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Friday, March 15, 2013

Just Opened - March 15, 2013

Songs of the Spirit, and of the Earth is our theme today with a variety of compositions that either intentionally or unintentionally evoke a search of the soul, in a variety of musical forms.

ERIC WHITACRE
Water Night
Eric Whitacre Singers
London Symphony Orchestra
L.DECCA 16636
ISBN # 6 02527 96323 5
Whitacre's choral works are incredibly popular, with a blend of new age tonalities, precision choral work, an equally imprecise religiousity, and the kind of orchestrations and arrangements that make modern film music hit the right emotional peaks, feel larger-than-life, but also feel a teeny tiny bit formulaic or technical.  But realistically, these elements are what make for large-scale popularity that transcend the normal choral or orchestral boundaries.   If you like the music of John Rutter, Whitacre's compositions strike me as Rutter-lite, a bit more pop, a bit more glitzy...hmmm.  I have it!  Here's the proper analogy:  the music of Rutter is to the music of Whitacre, as the music of Lerner and Lowe is to the music of Lloyd-Webber.  Fortunately, Whitacre is apparently a top of the line conductor - from the unified precision of the Eric Whitacre Singers, then... add in the excellence of the London Symphony Orchestra, and while it's definitely a "package deal,"  it's a good solid package.
 
JOSEPH HAYDN
The 7 Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross
Rosamunde Quartett
ECM 1756
ISBN# not available
Haydn's 7 quartets for 2 violins, viola and cello are rarely performed, and are an especially welcome counterpoint in the Easter repertoire as a break from the extensive repertoire of choral work for the season.  This extended group of serious works are just the sort of thing we'd expect from ECM who have carved out a large niche in early music, original instruments, and rarely performed works, performed with seriousness and excellence... like this one.  A marvelous addition to any library of great works for the Easter season.

ALAN HOVHANESS
Martin Berkovsky, piano
The Historic Moscow Recordings
CRISTOFORI CF 889
ISBN# 0 09414 78892 4
Hovhaness became known for his works which explore both spirituality and universalism.  With diverse influences of world music, gregorian chant, polyphony, and pre-even tempered tunings, Hovhaness put all this musical knowledge to use in creating works that evoke a larger rhelm of the spirit.  Berkovsky has increasingly found this to resonate with his personal leanings, and has turned this into beautiful, meaningful performances.  Hovhaness is not for the faint of heart, but the exploration is richly rewarding.

CLASSICAL MASTERPIECES for
FLUTE & GUITAR
Laurel Zucker, flute
Mark Delpriora, guitar
CANTILENA RECORDS 66038
ISBN# 7 57166 60382 7
An easy pick for my Delight of the Week.  Another from the incredibly large and diverse CD catalogue of Laurel Zucker.  Always reliable for musicality and interpretation, the selections on this CD are particularly accessible, works by Schubert, Diabelli and Giuliani. 

ROBERT SCHUMANN
Lieder
Christian Hilz, baritone
Marianne Beate Kielland, mezzo
Katia Bouscarrut, piano
AVIE 2134
ISBN# not available
The lieder of Schumann are a staple for accomplished singers, and what good fortune that these two voices that blend so well have found each other in this music, for the rare treat of sharing the duets that are the culmination of this CD.

Tune in next week for more new CDs, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

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