AZICA RECORDS ACD-71339
This beautifully packaged CD is described as “An album celebrating cross-cultural connection and migration through the music of Janacek, Szymanowski & Ravel”. Whilst containing some fine recordings of music each standing well in its own right the concept of the album is a very worthy and timely one. Music has always been a clear signpost for our connectivity throughout the world, celebrating difference and in turn influencing and developing new styles. There are three String Quartets featured here: Janacek’s No 2 “Intimate Letters”, Szymanowski’s No 2 and Ravel’s F major. Fine performances from this well-travelled and experienced Quartet who champion this repertoire.
JOHN-HENRY CRAWFORD, cello
VICTOR SANTIAGO ASUNCION, piano
ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100166 62’27
The accompanying booklet makes for interesting reading, shedding some light on the background of the three pieces that make up this disk. John-Henry Crawford gives some wonderful performances together with Victor Santiago Asuncion exploring the concept of dialogue. Beginning with Brahms’ Sonata for piano and cello No 2 in F major the programme then moves on to Ligeti’s Sonata for Solo Cello and finally to the Sonata for Cello & Piano in D minor by Shostakovich.
INVISIBLE CITIES – CHORAL & ELECTRONIC MUSIC BY MARCO GALVANI
TOM HERRING, director
RESONUS RES10280 54’47
This fusion of choral and electronic timbres makes for compelling listening. Taking familiar Latin liturgical texts including Lamentations and Ubi caritas and treating them in this blended way is very successful. Galvani’s music opens us up to new possibilities whilst still remaining rooted in the traditional. More!
FERNANDO LOPES-GRACA – SONGS & FOLK SONGS 2
SUSANA GASPAR, soprano, RICARDO PANELA, baritone
NUNO VIEIRA DE ALMEIDA, piano
NAXOS 8.579082 65’04
Prolific twentieth century Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca has created some arresting and sympathetic settings of texts, crossing folk and contemporary art music forms. Included here alongside Portuguese poetry are Greek, Czech and Slovak texts in sensitive performances from pianist and singers.
ALBERT KETELBEY – A DREAM PICTURE
ROSEMARY TUCK, piano
NAXOS 8.574299 80’39
There have been many recent recordings of Ketelbey’s orchestral music which seems to be enjoying a renaissance. There has been less attention given to his piano music, which is what many of us grew up with. Only one of his really popular pieces, In a Monastery Garden, is included here. Incredibly, considering how popular Ketelbey’s music once was, the remaining twenty four pieces are premiere recordings! For me, that makes this an almost essential disk for anyone interested in early 20th Century British light music. Rosemary Tuck gives a lovely recital of descriptive movements including A Dream Picture which gives the title to this release and Oh! Look at the rabbits! (from A Woodland Story). I like that as a title…
JOHN PHILIP SOUSA – MUSIC FOR WIND BAND 21
ROYAL BIRMINGHAM CONSERVATOIRE WIND ORCHESTRA, director KEITH BRION
NAXOS 8.559863 66’05
More unfamiliar music from a very popular composer in this 21st volume which is part of the American Classics stream from Naxos. Comprising Selections from Chris & the Wonderful Lamp (a re-telling of Aladdin), Sisterhood of the States and Showing off Before Company these pieces make a welcome addition to Sousa’s popular march repertoire. The latter item was apparently featured as an opening to matinee concerts and incorporates a number of familiar tunes. Good fun!
JOAN TOWER – STRIKE ZONES
EVELYN GLENNIE, percussion, BLAIR McMILLEN, piano
ALBAN SYMPHONY, DAVID ALAN MILLER, conductor
NAXOS 8.559902 53’16
Another American Classics release features the music of contemporary composer Joan Tower. These fabulous premiere recordings give a good representation of the range of music Tower has been producing over recent years. It is particularly good to hear performances from Evelyn Glennie as one of a cast of top rate musicians here. The earliest work, Strike Zones, dates from 2001 and the latest, Small from 2016. Both these feature percussion. Still/Rapids combines piano and orchestra with the final piece, Ivory & Ebony being a test piece for an international piano competition.
JORIS ROELOFS – ROPE DANCE: Light-footed music for all and none
BRAM VAN SAMBEEK, bassoon, JORIS ROELOFS, bass clarinet & clarinet
BRAM DE LOOZE, piano, CLEMENS VAN DER FEEN, double bass, MARTIJN VINK, drums
BIS BIS-2453 52’06
This is a fascinating production. Striking artwork is used alongside an interesting background essay which explains the influence of Nietzche’s philosophy behind this music. The instrumentalists give tight, often highly rhythmic performances and create a very distinctive soundworld in what is essentially interesting and entertaining music from the Dutch composer and performer.
JOHANN PACHELBEL – ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 1
MATTHEW OWENS, Frobenius organ of The Queen’s College, Oxford
RESONUS RES10285 71’03
Matthew Owens gives fine performances of this staple (but often not very well known) baroque organ repertoire. Organist and instrument are well suited to this music in the first volume of what promises to be another well executed series from Resonus. A number of Chorale Preludes and Partitas sit alongside Prelude in D minor, Fugue in D minor and Toccata in F major.
THE CROSSING, conductor DONALD NALLY
AL-BUSTAN TAKHT, music director HANNA KHOURY
DALAL ABU AMNEH, soloist
NAVONA RECORDS NV6356
This is a very interesting release. The Crossing choir is dedicated to performing and promoting new music which pushes the boundaries of choral writing. Collaboration with composers and other performers is a key aspect of their work. Here are two immersive performances of new works setting Andalusian poetry. Kareem Roustom‘s Embroidered Verses & Kinan Abou-afach’s Of Nights and Solace are joined together with a traditional setting by Muhammad ‘abad al-Rahim al-Maslub Lamma Bada Yatathana (‘When he appeared’).
DOUBLE ECHO – NEW GUITAR CONCERTOS FROM THE AMERICAS
DAVID TANENBAUM, guitar
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, conductor AARON JAY KERNIS
ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS conducted by THOMAS DERTHICK
NAXOS 8.574298 56’46
The works here were commissioned by the soloist David Tannenbaum, much of it written by Aaron Jay Kernis, who also conducts for some of the recordings. Alongside his Concierto de ‘Dance Hits’ are the shorter Lullaby and Soliloquoy. The other substantial work here is the typically infectious Double Concerto for Guitar and Bandoneon ‘Hommage a Liege’ by Astor Piazzolla. The CD also features Pequeno concierto by Roberto Sierra. Lively and entertaining.
MARK ANDRE – MINIATUREN / HIMMELFAHRT/ WOHER…WOHIN
MUSICA VIVA #37
STEPHAN HEUBERGER, organ of St Ludwig, Munchen
SYMPHONIEORCHESTER DES BAYERISCHEN RUNDFUNKS, conductor MATTHIAS PINTSCHER
BR KLASSIK MUSICA VIVA #37 66’56
Mark Andre’s music definitely falls into the more experimental/avant garde camp. Pushing the boundaries of sound production on all of the instruments is a large part of the compositional process. Contrasting extremes of duration and dynamics are also to be found on this CD with the opening Miniaturen comprising 12 short movements for string quartet followed by Himmelfart for organ, a single movement work lasting nearly 20 minutes. The final Woher…Wohin (Where from…Where to?) is for orchestra. The music draws on ideas of the inner being, transcendence and divinity. An immersive experience throughout.
RICHARD DUBUGNON – KLAVERIANA / CHAMBER SYMPHONIES
MUSIKKOLLEGIUM WINTERTHUR, conductor THOMAS ZEHETMAIR
BIS BIS-2229 64’18
Although 2 of the works here by Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon are Chamber Symphonies this is all music on a grand scale. Much of it is very exciting with exburenat rhythmic passages contrasting with gentler moments. As the title would imply Klavierana has a prominent piano part (here played by Noriko Ogawa) alongside the orchestra, together with a part for Celesta. Fine performances of this fresh repertoire.