Chopin: Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op 61 (12:42)
Rafał Blechacz, piano
Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz has just released his third recording of Chopin on Deutsche Grammophon (his fifth album for the label overall) and continues to demonstrate his rare ability to bring fresh interpretation and new insight to these works. The winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition, including a sweep of all five first prize awards, Blechacz has now recorded his interpretations of Chopin’s popular and demanding Polonaises which were published during the composer’s lifetime.
New Release of the Week
Busoni: Nine Variations on a Chopin Prelude in C minor, Op 28 No 20 (10:03)
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Marc-André Hamelin is indisputably the king of Busoni pianists. He triumphantly masters the extraordinary technical difficulties and contrapuntal complexities this composer presents. This generously priced triple album offers most of Busoni’s mature works and the widest selection of pieces from the Klavierübung so far recorded, many of them for the first time.
Prokofiev: L’enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son), Op 46: Scene I (17:10)
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop
Prokofiev’s imposing Fourth Symphony and his final ballet for Sergei Diaghilev, The Prodigal Son, share common roots but are entirely distinctive in character. The 1947 revision of the Fourth Symphony, lengthened and enriched in orchestration by the addition of a piccolo clarinet, piano and harp, makes extended use of themes from The Prodigal Son as well as unused material.
Haydn: Missa in Angustiis (Lord Nelson Mass) (37:53)
Mary Wilson, soprano; Abigail Fischer, mezzo-soprano; Keith Jameson, tenor; Kevin Deas, bass-baritone; Boston Baroque / Martin Pearlman
Boston Baroque’s concerts of the ‘Lord Nelson Mass’ have received rave reviews. The performance uses the leaner, original orchestration of Haydn’s manuscript including the original vocal lines (made simpler in a later edition). The Mass is partnered on this recording by Symphony No 102, one of the most powerful and interesting of Haydn’s ‘London’ symphonies, giving center stage to the ensemble’s talented musicians.
Schumann: Gesänge der Frühe, Op 133 (15:14)
Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Mitsuko Uchida places Schumann’s turbulent Piano Sonata No 2 in company with his romantic Waldszenen (Forest Scenes) and the Gesänge der Frühe (Songs of Dawn). Her deep understanding of the contrasting character and moods of each work and ability to portray them in sound underline her status among the great pianists of our time.
Strauss: Don Juan, Op 20 (18:33)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck
For more than 116 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence. The PSO has a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became Music Director. The orchestra’s new release is planned as the first in a series of multi-channel hybrid SACD recordings from Reference Recordings. It features three tone poems by Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.
Britten: String Quartet No 2 in C major, Op 36: IV, Chacony (15:06)
The Takács Quartet has recorded much of the great Classical and Romantic repertoire during their fruitful career. Now they turn to masterpieces of the 20th century – Benjamin Britten’s three quartets. The first was written in America during World War II. The second was composed at the height of Britten’s fame after the premiere of Peter Grimes. It commemorates the 250th anniversary of Purcell’s death – a composer who was a lifetime inspiration to Britten – and the last movement is cast in the form of a huge chacony. The third quartet was written at the end of Britten’s life and refers specifically to his last opera, Death in Venice.
Britten: War Requiem, Op 66: Offertorium (9:20); Sanctus (9:28)
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Ian Bostridge, tenor; Thomas Hampson, baritone; Santa Cecilia National Academy Chorus & Orchestra / Antonio Pappano
2013 marks the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten, and Warner Classics pays tribute to this key figure of 20th century music with the release of a new recording of his War Requiem, with a stellar line up of soloists – Anna Netrebko, Ian Bostridge and Thomas Hampson. Considered to be Britten’s crowning choral work, and for some possibly the pinnacle of his entire output, it was commissioned for the festival marking the consecration of the new cathedral at Coventry.
Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola & Harp (17:06)
Elizabeth Hainen, harp; Roberto Díaz, viola; Jeffrey Khaner, flute
Principal Harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra Elizabeth Hainen’s latest release, Les Amis, features a rare pairing of works by Claude Debussy and André Caplet, exploring the composers’ friendship. The program includes the evocative and rarely heard Le Masque de la mort rouge, a piece by Caplet inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Rounding out the recording, Hainen solos with a transcription of Debussy’s Petite Suite and Caplet’s Divertissements, and is joined by Jeffrey Khaner and Roberto Díaz in Debussy’s Trio Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp.
New Release of the Week
Antón García Abril: Third Sigh (3:23)
Avner Dorman: Memory Games (5:01)
David Del Tredici: Farewell (5:01)
Mason Bates: Ford’s Farm (3:19)
Hilary Hahn, violin; Cory Smythe, piano
The idea for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores began to take shape when Hahn noticed that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinist’s education and repertoire, and Hahn believes that potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. What is unique about the project, though, is the incredible depth that Hahn has gone to. She explored the music of all the composers before personally contacting them and ran a blind online contest with open submissions to find the 27th composer.