"Old World - New World" - Emerson String Quartet. "Our Favorite Dvorak" says the sticker on this new 3-CD collection from the Emersons. All pieces they've never recorded before, representing Dvorak's late works for string chamber - the String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 51; the Quartet No. 11 in C Major, Op. 61; the Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106, and the Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op.e 105. With violist Paul Neubauer, the String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (called "American") and a string quartet-arrangement of Dvorak's song cycle "Cypresses." (Deutsche Grammophon 028947787655 / B0014106-02)
"Elina Garanca: Bel Canto" - Elina Garanca, mezzo-soprano; Coro del Teatro Communale di Bologna; Filarmonica del Teatro Communale di Bologna; Roberto Abbado, conductor. After watching Garanca play a sultry and seductive Carmen on last week's "Great Performances at the Met" on PBS, it seemed just right to feature her latest CD this time on "Just Opened." It's a personal selection of bel canto arias from Donizetti (from Lucrezia Borgia, L'assedio di Calais, Roberto Devereux, Dom Sebastien, and Maria Stuarda) Bellini (from Adelson e Salvini and I Capuleti e i Montecchi) and Rossini (from Tancredi and Maometto II.) In choosing the arias and scenes for this recital, Garanca was drawn to the more obscure works, for, as she says in the interview in the CD booklet, "there is so much absolutely gorgeous music from these composers that we don't know." 'Tis true. (Deutsche Grammophon 028947774600 / B0012818-02)
"Sibelius/Prokofiev: Violin Concertos" - Vilde Frang, violin; WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln; Thomas Sondergard, conductor. For her debut CD on EMI, 23-year-old Norwegian-born violinist Vilde Frang chose two powerful works for violin and orchestra; the Sibelius concerto, which she describes as "fire and ice," and the Concerto No. 1 by Sergei Prokofiev. As companion pieces to the Sibelius, Frang includes three of his short Humoresques for violin and orchestra - Nos. 1, 2 & 5. Like other recent recordings from EMI, this CD includes the "Opendisc" feature, which when placed in your computer, allows you access to bonus material, pre-release listening sessions, and more. (EMI Classics 5099969441326 / 84413)
"Yuja Wang: Transformation (Music of Stravinsky, Scarlatti, Brahms and Ravel)" - Yuja Wang, piano. From another 23-year old wonder, her second CD, where the theme is transcription. It begins with Stravinsky's own arrangement of Three Movements from Petrushka; Domenico Scarlatti's Sonatas in E Major and f minor; Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Paganini, and Ravel's La Valse. Wang is currently touring North America and made a recent stop in DC - from an on-line review, I found links to some of her performances on YouTube. She's amazing. See for yourself - her performance of Stravinsky's Danse russe:
For a really wild ride, check out her performance of Cziffra's arrangement of the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka:
(Deutsche Grammophon 028947787952 / B0014108-02)
"Jon Lord: Durham Concerto" - Matthew Barley, cello; Ruth Palmer, violin; Jon Lord, hammond organ; Kathryn Tickell, Northumbrian pipes; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Mischa Damev, conductor. If you grew up listening to rock'n'roll in the 1970's (as I did) you are probably familiar with the music of Deep Purple - hits like "Hush," "Smoke on the Water," "Highway Star" and others were long-time staples on classic rock radio. Little did I know then that the long, sinuous keyboard solos spun out by band member Jon Lord were the product of classical music training. Playing classical piano since the age of 6, Lord's travels took him to and from school, to work as a Solicitor's clerk, to drama school, and finally to an R'n'B band in the late 60's that led to the founding of Deep Purple. After much success the group split in the mid-seventies, to reform in the mid-eighties and tour all over the world for the next 2 decades, until finally after 35 years Lord hung up his rock'n'roll shoes to concentrate on composing. That's the background. The Durham Concerto, one of his larger symphonic works, was commissioned by Durham University to celebrate their 175th Anniversary and is a contemplation of the ancient Norman cathedral itself. Each of the six movements in this hour-long piece reflects a part of the day in Durham: In Part 1, "Morning," the Cathedral awakes at dawn. In Part 2, "Afternoon," a reflection on its ancient celtic history ("The Road from Lindisfarne") and the view "From Prebends Bridge." In Part 3, "Evening," a celebratory "Rags and Galas" and a final, contemplative "Durham Nocturne." Reminiscent of Vaughan Williams' "London Symphony," with some Celtic, Gregorian, and Tudor-era polyphony thrown in besides Lord's own sensibilities, it's a fascinating trip. (Avie 822252214529 / AV 2145)
Thanks this week to our good friends at DG-Universal, EMI Classics, ClassiQuest and Avie Records for this week's slate of new releases on WSCL!