Comments by Thanh-Tam Le

to the piero scaruffi's index of modern classical music.

And an addition on ex-yugoslav music by Borislav Cicovacki.

"I will just add very few suggestions, mostly orchestral." This is how Thanh-Tam Le's humble email began. His "few" suggestions would keep me busy for many many months, tracking down CDs impossible to find and then of course listening to them! I had never found a person who knew so much about modern music. I am glad he wrote to me, and the least I can do is organize his suggestions in this page so that the visitors of my site who are into classical music can also benefit from them.
La sinfonia nordica degli anni Cinquanta/ Nordic symphony in the Fifties.
  • Holmboe's 8th would have its place here (but I understand that you added it already). Another landmark would be Tubin's 6th, although I personally slightly prefer his 8th. The Norwegian composer Harald Saeverud (1897-1992) also was a highly original personality. I like his 7th and 9th symlphonies very much (the 9th might be superior in purely musical terms), but I never heard his 8th, which was completed in the 1950s (it has been released by a Norwegian label lately). Although this may seem far-reaching, New Zealand's Douglas Lilburn (1915) undoubtedly is a quasi-Nordic composer, especially in his first two symphonies (Symphony 2, 1951). The 3rd is his last major orchestral piece, and a very fine one indeed. Lilburn, as you know, is interesting, because he encompasses his country's evolution from British pastoralism to electronic sounds, having been a leading figure throughout. Another almost Nordic symphony from down under is Arnold van Wyk (1916-1983)'s utmostly poetic Primavera. Rosenberg's 6th symphony and Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968)'s 3rd (Facets, 1950) are two remarkable examples of Swedish symphonies in the early 1950s. Well. I could quote Ukraine's Borys Lyatoshinsky, but he can hardly be regarded as Nordic :-) Likewise for Sandor Veress, who was published mostly in Milano. His 2d symphony (as many other works of his) is of outstanding quality and compelling power.
  • HOLMBOE: Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 (BIS CD-618)
  • TUBIN: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6 (BIS CD-304)
  • SAEVERUD: Symphony No. 7 (BIS CD-822 AURORA NCD-B 4953)
  • SAEVERUD: Symphony No. 9 (AURORA NCD 4913)
  • SAEVERUD: Symphony No. 8 "Minnesota". I cannot find the reference now, and my provider seems to be jammed. It has recently been issued in a 2CD-box, I think, with other works, including Symphony No. 5 and possibly the previous one, Dreier's rendition of Symphony No. 9. You can try to find it at the Norwegian Music Information Centre or ask them at this address.
  • LILBURN: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 (CONTINUUM 1069). New Zealand music
  • van WYK: Primavera, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (GSM CLAREMONT CD GSE 1509).
  • ROSENBERG: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6. I do not have the CD reference at hand, you could find it at this address.
  • BLOMDAHL: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 (CD BIS)
  • LYATOSHINSKY: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (CD Marco Polo)
  • VERESS: Sinfonia Minneapolitana (Symphony No. 2), Terszili Katicza (Musikszene Schweiz CD MGB 6130)

L'Elettronica/Electronic music
  • I may be mistaken, but I think that Josip Stolcer-Slavenski (Croatia, 1896-1955) also composed a mixed electronic-orchestral piece in the 1950s. Slavenski was a surprising pioneer throughout his career, and I recently heard a Sonata for violin and organ (early 1920s) which can be compared only with Rued Langgaard's Music of the Spheres, in a different spirit, though. His Sinfonija Orijenta (Religiofonia,1934) must be one of the first major works to bring all great monotheistic religions together !
  • STOLCER SLAVENSKI: Croatian, but spent a large part of his career in Belgrade. Croatian Music Information Centre or Yugoslav Music Information Centre.

Concerti del boom economico/ Concerts of the economic boom
  • What do you think of Gerhard's magnificent Concerto for Orchestra (1965) ? Also, just for the sake of curiosity, I shall mention Tauno Marttinen (Finland, 1912) and his violin concerto (1962). He says that in its slow movement, one hears something like the breath of God. You know, it might be true. Very impressive. Another interesting and somewhat mystic piece is the Byzantine Concerto (Music of Octoecha 2, 1959) by Ljubica Maric (Serbia, 1909), who, together with Dusan Radic, E. Josif and a few others, show how then modernists escaped communist ideological restrictions by turning to very ancient Slavic traditions.
  • GERHARD: Concerto for orchestra. I have a LP (Argo). It would be very surprising if either Valois or Chandos did not record it before long.
  • MARTTINEN: Violin concerto, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 8 (CD BIS-701)
  • MARIC: Byzantine Concerto (CD SOKOJ/KOMUNA, double CD "Prag sna").

Sinfonie del boom economico/ Symphonies of the economic boom
  • Here comes Tubin's 8th. Of course, there are hundreds of symphonies in the 1960s. I was thinking of a very singular path, the one followed by Stjepan Sulek (Croatia, 1914-1986), who deliberately and, in a sense, courageously reverted to Brucknerian models, with his own luxuriant orchestral imagination. His 6th symphony (1966) seems to be one of the best instances of this. A CD of his piano sonatas has been released by Croatia Records. In a very different style, two Serbia-born composers completed grand symphonies in the 1960s : Rudolf Bruci (1917, he now lives in Zagreb, Croatia) with his masterful and cinetic 2d symphony (Sinfonia lesta, 1965), and Enriko Josif (1924) with his 2d symphony (Symphony in one movement, 1964), a kaleidoscope of ideas, conflicts and harsh sensuality, and also a wild reflection on old Greek notions (Dionysian vs. Apollinian ! ). A worthy recent release, which could be difficult to place in this chapter, but is one of the rare attempts to acknowledge African influence in a grand Western symphony -- albeit in a Portuguese colonial context --, is Joly Braga-Santos (Portugal, 1924-1988)'s 5th (1966).
  • Ahmet Adnan Saygun (Turkey, 1907-1989)'s 3rd symphony should be worth investigating too, but I have no idea of where it can be found (there was an old Melodiya LP). I have an Israeli symphony, Mordechai Seter's Jerusalem (1968), which sounds like a mix of ancient religious chant and mild avant-garde.
  • Finally, I should mention two very different major composers, whose symphonies still are unavailable (but it shouldn't last). One is Egon Wellesz (Austria,1885-1974), widely regarded as one of the last giants in the Bruckner-Mahler tradition, with a much more dissonant style of course. The other is Slovenia's modernist Primoz Ramovs (1921), a proponent of purely abstract music for the sake of sound, and whose 4th symphony (Simfonija 68, 1968) should be a very powerful piece.
  • Korngold's Symphony in f sharp (1952). I really recommend Kempe's recording, which gets rid of Hollywoodian hybridations and offers a strongly gripping performance.
  • A masterly symphony in the Czech and Slovak tradition either is Symfonia 1945 (Symphony No. 3, 1974) by Jan Cikker. There was a LP Opus conducted by Kosler, and it is likely that they have re-edited it on CD by now.
  • You mentioned Havergal Brian. His 10th symphony is particularly impressive, even in the "youngster" Unicorn-Kanchana CD recording.
  • TUBIN: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 8 (CD BIS-342)
  • SULEK: Symphony No. 6* (LP Croatia Records LSY-66016)
  • BRUCI: Sinfonia lesta (Symphony No. 2) LP Philips (probably not available)
  • JOSIF: Simfonija u jednom stavu (Symphony No. 2)* LP Jugoton
  • BRAGA-SANTOS: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5 (CD Marco Polo 8.223879)
  • SAYGUN: Symphony No. 3. Apart from an old LP Melodiya (which I don't have), maybe Hungaroton could record this. They have recorded some of Sayguns's orchestral songs, his large cantata "Yunus Emre" (based on the life and work of this great Turkish mystic), and some piano works.
  • SETER: Symphony Jerusalem* (LP Aries).
  • WELLESZ: Symphonies (especially Nos. 3-6, 9 ? ). No recording available as yet, as far as I know. But several record companies (CPO and others) are coming to his works at last, so certainly one of them will record these reputedly essential symphonies.
  • RAMOVS: Symphony 68 (Symphony No. 4) LP Helido FLP-10-001.

La voce nell'epoca del silenzio/ Voice in the age of silence
  • Sessions's Requiem could be quoted here, don't you think ?
  • SESSIONS: Requiem "when Lilacs..." (CD New World Records NW-296-2)

La citazione/ The quotation
  • Of course, there are other examples and your choice is very striking. I was thinking of the first attempt of this kind in the East: Boris Tchaikovsky (or Cajkovskij, Russia, 1925-1996 ?)'s 2d symphony, but maybe it is not fully convincing. In fact, some of Talivaldis Kenins's pieces are also full of quotations, but I should say interiorized ones. (Note: Talivaldis Kenins is a Latvian-born Canadian composer, and in my opinion one of the greatest living composers. His Symphony No. 6, Piano Quartet No. 2, Concerto for five percussionists and orchestra, Fantaisies Concertantes for piano and orchestra are some of his most memorable masterworks.)
  • Boris TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 2 (CD Russian Disc)
  • KENINS: See here

Il Minimalismo/ Minimalism
  • When Baltic musicians became better-known, everybody wondered at the fact that they had been influenced by American minimalism while living in the Soviet Union. The point is that they did not know anything about Reich, Riley, Glass... Minimalism has been present in traditional Baltic music for centuries !
  • Baltic composers: Estonians on Finlandia Records, Antes Records. The "Lithuanian New Music Series" is outstanding, with very detailed notes, strongly committed. Lithuanian MIPC.

Musica vocale del Dissenso/ Vocal music of the crisis
  • Another expression of revolt, which you know well, is Allan Pettersson's. My personal favorite is his 13th symphony, but No. 9 might be the closest musical equivalent to infernal visionary frescoes such as Jerome Bosch's paintings, and No. 10 is a tremendous outburst of revolt too. Unfortunately, the only vocal expressions of his struggle are Symphony No. 12 (after Neruda) and Vox humana. Those, if arguably not his very best, still remain gripping statements, with gorgeous choral episodes.
  • PETTERSSON: All symphonies available on excellent CPO Records. Apparently, No. 10's best rendition since Antal Dorati is the recent BIS CD conducted by Leif Segerstam. Symphony No. 12 (after Neruda): CD Caprice CAP-21369.

Il misticismo orientale/ Eastern misticism
  • Here, you might like to try two French composers : Eloy and Florentz. I don't know if any music of Eloy is available, but Florentz's vocal works (influenced by the Middle-East, and most of all Ethiopia) have been recorded recently, I think. Of course, there are also Asian composers. Apart from the Japanese, there are two very talented Vietnamese composers. One is between two worlds, as it were, Nguyen-Thien Dao (1940). The other is deeply rooted in Oriental philosophy and mysticism, Ton-That Tiet (1933. Ton-That is the family name). Some of his works are available on CD. A very striking one is Jardins d'autre monde (Gardens from another world), and I eagerly expect the completion and recording of his Chemin de Bouddha.
  • FLORENTZ: some CDs by Erato Records.
  • DAO: Les Enfants d'Izieu (actually based on tragic events from World War II near Lyon), CD MFA (Musique Francaise d'Aujourd'hui)
  • TON-THAT: a technically brilliant, but spiritually sometimes inaccurate anthology (with much too strong reverberation) is available: CD REM 311232. Well, some pieces are very finely and sensitively played, for instance the viola piece. If you can, try to find a recording or broadcast of his "Jardins d'autre monde", for instance by the Tokyo Sinfonietta.

I Quartetti dell'era postmoderna/ The quartets of the postmodern age
  • Do you like Holmboe's quartets ? In a very different style (and actually post-modern), I can quote Forgotten music for string quartet by Dubravko Detoni (one of Croatia's leading modernists, 1937).
  • HOLMBOE: String quartets. I think that DaCapo (Marco Polo) has recorded quite a few of them.
  • Some of Rosenberg's string quartets are magnificent as well (Caprice Records).
  • DETONI: Forgotten music (CD Croatia Records CD-D-K 509-62-69)

La sinfonia dell'era della crisi/ The symphony of the age of crisis
  • Don't you like Roger Sessions's symphonies ? I find them extremely remarkable, especially No. 7 (1967). I may not share his views about the Vietnam war, but this period is powerfully reflected in his symphonies Nos. 6-8, whose worth is, however, purely and highly musical. I already mentioned Pettersson's 13th, one of the highlights of that decade, as well as Balakauskas's 2d and Kenins's 6th and 7th. There is also a very strange, and intensely radiant work, Symphony No. 5 by Pascal Bentoiu (Romania, 1927): it depicts the path followed by a so-called thinking subject through music history, from homophony and heterophony to aleatoric gestures. Of course, it is too short to be an encyclopaedia, but it is a very strong experience, I think. It has been recorded on a CD by Olympia (the record is entitled Romanian Contemporary Music).
  • SESSIONS: Symphonis Nos. 6, 7 & 9 (CD Argo 444-519-2)
  • BALAKAUSKAS: Symphony No. 2 (CD 33 Records/Bomba Records)
  • KENINS: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7.
  • BENTOIU: Symphony No. 5 (CD Olympia "Romanian Contemorary Music" OCD-416)
  • Osvaldas Balakauskas was born in 1937. There is an excellent anthological CD (33CD003) available from 33 Records/Bomba in Lithuania. It includes one of his most "popular" works, the 2d symphony, which probably is not his most complex work, but has a very impressive drive and clarity of purpose ; two works for cello and tape which display a marvellous craftsman's imagination in the rather hostile Soviet context of the 1970s ; another piece for cello and piano, and finally "Rain for Cracow", one of the violin pieces which I have in my top list of priorities for recitals (when I shall resume my concert activity). Their address is: E-mail: Snail-mail: Bomba Records, Zygimantu 6, 2600. Vilnius, Lithuania. Phone: (370-2) 22 33 58, 62 27 31, 22 38 18; Fax: (370-2) 22 57 15. They have another outstanding record, devoted to the complementary pole to Balakauskas in Lithuanian music: Bronius Kutavicius (b.1932). This latter CD is devoted to oratorios. Balakauskas is strongly committed in contemporary life, both a nationalist and a cosmopolitan figure, whereas Kutavicius represents ancient, timeless traditions, together with a sweet tooth for formal experimentation. Another CD, more readily available, is the one entitled "Peteris Vasks: Stimmen", vol. 1, published by Finlandia a few years ago. It features what probably is the best version of Vasks's symphony for strings, but the real gem is Balakauskas's Ostrobothnian Symphony, a superb study in textures, not without his characteristic rhythmic vitality. It is far both from Vasks's "post-modernity" and from the typical Baltic minimalism now prevalent in Estonia, for instance. A piece that encompasses Balakauskas's older and more recent style, in an intensely vital fresco, is "Opera Strumentale" for symphony orchestra. For this, I should advise you to turn to the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre. This is a very lively Centre, and each of their own "Lithuanian New Music Series" CDs is really worth investigating. The overall picture is very captivating, and it includes a number of masterpieces. Balakauskas also composed a work for string quartet and symphony orchestra, "Passio strumentale", which I have not heard as of yet.
  • Talivaldis Kenins (b.1919) certainly belongs to the previous generation in every respect. He has never touched electronic music, for instance, and strongly believes in formal structure, contrapunctic writing (of which he is a very inventive master) and lucidity. Radio Canada International released a 4 CD-box (ACM33) devoted to Kenins in their "Anthology of Canadian Music" series. Unfortunately, the music displayed there is brilliant (Symphony No. 4, Violin Concerto) but not entirely typical. In my opinion, his best music can be found in such pieces as the Symphony No. 6 "Ad Fugam" (on a fugue of J.S.Bach, a powerfully gripping and moving piece, not a pastiche at all), the Concerto for fourteen instruments, or the 2d Quartet for piano and strings. The latter has been recorded by Centrediscs (WRC8-7117) and is sold by the Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1J9, Canada. They may have copies of the other pieces too. The CD recording of the 2d Piano Quartet is clean and should give you an idea of the music, but it probably does not do justice to its greatness. There are some hopes that BIS records start an integral series of Kenins's symphonies, but when, I could not tell.

Esperimenti sugli strumenti/ Experiments on instruments
  • Have you heard Hugues Dufourt (1945)'s gigantic symphony for percussion instruments, Erewhon ? This really is a bold experiment, and a very controlled one, too. He manages to avoid exotic effects during more than an hour, without ever becoming tiresome.
  • DUFOURT: Erewhon. No recording to my knowledge (which is incredible).
  • Stjepan Sulek: Sonatas and Studies for piano (Croatia Records CD-D-K 5052623.)
  • I should also quote Michael Levinas's nightmarish, extraordinary menagerie of hybrid sounds in Le Rire de Gilles. Also, I must pay tribute to Gerard Grisey, who, together with Tristan Murail, Horatiu Radulescu and others, initiated the Spectral music movement, and passed away two weeks ago. His untimely death is a terrible loss for contemporary music.
    Il risveglio della musica religiosa/ The revival of religious music
    • Besides Osvaldas Balakauskas, the other Lithuanian composer whom I mentioned, Bronius Kutavicius (1931), really stands at the mystic crossroads between East and West in his oratorios (recorded by Bomba records). A most promising work (but I could not get any recording as yet) is Cantus Magnificat, a symphony-oratorio by Julius Juzeliunas (1916). I would like to inform you there is a long play record of 'Cantus Magnificat' by Melodiya (c 10-26079-007). Yours sincerely, Dr. Gediminas Juzeliunas
    • In the CD featuring Tubin's 10th symphony, there is his haunting Requiem, too. Of course, he started work on it in 1950, but did not complete it until 1979.
    • Often considered backward-looking, but mostly timeless are Rubbra's symphonies, and notably his 9th, Sinfonia sacra (1972).
    • KUTAVICIUS: the CD which I mentioned (Bomba Records) is BRONIUS KUTAVICIUS ORATORIJOS (CD 33 RECORDS 33CD006)
    • JUZELIUNAS: Melodiya LP of his symphonies
    • TUBIN: Requiem (CD BIS)
    • RUBBRA: Symphony No. 9 (Sinfonia Sacra), Morning Watch (CD CHANDOS CHAN-9441)
    • A major Hebraic religious cantata is "Moses" by Herman David Koppel (Denmark, 1908-1998). The CD has been recorded by DaCapo.

    Il concerto nonostante il concerto/ The concert notwithstanding the concert
    • Some concerti are seemingly trying to take inspiration from avant-garde vocal experiments, for instance Ramovs's Cello concerto or Anders Hillborg (Sweden, 1954)'s violin concerto. Kenins's concerti for 14 instruments or for 5 percussionists and orchestra are also remarkable, if more traditional, modern concerti.
    • RAMOVS: Cello Concerto*. (Edicije DSS)

    Nuovi ensemble/ New ensembles
    • You will find some very fine attempts in this spirit in the Lithuanian New Music Series.

    La sinfonia nonostante la sinfonia/ The symphony notwithstanding the symphony
    • Here, I could quote Balakauskas's Ostrobothnian, of course. Also Davies's 5th (many regard it as his very best one), Simpson's cosmic and much acclaimed 9th (1987), the 6th and last by Konstantin Iliev (Bulgaria,1924-1988), Norholm's glorious 2d which you have quoted (probably in the previous Symphony chapter), Tomas Marco's 5th, Jozsef Soproni (Hungary,1930)'s 3rd (da Requiem), maybe Udo Zimmermann (Germany, 1934)'s threnody after Garcia Lorca (Sinfonia come un gran lamento,1977). Ake Hermanson (Sweden,1923) is said to have composed a visionary 4th symphony (Oceanus,1983), but I never had a chance to hear it. His 1st (1967) already was quite awesome.
    • BALAKAUSKAS: Ostrobothnian Symphony (CD Finlandia 4509-97892-2)
    • P.M.DAVIES: Symphony No. 5 (CD Collins 14602)
    • SIMPSON: Symphony No. 9 (CD Hyperion CDA66299)
    • ILIEV: Symphony No. 6* (LP Balkanton)
    • MARCO: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (CD Col Legno AU 31812)
    • SOPRONI: Symphony No. 3* (LP Hungaroton)
    • U.ZIMMERMANN: Sinfonia come un gran lamento* (LP Nova)

Borislav Cicovacki wrote (Tue, 7 Dec 1999 02:28:16 +-100):

Dear Mr. Scaruffi,

I was very impressed by your guide to modern music. A few days ago I saw it on web side together with comments by Thanh-Tam Le. In those comments I read a very good analysis of the parts which belong to the history of ex-Yugoslav music. I spend a few years to discover the qualities of this music and I organized in Amsterdam concerts of ex-Yugoslav contemporary music especially by Ljubica Maric. This is the reason why I would like to put some words about the composers mentioned by Thanh-Tam Le.

JOSIP STOLCER SLAVENSKI had an idea in the 1930s (not in the 1950s) to compose a ""cosmical vision for choir, electonic instuments and large orchestra"" with the title Heliophonia. Unfortunately he did not finish this project. The only part he finished is the first part of Heliophonia called Chaos (1932) where he did not use the electronic instruments. This part exists now separately as an orchestral composition. But, also in the 1930s he composed a composition for electronic insruments with the title Music in the Natural Tonal System (1937). It includes two movements: the first movement is written for the Bosanquet enharmonium with 53 tones in an octave, and the second for four trautoniums and timpani. This composition, as far as I know, was never performed and the score is in the library of the Faculty of Music in Belgrade.

LJUBICA MARIC is the most original Yugoslav and Serbian composer (a pupil of Slavenski, Suk and H=E1ba). She is the first composer in the 20st century who (in the 1950s) used the Byzantic orthodox church music (from the ancient collection Octo=EBchos) as a source of inspiration and as a base for her magnificent oeuvre. Octo=EBchos recalls not only the ancient Slavic tradition (it is Slavic from the moment when thay became a Christians), but much older musical tradition from the Middel East. She wrote a large symphonic cycle called Music of Octo=EBchos wich includes compositions Octoicha 1, Byzantine Concerto, Threshold of Dream and Ostinato super thema Octoicha. She influenced a next generations of Serbian composers including Enriko Josif and partially Dusan Radic.

RUDOLF BRUCI is not born in Serbia, but in Zagreb, Croatia. He spend more the 40 years living in Serbia, in the city of Novi Sad where he was the most imortant person for development of musical life and for the modern music. Since 1999 he lives in Zagreb, Croatia.

PRIMOZ RAMOVS, the Slovenian modernist, died in january 1999.

Douglas Lilburn passed away in 2001.

Slavenski's CD discography has improved since my first message. "Balkanophonia", a rhapsody characteristically enshrining raw folk material into Slavenski's penetrating wizardry, has been recorded by CPO. A superb anthology was released by Sokoj (the Society of Yugoslav Composers, sokojmic@Eunet.yu) in 1996. It includes the sonatas for piano and for violin & piano, Music 38 for orchestra, the 2nd and 4th string quartets (the latter with solo voice), and two renditions of the relatively famous "Voda zvira".

While we are at electronic music, Aleksandar Obradovic (1927-2001) composed the third of his 8 symphonies, "Mikrosimfonija" (1967), for stereo tape and orchestra. One is reminded of Gerhard's own 3rd ("Collages"), but Obradovic's is much closer to virtuosic neo-classicism in his orchestral writing, and the tape is delightfully redolent of first-class old science-fiction movie scores. All in all, this is a buoyant work, displaying impressive mastery. Obradovic and V. Mokranjac (1923-1984), whose universe is much darker and who left a glorious Lyrical Poem for orchestra, are two major Serbian symphonists of the late 20th century.

Sulek's discography now includes his 2nd piano concerto, not unlike a 20th-century, Croatian counterpart for Saint-SaČns's concerti, coupled with his beautifully serene sonata for violin and piano, as well as another version of his 1st piano sonata.

I mentioned Vasilije Mokranjac above. His symphonies, especially Nos. 4 and 5, are highly dramatic, eruptive works mostly based on elementary harmonic-melodic cells. Surprisingly, I found the Komuna CD (Symphonies 2, 4, 5, Lyrical Poem) on the EMF site...

Saygun's 3rd symphony has been commercially recorded by the Istanbul State Orchestra. Independently, the five symphonies are to be released by CPO under Ari Rasilainen's baton. I cannot be too enthusiastic about the 3rd. It is a grand, rich, varied, masterly achievement, monumental in design, but avoiding bombast thanks to a permanent interaction between Western dramatism and Turkish filigree work, with no literal quotation from folk music. Wellesz's nine symphonies are one of the most incomprehensible gaps in the discography, but MDG is on the process of filling it in the few years to come.

Ramovs's "Simfonija 68" is, as usual with this composer, a brilliant play with sound blocks and textures, reaching some magnificent blends. I should emphasize that while there are no themes in a classical sense, one never loses a strong sense of purpose and direction, making for a thrilling dramatic journey. I don't think that the old Helidon LP has been reedited on CD as yet. Neither has Zvonimir Ciglic (1921)'s Sinfonia appassionata (1948) - a much more Romantic work, and one hardly ever surpassed in terms of exaltation, for that matter.

Balakauskas has, by now, completed five symphonies. BIS released a CD devoted to his concertant music, with excellent renditions. The quality of his inspiration is, as always, impressive. For the Concerto for oboe harpsichord and strings, I still hope that the old Melodiya LP recording will be made available on CD. It really does justice to the atemporal, transcendent beauty of this masterpiece.

As for the eagerly awaited integral symphonies of Kenins, one can only wait for BIS.

Julius Juzeliunas died in 2001. The Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre reedited recordings of his Concerto for violin, organ and orchestra and of his 5th symphony (Songs of the Plains) on a CD.

The third symphony by one of France's best active symphonists, Nicolas Bacri (1961), is subtitled "Sinfonia da Requiem", and is under certain aspects a religious cantata with references both to Christian and to Hebraic traditions. (His 5th and 6th symphonies revive the French school from the 1930s, even though Bacri's knowledge and curiosity of a broad repertoire make his universe more individual and universal than strictly national.)

Have you heard Natasa Danilovic's "Horror Vacui"? I am unsure whether this will be the first movement of a symphony, but, as such, it is a remarkable and moving work, a testimony of anguish and war from a strongly personal point of view. A brief analysis can be found here: .