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Milhaud: L’Orestie d’Eschyle
University  of Michigan Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Kiesler, conductor

Naxos 8.660349-51

The Oresteia of Aeschylus trilogy arose from his lifelong interest in Greek mythology and drama, inspired by the expressive, syncopated rhythms of Paul Claudel’s poetic texts. In addition to innovative rhythmic elements, the trilogy exhibits complex harmonic techniques, particularly polytonality, which Milhaud believed gave him more varied ways of expressing sweetness in addition to violence.



Poulenc: Ballet Suites
Jean-Pierre Armengaud, piano
Naxos 8.573170

This program brings together première recordings of Francis Poulenc’s own piano versions of his ‘ballet of atmosphere’ Les Biches and ‘choreographic concerto’ Aubade, as well as the first digital recording of the suite from Les Animaux modèles, inspired by the fables of La Fontaine and compiled by Grant Johannesen with the composer’s agreement. ‘Piano scores’ are an essential part of rehearsing and choreographing any ballet, but the piano was also indispensable to Poulenc’s compositional process. He owed his love of classical dance to years of working closely with Dyaghilev, and his music brims with subtlety, humor, genuine emotion, piquant harmonies and rhythmic lightness.



Bartok: Kossuth
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Naxos 8.573307

All three of the works in this program reveal a young composer on the threshold of greatness, serving as his passport to the vast new world of orchestral music prevailing at the beginning of the 20th century. Inspired by the tone poems of Richard Strauss, Bartók’s Kossuth dramatically commemorates the struggle for Hungarian independence in 1848 with an alluring and provocative orchestration. The Two Portraits set moods of love and painful heartbreak into stark contrast, while the First Suite is a showcase of symphonic effects which caused a sensation in Vienna at its première in 1905.




Chopin: Mazurkas
Janina Fialkowska, piano
ATMA Classiques ACD2 2682

The legendary Arthur Rubinstein called her “a born Chopin interpreter.” Now, Janina Fialkowska returns with a two CD set devoted to the complete mazurkas of Frédéric Chopin. This recording by one of the world’s great Chopin interpreters at the culmination of her long and celebrated career will be a milestone for music lovers, and especially for connoisseurs of Chopin’s works. Beloved the world over for her exquisite pianism, Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyricism, her sterling musicianship and her profound sense of musical integrity.



Stella di Napoli
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Erato 2564636562

Following the success of her crowd-sourced ‘Best Of’ collection “reJoyce” and her electrifying ‘Drama Queens’ album of Baroque arias, Joyce DiDonato returns to her heartland repertoire to celebrate the birth of Bel Canto opera in 19th c. Naples. On Stella di Napoli (Star of Naples), the American mezzo-soprano’s creamy tone and dramatic prowess breathe new life into little-known arias by Mercadante, Michele Carafa (a student of Cherubini and close friend of Rossini), Carlo Valentini and the prolific opera composer Giovanni Pacini, whose Stella di Napoli (1845) gives the album its title. Joyce worked closely with Italian conductor Riccardo Minasi (whose previous projects include Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli) to bring three unjustly neglected arias to light in new editions and world premiere recordings.



Hvorostovsky: The Bells of Dawn
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
The Grand Choir ‘Masters of Choral Singing’
Lev Kontorovich, conductor

Ondine ODE 1238-2

Ondine’s third release with star baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is devoted to Russian sacred works and folk songs. The prestigious Russian Grand Choir ‘Masters of Choral Singing’, conducted by Lev Kontorovich accompanies Mr. Hvorostovsky. The title song of the album Georgy Sviridov’s (1915–1998) Bells of Dawn, is an atmospheric song creating an almost otherworldly and remote soundscape. Dmitri Hvorostovsky was born and studied in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.



Bruckner 3
Orchestre Metropolitain
Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor

ATMA Classiques ACD2 2700

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain turn their attention to the Austrian master Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 for the sixth CD in their Bruckner symphony cycle on ATMA Classique. Their previous Bruckner symphony recordings have been met with unanimous praise around the world, and Nézet-Séguin is making a name for himself as a superb Bruckner conductor.



Alison Balsom, trumpet
Warner Classics 2564632789

One of today’s most in-demand classical music personalities, English trumpeter Alison Balsom shares her love of Paris on this new solo album. The first British woman to win Gramophone Magazine’s Artist of the Year award, Ms. Balsom brings to bear her glamour, poise and dazzling virtuosity with a selection of music written in and inspired by the world’s most romantic city. Accessible yet surprising, the program ranges from 20th c. French composers to jazz to popular chanson française, all arranged for trumpet.



Maria Callas, soprano
Warner Classics 2564633994

The Complete Studio Recordings: Maria Callas’s complete discography, painstakingly re-mastered using the original tapes, includes a deluxe complete box set of her complete opera and recital recordings, individual recordings, a compilation, two vinyl releases and a digital product suite. This album, Maria Callas: Pure, is just one of the 13 recital albums re-mastered for this release.



The Berliner Philharmoniker in Tokyo: Suntory Hall
Hilary Hahn, violin
Berliner Philharmoniker
Mariss Jansons, conductor

Euroarts 2020248

For years the Berlin Philharmonic have been famous for their acclaimed Japan concerts. Performing under conductor Mariss Jansons in this live recording from 2000, they rekindled a long-standing relationship that began in 1976. Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, featuring two-time Grammy winning soloist Hilary Hahn, is rendered with poise, elegance and demoniac vigor. Weber’s charming, zesty Oberon overture and Dvorák’s Eighth Symphony, executed with Bohemian-esque lyricism and verve, frame the concerto.



Baptiste Trotignon, piano
Naive NJ624411

When the gesture of “hitting” is multiplied and organizes itself into a coherent musical discourse, it generates an infinite diversity of rhythms and playing modes; it’s the way you accentuate a given phrase/note/harmony that brings those rhythms to life. One of the dimensions of Hit is that the program was conceived as a series of games around these accents, whether it’s in writing or improvising, in voluble and brilliant moments or the most melodic and meditative ballads. This album is a mix of multiple sources of inspiration, lovingly connected to Afro-American music. - Baptiste Trotignon




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