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Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2
Romain Descharmes, Piano • Malmö Symphony Orchestra
The sheer attractiveness of Saint-Saëns’s music has ensured its immortality in the canon of French romantic composers. Spanning almost four decades, his five piano concertos vary widely in character but offer some of his most exciting if unorthodox creations, and represent an important evolutionary phase in the French piano concerto. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, widely considered the first by a major French composer, is a youthful and exuberant piece, and the virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor is one of Saint-Saëns’s most popular and frequently performed works in any genre.
Charles-Auguste de BÉRIOT (1802–1870)
Violin Concertos Nos. 4, 6 and 7
Scène de ballet • Air varié No. 4 “Montagnard”
Ayana Tsuji, Violin • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • Michael Halász
In 1896 The Strad described Charles Auguste de Bériot, whose playing created a sensation in London and Paris, as ‘the founder of the modern Franco-Belgian [violin] school’. His Violin Concertos include plenty of innovative features, such as ricochet bowing, double-stops and harmonics. These techniques and other innovations in formal structure are, however, all in the service of expressive communication and stylish elegance. The romantic Scène de ballet is perhaps Bériot’s best known work, while the Air Varié, Op. 5 follows a long tradition of writing variations on popular themes.
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916–2013)
Symphony No. 2 “Le Double”
Timbres, espace, movement
Mystère de l’instant*
Françoise Rivalland, Cimbalom*
Orchestre National de Lille • Darrell Ang
Henri Dutilleux’s perfectionism resulted in a distinctive and individual musical language of rare poetry and invention. The interplay of stereophonic and polyrhythmic effects and jazzy brass writing in Symphony No. 2 ‘Le Double’ forms, in the composer’s own words, ‘a musical play of mirrors and of contrasting colors’, while Timbres, espaces, mouvement is Dutilleux’s response to Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, a ‘longing for the infinity of nature’. The series of snapshots in Mystère de l’instant evokes fleeting and almost magical moments in time, its cumulative power indicative of a consummate composer at the height of his powers.
Leopold KOŽELUCH (1747–1818)
Symphonies, Vol. 1
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
A prolific composer of instrumental music including symphonies, Leopold Koželuch was one of the most prominent Bohemian composers working in Vienna during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His best works reveal an impressive command of the musical language of Viennese classicism and at times a lyricism that seems to foreshadow the youthful works of Schubert. This recording draws on original sources and corrects a number of mistakes encountered in previously published versions.
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Complete Songs for Soprano and Piano
Krassimira Stoyanova, Soprano • Maria Prinz, Piano
Though Puccini represents the late-Romantic apex of the Italian operatic tradition, his songs are much less well known and, in their pared simplicity and emotional restraint, could hardly be more different from his stage works. The nineteen complete songs for soprano (two in duet with a mezzo) and piano cover themes typical of lyric poetry including life, death, personal resolution, love, nature, home and religious faith. There are also rare salon pieces and examples of Puccini’s secular and sacred juvenilia, written between 1875 and 1880.
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Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919–1996)
Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano
Grigory Kalinovsky, Violin • Tatiana Goncharova, Piano
Naxos 8.572320-21 [2 CDs]
Mieczysław Weinberg is now recognized as one of the outstanding Russian composers of the second half of the twentieth century. Fêted for his symphonies and string quartets, he also wrote a sequence of Violin Sonatas crucial to the development of his distinctive and elusive musical idiom. Shostakovich’s influence is evident in the Third Violin Sonata, as are Jewish melodic elements, while the Fourth Violin Sonata is alternately somber and hectic. His masterpiece is the Fifth Violin Sonata, symphonic in scale but subtle in form, and containing some of his most affecting writing.
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Jennifer HIGDON (b. 1962)
All Things Majestic
Viola Concerto†1 • Oboe Concerto†2
Roberto Díaz, Viola1 • James Button, Oboe2
Nashville Symphony • Giancarlo Guerrero
†WORLD PREMIÈRE RECORDING
Jennifer Higdon is one of the most distinguished composers working in America today, and her music is a perfect fit for the Nashville Symphony, which has long maintained a commitment to championing the country’s most important voices. All Things Majestic is a four-movement suite which vividly captures the breath-taking beauty of the American landscape, and her wonderfully expressive concertos for viola and oboe bring out the unique textures and sonorities of these frequently overlooked solo instruments.