DEBUSSY: Preludes Book I (Danseuses de Delphes. Voiles.
Le vent dans la plaine."Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'alr du soir." Les
collines d'Anacapri. Des pas sur la neige. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest.
aux cheveux de lin. La sérénade interrompue. La cathédral engloutie.
La danse de Puck. Minstrels.). Preludes Book II (Brouillards.
La Puerta del Vino. "Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses." Bruyéres. General
Lavine 0- eccentric. La terrasse des audiences duy clair de lune. Ondine.
Hommage à S. Pickwith Esq P.P.M.P.C. Canope. Les tierees alternées.
VILLA LOBOS: Symphony No. 6 "On the Outline of the Mountains
of Brazil." Symphony
COHN: Symphony No. 3 in G minor. Symphony No. 4 in A. Symphony No. 8
in C. Miniatures for Orchrestra
TICHELI: Postcard. San Antonio Dances (Alamo Gardens/Tex-Mex
on the Riverwalk). Symphony No. 2 (Shooting Stars/Dreams Under a New
Rest. Playing With Fire (A la Baudue. Shades of Blue. Polyphonies
"HORNS FOR THE HOLIDAYS"
Debussy's two books of preludes have intrigued composers/conductors to make orchestrations. One of the best known is Leopold Stokowski's magic transcription of The Engulfed Cathedral, which has been recorded a number of times, twice by Stokowski; the finest stereo recording is with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Eight years ago this site mentioned a magnificent private recording of the preludes orchestrated by Dutchman Hans Henkemans and German Hanz Zender, all live recordings in stereo with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra directed by Bernard Haitink, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic conducted by Zoltan Kocsis. This recording still is available although hard to find. For me, it is the standard for orchestral versions of these varied preludes that cover everything from images of nature, imaginary creatures, the elements and humor as well. The new Naxos disk offers all of the preludes orchestrated by Peter Breiner, who has a respected history of orchestrating music of Granados and Tchaikovsky, music for guitar, and many arrangements of light music. He does his usual fine job, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra directed by German conductor Jun Märkl plays very well. An intriguing collection, worth investigating.
Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote a massive quantity of music including 12 symphonies. About eight years ago this site offered a review by the late R. D. of Symphony No. 7 (REVIEW). This superb new Naxos recording has the advantage of the full-blooded performance by Brazil's magnificent orchestra, the São Paulo Symphony conducted by Isaac Karabtchevsky. And we also have another major symphony, No. 6 dating from 1944, a year before No. 7. For this, Villa-Lobos experimented. He used a topographical map of Brazil 's mountains superimposed over music staffs to form the melody and form of this symphony. Of course throughout we have the composer's vivid orchestral colors, and the result is a fascinating and rather exotic orchestral tapestry. Let us hope the São Paulo Orchestra will record more of their native music.
About five years ago this site mentioned a recording of music of American composer James Cohn (b. 1928), a disk featuring symphonies 2, 7 and several other orchestral works (REVIEW). That was on the Naxos label; this second disk of the composer's music is on MSH, also at budget price. Here we have three more "symphonies" and a set of nine "miniatures." As with the previously issued works, this music, although pleasant enough to the ear, has very little to say serious listeners would want to hear. Performances are perhaps a touch better than those heard on the Naxos disk—all of these were made at the same time, in 2001. Limited interest here, unfortunately.
The highly respected Reference Recordings label has two superb new releases with the virtuoso Dallas Wind Symphony directed by James Junkin. Playing With Fire features music of Frank Ticheli, famous in the concert band world for his imaginative original works, arrangements and performances. Ticheli provides program notes for all of the music heard here, and we can be sure these are definitive performances of this delightful music. The program begins with Postcard, commissioned by H. Robert Reynolds in memory of his mother, who I'm sure would have been delighted with this "feisty celebration of her life." The major work is Playing With Fire isa concerto written in 1992 for the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and the San Antonio Symphony. The version heard here was commissioned in 2008 by the Texas A&M Wind Ensemble and conductor Timothy Rhea, but program notes do not explain what was changed. It doesn't matter; this is a fascinating three-movement work of incredible energy, highlighted by the bluesy second section, Shade of Blue that featured Jim Cullum's solo cornet shining throughout. Elsewhere, rhythm prevails. This is a terrific recording in every way, with the many percussive sounds captured with uncommon clarity.
The Dallas Wind Symphony also shines in an imaginative Holiday CD of Christmas favorites as well as a few unusual appropriate items, particularly Alfred Reed's Russian Christmas Music written in 1944 based on Russian folk music and Eastern Orthodox Church music. All of this music displays the virtuosity of the stellar DWS, and the recorded sound is state-of-the-art in recreating the sound of a band—and the organ featured in several works, will shake your floors. Let's have more, and thanks, Reference Recordings!
R.E.B. (October 2012)