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Sor: 24 Progessive Lessons & 6 Little Pieces

Sor: 24 Progessive Lessons & 6 Little Pieces
Norbert Kraft, guitar
Jeffrey McFadden, guitar

Naxos 8.573624

Fernando Sor was not only one of the great guitarists of his era but a major composer for the instrument, described by a contemporary critic as "the Beethoven of the guitar". His desire for the guitar to representa miniature orchestra in timbre is a distinctive feature of his many compositions. The 24 Progressive Lessons, Op. 31 offer a panoramic lexicon for the student, moving froma simple waltz to perpetual motion, whilst the charming Six Little Pieces, Op. 32 further explore technical efficiency and musical expressiveness.


Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6
Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor

Naxos 8.573518

Prokofiev started work on his Sixth Symphony in 1945 and, unlike the victorious mood of the Fifth, it reveals a darker response to war and its consequences. The work was condemned by the "Zhdanov decree" but composer and critics regarded the symphony highly, the noble yet anguished threnody of its central largo balanced by the painful violence of the outer movements. The work's ending has been described as "one of the most shattering in the repertoire". With themes both capricious and sensuous, the Waltz suite recycles material from earlier scores to create a remarkably effective quasi-symphonic entity.


Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion Week
The Clarion Choir
Steven Fox, conductor

Naxos 8.573665

Passion Week is a long-lost choral masterpiece composed by Rimsky-Korsakov's favorite student, heir apparent and son-in-law, Maximilian Steinberg. A product of his interest in the sacred and mystical, it is a tour de force of the systematic use of medieval Church Slavonic chant melodies and shares with Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil the colorful use of choral textures. Steinberg's settings are complex and rich, with a diverse and sometimes daring harmonic pallette, offering eleven movements of distinctive and expressive content that reveal an artist's search for at a time of increasing hostility to religion.




Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650, Vol. 1

Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650, Vol. 1
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Coro COR16142

The music of Monteverdi is revolutionary, heralding in the Baroque era. For the first time, with Monteverdi’s compositions, deep personal emotion was being heard in sacred vocal works. This collection was released after the composers death as the Messa a Quattro voci et salmi, and was composed during Monteverdi’s time serving as director of music at St. Mark’s in Venice. The Sixteen has gained critical acclaim for their previous recordings of Monteverdi’s work, including a Grammy nomination for the ensemble’s 2014 recording of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.


Hvorostovsky Sings of War, Peace, Love & Sorrow

Hvorostovsky Sings of War, Peace, Love & Sorrow
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
Constantine Orbelian, conductor
State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia

Delos DE 3517

The incomparable Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky — best known internationally for his Verdi roles — makes a powerful return to operatic masterpieces of his homeland. Leading this gripping album of Russian arias and scenes is Hvorostovsky’s frequent collaborator, Constantine Orbelian. We are treated to the vibrant opening scene from Prokofiev’s War and Peace, as well as popular arias from Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa, Iolanta and Queen of Spades. We also get a seldom-heard rarity: virtually the entire final dramatic scene from Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon.


Brahms: The Violin Sonatas

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas
Christian Tetzlaff
Lars Vogt

Ondine ODE 1284-2

This exciting new program of Violin Sonatas by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) comes from award-winning violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt as the latest volume in their highly successful series of violin chamber works. These sonatas were composed between 1878 and 1888, and are among the greatest 19th century chamber music masterpieces. . This release also features a Scherzo movement from the F. A. E. Sonata, which was Brahms’ contribution to a composite sonata with Albert Dietrich and Robert Schumann in 1853. Christian Tetzlaff maintains an extensive performance schedule and is one of the world’s leading international violinists.


Nino Rota: Chamber Music

Nino Rota: Chamber Music
Various Artists
Briliant Classics BRI95237

While Nino Rota (1911-1979) is widely known as one of Italy’s most famous film composers, he also wrote a great deal of classical works. His eclectic style hints at neoclassicism and bits and pieces of late-romantic nostalgia. This new recording shows Rota’s classical writing skills with his Clarinet Sonata, Clarinet Trio, incidental music for clarinet solo and the Variations and Fugue in 12 keys on the name of B.A.C.H., for piano solo. Three Italians perform these works brilliantly- clarinetist Rocco Parisi, cellist Andrea Favalessa, and pianist Gabriele Rota, who is the son of the composer.


Stravinsky: Choral Works

Stravinsky: Choral Works
Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh
Duncan Ferguson, conductor
Scottish Chamber Orchestra Soloists
Ruby Hughes, soprano
Nicholas Mulroy, tenor

Delphian Records DCD34164

Duncan Ferguson takes on his fifth composer-led recording project with the Choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. This release is Ferguson's most ambitious project to-date. Although Stravinsky's Mass is one of the most popular works for choir, the St. Mary's Cathedral Choir rarely has an opportunity to perform it in it's full version with wind instruments accompanying. The chorus members were thrilled for the opportunity to perform and record this album. Stravinsky's contrapuntal twists and turns are relished by this intelligent and committed choir, and provide a stark contrast to the austere simplicity of Stravinsky's own short, sacred choruses.


Gesualdo: Sacrae Cantiones

Gesualdo: Sacrae Cantiones
The Marion Consort
Rory McCleery, conductor

Delphian Records DCD34176

Carlo Gesualdo has become notorious, not only from his royalty but for the eccentricities of his life and music. Gruesomely murdering his first wife and her lover, mistreating his second wife and isolating himself have all fuelled the "myth of Gesualdo as a madman". Gesualdo turned his prodigious compositional talent to the creation of a collection of pieces that betray his obsession with his own personal sin. The five-voice motets on this release speak as strongly as Gesualdo's words ever could.


Mitchell: The Fiddle and the Drum

Mitchell: The Fiddle and the Drum
Alberta Ballet Company
Jean Grand-Maitre, choreographer

C Major 736308

Joni Mitchell’s work The Fiddle And The Drum delves into the artist’s long-held concerns about the human race’s blatant neglect of the environment and mankind’s war-hungry nature. The piece is a ballet which is performed to a soundtrack of her music. Joni has called this work “the best project of her career.” Combining three art forms- music, dance, and visual art- Joni creates an enthralling spectacle. Internationally recognized choreographer Jean Grand-Maitre of the Alberta Ballet Company has joined Joni for this production. The musical selections to which Jean Grand-Maitre has set his dance include works from Joni’s entire career such as For the Roses, Passion Play, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The Beat of Black Wings, and of course The Fiddle and The Drum. Special bonus features on this release include behind the scenes, video installations form the set, image galleries, and interviews with the performers.




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