Debussy, orch. Ravel: Sarabande (5:12); Danse (5:11)
Lyon National Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin
Maurice Ravel’s incomparable skill in orchestration is evident both in his own works and in his orchestrations of music by other composers. His versions of both Chabrier’s Menuet pompeux and Schumann’s Carnaval were commissions for ballet, while new life was given to his late friend Debussy’s Sarabande et Danse at the request of publisher Jean Jobert. Ravel’s iconic orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition vividly depicts scenes that range from the playful to the macabre.
Ibert: Petite suite en 15 images (17:36)
Andrey Gugnin, piano
Andrey Gugnin, the 2014 Gold Medal winner at the Gina Bachauer Competition, presents Mussorgsky’s monumental Pictures at an Exhibition. The album also explores the works of two more contemporary composers on the theme of “Pictures,” with music of Jacques Ibert and Armenian composer Arno Babadjanian.
Amanda Maier-Röntgen: Violin Sonata in B minor (19:45)
Frank Almond, violin; William Wolfram, piano
The saga of the Lipiński Stradivarius of 1715 continues in this sequel to the critically acclaimed “A Violin’s Life.” The second volume includes compositions that have a connection to this storied violin’s history and pedigree. After a close brush with tragedy when the violin was stolen in 2014 and recovered after a valiant police pursuit, the violin’s story begins another chapter.
Elgar, orch. Fraser: Piano Quintet in A minor, Op 84: III, Andante – Allegro (11:18)
English Symphony Orchestra / Kenneth Woods
Donald Fraser’s orchestration of Elgar’s Piano Quintet was named a “Premiere of the Year” by Classical Music Magazine. It appears on this new recording alongside Fraser’s choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures with Kenneth Woods conducting the English Chamber Orchestra and the Rodolfus Choir. Fraser has frequently orchestrated works by Elgar at the behest of individuals and organizations, including Yehudi Menuhin and the Elgar Society.
Byrd: Emendemus in melius (3:58)
Pärt: The Woman with the Alabaster Box (6:12)
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
While coming from very different eras, William Byrd and Arvo Pärt are both considered masters of sacred music despite having faced considerable persecution for their work. This program presents six of Byrd’s works from the Cantiones Sacrae. The three works by Arvo Pärt speak in his unmistakable voice, with its unique blend of ancient and modern, and include his mesmerising Nunc dimittis which is crafted in his bell-like ‘tinitinnabuli’ style.
New Release of the Week
Beethoven: Symphony No 4 in B-flat major, Op 60 (33:29)
Berlin Philharmonic / Sir Simon Rattle
It is always a milestone in the artistic work of the Berlin Philharmonic when, together with their chief conductor, they play the complete symphonies of Beethoven. Under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, the cycle was performed at the end of 2015 – in Berlin, Paris, Vienna and New York. The recording of the Berlin performances is now available in an exclusive hardcover edition which includes the cycle on CD as well as in HD video and high-resolution audio on Blu-ray. This beautifully produced edition includes many extras, including a video introduction with Sir Simon Rattle and a documentary about the making of the recordings.
Mendelssohn: Ruy Blas Overture, Op 95 (8:20)
Winterthur Collegium / Douglas Boyd
The Winterthur Collegium concludes its highly acclaimed Mendelssohn series under Douglas Boyd. The program opens with three overtures: Ruy Blas, The Fair Melusine and The Hebrides. They are followed by Mendelssohn’s secular cantata The First Walpugis Night, based on a poem by Goethe telling of the attempts of Druids to practice their pagan rituals in the face of new and dominating Christian forces.
Brahms: Viola Sonata in E-flat major, Op 120 No 2 (21:06)
Paul Neubauer, viola; Gilbert Kalish, piano
Music@Menlo Live has released performances by the acclaimed violist Paul Neubauer from 2011 and 2015 at the Menlo chamber music festival. The program includes works by Schubert, Brahms, Schulenburg, and Valdez. Artists featured in collaboration with Neubauer are pianists Gilbert Kalish, Juho Pohjonen, and Wu Han, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke.
Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante in E minor, Op 125: II, Allegro giusto (18:34)
Zuill Bailey, cello; North Carolina Symphony Orchestra / Grant Llewellyn
For his latest recording, Zuill Bailey has chosen two of Sergei Prokofiev’s mature and majestic works, both written for the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. The Sinfonia Concertante is one of the most difficult and exciting works for cello and orchestra. It’s paired with the Cello Sonata. Bailey performs here with pianist Natasha Paremski and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra conducted by Grant Llewellyn.
Vivaldi: Sinfonia in D major, R 125 (6:40); Ascende laeta, R 635: Allegro (4:13)
Johannette Zomer, soprano; Tulipa Consort
Dutch soprano Johannette Zomer leads the ensemble she founded several years ago – the Tulipa Consort – in a program of rarely performed sacred works by Antonio Vivaldi. Only since the 1950s have the forgotten scores of Vivaldi’s church music been coming back to life. This recording features a fine anthology with Laudate pueri, Ascende laeta and other works.