WALTON: Facade. Portsmouth Point Overture. Siesta. Scapino Overture. The Wise Virgins Ballet Suite.
Edith Sitwell, Peter Pears, narrators; English Opera Group Ens/Anthony Collins, cond. London Philharmonic Orch/Sir Adrian Boult, cond.

SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. PAGANINI: Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7.
Julian Sitkovetsky, violin; Czech Philharmonic Orch/Nikolai Anossev, cond. (Sibeliuis); Moscow Youth Radio Symphony Orch/Mark Pavelman, cond. (Paganini).

STRAVINSKY: Perséphone
Vera Zorina, narrator; Richard Robinson, tenor; Westminster Choir; New York Philharmonic Orch/Igor Stravinsky, cond.

STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring. Symphonies of Wind Instruments. Petrushka. Song of the Nightingale. Four Etudes. The Firebird. Fantastic Scherzo. Fireworks. Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. Danses Concertantes. Concerto in D for Strings. Apollon musagète
Montreal Symphony Orch/Montreal Sinfonietta/Charles Dutoit, cond.
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802013 (4 disks) TT: 44:02 / 65:24 / 62:29 / 78:24

What a treasure this Walton CD is! Here we have vivid remasterings of the famous 1964 recording of Facade, and orchestral works made in 1954. The witty Facade had its premiere in 1922 and the first recording was made in 1929. The composer conducted, texts shared by Dame Edith Sitwell and a very young Constant Lambert. In this 1964 recording, Sitwell shares the poetry with Peter Pears, and the texts are brilliantly articulated—this is not music to be performed by the tongue-tied! The orchestral works are early: works by the composer: Portsmouth Point (1925), Fiesta (1926), Scapino (1940), and the Bach arrangements heard in The Wise Virgins (1940). Recorded just pre-stereo, the Decca sound is well balanced and as remastered here sounds remarkably full, a vast improvement over the original LPs which I once owned. No texts are provided.

David Oistrakh said of his compatriot Julian Sitkovetsky (1925-1958), "had he lived, Sitkovetsky would have eclipsed me and Kogan," and for good reason. A child prodigy, he played for Jacques Thibaud when only 8, and in 1945 won the All Soviet Union Young Performers Competition (other winners were Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich). He continued to win prestigious prizes and although he was acclaimed, never toured extensively. In 1950 he married pianist Bella Davidovich and their son, violinist Dmitry, has enjoyed a splendid career. Julian was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1956 and died two years later at the age of 32. He made few recordings and we are fortunate to have the Supraphon recordings reissued here taped in 1953 and 1955. Both concertos are given superlative performances, and the mono sound is quite good thanks to Andrew Rose's remastering. If you love the Sibelius concerto, you must own this performance, and the Paganini, a virtuoso showcase, is giving a dazzling reading.

Stravinsky conducted the premiere of Perséphone at the Paris Opera April 30, 1934 in a staging by Ida Rubinstein's ballet company. This melodrama for speaker, solo singer, chorus, dancers and orchestra has a libretto by André Gide. In Greek mythology Perséphone is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld, who was abducted by her uncle, Hades, king of the underworld. Stravinsky's work is divided into three parts: Perséphone Abducted, Perséphone in the Underworld, and Perséphone Restored. Stravinsky made two recordings of the work, the second in 1966, available in the huge BMG-Sony collection of Stravinsky recordings. Pristine Audio here provides the composer's first recording made January 14, 1967. Again Vera Zorina is the narrator, but the tenor is Richard Robinson. Michele Shade is in the later version. This fine remastering of the monophonic original is from Columbia LP ML 5196. No texts are provided, but they are available online. All of these Pristine Audio releases are available from PRISTINE AUDIO

If you wish to have a high quality set of many of Stravinsky's major orchestral works, check out this Newton Classics 4-CD set of performances conducted by Charles Dutoit with Montreal forces. All were made 1984-1992 during his long tenure with the orchestra (1977-2002) before his acrimonious resignation because of a dispute with the musicians' union.. If you find the repertory of interest, these versions are very well recorded. However there are numerous other recordings of these major works—none of these are among the top versions—but this is budget price—and a memento of happier days in Montreal.

R.E.B. (Juner 2011).