TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker
Sveshnikov Boys Choi of the Moscow Conservatory / State Academic Symphony Orchestra "Evgeny Svetlanov" / Vladimir Jurowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 761 TT: 86:25

CHAMINADE: Callihroë: Ballet Symphonique, Op. 37. Concertstück for Piano and Orchestra, Op 50.
Victor Sangiorgio, piano. BBC Concert Orchestra / Martin Yates, cond.

GARDNER: Symphony No. 2 in E flat, Op. 166 (1917 - 2011).VEALE: Symphony No. 2 in D minor (1922 - 2006)
Royal Scotish National Orchestra / Martin Yates, cond.

Vladimir Jurowski completes his Tchaikovsky balet series with this Nutcracker , a laive performance from Jnuary 2019 at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory . Again the Russian conductor shows his affinity fort this music. With today's technology it is possible to get the entire ballet on a single disk with a playing tie of more than 86 minutes. Fine though this nw versiuobn is, competitticompetition is formidable. There are dozens of recordings many of them superb, and i would not want to be without the amazing 1975 version with Antal Dorati and the Concertgebouw in rich stereo.

French composer Cécile Chaminade (1857 - 1944) was well-known the first part of ther 20th Century as a leding pianist and composer. She concertized extensively often performingh her own music She made her American debut in 1908 with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing her own Conertstück. The 1888 nallet Callirhoë was wildly popular and given more than 200 perfirmances. Chaminade was the first woman who received the Legion of Honor, for her service to music, from the French government . She wrote about 400 works half of which were short piuano pieces, one of which was the Scarf Dance that became a standard. The last half of her life was devoted to composing short piano pieces requested by her publisher and she needed the income to sistain her home. It is unfortunate that after an auspoicious beginningh her career would end diminished. All of the ballet music from Callirhoë is heard on this premiere recording. There are 22 brief dances and scenes, one of which is the famous Scarf Dance. Although the 16-minute Concertstück was a hit at the time, it has not attracted pianists, and it is easy to understand why. Pianist Victor Sangiorgo does what can be done for this piece. The recording was made in 2017 in conjunction with the BBC, and the multi-channel sound is excellent. This is a welcome opportunity to hear music by a leading woman composer of a century ago.

Dutton/Epoch has another SACD of music by two relatively unknown British composers. John Gardner (1917 - 2011) taught at the Royal Academy if Music for three decades. He also taught at the St. Paul's Girls' School where he wrote humorous carols including Tomorrow Will Be Mt Dancing Day; he obviously had a great sense of humor. His Symphony No. 1 was premiered in 1951 with moderate success. His Symphony No. 2 was written in 1984. The first movement begins and ends with a clarinet solo. This is followed by a frothy brief scherzo, and the third movement is marked Andante -Largo. The finale is a lively Rondo, which includes a Turi8sh theme, and ends abruptly. I found little of lasting interest. However, the other composer is far more compelling. John Veale (1922 - 2006) studied with Roger Sessions and Roy Harris, and was encouraged by William Walton. Veale's career as a composer was patchy; often he worked in other fields, particularly as a journalist. Veale wrote a considerable amount of incidental music for plays and music for films. His Symphony No. 1, completed in 1944, was premiered by the City of Birmingham Orchestra and in 1952. Later, Sir John Barbirolli conducted it. His Symphony No. 2 was completed in 1965. It also has four movements and throughout we can admire Veale's powers of orchestration. Often there are traces of Malcolm Arnold, which I find refreshing. Both symphonies are played by the fine Royal Scottish National Orchestra directed by Martin Yates. These world premiere recordings were made June 3 -4, 2015 in Henry Wood Hall, and the multi-channel audio is splendid. Recommended, particularly for the Veale symphony.

R.E.B. (November 2019)