Mexico

Mexico—Daniel Catán Speaking of beautiful melodies, you probably thought that you would never hear another great Puccini opera (because he is dead), right? Wrong. Wait till you hear Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, premiered in 1998, and available on Albany Records (Troy 531/32) from a live Houston Grand Opera performance in 2001. … More Mexico

Italy

Italy/Germany—Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876–1948), once a famous opera composer, was largely forgotten after World War I. It turns out, he wrote some exquisite orchestralworks aswell,Triptychon,Divertimento, andVenezianische Suite, which the CPO label brings us with the Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra, under conductor Ulf Schirmer (CPO 777 567- 2). As one might expect from his [HA9] … More Italy

Ireland

Ireland—John Kinsella British music critic and founder of Toccata Classics, Martin Anderson directed my attention to a release by the Irish label, RTÉ lyric fm, containing the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies, along with two other orchestral works, of Irish composer John Kinsella (b. 1932). I had only vaguely heard of him. I saw a blurb … More Ireland

Germany

Germany—Reznicˇek/Burger/Spephan Emil Nikolaus von Reznicˇek Three CPO releases convince me that only now are we getting a fuller glimpse ofthe golden glowfrom the final sunset outburst ofthe Austro- Hungarian Empire. Vienna before World War I—and even up until the Anschluss—was as fecund a cultural capital as the world has ever seen. The musical wealth was … More Germany

France

France—Ropartz/Caplet Joseph-Guy Ropartz Joseph-Guy Ropartz is my French discovery of the decade, thanks to the Timpani label, which introduced me to his Quartets nos. 4–6, played by the Quartet Stanislas (1C1115). This strikes me as some of the finest French chamber music I have heard from the period between Frank, Fauré, and Ravel. Even more … More France

Francis Poulenc – Recommended Recordings

Dialogues Des Carmelites, Dervaux, Duval, Regine Crespin, EMI 48228 Dialogues Des Carmelites, Dubosc, J. Van Dam, Kent Nagano, Orchestra, Virgin Classics 59227 Stabat Mater, Regine Crespin (soprano), René Duclos Chorus, Georges Prêtre, Paris Conservatoire Orchestra (+ Rossini, Verdi and Syzmanowski), EMI 687612 Stabat Mater, Gloria, Barbara Hendricks (soprano), Georges Prêtre, Orchestra National de France, EMI 749851 Stabat Mater, Soprano … More Francis Poulenc – Recommended Recordings

England

England—Holst/Brian/Alwyn/Sainsbury Gustav Holst Gustav Holst (1874–1934) was a petite maître with a strong streak of mysticism. He could set words, often from medieval poetry, with the beauty of a jeweler. His most famous work, The Planets, was the musical Star Wars of its time, and continues to be so popular that it has eclipsed the … More England

Denmark

Denmark—Langgaard/Schierbeck Rued Langgaard Rued Langgaard (1893–1952) was one of the original wild men of music who, despite or perhaps because of his eccentricity, wrote some startlingly visionary music. He is very hard to place. Think of him as Denmark’s answer to the great British visionary eccentric, Havergal Brian. During his lifetime, Langgaard was largely ignored … More Denmark

Belgium

Belgium—Joseph Ryelandt Belgian composer Joseph Ryelandt (1870–1965) was born and died in Bruges where he studied law until Edgar Tinel took him in as his sole student of composition. He was a devout Catholic who seemed almost indifferent to the fate of his works, which included a number of large-scale oratorios on different aspects of … More Belgium

Austria

Austria—Karl Weigl Austrian composer Karl Weigl (1881–1949), scion of a prosperous Jewish family, prospered in Vienna. Weigl, who had studied with Alexander Zemlinsky, worked for Gustav Mahler at the Viennese opera as his rehearsal conductor, an experience Weigl called ‘‘the most instructive period of my life’’. In 1910, he won the coveted Beethoven Prize for … More Austria