Brahms Recordings, Old and New

Last year, Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos recorded the Brahms Violin Concerto. On March 31, Kavakos and pianist Yuja Wang followed up with a new recording of the three Violin Sonatas by Johannes Brahms. Here is an excerpt of Kavakos playing the stormy Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108. This CD is another exciting addition to an already vast collection of classic and recent recordings of this music, including performances by Stefan Jackiw, Anne-Sophie …

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MTT’s Old Gershwin Recording

Once in a while I accidentally run across a great old recording which makes me stop and listen. While I love new releases, these old recordings offer a captivating snapshot of a unique time, place and style of playing. Recently I had this experience with an exciting compilation of George Gershwin works, which a young Michael Tilson Thomas (popularly known in hip circles as “MTT”) released in the mid-1970’s. The recording features …

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My Funny Valentine

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here is Joshua Bell and Broadway singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth performing Rodgers and Hart’s ballad, My Funny Valentine. The song was originally written for the 1937 musical, Babes in Arms. It has become a jazz and pop standard with notable performances by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and others. The melody by Richard Rodgers is unusual for a Broadway ballad. Set in an atmospheric minor key, it conveys a beautiful sense …

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We’ll Paint You a Rainbow

Last March, cellist Lynn Harrell and a host of fellow all star musicians, including John Williams and Jessye Norman, released a special recording called We’ll Paint You a Rainbow. The recording raises money for the HEARTbeats Foundation, a project Harrell and his wife founded in 2010. The Foundation’s noble goal is to bring the transformative power of music to disadvantaged children throughout the world. The joyful reaction of these children in Nepal is …

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“Spheres” by Daniel Hope

Musica universalis, or the “music of the spheres” is the ancient philosophical concept that the movements of the sun, moon and planets generate celestial vibrations. Pythagoras accidentally discovered that a musical pitch sounds in direct proportion to the length of the string which produces it. He was interested in the concept of universal harmony rooted in mathematical ratios-a unifying cosmic “music.” Violinist Daniel Hope’s new CD, Spheres finds inspiration in these big ideas. Spheres puts …

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An Exciting New Vaughan Williams CD

British conductor Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra have released an exciting new CD featuring music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). The disk includes A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) and Serenade to Music, performed by RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and singers from Mercury Opera Rochester. Music director of the RPO for 13 years, currently Seaman holds the title of Conductor Laureate. Written in 1914, A London Symphony musically captures the varied moods …

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“A Violin’s Life” by Frank Almond

Violinist Frank Almond has come out with an exciting new recording which I highly recommend. A Violin’s Life: Music for the ‘Lipinski’ Stradivari was released on April 19, debuting on Billboard’s Top Ten Classical list. Almond is the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and a faculty member at Northwestern University. He is accompanied by pianist William Wolfram. Here is the interesting story of how the “Lipinski” Stradivari, one of the world’s finest violins, came …

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