The exceptional and unaffected Martha Argerich gives here a spellbinding performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto.
This symphony probably may not have changed musical history from the moment it was first written, in Salzburg in early 1774 by the 18-year-old Mozart. But it crystallises the young man’s emerging compositional self-confidence, and that shows him spreading his wings in symphonic music just as he had already started to do in the opera house and in his chamber music.
A large part of Feliks Nowowiejski’s work, especially his larger works, remained in manuscripts and soon after the composer’s death in 1946, he was forgotten. As if he’d faded into oblivion. This state of affairs lasted until the last few years, when part of the Polish music community began to notice severe gaps in knowledge about the work of the composer. The Opole Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Przemyslaw Neumann has also played a big role in decoding Felix Nowowiejski’s music. The testimony of this is a smaller album that gathers the symphonic works of Rota’s creator, previously only rarely performed and almost absent in phonography. These are extremely interesting, selected symphonic works, composed with incredible impetus, full of melodic invention, pathetic culminations and deep romantic aesthetics.
Jansons embraces Rachmaninoff’s riveting, turbulent Second Symphony in this sympathetic interpretation. Although written during the composer’s three-year stay in Germany, the symphony conjures the blustery winters and frenzied urban life of St. Petersburg, where it was premiered in 1908. Containing the charm and emotional depth of the composer’s finest large-scale movements, the “Allegro molto” sounds stunningly fresh, especially under the fingers of the exceptionally inspired, almost possessed, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The Adagio is ecstatically romantic, emblematic of Rachmaninoff’s profoundly saccharine style.
Britain-to-Scotland transplant Sally Beamish wasn't just self-taught as an orchestral composer: you might say she learned by doing. According to her notes on this BIS release, one of a group covering her orchestral output, she had never written an orchestral piece or even studied orchestration when the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, commissioned her Symphony No. 1 in 1994. The result was a work full of unusual sonorities, rather loosely woven but constantly surprising, that drew on various features (formal and textural, not tonal) of the music of Scotland.