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Poulenc: Choral Music
Elora Festival Singers
Noel Edison, conductor

Naxos 8.572978

Brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, which he abandoned in 1917 following the death of his father, Poulenc returned to the Church in 1936 after the death of his close friend and fellow composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud. Together these events caused a spiritual crisis in Poulenc’s life which led to a series of important compositions for chorus. The powerful Mass in G major, dedicated to the memory of his father, is notable for its daring use of tonality, though the playfulness of Poulenc’s ‘Les Six’ period is not absent. In the Sept Chansons, set to surrealist texts, and in the two sets of Motets—both very personal and penitential—Poulenc generates a huge range of emotion.



Aaron Jay Kernis: Three Flavors
Andrew Russo, piano
James Ehnes, violin
Albany Symphony Orchestra
David Alan Miller, conductor

Naxos 8.559711

Winner of the coveted 2002 Grawemeyer Award and one of the youngest composers ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Aaron Jay Kernis is among the most distinguished musical figures of his generation. Conceived as a concerto for toy piano and orchestra, and with touches of Indonesian gamelan, French lyricism and jazz, Three Flavors appears here in its final version, adapted by soloist and long-term collaborator Andrew Russo. Commissioned for renowned violinist James Ehnes, the introspective Two Movements (with Bells) is a memorial to the composer’s father with echoes of blues singing and improvisatory impetuousness, while the virtuoso Superstar Etude No. 3 is his homage to Gershwin and the blues.



Rossini: Guillaume Tell
Andrew Foster-Williams
Michael Spyres
Judith Howarth
Camerata Bach Choir

Naxos 8.660363-66

Performed for the first time in its original uncut version, this four-plus hour-long production of Guillaume Tell was the jewel in the crown of the 25-year history of the ‘Rossini in Wildbad’ opera festival. Rossini’s final, great, operatic masterpiece, based upon the libretto by Victor Joseph Étienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Louis Florent Bis after Friedrich Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell and Claris de Florian’s Guillaume Tell, is a story of liberation, the oppressed Swiss attaining their ideal of emancipation by hounding the tyrannical Habsburgs out of their country. Although it was composed for the complex demands of the Paris Opéra, numerous dances, choruses and arias were dropped for reasons of practicality. These are restored in the present recording which also includes the stunning finale of the shorter 1831 version of the opera, to be found on Disc Four.




Hvorostovsky: Wait for Me
Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Constantine Orbelian
Novaya Opera Orchestra

Delos DE3475

A nostalgia-inspiring survey drawn from the extensive body of popular Russian WWII-era songs, this album is the sequel to two all-time favorite Delos titles: Where Are You, My Brothers and Moscow Nights. These sentimental, melancholic, and passionate songs have a strong global appeal, expressing as they do the universal themes and feelings common to soldiers the world over. Operatic superstar baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky delivers these musical mainstays of Russian culture with relaxed classical technique and the kind of refined, yet soulful and deeply affecting emotional impact that have made his concerts of these pieces wildly popular all across Russia and around the world. Constantine Orbelian leads the superb Novaya Opera Orchestra and the renowned Ministry of Internal Affairs Chorus – with flavorful idiomatic touches from the unique Style of Five Ensemble of authentic Russian folk instruments.



Bala Brothers
Bala Brothers
Warner Classics 2564615695

These three extraordinary brothers from South Africa - Loyiso, Zwai and Phelo - combine operatic voices, rich harmonies, R&B energy and traditional South African melodies and rhythms into something entirely unique. They broke the color barrier of the famous Drakensberg Boys' Choir during the depths of Apartheid, they headlined at the Cape Town Stadium tribute to Nelson Mandela in 2013, and here they perform an inspiring live program of music ranging from the Lion King to Paul Simon, in their hometown Johannesburg’s beautiful Lyric Theatre.  As a tribute to the late South African President Mandela, the Bala Brothers perform the Labi Siffre classic, “Something Inside So Strong” a moving moment in the program made all the more poignant by the presence of Winnie Mandela in the audience.



Tundra Songs
Kronos Quartet
Tanya Tagaq

Centrediscs CMCCD21015

Always at the forefront, seeking the new and pushing to its limits the boundaries of the traditional string quartet, it is no surprise the Kronos Quartet sought out Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq for another collaboration with Canadian composer Derek Charke. Tagaq’s guttural, highly intimate, primal sounds date back to her ancestors. She has turned these sounds into an art form that has enthralled audiences the world over. Pursuing a singular artistic vision for more than 40 years, the Kronos Quartet has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time.



Angels Sing: Libera in America
Warner Classics 2564617267

Libera, the celestial-sounding, chart-topping boys' choir, recorded a live concert for CD and DVD in Washington, D.C. at the spectacular Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. With Libera in America, the young Londoners pay tribute to their host country with a characteristic blend of sacred and secular music in both the classical and popular traditions, bringing together innovative textures, meditative solos and shimmering, ecstatic choral harmonies.



Telemann Edition
Various Artists
Brilliant Classics BRI95150

Exalted as Bach’s equal in his lifetime and considered one of the greatest German composers of the early 18th c., Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767), after reputational decline in the 19th c., is today almost as highly regarded as he was in his own lifetime; the large number of new recordings on this 50CD edition paying tribute to the flurry of interest that has grown around the composer in the past 30 years. After starting his career in Leipzig, he became Kapellmeister in Sorau (now Zary, Poland), where by his own estimation he wrote over 200 overtures, imbued with the Polish and French influences of the court that surrounded him. These cornerstones of his output make up a large part of this box.



Sinkovsky Plays and Sings Vivaldi
Dmitry Sinkovsky, violin
La Voce Strumentale

Naïve OP30559

An auspicious meeting with the early music pioneer Maria Leonhardt convinced the then recent (2005) Moscow Conservatory graduate and virtuoso violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky to change course and concentrate on historical performance practices. In 2007, Mr. Sinkovsky decided to seriously pursue his talent as a countertenor as well. His unusual, remarkable array of talents are all featured on this new Naïve release of Vivaldi instrumental and vocal works, including ‘The Four Seasons’, on which he performs with La Voce Strumentale, the ensemble which, incidentally, he founded in 2011.



Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle
Orhestre de Chambre de Paris
Ottavio Dantone
Julie Lezhneva
Delphine Galou
Michael Spyres
Alexander Vinogradov

Naïve V5409

After Il barbiere di Siviglia, the Petite Messe solennelle is Gioacchino Rossini’s most celebrated composition. Composed 1862-64, the highly unusual Petite Messe solennelle comes from Rossini’s final creative period, divided from his career as an operatic composer by an interval of nearly thirty years and by a radical questioning of the purpose of composition, which was accompanied by an equally spectacular renewal of his musical style. The Petite Messe solennelle was founded as homage to Louis Niedermeyer (d. 1861), Swiss musician and close friend of Rossini’s, as recent research has established. For this live recording from 2014, the forces of the orchestre de chambre de Paris and conductor Ottavio Dantone were joined by four outstanding vocal soloists: Soprano Julia Lezhneva, Contralto Delphine Galou, tenor Michael Spyres and bass Alexander Vinogradov.




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11:41:02 PM, 31 March 2015
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