Friday, March 29, 2024

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 4, 2024

 The #ClassicsaDay team has made Women's History Month the March theme since 2017. The challenge remains: post classical music videos from female composers on your social media channels. There are plenty of options when it comes to 21st- and 20th-century composers.

What continually surprises me is how much music is yet to be discovered from earlier centuries. And also how much of it was known at the time, but somehow fell into obscurity. Here are my discoveries for the fourth and final week of #WomensHistoryMonth. 

03/25/24 Alba Trissina (f. 1622): Vulnerasti cor meum

Trissina was a Carmelite nun who studied with Leone Leoni. Leoni published four of her works in 1622. They're all that survive of her music.


03/26/24 Mlle Bocquet (early 17th C.-after 1660): Sarabande in A minor

Her first name is unknown, but not her talent. This virtuoso lutenist wrote a series of works that expanded the possibilities of the instrument.


03/27/24 Antonia Bembo (c. 1640–1720): Se legge d'amore

Bembo was an Italian singer and composer who found a home at Versailles. She was a musician in the court of Louis XIV. Six volumes of her music are preserved in manuscript.


03/28/24 Rosa Giacinta Badalla (1660–1710): Pane angelico

Badalla's reputation rests on a single publication. Motetti a voce sola (1684, Venice) shows a composer at the top of her game. The works were most likely written for performance in her convent.


03/29/24 Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665–1729): Sonata No. 2 in B-flat

De La Guerre was famed as a harpsichord virtuoso. She published several collections of sonatas and cantatas. She also composed two operas that were staged in the 1690s. 


Next Month:

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Amazing Miniatures by Janis Kepitis Ripe for Discovery

Jānis Ķepītis was was concertmaster for Latvian Radio from 1934 through 1952. And he was on the faculty of the Latvian State Conservatory from the end of World War II until his death in 1984. He taught Chamber Ensemble, and was beloved by his students. 

Keptis was also a prolific composer. And despite the quality of his work,  his fame remained within the borders of Latvia. His work included six symphonies, two operas, and many chamber works. 

This release focuses on an even larger and less-explored portion of Keptis' music. 

Keptis wrote hundreds of short solo piano music, many that were never published. Keptis lived in a Soviet-controlled Latvia. And music was as tightly controlled as all other forms of expression. Since his piano music was never published, it never had to be vetted by the authorities. 

Perhaps for that reason, there's an honesty to these works that comes through time and again. These are simply well-crafted pieces written for the shear joy of creation.

Nora Luse plays with sympathy and enthusiasm. These may be small pieces, but she takes them seriously. And in the process reveals some marvelous miniatures of beauty. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Janis Kepitis: Piano Miniatures from the Manuscripts, Volume One
Nora Luse, piano
Toccata Classics

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin's Sympathetic Performances of CPE Bach


This release presents a sampling of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach symphonies. The works They span a forty-year period, starting when Bach was in Berlin, and ending when he was in Hamburg. They're in the empfindsam, or sentimental style. 

The idea was to return to true and natural expression. It was a reaction to the intellectualism of the late Baroque. And that naturalism is in evidence in these works. Bach creates catchy, tuneful melodies that sound simple, but never trite.

The Berlin symphonies were written for a sophisticated audience that craved the unusual. Bach delivers, often with some unexpected phrasing. 

The Hamburg symphonies have a different aesthetic. Bach's patron, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, wanted works that were grand and sublime. And Bach delivers. 

The Akademi fur Alte Musik Berlin performs these works with both precision and expression. Empfindsam may sound simple, but it requires real musicianship to convey its charm. The ensemble does so in symphony after symphony. 

Some of these symphonies were highly regarded in Bach's time. And rightly so. They appeal to the ear as well as the intellect.  

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Symphonies from Berlin to Hamburg
Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin
Harmonia Mundi

Friday, March 22, 2024

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 3, 2024

 The #ClassicsaDay team has made Women's History Month the March theme since 2017. The challenge remains: post classical music videos from female composers on your social media channels. There are plenty of options when it comes to 21st- and 20th-century composers.

What continually surprises me is how much music is yet to be discovered from earlier centuries. And also how much of it was known at the time, but somehow fell into obscurity. Here are my discoveries for the third week of #WomensHistoryMonth. 

3/18/24 Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602–1678) Bone Jesu

Cozzola was a Benedictine nun who also composed for her convent. Four collections of her music were published during her lifetime, although almost half are now lost.


3/19/24 Claudia Francesca Rusca (1583​-​1676): Canzon Prima à4 'La Borromea,' Canzoni Francesi à4

Rusca was a nun at a convent in Milan. Her only collection of music was written for use inside convents. The Sacri concerti à 1–5 con salmi e canzoni francesi (Milan, 1630) existed only in manuscript.


3/20/24 Leonora Duarte (1610–1678): Sinfonia VII

Duarte was a talented composer and keyboardist from Antwerp. Her only surviving works are a collection of seven symphonies written around 1650.


3/21/24 Sulpitia Cesis (fl. 1619): Angelus ad Pastores

Cesis was a nun who spent most of her life in a convent. She was also a noted composer and lutenist. Her fame rests on a single collection of Motetti Spirituali, published in 1619.


3/22/24 Barbara Strozzi (1619–1677): O Maria (Sacri Musicali Affetti, Op. 5)

Strozzi's salons were well-known in Venice. The intelligentsia would gather to hear her perform (and sing) her compositions. Eight volumes of her vocal works were published during her lifetime.


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Gustav Hoyer: Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Gustav Hoyer's "Rime of the Ancient Marriner" works on two levels. And that's a remarkable feat. This album features two versions of the composition. One includes a recitation of the poem, The other is just the music. 

Played under the recitation, Hoyer's music supports and amplifies the poem's disturbing imagery. But this is not just background music. 

Without the narration, the work becomes an epic tone poem. One that conveys the drama and arc of the narrative exclusively in music. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem was published in 1798.  It set the tone for gothic horror of the 19th Century. The Ancient Mariner of the poem is a cursed sailor. He frivolously kills an albatross, a good luck symbol. In doing so, he condemns the entire crew to death. Only he is spared to wander the earth, recounting his tale over and over. 

Coleridge's poem carries a hint of menace. The mariner waylays a wedding guest about to enter the church for the ceremony. As his tale unfolds, it's clear that the mariner is driven to tell his story to specific people. But why this person, and why at that moment?

The poem implies there's a reason, but it's never revealed. The wedding guest is compelled to listen to the mariner, but he can't explain why. Hoyer's music perfectly captures that concept of unease and unspoken danger. It defines the work and gives it emotional power.

The Budapest Film Orchestra is directed by Peter Pejtsik. The orchestra delivers a lush, emotive performance. One can hear the ocean swells, the approach of death, the unfolding of the curse.  This is powerful and effective orchestral writing. 

This is a tale of the supernatural, but the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a tale of redemption. By telling and retelling his story, the mariner is atoning for his sin. Hoyer's music conveys that feeling of hope, which peeks through from time to time. 

Kent Stephens is an excellent narrator. His reading is dramatic, yet restrained, adding to the unsettling nature of the poem. I can't say which version I prefer. Both provide a moving listening experience. 


Gustav Hoyer: the Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Budapest Film Orchestra; Peter Pejtsik conductor
Kent Stephens narration
Navona NV6590

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta Echo Success

 "Echoes of Eastern Europe" accurately describes this new album. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra presents two works inspired by Czecho-Slovak music. 

The BPO's partnership with JoAnne Falletta has been a fruitful one. The orchestra is now a world-class ensemble with an impressive catalog. And they have explored neglected areas of the repertoire 

This album pairs a 19th and a 21st-Century work. David Serkin Ludwig's violin concerto was a present for his wife, Belia Hristova. The concerto is an exciting, energetic work.  It references the Slavic dances of her heritage. 

Hristrova plays with a fiery, gritty tone. Her violin at times sounds like a fiddle -- which is the intent. Falletta and the BSO Enthusiastically join in the celebration. 

Antonin Dvorak never strayed far from his Czech roots. His Symphony No. 7 was completed in 1885. Dvorak's immediate inspiration was Brahm's Third Symphony with a taste of Bohemia. 

Donald Tovey wrote, "[this symphony is] among the greatest and purest examples in this art form since Beethoven." And so it is. The symphony follows the traditional four-movement symphonic structure. Themes are developed logically and organically. 

The work is pure music (there's no program attached). But careful listening reveals some Czech influences. Sometimes it's a rhythm or a melodic turn. It follows Ludwig's concerto on the album, so the ear is already attuned to hear folk elements. 

The BSO and Falletta give the symphony a stirring reading. It's a performance I found satisfying with repeated listening. 

I do have one complaint about the album, though, and that's the cover. I'd call it echoes of a good album cover. The figures are weirdly blurred.  The image says almost nothing (at least to me) about the music.

Don't judge this release by its cover. The artwork may be clumsily executed, but the performances within are both first-rate. 

Echoes of Eastern Europe
David Ludwig: Violin Concerto; Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 7
Bella Hristova, violin
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Pál Hermann Complete Surviving Music Series Concludes with Delightful Oddities

Pál Hermann should have toured the world, receiving his due as one of the 20th Century's greatest cellists. Pál Hermann should have developed his compositional skills. And in time Pál Hermann should have graduated to large-form works. 

Pál Hermann should have left a rich legacy of recordings. Pál Hermann should have lived past age 42. 

But Pál Hermann was a Jew in 1930s Europe. His career was curtailed in Nazi-controlled countries. He moved to France, and then to the Free Zone in southern France after Germany invaded  Hermann was captured in 1944 and died en route to a Lithuanian extermination camp. 

Hermann's surviving music shows a composer of great imagination and promise. The first volume in the Toccata Classics series presented his Cello Concerto and other orchestral works. Volume Two focused on his chamber and instrumental music, mostly for stringed instruments. 

This final volume rounds up the odds and ends of Hermann's catalog. And in the process, round out the portrait of these talented musicians. 

Hermann was a cello virtuoso, but his musical interests were far-ranging. He loved early music. Hermann played with an early music ensemble while in school. His Suite for Three Recorders and his Saraband for Lute are charming homages to Renaissance music. 

The Divertissement for harpsichord is less so.  Hermann writes some decidedly modern music for the instrument. 

Also included is a variety of short piano pieces. There's even a work for piano four hands. And his small collection of songs is also present. 

Hermann did not survive the war, but his music did. It's take a while, but that music lives again in these Toccata Classics recordings. To my ears, they sound as fresh and inventive as the day they were penned. 

Recommended -- and not just this volume, but the entire series.

Pál Hermann: Complete Surviving Music, Volume Three
Chamber, Instrumental, and Vocal Music
Various Artists, including Mikko Pablo, cello; Matthieu Walendzik, baritone; Lena Zhukova, harpsichord; Nicolas Horvath and Dimitri Malignan, piano
Toccata Classics 

Friday, March 15, 2024

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 2, 2024

 The #ClassicsaDay team has made Women's History Month the March theme since 2017. The challenge remains: post classical music videos from female composers on your social media channels. There are plenty of options when it comes to 21st- and 20th-century composers.

What continually surprises me is how much music is yet to be discovered from earlier centuries. And also how much of it was known at the time, but somehow fell into obscurity. Here are my discoveries for the first week of #WomensHistoryMonth. 

3/11/24 Caterina Assandra (1590-after 1618): O Dulcis Amor Jesu

Assandra was a Benedictine nun, as well as a composer and organist. She published at least two books of motets (only Op. 2 survives), as well as several other sacred works.


3/12/24 Francesca Caccini (1587–1640?): Chi desia

Francesca's father Giulio was one of the founders of opera. Francesca's sister Settimia was a successful singer and composer. Francesca's "La liberazione di Ruggerio" (1625) is the earliest known opera composed by a woman.


3/13/24 Settimia Caccini (1591–1638?): Due luci ridenti

Settima's father Giulio was one of the founders of opera. And her sister Francesca was a respected composer of opera as well. Although a prolific composer herself, only eight of Settima's works survive.


3/14/24 Claudia Sessa (c. 1570 – c. 1617/19): Occhi io vissi di voi

Sessa was a nun. She was also an instrumentalist, singer, and composer. Two of her sacred choral works were published in 1613. 


3/15/24 Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana (1590–1662): O magnum misterium

Vizzana was a nun in the convent of S. Christina, Bologna. And she was also a singer, organist, and composer. A collection of her choral music, Componimenti musicali de motetti concertati a l e più voci was published in 1623.


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Bruckner From the Archives, Volume 1 - A Remarkable Series

This is a remarkable project constructed from some remarkable sources. it's a complete survey of Bruckner's eleven symphonies (along with other key works). Each of the six volumes will comprise of two CDs -- over 2 hours of music each.

And the sources are equally remarkable. There are some world recording premieres and some CD premieres. The source material comes from the archive of John Berky, president of the Bruckner Society of America. 

Culled from over 11,000 recordings, the performances here are rare. Yet each delivers a strong interpretation of Bruckner's music. 

The works in volume one come from 1862-63. Bruckner was in his forties. He was already an established choral composer and organist. He wanted to write symphonies and began an intense period of study. Technically the music on this release are student pieces. But they work very well as legitimate compositions. 

The String Quartet, WAB 111 shows Bruckner's grasp of form and melody. The recording comes from a 1951 NDR aircheck with the Koeckert Quartet. The practice Symphony in F minor WAB 99 is another revelation. 

Though competently written, it doesn't hint at the symphonies to come. Rather, it's a Mendelssohn/Brahms-like work that provides a pleasant listen. Kurt Woss and the Bruckner Orchestra, Linz gives a sympathetic reading in this 1974 aircheck. 

Bruckner's first symphony is also represented. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eugen Jochum performs. This is the original version of this work, the "Linz" version. 

Kudos go to Lani Spahr, responsible for the audio restoration and remastering. The recordings range from 1944 to 1974. Spahr does a great job bringing these tracks close to the same sound. You can still hear the differences between the decades, but they're not jarring. 

Rarely heard Bruckner in rarely-heard performances. This is my kind of series!

Anton Bruckner: From the Archives, Volume 1 
Bruckner Orchestra, Linz; Kurt Woss, conductor 
Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Hans Weisbach, conductor 
Vienna Akademie Kammerchor, Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Henry Swoboda, conductor 
WDR Symphony Orchestra Koln; Dean Dixon, conductor 
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Eugen Jochum, conductor 
Koeckert Quartet 
Somm Recordings, Ariadne 5025-2

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Audiophile Society Delivers with Strauss Release

This is a release from the Audiophile Society. So sound quality is paramount. But on this release, performance quality is also paramount. The album presents two different mixes of the same Strauss tone poem.

Mega-Dimensional Sound is a 3D audio format developed by the Audiophile Society (that is, its founder, chief engineer, and bottlewasher David Chesky). 

The format accounts for different listening environments. Because when it comes to playback, one size does not fit all.

The headphone mix is for intimate listening. It's for high-performance headphones powered by a headphone amp for optimal responsiveness. The mix takes into account that the speakers are inches from the ears. And the sound is contained within earcups. 

This mix reproduces what would be heard in the studio. It's a clean, detailed sound. The instrumental timbers are accurately reproduced, but there's virtually no ambiance. In other words, an ideal recording to explore sonically through headphones. 

The speaker mix adds ambiance. It's designed for reproduction in an open space. The sound is still very detailed. But it sounds fuller. The soundfield conveys a real sense of dimension. One can hear the orchestra spread out before them, and pick out where soloists are located. 

If this were just an audio demo, I wouldn't write about it (not my beat). But the performance merits the effort. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra delivers a committed performance. 

Strauss was an innovative orchestrator. The orchestra delivers, always with a clear, balanced sound. Seven Mercurio keeps things moving along. I have heard performances where things get a little unfocused along the way. Not here.

Mercurio knows where he's going with this score, and how he wants the orchestra to respond. And they do. 

Make sure you play the proper mix for your media. The headphone mix played through speakers can sound a little flat. And if you're downloading, get the highest resolution file you can. It will make a difference. 

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
Czech National Symphony Orchestra; Seven Mercurio, conductor
The Audiophile Society

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Schumann Trilogy Surveys Concertos and Piano Trios

This is a perfect program that works on so many levels. This is more than a Schumann Trilogy. It's actually several Schumann trilogies folded together. 

This three-disc set features the three concertos Schumann composed for violin, cello, and piano. It also features his three piano trios. The soloists comprise the piano trio. And they're each a featured soloist in a Schumann concerto. 

What makes this project even more interesting is the choice of instruments. Isobelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, and Alexander Minikov wanted to get to the heart of Schumann's music. So they elected to perform with instruments of the period. 

That meant gut-stringed violin and cello. Pianist Melnkiov used an 1847 Streicher fortepiano for the trios, and a 1837 Érard pianoforte for the concerto. And of course, the Freiburger Barokorchester also used instruments of the period. 

It makes for a subtle but important difference in sound. The Piano Concerto in A minor is a repertoire staple. There are plenty of thundering interpretations with large orchestras and steel-string concert grands. Here the sound is softer and more refined. It's still a showpiece, but somehow a more sophisticated one. 

Joseph Joachim didn't think much of the violin concerto Schumann wrote for him. He never performed it and forbade its publication for 100 years. Times have changed. Schumann's use of traditional forms was fluid, but not flawed. The music works on its own terms. Isobelle Faust delivers a thrilling performance.

When these three artists get together things really take off. The three piano trios of Schumann are intimate works. The piano parts were all written with his wife Clara in mind. But the violin and cello are well-balanced with the piano. 

The trios have a sense of exuberance, especially in these performances. As I said -- a perfect program. And in this case, played to perfection.   

The Schumann Trilogy
Violin Concerto WoO 1; Piano Concerto Op. 54; Cello Concerto Op. 129
Piano Trios Nos. 1-3
Isobelle Faust, violin; Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello; Alexander Mlnikov, piano
Freiburger Barokorchester; Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Harmonia Mundi HMX 2904095.98

Friday, March 08, 2024

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth Week 1 2024

 The #ClassicsaDay team has made Women's History Month the March theme since 2017. The challenge remains: post classical music videos from female composers on your social media channels. There are plenty of options when it comes to 21st- and 20th-century composers.

What continually surprises me is how much music is yet to be discovered from earlier centuries. And also how much of it was known at the time, but somehow fell into obscurity. Here are my discoveries for the first week of #WomensHistoryMonth. 

03/04/24 Kassia (c.810-867): Hymn of Kassiani the Nun

Kassia, also known as Kassiani wrote extensively on theology, and composed prolifically. Many of her hymns have become part of the Eastern Orthodox hymnody.


03/05/24 Herrad of Landsberg (c. 1130-1195): Creatrices

Herrad was an Alsatian abbess of Hohenburg Abbey. Her major work was the Hortus deliciarum, an illustrated encyclopedia of all knowledge known to 12th-century Europeans. It also included 20 songs, notated with neumes.


03/06/24 Maddalena Casulana (c.1540–c.1590): Madrigal VI

Casulana was a lutenist, singer, and composer. She was the first female composer to have an entire book of her music published. She would have three collections of madrigals published in her lifetime: in 1570, 1583, and in 1586.


03/07/24 Alba Tressina (fl. 1590): Anima mea liquefacta est

Tressina was a Carmelite nun in Vecnza. Leone Leoni was the maestro di cappella at eh Vicenz Cathedral. Thanks to him, four of Tressina's motets have been preserved.


03/08/24 Vittoria Aleotti (c.1575–after 1620): Lasso quand’io credei d’esser felice

Vittoria was one of two gifted female composers in the same family. Vittoria published a single set of madrigals in 1593. Her younger sister Raffaella also published a collection of music the same year.


Thursday, March 07, 2024

Fridrich Bruk Symphonies Reflect on Art

Fridrich Bruk is a Ukrainian-born composer who made a home in Finland. He's been quietly building an impressive catalog of symphonies. A catalog I would have known nothing about without Toccata Classics. The label has released five albums so far, bringing ten of Bruk's twenty-three symphonies to the world. 

Several of Bruk's works have extra-musical themes. The two symphonies in this volume were inspired by painters and their works. 

The subtitle for Bruk's Symphony 13 is a little unwieldy -- The Painter Malevich (1878–1935). Kazimir Malevich was a Ukrainian painter who pioneered the Russian avant-garde. His abstract art got him into trouble with the Soviet authorities. In the end, they forced him to return to a realist style. 

Bruk depicts the thwarted artistic spirit of Malevich and his battle with the authorities. The symphony opens with a heroic theme. It undergoes many transformations throughout the work. That theme, BTW, sounds very close to Alexander Courage's original "Star Trek" horn call. But I'm sure that wasn't intentional.   

Symphony No. 14 from 2015 is subtitled "The Scream." It's inspired by Edvard Munch's painting but does far more than just musically depict the work. The orchestra doesn't play at full volume throughout. Rather, Bruk creates an unsettled mode. The music sounds restless, and often at odds with itself. 

Bruk's style is mostly tonal, which adds to the power of the work. We have a frame of reference. We know where the music is supposed to go -- even when it doesn't. And Bruk is a master orchestrator. Individual instruments, pairs, and trios, are used effectively. 

The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra directed by Imants Resnis delivers spirited performances. I'm hoping Toccata Classics will eventually release all Bruk's symphonies. Every one I've heard so far is well-crafted and has a distinct personality.

Fridrich Bruk: Orchestral Music, Volume 5
Symphony No. 13, the Artist Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935)
Symphony No. 14, The Scream
Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra; Imants Resnis, conductor
Toccata Classics, TOCC 0661

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

William Horne Chamber Works: Accessible and Appealing

This is the third volume of William Horne's music released on Blue Griffen. This volume features three recent chamber works. 

The newest is the Trio for Flute, Saxophone and Piano. William Horne writes idiomatically for wind instruments. The first movement is marked "Not too fast, amilably." The players communicate that amiability. It's almost like hanging out with a group of old friends. The final movement is marked "playfully," and so it is.

Classical music is (I believe) music of substance. And this work has it. But classical music isn't necessarily "serious music," as Horne's trio proves. Very enjoyable. 

The 2022 Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano is another gem. Horne explores the lyrical possibilities of the instrument without even a hint of jazz. Walter Puyear plays with a warm, mellow tone that's immediately appealing. 

The album leads with Horne's 2021 Sonata for French Horn and Piano. This has a fair amount of chromaticism while remaining tonal. It's an engaging work, and one I hope is part of the hornist's repertoire. 

A fine collection of music. And this is another album I'll add to my refutation list. When someone claims all modern music is ugly, I'll invite them to give this a listen.

William Horne: Chamber Music Volume Three
Sonata for French Horn and Piano, Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Trio for Flute, Alto Saxophone, and Piano
Brandon LePage, flute; Mollie Pate, French horn; Xiting Yang, piano
Walter Puyear, alto saxophone; Joonghun Cho, piano
Blue Griffin

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Howard Blake Orchestral Works Show Depth

This release is in honor of Howard Blake's 85th birthday. Blake has had a long and successful career both in the concert hall and in film. He's a skilled and prolific composer, with over 650 works to his credit. 

And yet to many, he's a one-hit wonder. -- "Walking on Air" from the animated classic "The Snowman." But there's so much more to this British composer. As this release demonstrates.

The release was timed for Blake's 85th birthday, but the material is much older. The works were recorded in the 1990s, with Blake serving as producer. 

I researched the tracks, but couldn't find previous listings for them. The artists are the same as an ASV Blake recording. Perhaps they were from the same sessions?

In the end, it doesn't matter. If these compositions were released earlier, they're long out of print. And thanks to SOMM, they're available now. The sound quality is very good, with plenty of detail to relish.

The collection includes Blake's Symphony No. 1 from 1967. Subtitled   "Impressions of a City," it shows Blakes's skill to set the stage with music.  And it shows his ability as an orchestrator.

The Concert Dances for Piano and Orchestra from 1992 shows Blake's skill as a performer. He both plays and conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra from the piano bench. 

The Court of Love (1979) and A Month in the Country (1992) round out the release. These are straightforward, appealing works. They're on a higher plain than British light classical music. Yet they're still quite tuneful and appealing. 

Orchestral Music by Howard Blake
Philharmonia Orchestra; Howard Blake piano and conductor
English Northern Philharmonia; Paul Daniel conductor
Somm Recordings

Friday, March 01, 2024

#ClassicsaDay #BlackHistoryMonth Week 4 2024

Classical music originated in Western Europe, but it's not exclusive to dead, white European males. The challenge for February is to post videos of classical music either written or performed by musicians of color. 

There's a lot to choose from. I decided to focus on composers, but there are plenty of conductors and performers going back farther than you might think. Here are my posts for the fourht and final week of #BlackHistoryMonth 

02/26/24 Shawn Okpebholo: There is Always Light

This trio for clarinet, bassoon, and marimba was composed in 2021. The title comes from the spiritual "Hold On."


02/27/24 Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Worship A Concert Overture for Orchestra

Perkinson wrote classical music and founded the Symphony of the New World. He also composed for Max Roach, wrote film scores, and did arrangements for Marvin Gaye.


02/28/24 Zenobia Powell Perry: Echoes from the Journey

Perry was a composer and civil rights activist. Many of her compositions reference the Black Experience. In this work, she uses spirituals to illustrate that experience from Reconstruction through the 1960s.


02/29/24 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Ballade in A minor for Orchestra, Op. 33

This work was composed the same year his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast was premiered, 1898. It was one of 92 works he published before his death at age 37.


Next Month: