REVUELTAS: Sensemayá. CARREÑO: Marcariteña. ESTÉVEZ: Mediodía en el Llano. MÁRQUEZ: Danzón No. 2. ROMERO: Fuga con Pajarillo. GINASTERA: Dances from Estancia, Op. 8. CASTELLANOS: Santa Cruz de Pacairicua. BERNSTEIN: Mambo.
Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0011340 (F) TT: 75:57
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RÖNTGEN: Symphony No. 10 in D "Walzersymphonie." Symphonic humoristica. 3 Preludes and Fugues. Oud-Nederland Suite.
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/David Porcelijn, cond.
cpo 777308 (F) TT: 63:19
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KARLOWICZ: Stanislaw and Anna Oswieciemowie, Op. 12. Lithuanian Rhapsody, Op. 11. Episode at a Masquerade, Op. 14
Warsaw Philharmonic Orch/Antoni Wit, cond.
NAXOS 8.570452 (B) TT: 70:41
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WÖLFL: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 20. Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 43 "Grand Military Concerto." Piano Concerto No. 6, Op. 49 "The Cuckoo." Andante "The Calm." (from Piano Concerto No. 4)
Yorck Kronenberg, piano/SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaisersalutern/Johannes Moesus, cond.
cpo 777 374 (F) TT: 76:06
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DGG has hastened to issue a CD of performances by the fabulous Simón Bolivar Youth of Venezuela under the direction of dynamic young conductor Gustavo Dudamel. This is a collection of Latin American music given a new lease on life via these brilliant performances. The music is pleasant enough, often exciting indeed, and the orchestra plays with extraordinary virtuosity. Notes say the recording was made in Caracas in January 2008 and that it is a "live" recording. Surely this is not totally true - there are no audience sounds whatever, and no applause until after the final West Side Story Mambo. Audio quality is adequate, but not exceptional. The many admirers of Dudamel (and I am one of them) will wish to investigate this disk, but DGG (or some other company) would be doing collectors a great favor by releasing the SBYA's electrifying Proms concert from last year, which has audio superior to this, and it is possible to observe the remarkable chemistry between Dudamel and his compatriots.

Leipzig-born composer Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) came from a highly musical family. Early in his career he met Brahms and Grieg and often was accused of imitating them. In spite of limited approval of his music, Röntgen continued to compose, but gained more attention for his pianistic abilities than for his works. His catalog of about 800 works includes 18 symphonies, 7 piano concertos, 3 violin concertos, 3 cello concertos and numerous other chamber/vocal works. He moved to Amsterdam was very involved in formation of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and disappointed not to be selected as conductor. In 1940 Willem Mengelberg recorded two of Röntgen's Netherlands Dances for Telefunken; there also exists a live concert performance of all six from the same year. cpo is at the beginning of a Röntgen series; already they have released the Symphony No. 3 and Aus Jotunheim suite with Porcelijn and the Rheinland-Pfalz Orchestra (REVIEW); now we have the second disk in the series offering the works listed above. As with the previous disk, the music is unmemorable, although the four movements of the Old Netherlands suite are pleasant enough. There seems to be a slight revival of interest in music by this composer. Listen to this and decide for yourself.

Earlier this year, this site mentioned a new EMI issue of Nigel Kennedy playing the Violin Concerto No. 1 by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz (REVIEW). Although Chandos has started a Karlowicz series, Naxos appears to be doing the same, and this CD is the first of his symphonic poems. Stanislaw and Anna Oswiecimowie dates from 1907 and is the best known of the symphonic poems, the tragic tale of incestuous love between the two ending in their deaths. The 23-minute score often has traces of Korngold (to its benefit). The composer said of his 1906 Lithuanian Rhapsody, Op. 11 that he tried "to pour into it all the grief, sadness and eternal chains of this people whose songs had filled my childhood." Karlowicz's last symphonic poem was incomplete at his death in 1909, and was completed by Grzegorz Fitelberg from sketches. This is another doomed love story about a tense encounter between estranged lovers and their inability to react appropriately with each other. All three of these works are lushly orchestrated, and very well played by the Polish orchestra under Antoni Wit. All were recorded in 2006 in Warsaw and the engineering, if not quite as lush as the rival Chandos recordings, is excellent.

I had never heard of Joseph Wölfl, born in Salzburg on Christmas Eve 1773. He was quite important during his brief life, a contemporary of Beethoven who studied with Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn. Wölfl was a very tall man, a virtuoso pianist with large hands that would reach 13 keys. He moved to Vienna in 1790, to Paris in1801, and to London three years later, where he died in 1812. Beethoven conceded that Wölfl was the better pianist. CD notes mention his "happy-go-lucky" lifestyle and penchant for billiards; he lost so much money he had to guarantee revenues from an upcoming Prague concert to pay his gambling debt. His works include 7 operas, two symphonies, and piano sonatas, and, unfortunately, there are few recordings. This must be rectified! cpo's new CD of piano concertos offers three of them along with the Andante from another, in brilliant performances by young pianist Yorck Kronenberg with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Johannes Moesus. This music is a total delight, beautifully written for both soloist and orchestra, and constantly inventive. Two of the concertos have descriptions: No. 5 is the "Grand Military Concerto," No. 6 is "The Cuckoo," (the high-spirited music easily fits these titles), and the movement from No. 4 is called "The Calm." The recordings were made in 2006/7 and are of the highest sonic quality. Don't miss this charming CD.

R.E.B. (October 2008)