TURNAGE: Another Set To. Silent Cities (revised version). Four-Horned Fandango. Fractured Lines.
Christian Lindberg, trombone; Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Peter Erskine, percussion; BBC Symphony Orch/Leonard Slatkin, cond.
CHANDOS CHAN 10018 (F) TT: 56:25
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WILBY: A Breathless Alleluia. Paganini Variations. Unholy Sonnets: No. 4. If God survivies us, will his kingdom come? Cyrano: Soldier and Poet. Panache. A Bronte Mass: Memory (A fragment). Amazing Grace: Symphonic Variations. Euphonium Concerto (Non troppo allegro, Zeibekikos, Andante, Allegro vivace).
Philip Gault, baritone; Philip Wilby, organ; Joseph Cook, tuba; David Thornton, euphonium; Black Dyke Band/Nicholas Childs, cond.
NAXOS 8572166 (B) TT: 66:47
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92.
Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
DGG B0006899 (F) TT: 69:07
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WALKER: Address for Orchestra. Overture: In Praise of Folly. Sinfonia No. 1. Sinfonia No. 3. Hoopla (A Touch of Glee).
Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson, cond.
ALBANY TROY 1061 (F) TT: 62:18
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TOMASI: Tam-tam. Le chanson des sables (Grand Orchestre Symphonique and Chorus/Henri Tomasi, cond.) (rec.June 3, 1935). SCHMITT: La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 (Orchestre des Concerts Walther Straram) (rec. April 18-19, 1930). GAUBERT: Les Chants de la Mer (Orchestre Symphonique de Paris/Philipope Gaubert, cond) (rec. April 3-4, 1930). RAVEL: Boléro (Orchestre Symphonique de Paris/Maurice Ravel, cond.).
DUTTON CDBP 9789 (B) TT: 75:50
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Chandos has a winner with their release of world-premiere recordings of music by Mark-Anthony Turnage. All of the music on this disk shows the influence jazz had on the composer. Another Set To, marked "bluesy and free," was written in 2000 for master trombonist Christian Lindberg, who gave the premiere. Silent Cities was written for the Tokyo Philharmonic, a sombre musical picture of the graveyards on the Somme. Four-Horned Fandango is an exuberant showpiece premiered by the horn section of the City of Birmingham Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle to celebrate EMI's 100th Birthday; the revised version is heard on this recording spectacularly played by Timothy Brown, Michael Murray, Andrew Antcliff and Christopher Larkin all of whom must have been exhausted after playing this brilliant, demanding showpiece. Fractured Lines is a double percussion concerto written on a theme by legendary jazz drummer Peter Erskin, who is one of the soloists in this recording. The other is the astounding Evelyn Glennie. Most listeners doubtless will find all of this music challenging but rewarding, and audio buffs will be delighted with the richness of orchestral sound and impact of the many percussive sounds. Recommended!

This intriguing Naxos disk offers music by British composer Philip Wilby (b. 1949) who has played an important on England's musical scene for many years. All of the music on this CD was written after 1995 at which time it seems his interest in brass music was rekindled. Wilby's music is incredibly challenging for performers.On this disk you'll hear some truly spectacular performances, beginning with A Breathless Alleluia composed especially for this recording and dedicated to Nicholas Childs, music director of the Black Duke Band. And if you think everything has already been said about that famous Paganini Caprice, listen to this 16-minute set of 16 variations, so difficult it often has been used as a text piece in competitions. Two of the works (Sonnet/Memory) are sung by tenor Philip Gault, Joseph Cook is tuba soloist in Cyrano, and David Thornton is featured in the euphonium concerto. In four of the selections composer Wilby is heard as organist. This is a terrific issue with astonishing brass playing and sonic quality that does justice to the massed brass.

The remarkable Gustavo Dudamel chose two Beethoven symphonies for his first recording with the Simón Bolivár Orchestra of Venezuela, and the result stands up very well to other recordings by major orchestras and conductors. These are fresh, dynamic performances with orchestral playing of the highest caliber. Dudamel's second DGG CD called Fiesta has already been mentioned on this site (REVIEW) It is important that the incredible concert Dudamel and this orchestra gave at the BBC Proms two years ago be issued on DVD. What a pleasure it is to watch this conductor work, and listen to the results he achieves. Audio is adequate, but not exceptional.

Albany Records is doing their part to promote music of distinguished American composer George Theophilus Walker (b. 1922), who has received many academic accolades throughout his career. He won a Pulitzer prize in 1996 for his work Lilacs, the first black composer to win such a prestigious prize. Walker has written profusely in all forms of music except opera, and is known as a fine pianist as well—Albany has released some of his recital performances. This new CD is called Great American Orchestral Works, Vol. 1, although the label already has a CD of the composer's orchestral works, none of which are duplicated on the new issue. We have the rather comic and derivative Overture in Praise of Folly, championed by Zubin Mehta with the New York Philharmonic, followed by the three-part Address for Orchestra written in 1958. The brief Sinfonia No. 1 dates from 1984, Sinfonia No. 3 was composed in 2004. The CD ends with the spirited Hoopla (A Touch of Glee) commissioned by the Las Vagas Philharmonic in 2006 to celebrate the centennial of the City. Walker is respected but very far from the cutting edge of contemporary American music. The fine performances by Sinfonia Varsovia showcase the music very well, and audio is excellent.

One way to hear Ravel's Boléro the way the composer intended it to be played is to listen to the recording he made in 1930 with the Paris Symphony Orchestra. It has been issued several times previously, but now it is included on this budget-priced Dutton reissue in an excellent transfer. The French orchestra is hardly a virtuoso group, but on the final takes they got it right, and the playing time (15:41) is about three minutes longer than most of the countless later recordings. Other French composers are also featured conducting their own works, beginning with Henry Tomasi (1901-1971) represented by his 1935 recording of Tam-Tam, a rather trashy "symphonic poem for chorus, soloists and orchestra" written four years earlier. Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) is heard in the first recording of his 1907 The Tragedy of Salome, Op. 50, made in 1930, and the disk ends with music of Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941), one of the leading flutists and conductors of his time. Songs of the Sea was composed in 1929, four years before Debussy wrote La Mer. Gaubert's work is colorful, quite powerful, and deserves more attention (there is a stereo recording with Marc Soustrot and the Luxembourg Philharmonic). This is an inexpensive way to acquire these intriguing historic recordings.

R.E.B. (March 2009)