Sharon Isbin has been a tireless commissioner of new work and her latest album Affinity is no exception with several recent compositions set alongside some old friends. It's Chris Brubeck's 18-minute Guitar Concerto-the longest and most colorful work here-that gives the album its title and opens proceedings. The concerto's name alludes to a shared "affinity" between composer and soloist, two musicians who thrive on exploring different styles. Like his father jazz legend Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck has his roots in jazz, but despite its plentiful toe-tapping syncopation, Affinity is most definitely a classical work. At its atmospheric heart the composer manages to incorporate one of his father's loveliest tunes-"Autumn in Our Town"-before a lilting Renaissance dance section ups the tempo to end with something akin to a wriggling Brazilian samba. Highly energetic, melodically infectious, and colorfully scored, Affinity is a real crowd pleaser, and with her immaculate and fleet-footed technique Isbin does it proud. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Elizabeth Schulze has just the right feel for this music and the excellent engineering ensures both textural clarity and a perfect balance.
It's 40 years since Leo Brouwer wrote his solo guitar work El Decameron Negro for Isbin, and although she's recorded it previously, her interpretation has only deepened with time. The three evocative instrumental "ballads" are inspired by African love stories infused with the musical sensibilities of Brouwer's native Cuba. Isbin is a natural storyteller and is in her element here, putting on a virtuoso display full of light, shade, and manual dexterity. Ditto Tan Dun's Seven Desires, an intriguing solo work that straddles-and fuses-the seemingly disparate worlds of the Chinese pipa and Spanish flamenco guitar. Antonio Lauro's charming Waltz No. 3 is here arranged for two guitars by former Isbin student and now regular duet partner Colin Davin. The disc concludes with Richard Danielpour's Of Love and Longing, three contrasting settings for voice and guitar of the Persian poet Rumi. Performed here with great warmth and sensitivity by Isabel Leonard, it crowns an album that should please fans of Isbin and of contemporary guitar music in general.
One would find it hard to beat the all-star line-up featured in The Cave of Wondrous Voice, a new, hour-long survey of vocal and chamber music by the California-based composer Mark Abel. David Shifrin, Carol Rosenberger, Hila Plitmann, and Fred Sherry headline the album but they're not its only stars. On the whole, The Cave of Wonderous Voice is smartly played and engineered. Abel's writing throughout is fluent and often genial. While certain spots in the Trio, particularly, might benefit from grittier moments to offset the diatonic ones, this is music of considerable expressive directness as well as charm.
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Composer, pianist, and conductor Michael Shapiro joins us to talk about the music on his latest disc, including his John Milton-inspired piano concerto entitled Archangel. In this action-packed work, Shapiro lays out the epic Biblical battle between good and evil as a metaphor for the challenges we all face in our daily lives (which includes the current coronavirus pandemic – something Michael recently fell victim to himself). Also on the disc: orchestral excerpts from an opera based on Federico Garcia Lorca, and a full-throttle realization for orchestra of the famous organ Toccata by French composer Charles-Marie Widor.
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There are a few guitarists who are almost instantly recognizable by their tone: Richard Thompson, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny - and John Scofield. It's not that his sound is idiosyncratic, it's just that it's personal. There's some chorus in there, and just a touch of distortion to rough up the very edges. But it's also the notes he plays, and the way that the blues are never far from him no matter how complex the chord changes get. On his latest solo album he's joined by drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow. As the title suggests, the album is actually a tribute to Swallow, and consists entirely of the bassist's compositions. Scofield has said that when the two of them play together "sometimes… it's like one big guitar," and you can definitely hear that; you can also hear why Scofield likes Swallow's tunes so much ("they're grounded in reality, with cadences that make sense"). As discursive as the trio sometimes gets - this is an ECM jazz recording, after all - they never lose the thread of brilliant continuity that binds these wonderful tunes together. For all jazz collections.
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Voice of Hope is Camille Thomas's second album for Deutsche Grammophon. The Franco-Belgian cellist's program pays tribute to people's ability to triumph over adversity, create harmony in place of chaos, and overcome hatred with love. The album presents the world-premiere recording of Fazil Say's concerto Never Give Up, a response to terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul written for and premiered by Thomas, and also includes an exquisite selection of songs, prayers, and laments, Bruch's Kol Nidrei and Ravel's Kaddisch among them.
For June 30, Camille Thomas - Voice of Hope is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
"There is no denying the emotional expression and feeling of the music, the joy and exuberance transmitted, and at times it certainly lifts the spirits, but unless you have a taste for this style, a little goes a long way"
An intriguing release, this is really world music, drawing on Middle Eastern and Andalusian traditions, with guitarist and keyboard player Dave Soldier setting poems, mainly Hebrew and Arabic, to music. For this he uses traditional instrumentation with occasional elements of contemporary music and a sprinkling of jazz. There are jazz connections in the personnel – bassist Ratzo Harris played with Mose Allison and Betty Carter, trombonist Chris Washburne with Eddie Palmieri, and Soldier himself studied with Roscoe Mitchell. But apart from this, the link is minimal.
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Recently French composer and pianist Lucas Debargue breathed new life into the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and presents works outside the standard piano repertoire. The Parisian pianist has already climbed the pinnacle of piano artistry with Beethoven, Liszt and Ravel and unleashed full-blown romantic thunderstorms with Schubert's A-minor Piano Sonata no. 14 and the madcap finale of Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit.
On the album, Debargue devotes himself completely to Domenico Scarlatti. He already played four of this Italian master's sonatas on his highly acclaimed début album. Germany's Der Spiegel waxed ecstatic: "Debargue's Scarlatti recalls his mighty predecessors. He displays the subtle touch and feeling once bestowed on these miniatures by Vladimir Horowitz and imparts new sound to Scarlatti's keyboard music. … Debargue touches the outer limits of expression between joylessness and rapture: one may find it overwrought, but it's never less than gripping. And then there's the gentle Glenn Gould touch."
Debargue joins us for this mini-episode of REMOTE with a couple words on some of his pandemic-projects, reading list, and the importance of emphasizing our similarities rather than differences. READ THE Q&A
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
However, it was words from Sir Bryn Terfel that really filled him with excitement. "I did not know a great deal about Llangollen and the festival but my great friend Bryn Terfel has told me what to expect and that makes me very excited," Villazón shared. "I have performed in Wales before, twice at the Bryn Terfel festival. I remember how the Welsh audience completely connects to what we, as performers, sing on the stage and that is so important . . . I see my role as a performer to give my audience the best interpretation I can of the music and words that I sing, and to establish a unique bond with the audience every single time. I treasure this very much." Conductor James Hendry, making his Welsh debut, will lead the British Sinfonietta.
Mozartissimo is a personal retrospective including Rolando Villazón's favorite tracks, with famous arias from his recordings of Mozart operas Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte and presenting them in a new tailor-made selection curated by Rolando Villazón himself.
Rolando Villazón follows the footsteps of leading tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo by releasing his first Christmas album on Deutsche Grammophon, Feliz Navidad. The album features seasonal classics such as "What Child Is This" and "Stille Nacht" as well as the modern favorites "Feliz Navidad" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."
The fifth installment in DG's Grammy-nominated series of Mozart operas conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, La Clemenza di Tito is Mozart's last opera about the benevolent Emperor Titus who pardons an attempt on his own life. Rolando Villazón in the title role is supported by a stellar cast, including mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Sesto.
Italian music in the 19th century is most often summed up in a single word: opera. Yet, for all its importance, opera was only the magnificent tip of the iceberg of Italian musical life. Instrumental, orchestral and, in particular, sacred music all abounded in Ottocento Italy. The fours composers featured in this all-new recital are all known mostly for their operatic output, yet each was also an accomplished writer of songs, a fact that Rolando Villazón has chosen to highlight.
Rolando Villazón calls the songs simply "these little treasures". The Mexican-born tenor has sung several 19th-century Italian art songs over the years in his many recitals with piano, just as other great tenors have done down the ages. But in 2012 Villazón decided that they could be the building blocks of something rather bigger. "I saw there was a project for me here, of songs that are well-known and songs that I didn't know at the time, and that are not well-known at all except to specialist scholars. I just started searching."
It has been a triumphant year for Rolando Villazón, appropriately crowned at Berlin's Konzerthaus on October 6, 2013 with the "Best Solo Recording/Voice (arias/recitals)" award for his highly-praised Villazón Verdi tribute at Germany's 20th ECHO Klassik ceremony. The star tenor not only collected the prestigious solo artist prize, but also performed and co-hosted the annual event, for the second time. Now the singer is putting the focus squarely on his most beloved of composers: the coming year will be "all Mozart, all the time," Villazón proclaims, and presents his new album, Mozart Concert Arias – a collection of rarely recorded concert arias for tenor written by the genius composer, recorded with Sir Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. The album will be released January 21, 2014 in the US.
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