Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Jungle (1928) [15.05]
Concerto Sacro I and II (1925) [31.50]
Canzona Seria - A Hamlet Monologue (1957) [9.29]
Symphony (1936) [15.30]
rec 1960s
David Del Tredici (piano) concerti
American SO/Leopold Stokowski
Polish National RSO/William Strickland
CRI CD597 [72.03]

Though their discs are well packaged, designed and documented CRI continue to work away in obscurity so far as the majority of reviewers are concerned.

CRI's catalogue has the latest recordings rubbing shoulders with the results of sessions from the 1950s. How often do you see their CDs in record shops - even in specialist outlets or large stores like Tower or HMV? Hardly at all!

Jungle crosses the sort of determined rhythmic propulsion we associate with Vaughan Williams (Piano Concerto and Symphony No 4) with the explosive impressionism of Ravel and the motoric power of Honegger. The rain forest grumbles, raves, whistles, chitters, roars (there are several lion roars!) and whispers. This is music very close to Villa-Lobos in his Uirapuru and Amazon cycle. Towards the close (9.10) it nods in the direction of Sibelius's En Saga but gathers itself for some explosively feral rhythmic display. The marine cut and thrust of Louis Aubert's Tombeau de Chateaubriand also ruffles this simultaneously inviting and threatening forest portrait. The work was inspired by Henri Rousseau's (Le Douanier) painting 'Forêt Exotique'. The lion roar was created by drawing a rosined cord through a drumhead. In addition Josten added African drums to the already magniloquent orchestral specification. I wonder if Bernard Herrmann knew the piece (q.v. his later film score for 'White Witch Doctor') and speaking of the film world the sighs and rhythmic carpet at and around 8.40 sound remarkably like a source of inspiration for Waxman's music for 'The Bride of Frankenstein'. Jungle was premiered by the Boston SO conducted by Koussevitsky on 25 October 1929. The stereo spread is very well contrived and every strand scores a hit.

The Concerto Sacro I and II are for solo piano (played by Alice-fixated composer, David Del Tredici) and a big string ensemble. The two works are spiritual, intense and lyrically passionate. What to expect: think of Finzi's string writing in Dies Natalis but with a touch (just a touch) of Mantovani's cascading strings and add reverberation as well as a dash of passion from Barber's Adagio, Martinu's Double Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. The solo piano strides through the two works as it does in Finzi's Eclogue amid the harmonic crunch of a major string ensemble playing its heart out. Only in the Sepulchre and Resurrection section of the second concerto does an element of watery atonalism sidle into the proceedings.

The Canzona Seria is a work of staccato rather than legato lyricism - a soul-mate to Nielsen's Wind Quintet and Barber's Summer Music.

The Symphony is in two 'slabs'. The first (5 mins) has filled its tank with the ballistic matter from Jungle and combines this with a Roy Harris-inflected epic spirit and a touch of Tippett's early tunefulness. The second movement is sombre though, towards the end ,the music rises to a vaulting and rambunctious 'wide open spaces' confidence.

The pauses between tracks are far too short.

The notes and design of the leaflet and insert are exemplary.

A highly recommended disc.

Rob Barnett

If you are already inclined to the music of Martinu and Villa-Lobos, but with a ladleful of string band luxuriance, you will want this.

In case of difficulty this can be ordered direct from:-

Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI)
73 Spring Street Suite 506
New York, NY 10012-5800 USA
(212) 941-9673 fax (212) 941-9704

Crotchet   Amazon UK AmazonUS

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit