REVUELTAS: La Coronela (The Lady Colonel). Itinerarios. Colorines.
SAINSBURY: Violin Concerto, Op. 14. WOOD: Violin Concerto in A minor.
Adagio from Violin Concerto in B minor.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Manfred Symphony, Op. 58.
STRAUSS: An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64.
This Naxos CD is a reissue; the original was released in 1998 on Koch International Classics. Music of Mexico's leading composer, Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940) is fortunately becoming better known to today's audiences,and was given a great boost by Gustavo Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra's recent recording of the barbaric La noche de los Mayos (REVIEW). Scores on this reissue are more sedate, but surely not less intriguing. La Coronela is one of his last works, a ballet he left incomplete, based on a series of skeletal figure engravings, with four colorful sections: The Upper Crust of 1900, The Disinherited, Don Ferruco's Nightmare, and The Last Judgment. The real gem of this collection is Colorines which features a beautiful extended solo for soprano saxophone. Performances on this disk are superb in every as is audio quality—an outstanding release in every way.
Dutton has a winner with their disk of premiere recordings of two unjustly neglected British violin concertos. Lionel Sainsbury (b. 1958) wrote his Op. 14 violin concerto in 1989 and it was premiered in 1995 with Lorrain McAslan and the BBC Concert Orchestra directed by Barry Wordsworth, all of whom made this recording in 2009. Haydn Wood (1882-1959), best known for his light works (including Roses of Picardy), wrote his violin concerto in 1928, and it had its premiere in 1933. Both of these concertos are relatively unknown which is sad as they are lovely works beautifully written for the instrument. In both we have traces of Elgar, Walton and Korngold, and I'm sure Heifetz would have reveled in the many stratospheric notes in each. McAslan plays both concertos very well, and it is unfortunate that she is not recorded with a touch more presence. The lovely Adagio from Wood's B minor concerto is a welcome bonus. Don't miss this one.
There are a number of outstanding recent recordings of Tchaikovsky's Manfred, Op. 58. In addition to worthy older versions including the truncated Toscanini/NBC version of 1948, we add this splendid new one with the Köln Gürzenich Orchestra, an excellent group lead for many years by Günter Wand. Since March 2009, Dmitri Kitajenko has been Honorary Conductor (Markus Stenz has been Chief Conductor since 2004), He leads the orchestra in an exciting performance of this unjustly neglected masterpiece, and it has been very well recorded. The engineering is exemplary.
Strauss's An Alpine Symphony is a favorite with recording companies, both in new versions and reissues of historic performances, many of which have been mentioned on this site. We also have SACD and DVD audio and video versions by seven conductors reviewed on this site. And now we have yet another superb version of the sprawling score, this one recorded live in November 2009 at the opening concert of the National Paris Opera Orchestra with its new conductor, Philippe Jordan in the Opéra Bastille in Paris. It is a stunning performance, beautifully recorded, and it surely displays the virtuoso French orchestra at its very best.
R.E.B. (July 2010)