Picks of the Year: 2003

As I reflect on this year’s selections, I notice that for the third consecutive year only four new releases loom for me as worthy of the official Want List (although this probably signifies mainly that I should be listening to more new releases). I also note the coincidence that three of my four choices are Albany releases, which certainly speaks well for that bold and valiant company (as well as indicating some shared values).

This past year Marco Polo completed its survey of the six symphonies of Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos (1924-1988), bringing his name from utter oblivion outside his native country to international recognition as a “neglected master,” judging from the reactions found in this and other publications, as well as on the Internet. The Fourth Symphony (reviewed in 26:6) is my personal favorite of the cycle, and I would recommend it as the best starting point for musical explorers with a taste for expansive neo-Romantic symphonic epics. Such listeners will find Braga Santos to be a rewarding creative voice with its own distinctive personality.

My Want List this year happens to include two fine examples of late-20th-century neo-Romantic opera. Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas (reviewed in 26:5 and 26:6) is my major discovery of the year-a real knockout. In fact, in my review I called it, “simply the most exciting new operatic discovery I have made in the past twenty years,” adding, “What this work has to offer is exactly what opera lovers love about opera…. The performance captured on the recording is all one might wish for…” What can I add to that?

Released nearly simultaneously was Thomas Pasatieri’s operatic adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull (reviewed in this issue). Although at 58, Pasatieri is only four years older than Catán, he is a far better-known figure, having already enjoyed a prolific, if highly controversial, career as an opera composer, which seemed to have come to an unfortunate end twenty years ago. Composed in 1974, The Seagull is the ninth of his seventeen operas. Though it is not my favorite of his works, it is his first to appear on CD, and worthy of attention from all those who profess to enjoy today’s crop of neo-Romantic operas. I have always felt that Pasatieri was treated with unjustified critical venom. This release will give a wide range of listeners the opportunity to hear and decide for themselves.

Although I have listed them as a “set,” the two CDs of music by Arnold Rosner (reviewed in 26:5)-one orchestral, the other featuring chamber works-are really separate issues, released nearly simultaneously. An exact contemporary of Pasatieri, Rosner is one of the most intriguingly individual American composers working today. With archaic elements flavored by ethnic touches, and features of both neo-Romanticism and neo-Classicism, he is clearly a traditionalist, but without falling neatly into any one of the standard categories. Rosner’s work is quite accessible, and as more and more of it appears on recording, his following continues to increase. Listen to the mysteriously ecstatic String Sextet (my particular favorite on the two discs) or any of the other pieces included, to learn whether this music appeals to you; both CDs offer varied programs, well performed.

Once again, without including it on my list and blatantly incurring charges of conflict-of-interest, I wish to draw readers’ attention to a recording in whose production I was personally involved. Naxos has released, in its American Classics series (8.559148-reviewed in 27:1), the first recording of Nicolas Flagello’s Symphony No. 1, along with three other works of his, played by the Slovak Radio Orchestra, conducted by David Amos. Familiar with this symphony for more than thirty years, I would make a claim for it as the apotheosis of the American neo-Romantic symphonic sub-genre — a category whose best-known examples are probably Barber’s Symphony No. 1 and Hanson’s “Romantic” Symphony. I invite those who enjoy such works to listen to this symphony, and decide for themselves whether they share my view.

BRAGA SANTOS Symphony No. 4. Symphonic Variations · Cassuto/NSO of Ireland · MARCO POLO 8.225233

CATÁN Florencia en el Amazonas · Soloists/Summers/Houston Grand Opera Ch and O · ALBANY TROY-531/32 (2 CDs)

PASATIERI The Seagull · Soloists/Gilbert/Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater Ch & O · ALBANY TROY-579/580 (2 CDs)

ROSNER Orchestral and Chamber Music · Palmer/Owensboro SO/Altoona SO/misc. chamber ensembles · ALBANY TROY-548/553 (2 CDs)

Picks of the Year: 2002

Only four items that came my way this year met my own Want List criteria as neglected masterpieces of the past hundred years in superior performances.

Samuel Barber’s choral music constitutes some of his best work. Admirers of the American neo-romantic composer who remain unfamiliar with this portion of his output are well advised to acquaint themselves with this recording. They will not be disappointed.

Music for piano solo does not figure prominently among Ernest Bloch’s oeuvre; yet most of these pieces effectively evoke the mysterious, darkly exotic moods favored by the composer, while his powerful three-movement sonata ranks among the major 20th-century contributions to the genre. English pianist Margaret Fingerhut offers a meticulous one-disc survey.

English composer Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) was one of the most distinguished of the many 20th-century symphonists who made important contributions to a genre prematurely dismissed by many as an outmoded form. Brought together in Hickox’s sympathetically performed compendium, Rubbra’s eleven symphonies loom as artistic statements of a spiritual depth and nobility too profound to overlook.

Naxos’s “American Classics” series produced quite a surprise with its release of one of William Schuman’s thorniest works along with two of his most popular pieces. The surprise is that violinist Philip Quint and conductor José Serebrier offer readings with a level of precision and concentration that leaves all previous recorded performances far behind.

BARBER Choral and Organ Works · Brown/Cambridge Ch/Filsell (org) · GUILD GMCD 7145

BLOCH Piano Works· Fingerhut · CHANDOS CHAN-9887

RUBBRA Symphonies (11) · Hickox/BBC O Wales · CHANDOS CHAN-9944(5) (5 CDs)

W. SCHUMAN Violin Concerto et al · Serebrier/Bournemouth SO/Quint (vn) ·NAXOS 8.559083

Picks of the Year: 2001

This year’s choices offer some very economical and efficient means of updating and refining one’s collection of the finest 20th-century music in traditional styles. Leonard Slatkin has proven to be one of the most perceptive and sympathetic conductors of Samuel Barber’s magnificent orchestral music. EMI now offers a 2-CD set for the price of one (to be reviewed in the next issue), comprising definitive performances of most of his shorter orchestral works, along with superb readings of his solo and chamber music by some of today’s most distinguished players, all adding up to about one-quarter of Barber’s entire output.

Naxos’s American Classics series provides an ideal opportunity for the most hesitant, price-conscious listener to sample some treasures from this less familiar repertoire. Howard Hanson composed some of America’s most luxuriantly appealing, readily accessible orchestral music, and this CD (reviewed in 24:4) brings together several selections that represent him at his best, for less than the price of a single movie-ticket.

John Kinsella is a born-again neo-romantic who appears to be one of Ireland’s most impressive living composers. His symphonies, brought to my attention this past year by a colleague on another magazine, are intensely powerful statements in a highly individual idiom. These two (reviewed in 22:1) are excellent examples.

Robert Muczynski is one of America’s most distinguished living traditionalist composers. He has concentrated on small chamber works and music for piano solo. These two recent CD reissues (see feature article in 24:6) bring together nearly one-third of his entire output, in excellent performances chiefly by the composer himself.

And finally, once again I feel compelled to bring to the attention of our readers a new release in whose production I had some involvement. While admitting shamelessly to the appearance of conflict-of-interest, I deny any self-serving motives when I assert without hesitation that Peter Vinograde is a thinking-person’s virtuoso of the highest order, and his performance of Copland’s Piano Fantasy is second to none—and there is some competition on this one. The Creston pieces will surprise those who think they already know the limits of this composer’s range, while Zuckerman has come up with a fresh approach to neo-classicism that resembles no other music I know.

BARBER Orchestral and Chamber Works · Oliveira, Margalit, Stepansky et al./Slatkin/St. Louis SO · EMI 7243 5 74287 2 9 (2 CDs)

HANSON Symphony No. 1, “Nordic”. Merry Mount Suite. Pan and the Priest et al. · Schermerhorn/Nashville SO · NAXOS 8.559072

KINSELLA Symphonies Nos. 3, 4· Ó Duinn/Ireland NSO · MARCO POLO 8.223766

MUCZYNSKI Piano Music et al., Vols. 1,2 · Muczynski (pn) et al. · LAUREL LR-862/3 (2 CDs)

COPLAND Piano Fantasy et al. CRESTON Metamorphoses et al. ZUCKERMAN On the Edges · Vinograde · PHOENIX PHCD 149

Picks of the Year: 2000

During the past year I have been less thorough in keeping abreast of new releases (and, as some may have noticed, less prolific in writing reviews), because of a large-scale project that has been occupying me. It is my hope that when it is finished, the project will prove to be worth the wait. Partly because of my relative isolation from the stream of new releases, I have decided to include on this year’s Want List two recent discs brought to my attention by friends, which I found to be enormously pleasing, although they represent a musical genre that I ordinarily do not follow closely. Painted from Memory is a CD featuring popular songs written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, and sung by the latter, accompanied by various instrumental groupings. While noting that Costello’s sense of pitch is more precarious than I am comfortable with, I must report in all sincerity that most of the songs display the sort of harmonic complexity, wide-ranging melodies, and rhythmic asymmetry that appeal to me in contemporary “art-songs.” Those who have even a passing acquaintance with Bacharach’s work over the past few decades know that these are qualities that have long characterized his output. But I have never found them used to such deeply expressive effect before. I don’t know how Fanfarecolleagues and readers would react to this release, but I would be dishonest if I did not name it as one of my most satisfying discoveries of the past year.

Back during the late 1960s I was one of those who argued that the later music of the Beatles warranted consideration as “serious” art. I also believed that much of what raised their work so far above the usual level of its genre were attributable to their producer, George Martin. Nothing has ever dispelled that impression for me. Almost as if to prove the point in a slyly oblique way, (now Sir) George Martin decided, as a sort of discographic valediction, to invite “some of my friends and heroes, people I had always liked and admired,” to recreate some of the most notable entries in the Beatles canon. Drawing together some rather unlikely characters, the resulting potpourri is irresistibly compelling and great fun. Some selections are true recreations of the original concepts, while others are complete reinterpretations. In the former category falls the most stunning rendition of all, a performance of “I am the Walrus” featuring none other than comedian Jim Carrey, whose consistent, flexibly nuanced vocal intensity, manic wildness, and musical accuracy leave—forgive the blasphemy—John Lennon far behind. Almost as impressive is Robin Williams’s reading of “Come Together,” with an amazingly agile vocal accompaniment provided by Bobby McFerrin. In the latter category falls “A Hard Day’s Night,” presented as a steamy torch song by Goldie Hawn. The concept works marvelously, yet there is nothing in the original version of the song to suggest that it held the potential for such a complete reinterpretation. I mention these examples because they are perhaps the most striking, but hardly any of the others fail to delight. Among the songs included are “A Day in the Life” as a guitar solo by Jeff Beck, “Here, There, and Everywhere” sung by Celine Dion, “Here Comes the Sun” as a guitar solo by John Williams, and the extraordinary “Golden Slumbers” sequence from Abbey Road, sung by Phil Collins. Listening to this collection of inspired performances in toto compels one not just to acknowledge Sir George’s brilliance in identifying the peculiar aesthetic potential of this remarkable musical material, but also to remember with poignancy a brief period when it was “cool” for popular music to strive for the artistic sophistication that is usually the province of un-popular (otherwise known as “classical”) music.

My remaining choices are presented with more brevity, as they have already been discussed at length in these pages. The Bloch release (reviewed in 23:5) gives fascinating and rewarding evidence of the composer’s degree of maturity and mastery during the scantily documented period prior to his move to the United States in 1916. It is essential for Bloch enthusiasts. The Boulanger disc is offered (with apologies) on the heels of a very similar release (on Timpani) that appeared on my 1999 Want List. This Chandos disc (reviewed in 23:4) is a must, however, because not only are its performances superior, but it offers the first modern, representative rendition of the quasi-operatic scene Faust et Hélène, which earned for the composer the Prix de Rome and whichWalter Damrosch proclaimed, “one of the masterpieces of modern music.” Naxos’s wildly prodigious American Classics series scored a triumph with its release (reviewed in 23:6) of the first three of Paul Creston’s six symphonies. Winning two major awards, the Symphony No. 1 launched the composer’s reputation almost overnight, yet has had to wait 60 years for its first recording. The three works are all presented in fine performances, making readily available (and at a budget price) three accessible and highly personal American symphonic masterpieces from the 1940s.

BACHARACH/COSTELLO Painted from Memory – Costello et al. Ÿ MERCURY 314 538 002-2

BEATLES et al. In My Life– George Martin (prod) et al. – ECHO/MCA 11841-2

BLOCH Psalms 22, 114, 137. Poems of Autumn. Winter-Spring – Soloists/Shallon/Luxembourg PO – TIMPANI 1C1052

BOULANGER Psalms 24, 130. Faust and Helen et al. – Soloists/Tortelier/Birmingham Sym Ch/BBC PO – CHANDOS CHAN 9745

CRESTON Symphonies: 1-3 – Kuchar/Ukraine Natl. SO – NAXOS 8.559034

Picks of the Year: 1999

Listed below are the five releases that thrilled and satisfied me the most during the past year. First is a new, up-to-date recording (reviewed last issue) featuring fine performances of Lili Boulanger’s greatest choral and orchestral works. This is an indispensable release for all admirers of French music of the early 20thcentury. It is not surprising that the first of Nicolas Flagello’s six operas to be recorded is The Piper of Hamelin (reviewed next issue). Although this charming adaptation of the classic fable was written for children, it reveals the same symphonic construction, thoroughgoing craftsmanship, and many of the spiritual themes found in the more serious works of this great American neoromantic. The Finnish Einojuhani Rautavaara is one of the strongest, most wide-ranging compositional voices of our time. Naxos has released a fine sample (reviewed in this issue) of his more accessible works, at a price low enough to make this a can’t-lose opportunity for all curious listeners who have yet to discover this fascinating creative figure. Although it does not meet my usual Want List requirement that the music be of the “neglected masterpiece” genre, I have decided to include the two-disc anthology featuring brilliant performances by Leon Fleisher (reviewed in this issue). I have always considered Fleisher to be one of the greatest of all mainstream pianists of mainstream repertoire; his performances illuminate those qualities that reveal the essence of the music’s greatness. Worthy of special mention are definitive readings of the Copland sonata and of the Liszt B minor. As I noted in my review (in 22:5), “Saxophone Masterpieces” truly lives up to its title, with superb performances of Creston’s classic sonata, Muczynski’s compact, soon-to-be-classic sonata, and Kabelác’s fascinating rarity. And finally, while acknowledging my own involvement as producer, I would like to mention as a postscript Tatjana Rankovich’s expert reading of the Flagello Piano Sonata, along with premiere recordings of the sonatas by Paul Creston and Vittorio Giannini (Phoenix PHCD-143; reviewed last issue).

BOULANGER Choral and Orchestral Works – Soloists/Stringer/Namur Ch/Luxembourg PO – TIMPANI 1C1046

FLAGELLO The Piper of Hamelin – McGrath/Strasser/Manhattan Schl. Of Music Prep. Div. Ch/SO – NEWPORT NCD 60153

RAUTAVAARA Symphony No. 3/Piano Concerto No. 1/Cantus Arcticus – Mikkola/Lintu/Royal Scottish Nat’l. O – NAXOS 8.554147



Picks of the Year: 1998

There are two worlds of classical music today, and they are increasingly distinct from each other. One is the world of superstar soloists, conductors, and their orchestras, who carry on a saprophagous relationship with a more or less fixed repertoire of music from the past. This group attempts to keep its aging, passive, and dwindling audience alive and awake through pathetic, desperate measures–pandering, “dumbing down,” or exaggerating its pretensions—all of which prove ever more futile, as the indifferent multinational entertainment companies that attempt to market their recordings are only too aware. The other world is that of small independent record companies, which target groups of listeners who are jaded by the moribund standard repertoire and are eager to discover the vast realms of music beyond—realms largely unknown to those in the former group. These smaller companies fill the hungry appetites of active listeners with interesting, worthy music from all historical epochs and from all corners of the globe. Leafing through this section of Fanfare reveals the enormous scope of music now available on recording, as well as the range of advocacy that fuels it and is fueled by it.

The foregoing serves as introduction to my particular picks of the year. The Bloch disc (reviewed in 21:5) features the first recording of the last (unnumbered) symphony by this most cosmopolitan expressionist, whose importance rests not only on the intrinsic merit of his body of work, but also on his use of tonality as an expressive continuum, offering to the next generation one of the more fruitful paths away from the dead-end polarization of tonality and atonality. In addition, the disc illustrates the initial crystallization of Bloch’s musical language through two excerpts from his early opera, Macbeth.

Anthony Payne’s elaboration and completion of Elgar’s Third Symphony has been much discussed in these pages (see 21:5 and 21:6). Suffice to say that no Elgarian can possibly pass it up.

Benjamin Lees is a low-profile American composer who began as a Neoclassicist, but who has evolved in a highly individual way during recent years.  His music, while not immediately ingratiating, is compelling nonetheless—and increasingly so with greater familiarity. This disc (reviewed in 21:3) features brilliant performances of some significant piano music.

After several years during which little interest was shown in his music, the past two have seen major infusions into the discography of Peter Mennin, one of America’s greatest composers. This recent release (reviewed in 21:4) features exciting, powerful performances of some of his most important middle-period works.

The distinguished choral conductor Robert Shaw turns his attention to two of the greatest choral works of this century on a Telarc disc (reviewed in the last issue). The Vaughan Williams and Barber works represent the composers at their very best. (The Bartók is of somewhat less interest, but worthwhile nonetheless.)

BLOCH Symphony (No. 5) in E-flat. Macbeth: Two Interludes. In Memoriam. Three Jewish Poems – Sternberg/Royal PO – ASV CD DCA 1019

ELGAR/PAYNE Symphony No. 3 – Davis/BBC SO – NMC D053

LEES Piano Sonata No. 4 et al. piano works – Ian Hobson – ALBANY TROY-227

MENNIN Symphonies 5, 6 et al. orch. works – Miller/Albany SO – ALBANY TROY-260

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Dona Nobis Pacem. BARBER Prayers of Kierkegaard.BARTÓK Cantata Profana – Shaw/Atlanta SO & Ch – TELARC CD-80479

Picks of the Year: 1997

We read that the classical record business is in bad shape.  This is most unfortunate; but from the standpoint of the serious music lover, there has never been such a wide range of repertoire available—and so well performed and so superbly recorded. As usual, my list highlights lesser-known works of the twentieth century whose adherence to mainstream musical values gives them a broad appeal.  Heading the (alphabetically arranged) list is Dominick Argento’s profoundly compelling setting of excerpts From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, available for the first time in Janet Baker’s exquisite world-premiere performance (reviewed last issue)—a reading that garnered for the work the 1975 Pulitzer Prize.  Another composer whose creativity was stimulated by fine literature was Gerald Finzi.  This year Hyperion issued a disc (also reviewed last issue) featuring the two works that best capture and illuminate the poignant and nostalgic themes that pervade his entire output, in performances of great sensitivity and insight.  Peter Mennin’s Symphony No. 7 is considered by many (myself included) as a leading contender for the position of “greatest American symphony.”  CRI has reissed on CD (reviewed in 20:6) the first and finest recorded performance of the work thus far, along with excellent renditions of two earlier major statements by the composer.  The discography of Arnold Rosner continues to grow, most recently with first recordings of three of his highly individualistic string quartets (reviewed in 20:5).  Though Rosner’s music is difficult to classify, as it belongs to no “school,” it is not difficult to enjoy; admirers of Hovhaness and/or Vaughan Williams are well advised to seek it out.  And speaking of Vaughan Williams, music by his student Grace Williams has been recently made available on a Lyrita CD (reviewed last issue).  Featured are three impressive, powerfully characterized works by the Welsh composer.

 Withheld from my “official” list in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict-of-interest is a new release (reviewed last issue) featuring six works by Nicolas Flagello that highlight violin and/or piano (Albany TROY-234).  As I noted with regard to another Flagello disc in last year’s Want List, I am recommending this disc not because I produced it; rather, I produced it because I believe there is great music here, and no one else was there to do the job.  The pieces on this disc all date from the 1960s, Flagello’s most fertile creative period, and are performed by violinist Setsuko Nagata and pianist Peter Vinograde.  Hear for yourself.

ARGENTO:  From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.  Vocal music by Wolf, Fauré, Duparc, Debussy.  Baker/Isepp.  (D’NOTE DND-1019)

FINZI:  Intimations of Immortality.  Dies Natalis.  Ainsley/Best/Corydon Singers and Orchestra.  (HYPERION CDA66876)

MENNIN:  Symphonies:  No. 3; No. 7.  Piano Concerto. Mitropoulos/NYPO; Martinon/Chicago SO; Ogden/Buketoff/Royal PO.  (CRI CD-741)

ROSNER:  String Quartets:  No. 2; No. 3; No. 5.  Duet for Violas.  Ad Hoc String Qt.  (ALBANY TROY-210)

Grace WILLIAMS:  Symphony No. 2.  Ballads.  Fairest of Stars.  Handley/BBC Welsh SO; Groves/London SO.  (LYRITA SRCD-327)

Picks of the Year: 1996

The Boulanger recording, originally released on LP in 1960, features five works of great beauty and depth of both spiritual and emotional content. Du Fond de 1’Abime, a setting of the Psalm 130, is a masterpiece and perhaps this tragically short-lived composer’s greatest work. This recording is indispensable and its reissue on CD is cause for rejoicing.

I cannot list my selection of the year’s five most musically significant releases without including the Flagello disc (reviewed in 19:6) , although as its producer, I realize that this appears to be a flagrant conflict of interest. My defense is this: Anyone who suspects that my citation of this disc is a crass attempt to increase my own financial returns is welcome to disregard the recommendation. I can only insist that I produced this disc because I think that the music is great and needs to be heard (rather than the reverse), and I invite readers to listen and decide for themselves.

The Dane Vagn Holmboe and the Englishman Edmund Rubbra have used the medium of the symphony as a vehicle through which to express their own individual metaphysical visions. Their works are lofty, eloquent, and accessible enough to be appreciated by most listeners motivated to participate in an aesthetic experience devoid of frivolous attractions. Perhaps its serious, reflective character has prevented this music from reaching a wider audience. These CDs (reviewed in 18:6 and 19:5) respectively), parts of complete recording cycles, provide excellent points of entry into deeply rewarding realms of expression.
Miloslav Kabelac and Lubos Fiser are Czech composers who have pursued visions of a more extreme emotional nature than Holmboe and Rubbra, giving them perhaps less general appeal. However, it is the very intensity of their extremism that I find especially compelling. Each composer has been represented individually on a number of recent recordings, but I chose this one (reviewed in 19:3) because it features both on one disc (the Kopelent work can be disregarded).

L. BOULANGER: Du Fond de 1’Abime. Psalm 24. Psalm 129. Vielle
Priere Bouddhique. Pie Jesu. 
Markevitch/Elisabeth Brasseur
Chorale/Lamoureux Orchestra. (EVEREST EVC-9034
FLAGELLO: Piano Concerti Nos. 2 and 3. Credendum. Overtures.
Oliveira/Rankovich/Amos/Slovak Philharmonic, Kosice. VOX 7521)
HOLMBOE: Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9. Hughes/Aarhus Symphony
Orchestra. (BIS CD-618)
KABELAC: Symphony No. 3. FISER: Concerto for Two Pianos and
Orchestra. KOPELENT: The Song of the Birds.
Soloists/Pesek/Czech Philharmonic. SUPRAPHON SU 0035-2 031
RUBBRA: Symphonies Nos. 4, 10, and 11. Hickox/BBC National
Orchestra of Wales. (CHANDOS CHAN-9401

Picks of the Year: 1995

Each year at this time, as the compact disc continues to replace concert performance as the musical medium of consequence, it is mind-boggling to review the annual bounty of unknown treasures that have entered the discographic repertoire. Four of my five choices this year celebrate such esoteric discoveries.  Of them, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah may not be considered truly obscure, being one of the most widely performed American operas. However, it is only now available on commercial recording, making it accessible to a much broader audience, in a gorgeous performance (reviewed in 18:3) that should be pretty irresistible to the mainstream opera lover. Nicolas Flagello and Vittorio Giannini rank with Samuel Barber as the foremost American avatars of the 20th-century consummation of traditional European late-Romanticism, and their gradual emergence into the musical marketplace is one of the most exciting developments of recent years. It was difficult to choose between the new Albany disc and the Flagello/Schwantner release on Koch International (both reviewed in 18:5), featuring works inspired by the words of Martin  appeal to a small group of enthusiasts. However, more and more listeners seem to be discovering the inexhaustible delights offered by his highly individual, meticulously crafted works The disc noted here (reviewed in 18:4) features new recordings of three of his most important compositions. The highly accessible yet thoroughly individual music of Arnold Rosner has developed something of a cult following during the past ten years. His latest CD (reviewed in this issue) demonstrates exactly why, with four of his best, most representative works. My one selection that does not feature little-known music is Robert Shaw’s glorious recording of the respective Stabat Maters of Poulenc and Szymanowski (reviewed in 18:4). These two deeply-moving works each of which represents its composer at his best, make a fascinating and most apropos pairing. 

FLOYD: Susannah. Nagano/Studer/Ramey/Hadley/Opera de Lyon. (VIRGIN 7243 5 45039 2; two discs)  
FLAGELLO: Serenata. Andante Languido. GIANNINI: Concerto Grosso. Prelude and Fugue. GOULD: Harvest. Amos/New Russia Orchestra ALBANY TROY-143)  
MARTIN: Symphonie. Symphonie Concertante. Passacaglia Bamert/London Philharmonic. (CHANDOS CHAN-9312)  
POULENC: Stabat Mater. SZYMANOWSKI: Stabat Mater. Shaw/Atlanta Symphony Chorus/Orchestra. (TELARC CD-80362)  
ROSNER: Of Numbers and of Bells. Horn Sonata. Cello Sonata No. 1. Nightstone. Various duos. (ALBANY TROY-163)

Picks of the Year: 1994

This year’s Want List offers a feast for those in search of accessible treasures of twentieth-century music. Two releases highlight the achievements of master composers in media for which they enjoyed a special affinity, while the other three bring to light masterpieces that have been hitherto all but unknown. The Barber set (reviewed in [Fanfare]18:1) features the solo vocal output of America’s greatest song composer, including ten that have never been recorded before, in glorious performances that must be termed definitive. The Bloch disc (also reviewed in 18:1) offers the first modern recording of Evocations, possibly the composer’s finest and most representative purely orchestral work, as well as the first recording ever of his last completed composition. The Creston disc (reviewed in this issue) presents the premier recording of his Symphony No. 5, which definitely belongs in the pantheon of great American post-romantic symphonies–forty years after it was written. The Supraphon disc (also reviewed in this issue) contains a reissue of the sole recording ever of The Mystery of Time, by Miloslav Kabelác — one of the most strangely compelling orchestral works to come out of mid-20th-century Europe, which must be heard to be believed. The Persichetti disc (18:1 again) features fine, sympathetic performances of seven less familiar pieces by America’s (if not the world’s) greatest composer of music for winds.

BARBER: Songs (complete). Studer/Hampson/Browning. (DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435 867-2i two discs)
BLOCH: Evocations; Two Last Poems; Three Jewish Poems. Sedares/New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. KOCH INTERNATIONAL 3-7232-2H1) 
CRESTON: Symphony No. 5; Toccata; Choreografic Suite. Schwarz/Seattle Symphony Orchestra/New York Chamber Symphony (DELOS DE-3127) 
KABELÁCThe Mystery of Time; Hamlet ImprovisationJANACEK: Glagolitic Mass. Ancerl/Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. (SUPRAPHON 11 1930-2 911) PERSICHETTIMusic for Wind Ensemble. Amos/London Symphony Winds. (HARMONIA MUNDI HMU-907092