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Arts: CLASSICAL: Gems at bargain prices.

Byline: Peter SPAULL

THE latest CD release from RLPO Live has a performance of Mahler's rustic Fourth Symphony.

Gerard Schwarz brings out all the orchestral colour,giving the orchestra's principals an opportunity to show themselves at their best. Much of the playing has a chamber music quality about it,and the record needs playing at quite a high level to hear it at its best. And the soprano in the last movement is Crosby's Rosa Mannion. Programme notes by Gerard Schwarz and Malcolm Macdonald are printed in legible type! Mr Schwarz's recordings with his Seattle orchestra are now appearing at budget price on the Naxos label,and recently we have the Second and Sixth symphonies of Walter Piston, who died in 1976 aged82. Here is a fine 20thcentury romantic composer,and lovers of Vaughan Williams and Walton will have no difficulties with his idiom. The BBC Philharmonic follow up their best selling and critical success of theBax Symphonies for Chandos under Vernon Handley, with three of his little known choral pieces directed by Martyn Brabbins. The Huddersfield Choral Society are in good form,and this is a disc to appeal to advocates of the choral repertoire. Soprano Christine Bunning is the soloist in the Nocturnes,for soprano and orchestra.

Clark Rundell conducts the RNCM Wind Ensemble in an entertaining programme of Russian military music by Gliere, Rimski-Korsakov and Shostakovitch.

Apart from the marches there is a suite from Khachaturian's music for the film. The Battle of Stalingrad,and Stravinsky's Circus Polka. This is another Chandos release,and deserves suc-cess. Meanwhile Peter Donohoe continues his piano concerto series for Naxos with the fine Bliss Concerto,and the same composer's Concertofor Two pianos partnered by Martin Roscoe. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is directed by David Lloyd- Jones. Donohoe also includes the attractive Piano Sonata,and has all the muscle and panache for bringing off Bliss's music.

At budget price this is another bargain, as is another Naxos release by the Maggini Quartet led by Warrington's LawrenceJackson.This time they play the First and Third quartets of Frank Bridge, revealing his early work for a Bologna competition,and his later idiom after coming under the influence of the Second Vien-nese School. The Maggini can again be highly recommended,especially at budget price.

Naxos also have a fine Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra under Paul Daniel. Christopher Maltman is the baritone soloist,and the soprano Joan Rodgers as on the Liverpool Phil record. This competes directly with the Liverpool version under Vernon Handley.

FINALLY,Manchester pianist Steven Osborne has produced another critical success in the Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses of Franz Liszt.

The composer collected 10 of his existing works under this title, and some are wellknown, (Funerailles and Benediction de Dieu) one a substantial revision (Pensee des morts) and other little known masterpieces.

The work lasts 83 minutes -just enough to spill on to a second CD,but Hyperion generously charge just the price of one.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2004
Words:500
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