Sibelius: String Quartet in D minor, Op 56, Voces intimae ( 31:38)
Death, and the fear of death, is the theme of both works on this disc. In 1824, Schubert knew his rapidly declining health would lead to his premature death. 85 years later, Sibelius underwent thirteen operations for a tumor in his throat. His String Quartet, Voces intimae, is a masterpiece from this troubled period. Both are played by the Ehnes Quartet, comprised of four internationally renowned string musicians.
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No 2 in F major, Op 102 (19:59)
Boris Giltburg, piano; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko
Shostakovich’s two piano concertos span a period of almost thirty years. The youthful First is a masterful example of eclecticism, its virtuoso writing enhanced by solo trumpet. Written as a birthday present for his son Maxim, the Second is light-spirited with a hauntingly beautiful slow movement. With the permission of the composer’s family, Boris Giltburg has arranged the deeply personal and powerful String Quartet No 8 for piano.
Ēriks Ešenvalds/Leonard Cohen: Wandering Heart: The Road Is Too Long (5:21)
Mendelssohn: Vespergesang, Op 121: Adspice Domine (3:47)
Chor Leoni / Erick Lichte
Chor Leoni Men’s Choir of Vancouver is recognized as one of the world’s leading male vocal ensembles. Under Artistic Director Erick Lichte, the group presents a stunning new album, which includes five world premiere recordings. Wandering Heart was premiered in 2015, featuring music by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds with texts by Leonard Cohen.
Mozart: Violin Sonata in B-flat major, K 378 (20:12)
Esther Hoppe, violin; Alasdair Beatson, piano
In recent years, Esther Hoppe has established herself as a stylistically confident, virtuosic violinist in both the solo and chamber music repertoires. With Scottish pianist Alasdair Beatson, Hoppe released a CD of works by Mozart and Stravinsky in 2014 that was highly praised. Their latest collaboration features sonatas by Mozart and Poulenc.
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No 2 in D minor, Op 14 (16:43)
Alexander Melnikov, piano
In this first volume of a complete cycle of the Prokofiev sonatas, Alexander Melnikov reveals three emblematic works. The brilliant Second Sonata dates from 1912, when its composer was still a student at the St Petersburg Conservatory. With the Sixth (1939) and Eighth (1944), we meet the master in his full maturity, plunged in the darkest years of the Great Terror and the war.
Brahms: String Sextet No 1 in B-flat major, Op 18 (37:02)
Cypress String Quartet; Barry Shiffman, viola; Zuill Bailey, cello
The legacy of the Cypress String Quartet, which celebrated its 20th anniversary and final season in 2016, is sealed by the ensemble’s last recording – the two String Sextets by Johannes Brahms in which they are joined by long-time collaborators, violist Barry Shiffman and cellist Zuill Bailey. True to form, the Cypress String Quartet applied innovation to its final recording: live in front of a studio audience at Skywalker Sound Studio.
Chausson: Poème (16:14)
Virgil Boutellis-Taft, violin; Guillaume Vincent, piano
French violinist Virgil Boutellis-Taft takes the listener on a journey spanning a century, with music exploring the connections between East and West. The program with pianist Guillaume Vincent includes a work written for Boutellis-Taft by the young American pianist-composer Tara Kamangar.
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor, Op 22 (23:59)
Andrew von Oeyen, piano; PFK Prague Philharmonia / Emmanuel Villaume
Living between Paris and Los Angeles, pianist Andrew von Oeyen is the ideal interpreter for this enticing program: surrounding Ravel’s Piano Concerto with Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2 and Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody, it explores Franco-American cross-currents. Von Oeyen is partnered by the PFK Prague Philharmonia under its Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume – a French musician who is also very much at home in the U.S.
Schulhoff: Divertimento, Op 14 (21:50)
The Alma Quartet, made up of members of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, presents the complete music for string quartet by Erwin Schulhoff. A Czech composer and pianist, Schulhoff was part of a generation of European musicians whose successful careers were prematurely ended by the rise of the Nazis. Schulhoff was a multi-faceted composer whose work embraced a range of styles and influences.
Bach: Cantata No 174: Sinfonia (5:51); Cantata No 170: Aria, Vergnügte Ruh’ (6:24)
Iestyn Davies, countertenor; Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen
English countertenor Iestyn Davies enjoys a busy concert, recital and recording career. His latest album features three solo cantatas by J.S. Bach. The chamber ensemble Arcangelo, under its founder Jonathan Cohen, plays two orchestral sinfonias, which will prove refreshingly familiar.