Monday, December 14, 2009
Just Opened, Friday December 11, 2009
"From the Vaults of Westminster Cathedral: From Advent to Christmas & Epiphany and Presentation of Our Lord" - Choir of Westminster Cathedral; Martin Baker, cond. The contents of this disc were compiled, edited and commissioned by London's Roman Catholic cathedral down through the centuries; from plainchant to motets and masses by Victoria, Monteverdi, Lassus, and William Byrd...to 20th Century composers Matthew Martin, George Malcolm, Maurice Bevan and Charles Wood. Arranged to follow the liturgical season from Advent to Presentation, the works are combined and mixed together in such a way that the ancient and contemporary styles sound like they were meant to go together...which is just as it should be. (Hyperion 03457177076 / CDA 67707)
"Handel: Messiah" - Julia Doyle, soprano; Iestyn Davies, countertenor; Allan Clayton, tenor; Andrew Foster-Williams, bass; Polyphony; Britten Sinfonia; Stephen Layton, cond. Stephen Layton and Polyphony have been performing Messiah st St. John's Church, Smith Square, London for the past 15 years - it was the performances from Christmas 2008 that were captured for this CD. Rather than hew to one performing method over another, Layton acknowledges that all have contributed to the work's appreciation over the years, and all have something to tell us. Consider this recording a snapshot of a work which he says, "is ever renewed." (Hyperion 034571178004 / CDA 67800)
"Christmas Spirit" - Mainstreet Brass. The tradition of silver bands, or street corner brass bands in a town square playing Christmas carols is an old and much-loved part of Christmas. Mainstreet Brass have made 11 new arrangements of favorite carols for this 17-track disc for brass and percussion, including a "Rudolf and Santa" fantasia...two songs by Vince Guaraldi from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"...and "A Christmas Carol - A Dickens of a Tale" arranged and narrated by London-based composer Alan Danson. (MSR Classics 681585132524 / MS 1325)
"Mendelssohn Discoveries" - Roberto Prosseda, piano; Gewandhaus Orchestra; Riccardo Chailly, cond. For the Mendelssohn bicentennial, world premiere recordings with Mendelssohn's former outfit, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra led by Riccardo Chailly. Mendelssohn was constantly revising his works, and two of the pieces here amount to his first thoughts: the 1842 version of the Symphony No. 3, "Scottish," composed in London...and the 1830 version of the "Hebrides" Overture, composed in Rome. In between there's a reconstruction/completion by Marcello Bufalini of the Piano Concerto No. 3. (Decca 028947815259 / 478 1525)
"Johann Sebastian Bach: Partitas BWV 825-830" - Andras Schiff, piano. Schiff's first recording of the Partitas, from 1983, was reissued last year on the Deccca "Originals" label. While not disowning that recording, Schiff felt he could bring more spontaneity and freedom to his performances today. For this recording (captured live in concert, like most of his recent recordings for ECM) Schiff has rearranged the order to make for a more personal concert experience. But he acknowledges in the liner notes that it is his personal choice and that "listeners are invited to play the pieces in any order they prefer." (ECM New Series 028947669913 / 2001/02)
"Johannes Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas 1 & 2; Clarinet Trio" - Pierce-Aomori duo. Brahms' works for clarinet, composed during summer vacations in the autumn of his career, are irresistibly charming. Clarinetist Hideaki Aomori and pianist Joshua Pierce are joined by cellist Daniel Barrett for the Trio, Op. 114. (MSR Classics 681585132227 / MS 1322)
Thanks always to Santa's helpers at the various Classical labels, who have been very good to us this year. May they find many good gifts under their Holiday trees!
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