Classical new releases

Sir Arthur Sullivan is best-known for his full-length operettas composed with W.S. Gilbert, including “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” Sullivan’s prolific output also includes oratorios, ballets, incidental music and dozens of songs and hymns.

This year, Chandos released a new record celebrating Sullivan’s vast songbook. “Arthur Sullivan - Songs” brings together four of England’s rising classical music artists for an album of these rarely-performed pieces.

Violinist Daniel Hope’s new album, “For Seasons,” is inspired by the perennial Vivaldi concerto cycle known as The Four Seasons. Hope began learning the Vivaldi concertos at age seven, performing them live for the first time only six years later.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

  Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire bring us a new performance of J. S. Bach’s classic oratorio, St. John Passion. Apollo’s Fire performed the oratorio in March as a live theatrical performance in both Apollo’s Fire’s native Cleveland and New York City; now, the ensemble offers the performance as a two-disc album with accompanying photos and online resources.

 

  Legendary pianist Menahem Pressler joins forces with the Pacifica Quartet on the new album Brahms Piano Quintet/ Schumann String Quartet No. 1.

 

Although it closed 60 years ago, Black Mountain College keeps on giving. In its heyday, the liberal arts institution near Asheville, N.C., counted many of the mid-century's great artistic thinkers, including John Cage, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessy Gray and Robert Rauschenberg, among its faculty and students.