ORFF: Carmina Burana
Claire Rutter, soprano; Tom Randle, tenor; Markus Eiche, baritone; Highcliffe Junior Choir; Bournemouth Symphony Youth Chorus; Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orch/Marin Alsop, cond.
NAXOS 8.570033 (B) TT: 60:49
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32. Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin. 1812 Overture, Op. 49.
St. Cecilia National Chorus and Orch/Antonio Pappano, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 70065 (F) TT: 71:13
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BRANT: Ghosts and Gargoyles. Mass in Gregorian Chant for Multiple Flutes. Angels and Devils.
New York Flute Club
NEW WORLD RECORDS 80636 (F) TT: 56:00
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CHOPIN: Polonaise No. 1 in C# minor, Op. 26 No. 1. Polonaise No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26 No. 2. Polonaise in C minor, Op. 40 No. 2. Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53. Impromptu in A flat, Op. 29. Impromptu in F#, Op. 36. Impromptu in G flat, Op. 51. Fantaisie-Impromptu in C# minor, Op. 66.
Evgeny Kissin, pianist
RCA VICTOR RED SEAL 68668 (F) TT: 56:58
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KARAINDROU: Elegy of the Uprooting
Maria Farantouri, voice; instrumental soloists; traditional instrument ensemble; Hellenic Radio/Television Choir; Camerata Orchestra/Alexandros Myrat, cond.
ECM NEW SERIES 1952/1953 (2 discs) TT: 1 hr 39 min.
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VAN DELDEN: Complete String Quartets: String Quartet III, Op. 106 "Willink Tetraptych." String Quartet II, Op. 86. String Quartet I, Op. 43. Musica di Castato: Intrada e Passacaglia, Op. 108
Utrecht String Quartet
MDG 603 1436 TT: 66:36

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F# minor, Op. 1. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, OP. 43.
Boris Berezovsky, pianist; L'Oural Philharmonic Orch/Dmitri Liss, cond.
MIRARE MIR 019 TT: 73:54
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ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF - Legendary Recordings in Opera, Operetta and Lieder: Excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier, Turandot, Gianni Schicchi, Hansel and Gretel, The Gypsy Baron, Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, The Land of Smiles, Boccacchio and Vienna Blood; music of Mozart and Dvorak.
PROFIL DCD PHO6068 (2 disks) TT: 60:50 & 67:39
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With well over sixty versions available of Orff's Carmina Burana, another recording has to be very special to compete and this new Naxos release does quite well. All three soloists are excellent as are the three choruses, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is in top form. There are many competing budget-priced versions including interpretations by Frühbeck de Burgos, Dorati, Mehta, Muti, Ormandy, and Kegel, but Marin Alsop's interpretation does not suffer by comparison. Excellent sonics is another plus, and complete texts are provided. The only negatives to this release are that tenor Tom Randall is recorded too closely in his "roasting swan," and producers have given a tad too much of a break between the different sections of Orff's popular work.

Antonio Pappano, a major figure on today's conducting scene, has a new issue of music by Tchaikovsky played by the St. Cecilia Orchestra. In spite of heavy promotion by EMI , there's nothing here makes this release special. The Italian orchestra is competent rather than inspired, and as recorded in Rome's Parco della Musica, sounds rather thin. 1812 is presented with chorus (heard four times in the score). During the final pages there are no cannon, but bells are effective. The chorus also is heard in the Eugene Onegin waltz. These performances were recorded live, but as there is no applause, it's obvious some editing was done. If you're looking for big-sounding Tchaikovsky, you won't find it here. Sonically there are no fireworks. Horns are rather recessed throughout, low bass is murky. Pappano has made some superb recordings; this is not one of them. EMI has recorded Tchaikovsky's last three symphonies with the same conductor and orchestra. Based on what is heard here, I cannot imagine how these yet-to-be-released recordings could in any way be competitive.

Vintage collectors might recall CRI's early '50's LP of Henry Brant's best-known music, Angels and Devils, scored for flute, three piccolos, five C flutes, and two altos. This remarkable and very listenable 20-minute three-movement work, recorded in 1951, has now been reissued on New World, sounding more intriguing than ever. The performance features leading flutists of the time with the composer conducting. This new CD also contains the composer's other two works for massed flutes, Mass in Gregorian Chant for Multiple Flutes written in 1984, and Ghosts and Gargoyles, composed in 2001, in performances by the New York Flute Club directed by Robert Aitken. Both were recorded in stereo in April 2005 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York. Fascinating, distinctive music, beautifully played and very well recorded—recommended!

Evgeny Kissin's new Chopin disk offering four polonaises and the four impromptus recorded at the Verbier Festival July 26, 2004, is self-recommending. He brings new freshness to the familiar Fantaisie-impromptu, and the famous Polonaise in A flat seldom sounds as majestic as it does here. Beautiful recorded sound. Applause is heard only at the beginning and end of the program, as well as after the E-flat minor Polonaise.

Collectors should be grateful to ECM New Series for their 2-CD set called Elegy of the Uprooting, music of Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou (b. 1946), recorded at a live concert March 27, 2005. Elegy of the Uprooting actually is a compilation of excerpts from other works of this remarkable composer including music for films (many by Theo Angelopoulos), and the theater. The basic theme throughout is exile and sadness. Scoring combines modern and ancient instruments, a chorus, and features a soprano soloist, Maria Farantouri. During the concert scenes from various films were shown, but even without the visual element this is enchanting, powerful listening—and beautifully recorded. Highly recommended!

Chamber music aficionados will welcome a new disk of works by a major Dutch composer. Born in Amsterdam in 1919, Alexander Zwaap's musical studies were interrupted in 1940 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. Virtually all of his family perished in the Holocaust after which he became a strong member of the resistance. In 1953 he legally assumed the name Lex van Delden, his name during the resistance movement. From 1950-1970 he was a major figure on Holland's music scene. Many of his works were played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra—a collection of these is available on Etcetera 1156 with conductors Eugen Jochum, Bernard Haitink and George Szell. The same label also offers the Harp Concerto played by Phia Berghout with Eduard van Beinum conducting (2024). Now, courtesy of MDG we have Delden's complete string quartets written from 1954 to 1981, eight years before his death. These are masterful performances by the Utrecht String Quartet. The composer's son wrote CD liner notes, and the booklet includes reproductions of the four paintings by Carel Willink that inspired String Quartet III.

Boris Berezovsky's recording of Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody and concertos 1 and 4 doesn't challenge the finest of previous recordings: Earl Wild, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Vladimir Ashkenazy from their complete sets, with special bows to Krystian Zimmerman for his recent Boston recording of Concerto No. 1, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's of Concerto No. 4—and, of course, the composer's own recordings made more than a half-century ago. This new Berezovsky issue is on the Mirare label, and premium priced—for a bit more you can get Earl Wild's recording of the four concertos and the Rhapsody.

Admirers of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf might wish to investigate Profil's 2-disk set of early recordings on the Columbia, EMI and Telefunken labels. However, all of these have been issued before and at lower price (the Profil set has a list of more than $30).

R.E.B. (February 2007)