First recordings of two powerful works from the pen of one of our major composers, John McCabe, who is celebrating his sixtieth birthday this year. Of Time and the River (the title is taken from Thomas Wolfe's novel) is actually the published title of McCabe's Fourth Symphony, written in 1993/4 to a commission by the BBC. The Flute Concerto was written for James Galway in 1989/90 and he gave the first performance of it in 1990 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra who commissioned the work. Here it is played by the outstanding young flautist Emily Beynon in her first recording for Hyperion.
Album performed by pianist, composer, arranger and conductor Solomon Schwartz (London, 1913-2002), aka 'Stanley Black', leading the London Festival Orchestra and Chorus. Black was one of the most famous, prolific and eclectic conductors during postwar at Britain. He went through several orchestras and bands, worked with British and American jazz musicians, conducted the orchestra of the RAF during the Second World War, he became director of the BBC Orchestra, was highly acclaimed in radio and television and later went on to record for Decca label full time. Stanley Black made an outstanding contribution to film music, he composed scores for over 200 films and music in general rushing almost all musical genres.
From the Royal Albert Hall, Daniel Barenboim returns to the Proms with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the celebrated ensemble of young Arabs and Israelis. Following his highly acclaimed Proms performance of Wagner's Ring in 2013, Barenboim conducts two Wagner overtures - Tannhauser and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg - alongside music from Gotterdammerung. The great pianist Martha Argerich is the soloist in Liszt's Piano Concerto No 1 and the programme also includes Jorg Widmann's lively Con Brio.
The Barbirolli Societys latest release is a 2-CD set of the complete concert given in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 20 October 1960, with the combined forces of the Hallé and BBC Northern Symphony Orchestras. The concert consisted of Nielsens Symphony No.5 and Mahlers Symphony No.7. Michael Kennedy, writing in 2000, stated: Performances of the (Mahler) Seventh were much rarer then than they are today, and Mahlerian scholars and enthusiasts flocked to Manchester for the event, among them Deryck Cooke who was profoundly impressed by Sir Johns ability to make the works structure cohere. This was an especially significant comment coming from Cooke, who harboured many doubts about the symphony and confessed to finding it most problematical.
Thomas Søndergård's hybrid SACD of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D major and his Symphony No. 7 in C major is an audiophile showcase that presents two contrasting sides of the composer with optimal clarity. The comparatively lush orchestration of the Symphony No. 2 probably has never sounded better in any recorded format, and the multichannel reproduction of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales brings out its vibrant bass, velvety strings, and sumptuous winds in a resonant acoustic, all of which are essential ingredients in the young Sibelius' post-Romantic sound. Yet the Symphony No. 7 presents the sparer counterpoint and leaner textures of Sibelius' mature phase, so the recording brings out the transparency of the timbres, and the clean separation of parts gives an added spatial dimension. Søndergård's interpretations of both works are wholly sympathetic and masterful, and the orchestra plays with the commitment and vitality that make these symphonies compelling. One hopes this is the first installment of a Sibelius cycle, which would be a great addition to Linn's catalog. Highly recommended.
Chandos Records is delighted to present this new recording of Elgar’s choral masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius and the enduringly popular song cycle Sea Pictures. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, a peerless Elgarian who this year was awarded the prestigious Elgar Society Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the composer’s music. In Gerontius the soloists are Stuart Skelton, David Soar and Sarah Connolly, who also sings in Sea Pictures. This recording was made in the days leading up to their triumphant live performance of Gerontius in April of this year in which Skelton was praised as ‘the ideal tenor for the role of Gerontius’, Soar described as ‘an implacable, dark sounding Priest’ and Connolly, ‘a consummately polished Angel’ (The Guardian).
Lili Boulanger's setting of the 130th Psalm is a choral masterpiece. Tortelier and his forces deliver a vivid performance, recorded with tremendous presence. There is even more power in the old Markevich performance, done under Nadia Boulanger's supervision, but the superior Chandos recording makes a difference. Faust et Hélène is a somewhat immature student work (a strange qualification for music by a composer who died at 24), but it is also well performed. The remaining music represents Boulanger's visionary eloquence. This disc is highly recommended as an introduction to a great composer. After you hear it, try the Everest disc, despite the duplications. It contains Boulanger's deathbed Pie Jesu, a brief piece of such intense power that it will leave most listeners in tears.
In August 1942, a concert took place in Leningrad that defies belief. A year earlier, the Germans had begun the deadliest siege in history which would kill three quarters of a million civilians. In the midst of the terror, a group of starving musicians assembled to perform Shostakovich's 7th Symphony in what would become a defiant moment in the city's ultimate survival. Historian Amanda Vickery and BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service reveal the extraordinary story of triumph of the human spirit over unspeakable terror. Amanda shows how Leningrad was simultaneously persecuted by Stalin and Hitler, the 'twin monsters' of the 20th century. Meeting with siege survivors and uncovering diaries and photographs, she reveals the reality of life in Leningrad as it literally starved to death. Meanwhile, Tom explores the thin line walked by Dmitri Shostakovich as the composer came perilously close to becoming a victim of Stalin's paranoia, and reveals how, as Leningrad starved, his 7th Symphony was performed around the world, uniting audiences against a common enemy before finally returning to the city.
What could be more experimental on the ultra-pluralistic contemporary scene than a composer unconcerned with individuality? For much of the time, David Bedford’s Recorder Concerto offers the kind of discreetly accompanied scales and arpeggios that have been standard issue from Vivaldi to Malcolm Arnold…