The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just Opened, May 11, 2012

 Bedevilments and Blessings, our theme this week, is taken from the works themselves, as they refer to demons, blessings, trials and solitude.

A Second Silence
Eric Jacobsen, cond.
ISBN# 7 23721 57935 7
The Knights have accuired quite a following from humble roots as a living-room "ad hoc" group that initially met just to play together and have fun.  But of course, this kind of "salon music" is how the great romantic era performers got together all the time!  Their focus on this CD is "silence, and calm, in light and dark elements, with a good representation of composers from Schubert and Satie to modern composers like Feldman and Glass.

Prokofiev, Liszt & Saint-Saens
DECCA 478 3301
ISBN# 0 28947 83301 7
Abduraimov is THE hot young pianist to watch.  Winning international competitions at the age of 18, now at 21 he is regularly being compared to Horowitz.  He not has the technical command one would expect, but an unusual mature musicality and interpretative skill.  The major works on this CD are Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6, Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, and Liszt's Mephisto Waltz and "Benediction of God in Solitude."  Heavy fare for some, but brilliant.

New Music for Alto & Soprano Saxophone
Glen Gillis, saxophone
ISBN# 6 81585 13282 1
All of the works on this CD are by modern composers, some by Gillis himself.  70% of the work is challenging, but when the instrument is this velvety melodious saxophone, even these have a softer hue.   And there are works here that proove modern does not have to be a-melodic.  Gillis's own works for his daughter Nicole have a classical form and lilting melodies, and Gillis' brother Richard joins in with trumpet (along with pianist Bonnie Nicholson) in the easily enjoyable  work by Barbara York:  Wisdom of Our Fathers, a duo for saxophone and trumpet with piano in three movements, each with titles worthy of Ben Franklin maxims.  That work is destined to become a holiday favorite alongside works by Sousa.

The Symphonic Poems
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Karl Krueger, conductor
ISBN# 0 90404 90892 7
My delight of the week!  This is a remastered digital release of historic recordings from 1958-1970, made in cooperation with The Library of Congress.  Beautiful clear crisp sound on this CD, as if the orchestra were being recorded live.  MacDowell's popularity has waned a bit with the taste for the "relevant."  Is historic poetry relevant?  If your answer is yes, then clearly this music will be relevant to you as well, symphonic poems based on stories and themes of classic mythology - channeled straight through the center of the Romantic music idioms.  These stories and references would have been understood by all audience members.  Along with pop-star virtuosos, orchestral works like these were the core of popular concert music in the late 1800s. 

Thank you again to intern Chris Grindley for his work on this blog.  He moves on now to bigger things, but we're grateful for his contribution while he was here.
Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

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