LARSSON:Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 34. Three Orchestral Pieces, Op. 49. Adagio for String Orchestra Op. 48. Musica Permutatio, Op. 66
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Manze cond.
CPO SACD 777 673 TT: 72:46

BEETHOVEN: The Nine Symphonies
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DGG 004400735557 (2 Blu Ray disks) TT: 167:21 / 163:45

SCHUMAN: Judith (Choreograophic Poem). Nught Journey. The Witch of Endor
Boston Modern Orchestra Project / Gil Rose, cond
BMOP SACD 1062 TT: 81:47

Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986) wrote profusely, his works including countless concertos for various instruments and much chamber music. The enterprising CPO label is now focus g on Larsson's symphonic works performed by the fine Helsingborg Symphony directed by Andrew Manze. Already they have issued the symphonies 1 and 2. The latter, coupled with Variations for Orchestra and Barocco Suite was unenthusiastically mentioned on this site about three years ago (REVIEw). Now we have this new SACD highlighted by his final Symphony, No. 3 in C minor, composed 1944-1945, along with the other works listed above. The symphony has four movements and lasts 35:44. The highpoint is the third movement scherzo; otherwise this is prosaic music-making. The other pieces are equally unimpressive. There are no Nordic hidden treasures here. Manze and the excellent orchestra do what can be done for this repertory and the engineers have captured their sound most effectively. This release is welcome only as now we have the opportunity to know how this music sounds, even though it is of minimal interest

Karajan's 1975 - 1977 recordings of the Beethoven symphonies has long been admired, and has been issued many times. Here we have them on two Blu Ray disks, and the formats are regular stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Merits and importance of these recordings are established, one of the world's greatest conductors's statement on this major repertory music. On these we can hear them in excellent, well-balanced stereo, or in 5.1 surround. For the latter format, there is little directionality, but the orchestral sound is full, detailed and impressive. These historic recordings have been issued many times befor4e; this new release surely is the one to treasure.

William Schuman ( 1910 - 1992), one of America's most distinguished composers and educators, after attending a concert by the New York Philharmonic in 1930, decided music was to be his life; Early in his career he was praised by Serge Koussevitzky who in 1938 gave the premiere of Schuman's Symphony No.2. He won the first Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1943 for the cantata A Free Song. Schuman became President of the Julliard School, where he formed the famed Juilliard String Quartet and innovated programs for new music. Schuman received countless awards and honors and composed profusely. His best-known work is New England Triptych. This fine new BMOP SACD offers three works written in collaboration with dancer/choreographer Martha Graham. Judith, scored for full orchestra, dates from 1950, A Night's Journey for woodwind quintet, piano and strings was written in 1947, and A Witch of Endor, for chamber orchestra, had its premiere in 1965. In spite of the composer's importance, there are few recording of most of his music, so this disk is welcome. There is no question that doubtless all would be more effective if seen in ballet form. Rose and his excellent orchestra impress, and the audio, if not particularly "surround," works well, If Schuman's music intrigues you, investigate the fine recording of Undertow Ballet, which I find of more interest than any of the works on this new release (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (January 2019)