SCHOENBERG: Gurre-lieder
Marita Napier, soprano (Tove). Jess Thomas, tenor (Waldemar). Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano ( Wioiod Dove). Kenneth Bowen tenor (Klaus). Siegmund Himsgern, bariton (Peasant). Günteer Reich, (Speaker). BBC Singers. BBC Choral Society. Goldsmith's Choral Union. Gentlemen of the London Philharmonic Choir. BBC Symphony Orchestra / Pierre Boulez, cond.
ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 42. New York Philharmonic / Pierre Boulez, cond.
DUTTON / EPOCH SACD 2CDLX 7367 (2 disks) TT: 2 hours 20:13

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 , Op. 47. Symphony No. 15, Op. 141. KODÁLY: Háry János Suite. Philadelphia Orchestra / Eugene Ormandy, cond.
Incidental Music to Hamet, Op. 32.
Boston Pops Orchestra / Arthur Fiedler, cond.
DUTTON / EPOCH SACD 2CDLX 7370 TT: 2 hr. 15:29

WALTON: Violin Concerto. BLISS: Violin Concerto.
Lorraine McAslan, violin. BBC Concert Orchestra / Martin Yates, cond.

Pierre Boulez totally understood music of Arnold Schoenberg and recorded all of his major works. Schoenberg's massive Gurre-lieder, with its huge performing forces and many soloists, cries out for spectacular sonics. And this is what is heard in this marvelous recording made in London's West Ham Central Mission October, November and December 1974. It has always been in the catalog but now it can be heard in sonic glory in this quadraphonic recording here issued for the first time. Engineering is exceptional. The huge choruses and massive orchestra are impressively spread through the listening area and the final Sunburst is magnificent indeed. This is eons removed from the first recording of Schoenberg's masterpiece, a live recording from 1932 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a bonus on this reissue we have a recording of Roussel's delightful Symphony No. 3 recorded in New York's Manhattan Center with the New York Philharmonic September 15, 1975. Again, the quad sound is memorable. Don't miss this exciting release.

Another winner is this twin-disk set of quad recordings of music of Shostakovich Eugene Ormandy conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra in Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 15. Both were recorded in Philadelphia's Scottish Rite Cathedral February 5, 1975 (Symphony 5), and October 4 - 5, 1972 (No. 15). Ortmandy is an old hand with music of Shostakovich; he knew the composer and made recordings of most of the symphonies as well as giving the American premiere of the Cello Concerto No. 1 in 1959 with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist. Symphony No. 5 had its premiere November 21, 1937. It was the composer's first major work after being criticized and banned by the Soviet government for his political views as well as his new style of composition. It was well accepted and since has become Shostakovich's most popular symphony. Symphony No. 15 is one of the composer's most enigmatic works. In it, sometimes in comic fashion, he quotes excerpts from some of his earlier works as well as from Wagner's Ring and Rossini'sWilliam Tell. Ormandy and his orchestra gave the American premiere September,ber 28, 1972. More music of Shostakovich is included, a suite of 12 brief lively selections of incidental music he wrote for a production of Hamlet. This is the composer in a very light mood, delightful music played in spirited fashion by Arthur Fiedler nd the Boston Pops. The recording was made in Boston's Symphony Hall May 28-29, 1968. There is yet another filler, a fine performance of a suite from Kodály's Hary János. Again Ormandy conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra, another recording made in the Scottish Rite Cathedral October 29, 1975. Throughout all of these performances we her the full rich sound of this great orchestra spread arou8nd the listening space in quad. Recommended!

The violin concertos of two major British composers are featured on this SACD. Walton's Violin Concerto was commissioned by Jascha Heifetz who collaborated with the composer on writing of the solo part. The premiere took place December 7, 1939 with Heifetz accompanied by the Cleveland Orchestra directed by Artur Rodzinski. Conductor Sir Eugene Goossens made the first recording February 1941 with Heifetz and the Cincinnati Symphony. In 1950 Heifetz made a second recording, with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer. Soon the concerto was a favorite with major violinists many of whom recorded it including Zino Francescatti, Salvatore Accardo and Yehudi Menuhin. It is a superb violin concerto with a particularly magic finale. This new recording is admirable featuring British violinist Lorraine McAslan who seems to specialize in contemporary music. The Violin Concerto of Sir Arthur Bliss was commissioned in 1953 by the BBC. Bliss collaborated with violinist Alfredo Campoli on the solo part. The premiere took place at Royal Festival Hall May 11 1955 with Campoli and the BBC Symphony under Malcolm Sargent's direction. In Novembeer 1955, Decca made a recording with Campoli and the BBC Orchestra conducted by the composer. Bliss wrote a number of fascinating works, especially the Colour Symphony and incidental music for Things to Come. This violin concerto has been neglected by major violinists and it is easy to understand why. In three movements with a playing time of about 40 minutes, it is episodically unmemorable. There is only one other recording, with Lydia Mordkovich. McAslan and the fine BBC Orchestra do what can be done for this music. I'm sure collectors of this disk will listen mostly to the magnificent Walton. The recording was made in London's Warford Colosseum July 2015 and June 2016, and the recording is outstanding sonically.

R.E.B. (November 2019)