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For several years, tidal waves of CDs have beaten upon the shores of the musical world. For the average music lover this was heaven until the floods engulfed our idyllic land and mental stupor set in.

The specialist record magazines have bravely withstood the flood and presented readers with umpteen pages of critical reviews. For the likes of us, as a new and general-purpose music magazine, policy must of necessity be highly selective.Therefore there will be no set pattern of record reviewing, just three or four records a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. Occasional articles specifically devoted to the recorded repertory are planned. If readers have suggestions in this area, please send an email.

CASELLA Paganiniana/Serenata/La Giara

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Christian Benda

Naxos 8.553706

Unless we are aware of Italian orchestral and chamber music in the early years of this century, names such as Casella are vaguely known without knowledge of the music. In Casella's case the years had to roll on beyond his Paris period before his name and music securely crossed European boundaries.

The four movements of Paganiniana, composed in 1942, are built on good tunes from Paganini with a Stravinskian coat of many colours. That the music was later deployed for a ballet is no surprise, and must have supported its subsequent popularity.

The Serenata for chamber orchestra is much earlier (1927) although in similar style, but containing two strongly expressive slow movements, of which the first is truly of the night as its nocturnal title implies. The Neapolitan finale is a sparkler.

In 1924, the French choreographer de Maré was in need of an Italian ballet to contrast de Falla's Three Cornered Hat. Casella, in Paris, set to work and in six weeks produced La Giara. Its basis is popular Sicilian tunes enmeshed in Casella's intriguing eclectism and vivid scoring.

Performances here treat the music agreeably and the recording well supports it.


Marburg Suite    Music for trumpet and organ

Karl Reissig (trumpet) and Martin Weyer (organ)

Jubal CD980807

The partnership of trumpet and organ has become popular with record buffs, who presumably have bought these records in such number that the smaller labels are taking a gamble. The first quality to find is a good rapport between players, and an ambience to match. This we have here.

I have not much time for acres of Handel in bright mode arranged for trumpet and organ. Fortunately this first track, and the second with the ubiquitous Bach Air in D, give way to the genuine article in two of Kreb's chorale preludes for organ and trumpet (the second a later track). Both are delicious, not so much for intrinsic musical quality as contrapuntal dexterity, allowing both instruments to coalesce, even though the trumpet plays (sings) the chorale tunes.

The English composer Alan Gibbs surprisingly - but pleasantly - breaks into this programme from the past with his five-movement Marburg Suite. Lean textured and very disciplined with material stated and developed, Gibbs spreads his canvas with colour carefully laid to portray the two disparate instruments in union and diversity.

Martin Weyer varies the programme with the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Mozart's Fantasia K594. Dr Weyer plays with style if not passion on a refurbished 18th-century organ that is noticeably splendid in organo pleno.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, 10 January 1999

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