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Classical 89.5- Great Music and NPR News.

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    We're in the holiday mood, celebrating liberty and great music by American composers and performers.

    The Boston Camerata
    Joel Cohen Cond.
    For Info on The Boston Camerata
    ERATO 256469212-0
    ISBN# 8 25646  92120  1
    My Delight of the Week.
    Early American music sung by an internationally renowned choral group, joined by members of the Harvard Univeristy Choir and guest soloists.  This is where historical musicology meets an emotional core that hits us "where we live."   Timeless works presented with care, precision, and a timeless, beautiful musicality.

    Jon Schmidt, Piano
    Steven Sharp Nelson, Cello
    For Info on The Piano Guys
    SONY 71094
    ISBN# 8 8883 71094 2
    The chart-topping crossover works that blend Bach and pop have come back for more, with their inventive riffs on great ballads like "All of Me," revisitings of well-worn works like Pachelbel's Cannon, and "mash-ups" traditional hymns....  It's all fodder for their unique blend of tribute and re-distribution that has made them cross-over favorites.

    Works by Rick Sowash
    For Info on Sowash
    RSP 9
    ISBN# 8 85767 82917 6
    Rick Sowash is a living composer who has mastered the blend of creating music that is melodic, pleasing, and often restful; a blend of new age sounds with classicism.  His chamber combinations make the works sound personal and give varied voices to the shifts of tone.  Sowash has become a regular in our playlists, he has a knack for creating enjoyable sound.

    Yolanda Kondonassis, Harp
    For Info on Kondonassis
    AZIKA 71281
    ISBN# 7  8786 71281 2
    Kondonassis has been a prolific performer on the harp, and a great champion of new works for the instrument.  Her intimidating teaching and performance schedule is testiment to her place as one of the best-known harpists in the world today.  This CD pays tribute to the high powered American composers who have composed works for her, some challenging and intentionally trying to deconstruct the typical sound of the harp, and others melodic, lyric and accessible.  Works by Lowell Lebermann, Stephen Pauls, John Cage, and John Williams.

    Vanessa Perez, Piano
    For Info on Perez
    TELARC 33388-02
    ISBN# 8 88072 33388 8
    Venezuelan-American Perez plays the moody, broody, soft, sighing works of the "king of the little kingdom" - the piano - Frederic Chopin. At the age of 14, piano great Claudio Arrau praised her playing and her potential.  Conductor Zubin Mehta said Perez: “Her level of musical perception and artistic awareness impressed me as much as her total command of the keyboard.”   This is her debut release on Telarc (a label that has been very good to Kondonassis), with a world tour schedule this year that includes Beethoven, Ravel, and Chopin.

    Special thanks to our summer S.U. Practicum student, Kelley McDonough, for her assistance pulling together information and web links for today's blog post.  Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 07/12/13--12:17: Just Opened, July 12
  • Modern composers for cello and for choir, paired with traditional Beethoven Sonatas, and Baroque Quartets... all with the icing of the voice of Placido Domingo.  Lots to choose from today, as Tom Hehman fills in for me while I'm on Vacation.

    Roumi Petrova, Composer
    Kalin Ivanov, Cello
    Elena Antimova, Pianist
    Info. on Petrova
    MSR 1156
    ISBN# 6  81585  1156 26
    My Delight of the Week! It's so encouraging to hear a modern composer working in such a melodic musical language.  I'd be tempted to call her work "Contemporary Romanticism," especially with the works here that mine Bulgarian folk melodies (in the Romantic tradition).  If you like to explore new music, but have overdosed on the anti-melodic... this is a breath of fresh air.  Completely accessible... and it gives us hope for a return of melody on a larger scale.

    James Brawn, Piano
    For Info on Brawn
    MSR 1465
    ISBN# 6 81585 14652 1
    There is so much to choose from in solo piano renditions of Beethoven's work.  The work itself is plentiful, and many brilliant virtuosos getting recognition and the opportunity to provide great recorded performances.  We've been featuring many of these recently, and here is another for your consideration.  Brawn was an "infant phenomenon," with a debut at age 12, and these works have been part of his performances and life.

    Palladian Ensemble
    For Info on the Palladian Ensemble
    LINN 5050
    ISBN# 7 86051 50502 1
    A laser focus on works for Baroque ensemble, works by Leclair, Handel, Telemann, and Quantz.  These works are staples for any music library.

    Works by Mark Zuckerman
    The Golden Keyt Singers
    For Info on Zuckerman
    MSR 1146
    ISBN# 6 81585 11462 9
    New Choral works by Zuckerman present a variety of musical faces, from modern, to melodic, to settings of traditional tales.

    Just Opened Revisited

    Placido Domingo, Vocals
    Carlo Maria Giulini, Cond.
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orch.
    ISBN# 0 28947  76613 1
    Even when issued many years ago, this was a compliation "best of" CD.  But when the performer is Placido Domingo... that's a best worth revisiting!

    Thank you again to our S.U. practicum student, Kelley McDonough, for her help gathering the images and info. to help you find the CDs from today's line-up that you want to add to your music library.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 07/19/13--08:37: Just Opened July 19
  • Tom Hehman hosts Just Opened today with the usual eclectic mix of new musical releases.

    Polyphony Choir
    Britten Sinfonia
    Stephen Layton, Cond.
    For Info on the Polyphony Choir
    HYPERION 67580
    ISBN# 0 3457 17580 5

    Laurel Zucker, Flute
    For Info on Zucker
    CANTILENA 66026
    ISBN# 7 57166 60262 2
    Harlem Quartet and the Chicago Sinfonietta
    Mei-Ann Chen, Cond.
    For Info on the Harlem Quartet
    CEDILLE 141
    ISBN# 7 35131 91412 3

    Works by Robert Schumann
    Ruth Slenczynska, Piano
    For Info on Slenczynka
    IVORY 71004
    ISBN# 6 44057 10042 1

    Eclipse Chamber Orchestra
    William Neil, Harpsichord
    For Info on Poulenc 
    MSR 1460
    ISBN# 6 81585 14602 6

    Thank you to our S.U. practicum student Kelley McDonough, for pulling together the images and info. to help you locate the CDs you're interested in from today's Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    "Around the World" is our theme on Just Opened today as our music takes inspiration from many cultures and countries.

    Works composed and conducted by
    Mark Van Overmeire
    For Info on Overmeire
    ISBN# 5 419999 104722
    My Delight of the Week!
    Just as Dvorak and Bartok and other Romantic era composers mined the folk music of their beloved home countries for melodic inspiration, and then spun it through chamber and orchestral music constructions, Overmeire takes indigenous instruments and soundscapes from Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam and constructs totally accessible sound worlds of orchestral music.  This CD has all ready been featured on NPR and is getting a lot of attention internationally.  Chris Ranck says, "International Music Done Right!"

    Zina Schiff, Violin
    Cameron Grant, Piano
    For Info on Schiff
    MSR 13339
    ISBN# 6 81585 1339 2 7
    Timeless major works for violin.  The voice of the violin in virtuosity.

    Odekhiren Amaize, Bass-Baritone
    David Korevaar, Piano
    For Info on Amaize
    MSR 1101
    ISBN# 6 81585 11012 6
    World renowned Amaize displays a vocal world view, with art songs of Russia, Germany, and Britain.  Mussorgsky's "Sunless", Shostakovich settings of Puskin & English Poets, Beethoven's rarely performed songs of Gellert, and Carl Loewe's settings of traditional German songs.

    Beatrice Berthold, Piano
    For Info on Berthold
    ISBN# 7 90987 70792 3
    Available online, many sources, including:
    Juxtapositions of Bach's keyboard works with works by modern composers that deconstruct, reconstruct, and take inspiration from the previous works.

    Melissa Koprowski, Clarinet
    Roberta Garten, Piano
    For Info on Koprowski
    EMERITUS 20131
    ISNB# 8 02114 30062 1
    Delightful and inventive is this collection of works for Clarinet that feature accessible new works and Brandon and Babin, and a beloved sonatina by Horovitz.

    Special thanks to Kelley McDonough our S.U. practicum for gathering the information for this blog post.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 08/02/13--07:46: Just Opened, August 8, 2013
  • A variety of works this week, from the seminal piano concertos of Franz Liszt to a new brass transcription of Schumann, sonatas of Zelenka, modern choral works, and Elizabethan works of John Bull interpreted on a modern piano.

    Canadian Brass
    OPENING DAY 7438
    ISBN#7 76143 74382 0
    My Delight of the Week! The Canadian Brass is always excellent, and here we have a truly inspired transcription.  This large scale piano work of Schumann sits so very well in brass, it's amazing that no one has thought of this before. Also on this CD, a transcription of Schumann's "Children's Scenes."
    Light & Gold
    Eric Whitacre Singers & Laudibus
    The Kings Singers, Paveo Quartet
    LONDON DECCA 14850
    ISBN# 6 02527 43209 0
    Whitacre's Choral works cross boundaries and have achieved a universal appeal. This CD presents his cycle of Hebrew love songs, with choir, quartet and spoken word.

    3 Piano Concertos & Totentanz
    Joshua Pierce, piano
    Paul Freeman, cond.
    Orchestras of Russia & Slovenia
    MSR 1154
    ISBN#6 81585 1154 2 8
    Seminal works of Liszt played by the always magnificent Pierce.  This is a solid cornerstone for any music library, and would be a dependable gift for any music lover.

    ZELENKA, 6 Sonatas, Vol. 1
    ISBN# 0 09414 78212 0
    Within the past year, someone opened the floodgate on works of Zelenka (1679-1745).   He was one of the many Bohemian composers that made contemporaries call Bohemia "the conservatory of Europe."  This ensemble has a lovely balance of tone that brings the easy pleasantry of Zelenka's music. The combination of oboes, bassoon and continuo make a particularly rich & buttery confection.
    Alan Feinberg, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30019
    ISBN# 0 34062 30019 8
    Galliards, Pavannes and Fantasias abound in this Elizabethan offering.  Today we most often hear these works played on original instruments, so this presentation by Feinberg on a modern piano brings the works into a different focus.  Since the modern piano speaks a language most of us have known since childhood, playing these works on this instrument gives both a clarity and directness to our modern ears.  Many of these works sound absolutely up to date, while others stand firm with the complexities of Bach.  The Fantasias are perhaps the most riveting...   I feel there is a direct line between these early fantasias and improvizational jazz... an exploratory feeling.   These early works are not for everyone, but we have a large contingent of early music fans, and piano lovers, who will want to give this full attention.

    Kara Dahl Russell

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     Today's new release scene, even in just the "classical" genre, is incredibly varied.   From pop/rock infusions in traditional classical works, new works by modern composers both avant guarde and traditional, to "simple" digital restoration of great performances of the past.  The buffet in "classical" is actually more varied than any other musical genre.   "Just Opened" was created for just this kind of variety - to give you a sample of what's out there, let you taste it, and decide which you want to add to your musical library.

    DECCA-VERVE 18589
    David Garrett, violin
    Franck Van Der Heijden, cond.
    Guest Artists: Arturo Sandoval & David Foster
    official David Garrett website
    David Garrett was a child virtuoso in the concert world who decided to have his cake and eat it too.  The definition of cross-over, with a broader variety than most, he has a blend of classical, pop, contemorary and rock that will leave purists muttering and sputtering.  This kind of no-holds-barred blending of genres has proved very successful, and is exactly the kind of "souped-up" classical music that we see in PBS pledge-drive specials.  It has a broad appeal, and it is impossible to deny that while his rock-fusion Beethoven Scherzo is not traditional, it has the ability to introduce new audiences to classical music that might never encounter it in any other way.  He's the (younger, prettier) Mick Jagger of classical cross-over.

    w/ Alfred Gallodoro, clarinet
    BRIDGE 9397
    ISBN# 0 90404 93972 3
    more about Gallodoro
    The Bridge label has been at the forefront of reclaiming historic performances, and giving them back to us in sparkling digitalizations of decaying tape or vinyl records.   This CD gives us the sparkling Stuyvesant Quartet (one of the first all-American quartets) in two Mozart quartets, and a quintet with Alfred Gallodoro.

    Mormon Tabernacle Choir
    Frederica von Stade
    Thomas Hampson
    MTC 8821
    ISBN#0 783027 008821
    about Mack Wilberg
    The esteemed place of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir within the great choirs of the world is due in part to the leadership, settings and compostions of modern composer Mack Wilberg.   He seems to have his finger on pulse of what chord progressions are moving at the just the right place within arrangements, much like a great film composer - guiding emotional transitions with a deft, sureness.  The first half of this CD features his requiem.

    Contemporary Italian Music
    for Guitar Quartet
    BRIDGE 9401
    ISBN# 0 904 94012 5
    info. on Guitalian Quartet
    A true tonal variety of new works for guitar quartet.  Some works are quite challenging, deconstructing sound and attempting to use the guitar in new tonal ways.  Others make use of the lush traditional romanticism and give them a loving twist to create something accessible, melodic and fun.  Each guitarist a soloist and accomplished performer and teacher in his own right, they have justifiably had great success as a quartet.

    Thomas Pandolfi, piano
    Moravian Philharmonic Orch.
    Peter Schmelzer, cond.
    ISBN # 7 07541 86332 2
    official Thomas Pandolfi website
    My Delight of the Week!  Thomas Pandolfi has had an impressive international career.  From being a  full scholarship student at Juliard to his being hailed in Europe as the preeminent interpreter of George Gershwin of his generation, Pandolfi is a pianist to put on your radar and watch his continual rise.  There are so many fantastic young pianists, it is a joy to see one like Pandolfi that makes you feel that each year will bring something greater, and he'll be one you can follow and enjoy, and that he'll be around 20 years from now, astounding us all.

    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Today we feature rising performers who are names to know and to keep your eye on.  Some well established, some mature performers who are breaking through and a duo of youngsters who are teaching us all a thing or two about how to market classical music in new ways.

    Arianna Warsaw-Fan, violin
    Meta Weiss, cello
    ISBN# 0 53479 21712 7
    official site for DuoW
    These exceptionally talented Julliard grads are part of the forefront of the movement to new platforms for selling classical music.  Their video of the Halvorsen/Handel Passacaglia went viral, and they have used kickstarter to fund their projects.  If you heard my interview with Beata Moon, we talked about this new trend, and this is definitely something that older artists can take advantage of to boost their visibility and viability in new markets.  Fortunately, these young women are not just flashy PR minded kids, they have the musical goods to deliver, as made evident by both their performances and selections on their premier CD.

    Sonata & Partitas
    Chris Thile, mandolin
    NONESUCH 535360
    ISBN# 0 75597 95864 5
    ChrisThile's facebook page
    Chris Thile is one of the premier cross-over artists who have come from blues and rock genres successfully into the world of classical music.  It helps that he has had musical buddies like cellist Yo Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer (who produced this CD).  Their "boys club" has explored almost every corner of music making together, and here Thile breaks out in solo works of Bach transcribed for mandolin.   Bach himself transcribed his works for multiple instruments, so it doesn't break any tradition or rule to expand the language to mandolin.   This territory has all ready been mined by many great classical guitarists, so we can jump the conceptual hurdle easily and simply focus on his magnificent musicianship, his mandolin mastery, and enjoy his interpretations of these timeless works.  [Not for purists, perhaps... but very little is being put out these days that does appeal to purists.  It is much easiser for performers to get labels to sign on to new works and non-traditional transcriptions.*]

    NEW HORIZONS [*case in point]
    Christopher Wilson, trumpet
    Lauren Schack Clark, piano
    Craig Collison, marimba (on one work)
    EMERITUS 20133
    ISBN# 8 02114 30182 6
    My Delight of the Week!  New works for trumpet and piano by composers Kevin McKee, Lauren Bernofsky, James Stephenson, David Sampson, and - a modern composer who just seems to have a knack of creating tuneful works - two works by Sy Brandon. One or two of these works are fairly challenging for the average listener (the combination of the trumpet's volume with anti-tonal works is a far reach for most listeners), but most of the new works here take advantage of the trumpet's solo voice for tuneful, and even emotionally touching works.

    Zina Schiff, violin
    Avlana Eisenberg, cond.
    MAV Symphony Orchestra
    learn the fascinating history of the MAV Orchestra
    Zina Schiff's official website
    Described by the New York Times as "luscious high voltage...vintage Heifetz," Schiff has been performing internationally since winning her Jr. & Sr. auditions (from the Curtis Institute) to solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Her recordings have been met with high praise within the industry.  Here she presents Violin Concertos of Sibelius and Barber, and a premeir orchestral recording of Paul Ben-Haim's "Songs Without Words."

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

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    After a few weeks of new releases focusing on new works, our theme today for Just Opened is    Something Traditional.    Even our most experimental works this week are close to 100 years old!

    Piano Concertos
    Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
    Calder Quartet
    BRIDGE 9403
    ISBN#0 90404 94032 3
    official website for McDermott
    My Delight of the Week!
    Great Mozart piano concertos in chamber music arrangements... often the way they would have been first heard as the composer gathered friends to get a sense of the sound of the work.  A nice counterpoint to the orchestral Mozart Concerto recordings in your collection.

    Spirituals for Flute, Violin & Harp
    Edwin T. Childs, arr.
    HMICD 4
    ISBN# 8 84501 70096 2
    for CD purchasing information
    Harpist & harper Barbara Fackler has been a regular on our air for several years now.  Aside from a concert career and recordings, Fackler plays "healing harp" for patients in a variety of settings, institutional and informal.  Here she is joined by Jennifer Dolan Reddick, flute and Gail Salvatori, viola, for lovely, soothing arrangements of traditional spirituals and hymns.  When people think of the harp, and think of restful music to calm their nerves... this is it, a real cross-over favorite.

    BEETHOVEN (2CD set)
    Complete works for Cello & Piano
    Colin Carr, cello
    Thomas Sauer, piano
    MSR 1489
    ISBN#6 81585 14862 4
    more info. on Colin Carr
    This is certainly a cornerstone of the cello section of your traditional listening list.  Beethoven's 4 Sonatas for cello & piano, from his earlier, more classical compositions, to his ground-breaking 4th sonata - 5 Sonatas and three theme and variation compositions.  Carr and Sauer are names that are recognized internationally and still on the rise, and promise to be tomorrow's reliable favorites.

    Bartok, Janacel, Kodaly
    Andrew Rangell, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30018
    ISBN#0 34062 30018 1
    more info. on Rangell with link to purchase his CD
    Bartok is not everyone's favorite.  There, I said it.  But I should also say that his compositions span a great divide, some intensely melodic, others much more jarring.   Much the same could be said for Janacek and Kodaly.  The works on this CD are not for those who seek easy listening, but as most of them are at least 50 years old, if not older, they now comprise the newer part of "traditional" listening.   Andrew Rangell's recorded works are worth looking up.  Just as actors known for comedy like to try their hand at playing a scary killer, Rangell has a large body of recordings of great, pleasing, traditional favorites, so this selection of works with a different tonal structure provide a contrast to his other recordings, and could provide the listening contrast for your music collection.

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

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    Today we have Brahms as a Baseline, contrasted with early works and a contemporary symphony in remembrance of 9/11.

    John Axelrod at work.
    John Axelrod, cond.  Axelrod's official website
    Orchestra Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
    & Nicole Campbell, piano
    2 CD Set
    TELARC 34658-02
    * *  RELEASE DATE:  Sept. 24, 2013* *
    John Axelrod has become an "above the title" conductor.  His multi-disc explorations of the works of Beethoven released last year (you may remember the unusual release - available in a "highlights" CD, or individual works, or as a full set), and other conceptual explorations helped him win both the 2012 ICMA Award, and ResMusica's "Best Classical CD of 2012."  This time he pairs and contrasts the symphonic works of Brahms, with the piano works of his beloved, Clara Schumann, whom he idolized until he died.  Just as we try to do with various monthly themes, and hourly themes in our music programming here on WSCL, a set like this can open up a different way of hearing the works and thinking about them, and leads to new appreciation.  Our thanks to TELARC for getting us an advance copy of this CD set.

    late piano works
    Gwendolyn Mok, piano
    MSR 1420 - 2CD set
    ISBN# 6 81585 14202 8
    Mok's official website
    Dr. Gwendolyn Mok has had a varied and awarded international career.  This 2 CD set of works for piano by Brahms recorded on two different historic pianos also includes a conversation and comparision of the two pianos as additional tracks.

    NINE NOTES that
    Ronn McFarlane, lute
    Mindy Rosenfeld, recorders & other instruments
    info. on Ronn McFarlane
    ISBN# 0 53479 21692 2
    My Delight of the Week!
    A Peabody Conservatory graduate who hails from West Virginia, McFarlane's name has been synonymous with excellence on the lute & authority on early music, for scores of years now.  He is joined on this CD by multi-instrumentalist Rosenfeld for works that are both historic and fresh, a blending of classicism and folk-freshness.   It is not an overstatement to say that McFarlane has been the "gateway" to great period music for many listeners who never thought they would like "classical."  He has been an estimable ambassador for his instrument and period music, and continues to be so.  Our thanks to Dorian Solo Luminous who regularly supplies us with new releases for our library, and for the additional copy of this CD that we gave away to a lucky listener.

    "11 Settembre"
    Alfonso Rega, composer
    more info. on Rega & to purchase CDs
    As a composer, Rega has focused largely on sombre themes, Romeo & Juliet, the Holocaust (we featured this CD last year on Just Opened), Dante's Devine Comedy and now Sept. 11th.    This comprehensive overview of the attack on the U.S. begins with "a more peaceful world" before 9/11, takes us on a musical evocation of the crash, desperation, pietas and remembrance, anquish, leading us finally to hope for the future.   In much the same way that Borodin had a medical career and felt that no one should "make love or make music for money," Rega's work life in another field has given him the freedom to focus his composition and performance on the ideas and themes that personally inspire him and speak to him on a deeply felt level.  We hope you will enjoy hearing this new work and it lends a new prism on the upcoming remembrance of 9/11.

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

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  • 09/06/13--10:20: Just Opened - Sept. 4, 2013
  • This week we get to explore a new living composer, and a little known composer from the early part of the 1900s, traditional  quartet works of Debussy and Brahms, and a "reconstruction" of Mozart by a young experimental composer.

    Music for Horn
    James Boldin, horn, w/ Jaymee Haefner,
    Richard Seiler, & Matthew McMahan
    Bio of Koetsier;  more about James Boldin
    MSR 1393
    ISBN# 6 81585 13932 5
    My Delight of the Week!
    This CD is thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the music of former Conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jan Koetsier.  I had not heard of this composer, nor had several brass players who I asked... so this is a welcome introduction.  A modern composer, with a decidedly Romantic era love of melody, his compositions for brass evoke the melodies of another time -  when brass instruments were equally the stuff of marching music, and the music of amorous adventure.

    Barbara Ulman (composer & piano)
    Daniel Shaw, cond.; The Compser's Choir
    Martin Sobelman, clarinet
    Independent Label
    For CD purchase & info. on Ulman
    A true "renaissance woman", Ulman combined studies of psychology, anthropology and sociology with piano chamber music.  Additional studies spawned her interest in composing as she began her teaching career.  As an adult she completed music school and performs as an accompanist and with chamber groups.  She focuses her compositions primarily on the human voice; solos, ensembles, and choral works.

    Brahms & Debussy
    MSR 1424
    ISBN# 6 81585 14242 4
    more info. on the Ceruti String Quartet
    Founded in 1994, the Ceruti String Quartet members are on the faculty of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.  Performing primarily in the Southeastern United States, they are dedicated to fostering interest in chamber music, and this CD is a fine example of that interest.

    TIMO ANDRES  Andres website
    Home Stretch
    NONESUCH 534416-2
    ISBN# 0 75597 65981 9
    Blogger Review ; A more mainstream "classical" review
    Timo Andres is a young musician/composer who is interested in exploring the boundaries between classical compositions and rock music.  Case in point, the 3rd work on this CD is "Paraphrase on Themes of Brian Eno" whose rock compositions explored experimental ambient music.  Great cross-over introduction to Classical music for pop/rock listeners.  The largest work on this CD is Mozart's Coronation Concerto with a recomposition of the Piano part in a very modern experimental vein.  I personally think this is a fascinating, and correct, concept:  that Mozart was very much of his time, and was known to experiment and explore with the piano part of his works.  Andres takes this concept literally here, and we get an exploration of the traditional accompaniment by chamber orchestra, with a modern, improvisational piano part that comes back to the notated score from time to time. At the same time, it must be said that the flaw of this CD - which throws a negative light on his Mozart reconstruction - is that none of the works here are traditional, so there is a sense that we do not have any proof that Andres can "deliver the goods" in a traditional form.   It would have been smarter for him to provide a very traditional performance to both provide contrast, and give us context for his improvisations... i.e.:  show us you can paint a landscape before you show us your graffiti version of a landscape.   However you feel about these improvisations, it will remain musical food for thought.

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

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    Poulenc and Piaf interpreted on Piano, Cello Masterworks, New Works for Saxophone, and a "rediscovered" controversy about an opera by... Vivaldi?   All this today on Just Opened.... aren't we lucky?

    Poulenc Meets Piaf
    Antonio Pompa-Baldi, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30015
    ISBN# 0 304062 30015 0
    The springboard idea for this CD came from Poulenc himself.  Amidst his 15 Improvisations for Piano, one was titled in hommage to Piaf.  This work is played here, along with other Poulenc works, and truly marvelous concert renditions of famous Piaf songs.  My only quibble is that the rarely recorded Poulenc 15 were not ALL recorded here to complete the concept.  Acessible in the extreme, virtuosic, and for all who loved the little sparrow (Piaf), also a trip down memory lane, completely free of musty cobwebs.

    Andromeda Liberata
    Andrea Marcon, cond.
    Venice Baroque Orchestra
    ARCHIVE 3456
    ISBN# 0 28947 70982 4
    Reserchers discovered that one aria in Andromeda Liberata is the work of Vivaldi.  The buzz aroused in the music circles... perhaps the entire work is Vivaldi's?  Will we ever know?  Does it matter?  Perhaps not when the performance is by the ever brilliant Venice Baroque and their marvelous soloists.  We can ponder the unknowable geneology while we revel in the music.

    Music for Saxophone and Piano
    (and clarinet)
    Joren Cain, saxophone
    MSR 1408
    ISBN# 6 81585 14082 6
    Often the musical voice of sexual lust in film scores of the 1940s & 50s , the saxophone was also the voice of cool in bands and the club scene.  The improvisational sound became a basic for the saxophone and many of these new works feel unfortunately familiar, full of musical virtuosic technique, but melodically meandering beyond the patience of all but the most devoted sax-y.  Fortunately, those pieces are punctuated by works that are reminiscent of the best of the turn of the 1900s ... very "les six" in style, melody and fun.  Don't let the cover art put you off from many enjoyable new works here.

    Haydn & Myslivecek
    Drostan Hall, cond.
    Camerata Chicago
    CEDILLE 142
    ISBN# 7 35151--422 2
    MY DELIGHT OF THE WEEK!  No need to ignore the cover art here, the luscious beauty of the cellist equal the sound of her instrument.  Warner really knows how to work a camera - as any modern soloist needs to do.  Fortunately she works the cello even better, and we have gorgeous, traditional late Baroque/early Classical works recorded on this CD.  Contemporaries F.J. Haydn and Josef Myslivecek greatly helped solidify the transition from viol da gamba to cello with works like these.  Myslivecek's is an arrangement of a violin work, but that was quite common during this time period; many composers making multiple arrangments of the same work featuring a different solo voice.  Great cellists are not a dime-a-dozen, and Warner has been quickly rising above the pack.  She's a "name" to keep an eye on, and a solid addition to your music library.

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

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  • 09/24/13--12:36: Sept. 20, 2013
  •  I had prepared a post with alot of info. and details... but it was lost in the ether of the internet universe.... so here is just the basic data on the CDs featured on Just Opened on Sept. 20th. 
    Kara Dahl Russell

    Cameron Carpenter, organ
    TELARC 80711
    ISBN# 0 89408 07112 6

    The Curse, The Cross & The Lion
    Andre Lousada, cond.
    Independent Label
    website for more info

    Frank Glazer, piano
    BRIDGE 9194
    ISBN# 0 90404 91942 8
    Kimberley Patterson, cello
    Patrick Sutton, guitar
    The Patterson/Sutton Duo
    MSR 1430
    ISBN# 6 81585 14302 5
    Woodwind Quintets, Vol. 1
    Westwood Wind Quintet
    ISBN# 0 09414 72612 4

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  • 09/27/13--09:30: Sept. 27, 2013 - Just Opened
  • A mixy-mix of new & historic, experimental & melodic, simple & baroque, plain & operatic, composers & performers. 
    In other words, new releases!

    Piano Concertos & Concert Rags
    Scott Yoo, cond.
    Odense Symphony Orch.
    BRIDGE 9399
    ISBN# 0 90404 93992
    Musto has alot to say on the piano musically, and these two concertos and two smaller works show a tremendous variety of "speech."  The first concerto is very challenging and reminded me of The Twilight Zone... which will not be everyone's cup of tea.  But then the piano rags take a well-loved genre and give it welcome and enjoyable twists.  The second concerto takes us to again a different, amusing and witty musical conversation.  This is a composer's name to learn and look for.

    Scott Hosfeld, cond.
    Andrew Shulman, cello
    Maria Newman, viola
    ISBN# 6 14325 65742 1
    New works for chamber orchestra by Maria Newman.  Maria is the daughter of lauded film composer Alfred Newman, which puts her on an inside track with groups like the Malibu Coast Chamber Orch.  If this collection is any indication, she has a much more sure hand, and more to say musically in her works for brass.   Her works for strings seem more exploratory, less variety from one work to another, and uses the various voices in very much the same way.   The brass work is very accessible and would be easy for many chamber groups to add to a program. 

    Warren Nicholson, classical guitar
    Independent Label
    ISBN# 8 29982 14404 1
    for more information
    My Delight of the Week!  Pleasing, realiable solo guitar works.  Nicholson is not trying to break boundaries are prove anything with experimental works, he is just playing well loved works by well known guitar composers. Music that makes you say, "Ahhhhhh!"
    Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
    PLECTRA 21201
    ISBN# 8 84501 72200 1
    This is a comprehensive collection of solo keyboard works by Couperin, played with excellence and sensitivity by harpsichord virtuoso Moroney.
    Mark Abel
    The Dream Gallery
    DELOS 3418
    ISBN# 0 13491 34182 8
    Mark Abel's website
    A song cycle reminiscent of Sondheim and the musical "Working," searing portraits of life in California.  Abel has won the Global Music Awards’ Award of Excellence for lyrics in The Dream Gallery. He has also received GMA's Award of Merit for creativity/originality.

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

    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Hi folks - Our Fall Fundraiser is going on now.  If you enjoy Just Opened, please consider supporting Delmarva Public Radio.  (Just look for the red button on our home page that says "support this station.")

    We have our usual variety of releases today:

    Mendelssohn & Schumann Concertos,
    and Beethoven romances
    Chrisoph-Mathias Mueller, cond.
    Gottinger Symphonie Orch.
    CEDILLE 144
    ISBN# 7 35131 91442 0
    Internationally renowned Rachel BP is known for taking risks in her repertoire... not so much the selections, but the creative ways that she throws things together.  This offering is safely traditional, major works, with the always pleasing combination of violin and orchestra.

    Peter M. Bianca, clarinet
    Adriana Teodoro-Dier, piano
    EMERITUS 20134
    ISBN# 8 02114 30272 4
    New works for clarinet, infectiously fun, one or two challenging & modern, and traditional melodic favorites.  A great mix.
    David Starobin, guitar
    Amalia Hall, violin
    Inon Barnata, piano
    BRIDGE 9418
    ISBN# 0 90404 94182 5
    Starobin continues bringing us the luscious melodys of Giuliani, with new friends.  It is hard to fully state the facility and musicality of Starobin, who has such a large and varied body of work that one has to take a moment to fully appreciate his range and facility.

    Woodwind Quintets, Vol. 11
    Westwood Wind Quintet
    ISBN# 0 09414 72712 1
    This extensive set of recordings of Riecha's works for winds has been receiving rave reviews in industry magazines.

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

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    Gershwin, Gottshaulk & Gould
    Mozart & Motets
    Sowash, Strings & Shostakovitch
    All Just Opened!  Aren't we lucky?

    Findlay Cockrell, piano
    TROY/ALBANY 1414
    ISBN# 0 34061 14142 6
    Cockrell's website

    Mozart & Shostakovich

    EROICA (piano trio)
    Rick Sowash

    from Jacobean England
    Quire Cleveland
    Ross W. Duffin, Art. Dir.
    QC 103


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     We have a bit of a Halloween Theme today on Just Opened, taking our cue from Michael Lewin's eerily delightful "Piano Phantoms" - romantic era piano works about Gobins, Ghosts, Ghouls, and Phantoms.  Veronique Gens (one of  my favorite sopranos) explores the dark side of Haendel in dramatic cantatas about abondonment, death, and "the rape of Lucrezia" - the myth that has captured artists of all media over the centuries.   Penderecki's "Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima" and other extremely challenging modern works by Greenwood top off the dark side.   The humorous & wry Quartetto Gelato give us some ebullient takes on opera arias, and Von Weber's works for Clarinet and orchestra liven up our "spirits."
    Just in time for Happy Hallowe'en!

    HAENDEL Cantates
    Veronique Gens, soprano
    Les Basses Reunies
    VIRGIN VERITAS 452 832
    ISBN# 7 24354 52832 3
    Gens, one of my favorite soprano voices (very full and warm tonality) takes on tragic cantatas of Haendal.  This is a release from1999, but still readily available online.

    Clarinet Concertos
    Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet
    San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
    Martin West, cond.
    BRIDGE 9416
    ISBN# 0 90404 94162 7
    My Delight of the Week!  Weber's pleasing music for Clarinet somehow does not usually spring to mind when one is thinking "what CD should I buy."  Hopefully this delectable performance will lift it up on your priorities.   Composer and lecturer Robert Greenberg says that it is important to be aware of the music of secondary musicians in any time period, because they are part of the musical conversation of an age and place that informs and influences the works of the major composers.   Weber is one of those important "secondary" voices, and immensely appealing.

    Michael Lewin, piano
    ISBN# 0 53479 21682 3
    Thank you to Dorian Solo Luminous for providing us with an extra copy of this CD for give-away.  There are so many (MANY) gifted pianists coming out of conservatories these days that it has been said for years that there just isn't enough room for them in the concert halls.   So it behoves a pianist to be inventive in their programming selections.  Lewin gives us a prime example: a haunting collection of works perfect for your next Halloween party.  Mostly from the romantic era's preoccupation with ghosts and goblins (I dare you not to think of Grieg - who is represented here, of course), there are also a few modern works, and some previously unrecorded works from various times.   Lewin has also carefully orchestrated the works so that there is musical lift in the moody atmosphere.  The rapid-fire goblin dances are where he gets to display his technique and virtuousity.  It's everything a ghoul could wish for.

    Quartetto Gelato
    Aria Fresca
    with the Toronto Symphony
    ISBN# 7 7471 81602 2 5
    Quartetto Gelato is always a breath of fresh air, with their unique, fun approach to works old and new, and their inclusion of accordian as regular substitute for piano.  This is one of their older releases, still available on their website, and other locations online.  Here they approach familiar opera arias and opera-theme-medlys with their characteristic sense of humor and excellent musicianship.

    Aukso Orchestra
    Marek Mos, Cond. and
    Pendrerecki conducts his works
    NONESUCH 530223
    ISBN# 0 75597 96251 2
    an article about Penderecki
    When a composer is quoted as instruments being a "problem" because they were devoloped more than 100 years ago... we know this is not a traditionalist.  This is one of the more challenging CDs we've aired on Just Opened, and it is not for the musically faint of heart.  As noted in the article, Penderecki has become a darling of horror & suspense film directors, so it is not a surprise that his works can feel like extended tone poems of foreboding and dread.  That is not the musical "space" that most radio listeners want to live with in their kitchen, but may be just right for your Halloween soundscape.  We bring you a portion of this CD in Just Opened, for the musically literate who want to know "what's out there" and, in particular, two movements of Greenwood's "popcorn" work because it is so very fascinating... with an extended movement of "con legno" (bows used with wood on strings) and string section instrument bodies used as percussion where you can actually hear the orchestration of the tones.  Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth being aware of in the "using old instruments in new ways" category.

    Join us next week for more hauntingly good music, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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     Our usual eclectic mix of new works and traditional favorites, Just Opened!

    David Chesky's
    A new ballet, story & music by Chesky
    Rui Massena, cond.
    Fundacao Studio Orchestra (Portugal)
    ISBN#  0 90368 03636 0
    info on Chesky & the ballet
    A new ballet commissioned by the Guimares (Portugal) 2012 "European Capital of Culture." This fanciful story takes place in a world where unicorns have wings (the Zephyrtine), birds always walk, fish fly in the air, people's skin has rainbow colors and ice cream grows on trees.

    New Music with Guitar, Vol 8
    BRIDGE 9404
    ISBN # 0 90404 94042 2
    more info. on Starobin
    Guitar-magnificent Starobin joins forces with baritone Patrick Mason, and percussionists Mari Yoshinaga and Daniel Druckman to give us another set of new works that feature guitar.  Varied works, from melodic and toe-tapping, to challenging modern songs, to classically inclined variations on a theme of Carl Nielsen.

    HANDEL Trio Sonatas Op. 2
    The Brook Street Band
    AVIE 2282
    ISBN #8 22252 22822 9
    In a concert music world that can still seem distressingly chavanistic (think of all the male conductors who groom & mentor young males, or high-powered virtuosos who form "boy's only" crossover groups), it's a joy to see "the sisters are doin' it for themselves." An all female ensemble of excellent musicians, The Brook Street Band (named after Handel's London residence) has been bringing historic works to lively and zesty life since 1995.  This is another marvelous venture.

    Anagnoson & Kinton
    OPENING DAY 7432
    ISBN # 7 76143 74322 6
    My Delight of the Week!
    Even more rare than all-female groups these days are piano duos who have matured together like these two.  “…as individuals, they seem to have no technical shortcomings at all; in tandem, they are more than twice as good.” – The Boston Globe  Almost 40 years ago, they met at the prestigious Aspen Festival and decided to include a two piano recital to their program.  Now having played more than 1000 performances together, their performances of now rarely performed great works for two pianos and one piano/4 hands are an exceptional treat.

    Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Musical Food for thought.
    Do we overuse the word "concert pianist" when we describe an artist?

    Professor, pianist, composer Dr. Robert Greenberg wrote this article on our frequent misuse of the term "concert pianist" and has a fairly strict definition of when it is appropriate to use.  I came across this article about a month ago, and have been thinking about it ever since.   I don't always agree with Greenberg, who is nothing if not definite in his opinions, but he does push buttons that make us think about music... and that is really his goal.

    article "The Lies We Tell" (who really is a "concert pianist")

    By this definition, a concert musician whose income is partially derived from teaching is no longer a "concert pianist."  It raises many sticky questions.  Just one is the question of whether money and/or income  is the deciding factor in what is an essentially artistic title.

    For years, actors have struggled with this kind of definition.  British actors say, "Professionals get paid." Period.  In America - esp. if you apply the standard of being able to make a living at it - this would mean that television actors, even tv commercial models, are professionals, but many long term (paid, union member) stage actors would not be considered professional.  Most stage actors, like many musicians, have to teach or have other related income sources.  And getting back to music... what about the concert pianist who tours with a big record deal in his/her youth, but then makes a living teaching at conservatory later in life... are they no longer concert artists?  The realities of artistic careers may not allow for definitions this unilateral.

    Well, whether you agree with Greenberg's definition or not, it does get us thinking about the way we describe artists and perhaps overuse terms like virtuoso and genius in our superlative age.

    Kara Dahl Russell (neither a virtuoso nor a "concert harpist")

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    Some of our WSCL friends hear the word "modern" and wrinkle their collective noses... but what about Ravel's Bolero... one of the best known, most requested works, that has crossed over to the pop world?  That's modern music.   Franz Liszt, now a "standard" was constantly "modernizing" during his reign as one of the top piano virtuosos and composers.   Prokofiev wrote works that were both challenging, but as engaging and "spot-on" as his Romeo and Juliet music.  Then there are the fleet of new "modern" composers who are using words like "neo-classical" and "neo-romantic" to describe themselves.   Modern music is just such a box of chocolates.

    Mary Stuckemeyer, basson
    Gail Novak, piano
    PM 1029
    ISBN #6 70541 35951 8
    For more info. & purchase
    My Delight of the Week!   I've mentioned before how much I like the bassoon, but ... not always the new works written for it.  Stuckemeyer has a great sense of what works for the bassoon and has chosen a select platter of sweets.  Playing since the age of 11 (and a clear sense of business smarts and humor) has given her a honed target on what people like to hear on her chosen instrument.  Expertly paired with pianist Gail Novak, this is a sweet treat!

    LISZT vol. 2
    Garrick Ohlsson, piano
    BRIDGE 9409
    ISBN # 0 90404 94092 7
    Ohlsson's bio & CD info.
    My two favorite Liszt works are on this CD   "The Play of Water at the Villa D'Este" is a personal favorite, as well as "The Mephisto Waltz."  With Funerailles added to the mix, this makes for a very appropriate follow up to Halloween.  Ohlsson is well known to NPR listeners nation-wide as musically reliable and astute.  This is a solid gift option.

    Intimate Masterpieces
    OC 13-04
    ISBN# 8 84501 95161 6
    more info.
    Ravel's beloved work for harp, "Introduction & Allegro" is played by Yolanda Kondonassis, along with soprano Ellie Dehn on "5 Popular Greek Melodies."  The Jupiter Quartet plays "String Quartet in F" and the program is completed with "Chansons Madecasses."  Excellent musicians from one of the top conservatories in the U.S. bring you the range of Ravel's music from the challenging, to the engaging, to the absolute pleasure.

    LANG LANG, piano
    SIMON RATTLE, cond.
    Berlin Philharmonic
    SONY 3732252
    ISBN # 8 8883 73225 2 2
    for more information
    Take a look at the cover of this CD.   Look at the placement of the Composer names, and the works compared to the soloist and conductor.   The size of the type face tells you that these two Composers can be difficult to "sell," and that the performers are being used as the promotion.  While it is true that both Prokofiev and Bartok have created many works that can try the patience of the most adventuresome concert goer, it is also true that the two chosen works here are both exploratory AND very engaging.   This very smart pairing of two accessible works by sometimes challenging composers makes for energetic, riveting, and surprisingly fun listening.  If you cling to the traditional, but want to break out... this is the one you've been waiting for.  A pleasant surprise!

    Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    It took a few days for the news to filter from French newspapers to British to NPR headlines, but the great piano maker of Chopin's favorite piano, Salle Pleyel has announced its closing.

    As of today, their website does not have this mention, but you can still go to their website to see their exquisite, top-of-the-line, often one-of-a-kind pianos (and furniture).
    Pleyel Piano website
    (Be sure to look at designer pianos under "buy your piano" for some eye-popping piano designs.)

    Here's a "news roundup" of the story reported in various world press:
    France24 coverage (in English)
    London Telgraph coverage
    New York Times coverage
    Wall Street Journal coverage

    A HOPEFUL NOTE:  Even with the announced closing, the lid may not be shut forever... Just as Stienway pianos in the US had a buyout which allowed them to be a branch of a larger corporate stucture and continue production and a fair amount of continuity, something similar could still enable Pleyel to keep playing.  Steinway's new structure involves a connection with Sony and featured artsits, as well as a recent DVD on how pianos are made that promotes the showroom, the pianos, and the artists.  Pleyel having reduced it's production significantly in the past few years, focusing primarily on high end pianos (think: couturier dresses of the piano world), the future of Pleyel could hinge on being flexible enough to move into the new world of interconnectivity.

    And finally, a blog post by Stephen Hough about the kind of pianos that virtuosos have at home:

     Kara Dahl Russell

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