Dieterich Buxtehude's organ works are his most significant contribution to the history of music. They consist of a comprehensive corpus of just 90 compositions, of which more than half are chorale settings. However, these are mostly shorter than the preludes, toccatas and other freely conceived pieces, so these last represent a more substantial share of his entire output.
Although Korngold’s ‘complete works for violin and piano’ make up a reasonably full disc, it is only fair to point out that the Violin Sonata is the single work that is not an arrangement from one of his other pieces. Yet this Sonata, written at the age of 15 for Carl Flesch and Artur Schnabel no less, is a fine example of his early style, with its echoes of Zemlinsky and early Schoenberg. The young Dutch violinist Sonja van Beek and German pianist Andreas Frölich negotiate its challenges with ease: as in Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, the pianist has as tough a role as the melody instrument. Much Ado about Nothing is one of several arrangements of a suite of four movements derived from incidental music to Shakespeare’s play written in 1918, performed here with affection and a silken suavity. The remainder of the repertoire is made up of arrangements of Korngold lollipops, hit numbers from his operas, such as the unforgettable ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die tote Stadt, arranged by the composer as salon pieces and popularised by Kreisler and his ilk. Here, the almost vocal qualities of van Beek’s tone come into their own. An essential disc for the Korngold addict.
Following the Grammy nominated Volume 2 featuring the music of Fitelberg, the Canadian ARC Ensemble presents Volume 3 in its "Music in Exile" series, dedicated to the music of Szymon Laks. Born in Warsaw in 1901, Laks studied in Paris before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He soon joined and conducted the Auschwitz orchestra (his auditioning with a 'Jewish' work - Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto - went unnoticed). Although the trauma of his imprisonment left him alienated and reclusive, few of his works refer specifically to the Holocaust.
Although the large box and the Sacred Works title might lead you to expect a complete collection of Tomás Luis de Victoria's sacred music, that's not what it is, and in fact some famous pieces, such as the Requiem in six parts, are not included. Instead, conductor Michael Noone lists the criteria for inclusion as follows: the collection focuses on works Victoria composed in Madrid, works that are preserved in manuscripts, works or versions of works that have never been recorded, and works involving an organ or winds, or written in sections that alternate with chant.
Turina's take on Spanish folk idioms is unmatched, and showcased quite nicely on this CD. The "Danzas fantasticas" are the highlight, but the romantic flair of all the works on this recording is not to be missed. The orchestra is brilliant throughout, and the technical aspects of the recording are lacking nothing. Absolutely no complaints, only pure enjoyment. You can't go wrong with this one.
A CD containing Bruckner’s music for piano may come as something of a surprise, since you either need to know a lot about Bruckner, or conversely very little, to expect such a thing. Yet here it is, and very interesting it is too. Fumiko Shiraga plays very well, and her performances can be described as dedicated and thoroughly prepared. In addition the BIS recorded sound is as good as we have come to expect from this reliable company: full toned and atmospheric, with due attention to detail.
Rarely have Busoni’s orchestral works been animated with such grasp, interpretive authority, and sheer executive brilliance. Passionate advocates haven’t lacked, but they’ve been hampered by second-string ensembles, incomprehension, expedience, and timorous interpretive gambits. Even Marc-André Hamelin’s otherwise splendid go at the Piano Concerto was marred by too often faceless, routine orchestral backup.