellent audio. I look forward to completion of this Prokofiev cycle.
Once again we are indebted to Naxos for making available lesser-known works by obscure composers. Maximillian Steingberg was a Lithuanian Jewish composer (1883 - 1946). He studied with Liadov, Rimsky-Korsakov (he married Rimsky"s daughter), and Glazunov. Steinberg wrote symphonic, vocal and chamber music including five symphonies, two of which were recorded by Neemi Järvi many years ago. The 55 minute Passion Week, composed in 1923 has beeb recorded before but this new version feaaturing the superb Clarion Choir directed by Stephen Fox presents this neglected work admirably. The recording was made at ther Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York's Holty Trinity Church, and the engineers have captured the resonant acoustics. The church Slavonic texts, translations and English translations are included in the CD by Vladimir Morosan. If you enjoy choral music, this is for you.
Ferdinand Ries (1784 - 1838) was a colleague and friend of Beethoven - a worthy composer as well. This site has mentioned somne Ries SACD issues of his large-scale choral work Der Sieg Des Glanbens (REVIEW) and Symphonies 7 and 8 (REVIEW) Ries also wrote numerous works for the piano, and this fine Naxos CD gives us the opportunity to hear 6 of his variations and fantasies on popular tunes of the time Most begin with a simple statement of the tune followed by a series of inventive and rather predictable le variations. They are superbly played on the fortepiano by Michael Tsalka. Perhaps nothing here of lasting interest, but it is good to have it available. Excellent audio in these recordings produced by the soloist and, according g to CD information, made at the same time (August 1 / 2 2014) the same period when Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Orchestra recorded the Prokofiev listed above. Seems rather odd! But that's what it says.
Louis Spohr (1784 - 1859) is another major composer who is receiving more attention from record companies. This site mentioned issues on the CPOI label of Symphonies Nos. 7 and 9 (REVIEW), Nos. 2 and 8 (REVIEW), and Nos. 3 and 10 (REVIEW), played by the Hanover Radio Philharmonic directed by Howard Griffiths. An admirable series indeed, with fine studio. Now Naxos has elected to reissue an older recording of Symphonies 2 and 9 with Alfred Walter and the Slovak State Philharmonic, recorded in October 1992. Fine performances, but surely the preferred versions of both are the CPO issues. They cost a bit more, but audio is far superior.
R.E.B. (September 2016)