SVENDSEN: Symphony No. 1, Op. 4. Symphony No. 2, Op. 15. Norskl
Kunstnerkarneval, Op. 14. Romeo og Julia, Op. 18. Karneval
i Paris, Op. 9. Zorahayda, Op.
11. Festpolonese, Op. 12. Andante funèbre. Sigurd
Slkembe, Op. 8. Ifjol
gjatt' e gjeitinn, Op. 31. Norsk Rapsodi No. 1, Op. 17. Norsk
Rapsodie No. 2, Op. 19. Norsk Rapsodi No. 3, Op. 21. Norsk
Rapsodi No. 4, Op.
ALWYN: Elizabethan Dances. The Innumerable Dance - An English Overture.
Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Strings. Aphrodite in Aulis (An Eclogue for
Small Orchestra after George Moore). Symphonic Prelude "The Magic Island." Festival
SZELIGOWSKI: Comedy Overture. Four Polish Dances. Piano Concerto. Nocturne
for Orchestra. Concerto for Orchestra.
ANDERSON: Harvard Sketches. Melody on Two Notes. Mother's Whistler.
The Penny Whistle Song. The Phantom Regiment. Plink, Plank, Plunk!. Promenade.
Sandpaper Ballet. Sarabande. Serenata. Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Seventy-Six
Trombones. Sleigh Ride. Suite of Carols for Brass Choirl Wintergreen
for Presidentl. The Typewriter. A Trumpeter's Lyllaby. The Syncopated
Most of the symphonic works of Norwegian composer Johan Svendsen (1840-1911) can be found in cpo's new three-CD set. For many long-time collectors, this composer was known primarily for his brilliant Carnival in Paris, an early work dating from 1872, and Festival Polonaise that followed shortly afterwards. Svendsen was a good friend of Grieg, and of Wagner who, when he read the score for Carnival, commented, "that looks like a lot of fun." Svendsen's two symphonies are available in fine recordings by Mariss Jansons, Neemi Järvi, and Thomas Dausgaard (see R.D.'s REVIEW). There was a third symphony, the score for which was burned by the composer's jealous wife—an incident used by Ibsen in Hedda Gabler). Svendsen's music is always pleasant to hear, but of little emotional depth. His 14-minute Romeo and Juliet is superficial, and Andante funèbre has no atmosphere of sadness. The Latvian Orchestra plays well enough, but on this recording they sound undernourished in the string department. The recordings, made over a decade ago, lack concert hall presence—however, the three disks sell for the price of two.
The Naxos collection of music of William Alwyn, the fifth release in their series devoted to this unjustly-neglected composer, is magnificent in every way. It contains two premiere recordings: "The Innumerable Dance - An English Overture," and Aphrodite in Aulis, "An Eclogue for Small Orchestra after George Moore." The first is a celebration of Spring, the second a vision of Aphrodite that could have been written by Delius. The charming concerto for oboe, harp and strings was premiered in 1949 with Evelyn Rothwell, Sir John Barbirolli's wife, as oboist. The six Elizabethan Dances have a sprightly British sound, and the disk is filled out with two of Alwyn's better-known orchestral showpieces, the Magic Island Prelude and Festival March. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and conductor David Lloyd-Jones give superb performances. The recordings were made in January 2006 in the orchestra's Philharmonic Hall, produced by Anna Barry with Phil Rowlands as engineer. Audio quality is first-rate. A delightful CD.
Once again we are indebted to Naxos for their ventures into unfamiliar repertory. Polish composer Tadeusz Szeligowski (1896-1963) studied with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas in Paris 1929-1931 and knew Enesco, Prokofiev, Honegger, Milhaud and Poulenc. Szeligowsky wrote much music for the theater including three operas. Little of his music has been recorded, but now we have the opportunity to hear some of his orchestral works played by the Ploznan Philharmonic (which Szeligowsky helped found in 1947). The Comedy Overture and Polish Dances are pleasant enough, the Concerto for Orchestra (written fourteen years before Bartók's) was considered by the composer to be his best work. Surely it is a showcase for the orchestra even though it is little more than that. Of most interest here is the Piano Concerto composed in 1941. It shows the Parisian influence, and you'll hear traces of Poulenc and Stravinsky. It is very well played by Bogan Czapiewski who emphasizes the many percussive elements of the score. The 1947 Nocturne for Orchestra is a lush eleven-minute work, also showing the influence of Impressionism. The Ploznan orchestra is adequate in these performances, but seems lacking in string sonority. Still, there is some intriguing music here, well recorded, and the price is budget.
Now we have Volume III in Leonard Slatkin's traversal of orchestral music of Leroy Anderson. The others have been mentioned on this site: Volume I (REVIEW) and Volume II (REVIEW). Volume III also contains Anderson chestnuts (see listing above) as well as four premiere recordings: Harvard Sketches, Melody on Two Notes, Mother's Whistler, and the Anderson arrangement of Gershwin's Wintergreen for President. Performances are polished and sprightly, and the recorded sound could not be bettered. The only minor negative: sound effects, including the typewriter, are recorded at a very low volume. More than an hour of delightful music, at budget price.
R.E.B. (July 2008)