DVORAK: SYMPHONY NO.9, ‘NEW WORLD’; CZECH SUITE; MY HOME Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Claus Peter Flor/BIS SACD IS1856 The earlier symphonies of Dvorák may be thin on the ground in the SACD medium, which is a state of affairs that will hopefully be remedied before too long. When it comes to the New World Symphony we are (unsurprisingly) spoiled for choice in surround sound medium, and new entries have to offer something special. It’s good to report that Claus Peter Flor and his Malaysian forces do just that, offering a reading brimming with vitality and colour. What makes the disc particularly cherishable are the charming readings of the under-played Czech Suite and a bravura My Home overture.
TCHAIKOVSKY: THE SLEEPING BEAUTY James Ehnes (violin), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Neeme Järvi/CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5113(2) This immensely winning two-disc set inaugurates an ambitious (and welcome) new project by Chandos to record Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores in the studio’s exemplary surround sound. The survey begins in striking fashion with the complete score of The Sleeping Beauty (Swan Lake and The Nutcracker are to follow in 2013 and 2014, respectively – if there’s still a classical music industry then). Tchaikovsky’s ballet adaptation of Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant was distinguished by the composer’s utilisation of then-unorthodox instrumental combinations, and had an influence on later composers such as Stravinsky. This is a splendidly colourful and poetic reading of the score, with only a handful of caveats (might the famous waltz have been dispatched with a touch more panache?), but at a stroke this becomes the default reading of the complete score.
TONGUES OF FIRE: ORGAN CONCERTI Martin Heini (organ), The State Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Novosibirsk, Rainer Held/Guild GMCD 7386 This is unusual repertoire, the Poulenc Organ Concerto apart — and the fact that the Poulenc is not exactly under-recorded — might have made this a disc which could have escaped many people’s notice. But rave reviews have been forthcoming, and they have been justified – not least for the novelty here, Rütti’s splendid Concerto for Organ, Strings and Percussion, which (in its pawky individuality) is something of a find. What’s more, the Poulenc is given one of its most impressive readings. This is a CD worth seeking out.
TRAVELLING SONATA: Ravel, Faure, etc., Viviana Guzman (flute), Jeremy Jouve (guitar)/ Reference RR-128 The art of the arrangement is alive and well, as this subtle but companionable disc proves. Fauré’s Pavane lends itself better to the transcription for guitar and flute than Ravel’s Bolero, but the rest of the disc is full of quiet charm – and it is impeccably played.
TCHAIKOVSKY: THE NUTCRACKER Andreas Morrell director/Warner DVD 2564-65630-9 There is no shortage of serviceable performances of The Nutcracker on DVD, but this is one of the most accomplished, graced as it is with dancers of great elegance and vitality.
HOWARD SHORE THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Decca 00602537155651(2) Over the years (with his highly successful adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), the director Peter Jackson has called upon the services of the composer Howard Shore as his musical amanuensis — so it was perhaps inevitable that Shore would be the default composer for the director’s version of the Tolkien prequel. And the fact that Jackson is planning to expand Tolkien’s slim book into three blockbuster movies means that Shore enthusiasts will be getting more than their money’s worth.
THREE GREAT AMERICA LIGHT ORCHESTRAS Percy Faith, David Rose and Paul Weston Orchestras/Guild GLCD 5200 Guild’s commitment to reissuing the very best of light orchestral music from the past continues apace with this beguiling collection, benefiting once again from the audio restorations and remasterings of Alan Bunting.