BACH BACHIANAS Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brazilieras Nos. 1 and 5. Bach: Chaconne; Air on the G String; and other works. Arlene Auger, soprano. The Yale Cellos of Aldo Parisot. (Delos, digital CD, D/CD 3041, 72:10 min.) - Villa-Lobos's music goes in and out of favor on records and is hardly ever heard in the concert halls. And yet the two ``Bachanias Brazilieras'' on this handsomely recorded and generously programmed CD are often remarkable compositions. The Fifth, probably the most famous, requires a soprano capable of sounding at her freshest and easiest in the upper reaches of her voice, and Arlene Auger is the ideal choice. The five Bach selections aptly complement the Villa-Lobos, and the cello ensemble plays impressively throughout. BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E major. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans Knappertsbusch, conductor. (Music & Arts, mono analog CD, CD-209, 62:19 min.) - It is said that the great German maestro Hans Knappertsbusch was never at his best in the recording studio. This live performance of Bruckner's hauntingly majestic Seventh Symphony, taped at the Salzburg Festival on Aug. 30, 1949, makes clear how great he could be outside the studio. The sound is surprisingly adequate for an old air-check, and the performance is one of blazing intensity, superb architectural integrity, and remarkable sensitivity.
DVORAK Cello Concerto, Op. 104; Rondo, Op. 94; Silent Woods, Op. 68, No. 5. Yo-Yo Ma, cello. Berlin Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel, conductor. (CBS Masterworks, digital CD, MK 42206, 57:25 min.) - I, for one, have waited at least five years for Yo-Yo Ma to record the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Unfortunately, the pairing of the heartfelt impassioned Ma reading with the arbitrary, rather icy Maazel approachmakes for a meeting of opposites that, finally, neutralize each other. It's not that Ma doesn't play superbly, but somewhow, his interest in the work as conducted by Maazel seems to be piqued only intermittently. The sound is first-rate, and the two short fillers make this into a nice musical package of just barely acceptable length for CD.
NEW YEAR'S CONCERT FROM VIENNA Kathleen Battle, soprano. Vienna Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, conductor. (Deutsche Grammophon, digital CD, 419 616-2, 69:02 mins.) - New Year's Day, 1987, saw the live telecast of the traditional Vienna Philharmonic concert, conducted for the first time by Herbert von Karajan. This CD was culled from that concert, and what a treat it is from beginning to end. It goes without saying that Karajan was brought up in this musical tradition, and that he ``feels'' every aspect of this music - by Johann and/or Josef Strauss - from first upbeat to final chord. His sense of the pulse of a musical line is both uncanny and unfussy. Kathleen Battle is enchanting in the ``Voices of Spring.'' Any wonder that this selection of overtures, polkas, marches, and waltzes is such a non-stop delight?