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  • 07/10/15--11:09: JUST OPENED - July 10, 2015

  •  French works for trumpet and orchestra, Beethoven for pianoforte and violin, organ works, and urbane improvisations on the works of Chopin... all Just Opened!

    BEETHOVEN Sonatas, vol. 1
    Ian Watson, pianoforte
    Susanna Ogata, violin
    CORO 16138
    ISBN# 8 28021 61382 1
    My Delight of the Week!  Two "heavy-hitters" of historical music performance join forces in this first of a series of recordings of Beethoven sonatas for fortepiano and violin.  Both Watson and Ogata were appointed to positions with Boston's Handel & Haydn Society in 2014, Watson as Resident Conductor and Ogata as Assistant Concertmaster.  Watson is a big bear of a man - combine that with his world wide reputation as a keyboard soloist, and a forte piano, and we have a strong sense that this is how Beethoven himself sounded when he played.  Ogata plays an historic violin from 1772, and a bow from the period as well.  We can't get much closer to hearing these works the way Beethoven's audience would have heard them. 

    Paul Merkelo, trumpet
    Kent Nagano, cond.
    Orch. Symphonique de Montreal
    ANALEKTA 9847
    ISBN# 7 74204 98472 4
    New works from the early to mid 1900s have rarely been this accessible.   Trumpet and orchestra works open the doors wide to the public, and the works on this CD by Tomasi, Desenclos and Jolivet are alternatively jazzy, noir-ish, intellectual, and playful.

    Gail Archer, organ
    MEYER MEDIA 14027
    ISBN# 8 88295 05731 2
    Archer is an internationally renowned organist who performs an annual Concert series.  This CD grew out of the 2013 concerts, a celebration of works by female composers.  Archer is organist at Vassar College and Dir. of the music program at Barnard-Columbia Chorus.
    Improvisations with Chopin
    Deanna Witkowski, piano
    TILAPIA 003
    ISBN#8 88295 17240 0
    Jazz pianist Deanna Witkoski has said, "this is NOT jazzy Chopin."  Well, I respectfully demur.  It IS jazzy Chopin, but in the best possible way:  musically serious and literate, with merged references from modern composers, paired with her own new works that transition seamlessly with the Chopin works. It is clear that Witkowski knows and loves the works of Chopin, and with this CD she quite possibly has found a way to continue his popularity and expand it to a whole audience.

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

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  • 07/17/15--12:03: Just Opened - July 17, 2015

  • With a baseline of the Baroque music of Purcell and Festing, we branch out to new music for chamber by Maria Newman, early modern virtuoso piano show pieces played by a piano star worth knowing, and a buffet of orchestral highlights in a "sampler" CD.

    The Indian Queen
    The Sixteen
    Harry Christophers, cond.
    CORO 16129
    ISBN# 8 28021 61292 3
    For more info., & purchase from The Sixteen's website
    The musical excellence of Harry Christophers and The Sixteen (Early and Baroque, Vocal and original instrument group) is almost legendary, with perpetually glowing reviews from BBC Music Magazine, Grammophone, and even the Financial Times!  The major portion of this CD is a recording of Henry Purcell's semi-opera based on a conflict between Mexicans and Peruvian (reflecting the Baroque era's fascination with the "new world").  Purcell died young, and his brother Daniel actually completed the work, so it is fitting that the other work on this CD is Daniel Purcell's "The Masque of Hymen" reflecting another Baroque era fascination, greek mythology and the hijinx of the gods and goddesses.   With this combination of prime material and musical excellence, this CD is sure to satisfy YOUR fascination with the Baroque!

    Malibu Chamber Players
    MAHMR 1205201
    ISBN#  7 24101 22532 1
    For more information, click here.
    For those who seek musical adventures, the Malibu Chamber Players have released another exploration of the new works of Maria Newman. "She writes in a highly listenable idiom, richly scored.... pleasant in harmony, assertive in style...."  D. Moore, "American Record Guide"

    TUTTI Orchestral Sampler
    Various Orchestras and Artists
    ISBN# 0 30911 19062 0
    My Delight of the Week!  If you are a listener who likes those memorable melodies from established favorite concert works, this is the CD for you.  Some folks call these "old chestnuts," but these timeless melodies are favorites that have stood the tests of time, like "The Great Gate" from Pictures at an Exhibition, the "Andante" from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, the "Berceuse and Finale" from Stravinsky's The Firebird.  This CD supplies you with the "best bits" from the most requested concert hits.

    Violin Sonatas
    Bradywine Baroque
    PLECTRA 21403
    ISBN#8 88295 20206 0
    If you want to "buy local," then we certainly hope you're adding support of local and regional musicians to your shopping cart!  Brandywine Baroque, based in Wilmington, DE, has an enviable critical acclaim and reputation for excellence in performance and in musicology.  Known for researching and performing works by the well known names of the Baroque era as well as the names that have been mostly forgotten, they are audience favorites and a reliable resource for your music collection.  Brandywine Baroque is supported in part by the Delaware Division of the Arts.

    Sean Chen, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30029
    ISBN# 0 34062 30029 7
    The repertoire on this CD was specifically chosen for being "of it's time."  Music that reflects both the appreciation of the beauty of the Romantic era, while looking ahead for new form and substance from the great changes going on in industry and life in the early 1900s.   Ravel's "Noble and Sentimental Waltzes" is the core of this CD, and the other works, by Ravel and Scriabin reflect this late romantic, early modern sensibility.   Sean Chen is a rising piano star, and in 2013 he won one of the most lucrative and significant prizes available to an american pianist:  The American Pianists Association's DeHaan Classical Fellowship.

    We hope you enjoyed today's new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Today we open up a variety of folk inspired music, from composers who were loosely inspired by folk music, to orchestrations of well known folk melodies, to and interesting chamber music group playing new arrangements of traditional eastern european music and klezmer.

    Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol. 4
    Jonathan Biss, piano
    ISBN# 8 89176 27996 6
    International performer, speaker, instructor at the Curtiss Institute, Jonathan Biss has made a deep committment to the Sonatas of Beethoven.   This is Vol. 4 of a 9 volume set (in progress) of all the piano sonatas of Beethoven, and he has also created online courses where he details the influences, the approach, and the performance of these works.

    Enigma Variations
    The Wasps & Greensleeves Vars.
    Kansas City Symphony
    Michael Stern
    ISBN#0 30911 11292 9
    The Kansas City Symphony has committed to a growing body of recordings of works which are receiving critical raves.  Here they focus on British composers, in basic works which are essential elements of any growing classical music collection.

    Zina Schiff, violin
    Cameron Grant, piano
    MSR 1493
    ISBN# 6 81585 14932 4
    Schiff was a protege of the great Heifitz, and has been compared to him by reviewers.   She studied at the Curtis Institute and has awards and acclaim internationally.   As Pianist for the New York City Ballet, Grant has played all the major piano ballets.  They bring a symbiosis of style and dramatic flair to their musical pairing.  The selections for this CD are all "modern" works, but not the intimidating kind, Copeland and Bloch known for their taste for tunes.

    Klezmer and East European Folk Music
    The Ucalgary String Quartet
    arrangments by Edmond Agopian
    MSR 1276
    ISBN# 6 81585 12762 9
    My Delight of the Week!  Our blog readers know that rarity often counts a lot with me, and the combination of free-wheeling interpretation, varied arrangements, musical comraderie and rarity make this an easy pick for me this week.  (Understanding that this will not be a favorite with the conservative classical listener who wants the tried and true concert hall greats.)  The UCalgary String Quartet is the quartet in residence at the University of Calgary.  The UCalgary String Quartet was nominated for the Instrumental Group of the Year Award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and at the Western Canadian Music Awards. The nominated recording, on the American label MSR Classics, is titled Far Behind I Left My Country – Klezmer and East European Folk Music – Arranged and Composed by Edmond Agopian.“This is music of deep-seated humanity…incredibly vivacious, sorrowful, nostalgic…performed here with affectionate understanding.” FANFARE MAGAZINE (USA)

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

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  • 08/07/15--10:49: Just Opened - August 7, 2014

  • New releases Just Opened today, from Bach and Rachmaninov to new works by pianist Gabriela Montero, to a harp trio and Berlin's German Cabaret music.  From serious to slightly kitsch.... women ruling great music!

    BACH & BEYOND Pt. 2
    Jennifer Koh, violin
    CEDILLE 154 (2 CD set)
    ISBN # 7 3513- -1542 7
    Koh continues her pursuit of excellence, and the juxtaposition of traditional composers with modern composers.  This time, two timeless Bach works paired with Bartok's sonata for solo violin, and "Frises (curls)" of Kaija Saariaho.  " A risk taking high-octane player who grabs the listener by the ears and refuses to let go."-The Strad   "One of the most impressive and expressive violinists on the scene." -L.A.Times

    Composer, pianist
    YOA Orchestra of the Americas
    ISBN# 5 060189 56047 9
    My Delight of the Week.  An inspired program of Montero's own compositions alongside her performance of the beloved Piano Concerto No. 2 of Rachmaninov.  Her powerful "Ex Patria/In Memorium" for piano and orchestra contrasted with her solo piano improvisations.   She pops up on an internet search as a "hot" pianist, and these works demostrate she is not only beautiful, but a pianist/composer/improvisor with hot classical talent!  With many of today's pianists, they are interpreters of the music of others, but we wonder when/if they will begin to compose... Montero arrives "fully formed."

    Music for Flute, Viola & Harp
    Fire Pink Trio
    MSR 1511
    ISBN# 6 81585 15112 9
    Debra Reuter-Pivetta, flute, Sheila Browne, viola, and harpist Jacquelyn Bartlett on harp provide a program of variety, rhythm and contrast.   The "standard" work of Debussy's Sonata for fl,v & h is the centerpiece of this CD, while new works by Albert, Locklair, Moreno-Buendia, and Burnette take the program from serious musical intellectualism to pops. They are actively involved in commissioning new works for this trio combination (as evidenced by some of the works on this CD).  Individually and together, the three hold a full bouquet of accolades, awards, and critical praise.

    available in English or German
    Adrienne Haan, singer/dancer entertainer
    A resident of Germany, Luxembourg and now NYC, Adrienne Haan has achieved international recognition, playing large concert stages with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, and intimate cabaret rooms.  She has studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The Julliard School, and with Arthur Jansen of the Cologne School of Music and Dance.  She serves on the International Advisory Board of the Duke Ellington Center for the arts, and is recognized as a cultural ambassador.

    Talented women bringing a huge variety of great music to our airwaves today.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Today our featured CD is a new orchestral arrangement of the beloved Claude Bolling Jazz Suite for Flute, Piano, and... orchestra.  We continue our "Animal Attraction" theme with a new CD of modern compositions for viola and piano in works inspired by animals.  We vary it with selections from a 3 CD set of works by Veracini, and smooth things out with classical piano favorites by 2 recognized artists.

    Music for Viola & Piano
    Michelle LaCourse, viola
    Martin Amlin, piano & composer
    MSR 1474
    ISBN# 6 81585 14742 9
    For more information on violist Michelle LaCourse
    Glowing reviews on the MSR label website.
    In perfect concert with our after-the-news-at-noon theme of animal inspired works, is this CD of new works by American composers for viola and piano.  Amlin's "Kennel" is a seven movement work with different breeds of dog inspiring each section.  His Sonata and Violetta are also included.  Unfortunately, his work is very much in the modern concert vein, and perhaps even more than usual, when pieces are supposed to represent animals, pets, we tend to listen and look for melody.  A recognizable melodic through line is hard to find in Amlin's jagged, repetitive, abstract works.  So while the concept of this CD is incredibly appealing, I regret to say that much of the music is... not so much for the average listener.  Those of us who follow music and music making know that this type of modern work is both intellectually and technically challenging, and for that, both of these musicians are completely up to the task.  Merfled's "Animal Miniatures" is appealing and evocative, and Houghton's "Whalefall" brings the watery, new age influence that one expects from the title; these are the accessible highlights of the CD, and those are the pieces we share today on Just Opened.  I'll leave it to our adventuresome audience members to seek out the CD for the  more challenging works.

    Symphonic Arrangement by
    Steve Barta
    Hubert Laws, flute
    Jeffrey Biegel, piano
    SBMCD -01
    ISBN# 6 70579 69291 5
    Pianist Jeffrey Biegel's official site
    My Delight of the Week!  One of our WSCL favorite pianists, Jeffrey Biegel, is at it again - recording a new take on a beloved favorite that promises to bring it back into the light again in a new version... not that Bolling's "Suite" ever left its place in popularity.  Much like seminal pieces/groups like Herb Alpert, and the 5th Dimension, some things strike such a chord that they remain in our collective positive memory - such is Bolling's Suite.  Arranger Steve Barta brings the full orchestra to this work in a way that is fulfilling and subtle.  He carefully balances the original intention (setting) of the work with the great variety possible in the orchestra to enhance the work, but never to overwhelm it.  Often an orchestration of a smaller work either changes it to make it a completely "new thing" for orchestra, or sometimes it can feel like (as do many theme and variation arrangements)  "a really big deal made out of very small concept."  Barta's special success here is the way he makes choices to keep the intimate and light feel of the work while giving it the additional musical depth.  A total success!

    Samuel Perez, piano
    ISBN# 8 84501 93762 7
    Puerto Rico born Perez has performed in Europe, US, Mexico, the Carribean as soloist, chamber musician, and with many orchestras, playing a variety of styles.  He has received international awards and recognition, and - due to his performance styles and venues - an unusally broad array of critical acclaim from Chick Corea's copious critical compliments, to Paul Polovnik (Conductor Laureate of the New Hampshire Music Festival) calling him "the real deal."  On this CD, Perez turns his talents to the tried and true, beloved works of the Romantic era by the great masters.  He focuses largely on single movements and shorter works by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Mozart and Strauss, making for a savvy collection of selections that are very accessible to the ipod crowd.

    Pandolfi's Website for Info. & Purchases
    ISBN# 7 07541 85102 2
    This release from 2006 has a simple cover photo of a keyboard, with the names of the included composers superimposed on the black keys.  Pandolfi has appeared locally a number of times in the Delmarva region, and has a growing, sparkling reputation internationally as today's foremost interpreter of Gershwin.  One of the nice things about this CD is that we really get to experience his full range, from Liszt and Scriabin, Mozart and Chopin, to Gershwin and Webber.   It is a varied display of the excellence that won him scholarships to Juliard for both his bachelor's and master's degrees.

    VERACINI  (3 CD set)
    Complete Sonate Accademiche
    Trio Settecento
    Rachel Barton Pine, violin
    John Mark Rozendaal, cello
    David Schrader, harpsichord
    CEDILLE 155
    ISBN#7 35--- 91552 8
    Visit Trio Settecento's site (free downloads, too!)
    Gift Giver's Delight!  The individual performers of Trio Settecento are no strangers to critical acclaim, awards and rave reveiws in their solo careers, so it is not surprising that, when they pool their talent, intelligence, musicality, and interest for a labor of love like this 3 CD set of the works of Francesco Maria Veracini, it has a full bouquet of critical raves and gushing kudos.  I'll join the club.  Magnificent musicians with unity of purpose, at the top of their game, in an excellent recording.  Not everyone is a fan of Baroque music, and in any 3 CD set of one composer's works for the same trio combination, there is an inevitable sameness  (which is exactly why we mix things up on air).    For those who are not Baroque fans, these CDs could be interminable, but for most of WSCL's listeners this is a "staple" and even an entire CD would be, for most of our listeners, a soothing delight.  For any lover of baroque chamber works, this would be a magnificent gift!

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

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    As our regular listeners will know, for many years during interviews, one of my standard questions for musicians has been about the teacher/student relationship.  Many great artists who achieve success young don't know the pain of a difficult learning relationship - perhaps that is the lucky part of their stellar path?   Others are reluctant to call out poor teachers or techniques, at least in part for political reasons.  Some musicians have found tremendous success having been taught in methods that are harsh and punitive, and have not realized that not all valid, talented artists can blossom under cut throat conditions.  Some great artists are known to be very poor, frustrated and discouraging teachers, while others have the gift of encouraging a variety of students.  And finally, others have moved into the inclusion of teaching as part of what they do, and these folks often have a very full insight based on both sides of the learning relationship.

    This article by international virtuoso Jeremy Denk is insightful and filled with witty turns of phrase that make the (long) article worth the read, informative, and amusing, too.

    "Every Good Boy Does Fine" by Jeremy Denk
    link to article from The New Yorker

    Enjoy this when you have time to savor his insights and language!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Today we have a grounding of Basic Bach and then make musical excursions all over the place, with a healthy dose of new Choral Music created (as with most of Bach's music) for religious observation.

    Susan Chan, piano
    MSR 1280
    ISBN# 6 81585 12802 2
    My delight of the week!  Continuing her adventures in juxtaposition of traditional Western composers and composers of the East, in works for solo piano, Susan Chan continues to open up listening windows.  Chan's accolades are worldwide, as is her training.  As an instructor she has tenure at Washington State Universtiy and currently teaches at Portland State University.  She actively promotes the music of female and Asian composers. This "East West" series beautifully demonstrates her love of classics, her ability to allign these traditional works with the works of modern and less known composers, and a larger mission.  They underscore her musical technique and understanding, with an educational component that is simultaneously accessible and expansive.

    Roger Davidson, composer
    Harold Rosenbaum, Cond.
    New York Virtuoso Singers
    SR (Soundbrush) 1034
    ISBN# 8 88295 27646 7
    A large number of our listeners love choral music and many are active in choirs, in church and secular choirs - sometimes both!  Davidson's new works of "universal sacred music" take traditional forms from many religions and incorporate them into new works that have a timeless sound.

    for Acoustic Guitar
    Steven Hancoff, guitar
    OUT 960
    ISBN# 7 00261 42386 9
    Gift giver's delight.  Hancoff's labor of love in this 3 CD set of the Bach cello works transcribed for guitar shines through in the booklet that comes with the CD that details how he became acquainted with Bach, and then became something of a Bach biographer with a mission to help spread Bach's works to audiences that might not usually know or be aware of his works.  For the purist, it can take a sizable adjustment to get the ear used to hearing these works for a bowed instrument played on a plucked instrument with limited sustain.  For the (very large) audience who simply loves acoustic guitar, this is a welcome joy (and a great gift idea)!

    Discovering Treasure for Solo Flute
    Francesca Arnone, flute
    MSR 1457
    ISBN# 6 81585 14572 2
    A CD of works for solo flute is simply not for everyone.  When these works are all by modern composers, the percentage goes down.  So why then does a performer record works like these?  Well, for some performers, it is as simple as they like working on modern music, it can be intellectually stimulating and challenge musical routines for the performer.  It's a labor of love for the instrument and the exercise of learning new works that may be both musically and melodically challenging, with an eye toward expanding both pedogogy and possibly exposing the audience to works that may, over time, become well known.  Francesca Arnone is well placed to do this, having played in the Americas, Asia and Europe, in some of the world's finest concert locations.  She also has another concurrent CD of very infectious and melodic works called "Dedications" which we've aired quite a bit since we "opened" it, which is worth looking up, and much more accessible.   Koechlin had a varied musical inner life which was in keeping with the arts of his day, sometimes very abstract, sometimes absurd, yet often romantic (melodic).  Like Reynaldo Hahn, he was known for creating extensive experimental works, and even here, Arnone recorded only about 1/2 of the movement of this exceedingly rarely performed work.  If you adore the flute, and you are musically very adventuresome, this CD will expand your horizons.

    The Catalyst Quartet
    AZICA 71300
    ISBN# 7 87867 13002 5
    The Catalyst Quartet are gaining critical raves and taking risks with their programming.  Here, their impressive project of arranging Bach's Goldberg Variations for chamber group is paired with a composition of Glenn Gould, one of the foremost interpreters of the Bach work.  Gould's work is rarely played (lovers of linear melody might add, "for good reason"), but is a smart and challenging addition to this arrangment of a beloved work of Bach that resonates on multiple levels.

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

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    Wagner and World music today on Just Opened... with a bit of Poulenc thrown in for spice!

    Kontras Quartet
    MSR 1537
    ISBN#6 81585 15372 7
    Official website for Kontras Quartet
    Works that are alternately challenging, whimsical, inventive, melodic and engaging fill the adventuresome program on this CD.  A work called "Hunting: Gathering" inspired by native South African sound motifs; "Japanese Folk song Suite" has been a performance favorite of this group, and they have finally recorded it.  Formed in 2009 Kontras Quartet consider themselves pioneers in genre-defying collaborations.  The group has a stated appetite for the musically bizarre and unexpected, and they found satisfaction for this in Stravinsky's "3 pieces", and the program closes with a playful, accessible work by modern composer Dan Visconti that includes snippets of songs, rhythmic intricacy and special effects, "Ramshackle Songs."

    David Deveau, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30051
    ISBN# 0 34062 30051 8
    Deveau's faculty page on MIT website
    My Delight of the Week!  The works and life of Wagner form a touchstone for the works on this CD, from Liszt's piano transcription (arr. by Rubinstien) of Wagner's title work, 2 of Liszt's works inspired by his personal friendship and musical admiration of Wagner, and then contemporary works of Brahms, which bring more warmth into the program.   These are some of Liszt's darkest works, his technical proficiency sometimes adding a chill to the darkness, so the Brahms  capriccios and intemezzi - while still often introspective and melancholy - add a beautiful balance to the shadows.  Deveau's career as a soloist and chamber musician have taken him around the world many times over.  This CD presents a thoughtful program of a mature, accomplished artist who has been a "Steinway Artists" since 1999.

    Complete Music for Winds & Piano
    The Iowa Ensemble
    MSR 1540
    ISBN# 6 81585 15402 1
    for information & purchase
    Detailed review of this CD in "The Classical Reviewer"
    To me, the essential sound of Poulenc is a slightly tipsy take on soulful melody and skipping innocence that is just awakening to the complexity of adult life.   Winds are the perfect vehicle for his particular and peculiar mental & musical worlds, and here we have works that run the gamut from early works of rule-breaking nonsense to later works of engaging complexity.  Do take time to read the review in the link, it is comprehensive and glowing!

    Wesendonck - Lieder
    Sea Pictures
    Sarah Rose Taylor, mezzo
    Nigel Potts, organ
    Grace Cloutier, harp
    MSR 1532
    ISBN# 6 81585 15322 2
    Taylor's website; Pott's website
    Traditional works performed by 3 young performers in the international limelight.  Nigel Potts has become renowned worldwide as “a consummate musician who knows how to communicate the essence of [the] music” (The American Organist), and whose “playing is assured and stylish” (Organists' Review, UK). He has built a reputation for his expressive, colorful and tasteful performances, always communicating and placing the music at the forefront with “…warm, sympathetic playing” (Choir & Organ, UK).  British born mezzo-soprano Sarah Rose Taylor is rapidly becoming recognized for her warm and full tones "Germanic" voice.  Now based in Manhattan, the works on this CD were the featured works of her Carnegie Hall debut in 2014.  She has had wide ranging experience as a soloist in oratorios, in addition to many opera roles.  Grace Cloutier rounds out the group of accomplished young musicians; an intenationally recognized harpist who has studied on both sides of the Atlantic, and whose 8 CDs demonstrate her particular affinity for accompaniment in addition to solo and orchestral work, and she adds additional color to a few cuts here.  The works on this CD are all transcribed by Nigel Potts for organ and vocalist.

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

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  • 09/04/15--11:36: Just Opened - Sept. 4, 2015

  • Alan Feinberg's new CD exploring Fugues of the Baroque era contrasted with the new music of David Crumb.  The music of Brahms compared with new music of Andrea Clearfield.  And the musical history of Jews in India explored in Choral Music.

    Alan Feinberg, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30034
    ISBN# 0 34062 30034 1
    Steinway & Sons publicity of this CD
    My Delight of the Week! After his last Steinway CD that focused on the Elizabethan works of John Bull, Feinberg moves up into the Baroque era with a focus on fugues.   The great composers are represented here, but perhaps more importantly, the meditative and surprisingly melodic elements of fugues come into clear focus in this intelligent collection.  Many people say they like "music to study to" to help them concentrate.   Here's the ticket. Feinberg says,  “Performing works of the Baroque period on a modern Steinway enables the use of an especially rich tool for contrapuntal expression.  In the end, I think that the performer’s task is to strive to harness the same spiritual, personal, intellectual, and technical concerns that the composer has mustered in order to re-create or re-imagine these past works for the present.”  Fugues can be dry stuff, and Feinberg brings out the drama, the elegance, and surprising tenderness.

    Ruth Webber, cond.
    San Diego Jewish Men's Choir
    ISBN# 7 66897 74872 1
    For information and purchase.
    Gift Giver's Delight!  A truly rare treat for the upcoming Jewish Holy Days, a new exploration of music from India, specifically from 3 communities of Jews (Malabars 562 BC, Roman in 70 AD (or CE), and Paradesi 1492) who made up the thriving (over 5,000) community in the fishing port town of Kerala, India.  The resulting music of traditional jewish texts and music played on a variety of instruments, including traditional Indian instruments creates a fresh "new" world music soundscape that is both historically accurate and completely relevant in today's thirst for multi-culturalism with integrity.  I can envision the musical program of this CD creating ripples in choral presentations and religious service music as well.  ** This CD has allready topped 2 billboard charts (#3 World Albums, #7 Heatseaker Pacific), and is a "Global Music Award" winner.

    Barbara Westphal, viola
    Christian Ruvolo, piano
    BRIDGE 9442
    ISBN# 0 90404 94422 2
    for more info & purchase
    Westphal's luscious dark viola tones have been a staple on our station for years.  Here she plays 2 well-loved sonatas by Brahms paired with a sparkling new work for viola & piano by Andrea Clearfield.

    Click here for a review of both Westphal's CD & Crumb's Red Desert

    Compostitions of David Crumb
    BRIDGE 9450
    ISBN# 0 90404 94502 1
    His father was avant-guarde composer George Crumb, and David's work is said to be more accessible that that, but it remains pretty far from what our listeners ask for.   David Crumb teaches music theory and composition.  If you are seeking a challenge to your musical notions, this CD has varied instrumentation on the individual pieces which is smart, as it helps greatly to leaven this collection of new works.

    Thank you for your support of WSCL-FM, and your continued interest in Just Opened, the program where we open up new releases and releases new to our library, to give you a small taste of what's new in the classical music release world.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Today we have works that recognize the celebration Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a new major release from Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax of beloved traditional violin sonatas, two more great pianists - from Brazil - play works by Russian composers.  We top these off with the icing of choral music by Paulus and some new settings of klezmer music by an Argentinian composer.

    Luiz de Moura Castro, piano
    Slovenia Radio & TV orchestra
    Ligia Amadio, cond.
    ISBN#8 88295 25148 8
    Conductor Ligia Amadio's website
    My Delight of the Week!  Listed amongst the top piano instructors in the US, Castro has been recognized for at least 50 years as an international virtusoso, and regularly sits on the jury of the top international piano competitions.   He knows the process since he has been winning competitions since his teens.  This is an opportunity to hear a mature recognized master-class teacher performing the RAC-PAG variations, one of the most revered works of the piano repertoire, which he has been playing since his childhood!  (Note:  the picture of this CD is not the same cover art as the one sent to us here at the station, and I have been unable to find both on online sources, so your best source is to contact Castro through his website for this CD.)  Rachmaninov piano works remain among the best loved of piano/orchestra literature, and his variations on a theme of Paganini is a perennial favorite and frequently requested piece.  (Castro learned the variations as a child for  "piano exercises," first performing them in competition and then with orchestra at the age of nine.  This is an artist who KNOWS the piece.)  This is an exceptionally nuanced performance of a performer who has played the work for 50 years! 

    Daniel Galay, composer
    Michele Gingras, clarinet
    Ron Matson, piano
    MSR 1240
    ISBN# 6 81585 1240 2 4
    Argentinian born Galay immigrated to Israel in 1965 and received the "Prime Minister Composition Prize" in 2009.   For several years he is the Chairman of Leyvik House, the Association of Yiddish writers and Journalists in Israel, where he introduced changes to attract new generations to Jewish Culture and Literature.  It is said that his exceptional affinity with the language is integrally connected to his success as a composer of Yiddish works.  Gingras is Distinguished professor of Clarinet at Miami University and has authored the advanced pedagogy book, "Clarinet Secrets: 52 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Clarinetist."

    Choral Music of Stephen Paulus
    Eric Holtan, Cond.
    True Concord Voices & Orchestra
    ISBN# 0 30911 17162 9
    Just weeks before his death from a stroke in 2014, this recording was made under the supervision of Paulus;  premier recordings (including one in remembrance of 9/11) introducing the international debut of True Concord Voices and Orchestra.  The full and varied orchestration lend even more color than usual to these fine choral works performed by exceptional artists.

    ITZHAK PERLMAN, violin
    EMANUEL AX, piano
    Faure & Strauss Violin Sonatas
    ISBN# 0 28948 11774 1
    Two above-the-title greats join forces in a new release of two of the great traditional works of concert repertoire.  Perlman & Ax are touring internationally with these works, and will be performing in the region - on Sept. 28th at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

    Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
    CEDILLE 153
    ISBN# 7 35131 91532 8
    Osorio has been in our playlists on WSCL for awhile.  His technical facility and interpretational skill always please.  This CD's major work is Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."  We are now so used to the orchestral version of the work that we forget it was originally composed for solo piano, with the intention of creating in music the specific works of art the composer had in mind.   It has been compared to Debussy's preludes in it's use of color, variety and subtlety.   A prelude and fugue of Shostakovich give us some rigor, and two Prokofiev works, one challenging, one poetic, round out the program.   This is the tour-de-force recital of an accomplished master.

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

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  • 09/25/15--11:18: Just Opened - Sept. 25, 2015

    Romantic German Lied Transcriptions
    Andrew Parker, oboe
    Alan Huckleberry, piano
    MSR 1514
    ISBN# 6 81585 15142 6
    My Delight of the Week!  
    Classics Today (reviewer Jed Disler): "Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment"  Reviewers often feel obliged to compare instrumental song cycles unfavorably to sung, citing the loss of lyrics and the vocal drama -- but for many listeners who do no speak the foreign language of the art songs in question, the release from words is its own joy.  Parker was just signed to the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin, having graduated from Yale in '03.  He has performed around the country in numberous chamber groups and as a soloist.  Huckleberry has performance experience and an interesting addition:  He and pianist Jason Sifford have recorded standard repertoire for beginner to intermediate piano students, available on youtube's UIPianoPed. channel.

    Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment! - See more at:
    Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment! - See more at:
    Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment! - See more at:
    Not only does Parker command a pleasant, singing sonority, but he also gauges his vibrato with expressive discretion. In strophic songs where the text ordinarily informs one’s interpretive game plan, Parker compensates by adjusting his phrasing and articulation, as you immediately hear in Schubert’s Die Forelle. Alan Huckleberry is far more than a mere accompanist; he imbues the piano parts with pinpointed articulation and multi-dimensional character. His ripplingly clear treatment of Gretchen am Spinnrade’s gentle arpeggiated figurations are right up there with Edwin Fischer and Gerald Moore, and that’s the ultimate compliment! - See more at:
    Avalon String Quartet
    CEDILLE 90000 156
    ISBN#7 351--  -1562 5
     Avalon Quartet Official Site
     American Record Guide:  "It would be hard to overpraise the polished, adroit, deeply musical and sheerly gorgeous playing of the Avalon String Quartet."  The Avalon Quartet takes us on a tour of "modern" music from the well known quartet of Debussy, into Brittens inventive and accessible "Divertimenti"  and March to a challenging new work by Stacy Garrop that has been compared to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in that it provides musical illustrations of the illustrations in a Medieval manuscript, the "Book of Hours."   Much of this work is melodically challenging and is in a modern compositional style that can be off-putting for many listeners.  Closing with Golijov's "Tenebrae" we keep the mediaeval theme but add a lush cello melody which brings us back to a musical voice and brings us around to the current trend in "contemporary classical" music to keep the intellectual curiosity but blend it with a more accessible musical language and the blessing of melody.  This musical tour of modern repertoire is, of course, a technical and musical tour de force by this quartet.

    James Brawn, piano
    MSR 1501
    ISBN# 6 81585 15012 2
    Brawn's website
    Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" have been featured on several solo piano CDs recently, so the work seems to be back in vogue.  The work has been compared to Debussy's Preludes in the expanse of tonal color, and Brawn has been hailed both for his ability to have the thundering quality and the finesse of clarity of line to bring the full pallate.  Reviews are unequivocal in their high praise.
    “… If one has never listened to this gentleman’s expertise, then perhaps this James Brawn in Recital would be a great place to start”  -- American Record Guide

    Works for Violin by Composers from
    The Americas
    Francisco Caban, violin
    Kevin Class, piano
    Cermelo de los Santos, violin
    ISBN# 8 88295 11768 5
    Caban's official website for info. & purchase
    Caban is Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Puerto Rico.  A frequent soloist in the United States, Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico, he also serves as a member of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. His intensive pedagogical work includes the creation and artistic direction of the Conservatory’s annual violin festival.  As with his first CD, his focus is on composers mostly from Latin America, including one of his own works for solo violin, reminiscent of Paganini's etudes.  As with much contemporary work, some of these are a bit challenging, but most of them are accessible, and highly entertaining.

    Dichterliebe & Liederkreis
    Stanley Wilson, tenor
    Malcolm Halliday, piano
    MSR 1513
    ISBN# 6 81585 15132 7
    Wilson's website
    Halliday's website
    Wilson and Halliday have partnered together before, on a CD of British Songs that received raves from Fanfare Magazine, among others.  Schumann's song cycles are touchstones and significant calling cards for tenor and pianist alike. Both artists have estimable independent careers, so when they join forces on major cycles like these, we have to assume they have special meaning and import for both.  Halliday's playing has been called "not a pianist who agonizes how chords should be weighted.... unruffled and homogenous"  (which may have something to do with his also being an accomplished organist), and Wilson has an impressive growing career on international stages of opera and as a featured soloist.

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

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    Favorites from many time periods today on Just Opened.

    Piano works by
    Debussy, Ravel & Kapustin
    A commanding release of beloved familiar works by Debussy and Ravel, and one lesser known composer; Kapustin's Concert Etudes have been called "an encyclopedia of piano technique" and are in the "feuille d'album" form of salon pieces.   Pirojenko has won a firework display of awards, and this assured, nuanced, masterful CD is exactly what one would expect and hope for.

    Geoffrey Andrews, tenor
    GRACO MUSIC # 24790
    ISBN# 8 88295 24790 0
    Gift Giver's Delight.  A "natural" tenor with a powerful voice from Texas, who went to Nashville to try his luck and hit gold in the form of the production team of Hooper and Kevern, known for their classical crossover accousitc orchestra work.   Having overcome an infant bilateral clubfoot deformity, and living with tourette syndrome, he has the kind of "back story" to make him the darling of the "reality tv" set.  These logistics all fall away when we hear his powerful, clear, balanced voice.

    Piano Concertos
    Vadym Kholodenko, piano
    Miquel Harth-Bedova, cond.
    Norwegian Radio Orchestra
    HARMONIA MUNDI #907629
    ISBN# 0 93046 76292 6
    My Delight of the Week.  I'm personally so very happy to see and hear that Grieg is coming back into favor in concert halls and recordings after what has seemed like a long winter of absence.  As one might expect from a Van Cliburn winner (2013), critics have been trowing bouquets, praising theses performances as "as tender as you might want... and... passionate but not overwrought."  This welcome pairing of Grieg with Saint Saens' 2nd Concerto makes it a "no brainer" to add to your collection, especially if you do not have these works in your library.  Grammpone's Jeremy Nicholas called this Grieg "a truly outstanding recording" and said the Saint Saens was "even better" and thrilling!

    Aralee Dorough, flute
    Scott Holshouser, piano
    ISBN# 7 00261 39071 0
    Accomplished orchestral flautist Dorough shines in these transcriptions of orchestral works.  Most of these works all ready heavily featured the flute, so these reductions feel absolutely natural.  The choice of material has been smart (like starting the CD with Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn"), so that we rarely feel the lack of the orchestra, merely the flute being brought into forward focus, which allows us to bask in Dorough's painterly approach to ... colours.  She is joined by Judy Dines on a second flute part (with Hoshouser still holding down the orchestral reduction with a masterful blend of virtuosity and support) on a rousing closing work, the ever popular Stravinsky "Pulcinella Suite."

    Zoe Black, violin
    Joe Chindamo, piano
    ALFI RECORDS# 15002
    ISBN# 7 24131 54960 2
    Chindamo made his name as a jazz pianist and has been recognized by great musicians of all genres, performing in concert halls with orchestras, rock bands and big names of all kinds of genres.  Aside from performances on over 23 CDs of his own, and countless with other groups, he has achieved recognition as a composer of chamber works.  To those credentials he offers this labor of love ... Bach's major keyboard work with counterpoint for violin.   What we have is a calling card of technical proficiency and variety for both piano and violin.  Zoe Black is completely up to the challenge of what - in this - amounts to an extensive and virtuosic violin "variation cycle".  Critics being what they are, the reviews have been a bit mixed, some want nothing other than the original, others gripe that he didn't stray far enough in creating the violin part.   These are quibbles that are easily drowned out by simply listening to the work.  Within the past few months, some chamber versions of this same originating work have been released, so, as usual, Chindamo has his finger on the pulse of what is current and performing with verve and excellence. 

    Join us again next week (during our Fall Fundraiser) for more new releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    This is the first Friday of our Fall Fundraising Drive.  You know the drill... if you love great "classical" music, and you want to be sure it is available in local programming on WSCL (shows like Just Opened), now is the time to support it!

    National Brass Ensemble
    OBERLIN MUSIC # 16677
    ISBN# 7 51778  16677 0
    Naxos label info. on the National Brass Ensemble
    Traditional brass works by one of the all-time great brass composers, played by an award winning group of musicians.  'nuff said!

    Yo Yo Ma, cello
    Kathryn Stott, piano
    SONY 10316
    ISBN# 88875 10316 2 3
    Gift Giver's Delight!  This CD just hit stores and on-line download on Sept. 18th.  Any release by Mr. Ma is a major release, and this time he is working with a long-time collaborator Ms. Stott. This is a collection of immensely appealing melody driven works, some of them initially intended for vocalist, all of them qualify as classical "pop hits."

    Bartok & Mendelssohn Violin Concertos
    Miquel Harth Bedoya, con.d
    Norwegian Radio Orchestra
    AVIE 2323
    ISBN# 8 22252 23232 5
    The Mendelssohn violin concerto is a favorite of many great music lovers, and is held here in interesting contrast with the Bartok.   Hadelich continues his meteoric rise adding breadth and variety to his recording palette.

    Jake Schepps Quintet
    Website of Jake Schepps
    ISBN# 7 00261 40871 2
    Jake Schepps and his folk quintet recently performed at the Avalon theatre in Easton.  This CD is part of a growing trend of what I call "concert folk."   These are new works - "concert works" - for folk quintet.  If the point being made is that these instruments are being played with technique and artistry, and true mastery, point taken without reservation.   Unfortunately, these works are neither fish nor fowl, not really appealing to those who come to hear the group play folk music, and the "orchestration" of the band means that the sound is exceptionally foreign to a traditional concert goer.  In their construction and "modern music" exploration, these works would be a challenge in any arena, and the works remain best suited to a jazz/folk crossover rather than folk/classical.  It's an interesting premise being attempted here, to legitimize the folk instruments without changing their balance or sonority. In the classical era, composers like Fernando Sor worked to legitimize the guitar by writing pedagogy and intensely appealing melodic works - and it worked - I wish there were a little more of that in these compositions.

    James Brawn, piano
    MSR 1468
    ISBN# 6 81585 14682 8
    This was the first of Brawn's "Beethoven Odyssey" and includes beloved sonatas like the Pastorale, and "To Therese" which was a personal favorite of Beethoven in an odd 2 movement form.  Beethoven felt it was equal to, or better than his popular "Moonlight" sonata.  We've actually been receiving these Brawn releases out of order from the label, so it's nice to get the first one, and recognize it as a wonderful "start" to the extensive and impressive series. 

    Adrian Chandler, violin & director
    La Serenissima
    AVIE 2344
    ISBN# 8 22252 23442 8
    Official website for La Serenissima
    Rave reviews from BBC3, Gramophone Magazine,  The New York Times, Early Music Review, The Classical Reviewer... it was only a matter of time until Chandler and La Serenissima tackled - what is perhaps THE seminal work of Baroque Repertoire - Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.  Fortunately for us, Chandler combines this well known and loved work with much less well known works for violin and bassoon, giving us a refreshing mix.

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  • 10/23/15--10:09: Just Opened - Oct. 23, 2015

  • This week on Just Opened, we have three "big" releases, by violinist Anne Akiko Myers and the London Symphony Orchestra, a new solo release from pianist Lang Lang, and Rachel Barton Pine picking up the obscure viola d'amore and making it her own on the works of Vivaldi written for this instrument..   We also have one "smaller" release, the mother and daughter Van Hoesen harp duo "Genetic Harps."   All of today's artists have international careers.

    The Complete Viola D'Amore Concertos
    Rachel Barton Pine
    Ars Antiqua
    CEDILLE 159
    ISBN#7 35131 91592 2
     My Delight of the Week!    Regular WSCL listeners know that rarity ranks high with me, and here we have one of the top violinists in the world picking up one of history's more obscure intruments (playing a beautiful historic one from 1774) and recording concertos composed for it by one of history's favorite composers.  This follows closely on Pine's recent 3 CD set of the works of Veracini with Trio Setticento, so we can only assume she is going through a Baroque phase and let out a collective sigh of pleasure!

    The Love Album
    Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Keith Lockhart, cond.
    ISBN#0 99923 77922 3
    Gift Giver's Delight.  While the focal point piece of this CD is Bernstein's cerebral "Serenade after Plato's Symphosium" - which some will find of interest, and others will want to skip all together forever - the rest of the CD is filled to the brim with memorable favorite tunes in beautiful arrangements for violin and orchestra.  The orchestral settings of these favorite love themes are almost edible, incredibly luscious and fullfilling.  While we first aired this CD today, we were all ready receiving notes from listeners that they love this CD!

    Chopin & Tchaikovsky
    SONY 751 1758 (2 CD set)
    ISBN# 8 8875 11758 2 2
    Lang Lang has been hailed as one of the greatest pianists of our day.  Indeed, in a field crowded with talented, technically proficient, magnificently trained, musically nuanced pianists, Lang Lang has the kind of career that simply "does not exist anymore" for most musicians, the legendary kind of career as we hear of from the Romantic era, similar to those of Clara Schumann, Moszkowski, and Liszt.  After several releases of major concertos with world class orchestras, he tosses out this solo release to us; an exclamation of scherzos by Chopin, and Tchikovsky's epic calendar of music, "The Seasons."  Lang Lang says the seasons is not as filled with notes as some works, but the use he makes of the note create melodies with the kind of pain  that turns into beauty.  "He presents his heart, and he holds your heart."

    Gretchen Van Hoesen
    Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton
    ISBN# 8 89211 70874 1
    Mother and daughter harpists, both award winners with international careers, the Van Hoesen's both hold principle harp chairs, Gretchen with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and Heidi with the Toronto Symphony.  As a duo they specialize in finding and arranging new and old works for harp duo (and they also perform symphonic concertos for two harps). They have performed as a duo extensively in PA, and around the united states.   The program on this CD is excessively listenable with beloved works by Debussy, Da Falla, Ravel, Dussek, infectious new works by Schocker and Curcio, and a trio of Irish Airs in settings by Reynaldo Hahn.

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

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  • 10/28/15--09:32: Spellbound trivia...

  • Our After the news at Noon series this month is "Spellbound" music about witches, enchantment, goblins, gnomes, devils and all things leading up to a celebration of Halloween.

    Today, while playing a portion of Rosza's score for the Hitchcock film, "Spellbound"  I mentioned the large cuts made to Salvador Dali's Dream/Hypnosis Sequence.   (The sequence initially ran 20 minutes on it's own, and it's a loss to film and art that a copy of the full sequence was not saved... but editing is the essence of film art.) 

    At the bottom of this blog post you will find photos from the deleted sequence:  Bergman as a greek statue come to live, and ballroom with grand pianos suspended from the ceiling with chamber musicians on top of them!

    I'm not endorsing the blog (and have to be a bit curious as to whether the blog posted has rights to all these photos), but while I've seen some of the Bergman photos deleted from the dream sequence, this is the first time I've found/seen any photos of the deleted ballroom scene.

    I hope you enjoy this little trivia tidbit along with the music!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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    Exciting performers from the concert world presenting beloved time tested works and a few new works, too, with a focus on the Composers:  Bach, Puccini, Ravel, and Lieuwen.

    J.S. BACH
    According to Anna Magdalena
    Matt Haimovitz, baroque cello & piccolo cello
    ISBN# 8 27949 05556 0
    Short biography of Anna Magdalena Bach
    picture of a violoncello piccolo
    (Note that the cello on the cover of this CD is the piccolo cello played by Haimovitz.)   Having recorded the Bach Cello Suites earlier in his career, Haimovitz has continued his studies over the years, hoping to find the clearest line of the composer's intention.  There being no manuscript by Bach of these works existing, cellists have been led by versions of other musicians.  Kellner, an acquaintance of Bach, had a version that has been greatly influential over the years.  Haimovitz has become increasingly convinced through study that the copy that belonged to Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena had interpretive insights and articulation grammar and phrasing that have been almost entirely lost.  Adding the fact that the 6th suite was composed for the "piccolo cello", and performing that suite on this instrument, lends a completeness of approach to this entire project.   It is worth remembering that even the addition of the piccolo cello remains an element of subtlety of technique and tone; the average listener may not notice any difference in these recordings, but for those who are interested in the intricacies of phrasing and the subtleties of sound, this recording by an established artist can become an essential touchstone of interpretation.  Haimovitz continues his relationship with these works by recording newly commissioned overtures for these suites next spring.
    Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
    Antonio Pappano, cond.
    Orchestra & Chorus of the
    National Academy of Saint Cecilia
    SONY #750 9249
    ISBN# 8 8875 09249 2 6
    Biography of Giacomo-Puccini
    Gift Giver's Delight!  International heart-throb tenor Jonas Kaufmann released this CD in September, after years of having performed Puccini's heros on the great stages of Opera all over the world.  His European tour this fall is largely comprised of the works on this CD.  This month he has released a new Cinematic release of his concert from Teatro alla Scala, with behind the scenes glimpses.  Kauffmann has been hailed by "The Daily Telegraph" as "the greatest tenor of our day."  His is joined on some of the works by soprano Kristine Opolais, who has partnered with him in two productions of Manon Lescaut.
    YUJA WANG (piano)
    Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
    Lionel Bringuier, cond.
    D.G. #4794954
    ISBN# not available currently
    My Delight of the Week! When a young piano virtuoso is continually hailed for her sartorial style as much as her phenomenal technique and musicality, when she becomes the model for Rolex watches internationally,  meanwhile performing some of the greatest works of the piano repertoire with the world's most renowned orchestras, we have the kind-of cross-over stardom that exceptionally few classical musicians achieve.  While other artists can become sidelined, subsumed or marginalized by these extra-musical factors, Wang has been able to deftly incorporate them into her being as a musician with a larger sense of herself as an artist on the world stage.  In this CD she performs two major concertos by Ravel, and a rarely heard "concertino" of Faure (one of my favorite works, his "Ballade for Piano & Orchestra") in an even more rarely heard solo piano version.  Brava!

    The Music of Peter Lieuwen
    SOLI Chamber Ensemble
    Cumberland Wind Quintet
    Various Soloists
    MSR #1581
    ISBN# 6 81585 15812 8
    Lieuwen's compositions have been acclaimed for their orchestral balance, his instrumental palette, and their attractive, shimmering sonorities.  Influenced by the rhythms of jazz and world music, and by  romantic era impressions of nature and landscape.  These come together to form new music that has melody and accessibility that the listener wants to hear again.  This ability to engage both performers and audience has been rewarded with commissions and performances by leading orchestras on the world stage from the Royal Philharmonic and Orchestra of the Americas and the National Orchestra Association.  Born in the Netherlands and raised in New Mexico, Lieuwen currently is on faculty at Texas A&M University, where he served as the first head of their Department of Music Performance Studies.

    We hope you enjoied today's exploration of Composers on Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell

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  • 11/12/15--11:13: Just Opened - Nov. 13, 2015

  • Traditional classics juxtoposed with new works today on Just Opened.

    Symphony No. 5 & No. 7
    Manfred Honeck, Music Dir.
    Pittsburgh Symphony Orch.
    ISBN # 0 30911 27182 4
    More info on this recording.
    New recordings of Beethoven's beloved, now traditional Symphonies are getting quite rare.   These works were the closing program of last season's Beethoven Fest.  What a treat to have new recordings of these all time greats!

    music of Lou Harrison &
    John Luther Adams
    Alison Bjorkedal, harps
    John Schneider, guitars
    ISBN# 7 00261 42878 9
    This CD has all ready made it through the first phase for the 2015 Grammy Awards, and is under consideration in several categories.   I'm very lucky to know musicians who are incredibly talented and also committed to combining their intellectual curiousity with their work.  Alison Bjorkedal was my first harp teacher (and a gifted, supportive teacher).  She has a fondness for new works and inventive music, and was part of a group Grammy Award win in 2014 of new music on new instruments.   Meanwhile, she has been working with a group of musicians, "Just Strings" on modern works composed in "just" tuning.   (This is a different tuning mode from the "even-tempered" tuning of Bach that is now the standard that we're used to for concert - and pop - music.  See links below for more info.)  She plays a variety of harps on this CD, and the other strings are played by John Schneider on a variety of guitars.  Joined by T.J. Troy on percussion and the HMC American Gamelon, you know you're in for a sound world infused with ancient world music and folk traditions.  Don't be put off by the "just tuning" aspect of these works - if you didn't know about that, you would just know that they have the sound of world music.   While this CD may be very challenging for those who just want to hear traditional works like the Beethoven Symphonies, for many others, this CD will be a revelation, and have great-cross over appeal to people who appreciate many diverse genres.  Some of the works have a sound of ancient tunings and instruments, while others are redolent of American folk.  These works are tuneful, very accessible, and create vivid sound pictures.
         For a fuller explanation of Just tuning, here are some articles:
        Wikipedia: Just_intonationAn explanation of Just TuningJust Intonation Explained

    Shen Lu, piano
    STEINWAY & SONS 30039
    More information on Shen Lu & this CD.
    My Delight of the week. I've been listening to this CD almost every day since I took the shrink wrap off it.  A native of Jiangsu, China, Shen Lu has performed concerts in Beijing, Carnegie Hall in New York, Boston, Cleveland, The Kennedy Center, Los Angeles, Sydney, and in Dublin. He was a prize-winner at multiple  International Piano Competitions, and won best French music prize for Ravel’s Miroirs at the 2015 Dublin International Piano Competition, the central work on this CD.  Pixum Chen's exquisite "Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake" starts off the painterly pieces, along with Racmaninov's "Etudes Tableaux" and Tan Dun's glittering tone pictures, "8 Memories in Watercolor."  The recording was part of the winner's package for one of his awards, and it is marvelously performed & recorded, and an emotionally touching first recording.

    Matthew Hunt, clarinet
    Alastair King, composer/conductor
    Chamber Orchestra of London
    ISBN# 8 89211 60454
    "Concertinfouro was written as a surprise 40th birthday present for my wife, Claire, who is a clarinetist.  It was given a first performance just a few weeks later on Saturday 24th March 2012 by the Argyle Orchestra with Claire playing the solo clarinet and myself conducting."  The CD recording that features Matthew Hunt is a short CD that includes the full work on one cut (about 13 minutes), then each movement in separate cuts.  Not only was this work composed as a labour of love, but it is FULL OF MELODY, fun and accessible.  It is easy to envision this work becoming a concert staple, and a favorite of the clarinet concerto repertoire.

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

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  • 11/19/15--12:19: Just Opened - Nov. 20, 2015

  • Today we open up Sharon Isbin's latest major release, a dependable holiday treat of Bach's lute suites played by this guitar master.  Hornist Denise Tryon displays her virtuosity in (mostly) new works for horn, and The Meridian Arts Ensemble  play early brass works. We take a sip from Judith Lang Zaimont's new orchestral work, and trio influenced by water imagery, and Quink Vocal Ensemble's masterful tuning of settings by British composers.

    SO LOW
    Denise Tryon, horn
    BRIDGE 9455
    ISBN# 0 90404 94552 6
    Tryon's official website.
     In 1989 Tryon graduated from the famed Interlochen Arts Academy and in 1993 received her Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston. She received the Presidential Scholarship while in the Artist Diploma Program at NEC.  She is known for her masterclasses in the US, Europe and Asia.   In 2009, Tryon founded Audition Mode, a yearly horn seminar, with Karl Pituch. In 2010 she was an International Horn Society (IHS) Northeast Workshop Featured Artist. This CD of mostly new works has some challenging works, but many with infectious rhythm and melody, and her sound is rich and creamy.

    Symphony No. 4 "Cool Water"
    and "Russian Summer" Piano Trio
    Niels Muus, cond.
    Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra
    ISBN# 8 88295 33669 7
    Zaimont's Official Site
    More about the Sorel Organization
    Lang has won many awards for her compositions and prestigious commissions.  The works on this CD are inspired by imagery of water.  She is a grantee of both National Endowments and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow.  Zaimont is also a 2003 Aaron Copland Award winner and recipient of a 2005 Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship.  She has taught at several institutions including CUNY and Peabody Conservatory.  Her work is known for risk taking and music coloration.

    The Lute Suites
    Sharon Isbin, guitar
    ERATO # 75185
    ISBN# 8 25645 17518 5
    Isbin's official site.
    Gift-Giver's Delight! From the very beginning, Bach's lute suites have been played on other instruments.  World renowned guitarist Isbin joins the tradition with her usual sparkling virtuosity.  The combination of these timeless works and her artistry make this a great choice for gift giving (even for those who think they "don't like classical music"). Beautiful music for the holidays and on into the new year.

    Quink Vocal Ensemble
    Music of Elgar, Stanford, Bridge, Parry,
    Vaughan Williams & Moeran
    ISBN# 5 028421 95216 1
    Quink's official site.
    In keeping with our series focus on late Romantic era British composers this month, comes this CD of song cycles and individual favorites by many of our featured composers.  In 1983 Quink received its first international recognition when the group was named finalist in a major European music competition, and they have been going strong ever since (they tour the states twice a year).  Here, Elizabethan partsong settings by Vaughan Williams and Cycles by Moeran (Songs of Springtime) and Parry (Six Modern Lyrics) are set alongside traditional favorites sung by this versatile Dutch a capella group.

    Meridian Arts Ensemble
    8 BELLS # 6
    ISBN# 7 00261 37354 6
    Meridian Arts Ensemble Official Website
    This all-male brass ensemble has created a diverse catalogue of recordings; original compositions from their own members, afro-Cuban and South American folk, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, & renaissance and baroque music.  They have performed around the world and won awards for their innovative programming and "high octane" performances.  This CD, with it's focus on traditional brass works of early and Baroque composers (Byrd, Corelli, Gabrielli, Bach and others) is another Holiday suitable CD that can take you into the new year with brassy confidence.

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

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    We begin working in Christmas releases this week, mixed with the usual melange of great music, Just Opened!

    Andrea Bocelli, tenor
    Abbey Roads Studio Orchestra
    David Foster, piano, arrangs. & prod.
    SUGAR # 23945
    This year's "holiday" special produced by David Foster featuring beloved tenor Andrea Bocelli is a tribute to great film music.  Beloved songs in beautifully orchestrated arrangements.  Bocelli is joined by some regulars (his wife, whose voice is reminiscenet of Claudine Longet), and other current pop luminaries.  Andrea Bocelli's voice is both timeless and current - there is something very fullfilling about his vocal quality, and it seems that he has also striven for a simplicity (in the vocal music lines) in this production, letting the well known songs do their magic.

    Jenni Olson, flute
    Alison Bjorkedal, harp
    available on itunes, cdbaby, and other online sources
    Pure Tradition - My Gift-Giver's Delight!  Even the most dedicated orchestral listener turns to the combination of flute and harp music for Christmas.  Alison Bjorkedal is a grammy winning musician (and is under consideration for a solo grammy this year), and was my first harp teacher.   She is particular dedicated to new and challenging repertoire and new music, but she is nothing if not diverse and well-versed!  Bjorkedal is joined on this CD by versatile flautist Jenni Olson, who has also performed and recorded with major orchestras.  This CD has lovely and unusual arrangement of traditional carols, and a few non-traditional, but well known Christmas works added to the mix.

    Andrew Wan, violin
    Kent Nagano, cond.
    Montreal Symphony Orchestra
    ANALEKTA  8770
    ISBN# 7 74204 87702 6
    Link to purchase the CD
    My Delight of the Week!   Flawless musicianship, taste, musicality and excellence.  If these are the things you look for to add to your music library, (or as a gift,) then this is one for you!  Andrew Wan was named concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 2008 after performing Elgar's Violin Concerto with them in 2007.  He performs on this recording on a 1744 Bergonzi violin.  After serving as soloist and guest concert master for many major orchestras internationally (and winning competitions), the musical fit between performer and orchestra is unmistakable and simply adds to the chemistry of these live performances.

    Early Christmas Music & Carols
    from the British Isles
    Quadriga Consort
    ISBN# 8 88750 75722
    Quadriga Consorts's Official Website
    Egaging and appealing seasonal offerings played by a group of Austrian early instrument musicians.  Grammophone magazine has hailed them as "luminescently beautiful... utterly joyful."   They are known for their unconventional musical pairings which give them a unique charm and freshness.  Their previous Christmas album, "On a Cold Winter's Day" was a best-selling Christmas album of 2013.

    Join us next week for more Christmas (and Hanukkah) releases, Just Opened.
    Kara Dahl Russell


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    We're now well into Hanukkah this year, but have an interesting new release called "Shiksa" from internationally renowned violinist Lara St. John - so how could we resist?  The Complete Beethoven Symphonyies, the Bach Cello Suites played by an American-Israeli Cultural Scholarship winner, and a new Christmas release from Pladico Domingo complete today's offerings!

    Lara St. John, violin
    Matt Herskowitz, piano
    ISBN# 8 54853 00404 9
    With her typical mix of musical research, intense musicality, fun, and inspiration, St. John joins with MattHerskowitz for a CD of "gypsy" inspired music.  From traditional folk music to Romany works, to Judaica (hence the tongue-in-cheek title) to works inspired by both, and some new arrangement/transcriptions by Herskowitz, this CD is filled to the rafters with passionate show-stoppers for violin and piano!

    Placido Domingo
    Czech National Symphony Orchestra
    Eugene Kohn, conductor
    SONY# 117 432
    ISBN#8 8875 11743 2 0
    Official website of Placido Domingo
    This major release by one of the living legends (and heart-throbs) of our day could well be called Placido's cross-over Christmas.  Most of the selections are "the usual suspects" of traditional Christmas carols, and he is joined on various tracks by his son, Idina Menzel, Jackie Evancho, Hayley Westenra, Vincent Niclo and Helen Fischer. With someone like Domingo at the helm, one cast rest assured of exceptional arrangments and great orchestrations.

    6 CD SET
    Kent Nagano, cond.
    Montreal Symphony Orchestra
    ANALEKTA 9150-9155
    ISBN# 7 74204 91502 5
    Official Website of Nagano
    Gift-Giver's Delight!  This 6 CD set is a compilation of recordings made from 2012-2014, Nagano's committment to recording the complete Symphonies of Beethoven, and several other orchestra works (Overtures, etc.) to flesh out the collection and concept.  One critic took great exception to the varied recording location and releases being put together, he felt that the sound(s) of the various locations were so different that it was a detraction for him.   I would think this is not something the average listener is going to find too distracting.   As I frequently mention, the great canons are rarely being recorded anymore, so this is an opportunity to create a foundation of a new or growing classical music collection, with one of the most respected international composers of our day, and an orchestra that is having a hey-day under his baton.

    Inbal Segev, cello
    Official website of Segev
    With so many artists recording this seminal set by Bach, an attachment to the artist, and the artist's interpretation is what sets each recording apart.  Segev is the winner of many international accolades, including the American-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship.  "Ultimately, the challenge for me was to find a way to incorporate the ideas I learned from Baroque practice while being true to my musical language, which is rooted in this century. I wanted to create an interpretation of this great masterwork for the contemporary listener – to say, ‘Here is what Bach has to say to people in the 21st century.’ In this recording I strive for simplicity while trying to keep a sense of freedom. Da-Hong and I worked at capturing a pure and warm sound. It is a distillation of everything I love about the suites.”  Her journey with this music has also been captured in a documentary, a 21 minute film which you can find on youtube:
    documentary about the making of this CD

    Join us again for more new releases and great musical gifting ideas, Just Opened!
    Kara Dahl Russell

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