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Time to try some new music?; CLASSICAL.

LAST minute stocking fillers for music lovers could well centre on bargain price CDs costing under pounds 5, often to be found together on one rack in the shops.

Bohemians will enjoy the violin music of Dvorak recorded on two discs by Quan Zhou in Suffolk. These include his Sonata and Sonatine, Silent Woods, and Kreisler arrangements of Humouresque and Slavonic Dances. Relaxing music for violin and harp by Spohr is played by Sophie Langdon and Hugh Webb.

Background room music includes the Michael Thompson Wind Group playing Danzi and Krommer, while a Bratislava group plays concerti grossi by the Frenchman Muffat. Just the right price for this kind of record.

The Toronto based Aradia Ensemble join the Tower Voices of New Zealand in two masses by Vanhal, a Viennese contemporary of Haydn and Mozart. This is recorded in St Johns Cathedral, Napier New Zealand, and is an interesting addition to the recorded repertoire.

Opera lovers will enjoy singing along with piano transcriptions by Sigismund Thalberg of Bellini's Norma, La Sonnambula, and Beatrice and Benedict. Thalberg wrote these pieces to show off in concert his remarkable prowess at the keyboard. The Italian pianist Francesco Nicolosi has little difficulty in emulating his distinguished predecessor. Also from Italy come string quartets by Boccherini recorded in his home city of Lucca by the Quartetto Borciani.

The Japanese violinist Takako Nishsizaki plays rarities from Russia, the Violin Concerto of Anton Rubinstein, and a suite for violin and orchestra by Cesar Cui, while more traditional sounds come from the Novospassky Monastery Choir singing from the Russian Divine Liturgy. The resonant recording shows off the powerful bass voices of his Choir.

The Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber is increasingly heard in concert halls nowadays, and the young American James Buswell is soloist with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in their continuing Barber series under Marin Alsop. The attractive Ballet Suite, Souvenirs and the Serenade for Strings are also here.

Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando has embarked on the complete piano music of his compatriot Bela Bartok, and Swedish music is represented by the second volume of piano trios by Franz Berwald.

Those who remember the orchestral piece Midsummer Vigil or Swedish Rhapsody, will enjoy Hugo Alfven's Second Symphony, dating from 100 years ago, and his Ballet Suite the Prodigal Son. Folk music was never far from Alfven's thoughts.

Franz Schreker's Chamber Symphony was well received at the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool three weeks ago, and a modestly priced follow-up can be found in a collection of Overtures and Opera Preludes played by the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. The mid 1980s recording has not the sound of the recent BBC Philharmonic releases, but, by and large technical standards on all of these Naxos releases listed above are satisfactory.

Finally, for the really adventurous, the Ulster Orchestra under Takuo Yuasa has recorded works by Anton Webern. There are 20 items on this 52 minute disc, recorded in rather bright sound, and bearing in mind the quiet sparse nature of much of this music, the home is the ideal place to listen. The music is hardly tuneful, but Webern's sound world constantly fascinates.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2001
Words:521
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