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    Louis Spohr’s Symphony No. 2
    Howard Shelley, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
    Duration: 00:30:47


    Johann Christian Bach’s Piano Concerto in E flat major
    Anthony Halstead (keyboard & direction), The Hanover Band
    Duration: 00:17:41


    Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms
    Leonard Bernstein, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Jeunesse-Chor, Soloists from the Vienna Boys’ Choir
    Duration: 00:19:05

    I love the Chichester Psalms (commissioned by the same cleric that commissioned Britten to write Rejoice in the Lamb: The Very Revd. Walter Hussey, one of my personal heroes). But this performance, albeit conducted by the composer, is …er, a little weird. Perhaps it’s because I’ve imprinted on Matthew Best’s version? Or perhaps because, in 2021, I can’t look at that album art and see anyone other than Donald Trump in profile! (I suppose it’s actually meant to be Lenny himself in profile, but I don’t recall him ever wearing hair in that fashion!)

    Anyway: ignore the album art. Ignore the fact that I don’t think Bernstein’s recording of his own work is the best: go track down the Matthew Best version. It is wonderful. And thank you, Walter Hussey.


    Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem
    Erich Leinsdorf, New England Conservatory Chorus, Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Duration:    01:09:44

    I am not a great fan of Brahms (about whom Benjamin Britten was notoriously sniffy!)

    But I’ve always liked this, my first-ever version of the German Requiem. And, pace Britten, I can’t hear anything awful in the work, but rather something rather noble and wonderful.


    Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1
    Andrew Litton, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
    Duration:    00:14:13

    An excellent performance of this work. Character-full, but without being look-at-me perverse about it.


    Havergal Brian’s Symphony No. 03
    Lionel Friend, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Ball (piano), Julian Jacobson (piano)
    Duration: 00:55:11

    I know and understand far too little about Havergal Brian’s music. He wrote 32 symphonies for Heaven’s sake… but died (in 1972) in almost complete obscurity. That would be understandable if all 32 symphonies were complete rubbish, of course… but, clearly they are not. I don’t have recordings of all 32: only 10 of them. But I enjoy them all, to one degree or another. As I say, I don’t yet quite understand what he was up to with any of them, but they are good listening material nonetheless.


    Walter Braunfels’ Fantastical Apparitions of a theme by Hector Berlioz
    Gregor Bühl, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
    Duration: 00:51:34

    Not a composer whose name you’re going to instantly recognise -but this is a gloriously-sounding piece of music and means I recommend him (and it) to you without hesitation. The album artwork is somewhat disturbing, I agree… but the music is rather wonderful!


    Eugen Suchoň’s Symphonietta Rustica
    Neeme Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
    Duration: 00:14:53

    Another name not to conjour with! He was a Slovak composer who died only in 1993 (having been born in 1908). He’s fairly new to me: I like this work immensely, however!


    Frederick Shepherd Converse’s Flivver Ten Million
    JoAnn Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
    Duration: 00:12:08

    An unusually-named piece! It celebrates the production of the ten millionth Ford motorcar, back in 1927. It’s got lots of factory sound effects, with anvils and honking clown-horns, but it’s otherwise a very tonal, tuneful piece. A bit of fun, anyway!


    William Herschel’s Symphony No. 14
    Matthias Bamert, London Mozart Players
    Duration: 00:11:26

    I love Herschel’s music! It’s light and classically fluffy, but equally charming and joyful. Herschel, of course, happens to have been the man who first discovered the planet whose eventual name has subsequently caused much derision: Uranus. So, scientist and composer: a bit of an all-round wonder, then!


    Virgil Thomson’s The Plow that Broke the Plains
    Leopold Stokowski, Symphony of the Air
    Duration: 00:13:59


    Josef Gabriel Rheinberger’s Vier Motetten
    Charles Bruffy, Phenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale
    Duration:    00:12:52

    Some very fine choral works by someone whose name isn’t, perhaps, instantly recognisable. He was a sort-of close contemporary of Verdi’s (1839-1901)… the death dates coincide, even if Verdi was a good quarter of a century older than him! Anyway… I mention Verdi mostly because if you know the ‘Pezzi sacri’ (four sacred pieces), the style of these motets will be quite familiar to you. Grand and lush, yet somehow also managing to be simple, direct and intensely personal.


    Valentin Silvestrov’s Monodia
    Andrej Borejko, Urals Philharmonic Orchestra, Ivan Sokolov (piano)
    Duration: 00:20:42

    Hmmm. A composer from the ‘plinky-plonk’ school of music-making, I fear. This piece has its moments, but also its long and perversely plinky-plonk longueurs.


    Joly Braga Santos’ Symphony No. 2
    Álvaro Cassuto, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
    Duration: 00:48:39

    Inspired by a recent David Hurwitz talk about the music of someone I’d never previously heard of, I just purchased this recording of one of Joly Braga Santos’ second symphony and a short ballet called ‘Crossroads’. The Symphony is decent enough stuff: Braga Santos’ was allegedly influenced by the Ralph Vaughan William school of modal composition, but the family resemblance doesn’t seem especially obvious to me on this, my first hearing. Definitely someone worth persisting with, however. And Presto seem to have no end of his stuff for sale, at least!

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