Uncommonly Classical

Carson Cooman: ‘In Beauty Walking’ – Orchestral Works / Leah Crane, soprano; Chloé Trevor, violin

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Carson Cooman: ‘In Beauty Walking’ – Orchestral Works / Leah Crane, soprano; Chloé Trevor, violin

I had not encountered the music of American composer and organist Carson Cooman prior to picking up his most recent release on CD, 2014’s In Beauty Walking. After thoroughly enjoying this selection of music for string orchestra and deciding to recommend it on Expedition Audio, I set about learning more about this fine composer. Carson Cooman was born in 1982 in Rochester, New York. Now only in his early 30’s, he has produced an astonishing catalog of compositions with opuses numbering over 1,100. His ouevre encompasses a wide variety...

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Antonio Soler: Keyboard Sonatas Nos. 42-56 / Mateusz Borowiak, piano

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Classical | 0 comments

Antonio Soler: Keyboard Sonatas Nos. 42-56 / Mateusz Borowiak, piano

Between 1997 and 2006, Naxos released a series of thirteen recordings performed by harpsichordist Gilbert Rowland of the complete keyboard sonatas by Antonio Soler. What’s shaping up to be another cycle of Soler’s sonatas began in 2011, with two key differences: one is that the performances are all on a modern grand piano, and secondly, each of the four issues to date is performed by a different pianist. One thing each musician has in common is that he or she took First Prize at the Canals International Music Competition of...

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Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831): String Quintets / Bohuslav Matoušek; Janáček Quartet

Posted by on Mar 10, 2015 in Classical | 0 comments

Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831): String Quintets / Bohuslav Matoušek; Janáček Quartet

It’s always a pleasure to discover something fresh from the early Classical era, where we may not suspect many surprises remain. The ongoing Pleyel Edition on Ars Production has reached volume fifteen with this release offering three of the Austrian-born French composer’s dozen quintets for strings. It’s a release most listeners who enjoy the chamber works for strings by Haydn would appreciate, Pleyel having been one of that composer’s favorite students. In these superb performances, the excellent Janáček Quartet is...

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Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809): Symphonies Op. 4, Nos. 1-3, Op. 3, No. 6 / Czech CO, Pardubice

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Classical | 0 comments

Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809): Symphonies Op. 4, Nos. 1-3, Op. 3, No. 6 / Czech CO, Pardubice

In the mind of many of us, “Papa” Haydn is granted parentage for the birth of the symphony (although in reality, it’s much less a “birth” at all than one continuous gestation). Certainly, Haydn wrote some 30 symphonies before Mozart wrote his first, and he did establish a basic form that has lasted for centuries, however, there’s many a fine symphonist from the time leading up to Haydn’s defining works. One such composer is the German Franz Ingaz Beck (1734-1809), who is practically an exact...

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Louis Glass (1864-1936): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 1 / Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie; Daniel Raiskin

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015 in Romantic | 0 comments

Louis Glass (1864-1936): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 1 / Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie; Daniel Raiskin

In these two works by Danish composer Louis Glass, musical reflections of our natural world are unmistakable; the idyllic air of a bucolic life surfaces time and again. Glass provides both works with descriptive titles – the third symphony is subtitled “Forest Symphony” and the title of the orchestral suite is “Summer Life”. Glass’s pastoral evocations are masterful. These, and the disciplined structural design of his music, and an ability to write passages of extraordinary beauty combine to produce...

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Telemann: Sonatas, Trios & Concerti / L’Accademia Giocosa

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Baroque | 0 comments

Telemann: Sonatas, Trios & Concerti / L’Accademia Giocosa

Oehms Classics has released this collection of six sonatas, trios and concerti by Telemann, all but one appearing as a world premiere recording. Playing on period instruments, L’Accademia Giocosa (‘playful’) is made up of members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony, together with leading early music specialists. They are a band of formidable technical and musical accomplishment. The album consists of a half dozen works for diverse combinations of anywhere from four to ten performers, playing oboes, flute, bassoon and strings with...

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William Wallace: Creation Symphony; Pelléas and Mélisande; Prelude to The Eumenides / Brabbins, BBC Scottish SO

Posted by on Feb 7, 2015 in Romantic | 0 comments

William Wallace: Creation Symphony; Pelléas and Mélisande; Prelude to The Eumenides / Brabbins, BBC Scottish SO

If you missed this album of Scottish composer William Wallace’s orchestral music when it was first issued by Hyperion in the late ’90s, you have another chance to obtain it with this reissue on the label’s mid-price Helios line – at about half the price of the original. These are the world-premiere recordings of three works, the major one being Wallace’s Creation Symphony in C sharp minor. Begun in 1896 and first performed in 1899, it’s a substantial piece for large orchestra, resembling traditional...

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Jean-Michel Damase: Symphonie; Piano Concerto No. 2; Concertino; Flute Concerto

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Modern | 0 comments

Jean-Michel Damase: Symphonie; Piano Concerto No. 2; Concertino; Flute Concerto

The Dutton record label initially built its reputation issuing audiophile-quality transfers from 78-rpm shellac discs recorded between 1920 and 1970. While the label has continued this avenue of activity, it also issues world-premiere recordings of little-known but deserving works by 20th-century composers, in superb modern digital sound. This is what we have here. Under the direction of Martin Yates, the BBC Concert Orchestra performs four works by Jean-Michel Damase – three concertos and a Symphony. These works were composed over a...

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Stephen Paulus (1949-2014): Concerto & Orchestral Works / Guerrero; Nashville

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Contemporary | 1 comment

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014): Concerto & Orchestral Works / Guerrero; Nashville

For those listeners not familiar with the work of the American composer Stephen Paulus, this recent release from Naxos serves as an excellent introduction, offering superb performances of Paulus’s orchestral music from Giancarlo Guerrero and his Nashville Symphony. Paulus was born in Summit, New Jersey in 1949, and grew up in Minnesota, where he remained through his college years at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He served as Composer-in-Residence for both the Minnesota Orchestra and later for the Atlanta Symphony...

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Georgy Catoire (1861-1926): Piano Music / Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Romantic | 0 comments

Georgy Catoire (1861-1926): Piano Music / Marc-André Hamelin, piano

This recording on Hyperion’s mid-priced Helios imprint was made in 1998. If you missed it the first time around, you can, and should, remedy that now. The music is performed by long-time Hyperion artist, Marc-André Hamelin, a pianist who time and again has exposed the extraordinary music of little known or completely unknown composers. This Georgy Catoire album is a case in point, and will be a welcome discovery for any ardent explorer of the Romantic piano repertoire. Georgy Catoire (1861-1926) was born in Russia to parents of...

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