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Friday, January 7, 2011

Just Opened, January 7, 2011

Well, here we are in the beginning of the New Year, and what will be my last "Just Opened" as your host for Classical Music on Delmarva. Some splendid recordings this week, beginning with:

"J.S. Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 12: Tooting/Winchester" - Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists; John Eliot Gardiner. Last month, the last two volumes in the complete Bach Cantata Pilgrimage were released. Appropriately, one was a collection of Christmas Cantatas; the other was this one, featuring Cantatas for the twenty-second and twenty-third Sundays after Trinity (the two names in the title above refer to the churches where these particular performances were recorded.) This final volume contains what Gardiner calls the best of Bach's cantatas, and certainly the most beloved: the Cantata BWV 140, "Wachet auf" or "Sleeper's Awake." Other cantatas on this two-disc set are Nos. 55, 89, 115, 60, 139, 163, and 52. (Soli Deo Gloria 843183017126 / SDG 171)

"Shostakovich:
The Preludes and Fugues" - Alexander Melnikov, piano. In 1950 Dmitri Shostakovich made a pilgrimage to Leipzig for the International Bach Competition, where he was particularly impressed with Tatiana Nikolaeva's performance of the complete Well-Tempered Clavier. Inspired, he wrote his own set of 24, loosely modeled on the pattern of Bach's, and dedicated it Nikolaeva. This new recording with Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov contains the complete preludes on two CDs, and a bonus DualDisc that contains a short film about the Preludes, and interviews with Melnikov and Andreas Staier. (harmonia mundi usa 794881942626 / HMC 902019.20)

"Italian Concertos" - Alison Balsom, trumpet; Scottish Ensemble. Following the success of her previous EMI release of Classical concertos by Haydn and Hummel, English trumpeter Alison Balsom presents popular baroque concertos by Vivaldi, Marcello, Cimarosa, Albinoni, and Tartini. All works were previously written for violin or oboe, and have been transcribed here for trumpet. (EMI Classics 5099945609428 / 56094-2)




"The
Sky Shall Be Our Roof: Rare Songs from the Operas of Ralph Vaughan Williams" - Sarah Fox, soprano; Juliette Pochin, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Staples, tenor; Roderick Williams; baritone; Iain Burnside, piano. A subsidiary of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, Albion Records was formed to record and issue rare works by Vaughan Williams, and this is the first of an initial batch of 5 CDs. There are 19 songs (including 12 that are world premiere recordings) from three Vaughan Williams operas: Hugh the Drover, Sir John in Love, and The Pilgrim's Progress. (Albion Records 5060158190010 / ALB001)


"Beethoven
: Piano Sonatas: Moonlight, Pathetique, Waldstein" - Steven Osborne, piano. Osborne has been playing the Beethoven sonatas in concert for years, but until now has not recorded any of them. This volume contains three of his favorites: the Moonlight, the Pathetique, and the Waldstein, and the miniature sonata Opus 79 in G Major. (Hyperion 034571176628 / CDA67662)





"Erich
Wolfgang Korngold: Symphony in F-sharp; Much Ado About Nothing (Incidental Music)" - Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra; Marc Albrecht, conductor. Two celebrated works from the two ends of Korngold's career; the postwar Symphony in F-sharp from 1952 is not often played or recorded, so this new release is a welcome addition. From the pre-war and his pre-Hollywood period, the Much Ado About Nothing Suite. (PentaTone Classics 827949037368 / PTC 5186 373)



"Ellen
Taafe Zwilich: Millenium Fantasy; Images; Peanuts Gallery" - Jeffrey Biegel, Read Gainsford, Heidi Louise Williams, piano; Florida State University Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Jimenez, conductor. Ever since she was featured in one of Charles Schultz' Peanuts cartoons, Ellen Taafe Zwilich (pronounced Ellen TAYF ZWILL-ick) wanted to return the favor; she did so in 1996 with Peanuts Gallery, a work for piano and orchestra that featured fantasias on Schroeder, Linus, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Peppermint Patty and Marcie. And ever since I heard this charming piece on an episode of PBS' American Masters, I've been waiting for a recording. This new disc from Naxos also features Millenium Fantasy from 2000, and Images for two pianos from 1986. (Naxos 636943965627 / 8.559656)

Thanks this week to Naxos, harmonia mundi usa, and EMI Music for all the music on WSCL.

It has been my privilege, and unalloyed joy, to be your host for many episodes of "Just Opened," and for 17 years your emcee for Classical Music from Delmarva. This will be my last blog posting from here - watch this space in the future for postings from my colleagues Kara Dahl Russell and Christopher Ranck. And please, by all means, keep listening and keep supporting the station that brings you beautiful Classical Music everyday - WSCL 89.5 FM.

And thank you for listening!

Bill Bukowski

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