Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 54: I, Allegro affetuoso (14:42)
Alexander Melnikov, fortepiano; Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado
On the second volume in Harmonia Mundi’s series of complete recordings of Schumann’s concertos and trios, pianist Alexander Melnikov gives us an interpretation of the composer’s evergreen Piano Concerto on an 1837 Erard fortepiano. Pablo Heras-Casado guides the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra through a fresh approach, uncovering music as poetic as it is moving. To complete the program, Melnikov is joined by violinist Isabelle Faust and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras in an inspired performance of the Piano Trio No 2.
Beethoven: Adelaide, Op 46 (5:29); Bagatelle, Op 126 No 5 (2:26)
Werner Güra, tenor; Christoph Berner, fortepiano
Beethoven as a giant of the symphony and the sonata has somewhat overshadowed Beethoven as a creator of songs. On this varied and insightful recording, tenor Werner Güra performs a program featuring the first song cycle in history, An die ferne Geliebte, that proves Beethoven’s lieder lacked neither appeal nor originality. Accompanist Christoph Berner plays a Streicher fortepiano of 1847 that is perfectly suited to both the songs and to his solo performance of the Bagatelles of Op 126.
Bernstein: Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) (29:28)
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; London Symphony Orchestra / Keith Lockhart
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers explores and celebrates the facets of love with a new album of works for violin and orchestra. The recording features Bernstein’s Serenade and ten world premieres. Serenade is based on a reading of Plato’s Symposium, in which seven ancient Greek philosophers debate the meaning of love. Meyers is a champion of living composers and commissioned seven renowned composer-arrangers to create ten works for violin and orchestra from love-inspired music from stage and film.
New Release of the Week
Bernstein: West Side Story: I Feel Pretty (1:24); Maria (2:03); America (1:56)
Bonfá: Passeio no Rio (3:17)
Lara: Granada (5:11)
Pablo Villegas, guitar
The guitar was brought by the Spaniards to the New World during the colonial period. The guitar absorbed and merged with indigenous instruments and was assimilated into the musical fabric of a wide geographical area. More than any other instrument, it defines the common musical heartbeat of the Americas. On this musical journey, rising Spanish star, Pablo Villegas combines the emotions of Brazilian music, the nostalgic tango, Venezuelan rhythms, and American bluegrass.
Haydn: Symphony No 67 in F major (24:18)
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra / Nicholas McGegan
The San Francisco-area based Philharmonia Baroque is one of America’s leading period instrument ensembles. Under its director Nicholas McGegan, they’ve released several recordings on their own label. Following a Grammy-nominated album of later Haydn symphonies, the orchestra now explores three works that come from a period in which Haydn was eagerly exploring the possibilities of symphonic form and expression, writing for his patron Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.
Pärt: Da Pacem Domine (4:57)
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra / Tōnu Kaljuste
Pärt: Festina Lente (5:29)
Bonn Beethovenhalle Orchestra / Dennis Russell Davies
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt celebrated his 80th birthday on September 11th. For the occasion, ECM released this special double album, ‘Musica Selecta.’ Pärt and producer Manfred Eicher have maintained a friendship and creative partnership for more than thirty years. Eicher launched ECM New Series in 1984 as a platform for Pärt’s music. Since then, all first recordings of Pärt’s major works have been made for ECM. In ‘Musica Selecta,’ Eicher revisits episodes from their shared musical quest.
New Release of the Week
Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria (2:43)
Brahms: Lullaby (1:50)
Dvořák: Songs My Mother Taught Me (1:57)
Fauré: Papillon (2:49)
Gade: Tango Jalousie (3:42)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Kathryn Stott, piano
Longtime friends cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott offer pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries. ‘Songs from the Arc of Life’ begins and ends with two, much-beloved settings of the traditional Ave Maria. In between is a remarkable spectrum of music that includes favorites by Brahms, Elgar, Saint-Saëns, Debussy and many others. Ma and Stott also perform a haunting piece by the contemporary composer Giovanni Sollima, a friend and colleague of both artists.
Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor (26:35)
Johannes Moser, cello; Prague Philharmonia / Jakub Hrůša
German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser recently signed an exclusive recording contract with Pentatone. For his debut on the label, he chose to record the pinnacle of repertoire for cello and orchestra, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor. In this monumental work, Dvořák explores the entire spectrum of human emotion, very much inspired by his own experiences. Moser completes his album with the Cello Concerto by Édouard Lalo. It is a work of great verve that fully embodies Spanish flair combined with romantic spirit.
Brahms: Four Songs, Op 96 (10:17)
Ian Bostridge, tenor; Graham Johnson, piano
This is the sixth volume of a series that presents the entire piano-accompanied songs and vocal works of Johannes Brahms. As such, it is a companion to the series undertaken by Hyperion for the songs of Schubert, Schumann, Fauré, Strauss and Liszt. Each volume takes a journey through the career of Brahms. The songs are not quite presented in chronological order (Brahms had a way of including earlier songs in later opus numbers), but they do appear more or less in the order that the songs were presented to the world. Each recital represents a different journey through the repertoire (and thus through Brahms’s’ life).
Mahler: Symphony No 1 in D major: Finale (18:59)
Utah Symphony / Thierry Fischer
The Utah Symphony is celebrating its 75th anniversary in the 2015-2016 season. It is recognized internationally for its distinctive performances, commitment to music education programs, and recording legacy. Thierry Fischer, music director since 2009, has revitalized the orchestra with creative programming and critically acclaimed performances. Their new recording on Reference comes out of the orchestra’s two-year Mahler Symphony Cycle.