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Classical - Released April 30, 2013 | Toccata Classics

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Toccata Classics

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The Polish composer Moritz Moszkowski (1854–1925) is best remembered for a handful of virtuoso piano pieces, but he also produced a substantial body of orchestral music, most of it unperformed for a century or more. The first volume in this first-ever survey of his orchestral output presented the monumental smphonic poem in four movements Johanna d’Arc – a vast symphonic fresco depicting the life, death and transfiguration of the heroine of Schiller’s 1801 play Die Jungfrau von Orleans – and drew a warm welcome from the musical press. These two big-hearted Suites continue that process of discovery, opening a treasure chest of gorgeous melody and sumptuous orchestral writing that make these forgotten gems irresistibly attractive. © Toccata Classics
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Classical - Released November 21, 2006 | Meridian Records

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Classical - Released November 1, 2013 | Vantage Music

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Classical - Released January 19, 2018 | Toccata Classics

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Nowadays everyone knows (or should know) Martinů’s symphonies, as well as some of his brilliant symphonic poems such as The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, but most of the orchestral works from his first maturity – recorded here in several volumes – remain largely ignored. With these volumes, you’ll hear how in 1915-1920, Martinů already wrote prime Martinů-esque works, in such a distinctive style – even though the orchestra can be reminiscent of Josef Suk, Debussy and Strauss, or even Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead. In fact, just like Rachmaninoff’s work, the ballad Villa by the Sea (Vol. 3) is clearly evocative of a – very similar – Böcklin painting! Please note this is a discographic first (yes this can still be a thing for Martinů! As unlikely as it sounds), same for the eerie Míjející půlnoc (“Vanishing Midnight”, Vol. 3), a brilliant orchestral feat. The Shadow (Vol. 2), a ballet from 1916, at times features baroque idioms – it is indeed said that Martinů often drew inspiration from his predecessors, always with incredible musical originality. All in all, a must for the fans of a composer who, as it seems, still holds quite a few tricks up his sleeve. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 1, 2006 | Albany Records

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Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | WM Poland - WMI

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Classical - Released November 1, 2013 | Vantage Music

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Classical - Released May 3, 2011 | CD Accord

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Classical - Released December 14, 2020 | SI Music_MM

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Classical - Released July 1, 2007 | Albany Records

Canadian composer Michael S. Horwood started out in the field of new music leading an improvising ensemble called Convergence at the Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, where Horwood taught until his retirement in 2003. Horwood's orchestral Amusement Park Suite (1986) represented a radical shift in his work, away from the highly technical and hyper-complex world of new music as it was known in 1986 and toward a more neo-Romantic idiom that nonetheless retained some vestiges of what he had done before. This work is included in Albany Records' disc devoted to Horwood, Suite and Serious, along with his National Park Suite (1990) and Symphony No. 1 (1984) performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia under Ian Hobson. The program is filled out by a set of variations for piano and orchestra, Intravariations (1997), with the solo part played by Joseph Kubera. Amusement Park Suite (1986) is Horwood's signature piece and has been performed with considerable frequency both in Canada and the United States, largely by community orchestras and at children's concerts. In terms of reaching children and classical music-hating adults, Amusement Park Suite is great for that purpose, and though occasionally cinematic in tone it is nevertheless fresh sounding and very creative in an orchestral sense. The Symphony No. 1 is only slightly earlier and is dedicated to the memory of Idora Park in Youngstown, OH, which closed as the ink was drying on Horwood's manuscript. It is a little tougher than the Amusement Park Suite but not very much so -- some listeners might find it reminiscent of some mid-twentieth century symphonies such as those by Roger Sessions or Karl Amadeus Hartmann. National Park Suite finds Horwood back in his pictorial mode, converting national parks located in both Canada and the United States into music, as Ferde Grofé once did. Occasionally one finds Horwood's musical correspondences a little mystifying, such as the strident march figures used to represent Yellowstone, but everyone takes away from the national parks their own distinct impressions and Horwood deserves points for keeping true to himself. Intravariations are Bartókian in style and not bad, although this more "serious" effort seems a bit out of place in comparison to the other three works. As with most Albany releases featuring Hobson and the Sinfonia Varsovia of recent vintage, both the performance and recording are terrific. Amusement Park Suite certainly has going for it a measure of accessibility, is well orchestrated, and its presence in the recorded repertoire is welcome; the other pieces are at least interesting. Albany's Suite and Serious will help stimulate performances of Horwood's music and allay the fears of prospective concertgoers faced with the prospect of an unfamiliar name on the program -- don't worry folks, this guy isn't going to bite you. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 14, 2008 | Albany Records

Often dubbed the dean of African-American composers and the first one to win the Pulitzer Prize in music, George Walker has written music in many media. But it is his orchestral music that has consistently shown up on concert programs since the 1960s, especially notable in view of the economic obstacles in writing modern music for full symphony orchestra. He is one of the few academic composers to command consistent attention in that most public of media. It's easy to hear why orchestras like Walker; he is a master handler of the brass and wind sections, allowing these players to hold the spotlight with long passages that are precise yet often quite evocative. His music makes use of abstract formal procedures with limited recourse to tonal centers, but the formal markers are local and cumulative in effect; an attentive audience will follow what's going on. Walker's music neither ignores the material of African-American history nor takes it as definitive. The opening Address for Orchestra, finished in 1959, refers in a general way to Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," and Hoopla (A Touch of Glee), commissioned for the centennial of the city of Las Vegas in 2005, contains a hard-to-recognize quotation of a tune by Fats Waller. An attractive feature of Walker's music is his avoidance of trends; the pieces here span his entire creative life, and the later ones, though a bit denser, are made of the same stuff. This release is especially recommended to students specifically interested in Walker's music; the booklet notes, though uncredited, must be by either Walker himself or by someone closely connected to him, for they contain such insider information as the observation that the brevity of the Sinfonia No. 1 for orchestra "can be attributed in part to the skimpiness of the commission fee." Beyond that, Poland's Sinfonia Varsovia under British conductor Ian Hobson acquits itself decently in what must have been difficult and unfamiliar music, and any listener wanting to make a start with contemporary African-American music in the concert tradition might do well to select this release. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 1, 2008 | Albany Records

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Classical - Released February 7, 2017 | WM Poland - WMI

Recorded in January 2017, this album directed by Krysztof Penderecki shows off his 1980 Second Symphony (first performed in 1981 by the New York Philharmonic), followed by Dvořák's Seventh, all under the same, distinguished baton. Penderecki's Second bears the completely apocryphal title of "Christmas Symphony", although neither the score nor the orchestral parts mention it, despite the fact that its tones are rather more tragic than pastoral: Christmas is only evoked by a veiled allusion to Douce nuit, by way of departure from the theme. The audience at its début were stunned by the "step backwards" that the composer made towards a much more consonant language, denuded of any avant-garde content, a tendency which then developed across the whole world. And few complained, it must be said. Regardless, this symphony is a superb masterpiece. His reading of Dvořák, all in orchestral colours, underlines that as well as a towering composer he is also an excellent conductor. We note that Penderecki, since 2003, has been the artistic director of the Sinfonia Varsovia. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 1, 2007 | Albany Records

The career of Texas-to-New York-to-Texas transplant Don Gillis, a protégé of no less than Arturo Toscanini, would seem ripe for rediscovery in this age of neo-tonalism. This disc perhaps presupposes too much knowledge of a composer who has been largely forgotten -- it omits his best-known work, the Symphony No. 5 ½ ("A Symphony for Fun," which is included on a different release in the same series on the Albany Troy contemporary music label), and it includes a work Gillis himself rejected, the rather meandering Symphony No. 3: A Symphony for Free Men. It's still an entertaining introduction to a composer whom the booklet notes call "a cowboy-country Neil Simon of the concert hall." Actually the influences are not so much country (although there is a dash of Copland's "Hoedown" idiom, as well as numerous imprints of his music in general) as pop-symphonic, band music, and, to a degree, jazz. The music is nationalistic in a Fourth-of-July-under-the-stars way, but it makes room for a distinctive sense of humor -- hear the waltz of the slightly lurching "Conventioneer" in the third movement of the Symphony X: Big D of 1968. Not so successful is the "Requiem" movement of the same work, surely intended as a tribute to John F. Kennedy but managing only a weak pastoral idiom. Gillis was popular enough at the time to compete for magazine space with what one reviewer aptly called "laboratory composers," and his apt percussion orchestration in Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil (1950) makes it easy to see why -- the oil "gusher" that is struck in the course of the piece could have been irredeemably hokey but is not. The Sinfonia Varsovia under Ian Hobson plays as though it had been hanging out on the Great Plains its entire life, and it makes a case for the rediscovery of Gillis, even if not perhaps with these precise works -- he wrote more than 150 compositions, including 11 symphonies, in all. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | WM Poland - WMI

While the overture to Tatry - Król Wichrów (The Tatras - the King of the Winds) by Feliks Nowowiejski seems to be played and recorded often enough, it is quite another matter when it comes to this 1929 opera-ballet which is, unless this reviewer is mistaken, recorded here for the first time. Nowowiejski's style stands at a junction of many different schools: yes, he studied in Germany, under Max Bruch among others, and he even won the Meyerbeer Prize for his oratorio The Return of the Prodigal Son which allowed him to make a grand tour of Europe, over the course of which he would meet Mahler, Saint-Saëns, Mascagni and Leoncavallo. That said, upon listening to the first strains of the overture, you could be forgiven for thinking that you'd put on Debussy instead, or indeed, a few bars later and faintly posthumously, Bruckner, Liszt or Wagner, before the discourse becomes much more personal. Of course, the Polish composer was very much taken with musical nationalism: Nowowiejski deploys a number of themes of Polish inspiration in this work set in the Polish mountains; but the language overall remains, let's say, very "European". Either way, this is one of the most interesting works which we would love to see on stage on the other side of the Oder-Neisse line. The Sinfonia Varsovia brings all of its passion to the resurrection of this intriguing music. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 1, 2010 | Albany Records

George Walker, more often than not referred to as the dean of African-American composers, is increasingly noteworthy in another sphere, as well; all the music on this release was first performed after he turned 70, and the most recent work, the quite ambitious Concerto for violin and orchestra, was first performed in December 2009, when he was 87. Kudos to the Albany label, by the way, for having this recording in circulation by March 2010; it's timely and exciting. The violin part of the concerto is played by the composer's son, Gregory Walker, on a fine 1718 Stradivarius instrument, and it's a dense, gnarly essay in which the violin seems by sheer virtuoso force to wrench itself free from close, dissonant orchestral textures. All of the music on the album has a serious but somehow ceremonial quality, with vigorous brass writing handled well by Poland's Sinfonia Varsovia under conductor Ian Hobson. Perhaps the piece of most interest here for general symphonic orchestra is the 10-minute Foils for orchestra, subtitled "Homage à Saint George." The work stands up to its triple referents: swordplay, the story of St. George, and the dragon, and Walker's illustrious predecessor among composers of African descent, the Guadeloupean-French violinist Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a noted fencer himself. The final Pageant and Proclamation, written for the 1997 opening of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, demonstrates Walker's approach to the use of distinctively African-American content: he quotes "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "We Shall Overcome" rather than inflecting his basic idiom in the direction of African content. The notes, copyrighted 2009, are by Walker himself, who is delightfully photographed on the cover holding a big red rose. Recommended, especially for those interested in the phenomenon of late-life creativity. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 2, 2018 | WM Poland - WMI

Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | WM Poland - WMI

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Classical - Released December 6, 2018 | WM Poland - WMI