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Elements Eternal
Gryphon Trio
Julie Nesrallah, mezzo-soprano

Naxos 8.573533

The four works that constitute the new Naxos release Elements Eternal are some of the best of many new works commissioned by the internationally acclaimed and award-winning Gryphon Trio, founded in Toronto in 1993 and today one of the world’s leading piano trios. Brian Current’s These Begin to Catch Fire was inspired by patterns of brilliant sunlight reflecting off the waters of Lake Muskoka, while Andrew Staniland’s Solstice Songs is a lyrical exploration of time’s universal markers, described by the composer as ‘the poetry of sound’. Michael Oesterle’s Centennials is a tribute to three individuals – Julia Child, Conlon Nancarrow and Jackson Pollock – who would each have celebrated their 100th birthdays in 2012, and James K. Wright’s song cycle was inspired by Beethoven’s passionate letters to his eternally mysterious “Immortal Beloved”.



Beck: Symphonies, Op. 2
Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra
Kevin Mallon, conductor

Naxos 8.573323

Franz Ignaz Beck is increasingly acknowledged as one of the most forward-looking and inventive of mid-18th c. symphonists. A student of the celebrated Johann Stamitz, Beck was trained in Mannheim, a focal point of new approaches to orchestral writing. Although small in scale, his Op. 2 set includes some of the most striking and harmonically daring works of their kind from the period. Further Beck Symphonies may be heard on Naxos 8.553790, 8.554071, 8.570799, 8.573248 and 8.573249. Founded in 1976, Thirteen Strings is one of Canada’s leading chamber orchestras. Its repertoire is diverse, covering music from the baroque era to the 21st c. The Irish conductor Kevin Mallon became concertmaster with Le Concert Spirituel and Les Arts Florissants in Paris and led and directed The Irish Baroque Orchestra before moving to Canada to take up posts with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the University of Toronto. In 1999 he founded the Aradia Ensemble, with whom he has toured widely and has made over 50 recordings for Naxos. In 2010 Mallon was appointed Music Director of Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.



Baroque Moments
Amadeus Guitar Duo
Naxos 8.573440

J.S. Bach’s Italian Concerto and monumental Chaconne (heard here in the Ferruccio Busoni’s famous transcription) form the cornerstones of this disc of Baroque favorites performed on two guitars by the Amadeus Guitar Duo. A typically festive Vivaldi opening precedes a sublime Sarabande-like middle movement before a virtuosic, dramatic and entertaining ending. One of Vivaldi’s most-played compositions, and best known today in its version for guitar and string orchestra, this duo guitar arrangement is the work of Frank Gerstmeier. Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation, a work inspired by the organ transcriptions of J.S. Bach, illustrates further how adept the Amadeus Guitar Duo is at reinventing these popular pieces for its own medium. Recent celebrants of 25 years together, the Amadeus Guitar Duo – Canadian Dale Kavanagh and her German partner Thomas Kirchhoff – are today regarded as one of the pre-eminent international guitar duos, receiving enthusiastic reviews from critics worldwide. The Amadeus Guitar Duo has to date performed over 1,300 concerts all over the world, and are renowned for their exuberant temperament, virtuoso performance, sensitive interpretations and warm guitar tone.




Mozart’s Magical Night
Helen Grimaud, piano
Jennifer Larmore, narrator
Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra

Atlantic Crossing Records ACR0005

When Mozart is seven years old, he is invited by Prince Maximilian to perform in the Nymphenburg palace in Munich. Captivated by the lakes, waterfalls, and pavilions of the palace gardens he slips out after the concert to explore the intriguing park. Unexpectedly, he meets a girl who lives on the grounds of the palace and together they discover the wonders of the palace gardens. As they stroll through the park, Mozart reveals secrets about his life and music. Hélène Grimaud’s poetic interpretation of Mozart’s music combines with opera star Jennifer Larmore’s enchanting narration to create an exquisite midsummer night’s dream. Ms. Larmore has performed at virtually every major opera house. Her vast discography of over 100 recordings has garnered seven GRAMMY® nominations and two awards. Pianist Hèléne Grimaud’s has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras. Her recordings have been critically acclaimed and awarded numerous accolades. Author, composer, producer and Fulbright Scholar Kim Maerkl has had her works performed in concert halls and theaters throughout Europe, and published in Germany, Switzerland and America.



Festival au Grand-Orgue
Dom Richard Gagne, organ
ATMA Classique ACD2 2704

The album Festival au Grand-Orgue features organist and Benedictine monk Dom Richard Gagné in a wide range of pieces by various composers: Gesualdo, Purcell, Bach, and Scott Joplin, among many others. Reflecting diverse instrumental groupings, the original works have been or were adapted and transcribed for the organ largely by Mr. Gagné, as well as others including Biggs, Fox and Duruflé. Dom Richard Gagné entered the Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, where the album was recorded on a Karl Wilhelm organ, in 1976 and was ordained a priest there in 1984. While pursuing his monastic and theological training, he was also mentored on the organ and trained in improvisation. Dom Gagné has been heard frequently in concert throughout Quebec, and Radio-Canada has broadcast many of his organ improvisations. He is currently choirmaster and organist of l’Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac.



Super Audio Collection, Vol. 8
Various artists
Linn AKP537

The eighth volume in the Linn Collection series features a selection of tracks encompassing the latest releases from the label’s catalog of award-winning artists. The collection opens with Nothing’s Changed, an original song by the charismatic Joe Stilgoe. Via Haydn and Chopin, Gottlieb Wallisch and Ingrid Fliter represent Linn’s stable of pianists. Five-star review recipients Thomas Søndergård and Robin Ticciati are heard to conduct Sibelius and Schumann respectively. And John Butt’s solo outing of Bach’s famous ‘48’ was named ‘Outstanding’ by the Int’l Record Review.



Strauss & Wagner: Lieder
Adrianne Pieczonka, soprano
Brian Zeger, piano

Delos DE 3474

Praised for her “impeccably pure and iridescent voice” (Financial Times), soprano Adrianne Pieczonka is primarily known for her vocally opulent and interpretively intense Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner opera performances– though her vocal and stylistic versatility enables her to be at home in dramatic operatic roles by Verdi, Puccini and others. Her first Delos release is constituted of a varied program of Richard Strauss and Wagner songs. Strauss created 158 lieder for soprano voice in total; many of the dozen heard here are among his true masterpieces. The opera specialist Wagner, on the other hand, wrote far fewer songs than Strauss. Best-known among them are the five ecstatically romantic Wesendonck-Lieder, a masterpiece among Lieder cycles. Accompanying Ms. Pieczonka is Brian Zeger, a pianist whose technical finesse and interpretive sensitivity mark him as one of the great collaborators of our time.



In An Ambient Way
Chesky Records JD372

Powerhouse is a jazz super group that set its sights on interpreting Miles Davis’ groundbreaking album In A Silent Way using modern recording technology and sonic textures as a contribution to the improvisation. Not only is the texture of the room taken into consideration, but also the prime placement of each instrument within the sound matrix, all of which added to the input of inspiration that makes the music more alive and interactive. This recording embraces many elements of the jazz world: the perpetual idea of using technology to improve the world around you that Miles Davis made so clear; the continuation of the generational passing of knowledge through actual living situations; the spontaneous nature of improvised music; and, above all, the desire to discover new things, to improve, develop and add a new dimension to the listening experience for all music lovers.



Chocolate City: London (Vinyl + CD + DVD)
George Clinton
Metropolis MR1504

“In his 70s heyday, Clinton took James Brown’s musical revolution to the outer limits of the musical cosmos. His outrageous, jamtastic brain-melting innovations peaked with [the] prophetic 1975 Parliament classic Chocolate City. Recorded last year, this stunning tribute has George, 73, leading his mighty band through a deliciously heady blend of jazz invention, rock overkill, Gospel sanctity, and much, much more” – Daily Mirror (The Ticket) “One weekend in 2014, the P-Funk genius George Clinton took residence at the legendary Metropolis Studios in West London… the P-Funk legend performed an intimate show in front of 100 fans with numerous veterans of the classic line up, alongside very special guest Joss Stone. The result being Chocolate City: London, which pays homage to the seminal 1975 album… The deluxe multi format box set created in the style of a classic box of quality chocolates features limited edition milk chocolate and white chocolate marbled live vinyl – the highest possible quality form of recording there is, cut the day after the live show in Metropolis’ infamous Studio – an ultimate treat for funk loving audiophiles.” (MusosGuide)



By The Red: Folk Songs from the Red River Valley
Various artists
Big Round Records BR8940

On their debut Ravello Records release, By The Red, pianist Laura Loewen and baritone Mel Braun – joined by Fred Redekop and Jay Taylor (Big and Dinky) – present a glimpse of the variety of folk music found in Manitoba’s Red River Valley. Drawn from French Canadian, Metis, German Mennonite, Scots, and cowboy culture, and supplemented by the art song-like settings of John Greer, Larry Warkentin, Chester Duncan, Robert Turner, and Heidi Ugrin, these works, dramatic and nostalgic, relate stories that 200 years of life in the Red River Valley have generated.




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