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Classical 89.5- Great Music and NPR News.

older | 1 | (Page 2) | 3 | 4 | .... | 9 | newer

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    At the risk of revealing how deeply nerdy I am... oh, well... if you're a listener, you knew that all ready, didn't you...

    I mentioned a book on air today about life during the middle ages, and I've gotten a phone call asking for the details, so here it is.  I believe this is actually a textbook.  A family member looked at it, set it down and asked, "isn't that a little dry?" and yes, sections of it are dry and full of details, but it can be skimmed if you don't want to know, for example, exactly what kind of joints were used to put benches together and what kind of tool was used.  And if you do want to know these things, you're deeply in luck!

    My biggest "take-away" from this book, (and one of the repeated mantras of the book,) is that:  paintings and historical films have given us a particular, harsh view of life in the middle ages which may be too much based on the fact that we look at crumbling castles with no furniture and imagine life in THAT.  The reality may be less barbarian: people are people and tend to make life as comfortable as we can make it, more colorful, with more of a society, and life for even the average person may have not been quite as stark and barren as we usually imagine.

    Paul B. Newman
    ISBN10: 0786408979
    Edition/Copyright: 00
    Cover: Hardback
    Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers
    Published: 02/28/2001

    For those interested in early music I find it a thoughtful touchstone for the reality of life in these times, and for those interested in Ren-fairs and reinactment, it has extended sections on what people wore... and you might want to take the leg o' mutton out of your bare hands, grab a napkin, and pick up a fork!

    History ROCKS!  
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 02/22/13--09:12: Just Opened, Feb. 22, 2013
  •  New and old and historic music all in the mix,  Just Opened today.

    The Jasper String Quartet
    The Kernis Project: Schubert
    Dorian Solo Luminous 92152
    ISBN# 0 5347 21522 2
    This exciting new string quartet will be performing locally on Saturday March 2 at Coastal Concerts in Lewes, DE.  For more info. on their upcoming concert, click on this link:   This CD is the second in their Kernis project series, the first showcased a combination of Kernis and Beethoven (which will be featured in the concert), and this one provides a musical conversation between Kernis and Schubert.

    Leonard Shure
    in Concert at Jordan Hall
    BRIDGE 9374A/B  2 CD set
    ISBN#0 90404 93742 2
    Digitally remastered recordings from the 1970s.
    Part of the mission of Bridge records is to remaster historic recordings by great artists and make them available after years of being out of circulation.  We're happy to be able to present many of these to you, both on Just Opened, and as part of our regular play library.

    Music for violin & piano by
    Composers of African Descent
    Merwin Siu, violin &
    Phoenix Park-Kim, piano
    MSR 1372
    ISBN#6 81585 13722 2
    Music transcribed for violin and piano of great American Composers of Color:  Coleridge-Taylor, Dett, Smith, Swanson & Marslis.

    ROSSINI: Cantatas
    Le Nozze di Tetti &
    Il Pianto d'Armonia
    LONDON DECCA 466 328
    ISBN# 0 28946 63282 6
    Cecilia Bartoli heads a vocal cast of great singers in these works by Rossini that are a neglected part of his repertoire.  Ricardo Chailly conducts the Orchestra Philharmonica of La Scala.

     Monteverdi, Britten, Brahms, Ravel
    BRIDGE 9176
    ISBN#0 90404 91762 2
    Digitally remastered recordings from the 1980s.
    Part of the mission of Bridge records is to remaster historic recordings by great artists and make them available after years of being out of circulation.  We're happy to be able to present many of these to you, both on Just Opened, and as part of our regular play library.  A great beauty, American mezzo Bonazzi's carreer was enviable, including premiers of many great roles.  This recital CD caused the kind of stir any great artist appreciates... some quibbles about opening the program with Monteverdi - probably an argument that is lost on most of us.  Indesputable is that after a stellar operatic career, Bonazzi made such a successful transition to the recital stage that composers clammored to write material for her to present in recital.  What luck to be able to revisit her artistry in this remastered release!

    Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 03/01/13--11:09: Just Opened, March 1, 2013

  • "MOSTLY ROMANTIC" era music on Just Opened today, along with the traditional vocal music of the Morman Tabernacle choir.

    Piano Concertos
    Martin Roscoe, piano
    Martyn Brabbins, cond.
    BBC Scottish Symph. Orch
    HYPERION 67069
    ISBN#0 34571 17069 5
    When presented with many good selections, I'm finding that rarity is often the factor that finally makes the final element of my decision, and just so, this is My Delight of the Week.  I recently heard a lecturer say, "the secondary composers of any era are important because they are part of the on-going musical conversation that shapes the melodic world of the few, first string composers."  It is an important concept to grasp, and we are so particularly fortunate in this day and age to be able to hear the works of "lesser" composers - perhaps even moreso than the people who lived during that era.  The Romantic era was so chock-full of great piano virtuosos.  CDs like this are a perfect example of lush, richly rewarding music that may be completely unknown to us.  A great way to take a musical break from your old standby favorites without leaving the Romantic era.

    Goran Goyevich, clarinet
    Voyislav Peruchica, piano
    Backsplit Music & Media
    ISBN# 8 44667 00588 2
    A smooth recital CD from the Goya school of Music.  A pleasing mixture of romantic and early-modern (still very melodic) works that will have you looking for more clarinet music.  Often the prankster of the orchestra, this is a refreshing opportunity for the clarinet to demonstrate it's buttery sweet side.

    Barbara Govatos, violin
    Marcantonio Barone, piano
    BRIDGE 9389A/D - 4 CD set
    ISBN# 0 90404 93892 4
    Opus 12 and 30 are especially highlighted in this 4CD set of Beethoven violin sonatas.  Both performers hold prestigious positions and respect within the international music community.   Any extended set of works like this demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and intention that "separates the (musical) men from the boys."  When two artists of this stature join forces, one can relax, take of the critic's hat, sit back, and enjoy.

    Mormon Tabernacle Choir
    Craig Jessop, cond.
    MTC 0301
    ISBN# 7 83027 56432 7
    We'll be sharing a varitey of Easter music on Just Opened this season, and as we have never officially "opened" this 2003 release, it seemed the perfect place to start.  The reliability of the sound of the MTC, the beauty of their arrangments, their standard of excellence have made their name synonymous with the heights of fine choral singing.

    Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 03/08/13--10:09: Just Opened, March 8, 2013
  •  Chris Ranck hosts Just Opened today as we continue "opening" CDs for Easter, and other new releases.

    Harmonies Poetiques & Religieuses
    David Barela, piano 28022
    ISBN# 8 29757 28022 6
    Music suited to the lenten season and Maundy Thursday from Franz Liszt's overtly religous period.  Many of these are piano versions of works that were later orchestrated by Liszt.

    Music for Lent and Holy Week
    Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola
    Kent Tritle, cond.
    ISBN# 6 81585 11382 0
    Choral music for the season of lent.  Composers include Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria and Tallis.

    Harmonious Blacksmith
    Early Music Ensemble
    Joseph Gascho & Justin Godoy, Dirs.
    available online
    ISBN# 8 84501 40912 4
    A lovely cross-section of early works (mostly 1500s).  About half of them include vocals.  The instrumentations are varied and perhaps the most remarkable feautre is the rave reviews this group has received for historically informed improvization.

    Music for Fun and Dance
    by Carmon DeLeone (cond. & composer)
    Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra
    Rose Hill Records 2471
    available online at
    ISBN# 6 17034 24712 9
    Fresh orchestral and chamber works for ballet theatre, including an inventive work with narration and music, "Harper" (in a wind set, string set, and combination).  The Cincinnati Ballet is fortunate to have a conductor who is composing new works of this calibre... this is old school in the best way, when Ballet Theatres like the Ballet Russe were actively inventive and creative.

    Villa-Lobos & Mignone
    Frank Morelli, bassoon
    Benjamin Verdery, guitar
    Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
    MSR 1110
    ISBN# 6 81585 1110 2 4
    The bassoon makes me swoon.  My delight of the week.  Frank Morelli teaches at multiple top notch music conservatories, and you only have to hear a few creamy, luxurious notes to know why he has gained international stature.   The largest part of this CD is Mignone's "16 Waltzes for solo bassoon."  The other works add orchestra and the whole package is very accessible.

    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 03/15/13--09:42: Just Opened - March 15, 2013
  • Songs of the Spirit, and of the Earth is our theme today with a variety of compositions that either intentionally or unintentionally evoke a search of the soul, in a variety of musical forms.

    Water Night
    Eric Whitacre Singers
    London Symphony Orchestra
    L.DECCA 16636
    ISBN # 6 02527 96323 5
    Whitacre's choral works are incredibly popular, with a blend of new age tonalities, precision choral work, an equally imprecise religiousity, and the kind of orchestrations and arrangements that make modern film music hit the right emotional peaks, feel larger-than-life, but also feel a teeny tiny bit formulaic or technical.  But realistically, these elements are what make for large-scale popularity that transcend the normal choral or orchestral boundaries.   If you like the music of John Rutter, Whitacre's compositions strike me as Rutter-lite, a bit more pop, a bit more glitzy...hmmm.  I have it!  Here's the proper analogy:  the music of Rutter is to the music of Whitacre, as the music of Lerner and Lowe is to the music of Lloyd-Webber.  Fortunately, Whitacre is apparently a top of the line conductor - from the unified precision of the Eric Whitacre Singers, then... add in the excellence of the London Symphony Orchestra, and while it's definitely a "package deal,"  it's a good solid package.
    The 7 Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross
    Rosamunde Quartett
    ECM 1756
    ISBN# not available
    Haydn's 7 quartets for 2 violins, viola and cello are rarely performed, and are an especially welcome counterpoint in the Easter repertoire as a break from the extensive repertoire of choral work for the season.  This extended group of serious works are just the sort of thing we'd expect from ECM who have carved out a large niche in early music, original instruments, and rarely performed works, performed with seriousness and excellence... like this one.  A marvelous addition to any library of great works for the Easter season.

    Martin Berkovsky, piano
    The Historic Moscow Recordings
    ISBN# 0 09414 78892 4
    Hovhaness became known for his works which explore both spirituality and universalism.  With diverse influences of world music, gregorian chant, polyphony, and pre-even tempered tunings, Hovhaness put all this musical knowledge to use in creating works that evoke a larger rhelm of the spirit.  Berkovsky has increasingly found this to resonate with his personal leanings, and has turned this into beautiful, meaningful performances.  Hovhaness is not for the faint of heart, but the exploration is richly rewarding.

    Laurel Zucker, flute
    Mark Delpriora, guitar
    ISBN# 7 57166 60382 7
    An easy pick for my Delight of the Week.  Another from the incredibly large and diverse CD catalogue of Laurel Zucker.  Always reliable for musicality and interpretation, the selections on this CD are particularly accessible, works by Schubert, Diabelli and Giuliani. 

    Christian Hilz, baritone
    Marianne Beate Kielland, mezzo
    Katia Bouscarrut, piano
    AVIE 2134
    ISBN# not available
    The lieder of Schumann are a staple for accomplished singers, and what good fortune that these two voices that blend so well have found each other in this music, for the rare treat of sharing the duets that are the culmination of this CD.

    Tune in next week for more new CDs, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 03/22/13--11:32: Just Opened, March 22, 2013

  • We continue featuring works for the Lent/Easter season during Just Opened this month... the Christian calendar has always been a treasure-trove and inspiration for composers, and it continues to be so.  Taverner's "Lamentations and Praises" uses the passion of the cross as a starting point, and that is our featured Lenten/Easter CD for this week.

    It should go without saying, but almost all new releases are available online, to purchase, and almost always to download as well.  Just do a web search on the name of the artist and CD and many options should pop up.

    John Tavener's
    Lamentations & Praises
    TELDEC 41342
    ISBN# 8 09274 13422 6
    Chanticleer in conjunction with theHandel & Haydn Soceity of Boston Ensemble commissioned this major work for the Easter Season.  It begins with the "Descent from the Cross" and concludes with the resurrection in the tomb.

    Symphony No. 9
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
    Deutsche Grammophon 17969
    ISBN# 0 28947 90924 8
    A major symphony played by one of the world's major orchestras, conducted by a major musical heart-throb!  The first hour of Just Opened today featured all but the first movement of this magnificent work that Dudamel says he waited to conquer.

    Deutsche Grammophon13960
    ISBN# 0 28947 77557 7
    We feature all the Mazurkas from this CD on Just Opened, but if you like the moodier broodier side of Chopin, it is here, too:  Ballad No. 1, 2 Nocturnes, and his piano sonata No. 3.

    New Music for Oboe & English Horn
    Michele Fiala, oboe & english horn
    MSR 1403
    ISBN 6 80585 14032 1
    One of the trends in "recital" CDs is to feature exclusively new works.  This can be risky, as most "serious" composition is still largely atonal and - challenging at best.  Even an instrument as luscious as the oboe can be hard to take while it creates the edgy sqeeks and pops of dissonant compostitions - when the selections are all "new" it can feel like an "inside music" converstion that most of us are not privy to.   It's safe to say that those who play wind instruments will find things here that they love, and they will find other things that fascinate and inspire them. If you love the oboe and the english horn (as I do)... and you like to test your limits... it's a good test.

    Andrew Rangell, piano
    BRIDGE 9297
    ISBN# 0 90404 92972 4
    Three Opus 10 piano sonatas, and the beloved "Pathetique," played by a mature accomplished master.  This is informed, reliable music listening. (And also a good preview of our after-the-news-at-noon theme for next month:  The Sonatas of Beethoven.)
    My delight of the week!

    Join us next week, for more CDs new to us, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 03/29/13--10:40: Just Opened, March 29, 2013
  • We continue our month-long focus on Lenten and Easter music with selections from the Eaton Choir Book, and unusual works for bassoon and choir.
     - - AND - - just today we received this special benefit CD which we've worked into the program:

    1-song CD  3:24 mins
    Proceeds benefit Sandy Hook Elementary
    MSR 9015
    ISBN# 6 81585 90152 6
    MSR records is one of our regular labels.  They are located in Newtown, CT, and put out this one song CD of Newtown Youth Voices as a benefit CD for Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Available on, and also at and

    Music from The Eton Choirbook
    Stephen Darlington, cond.
    The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
    AVIE 2167
    ISBN# 8 22252 21672 1
    Tudor music from the Historic Eaton Choirbook to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII of June 1509.  Recorded in 2009.  Works by Fawkyner, Cornysh, Lambe, Davy and Browne (ranging from mid 1400s to mid 1500s). Exquisite.

    Trio Solisti
    BRIDGE 9393
    ISBN# 0 90404 93932 7
    My delight of the week!   Dvorak, with his keen integration of folk music into his largely romantic-era sound world, is so dependable and universal in appeal as to be overlooked.  For gift-giving, or a new addition to your own music collection, we often look for things that we can easily pick up, that don't require much deliberation as a "safe bet."   Here it is!  Engaging, fun, melodic works by Antonin Dvorak, played by this world recognized trio.

    Music for Bassoon & Chorus
    Benjamin Coelho, bassoon
    Timothy Stalter, cond.
    University of Iowa Kantorei
    MSR 1407
    ISBN# 6 81585 14072 7
    Works ranging from turn of the 1900s to modern, for bassoon and various groupings of choir voices.  Brazilian native Coelho has both a growing reputation as an international solo artist, and a diverse body of recorded work.  He is all ready in our library, and worth keeping an eye out for.

    Piano music by Medtner & Scriabin
    MSR 1326
    ISBN# 6 81585 1326 2 3
    Recently an artist said to me that while the normal phrase for persuing a life in the arts is usually "drive" he thinks a better term would be obsession.  Similarly, it may be a work of obsession, not a work of love, to focus the time, energy, committment and artistry on the challenging works of Medtner and Scriabin.  Fine arts had Van Gogh, and music had Scriabin, both legitimately brilliant and legitimately insane.  For full disclosure, the sound worlds of these two composers are largely unihabiatble territory for me, challenging to listen to, and technically challenging beyond the pale.  My hat is off to Feoktistova.   If you believe that Phillip Glass and John Adams are composers that everyone should hear, then this should satisfy your listening buffet quite nicely.  To be fair, some of Scriabin's work here - like Van Gogh -  is quite able to charm and with enough of the Belle Epoche wafting around its edges to make it go down quite smoothly.

    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 04/08/13--10:44: Just Opened, April 5th, 2013

  • Chris Ranck hosted "Just Opened" on Friday, with a varied selection of early, classical, romantic and modern music.

    Elizabeth Rich, piano
    ISBN # 7 62434 42212 3

    Frank Morelli, bassoon
    Susan Jolles, harp
    Humbert Lucarelli, oboe
    VOX 7504
    ISBN# 0 47163 75042 7
    Michael Slattery, tenor
    La Nef (original/early instruments)
    ATMA 2650
    ISBN# 7 22056 26502 7
    CHIHARA : Viola Concerto &
    Music for Viola
    Paul Coletti, viola
    Yehuda Gilad, cond.
    The Colburn Orchestra
    BRIDGE 9365
    ISBN # 0 90404 93652 4
    Imaginary Islands
    The Alabama Symphony Orchestra
    Justin Brown, Cond.
    David Starobin, guitar
    BRIDGE 9366
    ISBN # 0 90404 93662 3
    Chris said this was his favorite of the week, because it surprised him.  He expected it to very challenging, but found it surprisingly accessible.

    Tune in next week for more new releases, Just Opened!

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  • 04/12/13--08:32: Just Opened, April 12, 2013
  • This is the second day of our Spring "Paving the Way" Fund Drive.  Please consider a generous donation to Delmarva Public Radio.  (You can use the little red button at the top right of our home page that says, "support this station.")

    CPE BACH and
    Cameron Watson, piano
    ISBN# 6 81585 14092
    Watson is an "old fashioned" renaissance man:  legal scholar, composer, pianist, and winner of an award for his work on music copyright.  He also teaches, and here turns his musical strength of attention to a pleasing pairing of CPE Bach and Beethoven.

    Pacifica Quartet
    2 CD set
    CEDILLE  138
    available online
    This set features several quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and one by his contemporary, Mieczylsalw Weinberg.   This is the challenging edge of modern era music, but still largely accessible.  The Weinberg work is engaging and was worth seeking out.

    Premier Songs/Early Dreams
    ANALEKTA 9989
    ISBN# 7 74204 99892 9
    If any early/original music group can be said to be "run of the mill," this one definitely is even farther afield, mining historic latin music with a fetching combination of viol da gamba, guitar, percussion, vocalist and other early instruments. Soulful and varied, this CD would be a great introduction to early music for people who think they don't like "classical music."  Who knew early music could be this toe-tappin'?

    Nadina Mackie Jackson, bassoon
    Nicholas McGegan, Cond. & keyboard
    MSR 1451
    ISBN# 6 81585 14512 8
    Speaking of "toe-tappin'," Nadina Mackie Jackson and Co. make the most of Vivaldi's pop and sizzle.  She's one of the best bassoonists in the world, and makes the most historical music completely current.  This is one to rush out and grab! My Delight of the Week.

    Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 04/19/13--08:20: Just Opened, April 19, 2013
  •  Last Month we featured Beethoven's Sonatas after-the-news-at-noon, and we continue our Beethoven connection this month during Just Opened, featuring many releases of his piano works.  Today we let you sample 2 different artist's renditions of his extensive theme and variations:

    Diabelli Variations
    Beth Levin, piano
    CENTAUR 3046
    ISBN# 0 44747 3046 2 5
    Large scale works like the Diabelli Variations display not only virtuosity, but a professional committment that becomes the "calling card" of the serious musician.  An "infant phenomenon" performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 12, Levin's instructors and performance venues read like a "who's who" of great music.

    Melvin Chen, piano
    BRIDGE 9189
    ISBN# 0 90404 91892 6
    Chen has been on the world stage for many years, and one distinctive feature of his release of the Diabelli Variations is that he also includes the variations made by other composers for the original "challenge."  Seeing & hearing the brevity of the contributions of the other composers (each doing what was requested:  submitting one variation), lets us see Beethoven's "mad genius" in both its brilliance and its inability to follow directions!

    Maria Bayo, soprano
    (and other big name opera stars)
    NAIVE 4765
    ISBN#3 298 490 047651
    My Delight of the Week!  Highlights arias and choruses from great operas by Latino composers makes for infectious listening.  I love the voice of Maria Bayo, who is featured in this CD... alongside other international greats.  If listening to an entire opera is a bit much for you, this is a great pick; AND you very well may discover a "new" opera you'd like to explore.

    Marco Sartor, guitar
    FLEUR DE SON 57998
    available online
    This CD from the 2008 winner of the JoAnn Falletta Int'l. Guitar Concerto Competition is not the usual recital CD of short works.  Sartor provides an interesting palate of Sonatas and grouped works by composers such as Dowland, Ponce, Sor and Scarlatti, alongside modern composes Starcevic, Eastwood, and Fleury.  A full prism of the colors of the quitar.

    New York-Buenos Aires Connection
    VAI AUDIO 20001
    ISBN# 0 89948 20012 3
    This group presents a cross-section of some very traditional sounding Tangos, and some new arrangements of the works by both traditional tango composers, and members of this talented group.  In some respects their music harkens a return to the bordello roots of tango, by moving back away from Piazzola's "concert" tango, and back to the cafe/bar by including electronic guitar in many of these arrangements.

    We hope you enjoied these new releases, Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    A wide variety and a full course buffet today on Just Opened....  All that, and a give-away!  (Summit Records graciously gave us multiple copies of "License to Thrill" to give away to listeners.  Thank you!)
    Today's new releases include some thrills, some bitter pills, a full repast, and time-honored snacks.
    Today's show is called COVERS because the cover art so well matches the music inside.

    SHUANN CHAI, fortepiano
    Ludwig Van Beethoven
    PPD # 011 (available online)
    Postern Park Digital Recordings
    A marvelous way to hear Beethoven's sonatas - on the instruement that he intended these pieces to be played on, unequal temperament and all.  Chai has wisely chosen the "big name" sonatas to showcase in this way, the original instrument making them sound new to our ears.  Beethoven notoriously disparaged his Sonatas... but time has proven even these "snacks" to be note-worthy.

    Joe Burgstaller, trumpet
    SUMMIT 600
    ISBN# 0 99402 60092 5
    A varied "recital" CD by an accomplished performing, in interesting musical pairings.  With "covers" of Vivaldi, beloved Gershwin, new works and traditional works, this is a marvelous "gateway" CD to introduce friends and family to the classics.
    Amelia Roosevelt, baroque violin
    John Mark Rozendaal, viol da gamba
    Avi Stein, harpsichord
    and Claire Jolivet, baroque violin
    ISBN#7 00261 31768 7
    Exquisite packaging of this music matches the music inside.
    My delight of the week!

    The Lark Quartet
    BRIDGE 9379
    ISBN#0 90404 93792 7
    The Lark Quartet joins with other musician friends on various works by acclaimed living composer, Higdon.  If you want to know what is current in chamber repertoire and currently winning awards (and performances), here we have excellent performances of new works.

    HERBERT HOWELLS (1892-1983)
    Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Elizabeth C. Patterson, Dir.
    GDC 053
    Acclaimed choral works performed by an internationally acclaimed choir, including a work composed specifically for the Washington National Cathedral.  These are big, serious choral works, not an evening of light chorus, but time has proven these works and the choir to be as meritorious and inspiring as the statue on the CD cover.

    Lera Auerbach, piano/composer
    Ani Aznavoorian, cello
    CEDILLE 137
    ISBN# 7 35137 --372 0
    Here we have the rough, jagged edge of new chamber composition by a versatile and accomplished composer.  What Auerbach calls "warm and melodic" makes one wonder if she is using the same definitions or creating new ones.  Taken in small doses, this modern musical medicine can indeed pique the interest, but large doses may cause a relapse in all but the most adventuresome.  Notice the cover of this CD.  Does it look threatening to you?  refreshing?  edgy?    intriguing?   This is another case of the cover beautifully matching the works contained inside.

    I hope you found something musical to love, and to think about,  Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 05/03/13--09:27: Just Opened, May 3, 2013
  • A solid dose of Mozart Piano Concertos today, with the varied spice of brass, voice, and guitar.

    Piano Concertos, Vol. 2
    Vassily Primakov, piano
    BRIDGE 9339
    ISBN#0 90404 93392 9

    Horn Music of Paul Basler
    Paul Basler, piano & conductor
    with various brass artists
    MSR 1166
    ISBN# 6 81585 1166 2 3
    Sentimento Latino
    ISBN#0 28947 57576 4
    Arrangements for Guitar
    Robert Gruca, guitar
    MSR 1417
    ISBN#6 81585 14172 4
    My Delight of the Week!

    Kara Dahl Russell

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    We had a give-away today, thanks to Avie Records.  An exciting release of music for violin and piano, great works, played on a famous violin - the "Lipinski" Stradivarius, born in 1715... and still making great music.  The violin gets to revisit it's own past, works premiered on it over the centuries.

    A VIOLIN'S LIFE - Featured CD
    Music for the "Lipinski" Stradivarius
    Frank Almond, violin
    William Wolfram, piano
    AVIE 2279
    ISBN# 8 22252 22792 5
    It shows a great sense of perspective for a musician like Almond to take stock of the historic instrument he has been allowed to play, and to "submit" himself to the history of the instrument itself...  realizing that our lives are brief candles compared to the longevity of a violin that is now almost 300 years old!  And the music played on it is exquisite:  Schumann and Tartini's works well known favorites, the lesser known work of Rontgen, a luscious, lyrical romantic melodic swoon!

    Short Works for Winds
    The Borealis Wind Quintet
    MSR 1128
    ISBN# 6 81585 11282 3
    My delight of the week!  I should disclose that I am a committed fan of the Borealis Wind Quintet - solely through listening to their CDs.  They manage to find musical, melodic works from even the most "scary" composers. Beautiful musicianship paired with a light, bright sense of delight in their choice of material. 

    16th Cent. Italian & French Dance Music
    Musica Reservata
    Michael Morrow, director
    ISBN# 7 3035 70123 2 5
    A digital release of highlights from two "Grand Prix du Disque" recordings of early music, from the early days of the re-exploration of early music instruments and techniques.  Dance music and some songs of the 1500s, in restored, glorious performances. Released in 1992, it may not be available in your local shop, but you can still find it online.

    Piano Transcriptions
    Per Tengsrand, piano
    PROPIANO 224537
    ISBN# 7 81988 0037 2 5
    From the time of Mozart into the early 1900s, composers scrambled to get out chamber and piano versions of their symphonies as soon as the orchestral version hit rehearsal stands.  In Mozart's time, he worked quickly so that one of his musicians would not beat him to the punch and get the chamber edition done first.  During the Romantic era, many composers did the piano version first to get the musical ideas and themes fleshed out in a complete form, to later be "colored in" in the orchestral version.  Lizst famously did a piano arrangement of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique that helped people become familiar with the strange new work.  Here we have the listenable, dance-able music of Glazunov.  As Glazunov wrote so much for ballet, it is reasonable to think that the piano version came first, the orchestrations worked out while the dancers rehearsed with the piano version.

    We hope something Just Opened today has tickled your musical palate!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 05/16/13--14:21: Just Opened - May 17, 2013
  • A healthy mixed diet on Just Opened today, presenting works from all eras, and one truly rare treat.

    Music of Praise for Horn
    Jeffery Powers, horn
    Bradley Bolen, paino
    The Baylor University A Cappella Choir
    This CD is a project of love, all proceeds going to, an Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, to transform communities living in poverty.
    The Cappriccios
    The Bach Sinfonia
    David Abraham, cond.
    DSL # 92163
    ISBN# 0 53479 51632 8
    Recent research shows the work of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) as representative of the pinnacle of high Baroque art.  For those of us who love Baroque music, this new edition of his work is a jewel.
    Piano Sonatas
    Christian Leotta, piano
    ATMA Classique #2488
    2 CD set
    ISBN#7 22056 24882 2
    This is Volume 3 of "The Complete Beethoven Sonatas" recorded by Leotta, an award winning pianist.  My delight of the week!
    4 German Medieval Tales
    Drew Minter, voice & medieval harps
    BRIDGE 9372
    ISBN#  0 90404 93722 4
    In the 1940s, (and still today,) Hollywood put out "prestige films."  These were works produced because they spoke to a higher artistic calling, that were not expected to have mass appeal or sell broadly, but that the company could point to as something it does that no one else can do.   This CD is such a prestige work.  Rare talent Drew Minter has looked not to romantic German lieder, but to medieval German ballads, for works of poetry and beauty, presenting them much as they would have been performed for Lairds and Kings of yore.   A sure bet for medieval re-enactors, and the ren-faire crowd, this is a worthy addition to any collection of early music, one that unfolds with the re-telling.

    The music of Barber, Hanson, & Thompson
    The Ying Quartet
    DSL 92166
    ISBN# 0 53479 21662 5
    The Ying family have become the success "poster-children" of the NEA's residency program, where they were "placed" in Jessup, Iowa - a program designed to bring professional musicians into the lives of "ordinary" Americans.   That was a foundational time for the quartet, a family whose work has gone on to be recognized in the more usual musical spheres of New York, and other international homes of "great music."  They are currently quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, with faculty positions in the String and Chamber music departments, and a performance schedule of collaborations called "no boundaries" as well as more traditional performance venues.

    We hope you enjoy these new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 05/24/13--09:16: Just Opened - May 24, 2013
  • Shostakovitch &  Sacred Songs, Barcaroles & Beethoven.
    Quartets & Choral, Cello & Piano.
    New Releases.
    Releasing & Borrowing.
    As written & Transcribed.
    Just Opened, today.

    13 Barcarolles & Dolly Suite
    Sally Pinkas, piano
    and the Hirsch-Pinkas Duo
    MSR 1438
    ISBN# 6 81585 14382 7
    Faure! Barcarolles! Pinkas is perfect.
    My Delight of the Week!
    Valentin Berlinsky Quartet
    AVIE 2273
    ISBN# 8 2225222732 1
    The contrasting of a great, beloved Beethoven Quartet and the challenging quartet-ery of Shostakovich.  This CD is our "meat" course today.   Get a strong fork, a steak knife, and a sturdy napkin... it may take some work, but extrememly satisfying.

    Transcriptions for cello & piano
    Jonathan Aasgaard, cello
    Ian Buckle, piano
    MSR 1378
    ISBN# 6 81585 13782 6
    Mostly short works and songs with luscious melodies, "sung" on the cello.  This is an auditory chocolate layer cake.
    Vol. 1 - Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Elizabeth C. Patterson, director
    GDCD 056
    ISBN# 7 09887 00562 6
    Now that our feeding time is done... we can raise our eyes to heaven, with songs of praise from early days, 1198-1609.  Some find the sometimes complex polyphony of early music hard to follow.  You're working too hard.  Take the firm musical flooring as a suspended bridge, allow yourself to be lifted by it.  Performed here by the highly regarded Gloriae Dei Cantores.

    Just Opened -  opening up the world & the spirit.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Modern interior design takes its cue from almost anything today, from sleek tubular modernism, to rough-hewn tribal influences, to romantic era opulence, or any mixture of the above.  Modern chamber music is just the same, and today we get a taste of all of these as we focus mostly on chamber works in a wide variety of musical combinations and influences.

    Jeffrey Biegel, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30017
    ISBN# 0 34062 30017 4
    My Delight of the Week!    Romantic era chamber concerts included everything from Baroque works to grand showpieces, tribute waltzes, and etudes intended for display.  Biegel gives it all to us on an exquisite... piano.  Biegel's discography includes modern works and the complete Mozart Sonatas.  He is on the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.  If you enjoy piano music, this is one of many new releases of Steinway & Sons artists that are sure to please.

    Soundscapes of the Americas
    Laurel Zucker, flute, in
    various combinations w/quitar, cello and harp
    CANTILENA 66050
    ISBN# 8 84501 39381 2
    The prolific Zucker shares her own compositions for a variety of chamber music combinations.  I'd describe the overall sound world as "classical new age"... and this is what some are calling contemporary classical.  It's a very mellow, pleasing combination, only on occaission does it break from the easy-going mode, and when it does, it is completely in service of the compositional ideas.  Not featured on air is an inventive work for harp & flute that has short movements depicting clouds, in which the usually placid combo makes jitters and sparks according to the weather.

    Marcello Giordani, tenor
    Steven Mercurio, cond.
    Orch. & Chorus - Bellini Theatre
    NAXOS 557269
    ISBN# 7 47313 22692 4
    A 2001 release of world renowned tenor Giordani... that just hadn't hit our shelves until now.  Great arias by timeless composers, performed by world class musicians.  If you're missing the Saturday Met Opera broadcasts, this can help tide you over 'til next season!

    Del Sol String Quartet
    ISBN# 0 53479 21642 7
    The Zia Indians' symbol for the sacred sun inspired the musical imagery the adventurous, global sound of these modern compositions for traditional string quartet.  Featuring all works by modern composers, many living, some of the works are extremely challenging, some folk and jazz inspired, while others are soothing and evocative.  If you like to stick your toes into the new musical waters, the currents here won't carry you too far away from the safety zone.  These are the kind of modern works that can attract new, "non-classical" listeners into the world of classical music.

    We hope these works enhanced the "design scheme" of your music library!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    A mix of works this week, old, new, and classic, with the added spice of Spanish Flavor.

    Augustin Hadelich, violin
    Pablo Sainz Villegas, guitar
    website for Hadelich
    AVIE 2280
    ISBN# 8 2252 22802 1
    Thanks to Avie Records for the extra CD for give-away of this CD which is sure to be a hot ticket.  Violinist of brilliance Hadelich is joined by guitar master Villegas for major works by Piazolla and Paganini, and an unexpected twist on Sarasate's gypsy songs!  This is "gateway" music to make non-classical music lovers realize they might be missing something.  Hadelich will be appearing in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center on July 6th and August 6th.

    Ekaterina Afanasieva
    available online, many online retailers
    website for Afanasieva
    ISBN# 8 59709 28079 0
    My Delight of the Week!  Afanasieva is the kind of performer that leaves you scratching your head thinking, "Why haven't I heard of her before?"  A beautiful woman with the  face of a cosmetics model, a great figure, and she plays like this, with precision, passion, style and excellence.  You may have noticed that even though I'm a harpist, it is NOT a given that a harp CD will be my favorite of the week.  This one is not just a delight, it is truly, completely engaging.  Spanish and latin music works played with precision, verve, exquisite phrasing... each one is a virtuoso showpiece.  (This is also another great "crossover" CD... many folks may not realize this is the harp and not the guitar.)  Her previous release showcased the traditional flowing, impressionistic, watery pieces that are expected from the harp, and this one provides total contrast.  This is not only musically excellent, it is the presentation of a smart, polished, savvy performer.  Excellent and exciting!

    Vol. 4  (4 CD set)
    RNW 123
    Radio Netherlands Worldwide
    available online, multiple online retailers
    ISBN not available
    Released in 2009, this is one of the continuing sets of great performances by Radio Netherlands that features a smogasbord of orchestral works and chamber works, traditional and modern - a bit more emphasis on the modern, 2 of the CDs feature contemporary music, some more challenging than others.  CD 2 features early instrument groups that remind us with their precision, clarity, and beauty, that the Netherlands is a hotbed of early music.

    Piano works of Haydn, Schumann,
    Liszt and Kirchner
    Website for Tak
    MSR 1375
    ISBN# 6 81585 13752 9
    Called a "thrilling blend of fury and finesse," Young-Ah Tak has the kind of international credentials that are the envy of performers twice her age, including the local interest of teaching piano as part of Peabody Preparatory program.

    Volumes 1 & 2   (2 CD set)
    Paul O'Dette, lute, guitar & cittern
    Custer La Rue, soprano
    and other vocalists
    info on Paul O'Dette
    AZIKA 72229
    ISBN# 7 8786 72229 2 8
    This magnificent labor of love seeks to set in music the 2004 reference work of Ross W. Duffin.   CD one features performances of works mentioned in Shakespeare's plays, whether the songs are actually meant to be sung during the play, or merely have lyrics mentioned.  CD two features secondary or lesser known musical settings of these songs, to give a sense of the variety that would have been performed, you may hear three settings back to back - in much the same way that lyrics may have been sung to various melodies in this time.  Paul O'Dette is the instrumentalist, with multiple fine singers adding to the love-fest for Shakespeare.  A magnificent gift for your favorite theatre major who loves the Bard.

    Special thanks to our summer S.U. Practicum student, Kelley McDonough, for her assistance pulling together information and pics for today's blog post.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 06/18/13--11:47: Just Opened June 14

  • Chris Ranck hosted Just Opened today, with these new releases:

    Andrew Rangell, Piano
    For Info on Rangell
    BRIDGE 9181
    ISBN# 0 90404 91812 4

    Works by Alan Hovhaness
    Gloriae Dei Cantores Choir
    Elizabeth C. Patterson, Director
    For Info on Hovhaness
    ISBN# 7 09887 00522 0

    Moscow String Quartet
    For Info on the Moscow String Quartet
    ISBN# 8 37101 21557 2

    Laurel Zucker, Flute
    Robin Sutherland, Piano
    For Info on Zucker
    CANTILENA 60052
    ISBN# 7 57166 60052 9

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  • 06/21/13--11:32: Just Opened June 21

    Thomas Hampson, Vocals
    Geoffrey Parsons, Piano
    For Info on Hampson
    WARNER CLASSICS 2292 44935-2
    ISBN# 0  22924  49352  2

    Laurel Zucker, Flute
    Mark Delpriora, Guitar
    For Info on Zucker
    For Info on Delpriora
    ISBN# 7  57166  60232  5

    Thomas Sauer, Piano
    For Info on Sauer
    MSR 1284
    ISBN# 6  81585  12842  8

    Danish National Radio Symphony Orch.
    Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Cond.
    For Info on Danish Symphony
    CHANDOS 9209
    ISBN# 0  95115  92092  3


    Carla Santos, Violin
    Saul Picado, Piano
    For Info on Dryads Duo
    ISBN# Not Available

    Special thanks to Kelley McDonough our SU practicum for gathering the CD information for today's blog.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    A"Fickle" variety of works for keyboard give us a solid footing (um, or a solid "Fingering") as we prepare to set flares up into the night sky - looking forward to 4th of July, with choral works by American Composers, and Hampton Sisler's works dedicated to American traditions.

    Joshua Pierce, Piano
    Dorothy Jonas, Piano
    For Info on the Duo-Pianists
    MSR 1390
    ISBN# 6  81585  13902  8
    My delight of the week. Two great pianists turn their talented fingers to the works of Mozart for two pianos and a double piano concerto. 

    Kairos: A Consort of Singers
    Edward Lundergan, Cond.
    For Info on the Kairos
    MSR 1427
    ISBN# 6  81585 14272  1
    Choral group Kairos focuses on composers of the Hudson River Valley in settings of new and traditional songs.

    Slovak National Symphony Wind Ensemble
    Kirk Trevor, Cond.
    For Info on the Slovak Symphony
    MSR 1369
    ISBN#  6  81585  13692  8
    A little something to lead us into the holidays, music by Hampton Sisler devoted to American Holidays and his "Civic Events" suite.

    Barbara Harbach, Harpsicord
    For Info on Harbach
    MS 1441
    ISBN# 6  81585  14412  1
    Composer and performer Barbara Harbach explores the works of little known late-Baroque composer Thomas Haigh.   Inspirational and informative for keyboard players who just can't get enough variety in their repertoire.

    Markus Pawlik, Piano
    For Info on Pawlik
    DSL 92165
    ISBN# 0  53479  21652  6
    For piano lovers who want to explore some more challenging works, Peter Knell's episodic work "Snapshots" is paired with the work that inspired and informs it, "Fugitive Visions" of Prokofiev.

    Special thanks to Kelley McDonough our SU practicum for gathering CD information and artist links. Join us next week for more new music, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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