Monday, March 1, 2010
Just Opened discs, 2/26/10
"Yo-Yo Ma: 30 Years Outside the Box" - Yo-Yo Ma, cello. To celebrate his 30th Anniversary with Sony Music, the label has released a 90 CD limited-edition box set of all his recordings - 84 releases, plus 2 bonus discs. It comes with a 312-page commemorative book, and every disc has been remastered. The bonus discs include John Williams' six-movement Suite for cello and orchestra from "Memoirs of a Geisha," and the first CD-release of "Air and Simple Gifts," composed by Williams for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. (Sony Masterworks 753307)
"Recital Favorites by Nissman Volume 1" - Barbara Nissman, piano. Nissman's piano CDs on the Pierian Recording Society label may look "no-frills," but the performances most certainly are not. For this latest series, she said she wanted to present "the pieces I most enjoy playing in concert. Each volume features a variety of composers and highlights the contrasting sound worlds they conceived." Volume 1 features Beethoven's Piano Sonata in c minor, "Pathetique;" four of Prokofiev's "Visions Fugitives" and the Sonata No. 3; Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy; Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz No. 1" and the "Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and Chopin's Nocturne in D-flat Major. (Pierian 884501070911 / 0035)
"Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture" - Mariinsky Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, cond. For their third CD on the Mariinsky label, Gergiev and company turn from the music of Shostakovich to Tchaikovsky, Russia's first professional composer; i.e., unlike his contemporaries, he did not have a day job and made his living entirely from music. He was the favored composer of Tsar Alexander III, and two pieces dedicated to him are included here: the Coronation March, and the Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem (the Tsar's bride was the Princess Dagmar of Denmark.) In fact, the entire CD is devoted to works Tchaikovsky wrote on commission for festive occasions - including the Marche Slave, the Moscow Cantata, and of course, the 1812 Festival Overture. (Mariinsky 822231850328 / MAR0503)
"Angela Hewitt Plays Handel & Haydn" - Angela Hewitt, piano. Recorded and released last year for the anniversary year of both Haydn and Handel. In the liner notes, Hewitt talks about her earliest experiences with their music, and what led her to pick the works featured on this CD: from Handel, the Chaconne in G Major and the Suites Nos. 2 and 8...from Haydn, the Sonata/Variations in f minor "Un piccolo divertimento" and the Sonata No. 52 in E-flat Major. (Hyperion 03457177366 / CDA 67736)
"Bohuslav Martinu: Piano Concertos 2 & 4; Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca; Overture" - Robert Kolinsky, piano; Sinfonieorchester Basel; Vladimir Ashkenazy. Conductor Ashkenazy has been making some terrific recordings recently on the Finnish label Ondine, most recently the "Asrael Symphony" of Joseph Suk. For his latest entry he focuses on the music of another Czech composer, Bohuslav Martinu, with two of his works for piano and orchestra and the Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, an impressionistic piece inspired by a visit to a church in Arezzo, Italy. (Ondine 0761195115824 / ODE 1158-2)
A big WSCL "thank you" to our friends at Sony, Crossover Media, ClassiQuest, Naxos and harmonia mundi usa for this week's featured recordings.
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