VILLA-LOBOS: Symphony No. 8 (1950). Symphony No. 9 (1952). Symphony No. 11 (1955)
São Paulo Symphonuy Orfchestra / Isaac Karabtchevsky, cond.
NAXOS 8.573777 TT: 73:43

LAJTHA: Suite No, 3, Op. 56. Hortobágy - Film Music Suite, Op. 21. Symphony No. 7, Op. 63 "Revolution Symphony."
Pécs Symphony Orchestra / Nicolás Pasquet, cond,
NAXOS 8.573647 TT: 75:41

TABAKOV: Symphony No. 1 (1981-82). Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (2007).
Alexander Zemtsov, viola. Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra / Emil Tabakov, cond

THOMPSON: Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1931). SAMUEL ADAMS: Drift and Providence (2012). BARBER: Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic / James Ross, cond.
NAXOS 8..559822 TT: 69:52

Naxos again is providing recordings of major importance. Recently their focus has been music of Heitor Villa-Lobos, and this site has praised recordings of major works: Symphonies 3 and 4 (REVIEW), Symphonies 6 and 7 (REVIEW), Symphony No. 10 (REVIEW).and Symphony No. 12 (REVIEW). These feature the superb São Palo Symphony Orchestra directed by Isaac Karabtchevsky. The series continues now with three more symphonies. The featured work is Symphony No. 8, written in 1950, which has brief suggestions of Schubert. It was premiered in Carnegie Hall in 1955 with the composer conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Symphony No. 9 dates from 1952 and was premiere in Philadelphia with Eugene Ormandy conducting, and Symphony No. 11 was written in 1955, a commission from the Boston Symphony for their 75th Anniversary; Charles Munch led the premiere. All three of these symphonies have much to offer the listener, and they are given superb performances by this dedicated orchestra and conductor Excellent audio is another plus.

Naxos continues their reissues of recordings of music by László Lajtha with this fine disk of Symphony No. 7, the Suite No. 3, and music for the film Hortobágy. Symphony No. 7 is a dark, tragic work reflecting the Communist brutality over the Hungarians in 1956, with a somber mood not found in the composer's other symphonies. Suite No 3 was written for the hundredth birthday if the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra. There are four movements to this light-hearted work. Lajtha collaborated with film director Georg Hïllering on a documentary film about the beauty of the area and life of those who inhabit the beautiful Hungarian Puszta. There are only two brief sections: The Grand Hungarian Plain, and Gallop in the Puszata. All of this music is very well played by the fine orchestra, and audio is excellent as well,

Emil Tabakov (b. 1947) is a respected Bulgarian conductor, composer and double-bass player. He is a prolific composer, having written 9 symphonies, many concertos for various instruments, and chamber music. He is respected as a conductor and currently is Music Director of the Sofia Philharmonic (appointed 1987), and also leads the Belgrade National Radio Symphony. His orchestral music is big-scale, invariably of a tragic nature, probing and dissonant. Toccata Classics already has issued a disk of his Symphony No. 8 and Five Bulgarian Dances. I haven;t heard it, but surely plan to, based on what is heard in this remarkable new recoding of Symphony No. 1 and the viola concerto written in 2007. The symphony has a bold French horn motif which is often interrupted by smashing dissonant chords. This is a major, dramatic work by any standards, and we can assume this performance is what the composer intended. The Bulgarian orchestra plays well enough, but there is no question the music would be even more effective with a major orchestra. The Viola Concerto written in 2007 is a long (38:54) work in three movements. It is an amazing concerto that totally integrates the soloist with the entire orchestra, with much interplay. The final movement ends quietly and mysteriously, a fitting conclusion to a monumental composition. It is spectacularly played by Alexander Zemtsov, who did the premiere. Violists should rejoice in this major addition to concertos for their instrument. Thee recordings were made 2009) and March 2014 (concerto). Audio is excellent. Recommended!!

Naxos has yet another winner with their American
issue of symphonies of Randall Thompson and Samuel Barber.Thompson is best-known for his major choral works, particularly the cantata The Peaceable Kingdom composed in 1936. It was written at the request of maestro Serge Koussevitzky for a work to celebrate the opening of the new Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. Thompson wrote three symphonies, and Symphony No. 2 was a favorite of Leonard Bernstein who conducted the premiere at Tanglewood and later recorded it with the New York Philharmonic. It has four movements, is colorfully orchestrated and has many touches of humo., It is surprising it isn't played more often; as of now there is only one other recording. Barber's Symphony No. 1 is far better known, although the premiere in Rome in 1936 was hardly a success; later performances were well received, and there are a number of recordings currently available. Filling out the disk is an oddity, a work by American composer Samuel Adams (b. 1985) called Drift and Providence .It scored for a large orchestra and electronically adjusted percussion instruments. There are five connected movements and playing time is18:59. The music does indeed suggest waving shimmering water and there are some big outbursts of unidentifiable sound. The last movement just stops abruptly; one would think the sound would "drift away" considering the subject. I found this piece of little lasting interest.The National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic consists of first-class conservatory students, and they sound like a major ensemble under James Ross's skillful direction. Recordings were made in June 2016, and stereo quality is exceptional. This is a major issue for those who love American music.

R.E.B. (July 2017)