HERRMANN: Music from Hangover Square. Concerto Macabre. Music from Citizen Kane
Orla Boylan, soprano; Martin Roscoe, piano; BBC Philharmonic Orch/Rumon Gamba, cond.
CHANDOS 10577 TT: 77:31

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Ballet (complete)
Russian National Orch/Mikhail Pletnev, cond.
ONDINE 1167 (2 disks) TT: 7
8:44 & 64:08
GLAZUNOV: Les Ruses d'amour, Op. 61
Romanian State Orch/Horia Andreesen, cond.
NAXOS 8.572447 TT: 50:56

The Chandos film music series continues with this stunning issue of music from Bernard Herrmann's Hangover Square and Citizen Kane. Film buffs welcomed the magnificent LP of music of this composer with Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, part of RCA's Classic Film Scores series. It featured music from five of Herrmann's scores including Citizen Kane and Hangover Square (for more on RCA's CFS series, check the FEATURE on this site). Thanks to ArkivMusik, the Gerhardt 1989 recording, essential in any collection, is available once again. Chandos' CD offers extended suites from Hangover Square and Citizen Kane, all adapted from original manuscripts by Stephen Hogger, who has been a major figure on a number of previous Chandos film music disks. We have 36 tracks from Citizen Kane, and 20 from Hangover Square plus Concerto Macabre (included on the Gerhardt CD with Joaquin Achucqarro as soloist) which actually is the final scene of Hangover Square. This is a bizarre 11-minute work, the climax of the film as the demented pianist plays the premiere of his concerto in a burning house. It is heard here in a performing edition from 1992 by Norma Shepherd incorporating minor revisions by the composer. The gem of this new release is the 47-minute suite from Citizen Kane with each track identified. Here the aria from Salammbo is well sung by Orla Boylan (a young Kiri Te Kanawa is featured on the Gerhardt recording). As usual, Rumon Gamba is a master in this repertory, the BBC Philharmonic is at its best, and the Chandos sound could not be bettered. This is a major release.

After the triumphant success of his take on Beethoven's symphonies, Mikhail Pletnev now conducts this magnificent recording of Tchaikovsky's complete Swan Lake ballet. Pletnev is a specialist in music of his compatriot. Almost two decades ago he made his remarkable recording of the Pathétique with the then new Russian National Orchestra, and since that time has recorded all of Tchaikovsky's major orchestral works as well as music for piano and orchestra in which he was soloist. In addition, we can see stunning performances of Pletnev as soloist with the Moscow Radio Symphony directed by Vladimir Fedoseyev from concerts in 1991 issued on DVD by Arthaus Musik (REVIEW). There's not a dull moment in this version of Swan Lake, and the Russian orchestra has the right sound and virtuosity to do justice to it. Ondine's engineering is superb—a quality issue!

Music of Alexander Glazunov has received considerable attention recently from recording companies. We are fortunate to have Evgeny Svetlanov's recordings with Russian orchestras reissued in quality transfers (REVIEW). Naxos has now reissued their previous issue on Marco Polo of a 1986 recording of Les Ruses d'amour with the Romanian State Orchestra conducted by Horia Andreescu. It's an excellent performance that holds up well sonically, and now we have it at budget price.

R.E.B. (March 2010)