GINASTERA: Panambi, Op. 1. Estancia, Op. 8.
Luis Gaeta, narrator/bass-baritone; London Symphony Orch/Gisèle Ben-Dor, cond.
NAXOS 8.557582 TT: 72:32

GINASTERA: Danzas argentinas, Op. 2. Tres piecas, Op. 6. Malambo, Op. 7. 12 Preludios americanos, Op. 12. Suite de danzas criollas, Op. 15 (second version); Rondó sobre temas infantiles argentinos, Op. 19. Danzas argentinas para los ninos. Piezas infantiles I. Piezas infantiles II. Milonga. Pequena danza. Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22. Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 53. Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 54. Toccata, Villancico y Fuga, Op. 18. Variazoni e Toccata sopra "Aurora lucis rutilat," Op. 52. ZIPOLI-GINASTERA: Organ Toccata (arr. for piano).
Fernando Viani, piano/organ
NAXOS 8.555241(2 disks) TT: 72:35 / 68:25

BRAHMS: Serenade No. 1, Op. 11. DAWSON: Negro Folk Symphony. PROKOFIEV: Quintet in G minor, Op. 39. Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34. SWANSON: Night Music.
Symphony of the Air (Brahms)/American Symphony Orch (Dawson)/Leopold Stokowski, cond. New York Ensemble of the Philharmonic Scholarship Winners/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6502 (2 disks) TT: 71:19 / 45:30

SAINT-SAËNS: Cello Concerto No. 1 (Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio/Grigory Stolyarov, cond.). SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (Moscow State Philharmonic Orch/Samuel Samosud, cond.). GLAZUNOV: Chant du ménéstrel, Op. 71 (Moscow Youth Symphony Orch/Kiril Kondrashin, cond.). CHOPIN: Introduction and Polonaise brillante, Op. 3. GRANADOS: Intermezzo from Goyescas. BORODIN: Excerpts from Prince Igor. PROKOFIEV: Adagio from Cinderella. POPPER: Dance of the Elves. RICHARD STRAUSS: By the Brook, Op. 9 No. 2. SCHUMANN: Five Pieces in the Popular Style, Op. 102. HANDEL: "Vouchsafe, O Lord" from "Dettingen" Te Deum. PAGANINI: Perpetual Motion. (with pianists Alexander Dedyukhin, Walter Naum, and Vladimir Yampolsky
Mistislav Rostropovich, cellist
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6505 (2 disks) TT: 48:20 / 49:55

RESPIGHI: Burlesca for Orchestra. Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. Rossiniana (Suite for Orchestra). RACHMANINOFF-RESPIGHI: Five Études-tableaux
BBC Philharmonic Orch/Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
CHANDOS CD 10388 TT: 73:04

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Symphony No. 2, Op. 9 "Antar." MIASKOVSKY: Symphony No. 21, Op. 51.
Chicago Symphony Orch/Morton Gould, cond.

KORNGOLD: Das Wunder der Heliane
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Heliane); Hartmut Welker (The Ruler); John David de Haan (The Stranger); Reinhild Runkel (Messenger); Berlin Radio Opera Chorus and Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/John Mauceri, cond.
DECCA 475 8271 (3 disks) TT: 56:04 / 61:25 / 60:19

ARNOLD: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 23. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 118. Phantasy for String Quartet "Abundant LifeVita Abundans."
Maggini Quartet
NAXOS 8.557762 TT: 56:59

The two Ginastera popular ballets are here presented complete, a recording made in 1997 originally released on Conifer, glowingly reviewed on this site by R.D. in May 2002 (REVIEW). Now these superb recordings are reissued at budget price, sounding as good as ever, on Naxos. Thank you, Naxos! And we also thank the label for their superb twin-CD set of all of Ginastera's music for piano and organ spectacularly played by pianist/organist Fernando Viani, who already has recorded music of Argentinian composers Luis Gianneo, Juan José Castro and Carlos Guastavino. The first of the two well-filled CDs contains early works and transcriptions, the second the three major piano sonatas and the two works for organ. Although the piano writing is in a highly percussive style, Viani's subtle playing captures all of the moody beauty as well as the coruscating huge clusters of notes, and the numerous glissandi. Often this music reminds one of the late Prokofiev sonatas. Much of this music was recorded previously by Barbara Nissman (see REVIEW). These new CDs offer exciting listening indeed, another winner from Naxos—quality music, terrific performances, and budget price!

Collectors will welcome a rather odd compilation from DGG of recordings by Leopold Stokowski and Dimitri Mitropoulos. Stokowski's are in stereo, the Brahms recorded in November 1960, the Dawson in June 1963. Other works are mono recorded in 1950. One might question why Mitropoulos was even there—none of these small-scale chamber works require a conductor, and the virtuoso New York Ensemble of Philharmonic Scholarship Winners surely would have done as well without him. Still, it's good to have these performances available again, and at modest price.

Admirers of the late Mstislav Rostropovich will welcome DGG's budget-priced reissue of a number of his earliest recordings, all monophonic, originally on the Westminster/Nixa label, with various Russian orchestras, conductors and accompanists. A selection of shorter "encore" pieces, all masterfully played, fills out the second disk. An outstanding issue in many ways, and highly recommended.

Chandos' Respighi CD is a smashing success in every way. When the composer wrote Preludio, Corale e Fuga in 1900 when he was studying with both Giuseppe Martucci and Rimsky-Korsakov; the latter's influence is quite apparent in the blazing orchestral textures that end the fugue. Burlesca is an 8-minute orchestral showpiece. The composer's transcriptions of works of Rossini into the orchestral suite Rossiniana are well-known. Highlight of this issue is the glorious performance of Respighi's sensitive orchestration of the five Étude-tableaux of Rachmaninoff, written at the suggestion of Serge Koussevitzky who conducted the premiere in Boston in 1931. The BBC Philharmonic again proves that it is one of the finest British orchestras, and we can luxuriate in the typical rich, defined Chandos sonics.

Bearac Reissues continues to issue major recordings of the past. Collectors will welcome Morton Gould's Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings of Rimsky-Korsakov's Symphony No. 2, Op. 9, and its LP disk coupling, Miaskovsky's Symphony No. 21, both recorded in 1968 in Chicago's Medinah Temple. The latter was one of the first major recordings of a symphony by this composer, although not the first: Eugene Ormandy recorded it in 1947 with the Philadelphia Orchestra for Columbia (see REVIEW). This recording of Antar was issued on the Rediscovery Label some years ago, but with a different coupling (see REVIEW). As usual with CSO recordings of the time, the sound is wide-range and rich. Probably if these performances are released in RCA's Living Stereo series there will be a touch more of sonic refinement, but in the meantime these transfers, taken from RCA LSC 3022, will do just fine. Collectors should check out the extensive series of important reissues on this label:

Decca's reissue of Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane is welcome; it has been out of the catalog for some years and now here it is at mid-price. It was part of Decca's Entartete (German for Degenerate) series that featured music surpressed during the first half of the 20th century. Young Korngold already had great success with his operas Der Ring des Polykrates, Violanta, and Die tote Stadt. Das Wunder der Heliane, composed in 1927, had a successful premiere in Hamburg in October 1927, and the Vienna premiere later that month was also well received. The score contains some of the composer's most luxurious music, but it demands top-notch singers (the Vienna premiere featured Lotte Lehmann and Jan Kirpura), which it doesn't receive here. Tomowa-Sintow is adequate but little more, and her singing of the great Act II aria "Ich ging zu ihm" cannot match Lehmann's 1928 recording (available on Preiser 89189) either vocally or interpretively. This reissue is the only available commercial recording of this opera, and recommended as such—it is now mid-price, and Decca has provided a complete libretto in German and English.

The versatility of the late British composer Malcolm Arnold is remarkable. An impeccable craftsman and orchestrator, he wrote nine symphonies, concertos for just about every instrument, and music for many films—but he composed equally well for smaller forces. The superb Maggini String Quartet, which already has made about two dozen recordings for Naxos of British music, here is heard in Arnold's Quartet No. 1 composed in 1949 at the beginning of his career, and Quartet No. 2, written in 1975 when he was well established as a leading composer. His distinctive style and imaginative scoring are remarkable, and these brilliant performances of these seldom-heard works are welcome additions to the catalog, with the charming 1941 Fantasy for String Quartet an engaging bonus. Naxos engineering is perfectly balanced—another winner for the label.

R.E.B. (May 2007)