The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, December 18, 2015

Just Opened, December 18, 2015 - Christmas Music!

A wide variety of Christmas music and new releases today.  For your holiday gift lists and listening for years to come!

Lyrical Strings Duo
Lucie Zalesakova, violin
Stephen Osserman, guitar
ISBN#8 89211 67389 6
My Delight of the Week!  I have such a crush on this CD that I have all ready given it as a present.   Interpretations of mostly piano works, re-imagined for guitar and violin, mostly by Eastern European composers, including little known works like Martinu's "Puppets" and some showstoppers like Wieniawski's "Legend."  There is a uniformity of sound to these works - due to regional origin and perhaps national musical temperments - that many will find especially appealing as background music, the majority of these works are on the soothing, dark chocolate side.  But, of course, the exceptional blend of these two, and their arrangements and interpretation make each work (or set of works) worth repeated and intentional listening, and their interpretations may very well inform the interpretation of future soloists.

Couch End Festival Chorus
City of Prague Philharmonic Orch.
ISBN#7 38572 60492 9
Gift Giver's Delight!  If you enjoy great choral music in traditional arrangements for the season, this set is sure to please.  The Crouch End Festival Chorus is one of Britain's Formost Symphonic Choirs, based in north London.  This set of traditional works is large symphonic settings with magnificent choir is bound to be on your playlist for years to come.  [This CD is all ready temporarily sold out on some major online outlets, but do a websearch, and it is still available through many.]

Complete Ballet arr. for Solo Piano
Stewart Goodyear, piano (and arranger)
ISBN#0 34062 30040 2
Sound check article/review
Stewart Goodyear says that he has been listening to Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker since his childhood.  His love of the music, and his love and expertise as a pianist, drove him to create his own arrangement of it for solo piano.  He felt that many of the existing arrangements were missing something, and he went back to the score to create a solo piano version that captured the complexity and nuance of the orchestration.  It is said that any great pianist (or soloist) seeks to create an orchestral sound from his/her single instrument, and here we have an internationally renowned soloist in a labor of love to create arrangements that bring that concept of an orchestral piano to fruition.  As with many piano "reductions" of beloved orchestral works, not every section of the work fares as well in this transition, and for some, the absence of the orchestra will simply be a bridge too far.  What is striking in Goodyear's arrangement and performance is a gleeful recognition that this is as much an intellectual exercise and feat of musicianship for Goodyear, and what a joy that so much of it works in a way that is fully satisfying.

Sacred Choral Music of
Michael John Trotta (comp./cond.)
New York Repertory Singers
ISBN#6   37230 77769 5
New Choral Works for the New Year by Trotta, whom Fanfare has called "one of the most exciting and prominent composers of choral music" and Choir & Organ praises his "elegant, singable music with strong spirtual heft."

Terry Barber, counter tenor
featuring Denyce Graves, soprano
2TOURS special release
ISBN#8 88295 35432 5
Available online (including through his website), Counter-tenor Terry Barber has taken selections from two tours, "Christmas Presence" and "Around the World in 80 Minutes" to provide a surprisingly cohesive program of new and traditional Christmas songs, and traditional, well known songs from around the world - all in beautiful arrangments.

Owen Rees, cond.
Choir of the Queen's College, Oxford
AVIE 2345
ISBN#8 22252 23452 7
Rees is organist (Director of Music), a Fellow in Music, and Director of the Music Department at Queen's College.  He has recorded on several labels, and performed internationally.  Queens Choir at Oxford is one of the foremost University Choirs in Britain (and given Britain's choral preeminence internationally, consequently also one of the foremost in the world).  The have toured the world to great acclaim, and have a strenuous weekly performance schedule in services alongside their academic schedule. If you like the more intimate sound of a smaller, excellent church choir (as opposed to a symphonic choir), this will be just your cup of tea!

I hope you've found your own personal musical delight here or in the previous weeks as we've opened up new Holiday releases.   We'll be back in January with more new releases, next week we have many holiday specials.   Have a lovely Christmas and New Year!
Kara Dahl Russell

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