Respighi’s colourful music could have been written with the clear, full-bodied Chandos sound in mind. Following on from where Geoffrey Simon began for the label in the Eighties, Edward Downes is now exploring the more symphonic side of Respighi’s output, showing there is more to him than the Roman trilogy (if not that much, qualitatively). The present disc includes two of his four concertante works for piano and orchestra, the extended Toccata (according to Tozer’s booklet note, the longest such work in existence) and the quirky Slavonic Rhapsody, with its humorous sideswipe at Dvorák. More characteristic of Respighi is the concert overture derived from his opera Belfagor, about the exploits of a Till Eulenspiegel/Don Juan figure, portrayed with suitably colourful sound-painting. All these, together with the Bachian Three Chorales, are played with marvellous verve and commitment – the BBC PO under Downes has a way with this out-of-the-way repertoire that few can equal. The sound quality on this disc is nothing short of stunning.
Sibelius' 20th-century masterpiece is unique in its beauty, and is a favorite in concert halls worldwide, with its Scandinavian Romantic themes. A must for the serious violinist! Includes a high-quality printed music score and a compact disc containing a complete version with soloist, in split-channel stereo (soloist on the right channel); then a second version in full stereo of the orchestral accompaniment, minus you, the soloist.
A work with a name like this can only be unusual. The opus in question is a three-part solo piano epic, lasting a shade under four hours and of a complexity to match. Combine an all-night raga sequence with Bach's Art of Fugue and you're getting close. Is it worth the listen? Yes, if you want to give your heart and mind–not just your brain–a real workout. For all his outsize demands, Sorabji was a front-rank pianist, who understood technique as a physical end to spiritual means. There are stretches of manic complexity here, but also passages of real poetry: try the lengthy "Interludium primum" which opens Part 2, or many of the 81(!) variations which follow the magisterial "Passacaglia" in Part 3. It's music which cries out for transcendental virtuosity, and Geoffrey Douglas Madge gives it just that. He gave four performances over six years and this Chicago one from 1983 assumed mythic status among those who heard it. Remastered for CD release, it is awe-inspiring in its grasp of what's gone into this music: the audience clearly living it with the pianist every step of the way. Hear it for yourself, then why not run the marathon or climb Everest for relaxation?