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.
Exclusive artist at Deutsche Grammophon, Julie Fuchs follows in the footsteps of her illustrious predecessors and invests songs and iconic tunes from the jewels of the stage and cinema of the roaring twenties. The texts in the spotlight develop themes widely discussed after 1918 pacifism, feminism and liberation of morals, birth that find a new resonance after the war in Poulenc's opera-bouffe, whose modernity and irrepressible fantasy plunge their roots in the vibrant interwar years when Paris was still the capital of the world.
Samuel Scheidt was one of the most interesting Lutheran composers of the early 17th century. Like his famous contemporary Heinrich Schütz, he combined the polyphonic tradition with the new styles from Italy. His Cantiones Sacrae for eight voices mark the summit of Renaissance musical style; even though Protestant chorales are integrated into the work, Scheidt does not hesitate to use expressive effects that originated in the Italian madrigal style.