POULENC: Quatre Poèmes de Paul Eluard. C'est ainsi que tu es. FAURÉ: Au bord de l'eau. BARBER: Sleep now, Op. 10 No. 2. The Daisies, Op. 2 No. 1. Nocturne, Op. 13 No. 4. Nuvoletta, Op. 28. Hermit Songs, Op. 29. SAUGUET: Le Voyante.
Leontyne Price, soprano; Samuel Barber, pianist (recorded in concert at the Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, Oct. 30, 1953).
Six Folk Songs. Lieder of Schumann, Mendelssohn, C.P.E. Bach, Brahms and Schubert
Samuel Barber, baritone and pianist (recorded in concert at the Curtis Institute of Music, Dec. 26, 1938)
BRIDGE 9156 (F) (ADD) TT: 79:43

TURINA: Mujares Españolas, Op. 17. Mujeres Españolas, Op. 73. Mujeres de Sevilla, Op. 89. Danzas Andaluzas, Op. 8. Bailete (Suite de Danzas del Siglo XIX), Op. 79.
Sara Davis Buechner, pianist
KOCH CLASSICS 3-7590 (F) (DDD) TT: 66:47

RESPIGHI: Roman Festivals. The Pines of Rome. The Birds. Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute, Suites 1, 2 and 3.
Baltimore Symphony Orch/Sergiu Comissiona, cond./Australian Chamber Orch/Christopher Lyndon Gee, cond. (Birds/Suites)
VANGUARD CLASSICS ATM CD 1227 (2 CDs(B) (ADD/DDD) TT: 53:49 & 72:58

Music of Messiaen, Martinú, Bloch, Cooper, Redolfi, Rolin, Touochad and Wisson performed by Thomas Bloch, Ondes Martenot
NAXOS 8.555779 (B) (DDD) TT: 73:47

Music of Paganini, Ben-Haim, De Sarasate, Handel, Hindemith, Leclair, Bloch, de Falla and Bazzini
Itzhak Perlman, violinist; David Garvey, pianist
RCA/BMG 62516 (M) (ADD) TT: 63:18

The Bridge release of Leontyne Price's Oct. 30, 1953 recital at the Library of Congress assisted by composer-pianist Samuel Barber is of major importance as it includes the entire program, which has never released before, as well as performances by Barber the baritone as he accompanies himself at the piano recorded at a 1938 concert also given at the Library of Congress. The 1953 concert was the world premiere of Barber's Hermit Songs, a work Price would record commercially about a year later with Barber at the piano. At this time, Price already had appeared in Paris in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts, and in 1955 would sing a nationally televised Tosca. After that she sang in San Francisco in the American premiere of Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites and in 1958 performed Aida with Herbert von Karajan at the Vienna State Opera. Price finally made her Met debut in 1958 in Il trovatore, a legendary event. Here we have the opportunity to hear Price at age 26, Barber at 28. Barber's rich baritone voice isn't particularly powerful, but obviously he was a fine singer. In 1931 he recorded his own Dover Beach for RCA with the Curtis String Quartet (REVIEW), the best recording of the work, superior even to the later one by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Patrick C. Mason's lengthy CD program notes are uncommonly fine, and complete texts are provided. Highly recommended.

The Turina disk is not new—it was recorded in Connecticut in 1990, originally issued on Connoisseur Society at which time the performer received justified rave reviews. The remastered sound still is overly-bright; the original Connoisseur Society album is still in the catalog but identified as performed by David Buechner, Sarah Davis Buechner's former persona. An article in the New York Times in September 1998 tells of the pianist's decision to undergo a mid-career sex change after years of wrestling with his gender and associated problems relating to it. Buechner already had made superb recordings of piano music of Bach, Mozart, Dvorak, Gershwin, movie piano concertos and much contemporary music as well. Her current career seems to be doing just fine and we look forward to further recordings from her.

Vanguard Classics' Respighi disk is puzzling. This label usually is known for quality, but something went wrong here. Sergiu Comissiona's Baltimore Symphony Respighi recordings were made in 1979, three years before the BSO's fine new Joseph Meyerhoff Hall opened; previously there had been no venue in the nearby area that would produce good sound. The site chosen was National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D. C. which worked out just fine. Both Roman Festivals and Pines of Rome receive superlative performances. But in the latter, the final two movements are heard first, an inexcusable editing gaff. If you wish to hear the work played as written, after listening to the four tracks of Festivals, play tracks 7 and 8 followed by 5 and 6! The other Respighi works in this set receive excellent performances; they were recorded in Sydney Australia in 1988. But why didn't somebody notice that Pines was tracked incorrectly? This is a budget-price set.

The Ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument with a keyboard and other ways of changing sounds which usually are rather far-out and eerie, was patented in April 1928. Messiaen used it effectively in his Turangagilia Symphony, and some other composers have been mildly intrigued by its odd, ethereal sounds. Naxos' new CD features Thomas Bloch who is an expert in this kind of thing—he has a previous Naxos CD of music for glass harmonica (REVIEW); on this disk he plays music for ondes martenot by composers listed above. To me it sounds like New Music gone awry. The paucity of tunes, themes or development is alarming, and some of it sounds like Philip Glass at his most repetitive. I derived little pleasure from this CD. If you're looking for something way off the beaten path, this is it. Another instrument developed about the same time as the ondes martenot was the theremin. To me it produces wonderful almost human-like sounds. There's a superb recording available on Delos (CD 1014) with music of Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns, Achron, Wieniawski, Stravinsky and many other composers in exquisite performances by Clara Rockmore. This I recommend.

Itzhak Perlman's fans surely will wish to investigate this recording made in November 1965. It was to be the young virtuoso's first RCA release under his new contract, but after Perlman's fantastic early successes in the United States it was felt his first release should be on a grander scale—it ended up being a coupling of the Sibelius and Prokofiev Second concertos with Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony—and this recording just fell between the tracks. It contains his only recordings of sonatas of Leclair, Handel and Hindemith.

The Philips CD/DVD is a bit of a mystery. The number on my copy is 475 6133; the number on Arkiv is 000298700. All three of the Missa recordings were great hits at the time of their original release more than twenty years ago and now we have all three remastered on one full-priced CD along with a DVD which actually is a film by Dick Kool, Job Maarse and Anthony Howard. This includes a performance of Missa Luba by the Muungano National Choir of Kenya as well as scenery of native villages and surrounding countryside. DVD Documentation is inadequate (as it is so often on DVD issues). Tracks are listed for the performance of Missa Luba, but only on the DVD screen menu do we find that there is something called "DVD Showreel" which actually is a series of advertisements for various Decca/Philips/DGG videos, vaguely identified on screen—and one would never know that these includes a brief appearance by Sir William Walton, which could be of major interest to many—you won't know about it unless you watch the ads. This 2-disk set sells for the price of one full-priced CD and is worth having just for the three Masses. The original release of Misa Criolla also contained a delightful Ramirez work called "Navidad Nuestra," his treatment of part of the Christmas story; the original release of Missa Luba contained 10 Kenyan folk melodies—it's odd both of these weren't included on the new release—there's plenty of room.

Flutist Emmanuel Pahud, like his illustrious predecessor James Galway, was for some time principal flute of the Berlin Philharmonic (Galway had that post under Karajan). Pahud is a young man (b. 1970) and has won just every prize there is. His career as a soloist is going very well and already he has a list of over 20 recordings of works ranging from Mozart to Khachaturian. Obviously he's always on the lookout for new repertory. Franck's violin sonata doesn't work well with a flute, no matter how well played (even Galway with Martha Argerich couldn't make it convincing), and Strauss's sonata is of limited interest even when played on the violin. The only work here played as was written is Widor's 17-minute suite for flute and piano. The other Pahud CD is a dreamy collection of mostly French works arranged for flute and harp, a collaboration with Mariko Anraku. It's quite beautiful, although the Meditation from Thais sounds quite strange played by flute and harp. If you're interested in the flute beautifully played, both of these CDs are for you.

To hear the Franck sonata played as it should be, get the EMI recording with Sarah Chang and Lars Vogt. There currently are more than 80 recordings of this but perhaps the reason to choose this new one would be the companion works, Ravel's sonata and the dazzling performance of Saint-Saëns' Violin Sonata No. 1 with its Allegro molto conclusion.

Lastly, a superb CD for what it is - a compilation of "American Light Orchestral" music. In the '50s radio played a major part in American life and played this kind of thing repeatedly. Many performers became household words particularly André Kostelanetz, Leroy Anderson, Percy Faith, Richard Hayman, Paul Weston, Morton Gould, Hugo Winterhalter and Gordon Jenkins. Older collectors doubtless will remember many of these recordings, all of which have been masterfully transferred from the original 78s. It's a full-price CD, but the playing time is generous and for many it might bring back pleasant memories far removed from today's bombastic popular "music" scene.

R.E.B. (October 2004)