The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just Opened, Friday Dec. 16th, 2011

Our Hanukkah Just Opened Special!
This week we focus on works by Jewish composers and performers... and a truly unique CD that represents new theory of the history of Jews in Tudor England!


BIRDS ON FIRE
Jewish Music for Viols
Fretwork, Renaissance &
Elizabethan Viols
HARMONIA MUNDI 907478
ISBN# 0 93946 74782 4
When is a CD much more than a CD? When it represents a new line of historical thought and research in musical performance. There is, rightfully, a 20 page booklet that accompanies this CD, explaining the ground-breaking and controversial discoveries of a historian who "discovered" the trail of Jews living and working in the virulently religion-devided courts of the Elizabethan and Tudor courts; living and working as court musicians. Musical dynasties of sorts. In a day when different sects of Christians were killing each other for variations in their beliefs, these Jews were "hiding in plain sight" working directly for the kings & queens. Fretwork plays the historical works here - a real pleasure for those who enjoy historic instruments played beautifully... here a consort of viols that manage to evoke all kinds of tonalities... you'll swear you're hearing the accordian and other instruments in the mix. The title work, conversely is a series of new compositions for viol that evoke a story of Jews in hiding, making music in secret to connect their religion. These new works can be much less accessible, but in the movements that "click" (like the 2nd movement I played during Just Opened), you'll hear echos of tango and world music through the voices of the voils. My delight of the week.



A TRIBUTE TO KORNGOLD
New Zealand Symphony Orch.
James Sedares, cond.
KOCH 7302
ISBN# 0 99923 73022 4
Released a decade ago, the music of Korngold is timeless. It stands on it's own, or as an "agent evokateur" of the great films.



MORTON FELDMAN
Piano and String Quartet
Eclipse Quartet and
Vicki Ray, piano
BRIDGE 9369
ISBN# 0 90404 93692 0
We heard only a 10 minute segment of this work on Just Opened. It is, frankly, too challenging to be part of our usual playlist. Feldman is playing with concepts of time and layered tonality in this work, which makes it an interesting puzzle for musicians to work on. Imagine film background music... music that builds very slowly, that does not really "go" anywhere or have any big "action," but it creates a pervasive, slowly shifting mood. That is a good framework to understand the soundscape of this piece. If you, or someone you know is interested in new works, works that take study and attention, this 79 minute work is creating its own place in chamber music repertoire and is worth several listenings.



PORTALS
St. Petersburg Symphony
Vladimir Lande, cond.
David Drosinos, clarinet
MARQUIS 81423
ISBN# 7 74718 14232 0
Here we have a CD of modern works that are tremendously accessible. All 3 works feature clarinet solos, Rich Sowash's Concerto for Clarinet & Orchestra, a chamber Pastoral influenced by Hebrew melody combined with mediteranian spirit by composer Paul Ben-Haim, and a charming, goofy work of film music by John Williams. This CD presents a way to stretch yourself with "brand new" music, but here it is music that ultimately can be played as background music for your life, while you make dinner, have guests, etc.


JEROME LOWENTHAL
with Carmel Lowenthal
Franz Liszt: complete
The Years of Pilgrimage
& Christmas Tree Suite
3 CD set
BRIDGE 9307
ISBN# 0 90404 93072 0
Brilliant recognized pianist Jerome Lowenthal gives us the magnificent 3 CD gift of the complete Franz Liszt's "Years of Pilgrimage"... all 3 series, evoking Liszt's stays and travels through Switzerland, Italy and Naples. The set concludes with a father/daughter rendition of books 2 & 3 of Liszt's Christmas Tree Suite (this is considered to be the "main course" of the Christmas Tree Suite, the first book being simplified, shorter versions of the works and simple carols) for four hands. Carmel is an internationally recognized pianist in her own right. There is a lovely synchonicity to the father daughter pairing, as Lizst wrote this work for the daughter of a friend.



THE AMERICAN STRING PROJECT
10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Beethove, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Verdi
2CDs & DVD
MSR 1386
ISBN#6 81585 13862 5
We featured Mendelssohn's String Quartet on Just Opened, but all the works here are equally weighty and equally fully realized with magnificent musicianship. The Documentary DVD details the making of ASP's 2009 performance of Prokofiev, Schumann & da Falla, both in rehearsal and in performance.


BERNARD HERRMANN FILM MUSIC 4
The Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Bernard Herrmann, cond.
London Decca 443-895
ISBN# 0 28944 38952 4
This CD is a 1996 digitalization and re-mastering of Bernard Hermann conducting his own seminal film score music with the magnificent London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is just one of a set of CDs of Herrmann's film music... a great gift by itself, or as a set.


Thanks for listening to Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

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