Helene Grimaud’s New Album: “Water”

Here is a taste of Water, a new album by French pianist Hélène Grimaud which came out at the end of January on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The recording showcases water-inspired solo piano music, mostly from the twentieth century, including Luciano Berio’s haunting Wasserklavier from 6 Encores for Piano, Toru Takemitsu’s atmospheric Rain Tree Sketch II, and Debussy’s  La cathédrale engloutie. Beyond assembling a great collection of music, Grimaud wanted to draw attention to the fragility of this fundamental and …

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The Houston Symphony’s New Dvorak Recording

Here’s a sample of the Houston Symphony’s new Dvorak recording, released last Friday. The album, which pairs Dvorak’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, is music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s inaugural recording with the orchestra. It’s the first in a series of Houston Symphony Dvorak disks on the Dutch-based Pentatone label. A May 1 release will include Symphony No. 6 and later in the year the series will conclude with Symphony No. 9. Dvorak’s bubbly Czech-folk-inspired Slavonic Dances …

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Bach Violin Concertos: The Freiburger Barockorchester

The mission statement of Germany’s Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, founded in 1987, is to “enliven the world of Baroque music with new sounds.” Listen to their exceptional 2013 recording of J.S. Bach Violin Concertos on the Harmonia Mundi label and you’ll hear this philosophy on display. Yes, these performances feature period instruments, sparkling Baroque style, and occasional ornamentation. But they go far beyond historical performance practice. We’re reminded that, first and foremost, this is fun, …

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The 2016 Classical Grammys

Here is an overview of the 2016 Grammy Awards in the classical categories, announced earlier this week. The list is dominated by twentieth century music, both familiar and obscure. Several of the albums are live concert recordings. Best Orchestral Performance This is Andris Nelsons’ inaugural recording as Music Director of the Boston Symphony. The album includes Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 (a work we discussed in this past Listeners’ Club post) and the haunting Passacaglia from Shostakovich’s opera, Lady …

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The Baltimore Symphony Turns 100

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Following a few seasons of informal performances in the 1890s, the orchestra played its first official concert on February 11, 1916. It began as the country’s first municipal orchestra, funded for 26 years by the City of Baltimore. In 1942, the BSO separated from the City to become an independent entity. The Baltimore Symphony’s season-long celebration includes a concert tomorrow featuring Joshua …

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Alisa Weilerstein’s New Recording: Rachmaninov and Chopin

I’ve been listening to a spectacular new recording released last October by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. The disc features two monumental works: Rachmaninov’s heroic Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19 and Chopin’s stormy and unrelentingly virtuosic Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65. A few shorter works round out the CD: Vocalise, Rachmaninov’s famous song without words, and Chopin’s  Étude, Op. 25, No. 7 and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3. Although Weilerstein and Barnatan have been performing …

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James Ehnes’ New Vivaldi Recording

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons may be the most recorded piece ever written, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another great new addition to the catalogue. The newest contribution comes from Canadian-born violinist James Ehnes who has just released a Four Seasons disc with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the Onyx Classics label. It’s always fun to hear different approaches to these famous Vivaldi concertos, some using baroque instruments and performance practice. Here, you’ll hear a …

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