DAME ETHEL SMYTH: Mass in D. Overture to The Wreckers.
Susanna Hurrell, soprano. Catriona Morrison, mezo-soprano. Ben Johnson, tenor. Duncan Rock, baritone. BBC Symphony Chorus and Orcherstra / Sakari Oramo, cond.

BAZZINI: Fantasy on themes from La traviata. VIEUXTEMPS: Fantasy on themes from Gounod's Faust. Fantasy on themes from Bellini's Norma. FLOTOW: Fantasy on Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
ONDRICEK: Fantasy on Glinka's A life for the Tzar.
Volker Reinhold, violin. Ralph Zeedler, piano
MDG SAS SACD MDG 893 2134 RTT: 79:05

Stephan Lutermann, organ. Cantor Assaf Levitin, bass
CPO SACD 555 127 TT: 73:34

Dame Ethyl Smyth (1858 - 1944) was a remarkable person, a fine prolific composer. In 1908 she joined he Women's Social and Political Union, a suffrage organization, giving up music for two years to devote herself to the cause, and to accompany its charismatic leader Mrs Pankhurst on many occasions. Smyth wrote six operas, the best known of which is the 1902 - 1903 The Wreckers, quite popular during its time. Another of her operas, Der Wald, mounted in 1903, was for more than a century the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at the Metropolitan Opera (until Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin in December 2016).

She also composed much chamber music, works for solo piano including three sonatas, a concerto for the rather odd combination of violin an French horn. Smyth also wrote large-scale works for chorus and orchestra and one of these is heard on this superb new disk. Her them with women. She led a passionate life; philosopher-friend and the librettist of some of her operas, Henry Bennet Brewster, may have been her only male lover. On her 75th birthday to honor her Sir Thomas Beecham arranged for a concert of her music in Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen. Unfortunately by that time, Smyth was totally deaf. Finally, after many years of neglect, the quality of her music was being recognized. Surely her large-scale Mass is impressive, and it is given a devoted performance by the splendid soloists, and BBC forces directed by Sakari Oramo. The recording was made January 2019 in London's Watford Coliseum, and engineers have provided a rich multi-channel audio picture. Complete texts nd translations are provided. This is an important issue.

Violin virtuoso Volker Reinhold continues his opera fantasy series on MDG with this release that contains music by the four composers listed above all from operas listed intended to be showpieces for a violinist's technique. Several years ago this site praised previous releases in this series (R$VIEW), and the sae high quality ih performance and recording continues. Reinhold performs on a Mougeot, a French violin from the nineteenth century.If this sort of thing appeals to you, here it is.

The organ often plays an important part in synagogue services, with the instrument providing accompaniment for the Jewish liturgy. Works on this album reflect the history of this organ repertoire from Central Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, and the United States .During this period, many composers sought refuge in order to escape persecution from the National Socialists. Stephan Lutheran plays music by composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Performances are on the St. Maria and Cäcilia, Verden, Romantic West Glery organ built by Furtwüwangler & Hanmmer, Hanover, in 1916. It produces a very rich sound that perhaps is not what usually is experiences in the synagogue. Cantor Assof Levitin often is heard, and it is easy to understand that he also sings opera. Excellent, wide-range audio.

R.E.B. (November 2019)