PRICE: Symphony No. 1 in E minor (1932). Symphony No. 4 in D minor (1945)
Fort Smith Symphony / John Jeter, cond.
NAXOS 8.559827 TT: 69:04
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LISZT: 12 Transcendental Etudes. La leggierezza. Praphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto
Boris Giltberg, piano
NAXOS 8.573981 TT: 79:30
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SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 "Organ." Trois tableaux symphoniques d'apr`es La foi, Op. 130. Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, Op. 47.
Paul Jacobs, organ. Utah Symphony Orchestra / Thierry Fischer cond.
HYPERION CDA 68201 TT: 75:15
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Florence Beatrice Price ((1887-1953)), born in in Little Rock,Arkansas, studied at the New England Conservatory, the Chicago Musical College and the American Conservatory. A deeply religious woman, her music often reflects the African-American church idiom., particularly in her songs. In addition to many songs. Her catalog consists of about 300 works including four symphonies, three concertos, chamber music, and music for solo instruments. She was respected as a composer, pianist and as a teacher. Her Piano Concerto was premiered in 1934 in Chicago. with the composer as soloist—and hasn't been heard since then. The orchestra score has been lost, but efforts are being made to reconstruct it; it surely would be fascinating to hear. We can also hope that Price's two violin concertos eventually will appear. Her Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, first prize winner of the 1932 Rodman Wanamaker Music Contest , was premiered in 1933 with Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony. Her orchestral music is influenced by Dvorak (his From the New World premiered in 1893), and often there are traces of the Cech composer in Price's music. Symphony No 1 was the first performance by a major orchestra of music by an African-American composer. It is a pleasant substantial work in four movements with a delightful African-American Dance (Juba Dance) as the third movement. Symphony No.4 dates from 1945 and it also has a "Juba Dance" as its third movement . Throughout both symphonies the influence of Dvorak is apparent, and there is no doubt Price listened to that composer's New World Symphony written in 1893. This is the premiere recording of Symphony No. 4. Both works re splendidly performed by the Fort Smith Symphony, founded in 1993. It is a community orchestra of professional players, and has been led since by 1997 by John Jeter who won the Governor's Award for "Individual Artist of the State of Arkansas." He also has won many other awards, and elicits top quality performances from his musicians, The recordings were made May 13 - 14, 2018 at ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and engineers have captured exemplary sonics This is an important issue. Don't miss it!

Russian-born Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg (b. 1984) has been impressivecompat on the compaction circuit, his achievements including second prize at the 2011 Rubinstein Competition, and first prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, impressive achievements indeed. He has made a number er of recordings including concertos of Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, chamber music, and there is a video of his 2006 recital at the Miami International Piano Competition performing Bach, Schubert, Scriabin and Liszt. On his latest recording he returns to Liszt with this well-filled CD (79:30) featuring the composer's 12 Transcendental Etudes and two other showpieces. He tosses them off with technical skill, sensitivity as well. His dazzling performance of La leggierezza is impressive although for me noone can match the unbelievable live performance by Simon Barere. This new recording was made June 25 - 27, 2018 in the UK's Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth. Piano sound is slightly distant, but conveys the millions of notes effectively. I look forward to future releases by this musician who has entered the ezalted realm that includes Danill Trifonov, Denis Matsuev, Simon Trpecski, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Arcadi Volodos.

One could hardly say another recording of Saint-Saëns mighty Organ Symphony is needed as there are many classic versions, in particular the 1959 Charles Munch / Boston Symphony version, to mention one of the finest. But this new one recorded live in Salt Lake City's Abravanel Hall December 1 / 2, 2017, is among the best, with the huge organ in the venue producing impressive sounds. . The Utah Symphony is a superb orchestra, and the warm resonant acoustics of the venue are perfect for this music. This disk also contains a vivacious account of the Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, and what apparently is the first recording of the three-movement 32 minute Three Symphonic Tableaux. This is incidental music Saint-Saéns wrote commissioned by Prince Albert I of Monaco, for Eugene Brieux's play La foi ("Faith." ). The premiere took place in Monaco in 1909. As the composer was fascinated by Egypt and visited it many times; he welcomed the commission although the music is hardly among his best. He was far more successful in his Piano Concerto No. 5 written in 1894/1896. subtitled "Egyptian." The music for Le foi is pleasant but unmemorable; itt consistently displays Saint-Saëns' rich style of composition. It surely is not representative of his finest work, but it is good to have it available for an occasional listen. The stereo sound is outstanding. Recent Utah Symphony recordings on Reference Recordings have been in splendid multi-channel sound; one wonders why this new issue isn't in the same audio format. However, the stereo is excellent and satisfying. Let us hope future Utah Symphony recordings will be SACD.

R.E.B. (March 2019)

 

 

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