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Drum Factory
Cory Hills
Sono Luminus DSL-92199

Percussive Storytelling, a program that brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways, was launched by Hills while a fellow at Institute Fabrica. The program recently marked its 400th performance, and has reached more than 50,000 children in eight countries. For this work, Hills has been the recipient of numerous arts grants, and was named the 2009 Emerging Artist through the Kansas Arts Commission.


Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Saimir Pirgu - Il mio canto

Saimir Pirgu; Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Speranza Scappucci
Opus Arte OA CD9041D

'His technique is superb, and the lyric quality of his voice is so beautiful!' Praise from Placido Domingo for Albanian lyric tenor Saimir Pirgu, who's continued winning plaudits on operatic stages the world over. Recorded with one of the world's finest orchestras, this recital goes from strength to strength showcasing his affinity for the Verdi roles and the 'silken touch' (New York Times) he brings to both the verismo repertoire and the French and Italian bel canto.


Viri Galilaei: Favourite Anthems from Merton
Choir of Merton College; Charles Warren; Peter Shepherd
Delphian Records DCD34174

Now firmly established amongst Oxbridges finest choral foundations and at the same time certainly its youngest, the Choir of Merton College can be relied upon to present a selection of favourite anthems which similarly combines fresh inspiration with timeless musical values. The choirs fifth Delphian recording in five years again showcases the talents of its joint directors Benjamin Nicholas and Peter Phillips, with Phillips love of polyphony complemented by Nicholass flair and commitment in some of the twentieth centurys major choral works. Bookending these favourites are Patrick Gowers now iconic Ascension Day anthem Viri Galilaei and Jonathan Doves newly minted Te Deum, commissioned by Merton College as part of the Merton Choirbook the largest series of commissions of its kind in modern times, created in celebration of the Colleges 750th anniversary.


After Life & In Sleep the World Is Yours
Catherine Cook; Robert Orth; Ava Pine; Music of Remembrance; Zart Dombourian-Eby; Laura DeLuca; Mikhail Shmidt; Walter Gray; Craig Sheppard; Stilian Kirov; Lori Laitman; Megan Chenovick; Benjamin Hausmann; Mina Miller
Naxos 8.669036

After Life, Tom Cipullo’s modern opera, investigates the role of art in a distressed world, and asks heavy questions about an artist’s obligation in confronting humanity in all of its good and bad parts. + David Mason wrote the libretto for the work, which imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein as ghosts, who show their brilliance and flaws. + Sleep the World is Yours, a song cycle by Lori Laitman, sets three lovely poems by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, who sadly would perish in a Nazi camp at the young age of 18.


Grigorjeva: Nature Morte
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Theatre of Voices; Yxus Quartet; Conrad Steinmann; Paul Hillier
Ondine ODE 1245-2

Estonian composer Galina Grigorjeva (b. 1962) is known best for her timeless and deeply spiritual sacred vocal works. + The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, masterfully conducted by Paul Hillier, performs this program of Grigorjeva’s choral works beautifully. + Nature Morte promises to be a breath of fresh air for lovers of choral music.


Lullabies for Mila
Alessio Bax
Signum Records SIGCD439

Lullabies for Mila is dedicated to Alessio Bax’s daughter, Mila. The album begins with a moving dedication: “This album is not only a carefully curated playlist of soothing classics to calm a baby and perhaps make him or her fall asleep quicker. It is also a gift from parents to their children, with the hope that they will share music with their loved ones, not just to entertain them but also to enrich their lives.” + This disc compiles works from Bax’s past Signum albums, including performances with Southbank Sinfonia and Lucille Chung. It also contains a new recording of the Grieg’s Nocturne from his Lyric Pieces. + Alessio Bax is a celebrated and award-winning pianist. Gramophone says “His playing quivers with an almost hypnotic intensity,” and the Dallas Morning News calls it “an out of body experience.” He has performed as a soloist with over 100 orchestras.


No Orpheus
Kate Lindsey; David Moody; Kiera Duffy; David Kaplan; Margar Lancaster; Christopher Burchett; Russel Miller; Emily Ondracek; Ashley Bathgate; Rupert Boyd
Naxos 8.559783

Mohammed Fairouz has rapidly become one of the most highly regarded composers of his generation, receiving wide acclaim for works such as Native Informant and his Symphony No. 4 "In the Shadow of No Towers". + Setting texts from ancient times to World War II, the songs on this new album represent a decade of writing for the human voice. + Refugee Blues addresses powerful social issues while sensual celebrations of being human and alive are explored in After the Revels. The theme of loss is also compellingly expressed in the intense, distilled narrative of No Orpheus, a portrait of departed family members, and Edgar Allan Poe's last completed poem, the hauntingly mournful Annabel Lee.


Moravec: Violin Concerto, Shakuhachi Quintet, Equilibrium & Evermore
Maria Bachmann; Symphony in C; Rossen Milanov; James Nyoraku Schlefer; Voxare String Quartet; Stephen Gosling
Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century

Naxos 8.559797

Paul Moravec has become one of the most acclaimed and admired composers of our time. His compositions stand out for their melodic poise, lyrical passion, and rich harmonic language. + His Violin Concerto was grandly received and stands as one of his most important accomplishments. With its sensuous, romantic elegance and jubilant finale, it has earned a position as one of the most outstanding American compositions in this genre. + The plaintive Shakuhachi Quintet integrates the shakuhachi- a classical bamboo flute- with the Western string quartet. Equilibrium was written specifically for this album. It recalls the B-A-C-H motive that is also heard in the Violin Concerto. + Evermore was composed as a wedding gift for Maria Bachmann.


L'Heure espagnole & Don Quichotte a Dulcinee
François Le Roux; Isabelle Druet; Luca Lombardo; Marc Barrard; Nicolas Courjal; Frédéric Antoun; Orchestre National de Lyon; Leonard Slatkin
Naxos 8.660337

The stage works of Maurice Ravel are as delicate and poised as one could imagine. In the Spanish-shaded L’Heure espagnole, Ravel gives new vitality into the opera buffa by making the comedic element human, and giving the plot poignancy. + Ravel wrote clear vocals, harmonic magic, and radiant orchestration. He imbues Cervante’s famous character with blue-blooded Spanish swagger, while still giving him a sort of heroic kindness and openness. + Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortileges from Lyon can be found on Naxos 8.660336.


A Tribute
Band of the Welsh Guards; David Lloyd; Dance Orchestra of the Welsh Guards
British Military Music Archive BMMAWG1502

This fabulous two disc set pays homage to the longstanding tradition of excellence of the Band of the Welsh Guards, as the 100th anniversary of their first concert performance approaches. + Disc 1 presents the Band’s recordings from 1916, including their very first recording, The Welsh Guards on Parade. It also features The Phantom Brigade, a portrayal of a retired colonel reflecting on his companions and days gone by, as well as the March of the ANZACs, honoring the forces of Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli. + Disc 2 brings us to WWII, when the Band of the Welsh Guards was the first military band to perform on BBC’s “Music While You Work.” The Welsh Guards’ Dance Band is featured on two tracks as well.


On the Nature of Thingness: ICE performs Chen and Davis
Jacob Greenberg; Phyllis Chen; Cory Smythe; Eric Lamb; Joshua Rubin; Erik Carlson; Cory Smythe; Rebekah Heller; Tony Arnold; Alice Tessier; Campbell MacDonald; Adrian Morejan; Gareth Flowers; David Byrd-Marrow; Jacob Greenberg; Dan Lippel; Erik Carlson; Keats Dieffenbach; Kivie Cahn-Lipman; Jennifer Curtis; Nathan Davis
Starkland ST-223

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), deemed "the new gold standard for new music" by The New Yorker, performs seven works by two exceptionally talented emerging composers, Phyllis Chen and Nathan Davis, on this CD. ICE has been called "extraordinary" (New York Times), "bracing, illuminating, reassuring" (Financial Times), and "America's foremost new-music group" (Alex Ross). ICE co-founder and MacArthur "genius" Claire Chase comments, "Phyllis is nothing short of a magician in her ability to modify and re-appropriate instruments," adding, "It's as if her music takes us by the hand and leads us back into the daunting and wondrous solitude of our childhoods." Nathan Davis's "compositional sorcery is in his uncanny capacity," Chase observes, "to shine a light on a natural element, revealing a breathtaking world of poetry that lies just beneath the surface." The CD's largest piece, Davis's 19-minute On the Nature of Thingness, for soprano and ten instrumentalists, received a glowing review of its premiere in the New York Times: "Tony Arnold offered dramatic, multihued interpretations of the four texts... of this colorful song cycle." Other Davis works include Ghostlight (for solo piano) and On speaking a hundred names (for bassoon and electronics). Chen's 4 works employ imaginative, unusual instrumentation, including: broken music box parts, toy piano, toy piano rods, music boxes, prepared piano, metal bowls, toy glockenspiel, tuning forks, as well as conventional instruments, taped sounds, and digital processing.



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8:03:59 AM, 6 February 2016
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