The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the Web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.

The album cover may not always appear. The album cover may not always appear.
Farkas, F.: Orch Wks V2 (24 Dances, Musica…, András Jelky Ste, Tpt Conc, etc); Soloists/FrLiszt ChO [Toccata]
Farkas, F.: Orch Wks V1 (Divert, Vc Conc..., Lavotta Ste, Trittico..., etc); Perényi/Csaba/BudaMÁV SO [Toccata]
It's been seven years since Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas (1905-2000) has appeared in these pages (see 28 March 2007), and we're happy to welcome him back with these two volumes of his orchestral music from the adventurous Toccata label. Eight of the thirteen works on these discs are first recordings indicated by "FR" after their titles.

Ferenc began his musical studies in Budapest under Leó Weiner (1885-1960). He would then go on to attend classes in Rome (1929-31) with Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), who had a penchant for breathing new life into old music as exemplified by such works as his Ancient Airs and Dances for orchestra (1917-32) after 16th, 17th and 18th century lute pieces. This seems to have rubbed off on Farkas as exemplified by several of the selections here.

These include the first eleven numbers on the disc pictured to the left, which are from a collection of 17th century Hungarian folk dances Farkas arranged for string orchestra under the title Choreae Hungaricae (Hungarian Dances, 1961; see the album notes for more details). They range from courtly [D-1, T-1 through 3] to nimble [D-1, T-4 through 7], melancholy [D-1, T-8 and 9], and vivacious [D-1, T-10 and 11]. A couple are so close to parts of the Respighi mentioned above one can't help wondering if they came from the same sources.

The next Aria e rondo all'ungherese (Hungarian Aria and Rondo, 1994) for two violins and string orchestra [D-1, T-12] is based on anonymous 18th century tunes. At times they have a Latin vitality reminiscent of Paganini's (1782-1840) Caprices (c. 1805).

This is followed by Musica pentatonica (1945; FR), which as the name implies is based on five-note scales that are in this case similar to those found in Hungarian folk music. Here a proud "Toccata" [D-1, T-13] is conjoined to a pining "Aria" [D-1, T-14]. Then the piece concludes with a perky "Fuga" [D-1, T-15] to end the work on a lighter note.

Hungarian world adventurer András Jelky (1738-1783) is the colorful subject (see the album notes) of the next six-part suite. It's scored for string orchestra and piano (1973-4; FR), where the latter has an obbligato rather than concertante role. The opening "Er macht sich auf den Weg" ("He Sets Out On His Way") [D-1, T-16] is an energetic introduction based on a Magyar folk song (MF).

Then we get "Ali Hussein" [D-1, T-17], "Fu-Kong" [D-1, T-18], "Kwanga" with some ligneous knocks [D-1, T-19], and "Rámáyun" [D-1, T-20], which have Algerian, Chinese, Ceylonese and Middle East associations in turn. The suite closes with "Auf dem Heimweg" ("On the Way Home") [D-1, T-21] having another Magyar tune and MF played backwards.

Over his long career Farkas wrote five concertinos for various solo instruments. A few years back we told you about the first featuring the harp (1937, revised 1956; see 28 March 2007), and here's the last for trumpet and string orchestra (1984; FR).

Somewhat of a cross between the trumpet concerti of Vivaldi (1678-1741) and Weinberg (1919-1996), it's in three movements. These consist of virtuosic outer allegros [D-1, T-22 and 24], the first of which has a demanding cadenza, that surround a disembodied andante [D-1, T-23].

Farkas was also an accomplished film score composer, and in his music for a 1935 Finnish flick he used some local folk dances found in a Helsinki library. He then arranged seven of them for string orchestra as his Finnish Popular Dances (1935), which is the next selection. They range from busy {D-1, T-25 through 27] to introspective [T-28], childlike [D-1, T-29], and driving [D-1, T-30 and 31]. They seem to have Magyar moments, which brings to mind the alleged relationship between the Finnish and Hungarian languages.

The disc closes with Partita all'ungaresca: Hungarian Dances and Tunes from the 16th Century for string orchestra (1973-4; FR; see the album notes for details). A set of six ditties, the first is a "Basse danse" [D-1, T-32] that oddly enough resembles a Russian folk melody Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) used in the last movement of his Fate Symphony (No. 4, 1877-8).

It's followed by a "Galiarda" [D-1, T-33], "Passamezzo" [D-1, T-34] and "Salterello" [D-1, T-35] again recalling Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances. Then it concludes with a Gregorian-sounding "Intermezzo" [D-1, T-36] and joyful, buoyant "Hajdútánc" ("Dance from Hajdú') [D-1, T-37].

The Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra under their artistic director János Rolla, who's also one of the solo violinists along with Gyula Stuller in Aria..., play this music with great enthusiasm. Trumpeter László Tóth also gets a big hand for his splendid account of the Concertino.

Made at the Italian Institute of Culture in Budapest, the recordings project a generous soundstage in a nourishing acoustic. The string tone is pleasingly bright, and the solo instruments well captured and balanced against the tutti.

Those liking this disc should also investigate the first volume in this series pictured to the right. It appeared a few months ago and begins with a Divertimento for orchestra (1930; FR). This was written in Rome while the composer was studying with Respighi, to whom it's dedicated. That may explain the Latin temperament of this brilliantly scored five-movement work, which begins with a couple of allegros. The first of these [D-2, T-1] is infectiously whimsical, and the next reflective [D-2, T-2] with a central section recalling its predecessor.

Then we get a minuet [D-2, T-3] whose blustery outer sections surround a moribund episode. A miniscule pensive "Intermezzo" [D-2, T-4] serves as a bridge into the final allegro. This is a cheeky rondo [D-2, T-5], which ends the work all in good fun.

The next Concertino all'antica (Concertino of Old) for cello and string orchestra (1964) is the third of the five mentioned above. With a name suggestive of Ancient Airs and Dances, it harkens back to olden times, and started out as a showpiece for the now forgotten 18th century instrument known as the baryton.

Unlike the standard concerto where virtuosic displays predominate, this one is devoted to a straightforward exchange of classically simple ideas between soloist and tutti. In three movements there's a rustic charm about the opening "Pastorale" [D-2, T-6]. The following "Aria con variazioni" [D-2, T-7] is a pizzicato-accented serenade, and then the concertino ends with a fetching, contrapuntally textured “Giga” [D-2, T-8].

Also owing a debt to the past, the Lavotta Suite for chamber orchestra (1951; FR) is based on tunes by the great Hungarian fiddler-composer János Lavotta (1764-1820). In five movements it opens with what Farkas calls "Ungarisch" [D-2, T-9]. This is a terrific Hungarian dance known as a verbunkos, where Ferenc Erkel (1810-1893, see 12 August 2014) can't be far away.

A classically styled minuet [D-2, T-10] and stately march [D-2, T-11] having Magyar overtones follow, then another verbunkos [D-2, T-12] with some fancy fiddling making it even more captivating than the first. The suite ends feverishly with "Im Wirtshaus" ("In the Tavern") [D-2, T-13], which is a winning medley featuring some of Lavotta's best tunes.

Maschere (Masks, 1983; FR) is another synthesis of past and present that began as a wind trio the composer later arranged for chamber orchestra, giving us the version here. Each of its five movements honors one of the main characters found in Italian commedia dell'arte (see 21 October 2013), beginning with "Il Capitano" [D-2, T-14], which is accordingly warlike and boastful.

"Pantalone" [D-2, T-15] takes on a money-hungry, avaricious air, while "Colombina" [D-2, T-16] manifests coy deceit, and "Povero Pulcinella" [D-2, T-17] subdued chicanery. Finally we get "Arlecchino" ("Harlequin") [D-2, T-18], whose mental and physical agility are characterized by some capricious music, ending this tiny suite on a light note. Strangely enough there's a mischievousness reminiscent of the final march in Hindemith's (1895-1963) Symphonic Metamorphosis... (1943).

Moving right along we get Trittico concertanto (Concerto Triptich) for cello and string orchestra (1964; FR), which like Concertino for Trumpet on the second volume is a contemporary virtuoso piece. Written for the great Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassadó (1897-1966), it's in three movements with the first a chromatically showy, modified sonata form allegro [D-2, T-19].

An inspired "Passacaglia con dedica" [D-2, T-20] follows, which as per its title is based on notes derived from the dedicatee's name (see the album commentary). Then another allegro [D-2, T-21] that's a bubbling bravura rondo ends the concerto perfunctorily.

This volume closes with March Suite (1947; FR) for chamber orchestra written to celebrate the centenary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. In three sections the initial allegro [D-2, T-22] exudes a folkish enthusiasm, while the next "Elegia..." laments fallen heroes. The busy final allegro with its brass utterances evokes the many battles fought.

The Budapest MÁV Symphony Orchestra under their artistic director Péter Csaba give committed performances, making a strong case for this neglected niche of Eastern European repertoire. Cellist Miklós Perényi gets a standing ovation for his exceptional playing in the two concertos.

Made at one of Hungarian Radio's studios in Budapest, the recordings project a modest soundstage in a drier acoustic than the one for the other disc. While this makes for a leaner sound, it has the advantage of a more clearly focused sonic image. The balance between soloist and orchestra is good throughout. However, some may find the orchestra skewed a bit to the right, and want to adjust accordingly. The cello is beautifully captured and the instrumental timbre pleasing.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y140908, Y140907)


The album cover may not always appear.
Hristoskov: Vn Conc 1 & 3 "In Memoriam Nedyalka Simeonova"; Popova/Dimitrov/BulgNaR SO [Gega]
To date we've told you about three engaging discs featuring Bulgarian music (see 7 February, 14 May 2007, and 9 September 2009). Here's another with a couple of stunning works by Peter Hristoskov (1917-2006), who was a highly acclaimed violinist, revered teacher, and composer with a substantial oeuvre. That includes three violin concertos, the first and third of which appear here in the only recordings of them currently available on disc.

The earlier dates from 1959 and is in four movements, the initial one being a moderato [T-1]. It starts with a tick-tock timpani beat (TT) soon overlaid by an exotic Eastern theme (EE) for the orchestra [00:04] that's picked up by the soloist [01:09]. An extended rhapsodic exploration of EE with virtuosic embellishments follows. Brilliant scoring, arresting rhythms, and a killer cadenza [08:04-10:55] make this a memorable listening experience.

The scherzo that follows [T-2] has twittering outer sections that surround a sighing central one. Then we get a dark lento [T-3] where the violin sings a Bulgarian lament. But the gloom vanishes with the final allegro [T-4] that starts with rolling thunder and flashes of lightning in the orchestra.

The violin enters dancing a bravura tarantella [00:05], which suddenly turns into a folksy fox trot [01:58] succeeded by a reflective passage recalling EE [04:33]. However, the orchestral tempest resumes [06:15] with reminders of past ideas and some virtuosic fireworks for the soloist [07:21]. After that the concerto closes quietly with TT and sad recollections of EE.

The third concerto titled "In Memoriam Nedyalka Simeonova" (no date given) honors a famous Bulgarian violinist (1901-59). Lasting about twenty-five minutes, and brilliantly scored for a large orchestra, it generally falls into eight connected sections. The introductory one gets off to a mysterious tutti start [00:01]. Then the soloist enters hinting at a folk song (FS) [01:02] the dedicatee frequently played as an encore.

The next two sections are respectively capricious [03:39] and berceuse-like [06:20] with frequent violin pyrotechnics. They're followed by a dynamic, warlike, brass-percussion-laced orchestral episode [08:00]. Then the next part has the soloist lay into an immensely taxing cadenza [10:57-14:56] with arresting side drum interjections. This ends with some curious musical saw glissandi and whip snaps [14:37, 14:42] that can't help but leave the listener wondering if they might have programmatic significance.

The tutti return in the morose sixth section [14:57], which has a tolling bell [15:24, 15:28] that adds a doleful air. But not for long as the seventh is a bizarre offering [17:06] decorated with high harmonic violin glissandi and more whip snaps. There's also some guitar-like strumming by the soloist as well as some cheeky winds, and a slippery vibraphone.

The concerto ends in a dirge [20:31] that begins with sorrowful strings and has funereal drum rolls as well as hints of tolling bells [23:59]. After a couple of minutes the violin plays FS [23:06], only to fade away leaving a whispering flute and upper strings possibly suggesting the cold eternity of death.

Violinist Evgenia-Maria Popova, who studied under the composer, plays these challenging concerti to perfection. Obviously an incredible virtuoso, she uses her technical skills only in service to Hristoskov's demanding scores, giving us what will probably be definitive performances of these works for many years to come.

Conductor Georgi Dimitrov, who was a student of Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988) and Claudio Abbado (1933-2014), leads the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra. They give Ms. Popova committed support, making a strong case for these two little-known works.

Made three years ago at Bulgarian National Radio's Studio 1 in Sofia, the recordings are serviceable. They present a wide recessed soundstage in a reverberant acoustic. The balance between soloist and orchestra is well maintained with good violin sound. The instrumental timbre is characterized by a musical midrange and clean bass; however, the high end is quite steely. But as we've said before regarding rarities like these, beggars can't be choosers.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P140906)


The album cover may not always appear.
Papandopulo: Pno Conc 2 (w stgs), Sinfta for Stg Orch, Pintarichiano (stgs); Triendl/Krstic/ISoldiZag [CPO]
Here's another Eastern European composer (see the recommendations above), this time from Croatia in the Balkans. Boris Papandopulo (1906-1991) makes his CLOFO debut with three of his works played by the legendary I Soloisti di Zagreb (Zagreb Soloists) string ensemble (see 6 January 2012) on this recent CPO release.

Having received his musical training in Zagreb and Vienna, he would go on to become a leading conductor and educator in his country as well as a prolific composer. With over 450 works in all genres to his credit, we have here a select sampling of his instrumental output.

Spanning half of his sixty-five year career, these pieces reveal an eclectic artist whose style evolved with the changing times. Moreover his early efforts along nationalistic folk-based lines would become more diversified with Russian, French and neoclassical elements. He'd then proceed to embrace expressionism, jazz and even sprinklings of twelve-tone technique in his late works.

Our program begins with the second of his three numbered piano concerti. Scored for string orchestra and dating from 1947, it's in three movements, the first called "Prelude" [T-1] being an allegro. This features an agitated prickly theme that's dissected and tossed about by soloist and tutti in a captivating development. There's never an idle moment!

At a little over twice the length of the outside movements, the andantino [T-2] is apparently built from folk material (see the detailed album notes). It begins with a prolonged wistful introduction for the strings recalling the beginning of Wagner's (1813-1883) "Forest Murmurs" in Siegfried (1871).

The piano then makes a lissome entrance [04:50], and we get a romantic rubato exchange between soloist and strings with bravura keyboard passages. The movement ends much like it started, but with a final quizzical unresolved four-note phrase posed by the piano.

More folk borrowings make themselves known in the last allegretto [T-3]. Apparently based on rhythmically different melodies from two songs, the composer ingeniously combines them in this exciting rondoesque caper. Virtuosic knuckle-busting fireworks abound, ending the concerto with all the flare of frantic moments in Shostakovich's (1906-1975) two piano concertos (1933 and 1957).

Apparently one of Papandopulo's most popular and consequently frequently performed works, the Sinfonietta for Strings of 1938 is next. Originally in four movements, the composer would discard the second, which was a scherzo, giving us the version here.

Devoid of folk influences, it's of neoclassical persuasion. The opening "Intrada" [T-4] starts with a soaring heroic motif [00:00] that may bring to mind the opening of Richard Strauss's (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben (1897-8). A laid-back pizzicato-accented lament [00:37] follows, and then a merry miniature march [02:07]. The latter is adroitly developed, after which the two opening ideas are recapped in reverse order to end the movement like it began.

The "Elegia" [T-5] is a moving aria for strings with contrapuntal spicing. It's based on a weeping melancholy theme (WM) first stated by solo violin [00:00]. This undergoes a couple of tender developmental variations. The opening thoughts then return to conclude the movement with WM-related sighs of despair.

The final "Perpetuum mobile" [T-6] is a giddy dazzling conclusion to this wonderful work. It starts off as the Croatian counterpart of Rimsky-Korsakov's (1844-1908) Bumblebee (1899-1900), see 14 July 2014), which eventually alights on a fragrant flower of a tune (FF) [02:13[. This idea dominates the movement's center, but our bee moves on in search of more nectar, and the sinfonietta ends with a recap of its opening followed by allusions to FF [05:38].

Based on some keyboard pieces by Croatian Franciscan Friar Fortunat Pintaric (1798-1867), the closing selection is a suite for string orchestra known as Pintarichiana (1974). Dedicated to our performing group, it's in four sections and begins with "Sonatina" [T-7]. This is a jaunty number, which brings to mind the flightier movements in Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) string symphonies (1821-3).

The next "Pastorella" [T-8] is a delicate rustic offering with hints of the Croatian bagpipe, while the whimsical "Rondo" [T-9] develops a case of musical hiccups. Then we get a scurrying "Dudaš" ("Bagpipe Player") [T-10] again recalling those pipes, bringing the suite and this fun CD to a close.

Founded some sixty years ago by the great cellist-conductor Antonio Janigro (1918-1989), I Soloisti di Zagreb (Zagreb Soloists) maintains its longstanding reputation as one of the world's finest chamber orchestras giving us spectacular renditions of these rarities. A big round of applause also goes to pianist Oliver Triendl, who continues his invaluable exploration of Croatian music (see 28 April 2013) with this exemplary performance of the concerto.

Made last year in the small hall of the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Complex, Zagreb, these recordings project a soundstage ideally suited to a group this size in a venue that enhances the ensemble's superb string tone. The resulting sonic image is detailed, clearly focused with sparkling highs having no hint of digital grain, and a pleasing midrange. Also there are none of those boomy low notes frequently encountered on string orchestra discs.

As for the piano, it's convincingly captured with a likeable top end twinkle, and well balanced against the tutti. This CD will separate the sheep from the goats when it comes to testing a system's ability to reproduce natural string sound.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y140905)


The album cover may not always appear.
Skoryk: Vc Conc, Vn Conc 7, Carpathian Conc & 5 Other Orch Wks; Soloists/Earle/Odessa PO [Naxos]
So far this newsletter has featured Eastern European composers (see the recommendations above) and now we welcome a fourth, Myroslav Skoryk (b. 1938), from Lviv, Ukraine. He received his early musical training there, and would go on to study at the Moscow Conservatory, where his teachers included Dmitri Kabalevsky (1908-1987, see 7 January 2009).

One of the East's leading musical figures, and no stranger to the U.S., he has a reputation as a highly regarded instructor, accomplished pianist-conductor, and prolific composer. This new enterprising Naxos release features eight orchestral works, which testify to his genius in the latter category. Six are world premiere recordings, and so indicated by "WPR" after their titles.

The mid-1960s through early-1970s found Skoryk preoccupied with incorporating Carpatho-Ukrainian folk tunes into his scores. This was in line with dictates of the Soviet cultural authorities that composers write music which appealed to the masses. Accordingly one of his first creations adhering to this was music for the acclaimed film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), which is a detailed portrayal of the Ukrainian Hutsul culture.

He would then distill a suite from it entitled The Hutsul Tryptych (1965), whose initial movement, "Dytynstvo" ("Childhood"), is our first selection [T-1]. Based on a couple of repeated simple nursery-tune-like ideas it's easy to imagine youngsters at play.

Diptych for strings (1993; WPR) [T-2] falls into two sections, the first [00:00] being a wistful contemplation with a Nordic gelidity like that often found in Grieg (1843-1907). After a slight pause we get the second [04:08], which starts with an energetic skittering passage (ES). This is followed by a relaxed romantic episode after which ES [9:49] returns and falls exhausted, ending the work quietly.

Numerous composers have made instrumental arrangements of Paganini's (1782-1840) Caprices for solo violin (c. 1805), and that includes Skoryk. His orchestral transcription of the 19th [T-3. 2003; WPR] is one of the more impish, bringing to mind lighter moments in Prokofiev's (1891-1953) Scythian (1915), Love for Three Oranges (1919-24), and Lieutenant Kijé (1934) Suites.

Turning to Myroslav's concertante works we get his seventh and to date last violin concerto of 2009 (WPR), which is dedicated to our soloist. In a single movement lasting about fifteen minutes [T-4], it gets off to an unusual start with a pounding bass drum. The soloist then launches into a distraught idea soon taken up by the tutti. This is explored and followed by a wee cadenza [02:18], after which the violin plays a mystical melancholy melody (MM) [02:38] derived from the opening.

A peaceful development of MM follows leading to itchy alternating passages for soloist and tutti [05:07]. These culminate in an orchestral upheaval [06:06] succeeded by a pensive episode for violin and winds. This develops into a whirling dance [07:17] with a final tutti shriek [07:53]. It's followed by a demanding pizzicato-laced, plucky cadenza [07:57-10:58] ending in another orchestral outcry [11:22].

Then there's a subdued lyrical passage where MM is further explored [11:31], after which an agitated variant of the opening measures appears [13:52]. This concludes the concerto feverishly with an anguished nosedive for the soloist [14:19] and an orchestral chordal crash (OC) [14:32].

The popularity of the next selection has apparently made the composer's name a household word in Ukraine. Simply called Melody (1981; WPR), it's a winsome flowing tune for strings in the tradition of such favorites as Rachmaninov's (1873-1943) Vocalise (1912-5), Barber's (1910-1981) Adagio (1936), and the Shostakovich (1906-1975) Romance (1955).

The program continues with a cello concerto from 1983 (WPR) that's notable for several OCs (see the violin concerto above), which seem to be a Skoryk trademark. In a single twenty-minute movement [T-6], it gets off to a slow foreboding start with the cello groaning to a throbbing accompaniment [00:01]. This is suddenly interrupted by an OC [02:28], and then there's a sobbing episode for everyone succeeded by a prickly cadenza [04:05-05:15].

All then join in, and the music builds to an explosive percussive climax that ends with a sustained cello note [07:16]. This segues into a rhapsodic lament where the soloist spirals ever upward, and is swallowed by the orchestra, which suddenly stops playing.

After a pregnant pause, we get another OC [10:37] followed by a busy virtuoso episode. Here soloist and tutti chase each other in passages with some saucy brass [12:13], ligneous knocks on blocks.[12:20], and pounding drums [12:56].

Once again things come to an abrupt halt, after which there's an additional OC [13:08] succeeded by a pensive section [13:12], where the soloist explores his instrument's lower range. Quivering woodwinds then enter [14:52, 15:43] giving rise to some restless drums [16:18] and a plucky cadenza [16:46-17:20] ending on a sustained note [17:23].

This is soon underscored by a boiling magmatic accompaniment that reduces to the sound of a brushed cymbal over which the cello evaporates. Then after a substantial pause the concerto ends with a final OC [18:57] in the spirit of Haydn's (1732-1809) Surprise Symphony (No. 94, 1791).

A brief respite from the rigors of the previous selection is next. It's the "Spanish Dance" (1973, WPR) [T-7] found in a suite the composer compiled from incidental music for a stage production of Ukrainian poet-writer Lesya Ukrainka's (1871-1913) drama The Stone Host (1912). Based on the Don Juan legend, its graceful gliding opening and closing surround a strumming, rhythmically vivacious number of Flamenco demeanor.

We've told you about a number of lesser known concertos for orchestra, including ones by Gould (1913-1996, see 26 March 2010), Brian (1876-1972, see 31 August 2011), Casella (1883-1947, see 13 July 2012), Holmboe (1909-1996, see 27 May 2013), and Riisager (1897-1974, see 27 August 2013). Now we get one from Skoryk to fill out this disc.

A single movement work lasting a bit over sixteen-minutes, he calls it his Carpathian Concerto (1972) [T-8]. Despite its title and programmatic mien no story is provided, so we'll make up one in hopes of giving you a better feel for the music.

Quite contemporary sounding, it generally falls into four sections. The first suggests a peaceful mountain village scene [00:00] with upper woodwinds mimicking forest birds calling to one another [00:00]. Then the bassoon enters [01:37], suggesting the appearance of a great lumbering Russian bear, who frightens the town folk into their huts and reenters the woods.

This is cause for an extended celebration with extensive tippling and dancing suggested by the next section [03:41]. Brilliantly scored with exotic percussive effects, it's a catchy Slavic-inflected number that turns orgiastic. But it would seem the revelers pay the price in the third part [07:56] that begins with a throbbing hangover horn call followed by a queasy cimbalom-viola-embellished episode.

But what better way to work off the uglies than with another dance, which is the subject of the closing section [13.12]. Announced by the village fiddler, this is a folksy foot-tapping number with droll brass interjections. It builds to a percussive climax that ends the concerto not with a whimper but a bang to misquote T.S. Eliot (1888-1965).

Violinist Nazary Pilatyuk and cellist Valery Kazakov give technically stunning, wired performances of their respective concerti appropriate to Skoryk's sinewy scoring. The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra under its current Music Director, Venezuelan conductor Hobart Earle, give them strong support, delivering dynamic performances of everything in keeping with the composer's volatile style.

The recordings were taken from performances at the Odessa Philharmonic Theater honoring the composer's 75th birthday, but skillful touchup and editing have eliminated any undesirable noises, including applause. This may also explain why the CD seems cut at a relatively low level.

The resultant sonic image in this reverberant acoustic might best be compared to one of those legendary Busby Berkeley (1895-1976) top shots. And from that angle the soloists seem a bit stretched across the soundstage.

As far as the orchestra is concerned, the overall timbre is somewhat bright on top. However, the midrange is musical, and the low end profound, but clean as demonstrated by the bass drum at the beginning of the violin concerto [T-4]. That said, audiophiles will find Skoryk's audacious scores a real test of their systems.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P140904)


The album cover may not always appear.
Thieriot: Pno Qt 2; Schumann, R.: Pno Qt (1829 frag ed Draheim); Valentin Pno Qt [CPO]
Little known German composer Ferdinand Thieriot (1838-1919) made his initial CLOFO appearance four years ago with some memorable chamber works (see 8 February 2010). Now CPO gives us his second piano quartet coupled with the most recent realization of an early fragmentary one by Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Both are world premiere recordings.

They're each in four movements lasting about half an hour, and begin with allegros. The Thieriot (c. 1875) [T-5] starts with an outgoing cheerful theme [00:00] followed by an introspective contemplative idea [01:02], and a fragmentary dreamy afterthought [02:27]. These are the subjects of a masterful development [02:48] followed by a substantial recapitulation [06:19]. This ends in an animated coda [09:42] that conclude the movement joyfully.

The allegro scherzando [T-6] has outer sections with a delightful tripping tune reminiscent of Mendelssohn (1809-1847). They surround a slower introspective passage [01:33-02:48] that anticipates the mood of the adagio [T-7]. Built around an attractive leisurely waltz tune (LW) [00:00], this is the most harmonically adventurous part of the work.

It's dramatically offset by the concluding allegro [T-8], which gets off to a Schmannesque start with a bounding angular melody introduced by the piano [00:00]. An LW-related countersubject (LC) follows [00:50], and the two undergo a rondo-like development that ends the quartet spiritedly.

A very early work, the Schumann quartet first saw the light of day in early 1829. But the composer was never happy with it, and left us only a fragmentary, error-ridden manuscript (see the album notes). Then in 1979 Schumann guru Wolfgang Boetticher (1914-2002) made a reconstruction of it. Unfortunately this was also loaded with mistakes according to the album notes by German musicologist Joachim Draheim (b. 1950). He'd then extensively revise it up to as late as 2010, giving us the meticulously researched version included here.

The initial sonata form allegro [T-1] starts with motivic flourishes [00:00] followed by a grim foreboding theme [00:27] and a lyrical romantic idea [01:23]. These are developmentally explored [02:23], after which we get a recapitulation [08:01] that ends the movement much like it began.

The bouncy mercurial extremities of the next minuet... [T-2] surround a sighing introspective episode [02:01-03:33] that anticipates the mood of the next adagio [T-3]. This is a delicate balancing act with passages that range from melancholy to optimistic and agitated.

The final allegro [T-4] gets off to a diabolical start with a sinister theme [00:00]. It's followed by a bouncy two-part tune [00:22 and 00:50] having a rocking motion like that sometimes encountered in Weber's (1786-1826) music. These are the recurring subjects for what's best described as a rondo. Having a couple of ingenious developmental episodes, it ends the quartet in a virtuosic flurry.

Taking their name from St. Valentine's Day, the youthful members of the Valentin Piano Quartet give spirited, loving performances of these works. Let's hope they unearth more equally intriguing chamber curiosities on future discs.

Made in the warm acoustic of the Siemens Villa Concert Hall, Berlin, the recordings project a relatively compressed sonic image with a hint of upper digital grain. One can't help feeling this romantic music would have benefitted from additional Atemsraum.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P140903)