Classical reviews: April 7

> Ross Harris: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3. Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Naxos CD.

Listeners to Radio New Zealand Concert will frequently hear the APO, a splendid orchestra able to rival the NZSO. Good records from its large repertoire are most welcome. This release marks its debut for Naxos, playing two symphonies that were composed specially for it by this prize-winning New Zealand composer.

Symphony No.2 (2006) features soprano Madeleine Pierard helping in its dramatic setting of Vincent O'Sullivan poems about our soldiers shot for desertion in World War 1. Symphony No.3 (2008) was inspired by Chagall's impressionist paintings and uses klezmer-like tunes for its basis.

Led by Slovenian conductor Marko Letonja, the APO is in top form. No.1 was a studio recording, No.3 was a live performance on radio; both have excellent quality and detail.

Highlight: Exciting new music.

> "Italia". Nicola Benedetti (violin), Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Decca CD.

The impressive Scottish violinist reviewed here recently for playing famous concertos brilliantly focuses on her ancestral heritage from Italy, in a programme of Baroque but timeless virtuoso masterpieces.

Vivaldi is well-represented, not just with a superb Summer movement from the ubiquitous The Four Seasons but also the sparkling delights of Grosso Mogul Concerto RV208, the A minor Concerto RV358 both in three movements, plus two arias from the composer's operas excellently transcribed for violin taking over the vocal lines.

Tartini provides his Devil's Trill Sonata and Concerto in A minor D115, and Veracini the poignant lament of the Largo from his Sonata in A major. The orchestra is led from the harpsichord by Christian Curnyn to give spirited backing.

Highlight: Soloist with great panache and lyrical feeling.

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