ARNOLD: A Grand, Grand Festival Overture, Op. 57. Peterloo, Op. 97. The Smoke, Op. 21. Tam O'Shanter, Op. 51. A Flourish for Orchestra, Op. 112. The Fair Field, Op. 110. A Sussex Overture, Op. 31. Anniversary Overture, Op. 99. Robert Kett, Op. 141. Beckus the Dandipratt, Op. 5.
BBC Philharmonic Orch/Rumon Gamba, cond.
CHANDOS CHAN 10293 (F) (DDD) TT: 75:43
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RAVEL: Boléro. LISZT: Les Préludes. TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49.
Philadelphia Orch/Riccardo Muti, cond.
EMI CLASSICS ENCORE 85460 (B) (DDD) TT: 49:16
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INCE: Symphony No. 3 "Siege of Vienna." Symphony No. 4 "Sardis." Domes.
Prague Symphony Orch/Kamran Ince, cond.
NAXOS 8.557588 (B) (DDD) TT: 61:09
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TÜÜR: Zeitraum. Action Passion Illusion. SIBELIUS: The Wood Nymph, Op. 15. RACHMANINOFF: Three Russian Songs, Op. 41.
Lasse Pöysti, speaker; State Choir Latvija; Nordic Symphony Orch/Anu Tali, cond.
WARNER CLASSICS 61992 (F) (DDD)
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STRAUSS: Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra. Two Waltz Sequences from Der Rosenkavalier. Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pianist; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Herbert Bloomstedt, cond.
DECCA B0004645 (F) (DDD) TT: 51:55
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RÓZSA: Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29. Notturno ungherese, Op. 28. Tripartita, Op. 33.
András Agoston, violin; László Fenjö, cello; Philharmonia Hungarica/Werner Andreas Albert, cond.
cpo 999830 (F) (DDD) TT: 63:42
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Rumon Gamba has proven he is an ideal conductor for music of Sir Malcolm Arnold (see review of his recordings of the last three symphonies).Sir Malcolm recorded four of the overtures heard on this new Chandos disk with the London Philharmonic in 1991 (Reference RR48), a brilliant collection except for a remarkably turgid performance of Beckus the Dandipratt (Arnold's plodding performance is 10:45, Gamba's is 7:57, about the same as Eduard van Beinum's 1947 recording with the same orchestra—which featured Arnold as dazzling trumpet soloist). Gamba elicits superlative performances from the BBC Phil, and the sound is what we have come to expect from Chandos. This CD contains the premiere recording of the overture Robert Kett, first performed in 1990 by the Norfolk Youth Orchestra. Highly recommended, and if you are interested in this composer you might wish to check the feature on this site.

EMI Classics continues their budget reissues of classic performances from their vast catalog. One of the most intriguing contains three warhorses: Boléro, Les Préludes and 1812 Festival Overture, recordings made 1981/1983 in The Old Met in Philadelphia, produced by John Mordler with John Kurlander as balance engineer. These remasterings are excellent, among the most successful sonic representations of the Philadelphia Orchestra—not quite the stereo display of some other recordings, but very, very fine. Riccardo Muti leads one of the most expansive (17:09) and best Boléros in the catalog, the Liszt symphonic poem is played with all the stops out, and particularly effective is this knock-out performance of 1812, a magnificent orchestra giving its best, complete with cannon and bells. Playing time is but 49:16, but this is a budget release.

Born in 1960 in Montana to American/Turkish parents, Kamran Ince studied with Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner and has a very active career in both education and composition. Naxos adds to Ince's limited discography with this major release featuring Symphonies 4 and 5, and Domes, the latter a commission from the California Symphony. Symphony No. 4 subtitled "Siege of Vienna," is an 8 section violent work with scoring that includes 4 Wagner tubas instead of horns, synthesizer, and bass guitar. With the exception of brief respites in Calls (the fifth section) and the final Great Retreat, the score is violently aggressive, with heavy percussion, as is Symphony No. 5. The influence of Turkish battle music is evident in these turbulent scores. As the composer is conducting, we can assume that these performances are what he intended, and the Prague Symphony plays well although their strings on occasion are taxed by the difficult high-register writing. Naxos' sound is superb, capturing the many percussive passages with impact that will delight audio buffs.

The Warner Classics CD with Anu Tali conducting the Nordic Symphony Orchestra is a varied program wisely marketed. Tali, a beautiful woman indeed, is on the cover, and the disk is called Action Passion Illusion, referring to music by Erkki-Sven Tüür, Estonian composer born in 1959, considered to be the leader in contemporary Estonian music. Tüür, who once was a member of a rock group, writes in a broad range of contrasting styles which many listeners may not relate to. Don't expect anything sensual in his three-movement work Action Passion Illusion composed for strings in 1993 ; it's all quite stark. Martin Anderson's CD notes do not mentionan Estonian composer I feel is far more interesting than Tüür, Kaljo Raid, who was born in 1922. There's a review of his powerful Symphony No. l on this site. The Wood Nymph by Sibelius is a melodramaa composed in 1894 scored for speaker, two horns, piano and strings, to a poem by Swedish poet Viktor Rydberg. This tells of the young man Björn who meets a beautiful wood nymph in the forest after which he can no longer enjoy human life, and waits to die. Lasse Pöysti is the narrator recorded very close-up. Three Russian Songs of Rachmaninoff end the program in a fine performance by the Latvija State Choir. The Nordic Symphony Orchestra was founded by Tali and her twin sister Kadri to promote cultural exchange between Estonia and Finland. It's an excellent ensemble. Complete texts and translations are provided, the audio quality is fine, but it's unfortunate there isn't more music on the CD; 53:16 isn't much for a full-priced disk.

Decca's short (51:55) Richard Strauss CD is an oddity. No question prime interest lies in Jean-Yves Thibaudet's splendid performance of Burlesque, but the couplings are of considerably less interest. Does anyone really want another recording of the Rosenkavalier waltzes, or the (to me) boring Sextet from Capriccio? Instead the disk could have included both Parergon for Piano left hand and Orchestra, Op. 73 and Panathenäenzug for Piano left hand and Orchestra, Op. 74 (both of which were once available on Koch Schwann—see R.D.'s REVIEW). Now that would have made this a highly desirable CD!

Music of Miklós Rózsa is featured on a welcome new cpo disk containing his Sinfonia concertante, Op. 29 composed for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky in the late '50s about the same time as he was working on his magnificent score for Ben-Hur. It's a spikey, 31-minute score with traces of Bartók and Kodály obviously written as a display piece for his two famous soloists. Another major, lengthy (23:52) work, Tripartita composed in 1972, ends the disk, with the hauntingly beautiful Notturno ungherese in the center. The two featured soloists are well up to the demands of Sinfonia concertante, the orchestra is in fine form and conductor Werner Andreas Albert again shows his expertise. Sonic quality also is first-rate.

R.E.B. (July 2005)