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Italian Soprano Arias
Maria Luigia Borsi, soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
Yves Abel, conductor

Naxos 8.573412

Appearing here in her debut solo album, Italian lyric soprano Maria Luigia Borsi has been acclaimed for her ‘grace, beauty, animation and variety’ (The Sunday Times). Her ‘Willow Song’ from Verdi’s Otello has been described as ‘gorgeously sung’ (Opera News), and her role in Puccini’s Turandot as demonstrating ‘extraordinary communicative skills’ (Opera Magazine). This program includes some of the most moving and dramatic arias from Italian opera, including the tragic heartbreak of Madama Butterfly and the shimmering beauty of Catalani’s Ebben?



Panufnik & Lutoslawski: String Quartets
Tippett Quartet
Naxos 8.573164

2014 is the centenary year of Andrzej Panufnik and, while his orchestral music has received attention, his innovative string quartets remain neglected. Bittersweet harmonies characterize the First Quartet. The Second Quartet, whose subtitle ‘Messages’ refers to the mysterious sounds of telegraph poles vibrating in the wind, is notable for its motivic coherence and emotional intensity. The Third Quartet, subtitled ‘Wycinanki’, a reference to paper cuts familiar in Polish rustic art, ends with one of Panufnik’s most moving statements. LutosÅ‚awski’s dramatic and experimental String Quartet was written when he was at the forefront of the European avant-garde.



Kenneth Fuchs: Works for Baritone Voice & Orchestra
Roderick Williams, baritone
London Symphony Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Naxos 8.559753

Kenneth Fuchs, one of America’s leading composers, deepens his bond with conductor JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra with this superb recording of vocal music featuring baritone Roderick Williams. The new works include Falling Man, a dramatic scena based on the powerful post-9/11 novel by Don DeLillo; Movie House, a cycle featuring settings of seven poems by John Updike; and Songs of Innocence and of Experience, four settings from William Blake’s iconic two-part illustrated collection of poems. Fuchs’s music continues to find its visual counterpart in the work of Abstract Expressionist artist Helen Frankenthaler, whose art adorns the cover of this disc.




Rimsky-Korsakov: Sheherezade
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Chandos Records CHSA 5145

Recording with Chandos for the first time, this album marks the beginning of a new partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. A regular presence in concert halls throughout the US and Canada, this recording also comes as the TSO embarks, in August, on its first European tour since 2000 under the baton of Peter Oundjian, who this year celebrates his tenth anniversary as Music Director. He also conducts in this performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever-popular symphonic suite Sheherazade.



Verdi: Songs
Ramon Vargas, tenor
Capriccio C5170

Ramón Vargas is one of the leading tenors of our time and one of the most sought-after worldwide. His breakthrough came in 1983 with the Mexican conductor Eduardo Mata. His international debut came in 1992, when the Met Opera asked him to sing Edgardo, substituting Pavarotti. His La Scala stage debut soon followed, where he again sang Fenton under Riccardo Muti. He now regularly performs at all the world’s major opera houses to great acclaim. In addition to his operatic career, he is also an accomplished concert singer, with an extensive repertoire ranging from Italian classical songs to romantic German Lieder and melodies by French, Mexican and Spanish composers from the 19th-20th centuries.



Bartók: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2
Barnabas Kelemen, violin
Zoltan Jocsis, piano

Hungaraton HSACD32515

Béla Bartók’s two sonatas for violin and piano were conceived in the wake of the isolation of World War I, in pursuit of ‘keeping in touch’. Between 1920 and 1923, when these works were published, Bartók traveled around Europe, gave recitals, gathered impressions of fresh musical trends and met the audiences of Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Schoenberg, the young French composers and other Moderns. He eventually began producing sketches for these works, and was inspiration toward completion after meeting the d’Arányi sisters in Budapest in late 1921.



From A Bird
John Williams, guitar
JCW Recordings JCW1

Many years ago in the country south of Melbourne, Australia, I heard a honeyeater sing a song - as one does. The time was memorable because it had a very nice, simple rhythm with very precise musical notes: it was exactly as I put it at the beginning of the first of the four From a Bird pieces and it seemed to ask for some development. The only other title which has any meaning is Hello Francis, which is a homage to a dear friend and great African musician, Francis Bebey from Cameroon: in this I use one of his favorite rhythms, the makossa. The remainder of the titles are simply my effort to call the pieces something less boring than just numbers - except of course the Irish tunes, which are all traditional and well known. – John Williams



J.S. Bach: Complete Edition
Various artists
Brilliant Classics BRI94940

157 CDs representing the entirety of Johann Sebastian Bach’s oeuvre in historically informed performances. This includes all 200 sacred cantatas recorded for Brilliant Classics on period instruments and sung by the Holland Boys Choir. Also featured are performances by such outstanding soloists and ensembles as: Christoph Prégardien, Lynne Dawson, Pieter-Jan Belder, Emma Kirkby, Lucia Popp, Michael Chance, Edith Mathis, Jaap ter Linden, Johannette Zomer, Bob van Asperen, Diego Fasolis, Peter Schreier, Mark Lubotsky, The Choir of King’s College (Stephen Cleobury), Vienna State Opera Chorus, Coro della Radio Svizzera, Lugano; Holland Boys Choir, the English Chamber Orchestra, Musica Amphion, Brandenburg Consort, and more.



Mozart: Complete Edition
Various artists
Brilliant Classics BRI95010

170 CDs representing the entirety of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s oeuvre in historically informed performances. This includes all the concertos, chamber music, divertimenti, sonatas and, of course, the operas.



Kissin: The Gift of Music
Evgeny Kissin, piano
Christopher Nupen Films A18CND

A film by Christopher Nupen with the Russian master pianist who has taken the classical music world by storm. The film shows Kissin in preparation, interview, rehearsal and performance with several dazzling performances shot live on stage, in true concert conditions, where this captivating artist is undoubtedly at his best. The film also contains footage from Kissin's memorable Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall in August 1997. This was the first Prom in the 103-year history of the Promenade Concerts to be given by a solo recitalist and it attracted the biggest audience in all of those 103 years; very nearly six thousand people.




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