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      Archive for March, 2014

      March 30, 2014

      Brahms: String Quartet No 1 in C minor, Op 51 No 1 (34:04)

      Chiara String Quartet

      The Chiara Quartet recorded all of Brahms’ string quartets on this album entirely from memory, without any printed sheet music. It was a tremendous task, but the Quartet feels it has brought the group to a new level of performance and cohesion. After spending countless hours working toward playing from memory, they now see sheet music as a distraction, instead of an aid – so much so that they have made the decision to perform nearly all of their repertoire from memory in concert as well.

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      Rating: 4.3/5 (6 votes cast)

      Mozart: Piano Concerto No 25 in C major, K 503: I, Allegro maestoso (14:19)

      Martha Argerich, piano; Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado

      Featuring the beloved musical partnership of Martha Argerich and the legendary late conductor Claudio Abbado, Deutsche Grammophon has released two of Mozart’s piano concertos, No 25 in C major and No 20 in D minor. Ten years since their last recording together, Argerich and Abbado recorded this newly released album live at the 2013 Lucerne Festival.

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (5 votes cast)

      Ravel, arr Chen: La valse (13:21)

      Sean Chen, piano

      The years between 1900 and 1914, as historian Philipp Blom notes, were a “period of extraordinary creativity in the arts and sciences, of enormous change in society and in the very image people had of themselves.” The works by Ravel and Scriabin on this album, composed in that era, are emblematic of the creative ferment, poised between the ‘good old days’ and the rapid onslaught of modernity. Pianist Sean Chen has been hailed as a rising star with a “million-volt smile” and a “formidable set of fingers” (Dallas Morning News).

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (9 votes cast)

      Davy: Ah, mine heart, remember thee well (4:57)
      Sheppard: In manus tuas III (3:40)

      The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

      The Sixteen returns to its roots, revisiting the golden age of Renaissance polyphony in England. In this new program, the award-winning ensemble performs a stunning selection of works by Richard Davy, John Sheppard, and William Mundy. ‘The Voice of the Turtle Dove’ presents music drawn from two of the richest periods of English sacred music: the last decade of the 15th century when royal choral foundations such as Eton College excelled in intricate devotional music, and a half century later, when the short reign of Mary Tudor brought England back to Catholicism.

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (5 votes cast)

      Misurell-Mitchell: Dark was the Night (11:51)

      Maria Vittoria Jedlowski, guitar

      Composer, flutist and vocal artist Janice Misurell-Mitchell takes a multi-faceted approach to composition. Drawing on traditional Western European classical elements, she fashions pieces that reach into the rich sources of jazz, popular, and ethnic music. Misurell-Mitchell is on the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A member of CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, she has taught and performed around the world. “Vanishing Points” contains works for solo, duo and quartet spanning two decades.

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      Rating: 3.4/5 (24 votes cast)

      O’Connor: Appalachia Waltz (5:49)

      La Pietà / Angèle Dubeau, violin

      Violinist and conductor Angèle Dubeau explains the inspiration for her new album: “After months of battle against cancer, music has been my focal point; it has brought me comfort, tranquillity and sometimes, an essential escape. This music is of Brubeck, Dompierre, Golijov, Hisaishi, Morricone, Mozetich, Munsey, O’Connor, Phillips, Sakamoto, Schyman and Stevens. A music without artifice, real and filled with hope. This album tells my story, the story of a woman like many others who had to fight against illness and, serenely, came out of it stronger.” A portion of the proceeds from the album will help the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation to finance research and innovation.

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      Rating: 3.9/5 (12 votes cast)

      Schumann: Symphony No 1 in B-flat major, Op 38, Spring: III, Scherzo (4:48) & IV, Andante animato e grazioso (7:50)

      Orchestra of the Swan / Kenneth Woods

      With this release, Kenneth Woods and the Stratford-upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan make musical history by completing the first-ever recorded cycle of the symphonies of Hans Gál. Vienna-born Gál’s Symphony No 1 was written in 1927 when the composer was at the height of his powers, belying the turbulent central European events which would forever effect him in the coming years. Woods continues his coupling with the symphonies of Gál’s forebearer, Robert Schumann, with the 19th-century composer’s exuberant First, the “Spring” Symphony, composed some eight decades earlier.

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)

      March 23, 2014

      Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 30 in E major, Op 109 (18:35)

      Igor Levit, piano

      For the last three years, Igor Levit’s name has been the first to be mentioned whenever there has been talk of the most exciting pianists of the younger generation. He is not only mature in his interpretations, but Levit’s appetite for new repertoire of works as difficult and demanding as possible is boundless. For his debut 2-CD album on Sony Classical, the twenty-six-year-old pianist has chosen some of the most challenging repertoire ever written for the piano: Beethoven’s last five piano sonatas.

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (5 votes cast)

      Mozart: Symphony No 35 in D major, K 385, Haffner (22:03)

      Vienna Concentus Musicus / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

      Marking the 60th anniversary of their collaboration, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Concentus Musicus, the orchestra he founded in 1953, release their first recording of Mozart’s Posthorn Serenade. The album also includes two other Mozart pieces, March in D Major and the Haffner Symphony. With his subtly differentiated Mozart style, Harnoncourt discovers new details even in such familiar pieces of music. His attention to detail extends to using a post horn to play the part from which the serenade takes its name, thus giving the piece a rare charm.

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      Rating: 4.6/5 (5 votes cast)

      Hasse: Il cantico de’ tre fanciulli: Notte amica (9:45)

      Max Emanuel Cencic, countertenor; Armonia Atenea / George Petrou

      Johann Adolf Hasse (1699–1783), known during his life as “the father of music” (il padre della musica), enjoyed fame throughout Europe in a career spanning six decades. One of the most well-known and prolific composers of opera seria, around 70 of his dramatic works survive today. For this new recording, countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic performs some of Hasse’s finest arias, shining a spotlight on some remarkable music.

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)