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Notable CDs

Notable CDs | Four noteworthy new or recent classical releases reviewed by Arsenio Orteza

Dust of Time

The subtitle: "Music for the film by Theo Angelopoulos"-or 44 minutes of music from Angelopoulos' latest two-hour epic, to be more precise. Around a core of selections featuring violin, violoncello, and harp, pieces utilizing as little as accordion and piano ("Notes I," "Notes II") or solo violin ("Solitude") alternate with pieces featuring the Hellenic Radio Television Orchestra ("Seeking," "Dance Theme") and La Camerata, Friends of Music Orchestra ("Unraveling Time I," "Seeking Var I") to create an aural tapestry evocative of the mysteriously cyclic nature of time.

The Classical Saxophone

The subtitle: "A French Love Story"-a reference to Oviedo's discovery of the "sonorities and lush, quite modern harmonies of the composers of France, especially those from the turn of the 20th century" (the liner notes) and to the discovery by others of those same composers that this gorgeous recording makes possible. Of the five selections, four are either world premieres (Jean Hure, Gabriel Grovlez) or world premieres of new orchestrations (Louis Mayeur, Eugène Bozza). To all but saxophone cognoscenti, each will come as a long-overdue revelation.

The Bach Organ of Störmthal

The subtitle: "Organ Works of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)." Although the Zacharias Hildebrandt organ on which William Porter (a professor of harpsichord and organ at the Eastman School of Music) performs these selections has undergone its share of repairs (and attendant minimal voicing changes) over the centuries, it is still in many ways the same instrument that Bach himself dedicated on Sunday, Nov. 2, 1723. Porter's program, however, is refreshingly atypical, forgoing the more common preludes and fugues to focus instead on Bach's Neumeister and Orgelbüchlein collections.

In a Lyrical Way

The subtitle: "Music for Horn and Piano by Flemish Masters"-not to be confused with "Music for Horn and Piano," the subtitle of Powers and De Vries' similarly excellent 2007 recording, Into the 21st Century. The compositions contained herein span the years 1897 (Joseph Ryelandt's Sonata for horn and piano, Op. 18) to 1975 (Wilfried Westerlinck's "Maclou for horn solo") and thus make possible the savoring of nearly a century's worth of Belgian-French beauty. The highest highlight: five previously unrecorded Paul Gilson preludes circa World War I.

Spotlight

Theodoros Angelopoulos' multi­generational epic The Dust of Time is not currently scheduled to be shown in United States cinemas, and judging from the generally unenthusiastic English-language commentary it has generated on the internet, it may never be. Such news may frustrate fans of Angelopoulos (and of the film's star Willem Dafoe), but it may be a blessing in disguise for fans of Eleni Karaindrou, the Greek composer whose Dust of Time soundtrack has been recently released on ECM Records. If the film, after all, is as lackluster as some critics say, Karaindrou's music will probably be easier to enjoy if it generates in the minds of listeners something other than memories of Angelopoulos' film.

Although broken into 19 brief sections (seven of them under two minutes and all but four under three) of varying tempi and instrumentation, the 44-minute recording unfolds like an elaborate waltz in which musical elegance gradually deepens into the eloquence of a deep and profound sadness.

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