31 DECEMBER 2022


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.
Boyer, P.: Balance of Power (with 7 other orchestral works); Boyer, LonSO [Naxos]
Some years ago Naxos released an engaging CD of American composer Peter Boyer's (b. 1970) orchestral works (see 12 March 2014), and now they give us eight more. Six of these are world premiere recordings, and accordingly marked with a "WPR" after their titles.

Once again, he's also the conductor, and his album notes give us detailed information regarding the selections here. Consequently, we'll just hit the high points.

The featured one is Peter's Balance of Power (2019; WPR), which was commissioned to honor former US Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger's (b. 1923) 95th birthday. In three movements, the first "A Sense of History" [T-2] is a ternary, A-B-A structured piece, where contemplative A's [00:00 & 05:16] bracket a warlike "B" [02:58-05:15].

Then there's "A Sense of Humor" [T-3], which Boyer facetiously refers to as a "Scherzo politico". Henry had a low speaking voice, and accordingly this includes an episode where a contrabassoon and bass clarinet conduct some vivacious negotiations [02:00-03:25].

Kissinger thought highly of those statesmen who had a vision for the future, and this concept lies behind the closing "A Sense of Direction" [T-4] that's an exultant number built around past themes. It seems to say brighter days lie ahead.

Backtracking a bit, there's Curtain Raiser (2020; WPR) [T-1], which is a rousing concert opener that's a reworking of something by that title, which first appeared in 2017. Then there's Fanfare for Tomorrow (2021, WPR) [T-5]. This is an updated version of the selection played by the United States Marine Band (USMB) at the Capitol when Joe Biden (b. 1942) and Kamala Harris (b. 1964) arrived there to take their oaths of office as President and Vice President.

Rolling River (Sketches on "Shenandoah") (2017) [T6] is the earliest piece here. It's a new orchestral setting of the melody for a traditional American folk song, and Boyer has turned this into a sweeping, "cinematic" orchestral piece.

Then there are two selections celebrating Veterans Day. The first is a brief Elegy (2021; WPR) [T-7] drawn from some incidental music Boyer wrote for a 2018 play based on war letters. It's effectively scored for a heavenly harp, plaintive cor anglais [00:16] and weeping strings.

The other, In the Cause of the Free (2017) [T-8], reflects the signing of those armistices, which ended World War I (1914-18). It's title is borrowed from the last line in the first verse of Englishman Laurence Binyon's (1869-1943) poem, For the Fallen (1914). That said, it's a poignant Taps-reminiscent creation, whose second-half [03:17] features moving, solo trumpet passages.

Then we get Radiance (2021; WPR) [T-9], which is a glowing, lyrical outpouring that shows off the London Symphony Orchestra's splendid strings. It takes the form of a glowing rhapsody based on a serene theme [00:04] that looks ahead to happier times with no coronavirus.

The concluding Fanfare, Hymn and Finale (2020; WPR) [T-10] is a new version of a 2018 work, which celebrated the 220th anniversary of the above-mentioned USMB. It starts with exultant, drum-pounding passages [00:00] that invoke a devout chant [01:54]. Then the latter transitions into a manic episode, which ends this work and disc jubilantly.

These performances find Peter Boyer wearing two hats as composer and conductor. Maestro Boyer leads the London Symphony Orchestra in what will probably be definitive accounts of all eight selections for some time to come!

Made during January 28-29 of this year at Henry Wood Hall, London, the recordings project a suitably sized sonic image in spacious, pleasant surroundings. Boyer's colorful scoring makes for an impressive sound where the orchestral timbre is characterized by pleasant highs and a rich midrange. As for the bass, it's very clean, goes down to rock bottom, and will challenge the most sophisticated sound systems -- Audiophiles take note!

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y221231)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Bruk: Orch Wks V3 (Sym No. 22 "In the Ocean", Sym No. 23 "In the Ingrian Mode"); Kupčs/LithSt SO [Toccata]
Fridrich Bruk (also spelled Bruck) was born (1937) and spent his early years in Kharkiv (aka Kharkov), Ukraine, where he studied music at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. Then after graduation in 1961, he continued his academic pursuits in Petrozavodsk, which is the capital of Karelia.

But the year 1964 saw him move back to Saint Petersburg, where he'd begin a highly successful musical career. Then after a brief stay in the USA during 1973, Fridrich emigrated to Finland the following year, where he now lives in Tampere, some 100 miles north of Helsinki.

Having recently turned 85, Bruk is still highly productive, and has to date written a large body of works. These include twenty-three symphonies, the last two of which fill out this third volume in Toccata's ongoing survey of his orchestral fare (see Toccata-0455 & 0543). Both are world premiere recordings, and since the prolix album booklet has detailed analyses of them, we'll just hit the high points.

Symphony No. 22 "In the Ocean" (2019) expresses the composer's concern over man's contamination of these large bodies of water. A percussively piquant, dissonant-spiced, two-movement work, the opening "Death of the Dolphins" [T-1] is accordingly marked "Severo (Stern)".

This begins with a bleak theme (BT) [00:00], followed by several other troubled ones (see the album booklet), all of which are bandied about. Then the music wanes into somewhat dance-like passages [05:50]. These give way to a wistful epilogue [16:52] with a last hint of BT [17:55], thereby ending the movement full circle.

It's followed by a "Pensieroso (Thoughtful)" marked "Sounds of Hope" [T-2]. This gets off to a colorful, chromatic-flavored start [00:00] with passages scored for glockenspiel, celesta and tremolo upper strings.

Then it becomes a rondoesque creation [01:16], which comes to an interim climax [beginning at 07:06], only to resume [07:36] by conjuring up a "scherzando (playful)" episode [11:25]. The latter ends the symphony with optimistic thoughts for the future [12:41]. These are based on the movement's opening measures and overlaid with pre-recorded wave as well as seabird sounds [13:56].

Turning to Symphony No. 23 "In the Ingrian Mode" (2021), each of its three movements commemorates the folk-music from a different Lutheran parish of Ingria. These are located in what's now known as the Leningrad Oblast, which is one of the Federal subjects of Russia.

First, we visit a "Sforzo (Stressful)" marked "Soikkola" [T-3]. This starts with a merry theme [00:00] that empowers a percussively vivacious segment. Then after a pause, there's a worried episode [02:19], which ends with a testy tam-tam [03:31]. Subsequently, a bass clarinet introduces [03:49] pensive passages (BP), which become increasingly agitated, but suddenly stop, giving way to a reflective, chromatic segment [05:49].

The latter bridges into a searching episode [06:55] and brass-introduced, playful tidbit [08:14] with a spunky marimba [08:23-08:40]. However, the foregoing dissipates into a gloomy, clarinet afterthought [10:57] that invokes an excited segment [12:03], ending with a raucous, prolonged chord [12:35]. This slowly fades and there's a delicate cantering coda [12:56], which ends the movement uneventfully.

Next, we journey to "Hevaa" [T-4], which is now known as Kovashi. This is a "Sostenuto (Sustained)" marked intermezzo-like, rhapsodic piece that begins with a twitchy preface [00:00]. Then there's a cor anglais introduced peripatetic tune [00:05] that's examined and adjoins a percussion-laced segment [01:46].

The latter is followed by a rather pastoral sounding one [02:41] with a songful harp ditty (SH) [02:53]. But then the music turns somewhat martial [05:07]. Moreover, an excited piccolo [06:39] heralds frenzied passages, which invoke another percussive segment [07:29] that gradually fades away.

After a brief pause, there's an SH-based episode [08:05], which waxes and wanes into a restatement of SH [09:50]. This has a melancholy descant for the glockenspiel and somber afterthoughts [10:17]. Then a muted trumpet [10:46] along with some harp glissandi [11:12] bring the movement to a tranquil conclusion.

The third one makes a "Risoluto (Decisive)" marked call on Serepetta [T-5]. This starts with a frenzied theme [00:00] that ends with a smack of the tam-tam. Subsequently, the cor anglais and bass clarinet introduce a lilting number [00:44]. This is explored and builds to a climax [02:08] having an abrupt ending. Then we get a peaceful episode [02:32] with reminders of past ideas, namely BP [02:39] and SH [02:54].

Subsequently, there's a contorted version of the movement's opening measures [03:31], in which a trombone and tuba make some assertive statements [03:45 & 05:01]. It's followed by a pause and an "Andante (Slow)" section [05:28] with baleful bassoon passages [05:32] as well as a curt percussive tantrum [06:41]. Then a muted trumpet father's a laid-back, SH-related, hymnlike episode [06:53]. This invokes a merry coda [07:35], which ends the Symphony and disc jubilantly.

Having given us Bruk's Symphonies Nos. 17-21 (see Toccata-0455 & 0543), award winning, Latvian conductor Māris Kupčs (b. 1966), now continues with the two here. This time around he leads the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra in splendid accounts of both works. Fridrich couldn't be better represented!

These recordings were done during 17-23 May (No. 22) and 22-26 November (No. 23), 2021 at Congress Hall in Vilnius, Lithuania. They present consistently wide sonic images in a pleasant venue, and the many colorful instruments called for in these brilliantly scored works are effectively highlighted.

Generally speaking, the instrumental timbre is characterized by steely highs, a pleasant midrange and clean bass. Everything considered, these recordings aren't "Audiophile", but introduce us to a couple of major symphonic discoveries.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P221230)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Guerra-Peixe: Sym Ste No. 1 "Paulista", Sym Ste No. 2 "Pernambucana", Roda de Amigos; Thomson/Goiás PO [Naxos]
The son of Portuguese immigrants, César Guerra-Peixe (1914-1993) was born in Petrópolis, some 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. He started playing the violin at age eleven and went on to study harmony (1931) as well as composition (1938-43) in Rio, and would become one of his country's most accomplished musicians.

During 1944 he was introduced to serialism, which was the basis for his early works. However, 1949 saw him abandon that and begin writing tonal pieces incorporating elements of folk music from his area of Brazil. All together, these represent a substantial oeuvre, and the three filling out this CD are all orchestral, colorfully scored, folk-oriented ones.

Both Symphonic Suites are four-movement works dating from 1955, and the first is subtitled "Paulista", thereby indicating it's based on music indigenous to the state of São Paulo. The opening "Cateretê (Catira)" [T-1] is a captivating Caipira folkdance, where rhythmically agitated passages alternate with recitative-like ones. It's followed by a "Jongo" [T-2] that's a colorfully scored number reminiscent of the samba.

Then there's a funereal "Recomenda de almas (Commendation of Souls)" [T-3] with Catholic and Lenten associations. But melancholia turns to merriment in "Tambu" [T-4], which is what a "Jongo" is called in São Paulo. Accordingly, this is another animated movement and brings the work to a zealous conclusion.

The other Symphonic Suite is subtitled "Pernambucana" as the music here is indigenous to Pernambuco located some 1,200 air miles northeast of São Paulo. The initial "Maracatu" [T-9] is of nação (national), Afro-Brazilian heritage, and a jittery piece with a lovely, lyrical idea [00:53]. But things get even wilder in "Dança de Cabocolinhos (Caboclinhos) [T-10]. This is a frantic, percussion-laced number where a brief, catchy idea surfaces [02:34-3:14] just before the end.

Subsequently, there's an "Aboiado (Aboio)" [T-11] that's a moving, rhapsodic number based on a songlike, meandering melody [00:00-00:40]. The latter undergoes four treatments, which are respectively piquant [00:43], flowing [01:31], dramatic [03:09] and laidback [06:14]. However, the closing "Frevo" movement [T-12] is a manic, marchlike dance associated with the annual Brazilian Carnival, and brings things to a fiery finish.

The two foregoing works bracket a playful Roda de Amigos (Circle of Friends) dating from 1979. Its four movements highlight woodwind instruments, which were played by some of the composer's close associates.

More specifically, the first "O rabugento (The Grumpy One)" [T-5] features a disgruntled bassoon. Then there's an "O tiemoso (The stubborn one)" [T-6] having an insistent clarinet, "O melancólico (The Melancholy One)" [T-7] canted by a despondent oboe, and fourth "O travesso (The Mischievous One)" [T-8], where a capricious flute ends things with a devil-may-care attitude.

Not long ago we told you about a Naxos release having splendid performances of Brazilian-born Claudio Santoro's music (see 31 May 2022) by the Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra under their Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Neil Thomson (b. 1966). Now they deliver equally outstanding accounts of all three selections on this disc. What's more, bassoonist Felipe Arruda, clarinetist Patrick Viglioni, oboist Públio da Silva and flutist Raul Menezes get a big hand for their fine musicianship in Roda de Amigos [T-5, 6, 7 & 8].

These recordings were made during 5-8 November 2016, at the Oscar Niemayer Centro Cultural located in Goiânia, some 600 air miles north-northwest of Rio de Janeiro. They project an appropriately sized sonic image in a pleasing venue, with the many solos called for in these colorful scores effectively highlighted.

The overall orchestral timbre is characterized by pleasing highs, a convincing midrange and clean bass that goes down to rockbottom. Taking all the foregoing into consideration, this disc earns an "Audiophile" stripe.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y221229)

Amazon Records International

The album cover may not always appear.
Scott, D.B.: Orch Wks V2 (Sym No. 1 in A♭ major, Sym No. 2 in G minor, The Silver Sword); Mann/Liep SO [Toccata]
Last year the adventurous Toccata label gave us a CD with nine orchestral works by British composer-musicologist-educator Derek B. Scott (b. 1950; see Toccata-0589). Now here's a welcome follow-up with three more, all being world premiere recordings. The composer's album notes give us detailed information regarding his background as well as the music here. Consequently, we'll just hit the high points.

Born in Edgbaston, which is a suburb of Birmingham, England, young Derek had an interest in music. This was encouraged by the lad's family and led to his studying composition at the University of Hull (1972-1974). Subsequently, he's gone on to create a substantial body of works with melodies that show him to be a great tunesmith, and often sound like they're from some popular song.

The two, four-movement symphonies here are succinct, consummate creations, which take their inspiration from Franz Joseph Haydn's (1732-1809) many in that genre (1757-1795). Both began life as band pieces (brass and percussion; 1995 & 1996-97), which the composer later rescored for full orchestra (2021), thereby giving us what's on this disc.

First off, there's the Symphony No. 1 in A♭ major (Op. 23) that starts with a sonata-form "Allegro moderato (Moderately fast)" [T-1]. The exposition features an opening cocky bassoon motif (CB) [00:00], which is explored and followed by a songful melody [01:06]. These are then developed and recapitulated, thereby ending the movement triumphantly.

Next up, an "Adagio (Slow)" [T-2] based on a Scotch-Snap-spiced, celtic-sounding tune [00:23]. Apparently, the composer could play the Great Highland Bagpipe, and says it influenced what he wrote here. In any case, this is an engaging episode, which comes to a tranquil conclusion.

The following "Allegro vivace ma non troppo (Lively and vivacious but not overly so)" Scherzo [T-3] is a captivating cavort that's as billed. It sets the stage for the "Allegro (Fast)" Finale [T-4], which is another sonata-form creation.

This has two ideas, the first being a CB-related, cocky number (CC) [00:01] that's succeeded by a syncopated second [00:27]. These are food for developmental passages [00:47], which have a fugue based on a CC-like subject [02:20]. Then the foregoing ideas are recapitulated [04:08], and there's a CC-tinged, campanological-enhanced coda [06:16] that ends the work in glorious, martial fashion.

Then we get its older brother, the Symphony No. 2 in G minor (Op. 26). This has an initial "Allegro (Fast)" sonata-form movement [T-5], which opens with a fitful idea [00:01] that thrashes about, but coalesces into a haughty thought (HT) [01:07]. These undergo a spunky development [01:56] and recapitulation [04:09] with an outspoken coda [05:41], which ends things definitively.

The following "Adagio (Slow)" is tinged with popular music of the composer's time as well as folksong melodies [T-6]. It begins with a binary thought having respectively wistful [00:01] and arioso [00:27] components. These take on several guises that range from yearning [01:14] to confident [01:40], reassuring [02:03], martial [03:31], pastoral [04:18], outspoken [05:23] and regal [06:04]. Then a tranquil one [06:33] closes the movement peacefully.

A subsequent "Allegretto (Lively)" Scherzo [T-7] has flirtatious passages [00:01, 00:48, 01:21, 02:14]. These alternate with boisterous ones [00:36, 00:59, 01:44, 03:01], the last of which brings this busy music to a rousing ending with four last fortissimo chords [03:28].o

The Finale [T-8] begins with an "Andante con moto (Slow with movement)" section that Scott refers to as "call-and-response" (CR). Here an oboe makes the "call" [00:01] and gets an immediate "response" from three trombones [00:06].

Then there's a marchlike episode [00:48] with hints of HT and CR. This evokes a forceful segment [03:17], which wanes into reminiscences of past ideas [03:39] and a big tune version of CR [04:22] that turns triumphant. It has remembrances of HT [05:10] and brings the work to a powerful conclusion with a CR-based, declaratory statement [06:38].

Last but not least, we get The Silver Sword (Op. 39, 2021) [T-9], which is a tone poem. This takes its inspiration from English writer-poet Ian Serraillier's (1912-1994) eponymous children's book (1956), and you'll find an informative synopsis of it in the album notes.

The work begins with glowing, "Adagio (Slow)" passages [00:01], which are soon interrupted by "Tempo di marcia (March speed)" ones [02:05]. Then a flighty "Allegro (Fast)" episode [02:47] is followed by a sorrowful, "Andante (Slow)" section [04:18]. However, that "Tempo di marcia (March speed)" returns [07:00], giving way to "Adagio (Slow)" [07:58] memories of the opening measures. These suddenly become quite triumphant [09:03], but then wane, thereby ending the work and disc on a hopeful note.

Under British conductor Paul Mann (b. 1965), the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra delivers terse, articulate readings of these selections. As on that previous Toccata release mentioned above, they again make a strong case for more Scott orchestral fare.

The recordings took place on 22-26 March 2022 at the Great Amber Concert Hall in Liepāja, Latvia, and project a consistently generous sonic image in affable surroundings. The overall instrumental timbre is characterized by steely highs, but acceptable mids and clean, low bass. Everything considered, the sound is good, but falls a bit short of an "Audiophile" rating.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, P221228)

Amazon Records International