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Saturday Afternoon Classical for 5/2/2009

This week we have Sir Arnold Bax's huge work for piano and orchestra, the "Symphonic Variations." Also, a Haydn string quartet; a piece for two violins and orchestra by Pleyel; and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.2.


Our Saturday-afternoon selection of new and recent CD releases.

HOUR ONE (1-2pm)

MOZART: Overture to the opera Don Giovanni, recorded live in April 1983 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam under guest conductor Kurt Sanderling. (Radio Netherlands RCO 08005, a 14-disc set featuring live Concertgebouw Orchestra performances recorded in the 1980s)

SIR ARNOLD BAX: Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra, a huge 45-minute work dedicated by Bax to his girlfriend, pianist Harriet Cohen... who couldn't manage the work's huge demands with her small hands and had to have Bax edit and simplify the work so she could play it! Here's the complete version, played by Ashley Wass with the Bournemouth Symphony under James Judd. (Naxos 8.570774)

HOUR TWO (2-3pm)

HAYDN: String Quartet in C, op.74 no.1, one of six quartets Haydn wrote for the Hungarian music-lover Count Apponyi in the mid-1790s, played here on period instruments by the Schuppanzigh Quartet (named after a famous string quartet ensemble of Haydn's time). This is on the German import label Accent (ACC-24197).

Ignaz PLEYEL: Symphonie Concertante for two violins and orchestra in A major--sort of a double-violin concerto by this composer and music publisher of the late 18th/early 19th century. Soloists are violinists David Perry and Isabella Lippi, with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra directed by Markand Thakar. (Naxos 8.570320)

HOUR THREE (3-4pm)

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, op.18, in a famous 1959 performance by Sviatoslav Richter and the Leningrad Philharmonic, Kurt Sanderling conducting (Urania URN 22.361)

JANACEK: an orchestral suite from his opera The Cunning Little Vixen (Jonathan Nott directs the Bamberg Symphony)--a CD on the Swiss label Tudor (7135).