As an introduction to the music of the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, you can't really do better than this little masterwork which is the toccata from his Bachiana Brasileira No. 2. It was inspired by a ride that Villa-Lobos took in 1931 on just such a train that was transporting berry-pickers and farm laborers between villages…(Jean-Yves Duperron)
A Bert Whyte recording of Maestro Stokowski conducting the Houston Symphony at the Houston Civic Center in 1959. Le Poeme d’extase is a big, one movement work in sonata form that combines the elements of a symphony and a tone poem. The work highlights Scriabin’s development and exploitation of new harmonic ideas including chord structures constructed on intervals of a fourth instead of a third. Coupled on this release is another Stokowski/Houston performance of Amirov’s “Azerbaijan Mugan” recorded on March 16th, 1959 at the Houston Civic Center. Amirov’s composition, masterfully performed by Stokowski and the Houston, exhibits the complicated system of mode scales and fixed melodic patterns characteristic of music of the East.
Emerging at the dawn of the twentieth century, the idiosyncratic structures of Scriabin's early symphonies display the Russian's unique approach. His Second Symphony blends echoes of Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Wagner, with sweeping climaxes, swirling colours, and passages of majestic intensity over the course of its five movements.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his last three symphonies in the summer of 1788, and since then they've usually been regarded as a set, even though there's little reason to believe he intended them to be performed together. Unlike Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who came to regard these symphonies as a kind of symphonic oratorio in 12 movements, Richard Tognetti thinks of them as separate pieces that Mozart wrote opportunistically, possibly for a commission that fell through, though beyond that, he lets the music speak for itself.
The 43 tracks that make up the first part of the The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 of Louis Armstrong are remarkable not only for the outstanding performances they reflect, but for the many settings Armstrong recorded in during the era. While none of this material will come as a surprise to collectors, those who are starting to check out Armstrong's post-New Orleans period would do themselves a favor in scoping this collection because the Decca years, even more so than his long tenure with Verve, showcase Armstrong at the pinnacle of American popular music, and that that music happens to be jazz is even more revelatory.