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      Archive for December, 2010

      December 26, 2010

      Schumann: Piano Trio #1 in D minor, Op. 63 (31:17)
      Benvenue Fortepiano Trio
      Avie AV-2210

      Schumann: Excerpts from Romanzen und Balladen, Spanische Liebeslieder & Drei Gedichte (12:48)
      Calmus Ensemble; Hendrik Bräunlich, piano
      Carus 83.447 “Hausmusik”

      Brahms: Symphony #4 in F major, Op. 90 (38:35)
      Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
      Seattle Symphony “Brahms: The Complete Symphonies” (3 CDs)

      New Release of the Week
      Bernstein: Sonata for Clarinet & Piano (10:44)
      Jon Manasse, clarinet; Jon Nakamatsu, piano
      Harmonia Mundi HMU-907508 “American Music for Clarinet & Piano”

      Carter Pann: Slalom (9:10)
      Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
      Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Media CSOM-945 “American Portraits”

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      December 19, 2010

      Bach: Christmas Oratorio: Part One (23:30)
      Wiebke Lehmkuhl, alto; Martin Lattke, tenor; Konstantin Wolff, bass; Dresden Chamber Choir; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
      Decca 478 2271 (2 CDs)

      Liszt: Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas Tree): V, Scherzoso (2:31); VI, Carillon (2:20); VII, Schlummerlied (2:50); VIII, Altes provenzalisches Weihnachtslied (1:32); IX, Abendglocken (4:30)
      Jerome & Carmel Lowenthal, piano
      Bridge 9307 A/C (3 CDs)

      New Release of the Week
      Franck: Panis angelicus (3:30)
      Adam: Cantique de Noël (O Holy Night) (4:34)
      Flórez: Santo (3:38)
      Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus & Orchestra/Michele Mariotti
      Decca B0014875-02 “Santo – Sacred Songs”

      Scheidt: Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ (3:55)
      Weckmann: Gegrüßet seist du, Holdselige (6:07)
      Bremer Baroque Consort/Manfred Cordes
      CPO 777 553-2 “Baroque Christmas in Hamburg”

      Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker: Act Two Finale (21:16)
      Berlin Philharmonic/Sir Simon Rattle
      EMI Classics 46385-2 (2 CDs)

      Manz: E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come! (2:27)
      Anon: Antiphon, Veni Emmanuel (0:48); Vesper Responsory (2:29)
      Wood: O Thou, the central orb (3:54)
      Helmsley: Lo! He comes with clouds descending (5:11)
      St James Cathedral Choir/Bruce Barber; Richard Barrick Hoskins, organ
      MSR Classics MS-1376 “Arise, Shine!”

      Traditional, arr. Schwarz: We Three Kings of Orient Are / We Wish You a Merry Christmas (4:52)
      Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
      Naxos 8.572673 “Holiday Classics”

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      December 17, 2010

      Best Classical Recordings of 2010

      Every day, WFMT enjoys sharing with you the wealth of great classical recordings from the past and present. 2010 saw an incredible range of offerings from labels both large and small. Here are 25 of our favorites from the past year. Enjoy, and best wishes for 2011!

      Old World/New World – Music of Dvořák
      Emerson String Quartet

      The 2010 release from the Emerson String Quartet, winner of 9 Grammys, is an album of works never recorded during the course of their 30-year career. It features the Emerson’s favorite Dvořák middle and late string quartets and also includes the youthful and infrequently performed quartet version of a song cycle, Cypresses.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014106-02

      Verdi: Arias
      Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano; Philharmonia of Russia/Constantine Orbelian

      Berwyn native Sondra Radvanovsky has been a favorite on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago for several seasons. With this recording, we see why she is considered to be one of today’s finest interpreters of the operas of Verdi. She performs arias from her signature roles and from some new ones she hopes to take on soon.

      Delos DE-3404

      Whitacre: Choral Music
      Elora Festival Singers/Noel Edison

      Eric Whitacre is now the unquestioned superstar of American choral composers. His marriage of poetry with beauty of sound creates a unique and enchanting sonic world. A wide selection of his most well-known music is brilliantly captured on this CD by the Elora Festival Singers of Canada.

      Naxos 8.559677

      Liszt: Transcendental Etudes
      Alice Sara Ott, piano

      Alice Sara Ott has made an unusual specialty of performing Liszt’s twelve Transcendental Etudes and has already won praise for her live performances in Germany and Switzerland. Her debut recording on Deutsche Grammophon is a stunning display of virtuosity in this most daunting of piano cycles.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014473-02

      Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #3; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
      Denis Matsuev, piano; Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev

      Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, Denis Matsuev has established a reputation as one of Russia’s most dynamic pianists. Matsuev is particularly renowned for his interpretations of music by Russian composers and has collaborated with the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation.

      Mariinsky MAR-0505

      Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos
      Vocal Soloists; Schola Cantorum of Venezuela; Orquesta La Pasión; Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/María Guinand

      Regarded as one of the great works of the first decade of this century, Osvaldo Golijov’s thrilling piece is a unique chronicle of the Passion of St. Mark. It combines multiple influences and relies heavily on voices and percussion in styles familiar in Cuba and Brazil. The work was hailed as ground-breaking at its 2000 world-premiere, and it continues to inspire new audiences.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014008-00

      German Opera Arias
      Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Mahler Chamber Orch/Claudio Abbado

      Jonas Kaufmann is now established as one of the most successful and versatile tenors of his generation, attracting rave reviews for his live performances and recordings. Singing in his native language, Kaufmann presents a selection of arias from German opera. Claudio Abbado directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Arnold Schoenberg Choir.

      Decca B0014132-02

      Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
      Revueltas: La noche de los mayas (Night of the Maya)
      Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel

      Gustavo Dudamel and his orchestra radiate youthful energy in this thrilling performance of Stravinsky’s landmark work. It’s paired with the lesser-known Night of the Maya by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. Both pieces are depictions of pagan rituals and showcase lush orchestration and dynamic rhythms.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014281-02

      Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin
      Mark Padmore, tenor; Paul Lewis, piano

      After a much lauded recording of Winterreise, Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis continue their Schubert series with Die schöne Müllerin. These two artists bring a touching, insightful approach to Schubert’s first song-cycle, which follows a lovelorn young man on a melancholy journey of false hope.

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-907519

      Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
      London Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev

      Valery Gergiev, a master of Prokofiev’s music, has issued his second complete recording of one of the 20th century’s great ballets. This is a live performance from 2008 in London. Gergiev brings forth a full-blooded, dramatic reading balanced by warmth and tenderness in the more romantic passages of the score.

      LSO Live 0682

      Mahler: Songs With Orchestra
      Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Hampson, baritone; San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas

      Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson, two of today’s great Mahler singers, join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony in the final album of the award-winning Mahler cycle on the orchestra’s own label. The selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn are the composer’s take on folk tunes, and the Songs of a Wayfarer tell of young love lost.

      San Francisco Symphony 821936-0036-2

      Russian Music for Cello & Piano
      Wendy Warner, cello; Irina Nuzova, piano

      The duo of cellist Wendy Warner and pianist Irina Nuzova makes its debut with beautiful performances of five late-Romantic Russian works. Their album (recorded at WFMT) is dedicated to the memory of one of Warner’s mentors, the illustrious Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.

      Cedille CDR 90000 120

      The Italian Tenor
      Vittorio Grigolo, tenor; Teatro Regio di Parma Chorus & Orchestra/Pier Giorgio Morandi

      Vittorio Grigolo impressed audiences with his performances at the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden in 2010. His debut album is a mix of familiar arias from 19th-century opera and a few lesser-known excerpts. Throughout, he gives us warm, lyrical singing in fine Italian style, heralding an exciting new voice on the operatic scene.

      Sony Classical 75257-2

      Mi Alma Mexicana (My Mexican Soul)
      Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas/Alondra de la Parra

      Alondra de la Parra founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in 2004. It’s an impressive group of young musicians who hail from 22 different countries.  The occasion for this two-disc set was the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence. De la Parra researched Mexico’s musical heritage and selected works from diverse periods of the country’s history.

      Sony Classical 755552

      Chopin: Complete Songs
      Aleksandra Kurzak, soprano; Mariusz Kwiecień, baritone; Nelson Goerner, fortepiano

      Polish singers Aleksandra Kurzak and Mariusz Kwiecień celebrated the Chopin bicentennial in 2010 by recording his complete songs. This project for the Fryderyck Chopin Institute was part of an intriguing and illuminating series devoted to playing the composer’s music on instruments from his time.

      Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD-016

      Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; Reiko Uchida, piano

      Seasons…Dreams is anchored by Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5, “Spring.” This sets the stage for a series of lyrical pieces inspired by songs and poems which take us on a journey through the seasons and into reverie. Meyers presents familiar songs in unique arrangements and unexpected melodies mixed with traditional classical works.

      E1 Entertainment 7780

      Shostakovich: Symphony #8 in C minor, Op. 65
      Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

      Written during World War II, the unusually constructed Eighth Symphony is a powerful work built on striking contrasts. Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic continue their acclaimed series of the Shostakovich symphonies with a reading that brings out the differences between music which is at times unremittingly bleak and at others brutally intense.

      Naxos 8.572392

      Verdi: Requiem
      Barbara Frittoli, soprano; Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano; Mario Zeffiri, tenor; Ildar Abdrazakov, bass; Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Riccardo Muti

      The Chicago Symphony Orchestra inaugurated Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director with one of the most anticipated releases of the year—Verdi’s Requiem, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus and four outstanding soloists. Recorded live from sold-out concerts, this stunning performance brilliantly captures both the pathos and passion of Verdi’s masterpiece.

      CSO Resound 901 1008

      Brahms: Violin Sonatas
      Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Lambert Orkis, piano

      Anne-Sophie Mutter first recorded these sonatas over a quarter century ago (at the age of nineteen) for EMI. Mutter’s return to this repertoire shows an even deeper maturity and musicality. She is joined by her long-time recital partner, Lambert Orkis, who provides his usual sensitive collaboration.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014767-02

      Ravel: Piano Concertos
      Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano; Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez

      This all-Ravel disc features French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and conductor Pierre Boulez. The two artists have collaborated together for years, and now they give masterful accounts of Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand and Concerto for Piano in G major. To complete the album, Aimard performs Miroirs for solo piano.

      Deutsche Grammophon 477 8770

      Telemann: The Complete Tafelmusik
      Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltzf

      Tafelmusik (table music) is a term used since the mid-16th century for music played at feasts and banquets. Composed in 1733, Telemann’s Tafelmusik has been compared to the renowned Brandenburg Concertos of Bach. Over four CDs, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra presents the complete collection in sparkling and vivid performances.

      Harmonia Mundi HMC-902042.45

      Brahms: Handel Variations, Rhapsodies, Late Piano Pieces
      Murray Perahia, piano

      Murray Perahia’s release finds the pianist returning to Brahms for the first time in 20 years. His program includes works from the early, middle and late periods of the composer’s life. The centerpiece is the “Handel Variations,” a bridge between the Baroque and Romantic eras with echoes of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”

      Sony Classical 79469-2

      Gods, Emperors & Angels: Vivaldi Concertos
      La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler

      Adrian Chandler and his lively period-instrument band deliver their eighth imaginative album for the Avie label – a collection of concertos scored for a diverse range of solo instruments. Anyone looking for something by Vivaldi beyond “The Four Seasons” will find a wonderful introduction here.

      Avie AV-2201

      [email protected] Live 2009 – Being Mendelssohn
      [email protected] Chamber Ensemble

      [email protected] is an internationally acclaimed chamber music festival and institute in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2009, the festival celebrated the Mendelssohn bicentennial with his greatest chamber works alongside music by his predecessors and contemporaries. The stellar performances by a roster of the world’s finest chamber musicians are now available on a six-CD set.

      [email protected] 2009

      Jeremy Denk Plays Charles Ives
      Jeremy Denk, piano

      Denk’s recital programs have long featured not only Ives’s famous and monumental “Concord” Sonata but also the far less familiar Sonata No. 1. Denk explains his devotion to the music: “Ives wants to recreate the raw experience of music-making, something unfiltered, and beyond all your piano lessons. While driving me crazy, he reminds me why I play the piano at all.”

      Think Denk Media TDM-2567

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      December 13, 2010

      2010 has been a banner year for Christmas recordings. To help you sift through all the new Yuletide offerings, here’s a list of some of our favorites. Hopefully, they’ll become your favorites, too. The links will take you to ArkivMusic, where you can purchase the recordings, and a portion of the proceeds will come back to the station. Thanks for your support, and ‘Happy Holidays’ from all of us at WFMT!

      Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Complete Ballet)
      Berlin Philharmonic/Sir Simon Rattle

      For his first Tchaikovsky recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle has chosen the enduring holiday classic. His refreshing approach brings out the subtle nuances in this most popular work. The recording is available in various editions, including the ‘Experience Edition,’ a double CD set with a 52-page hardcover book detailing the history and context of the ballet.

      EMI Classics 46385-2 (2 CDs)

      Puer natus est: Tudor Music for Advent & Christmas
      Stile Antico

      The splendid British vocal ensemble Stile Antico centers their program on Tallis’s ‘Christmas’ Mass, based on the festive plainchant Puer natus est (‘A boy is born’). The mass is interspersed with seasonal Tudor music – William Byrd’s Propers for the fourth Sunday of Advent, responsories by Taverner and Sheppard, and Robert White’s exuberant setting of the Magnificat.

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807517

      Santo: Sacred Songs
      Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus & Orchestra/Michele Mariotti

      Celebrate the season with great vocalism by Juan Diego Flórez, one of today’s leading operatic tenors. He sings a diverse selection of sacred arias and songs, including favorites such as ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Ave Maria.’ A highlight of the recording is the title track, ‘Santo,’ composed by Flórez himself. The piece is infused with the vibrant spirit and rhythms of his native Peru.

      Decca B0014875-02

      Arise, Shine!: Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols
      St. James Cathedral Choir/Bruce J. Barber

      The choir of Chicago’s own St. James Episcopal Cathedral presents a traditional Advent Festival taken from the liturgy of the great cathedral in Salisbury, England. Beautiful carols and hymns are interspersed with scripture readings that proclaim the warmth and illumination of the season.

      MSR Classics MS-1376

      La Pietà/Angèle Dubeau

      Through popular songs, carols and Baroque instrumental pieces, the Canadian string ensemble La Pietà offers a holiday voyage of diverse origins and traditions. This musical celebration of the Nativity will take you to Finland, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Russia, and, closer to home, Mexico and Canada.

      Analekta AN 2 8730

      Bach: Cantatas for Christmas Day & Epiphany (Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, Volume 18)
      Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner

      The final installment of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s epic Bach Cantata Pilgrimage has arrived. This last pair of discs takes us back to the very beginning of the journey, presenting Christmas and Epiphany music given in the two cities most closely associated with Bach, Weimar and Leipzig, before moving on to Hamburg.

      Soli Deo Gloria SDG-174

      The Cherry Tree: Songs, Carols & Ballads for Christmas
      Anonymous 4

      Anonymous 4’s newest program is named for the miracle ballad of Joseph and Mary, the earliest text of which survives from a Coventry Play written in the 14th century. ‘The Cherry Tree’ story persisted in many forms, making its way into medieval British carols of the mid-15th century, and into British and American traditional ballads.

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807453

      Bach: Cantata #63
      Mendelssohn: Vom Himmel hoch
      Vaughan Williams: The First Nowell

      Soloists; London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir/Vladimir Jurowski

      The London Philharmonic’s recording of festive choral music includes one of Bach’s richly scored cantatas and Mendelssohn’s Vom Himmel hoch, which was inspired by his admiration of Bach. Vaughan Williams’ nativity play The First Nowell incorporates arrangements of traditional English carols.

      LPO 0050

      Holiday Classics
      Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz

      Seattle Symphony’s first holiday album embraces works composed specifically for Christmas as well as other pieces that convey a universal message of peace, love and hope. Conductor Gerard Schwarz arranged or edited several of the works. All of the music celebrates the remarkable artistry of the musicians of the orchestra.

      Naxos 8.572673

      Baroque Christmas in Hamburg
      Bremer Baroque Consort/Manfred Cordes

      The Bremer Baroque Consort takes us back to 17th-century Hamburg, a major center of commerce and trade that also had a flourishing musical scene. The program shows the development of the early Baroque style with motets and chorales for the feast of Christmas, interspersed with organ solos.

      CPO 777 553-2

      Sing we now of Christmas
      Taylor Festival Choir & Players/Robert Taylor

      The Taylor Festival Choir is based in Charleston, South Carolina, but its membership is drawn from cities around the country. For its new Christmas recording, the choir is joined by a stellar group of folk musicians to bring together the worlds of classical and Celtic music in an appealing blend.

      MSR Classics MS-1292

      Bryn Terfel: Carols & Christmas Songs
      Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone; Côrdydd; Welsh National Opera Orchestra/Tecwyn Evans

      Bryn Terfel leads a special assemblage of Welsh and international musicians. It’s a very personal, intimate album of his favorite Christmas carols and songs from around the world and from his native Wales. This set includes a full program of music sung mostly in English on the first CD plus a bonus CD of some of the same music (and some different) sung in Welsh.

      Deutsche Grammophon B0014914-72 (2 CDs)

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      December 12, 2010

      Tallis: Videte miraculum (11:39)
      Stile Antico
      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807517 “Puer natus est: Tudor Music for Advent & Christmas”

      Rameau: Les Indes galantes: Suites des airs à jouer (10:24)
      Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall
      Alia Vox AVSA-9877 “Le Concert Spirituel”

      Vaughan Williams: The First Nowell (28:19)
      Lisa Milne, soprano; Christopher Maltman, baritone; London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir/Vladimir Jurowski
      LPO 0050

      Mozart: Piano Concerto #18 in B-flat major, K. 456 (30:24)
      Northern Sinfonia/Imogen Cooper, piano
      Avie AV-2200

      New Release of the Week
      Maasalo: The Bells of Christmas (3:54)
      Ireland: The Holy Boy (3:06)
      Traditional: Noël Nouvelet (1:53)
      Murphy: Huron Carol Interlude (4:26)
      La Pietà/Angèle Dubeau
      Analekta AN 2 8730 “Noël”

      Traditional: Cwsg, Cwsg, Cwsg (Still, still, still) (4:24); O Come, All Ye Faithful (3:35)
      Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone; Côrdydd; Nidus Children’s Choir; Welsh National Opera Orchestra/Tecwyn Evans
      Deutsche Grammophon B0014914-72 “Bryn Terfel: Carols & Christmas Songs”

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      December 5, 2010

      Bach: Flute & Continuo Sonata in C Major, BWV 1033 (7:52)
      Joshua Smith, flute; Ann Marie Morgan, cello; Jory Vinikour, harpsichord
      Delos DE-3408

      Bach: Cantata #191, Gloria in excelsis Deo (13:42)
      Claron McFadden, soprano; Christoph Genz, tenor; Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
      Soli Deo Gloria SDG-174 “Bach Cantatas: Volume 18”

      Bach, arr. Vetter: Two-Part Inventions, BWV 783-786 (6:03)
      Dave Camwell & Stephen Page, saxophones
      Teal Creek Music TC-2019 “Bach-Centric”

      New Release of the Week
      Brahms: Variations & Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 (26:09)
      Murray Perahia, piano
      Sony Classical 88697-79469-2

      Stephen Goss: The Albéniz Concerto (28:28)
      Xuefei Yang, guitar; Barcelona Symphony Orchestra/Eiji Oue
      EMI Classics 98361-2

      Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker: Miniature Overture (3:08)
      Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle
      EMI Classics 46385-2 (2 CDs)

      Gruber, arr. Schwarz: Silent Night (6:21)
      Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
      Naxos 8.572673 “Holiday Classics”

      Schubert, arr. Hazell: Ave Maria (5:04)
      Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra/Michele Mariotti
      Decca B0014875-02 “Santo: Sacred Songs”

      Traditional Carols: Patapan (1:44); I Saw Three Ships / Blarney Pilgrim (3:11)
      Taylor Festival Choir & Players/Robert Taylor
      MSR Classics MS-1292 “Sing We Now of Christmas”

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