Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
(13 October – 26 October)
- BORODIN, A.P.: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 (Seattle Symphony, Schwarz) (Naxos: 8.572786)
- CZERNY, C.: Piano Concerto, Op. 153 / Symphony No. 2 (Liu, Gobel, Frankfurt Brandenburg State Orchestra, Athinaos) (Christophorus: CHE0140-2)
- SCHMIDT-KOWALSKI, T.: Symphony No. 3 / Cello Concerto (N. Schneider, SWR Kaiserslautern Orchestra, Neuman) (Naxos: 8.551212)
PERFORMANCES TO TRUST
Borodin always looked upon his activities as a composer as very much secondary to his work as a chemist and physician, in which fields he made some notable contributions to science. These scientific activities also involved much travel in Europe, where he was doubtless able to immerse himself in local musical life.
Borodin, a member of the group of Russian musicians known as 'The Five' proved to be as much of an innovator in his music as he was in his scientific disciplines. His first symphony, despite taking four years to complete, remains highly cohesive showing no signs of this extended period of composition. Rather to the disapproval of the other four of his Russian colleagues, Borodin’s music, especially his first symphony, was influenced as much by European composers as by Russian. His second symphony is much more ‘Russian’. The combination of Borodin and Glazunov in the incomplete third leaves one wondering just how much each has contributed to the whole. For those who believe they do not know the music of Borodin should be reminded that Kismet was based on Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. The music for the song “Stranger in Paradise” is also Borodin’s. His symphonies are equally tuneful and enjoyable.
Gerard Schwarz was conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for over a quarter of a century bringing the ensemble to unprecedented heights. Attention has been drawn to other recent critically acclaimed recordings of Russian music by the orchestra, notable Rimsky Korsakov’s Sheherazade. It is certain that this disc maintains their consistent excellence of playing and interpretation. The recording is also of a very high standard. And at this or any other price this discs becomes a premier recommendation for these symphonies.
Czerny - worth a listen
Czerny has a reputation as a composer of piano exercises, but this album shows why Beethoven had a high regard for him. Like the music of Ries, this shows the clear influence of Beethoven. The Czerny Symphony No. 2 in D has some parts that are very similar to Beethoven's second symphony, but there are still some interesting and original places in the Czerny work. The Piano Concerto is a grand C major work - perhaps there are places where the piano writing does sound a bit too much like exercises.
The music is perhaps not quite memorable enough to be described as great, but Czerny was a good composer - nice harmonic language, and nice writing for the orchestra. The performances are excellent. I might listen to other Czerny Symphonies when they are available. I would also like to hear some of Czerny's choral music - Masses and Requiems exist.
Find of the century!
It may sound a little over the top, but this CD certainly is a great find. The music is inspiring, melodic and a delight to listen to.
Schmidt-Kowalski was born in 1949, which makes the music even more amazing. It continues the romantic tradition into the 21st Century. Sure it may be eclectic, sounding a little like Brahms, Bruckner, along with the melodic sweetness of Max Bruch, but it has its own stamp of originality.
The 3rd symphony is in 3 movements; the outer ones sounding very pastoral, but strong, with the middle scherzo reminiscent of Bruckner.
The cello concerto which was written in 2002 is in 3 movements. The opening "allegro" is almost rhapsodic, but ends in a blaze of excitement. The 2nd movement presents a beautiful rather Brahmsian flowing melody. The whole work ends all too soon.
The composer apparently began his career writing in an avant-garde style, but then (thankfully) chose the path of romanticism.
There are other Naxos releases of Schmidt-Kowalski; his 4th symphony coupled with a violin concerto, a disc of symphonic poems and a CD of cello sonatas.
The composer doesn't have a very informative website, but it does mention a premiere performance of his 5th symphony on March 24th 2012.
Discover for yourself the wonderful music of Schmidt-Kowalski as soon as possible!
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