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Culture: Strauss's musical blog; CD REVIEWS.

Byline: Reviews by Christopher Morley

Richard Strauss: Symphonia Domestica, Eine Alpensinfonie - RLPO/ Schwarz (AVIE AV2071) pounds 17.99

HHHH As the major recording companies re-define what constitutes "classical music", putting all their financial eggs into the baskets of various marketable young soloists delivering bland wallpaper music, the country's orchestras are losing lucrative, image building invitations into the studio.

The CBSO has good relations with Warner Classics, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is well-established with Naxos, but other great orchestras in this country have launched their own labels, an initiative which is commendable and worthy of support.

Our oldest professional orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, has struck up a good deal with Avie Records to market their own recorded performances.

Together they have issued a spectacular double-CD release of gripping works by Richard Strauss: his wonderful Alpensinfonie, charting one day in the life of alpine mountaineers, and a piece which gets shorter and shorter at every hearing; the soap opera-ish Symphonia Domestica (today we'd call it a blog-diary in music); the autumnal but sunny Oboe Concerto (soloist Jonathan Small); and the rarely-heard (though the CBSO has scheduled it for later this season) Duett-Concertino for clarinet, bassoon and strings (soloists Nicholas Cox and Alan Pendlebury).

Gerard Schwarz conducts colourful, committed performances, and the RLPO plays at the top of its form

Casals: Dvorak and Elgar Cello Concertos (Living Era Classics AJC 8557) pounds 5.99 HHHH With fewer new studio opportunities available, the market for historic recordings, particularly at bargain price (as in this case) is expanding, with smaller labels achieving heroic results in this field.

This treasurable release brings the world's greatest cello concerto (the Dvorak) and one of its closest runners-up (Walton and Shostakovich also come close) in performances by probably the most influential cellist who ever lived.

Pablo Casals opened up so much of the cello repertoire, not least in his peerless performances of the Bach solo Suites, and here his readings of the Dvorak concerto (with the Czech Philharmonic under the rigorous George Szell in Prague in 1937) and the Elgar (BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by the great Elgarian Sir Adrian Boult, recorded in London in 1945) show both emotional passion and a great purity of line.

There is a welcome bonus with Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, recorded in 1936 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by the great, still under-rated conductor Sir Landon Ronald. The sound on this transfer is of a very high quality

To buy either CD reviewed on this page, call our Music Line on 01634 832789. Prices include p&p
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 15, 2005
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