NEW Best Sellers, pop classical-crossover:
The eclectic mix of pieces on Crossing the Stone ranges from Dave Grusin's sprightly "Mountain Dance," Pat Metheny's "James" and Chick Corea's "Spain" to the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" - in an ethereal treatment that features countertenor Terrance Barber - Astor Piazzolla's tango "Buenos Aires Hora Cero," the third movement from Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint, the gentle Welsh lullaby "Suo Gān," and a highly original arrangement of "Claire de lune" by Finch's favorite composer, Claude Debussy.
Crossing the Stone also features several pieces by Karl Jenkins, including a new dance mix (arranged by Jody K. Jenkins, the composer's son) of the first movement of "Palladio," which became an international hit as "Diamond Music," the theme of the DeBeers Diamond TV ad campaign.
Today's Bargain Classical CDs:
Recent Classical Independent Releases::
"Piano Concertos Nos. 10, 19, 20"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Alexandre Rabinovitch, piano and conductor; Martha Argerich, piano; Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto
These are glorious performances of three very different piano concertos by Mozart. Martha Argerich tears into No. 20's darkness with great fury, abetted by Rabinovitch's tense, turmoil-filled accompaniment; she plays Beethoven's appropriately heavy cadenzas with brilliance, and her headlong blaze into the final movement is breathtaking. Rabinovitch plays and leads No. 19 with charm and virtuosity. All told, a delightful disc.
Gidon Kremer, violin; Kremerata Baltica
Fans of Kremer's recent recording of Piazzolla's opera "Maria de Buenos Aires" should certainly check out "Tango Ballet," where the violinist explores the tango master's instrumental and orchestral works. And, while "Tango Ballet" is a sublime work, the included "Concierto del Angel" is just as moving. It's a stirring and contemplative work featuring the fine bandoneon playing of Per Arne Glorvigen.
"Music from the Ether: Original Works for Theremin"
Lydia Kavina, theremin
This new release from Mode Records is easily the best theremin disc since the late Clara Rockmore's legendary release on Delos. Lydia Kavina, the granddaughter of Leon Theremin's first cousin (as well as the inventor's last protegee), explores several works written specifically for the ethereal electronic instrument by the likes of Percy Grainger, Martinu, and Kavina herself. Original, haunting, and a great gift for classical lovers who think they have everything.
"Dettifoss and Other Orchestral Works"
Iceland Symphony Orchestra; En Shao, conductor
With any luck, thanks to "Dettifoss," the talents of Iceland's greatest composer, Jon Leifs, will find the spotlight they deserve. The moving 16-minute tone poem dedicated to one of Europe's most powerful waterfalls is a gripping piece for baritone, orchestra, and mixed choir. Also included are Leifs's Organ Concerto and Variations on a Theme by Ludwig van Beethoven. These are gorgeous, powerful, bold, and--most of all--loud orchestral works that you won't forget.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Emerson String Quartet; David Shifrin, clarinet
The Emersons and clarinetist Shifrin emphasize smoothness of line and a creamy blend of sound in this polished 1997 performance of the Mozart quintet. Tempos are ideal and understatement rules this interpretation, while the Brahms quintet is conveyed with a dramatic passion.
"Reed Streams, Untitled Organ, In C"
Terry Riley; other performers
Terry Riley fans will rejoice at hearing this, the composer's first LP, finally issued on CD. Featuring "Untitled Organ" and "Dorian Reeds"--both remastered here from their original tapes--the album marked the first appearance of Riley's Time Lag Accumulator (the composer's system for making tape loops). These are dizzying, almost hypnotic pieces, but neither composition ever sounds harsh. But perhaps the real gem on this disc is the bonus of 1970's "In C (Mantra)." Here, Riley's seminal work is performed by a Montreal collective through a psychedelic haze. Truly amazing.
"Music for Violin and Piano"
Mark Feldman, violin; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano
Violinist Mark Feldman has traversed all genres of music--from mainstream country to the New York City underground--and found success everywhere. Here, joined by pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, the pair perform a meditative and intense set of original compositions
"Stravinsky: Firebird, Rite of Spring, Persephone"
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond.
Stravinsky's "Firebird" and "Rite of Spring" are both performed impeccably here, but it's the composer's delicate- sounding and rarely heard Persephone that is the true highlight of this three-CD set. Michael Tilson Thomas guides the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra through all three works in a dramatic, highly lyrical fashion. Bargain-priced, to boot.
"Rautavaara: On the Last Frontier"
Helsinki Philharmonic Chorus; Helsinki Philharmonic; Leif Segerstam, cond.
The gifts of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara continue to be revealed--for example, on this recording of a flute concerto, a tone poem, and a fantasy for chorus and orchestra. Conductor Leif Segerstam, flutist Patrick Gallois, and the Helsinki Philharmonic perform these works exquisitely. If you haven't heard Rautavaara yet, this disc is an excellent introduction to his work.
The violin compositions of 17th-century composer Marco Uccellini were avant-garde for their time: he explored high notes, odd keys, and repeated motifs like few other baroque composers. This new recording of his sonatas, performed by Andrew Manze's Romanesca (also featuring harpsichordist John Toll and guitarist Nigel North), will help reveal his talents. If you loved Romanesca's near-perfect take on Biber's violin sonatas, you owe it to yourself to hear this.
New Music has seldom been as adventurous, globetrotting, or fun as it is in the hands of accordionist Guy Klucevsek. On "Transylvanian Softwear," Klucevsek performs solo renditions of compositions by John Zorn, Fred Frith, and William Duckworth, as well as several of his own. "Three 'Microids'" is his ode to Bartok, a study in polymeter; "'Viavy Rose' Variations" uses a melody from Madagascar as a launch pad, and Zorn's "Road Runner" is a wild sound collage. Throughout, Klucevsek reveals his virtuosity, humor, and range.
"Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1"
Ilya Gringolts, soloist; Lahti Symphony Orchestra; Osmo Vanska, cond.
Seventeen-year-old Ilya Gringolts makes the most of these bravura pieces by Paganini. On the solo piece (from Paisiello's "La Molinara," for solo violin), in particular, his playing shines with charm, humor, poise, and a highly lyrical sensibility.
NEW MUSIC'S ROOTS: GAMELAN SOUNDS
"The Roots of Gamelan--Bali, 1928"
Since its Western discovery in the late '20s, the percussive sounds of Balinese gamelan music would influence a variety of contemporary forward-thinking composers from Benjamin Britten to Harry Partch and John Cage. Thanks to "The Roots of Gamelan," we can hear what those composers heard on the original 78s that first captured the numerous ceremonial orchestras of the small country. Included is a real bonus: recordings made of composer and gamelan lover Colin McPhee and Benjamin Britten as they attempt to transcribe the instrument's sounds for the piano.