Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor (30:48)
Javier Perianes, piano; BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo
The work of a young musician of 25, the celebrated Concerto of Grieg combines the great Romantic tradition (Liszt was one of its most fervent admirers) and Norwegian folk music. Yet the composer never wrote another, for he felt more comfortable writing in miniature forms. In 35 years he produced no fewer than 66 Lyric Pieces, every one a gem, from the March of the Trolls to the poetic meditations of Homesickness and Remembrances.
Messiaen: Préludes: Cloches d’angoisse et larmes d’adieu (8:59)
Matthew McCright, piano
This recording was conceived by pianist Matthew McCright by pairing music from two periods of Olivier Messiaen’s compositional life that are linked by the pianist Yvonne Loriod. Messiaen heard Loriod perform the Préludes, and she became his muse for countless compositions, including Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus, which was dedicated to her. McCright has performed extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the South Pacific as a piano soloist and chamber musician.
Duport: 21 Etudes: No 7 in G minor (2:04); No 8 in D major (5:35)
Antonio Meneses, cello
Cello virtuosity reigns on ‘Capriccioso,’ the new album by Grammy-nominated Antonio Meneses, one of today’s most esteemed cellists. He harkens back to his predecessors – a quartet of European cellists who composed dazzling works for their own instrument. At the heart of the album are 12 Caprices by 19th-century Italian cellist Alfredo Piatti. Meneses adds the Bohemian-born David Popper’s Etude No 29, and bookends the album with Etudes by the French brothers Jean-Louis and Jean-Pierre Duport.
New Release of the Week
Donizetti: Maria Stuarda: Nella pace del mesto riposo (10:42)
Diana Damrau, soprano; Nicole Brandolino, mezzo-soprano; Teatro Regio Torino Orchestra / Gianandrea Noseda
In her first recital album devoted entirely to Italian opera, soprano Diana Damrau takes the golden age of bel canto, the early 19th century, as the starting point for an exploration of theatrical and musical passion that leads to the high-octane verismo drama of the 1890s. “Italian opera is an art form that deals with real feelings,” she says of the arias she has chosen by Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and Leoncavallo.
Smetana: String Quartet No 1 in E minor, From My Life (28:32)
Pavel Haas Quartet
After their Janáček quartets and their award-winning Dvořák (Gramophone Award 2011 “Recording of the Year”), the Pavel Haas Quartet have now put all their energy to the service of the music of Bedřich Smetana. Even though his chamber music is modest in scale, each of these works can be said to be a foundation stone of Czech chamber music. They are personal works, often with a strong autobiographical element.
Tower: Chamber Dance (16:19)
Nashville Symphony / Giancarlo Guerrero
Joan Tower creates music which is bold, colorful and communicative, her list of commissions and awards providing ample evidence of her ability to engage performers and audiences alike. Emotional intensity characterizes Stroke, which vividly conveys a stroke victim’s dramatic turmoil while also offering a vision of hope. The Violin Concerto, selected for the final round of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, is both a virtuoso showcase and a lyrical vehicle for the soloist. The deceptively titled Chamber Dance alternates huge blocks of sound with intimate solos and duets in an ever-evolving riot of colors.
New Release of the Week
Veracini: Sonate Accademiche, Op 2: Sonata No 9 in A major (13:04)
Trio Settecento presents Italian Baroque composer Francesco Maria Veracini’s monumental Opus 2 Sonate Accademiche for violin and continuo. It’s a cosmopolitan collection of 12 sonatas of breathtaking scope and pan-European influences — a set of sonatas unlike any other of the era. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and her colleagues in Trio Settecento, cellist John Mark Rozendaal, and harpsichordist David Schrader, bring their “refreshing, life-enhancing Baroque playing” (Chicago Tribune) to these works.
Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin (16:59)
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Seiji Ozawa
The Pentatone label has been re-mastering albums from the 1970s by Deutsche Grammophon recorded with multi-channel tapes, with either four or eight channels. Now, with the advent of the Super Audio CD, there is finally a system that makes it possible to issue these recordings in the quality they deserve. The latest release is a sumptuous performance of favorite orchestral works by Ravel with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, recorded in 1974 in the famed acoustics of Boston’s Symphony Hall.
Shostakovich: Two Pieces for String Quartet, Op 36a (7:12)
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the Borodin Quartet has signed to Decca Classics for a major series of recordings of the music of Shostakovich. The centerpiece of this landmark season, the Shostakovich project will comprise the composer’s complete works for string quartet. Shostakovich himself personally supervised the ensemble’s study of each of his quartets and a profound understanding of his music has been passed down through the generations.
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 30: I, Allegro ma non tanto (17:07)
Stewart Goodyear, piano; Czech National Symphony / Heiko Mathias Förster
Stewart Goodyear’s second release on Steinway & Sons is a followup to his acclaimed 2014 release of the Tchaikovsky and Grieg Piano Concertos. The Canadian pianist is a notable concert soloist and has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others. In 2013, he gave a series of marathon performances in the U.S. of all the Beethoven piano sonatas, performing the complete cycle in a single, eleven-hour performance at each venue.