Friday, March 13, 2009
All Just Opened on March 13
"Mark O'Connor's Americana Symphony - Variations on Appalachia Waltz" - Mark O'Connor, violin; Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, cond. Mark O'Connor now has his own record label, and he's still committed to orchestral composition in an American voice. His latest opus is a sprawling 6 movement symphonic portrait of America based on one of his most popular works, "Appalachia Waltz." Each of the six movements has a different title and texture, from "Wide Open Spaces" to "Open Plains Hoedown" to "Splendid Horizons" - yet each containing the Waltz theme as a thematic center. The other piece here is a more subdued, yet subtly-hued, Concerto No. 6 for Violin & Orchestra, "Old Brass," featuring the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston. (OMAC 676519000222 / OMAC-12)
"Kalinka - Russian Folk Songs" - Dmitri Hvorostovsky, bass-baritone; St Petersburg Chamber Choir; Nikolai Korniev, cond. This recording, originally released in 1988 is still available for the fans of this Russian bass-baritone, singing some of his favorite songs from his homeland. The sound is much like that of Russian orthodox sacred music, but of course with more secular texts. Liner notes thoughtfully provided in both English and Cyrillic. Delightful! (Philips 028945639925 / 289 456 399-2)
"Le Jardin des Paons - Jennifer Swartz and Lori Gemmell, harps. The title of this piece translates as "The Garden of Peacocks," and is the name of a work here by French harpist Bernard Andres. Swartz and Gemmell have been friend since they were teens; both studied under Judy Loman; Swartz is principal harp for the Montreal Symphony; Gemmell for the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. They also play together as a duo, and this particular CD of mostly contemporary music was recorded during a blizzard in December 2007, that shut down the city of Montreal. I don't know if you can hear the intimacy of that particular night in these recordings, but it certainly seems so. Also contains 5 pieces from Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances; a Grand Duet by John Thomas; Going West by Andrew Creeggan; Raga by Caroline Lizotte,and Signe by Eric Clapton. (Atma Classique 722056253925 / ACD2 2539)
"East West Encounter 1" - Susan Chan, piano. Like the title says, compositions from both Eastern and Western traditions of music, the first of two such projects by Susan Chan. From the East: "Cherishing Thoughts of Red Cliff" by Ning-Chi Chen, and "Warrior" by Alexina Louie. From the West: Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 27; Franz Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1; Cesar Franck's Prelude, Fugue et variation; and Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3. (MSR Classics 681585124529 / MS1245)
"Telemann in the French Style" - The Hanoverian Ensemble. Telemann wrote a vast number of overtures, quartets and trios, all published under the rubric "Tafelmusik," literally "Table Music" or quite literally "music to eat dinner by." Whatever its original intent, the music from this prolific Baroque composer sparkles, no less so under the hands of the Hanoverian Ensemble, a group dedicated to historical performance on period instruments. Contains an Overture in e minor; two Trios in b and e minor respectively, and a Quartet in e minor from the "Paris" quartets. (MSR Classics 681585130926 / MSR 1309)
"Dohnanyi, Kodaly, and Strauss: Sonatas" - Nancy Green, cello; Tannis Gibson, piano. This disc comes from the New Hampshire-based JRI Recordings label, and features early-but-well-known works for cello and piano from three early-20th-Century-but-well-known composers. (JRI Recordings 714826012320 / J123)
"Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe" - Boston Symphony Orchestra, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus; James Levine, cond. This disc is one of four new releases on the Boston Symphony's new BSO Classics label, available from the Symphony's own store or online at www.bso.org, or digitally via I-Tunes, Amazon.com or CDBaby. The first two releases, this present one and a performance of Brahms' "A German Requiem" are available on either CD or via digital download; the other two, Mahler's Symphony No. 6 and William Bolcom's Eighth Symphony and Lyric Concerto (with flutist James Galway) are available as a download only. All recordings from BSO Classics are drawn from recordings made during concerts at Symphony Hall, and are part of a project to archive all of James Levine's concerts with the BSO. (BSO Classics 828020-0009-2 / BSO 0801)
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