Uncommonly Classical

Atostrio: The French Album – Chaminade; Francaix; Debussy; Boulanger

Posted by on Jul 26, 2014 in Post Romantic | 0 comments

Atostrio: The French Album – Chaminade; Francaix; Debussy; Boulanger

Award winning German trio Atos Trio perform on this excellent Farao Classics release titled The French Album. Four works for piano trio make up the program, ranging from the seldom-heard Chaminade, Françaix and Boulanger pieces to one that lies at the core of the repertoire by Debussy. The music by the first three composers mentioned appear in only an alternate version or two while the Debussy is appropriately well represented with over a dozen alternatives in the catalog. However, there is nothing whatsoever lacking in Atos’...

read more

Samuel Zyman: 3 Conciertos / Marisa Canales, flute, Mercedes Gomez, harp / Echenique

Posted by on Jun 29, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Samuel Zyman: 3 Conciertos / Marisa Canales, flute, Mercedes Gomez, harp / Echenique

Mexico’s leading classical music label, Urtext Digital Classics, offers a catalog of well over a hundred titles, most of which feature artists and composers from The Americas. This recent release titled 3 Conciertos from March of 2014 offers a trio of concertos by Mexican composer Samuel Zyman, one each for flute, harp, and a double concerto with the two instruments combined. The flute soloist is Marisa Canales, co-founder and CEO of Urtext. She, along with harpist Mercedes Gómez and conductor Benjamín Juárez Echenique with the...

read more

Alessandro Stradella (1639-82): La Susanna, oratorio

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

Alessandro Stradella (1639-82): La Susanna, oratorio

Some composers are satisfied to live quiet but purposeful lives, have many children and leave a great musical legacy. Others are like Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682) who led the life of a scoundrel in the midst of a great musical career, living to only 42 years of age. He lived the life that movies are made of. He produced over 300 works composed for royalty, poets and clergy. He was also tried for embezzling from the church and got into many amorous affairs. He was run out of various cities, was the victim of an attempted assassination in...

read more

Portus Felicitatis – Motets & Arias by Johann Georg Reutter

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

Portus Felicitatis – Motets & Arias by Johann Georg Reutter

This is the second CD recommended on Expedition Audio of music by German composer Johann Georg Reutter (1708-1772), who has long been handed the short end of the proverbial stick by history’s musicologists. Appraisals of Reutter’s art coming from the past couple centuries contrast bluntly with those of the composer’s time. In the fields of both opera and sacred music, he was among the most respected composers of 1730′s Vienna. This album on the Ramée record label is titled Portus Felicitatis – Motets & Arias...

read more

Eduard Franck: Piano Trios / Swiss Piano Trio

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

Eduard Franck: Piano Trios / Swiss Piano Trio

This is the second disc from the Audite label of piano trios by the German composer and virtuoso pianist, Eduard Franck. Given the high quality of the music, it’s surprising so little of it has previously been recorded. Of the three pieces on this program, there is one other version of the Piano Trio Op. 22 on the Naxos label. The Piano Trio Op. 53 and the Piano Trio (1835) are both appearing here as world premiere recordings. Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was about a generation older than Johannes Brahms. He was an extraordinarily gifted...

read more

Arvo Pärt: ‘Fur Anna Maria’ – The Complete Piano Music / Jeroen Van Veen

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Arvo Pärt: ‘Fur Anna Maria’ – The Complete Piano Music / Jeroen Van Veen

As it is played here, the complete piano music of Arvo Pärt takes about two hours to perform and fits neatly on these two Brilliant Classics CDs. I’ve qualified this statement with “as it is played here” because some of the music is rather improvisatory, leaving much to the discretion of the performer. In the case of the major work on the program, Für Alina, this includes the duration. Framing the rest of the program, pianist Jeroen van Veen has recorded two versions of this important piece. Pärt’s piano music was...

read more

Virgil Thomson: The Mother of Us All / The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Modern | 0 comments

Virgil Thomson: The Mother of Us All / The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater

Virgil Thomson was a great force behind American music in the 20th Century. Not only was he a great composer, but an outspoken and intelligent voice for music. The Mother of Us All was the second opera he composed. The first, Four Saints in Three Acts, used an all Afro-American cast. The libretto was written by his long time friend, Gertrude Stein. In 1945 Thomson received a commission from the Ditson Fund to compose an opera to be presented at Columbia University. This was The Mother of Us All and again he chose Stein to write the libretto....

read more

Igor Raykhelson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3 – Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto

Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Igor Raykhelson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3 – Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto

The two concertos dating from 2007 and 2010 on this Toccata Classics CD sound, for the most part, as though they could have been written over a century ago. The music is by the Russian born American classical and jazz pianist and composer Igor Raykhelson. It is the third release of the composer’s orchestral music on Toccata and contains Mr. Raykhelson’s concerto for piano and his concerto for cello. The Russian State Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Hobart Earle and the soloists are Boris Berezovsky, piano and Alexander Kniazev,...

read more

Russian Gems: Piano Rarities – Sandro Russo, piano

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Romantic | 1 comment

Russian Gems: Piano Rarities – Sandro Russo, piano

The sparkling opening bars of “Russian Gems” define the program of this Musical Concepts CD, one that is superbly performed by Sicilian pianist Sandro Russo. The concept behind this project is to “showcase the Romantic tradition in Russian music” (Russo), and features works by some composers I have not heard of before as well as some rarities by Rachmaninov and Medtner. Space does not allow for even a cursory overview of the lives of each of these composers. Collectively, the span of their productive lives runs from...

read more

Biber: Vespro della beata Vergine; Kerll: Missa in Fletu Solatium / Cantus Cölln

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

Biber: Vespro della beata Vergine; Kerll: Missa in Fletu Solatium / Cantus Cölln

The sacred works on this disc were composed by two powerhouses of the Baroque. The well-known Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704) left a seemingly never ending trail of wonderful works, but Johann Kaspar Kerll, who also wrote a great number of outstanding pieces, is virtually forgotten. I truly don’t remember ever hearing of him. When I listened to his Missa, which is excellent, I wondered why there aren’t more recordings of his music out there. Most of the recordings I saw online of Kerll’s music...

read more