Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Recordings 2008 Part II

Part two of my choice of a baker's dozen best recordings of 2008.

7) Roussel Symphony # 2, Pour une Fête de Printemps, Suite in F Naxos 8-570529 Royal Scottish National Orchestra Stéphane Denève

Second edition of the symphonies of this somewhat neglected French master. The 2nd is every bit as fine as the much more well known 3rd, but with its dark texture and overall gloomy mood, it is more of a challenge to listen to. But the rewards in doing so are many.

8) Siegmund von Hausegger "Natursymphonie" CPO 777-237-2 WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Ari Rasilainen

If you like Mahler, Strauss or just plain long, richly scored works, this is your ticket. Von Hausegger wrote only a few orchestral works, so he put it all in this son of "Alpinesinfonie".

9) Elgar Cello Concerto Walton Cello Concerto Orfeo C 621 061-A Daniel Müller-Schott Oslo Philharmonic Previn

Müller-Schott is a fine cellist and this dark, brooding yet satisfying Elgar approaches the level of the legendary du Pré recording. I don't much care for Walton, but this is a convincing performance of his weakest concerto. If a performance makes me enjoy Walton, it has to be good. Previn's experience and ease with Walton and English music contributes a lot to this outstanding recording.

10) d'Indy Orchestral Works Vol 1 Chandos CHAN 10464 Rumon Gumba, Iceland SO

This disc, 1st of a projected series, shows that d'Indy wrote more than his once famous but now rarely heard Symphony on a French Mountain Air. "Jour d'été à la montagne" (1905) is another mountain inspired show piece, Strauss' Alpinesinfonie through Debussy's ears. The other works, "Souvenirs" and "La Foret Enchantée", are colorful and quite well done.

11) Villa Lobos Chôros # 11, 5 and 7 BIS 1440 John Neschling, Cristina Ortiz Piano, Sao Paulo State SO

Volume 1 of the complete Chôros from Brazil's premiere composer. # 11 is a huge hour long continuous piano concerto that has to be taxing to play, but a delight to hear. # 5 "Alma brasileira" is a short solo piano piece. # 7 is a wonderful and exotically scored tone poem. Wonderful stuff! The other two discs in this series are equally as good.

12) Mieczyslaw Karlowicz Symphonic Poems Naxos 8 570452 Antoni Wit, Warsaw Philharmonic

Karlowicz would have been a major voice in Polish music at the turn of the century. His death at 30 left us with just a few jewels such as on this wonderful disc. Wit milks this exuberant music for all it is worth.

13) Erkki Melartin Six Symphonies Ondine 931 Leonid Grinn Tampere Philharmonic

Released in 1999, I first heard Melartin's Mahler-esque, romantically charged symphonies for the first time a couple months ago. Melodic, well crafted, a little less dark and quirky than his contemporary Sibelius, his symphonies do have an unique voice and are well worth exploring.

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