Grieg, orch Kraggerud & Lund: Violin Concerto No 3 in C minor, Op 45 (23:12)
Tromsø Chamber Orchestra / Henning Kraggerud, violin
Grieg is one of the world’s best known composers, but the three Violin Sonatas are a relatively unfamiliar part of his output, despite being among his own favorite pieces. Grieg never wrote a violin concerto, and the foremost Norwegian violinist of his generation, Henning Kraggerud, assisted by Bernt Simen Lund, a member of the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, has taken up the challenge of creating three new concertos from the sonatas. In these arrangements the solo violin is set against a string orchestra augmented by wind instruments in order to retain the feel of chamber music.
Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080: Contrapunctus 1 (2:57); Contrapunctus 2 (2:52); Contrapunctus 3 (2:36)
Les Voix humaines Consort of Viols
Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge), one of the peaks of the Baroque contrapuntal style, also turns out to be one of the most enigmatic works in the history of music. Though composed as a series of fugues on the same subject, Bach did not specify the instruments that should play them. Les Voix humaines viol consort has recorded its own version of Bach’s unfinished final work.
Gershwin: Cuban Overture (10:26)
Since joining forces as a professional ensemble in 2009, pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi have electrified audiences from Carnegie Hall to Japan with their dazzling artistry and outside-the-box thematic programming for piano, four hands. This Grammy-nominated duo put their considerable keyboard skills to the test in their second CD release, “Mosh Pit.” The album offers an exploration of dance-themed duet compositions by six distinctly American voices of the 20th and 21st centuries: George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, Conlon Nancarrow, Allen Shawn, John Corigliano and Paul Schoenfield.
Bernstein, arr Fleischer: West Side Story Concerto for String Quartet & Orchestra (25:47)
Harlem Quartet; Chicago Sinfonietta / Mei-Ann Chen
‘Delights & Dances,’ the Chicago Sinfonietta’s first recording with its new music director, award-winning conductor Mei-Ann Chen, does what this singular ensemble does best: it captivates listeners of all ages and diverse ethnic backgrounds through irresistible music and superb musicianship. On its new album, the Chicago Sinfonietta, a standard-bearer for racial diversity in the orchestral world, works its magic through a one-of-kind program featuring music for string quartet and orchestra, with guest artists, the Harlem Quartet.
Stravinsky, arr Parker: The Rite of Spring: Part I (Adoration of the Earth) (16:08)
Jon Kimura Parker has released his fierce new transcription of The Rite of Spring – in time for the work’s centenary in May. He began by tackling The Rite by ear but his obsession with playing this music at the piano began in earnest when he discovered Stravinsky’s piano duet arrangement. “I noticed that Stravinsky, having arranged the duet primarily to facilitate ballet rehearsal, was less fastidious with details than I had expected,” wrote Parker. “I became engrossed in adding instrumental lines that had been left out. From there, it was a natural evolution to try to manage it all myself.”
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring: Part II (The Sacrifice) (18:51)
New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein
A century ago, on May 29, 1913, the premiere performance of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring shocked a Paris audience that included Debussy, Ravel, Picasso and Proust. Audience members rioted at the work’s “unexpected eruption of rebarbative dissonances, off-kilter rhythms, obsessive-compulsive ostinati and agitated mood-swinging dynamics,” as Jonathan Cott puts it in the album notes to Sony Classical’s remastered release of the legendary 1958 recording by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
Gál: Symphony No 2 in F, Op 53: I, Introduction (Andante – Adagio) (7:44); II, Allegro energico – Molto moderato (8:21)
Orchestra of the Swan / Kenneth Woods
The first two volumes of this intriguing series, featuring the four symphonies of Hans Gál and Robert Schumann, have shed new light on these often misunderstood composers and won wide critical acclaim. Volume 3 pairs Gál’s lyrical and deeply moving Second Symphony, written in the aftermath of family tragedy, with Schumann’s groundbreaking Fourth, which Gál described as the composer’s ‘most ingenious experiment in form.’
Beethoven: String Quartet No 6 in B-flat major, Op 18, No 6 (24:08)
During the past ten years, the Cremona Quartet has grown into a quartet of international renown, combining the Italian culture of string playing with an awareness of historical performance practice. The first volume of their series of the complete Beethoven quartets comprises three distinctive works from the composer’s early, middle and late periods.
Ljova: Culai: Love Potion, Expired (3:55); Funeral Doina (for Culai) (5:04)
Brooklyn Rider has joined the Mercury Classics label in an exclusive partnership. The first album – ‘A Walking Fire’ – reflects the artistic independence and enterprising mix of classic quartet literature and new works that have earned the foursome of violinist Johnny Gandelsman, violinist Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen such wide acclaim. ‘A Walking Fire’ features a string quartet by Béla Bartók alongside new works by contemporary Russian-American composer Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin and Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen.
Britten: Songs from the Chinese, Op 58 (9:05)
Ian Bostridge, tenor; Xuefei Yang, guitar
English composer Benjamin Britten was one of the most prolific song composers of the 20th century. His song cycles were an important part of his body of work. In celebration of Britten’s 100th birthday anniversary, Ian Bostridge releases a recital disc devoted to the composer’s lieder. Supporting Bostridge in this recording are pianist Antonio Pappano and guitarist Xuefei Yang.