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Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)
Symphony No. 6, Op. 111
Waltz Suite, Op. 110
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Marin Alsop
Prokofiev started work on his Sixth Symphony in 1945 and, unlike the victorious mood of the Fifth (Naxos 8.573029) it reveals a darker response to war and its consequences. The work was condemned by the ‘Zhdanov decree’ but composer and critics regarded the symphony highly, the noble yet anguished threnody of its central Largo balanced by the painful violence of the outer movements. The work’s ending has been described as “one of the most shattering in the repertoire”. With themes both capricious and sensuous, the Waltz Suite recycles material from earlier scores to create a remarkably effective quasi-symphonic entity.
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Kevin PUTS (b. 1972)
Symphony No. 2
Flute Concerto* • River’s Rush
Adam Walker, Flute* • Peabody Symphony Orchestra
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2012, Kevin Puts now stands in the forefront of contemporary American composers. His powerfully conceived Symphony No. 2 is a musical illustration of the events of 9/11 and traces a movement from unsuspecting bliss and rhapsody through violent upheaval to a reflective epilogue that contains both uncertainty and hope. Possibly inspired by thoughts of the Mississippi, River’s Rush employs novel harmonies, while elegant transparency distinguishes the refined beauty of the Flute Concerto.
Maximilian STEINBERG (1883–1946)
The Clarion Choir • Steven Fox
Passion Week is a long-lost choral masterpiece composed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s favourite student, heir apparent and son-in-law, Maximilian Steinberg. A product of his interest in the sacred and mystical, it is a tour de force of the systematic use of medieval Church Slavonic chant melodies and shares with Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil the colourful use of choral textures. Steinberg’s settings are complex and rich, with a diverse and sometimes daring harmonic palette, offering eleven movements of distinctive and expressive content that reveal an artist’s search for identity at a time of increasing hostility to religion.
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Fernando SOR (1778–1839)
24 Progressive Lessons, Op. 31
6 Little Pieces, Op. 32
Norbert Kraft, Guitars • Jeffrey McFadden, Guitars
Fernando Sor was not only one of the great guitarists of his era but a major composer for the instrument, described by a contemporary critic as ‘the Beethoven of the guitar’. His desire for the guitar to represent a miniature orchestra in timbre is a distinctive feature of his many compositions. The 24 Progressive Lessons, Op. 31 offer a panoramic lexicon for the student, moving from a simple waltz to perpetual motion, whilst the charming Six Little Pieces, Op. 32 further explore technical efficiency and musical expressiveness.
John FIELD (1782–1837)
Piano Concerto No. 7 in C major1
Piano Sonata No. 4 in B major
Benjamin Frith, Piano • Northern Sinfonia1 • David Haslam1
Royal Scottish National Orchestra2 • Andrew Mogrelia2
Dublin-born prodigy John Field enjoyed a wide reputation and great popularity. He was renowned as a soloist for his delicacy of nuance and as a composer for his cultivation of that most poetic of forms, the nocturne. His Piano Concertos were eagerly anticipated and the première of the Concerto No. 7 in Paris on Christmas Day 1832 was attended by both Chopin and Liszt. Ingeniously structured in two movements, its Rondo finale evokes the ballroom and Russia in a series of constant contrasts. The Irish Concerto is a reworking of the first movement of Field’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A flat major. Piano Concertos No. 1-4 can be heard on 8.553770 and 8.553771.
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Eugene ZÁDOR (1894–1977)
A Christmas Overture
Rhapsody for Large Orchestra* • Fugue Fantasia*
Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV • Mariusz Smolij
*WORLD PREMIÈRE RECORDING
Eugene Zádor’s long and productive career brought him success on both sides of the Atlantic, his music admired for its assured orchestration, confident mastery of form and unstoppable flow of melodic invention. The Christmas Overture captures both the festivity and solemnity of the season, while the iconic portraits of the Biblical Triptych form one of Zádor’s most ambitious and colourful orchestral works. The Rhapsody is filled with distinctive Hungarian flavours, and the Fugue Fantasia concludes this programme with majestic triumph.
Johann Michael HAYDN (1737–1806)
Symphonies, Vol. 2
Sinfonia in D major, P. 42
Sinfonia in B flat major, P. 18
Sinfonia in E flat major, P. 17
Sinfonia in F major, P. 22
Filip Dvořák, Harpsichord
Czech Chamber Phiharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
Johann Michael Haydn’s music has inevitably been overshadowed by that of his elder brother Franz Joseph, but his music represents some of the best features of 18th century classicism. These four Sinfonias span just over a decade, from the graceful combination of elegance and liveliness in the Sinfonia in D, the muted violins in the Adagietto affettuoso of the Sinfonia in E flat, the lovely sicilienne of the Sinfonia in B flat to the substantial Sinfonia in F, which features a solo violin and cor anglais playing together or in alternation. Volume 1 of this series can be heard on Naxos 8.573497.
The Intimacy of Creativity
Five Year Retrospective
SCHOENBERG • SHENG • YEN • TOMMASINI
MARGETIĆ • AKIHO • ORDWAY • PÄRT
Nolan Pearson, Piano • Jing Wang, Zhao Yingna, Violins
Mariel Roberts, Richard Bamping, Cellos
Andrew Ling, Viola • Jiang Xinlai, Double Bass
Megan Sterling, Flute • Michael Wilson, Oboe
Kwan Sheung-fung, Cor anglais • Andrew Simon, Clarinet
Benjamin Moermond, Bassoon • Lin Jiang, Horn
Pius Cheung, Andy Akiho, Percussion
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Bright Sheng, Artistic Director
Naxos 8.573614-15 [2 CDs]
This celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology features an exciting range of music, from the string orchestra version of Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht to a sequence of invigorating contemporary scores. They provide a perfect opportunity to showcase the individual and collective talents of the distinguished principals of the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestra. Two works, by Ming-Hsiu Yen and Matthew Tommasini, focus on Hong Kong’s landscape, whether majestically natural or manically urban, and the selection ends with Arvo Pärt’s modern classic, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.