MARTINU: Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra (1935). Chamber Music No. 1 (Les fetes nocturnes) (1959). Les rondes (1930). La revue de cuisine: Ballet du Jazz (1927).
Robert Hill, harpsichord; Holst-Sinfonietta/Klaus Simon, cond.
NAXOS 8.572485 TT: 75:14

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92
Dallas Symphony Orch/Jaap van Zweden, cond.

STRAVINSKY: The Firebird. Symphony in C. Les Noces. L'Histoire du Soldat Suite. Three Pieces for String Quartet. Concertino for String Quartet. Three Songs of William Shakespeare.
Czech Philharmonic Orch/Christoph von Dohnányi, cond. (Firebird/Symphony). Brigita Sulcova (soprano). Miroslav Svejda (tenor). Anna Barová (mezzo-soprano).Delibor Jedlicka (bass). Prague Radio Chorus and Ensemble/ Zdenek Kosler, cond. (Noces). Boston Symphony Chamber Players (Histoire). Tokyo String Quartet (3 pieces/concertino). Milada Boublikova, mezzo-soprano; Musica Nova Prague)
PRAGA PRD/DSD 350057 (2 disks) TT: 2 hours 25:19

SCHWARZ-SCHILLING: Polonaise for Orchestra (1936). Partita (1934-35). Violin Concerto (1953).
Kirill Troussov, violin/Staatskapelle Weimar/José Serebrier, cond.
NAXOS 8.572801 TT: 63:28

VILLA-LOBOS: Missa Sao Sebastiao. Bendita Sabedoria. Praesepe. Cor Dulce, Cor Amabile. Panis Angelicus. Sub Tuum Praesidium. Ave Maria. Pater Noster. Magnificat-Alleluia.
Corydon Singers/Corydon Orch/Matthew Best, cond
HYPERION CDA 66638 TT: 77:13

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) is features on this splendid new Naxos issue featuring chamber music composed throughout his career, mostly very brief pieces far removed from the grandeur and emotion of his six symphonies (REVIEW). Earliest is the delightful brief jazz ballet Le revue de cuisine from 1927, heard here with additional music only recently discovered by Christopher Hogwood in archives of the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle. I couldn't find any reference to actual performances of this music as a ballet; it must be charming to see as dancers dressed as a pot, a broom, a lid, a twirling stick, and a dishcloth. Les rondes dates from 1920, a series of dances inspired by Russian music, and Chamber Music No. 1, one of his final works, was written in 1959, a gentle work he called "Les fetes nocturnes."The harpsichord concerto composed in 1935 has three movements. Don't expect the magic of Poulenc's concerto for the instrument. bit this is a charming, small-scale work. Excellent performances throughout, with well-balanced, clear stereo sound.

This site recently mentioned superlative Tchaikovsky recording with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (REVIEW). Here is another fine recording issued on the Dallas Symphony's own label, rather oddly produced as they haven't assigned an official number identification to it, not even on the CD label. We have dynamic performances of the two Beethoven symphonies, both recorded in November 2007 in the DSO's McDermott Concert Hall of the Meyerson Symphony Center, and the engineers have captured rich acoustics of the venue. Obviously the Dallas Symphony has entered the major league under the dynamic leadership of their remarkable Dutch conductor.

The Profile label is now issuing a series of SACD releases of older recordings. They are not multi-channel, but the SACD processing presumably permits us to hear more accurately what was on the original recordings. Many are more than three decades old, not of particular sonic quality to begin with. The only one of this new series I've heard is this odd Stravinsky 2-disk set combining orchestral, chamber and vocal music. Dohnánny's Firebird was recorded "live" May 18, 1983, the Symphony June 28-29m, 1970. The conductor's 1979 Firebird for Decca with the Vienna Philharmonic is superior in every way to the later Czech one, and better recorded as well. Symphony in C has a boxy disappointing sound. All of the works on the second disk fare better sonically: Noces was recorded February 4, 1983, Soldat May 28, 1980, the songs February 2, 1971. No explanation is given as to why the Boston Symphony musicians and the Tokyo String Quartet were in Czechoslovakia. Prices vary on this new Profil series, usually mid-price; this Stravinsky set lists at about $30. You can spend your money better elsewhere.

,Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (1904-1985) was one of the "lost generation" of composers following 1933 in Germany. Surely don't confuse him with American composer-pianist Ernest Schilling (1876-1939, whose A Victory Ball was recorded in 1925 by Willem Mengelberg and the New York Philharmonic. Schwarz-Schilling resisted modern trends in German music, and in it you will hear traces of Bach and Bruckner. Except for scattered recordings of some of his works for organ, Schwarz-Schilling's music is new to today's audiences. Some years ago, Naxos issued a CD of two symphonies unenthusiastically mentioed by S. G. S. (REVIEW). Now we have another disk with the same performers, José Serebrier and the Staatskapelle Weimar. It begins with two light works, a Polonaise composed for the 1936 Pyrmont Music Festival, and a five-movement Partita contrasting lively dances with serene interludes. It was quite popular at the time, and Eugen Jochum programmed is often with the Berlin Philharmonic. Schwarz-Schilling is at his best in the remarkable violin concerto premiered in 1954 by Siegfried Borries, then concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, with Joseph Keilberth on the podium. Leon Spierer, who was concertmaster of the BPO 1963-1993, assisted in writing the cadenza. This is a concerto that deserves to be heard, and it receives a spectacular performance by the young violinist Kirill Troussov, whose impeccable technique and beauty of tone do much for this score. The orchestra and conductor are obviously dedicated to this music, and the recording, made in Germany May 27-29, has outstanding sonics. Investigate this—the violin concerto is special.

Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is best known for Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for soprano and cello ensemble, which was recorded in 1945 with Bidu Sayao and the composer conducting and remains to this day the preferred recording of the work—although the composer later made another recording in France with Victoria de los Angeles. He also composed exotic orchestral pieces including Uirapu, Rudepoema and Erosao, chamber music particularly six string quartets, and much music for solo piano and guitar. Relatively unknown among his works is choral music and we are indebted to Hyperion for this splendid CD of music that probably will be new to most listeners, a generous collection (77:13) of religious choral music, all a cappella except for the brief (7:20) Magnificat-Alleluia in which the superb Corydon Singers are joined by a small orchestra. Lovely, gentle music of great appeal, with Matthew Best leading radiant performances, all beautifully recorded in London's Church of St. Jude-on-the Hill almost a decade ago, now finally issued. Simon Wright's comprehensive program notes are welcome, and compete texts in Latin and English. . This is a quality issue on all counts showing another side of one of the most important composers of the 20th Century.

R.E.B. (July 2012)

R.E.B. (July 2012)