MUSSORGSKY-STOKOWSKI: Pictures at an Exhibition. DEBUSSY: Prelde to The Afternoon of a Faun. RAVEL: La Valse.
EXTON CD OVCL 00489 TT:
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HANDEL: Excerpts from Teseo
Dinubuqye Labelle (Medea). Amanda Forsythe (Teseo). Amy Freston )(Agilea). Drew Minter (Egeo). Robin B
laze (Arcane). Céline Ricci (Glizea) Jeffrey Fields (Sacerdote). Philharmonia Baroque Chorus and Orch/Nicholas McGegan, cond.
PBP CDP 07 TT: 77:59
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BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73. Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90./ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98. Tragic Overture, Op. 81. Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a, Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80. Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 and 10 (orch. Brahms). Intermezzi Nos. 116 and 117 (orch. Klenger). Liebeslieder Waltzes (orch. Brahms). Symphony No. 4 (alternative version of opening). Symphony No. 1 (original version of Andante).
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Riccardo Chailly, cond.
DECCA 478 7471 (3 disks) TT: 78:18 / 79:00 / 76:47
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ENNA: Cleopatra Overture. Violin Concerto in D. Symphonic Fantasy
Kathrin Rabus, violin/NDR Radiophilharmonie/Hermann Bäumer, cond.
CPO CD 777 674 TT: 63:40

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Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada is a rising star on the conductor horizon in both choral and symphonic music. The early part of his career was focused in Japanese, but since then he has appeared with many leading European orchestras and now is principal guest conductor of both the Suisse Romande and Monte Carlo orchestras. This site recently mentioned mentioned his Pentatone recordings of Bizet, Fauré and Gounod (REVIEW) and a collection of "dance music" (REVIEW).. Here is this fine recording of Mussorgsky, Debussy and Ravel with the Japan Philharmonic, the Mussorgsky recorded in November 2013, the others in a live concert Dec. 9-10, 2011, all in Suntory Hall. Brilliant performances all, with superb orchestral playing. It seems odd that this Exton issue is a regular CD and not in surround sound—they missed a golden audio opportunity. This is a very expensive disk;excellent, wide-range audio; it should have been multi-channel.

Philharmonia Baroque and their master director Nicholas McGegan have a solid reputation for their outstanding recordings of Handel, as well as music of Haydn, Beethoven—and a particularly important release of Berlioz and Handel sung by the beloved Lorraine Hunt :Lieberson (REVIEW). . Now we have another treasure from them, For some time, they have been touring presenting g Handel's five-act opera Teseo; in August 2014 they presented a highly-praised performance in New York's Mostly Mozart Festival. You can sample this via this CD which was recorded April 2013 in First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California. The cast is the same, and all are in spectacular form. The orchestra is perfect under McGegan's firm direction. and high spirits prevail in this complex story of royalty, love and vengeance. The only negative is that we only have highlights. Profuse program notes and complete libretti are provided. A quality issue!

This new Brahms set from Leipzig is of special interest as it contains some premiere recordings. In addition to the standards, we have a brief (:40) alternate version of the opening of Symphony No. 4, the original first performance version of the Andante from Symphony No. 1, two Intermezzi as orchestrated for chamber ensemble by Paul Klengel (1854-1935) who was the brother of Julius Klenel, principal cellist of the Gewandhaus Orchestra for many years. We also have nine of the Liebeslieder Waltzes as orchestrated by Brahms. Chailly and his orchestra are in top form, and there surely is no lack of energy. These are imposing performances in every way, and very well engineered. Each disk is filled to near-capacity. Collectors surely will wish to investigate this, particularly for the music of Brahms not found elsewhere. However, collectors also should investigate the Brahms symphonic cycle with the same orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur, recorded in glorious surround sound and available on Pentatone (REVIEW).

Danish composer August Enna (1859-1959) was known mostly during his lifetime for his melodious operas. It is suggested that his music shows influences of Verdi and Wagner, but this is barely evident in music on this CD. In addition to his opera, Enna composed two symphonies, the violin concerto heard, and various symphonic works. In 2006, this site mentioned his overture to The Little Match Girl (REVIEW). CPO has already issued a disk featuring Symphony No. 2 with Michael Hofstetter and the NDR Orchestra, and now we have the same orchestra conducted by Hermann Bäumer in this pleasant program opening with Cleopatra Overture. Kathrin Rabus is soloist in the violin concerto, and the featured work is the 29-minute Symphonic Fantasy, his final major work. All of this music is pleasant enough, often idyllic, but hardly memorable, an example of Danish music before Carl Nielsen astounded the musical scene. Performances are excellent, as is audio.

R.E.B. (August 2014)