Berg by Arrangement
These arrangements for string orchestra of works by Alban Berg – some by Berg himself, others by later musicians – chart his development as a composer, from prentice pieces composed under the tutelage of Arnold Schoenberg to the rich, mature style of one of his masterpieces, the Lyric Suite, written to express an impassioned and illicit love.
Ján Cikker: Piano Music
Ján Cikker (1911–89) was one of the leading Slovak composers of the twentieth century, with no fewer than nine operas to his credit. Cikker was also a fluent pianist and his piano music – little known even in his native Slovakia (this disc features several first recordings) – sits downstream from Szymanowski and Janáček, similarly blending folk influences with an echo of French impressionism.
Ferenc Farkas: Orchestral Music, Volume Two
This second release in a series of recordings of orchestral music by the Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas (1905–2000) – this time featuring works for strings – highlights the characteristics that make his music so appealing: catchy tunes, transparent scoring, buoyant rhythms and a fondness for Baroque forms and folk-dances.
Orlando Jacinto García: Music for Chorus and Orchestra
Born in Havana in 1954, the Miami-based Orlando Jacinto García studied with Morton Feldman and has inherited some of Feldman’s concerns: his music likewise evolves gradually over slow-moving spans of time, unfolding like the leaves of a plant, generating colours as with the gentle turning of a kaleidoscope. The elegiac Auschwitz (they will never be forgotten), a meditation for chorus and orchestra, captures something of the infinite sorrow evoked by the memory of such institutionalised cruelty. Varadero Memories is an abstract recollection of a Cuban beach where as a child he spent time with his grandparents. And the hypnotic In Memoriam Earle Brown pays elegant, understated tribute to a seminal figure in American modernism.
Théodore Gouvy: Songs
The instrumental and orchestral music of the Franco-German Romantic Théodore Gouvy (1819–98) is slowly being rediscovered. Gouvy also wrote a generous number of melodious songs, showing a predilection for the sixteenth-century love-poems of Pierre de Ronsard. Only eleven of the 26 songs on this CD have been recorded before, and none in the key the composer intended, as they are here for the first time; the others are first-ever recordings.
John Kinsella: Symphonies
John Kinsella (b. 1932) is the most important Irish symphonist since Stanford, with no fewer than ten to his credit. This CD couples Kinsella’s Fifth Symphony, written in 1992, an impassioned setting of humanist poetry by three Irish poets killed in the 1916 Uprising, with his most recent, No. 10, composed in 2010 for an orchestra of Mozartean dimensions, its clear textures animated by driving power and energy.
Robin Milford: Chamber Music
Charles O’Brien: Complete Piano Music, Volume One
Charles O’Brien (1882–1968) was a mainstay of musical life in Edinburgh, but his attractive, lyrical muse has long been forgotten even there, let alone anywhere else. This first recording in a series devoted to his music reveals a composer whose lively music reflects his Scottish heritage, mixing grand gestures with Schumannesque intimacies and Brahmsian bravura.
Richard Stöhr: Chamber Music, Volume One
Like Korngold, Schoenberg, Zeisl and Zemlinsky, Richard Stöhr (1874–1967) was another Austrian composer driven into American exile by the Nazis. His generous output of music – ripe for rediscovery – includes seven symphonies, fifteen violin sonatas among much other chamber music, songs, and choral and piano pieces. His two works for cello and piano – the four Fantasiestücke of 1907 and a Sonata from 1915, recorded here in the first of a series devoted to Stöhr’s music – reveal a composer with a lyrical and expressive language downstream from Brahms and Schumann.
Wagner: Transcriptions for solo piano by August Stradal, Volume Two
The Czech-born pianist and writer August Stradal (1860–1930) – a student of Bruckner and disciple of Liszt – was one of the more prolific transcribers of the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries, producing a vast quantity of piano music, including Liszt’s orchestral works, most of the Bruckner symphonies, a good deal of the Baroque (not least a huge amount of Bach) and much more, most of it phenomenally difficult to play. This series of recordings presents his Wagner transcriptions, cast in the best barnstorming virtuoso tradition.
Music for Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock commissioned his film scores from composers who were Hollywood’s master-craftsmen. The concert items prepared from those scores – some of them receiving their first recordings here – feature a dazzling variety of styles, from Baroque and jazz to dark Romanticism and angular angst, all using the orchestra with breathtaking virtuosity.