Arturo Tamayo's recordings of the works of Iannis Xenakis on the Timpani label are among the finest available, for they are finely interpreted, expertly performed, and brilliantly recorded. Xenakis' music is always different from piece to piece, because the composer never wanted to repeat himself, and his works always present unique challenges, depending on the nature of his evolving techniques and changing expressions. Whether it is in the stark text and extreme vocalizations of Aïs (1980), or the densely dissonant aggregations of Tracées (1987), Empreintes (1975), Noomena (1974), and Roáï (1991), Tamayo keeps the energy levels high and shapes the sound to have a sharp edge and forceful impact.
Neeme Jarvi conducts the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in the launch of a revealing orchestral series; the works of Johan Halvorsen. Volume one of this four volume series, features a mixture of well-known works with rarely recorded repertoire. The Entry March of the Boyars is recurrently in the concert repertoire and is programmed with the only available recordings of Andante Religioso, Mascarade Suite and La Melancholie, along with the rarely recorded Symphony No.1.
This is a superb disc. There have been distinguished collections of Smetana’s symphonic poems (notably a vintage Kubelík disc) but none quite to compare with this in excitement, richness of detail and, in the case of Wallenstein’s Camp, sonic spectacle – how well Smetana writes for the brass! Indeed this, Richard III and especially Hakon Jarl emerge afresh as symphonic poems every bit the equal of those of Liszt. The early Jubel Overture (1848) with its thundering, frantic opening timpani and energetic folksy flavour is a real find. So, too, is the beautiful watery tableau The Fisherman, which has a Wagnerian evocation gently reminding one of the moonlight sequence in Vltava.
Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg was self-taught and made a living for much of his career as an electrical engineer and patent official. His nine symphonies are only sporadically played outside Scandinavia, but between the world wars they were quite familiar in both Britain and the U.S., and their revival is probably overdue. Although longer than the rest of the works on the album, the curiously named Symphony No. 6, Op. 31 ("Dollar Symphony"), is an odd and not really typical work. It was completed in 1928 for a contest mounted by the Columbia record label on the 100th anniversary of Schubert's death, calling for a work in the spirit of Schubert's music.