SHEBALIN: Orchestral Suite No. 3, Op. 61. Orchestra Suite No. 4, Op. 62. Balletl Suite.
Siberian Symphony Orchestra / Dmitry Vasiliev, cond.

GOULD: Symphonette No. 4 Latin-American Symphonette. Symphonette No 3. Symphonette No. 2. Spirituals for Orchestra.
ORF Vienna Orchestra / Arthur Fagan, cond.

NAXOS 8. 8.559869 TT: 65:45

KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. String Sextet, Op. 10
Andrew Haveron, violin. RTE Concert Orchestra / Sinfonia of London Chamber Ensemble / John Wilson, cond.
CHANDOS 20135 TT: 56:32

The music of Russian composer Vissarion Shebalin (1902 - 1963) has largely been negleced. He was a close friend of Shostakovich (who dedicated his String Quartet no. 2 to him). Like Shostakovich, Shebalin was condemmed by the Soviet government, and he also had poor health. He composed operas, five syjphonies and chamber music but little of it is heard today.The enterprising Toccata label already has a disk of the composer's complete music for A Cappella Chorus Cycles, and now they have these premiere recordings of some of the composer's light music. His first two orchestral suites are early works; here we have Suite No. 3 and Suite No. 4, both written in 1962, the year Shebalin died. Suie No. 2, arranged by Leonid Feigin, has eight brief setions. Suite No 4, arrangearranged by Vladistav Agafonnikov, has six sections, and the third, simply called Ballet Suite, also adapted by Feigen, has seven sections ending with a lively Galop. All of this is quie similar to ballet music of Shostakovich, and the lively performances feature the Siberian Symphony with conductor Dmitry Vasullev. The recording was made in Siberia's Omsk Philharmonic Hall and engineering is excellent stereo. All of these are premiere recordings. Let us hope Toccata will reord major syphonic works of this important negleted composer.

This Naxos CD contains four of the most popular works of prolific American composer Morton Gould (1913 - 1996). Gould today is underestimated as a composer, perhaps because early in his recording career he focused on lighter repertory. However, he was respected as a composer. In 1995 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for Stringmusic,and he received a Grammy for his recording of Charles Ives' Symphony No. 1 leading the Chicago Symphony). He also was President of ASCAP (American Society for Composers Authors nd Pubis hers). Gould frequently conducted major orchestras and from 1965 - 1968 made a series of fine recordings with the Chicago Symphony which several years ago on Sony. This new disk contains Symphonettes Nos. 2, 3, and 4 as well as Spirituals for Orchestra. The Symphonettes each have varied brief movements including one of the composers best-known works, Pavane, the second movement of Symphonette No. 2. Performances are excellent with the Viennese orchestra under Arthur Fagan's direction in top form. This recording of Spirituals cannot match the brilliance of the composer's own Chicago recording, which was an audio display recording of its time and still is spectacular sonically. This is a welcome addition to the Naxos American Composers series.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold started composing his violin concerto in 1937. He had just finished writing the film score for Another Dawn.The composer's father, Viennese critic Julius Korngold, suggested some of this music might be appropriate in a violin concerto. The concerto was completed in 1945 and includes music from several other film scores. The concerto, dedicated to Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler's widow, has a rhapsodic second movement. This is the high point of the concerto with scoring that includes the vibraphone and celeste to shimmering effect. The concerto has become standard repertory and there are dozens of recordings. Most major violinists have recorded it. Jascha Heifetz gave the premiere in St. Louis with conductor Vladimir Golschmann February 15, 1947. He played it with the New York Philharmonic directed by Efrem Kurtz in 1947, available on CD (REVIEW). Heifetz made the first commercial recording in in 1953 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Alfred Wallenstein. This new version features the brilliant young British violinist Andrew Haveron, and the recording made in Dublin's Studio I December 2015 captures all of Korngold's rich orchestral sounds most effectively. Haveron also is featured in the accompanying work, Korngold's String Sextet. This was composed three decades earlier when the composer, already internationally ad claimed was only 17. In four movements with a duration of a bit more than a half-hour, it is a charming spirited work, a rarity on the concert stage, seldom recorded. It is played to perfection by the ensemble that also features other leading players of the Sinfonia of London, an orchestra featured on some earlier John Nelson Chandos recordings. This stands up well with the many other recordings of the concerto.

R.E.B. (Aprri 2020)