CIURLIONIS: Kestutis. In the Forest. The Sea.
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra / Modestas Pitrenas, cond.
ONDINE ODE 13442 TT: 59:15

BARTOK: Piano Quintet in C. KORNGOLD: Piano Quintet in E, Op. 15.
Goldner String Quartet. :Piers Lane, piano
HYPERION CDA68209 TT: 73:00

DUPONT: Piano Comcerto No. 3 in F minor, Op. 49. BENOIT: Symphonic poem for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 43.
Howard shelley, piano / conductor. St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra.
HYPERION CDA68204 TT: 62:49

Music of Lithuanian composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (18751911) is feaured on this CD that contains the complete suviving symphonic works. We have a symphonic overture called Kestutis, and two symphonic pomes: In the Forest and The Sea. All of this music was written 1900 - 1907. Ciurlionis wrote more than 300 works but only ten symphonic works. The rest were rimarily for piano, chorus or chamber ensemble. In his music Ciurlionis was tryung to combine sound and color in a single work, expressing the grandeur of nature and he soul of his native Lithuania. Ciurlionis also was a noted painter of his time,and many examples of his Impressionisic art can be found on the internet. Titles of the two stmphonc poems are self-descriptive and surely conveyed in the gentle music which often includes LaLithuanian folk tunes. The Kestutis overture dates from 1901, but the orchestral score was lost; in 2000 it was reconstructed from the iano score by Jurgis Juozapaitis, premiered at that timer to celebrate the 125th aniversary of the composer;s birth. Kestutis (c. 1297 – 3 or15 August 1382) was a ruler of medieval Lithuania. The score includes two Latvian folk songs. Throughout all of this music the influence of Wagner and Richard Strauss is apparetn. The two syphonic poems are buycolif and richly orchestrated, welcome addiions to the catalog. The performances by the excellent Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Modestas Pitrenas are outstanding, and the recordings made in Lithuanian National Culture Vrmytr Recording Studio, Vilnius, in 2019. Audio is excellet. This is an intriguing addition to the CD catalog, and if you admire Richard Strauss, yu'll find nuch to enjoy here.

Hyperion's new disk of piano quintets by Bela Bartók and Erich Wolfgang Korngold might seem like an odd coupling, but it isn't. Both composers were very young, although two decades apart. Bartók wrote his in 1903, Korngold in 1924. Both composers played the piano part in the premieres. The Bartók's quintet is in four movements, the Korngold has only three. The Hungarian composer's first quartet is highly m3lodic, almost Viennese in character, far removed from his later quartets that emphasized dissonance and were more of a challenge for listeners. Korngold delightful quintet continues the composer's Romantic melodic mood. He already was acclaimed for his operas, particularly Die tote stadt that created a sensation in the operatic world. There are several fine recordings of Korngold's quintet, but this one has the luxury of pianist Piers Lane with the excellent Goldner Quartet which consists of violinists Dene Olding and Dimity Hall, violist Irina Morozova, and cellist Julian Smiles. Their rich sounds luxuriate in this repertory. The recordings were made Suffolk's Potton Hall December 2018, and engineering is f first-rate A fine issue!

Hyperion is to be commended for their Romantic Piano Concerto series. They have made available to collectors dozens of concerted works, mostly premiere recordings. But not all are hidden treasures. This latest CD in the series, Volume 80, offers music by two 19th Century French composers who were rather important during that period: Auguste Dupont (1827 - 1890) and Peter Benoit (1834 - 1901). Both composers were respected during their era as compsers and teachers. Dupont here is represented by his Plano Concerto No. 3 written in 1857. Performance time is about 34 minutes and there are three movements: Allegro moderato, Adagio, and Vivace. Apparently Berlioz admired the work, although I can't imagine why. Benoit''s Symphonic piem for piano and orchestra Op. 43. composed in 1865, has three sections: Ballade, Bardic Song and Scherzo. his final section, subtitled Fantastical hunt, is a rollicking 6-minute romp. I found all of this music, with the exception of thys scherzo, quite boring. The remarkable Howard Shelley, who is featured often in this Hyperion series, is to be commended for his patience and willingness to explore neglected music, and here he is not only soloist, but conductor as well. The recording was made in February 2018 in Switzerland's Tonhalle St. Gallen. The extensive program notes by Jeremy Dribble are more interesting than the music.

R.E.B. (April 2020)