MONCAYO: Huapango. CAMPA: Mélodie for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 1. CASTROP: Intermezzo de Atzimba. PONCE: Guitar Concerto. ROSAS: Sobre las olas. MÁRQUEZ: Danzón No. 2. REVUELTAS: Sensemaya. CHÁVEZ: El Trópico. IBARRA: Sinfoníua No. 2: Las antesalas del sueño. TOUSSAINT: Largo for Improvised Piano and Orchestra. LAVISTA: Clepsydra. CHAPEIA: Ínguesu.
Pablo Sáinz Villegas, guitar; Alex Brown, piano; Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas/Alondra de la Parra, cond.
SONY CLASSICAL 55552 (2 disks) (B) TT: 67:00 & 60:19
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MATTHEWS: Symphony No. 1, Op. 9. Symphony No. 3, Op. 37. Symphony No. 5, Op. 78a
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Martyn Brabbins, cond.
DUTTON LABORATORIES CD CDLX 7222 (F) TT: 66:33
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MATTHEWS: From Sea to Sky Overture, Op. 59. A Congress of Passions, Op. 62a. Aubade for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 83. Movement of Autumn, for soprano and chamber orchestra, Op. 98. Total Tango, Op. 80a. The Sleeping Lord, for soprano, flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet, Op. 58. Goodnight Song for string orchestra, Op. 102a.
Lucia Spickova, mezzo, soprano; Rachel Nicholis, Gillian Keith, sopranos; Orchestra Nova/George Vass, cond.
DUTTON LABORATORIES CD CDLX 7189 (F) TT: 73:36
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CASELLA: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 12. Scarlattiana, Op. 44.
Martin Roscoe, piano; BBC Philharmonic Orch/Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
CHANDOS 10605 (F) TT: 76:58
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CASELLA: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 12. A notte alta for piano and orchestra, Op. 30bis.
Sun Hee You, piano; Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma/Francesco La Vecchia, cond.
NAXOS 9.572414 (B) TT: 76:55
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Mexican conductor Alondra De La Para founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in 2004 when she was only 23 and since has conducted many concerts with the orchestra. This is their first recording and it is a stunning success in every. Focusing on music by Mexican composers, it is an exciting program of familiar and unfamiliar music, all given superlative performances by the full-sized orchestra under the young conductor's dynamic direction. This orchestra is not as large as the famous Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, but it is of equal caliber. The recordings were made in the Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State University of New York in January/February 2010, with Adam Abeshouse as producer and engineer. Mr. Abeshouse did a magnificent job—audio is of highest quality, vividly capturing the manifold percussion, which cannot be said of many of the DGG Dudamel/SBYO recordings. Another plus is this is issued at budget price. An exciting release...don't miss it!

This site recently mentioned an outstanding Dutton issue of Symphonies 2 and 6 of David Matthews (brother of Colin) played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jan Van Steen (REVIEW). Here is an earlier release on the same label of Symphonies 1, 3 and 5 with the same orchestra directed by Martyn Brabbins, all world premiere recordings. . These are worthy additions to the repertory, beautifully orchestrated, and the composer surely knows how to use brass and percussion effectively. Symphony No. 1, written in 1975 and revised three years later, begins with a melancholy harp solo and includes two sets of variations before ending with a brassy climax. Symphony No. 3, also in a single movement as was No. 1, was completed in 1985 and includes an exquisite oboe solo before the triumphant conclusion. Symphony 5 has four movements with a vivacious scherzo followed by a lovely adagio and a brilliant finale. Producer Michael Ponder and engineer Dexter Newman have achieved spectacular sonics. This is another CD not to miss!

Another side of David Matthews can be heard on another Dutton issue, seven of his smaller-scale works including light fare (From Sea to Sky, Total Tango, Goodnight Song), and three vocal works. A Congress of Passions is a brief cantata on poetry by Sappho, for mezzo-soprano, oboe and string orchestra; Movement of Autumn, for soprano and chamber orchestra, is a song cycle based on poems by Vernon Watkins, and The Sleeping Lord, for soprano, flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet, is based on poems of David Jones about the legend of King Arthur. Here is the other side of this intriguing British composer, in splendid performances very well recorded.

Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) was an important composer of his era, and a conductor as well: he directed the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1927-1929 (succeeded by Arthur Fiedler). His fellow students at the Paris Conservatory included Ravel and Debussy. He admired Mahler's music and knew all of the symphonies "by heart" he told the composer. Casella was largely responsible for the Paris premiere of Mahler's Resurrection symphony in 1910. Casella also was important in the mid-century revival of interest in early Italian music. His ballet La Giara was very successful (it's surprising there aren't more recordings of it). Casella wrote three symphonies, and both of these new releases state they are the premiere recording of the large-scale Symphony No. 2 composed in 1908-09. It is a grand, four-movement work of considerable length (49:20 in the Noseda performance, 55:43 in Vecchia's), highly rhythmic and often dramatic, with traces of Mahler and Korngold, tolling bells, and an exhilarating scherzo.The Chandos CD is filled with Scarlattiana, a delightful 27-minute divertimento based on many of the keyboard sonatas of Scarlatti, scored for small orchestra with a concertante piano part, played here by Martin Rosco. This is a superb CD, with the usual first-rate Chandos sonics. The Naxos performances are excellent in every way, with a novelty as filler: A notte alta ("In deepest night") for piano and orchestra composed in 1917 for solo piano, orchestrated later. Casella stated this is the only piece of program music he had ever composed, "inspired by emotional events in my personal life," actually a rather dark, brooding work descriptive of his love for a student, Yvonne Müller, who later became his second wife. It begins and ends mysteriously with a stark solo piano part.. The Sinfonica di Roma was founded in 2002 and its musical director is Francesco La Vecchia. They give first-rate performances on this Naxos CD, with audio quality to match. This orchestra and conductor will make many more recordings for Naxos of music by Italian composers. I look forward to them.

R.E.B. (August 2010)