Uncommonly Classical

Kenneth Fuchs: Falling Man; Movie House; Songs of Innocence & of Experience / Roderick Williams, baritone

Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Kenneth Fuchs: Falling Man; Movie House; Songs of Innocence & of Experience / Roderick Williams, baritone

September 11, 2001 was a day never to be forgotten. It was unspeakably devastating, and a tragically surreal day for all who witnessed the events unfold. I was there that day, hearing incessant sirens, watching in disbelief as the North Tower crumbled, smelling the stench and wandering in all directions trying to escape the reality… Such is the subject matter with which the music on this disc intends to grapple. Based on Don DeLlllo’s post-9/11 novel Falling Man, the eponymous song cycle composed by Kenneth Fuchs is a stunning work...

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New American Choral Series: Music of Stephen Caracciolo / Cathedra Vocal Ens.; Michael McCarthy

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

New American Choral Series: Music of Stephen Caracciolo / Cathedra Vocal Ens.; Michael McCarthy

Stephen Caracciolo writes beautiful music. However, as pleasurable as the music is of its own accord, to hear it without at the same time taking in a full understanding of the sung texts is to miss the true essence of the music. It is Stephen Caracciolo’s consummate writing for chorus and the manner in which his music illuminates the text that can move the listening experience beyond enjoyable to sublime. The music is directed by Michael McCarthy and sung by Cathedra, a professional 18 voice mixed choir formed in 2010 that is the...

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Xavier Montsalvatge: Orchestral Works / Marta Matheu, soprano

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Xavier Montsalvatge: Orchestral Works / Marta Matheu, soprano

A quick query shows that the music of Xavier Montsalvatge is best represented on the Naxos label. Recordings prior to this release include some of the Catalan composer’s piano music and chamber works. Performed by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Victor Pablo Pérez, this release is Naxos’ first of Montsalvatge’s orchestral oeuvre and it provides an excellent overview with compositions coming from three distinct periods of his career. Concluding the album is arguably his most important work, the...

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‘Preisung’ / Sjaella women’s chorus

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

‘Preisung’ / Sjaella women’s chorus

This is a gem. It’s one of those rare albums where, hearing only the opening few measures, you become completely absorbed in the beauty of what you are hearing. Simply titled Preisung (German for “Praise”), the music is sung by Sjaella, a group of six extraordinary young singers aged 18 to 22 years. Sjalla is comprised of two sopranos, two mezzo-sopranos and two altos. The album was released by Querstand, a record label whose one hundred releases reflect an adventuresome programming spirit. Containing largely world-premiere...

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Anthony Holborne: The Fruit of Love – works for viol consort / L’Achéron

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Renaissance | 0 comments

Anthony Holborne: The Fruit of Love – works for viol consort / L’Achéron

England produced few remarkable composers for a period of several hundred years. For virtually all of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, the country had to wait until the time of Britten, Vaughan Williams and Elgar in the early 20th century to boast their own true greatness. However, if we go back one era further to the Renaissance, the composers of England were as brilliant as any of their contemporaries on the continent. This was England’s golden Elizabethan era, the time of John Dowland, Thomas Morley and Henry Purcell. In the...

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Alfred Bruneau: Requiem; Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande, Symphony / Ludovic Morlot

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

Alfred Bruneau: Requiem; Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande, Symphony / Ludovic Morlot

This Cypres CD contains two rarities from the late Romantic repertoire by French composers Alfred Bruneau and Claude Debussy. The Bruneau work is his Requiem, first performed in London in 1896. The music of Debussy comes by way of Romanian-born French composer Marius Constant, who was one of several composers who penned suites from the music of Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande. Alfred Bruneau (1857-1934) was a student of Massenet, who greatly influenced his style, as did Saint- Saëns, Gounod, Chabrier and Wagner; listening to...

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A. Scarlatti: Clori, Ninfa e Amante – Arias & Cantatas

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

A. Scarlatti: Clori, Ninfa e Amante – Arias & Cantatas

The music of Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) lacks the representation in the catalog it deserves. The Italian composer, who is probably best known as the father of Domenico Scarlatti, composed over 50 works for the stage (predominately operas) and over 700 chamber cantatas, two of the most popular genres of 17th-century Italy. This recent Stradivarius release offers two of these cantatas and five arias from the composer’s opera Gli equivoci nel sembiante. These are sung marvelously by singer and actress Renata Fusco, accompanied by a...

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Music from 18th-Century Prague – works by Zelenka, Tůma & Orschler / Collegium 1704

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

Music from 18th-Century Prague – works by Zelenka, Tůma & Orschler / Collegium 1704

A recent release in Supraphon’s Music from eighteenth-century Prague series, this CD is subtitled Bohemian Disciples of Johann Joseph Fux. The music of Fux (1660-1741) does not appear on the disc at all. What these pieces have in common is that each of the three composers, František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774), Johann George Orschler (1698-1770) and Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) were all students of Fux. They are also part of a long line of composers stretching from Palestrina through Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, veritably even to...

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French Romantic Cantatas – works by Catel, Boisselot, Hérold & Cherubini / Karine Deshayes, mezzo; Opera Fuoco

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

French Romantic Cantatas – works by Catel, Boisselot, Hérold & Cherubini / Karine Deshayes, mezzo; Opera Fuoco

The concert going public of 19th-century France was consumed by opera. While composers kept opera stages humming, it wasn’t quite enough and a new genre evolved, one which allowed audiences to get an operatic shot in the concert hall. The scene lyrique, in its ultimate form, was a series of alternating recitatives and arias for a single voice and orchestra. The French record label Zig-Zag Territoires has produced a unique program entitled French Romantic Cantatas which provides an interesting overview of this genre. In addition to a pair...

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The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs / Ars Nova Copenhagen; Paul Hillier

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs / Ars Nova Copenhagen; Paul Hillier

This splendid album, The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs, should be an obvious acquisition for any listener who enjoys Romantic choral music. It’s been released by the Danish Dacapo label and is performed by Ars Nova Copenhagen under the direction of eminent choral conductor, Paul Hillier. Made up of folksongs for a cappella mixed chorus, these beautiful settings come from nine composers, and span a period from the early 19th-century through the late 20th-century. The music is most enjoyable, and the choir sounds wonderful. The earliest...

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