Classical new releases

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist established their community more than 20 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. where music is a daily part of the Catholic nuns' lives in the Motherhouse. With the holiday season looming, the sisters joined NPR's Scott Simon for an in-studio performance and discussion of their latest album, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Christmas with The Dominican Sisters of Mary.

Photo by Marshall Clarke

Cellist Amit Peled actually encourages his students to join a gang - the Peabody Cello Gang.

Peled spoke with Classical IPR about how the Cello Gang got started, which piece on their new album is the “Everest” for cellists and the story behind the album’s cover photo. He also talked about the once-in-a-lifetime live performance of David Popper’s Requiem featuring nineteen cellos that appears on the new album.

 

If you’re a top cellist at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, you’re probably in a gang. A cello gang, that is. Amit Peled calls the students in his studio the Peabody Cello Gang, and they have a new album.

 

Classical music has never lived in a bubble. For centuries, it's always found common ground with folk music.

Enter, the Danish String Quartet.

 Violinist Angèle Dubeau and her orchestra La Pietà have recorded musical portraits of many composers, including Philip Glass, Ludovico Einaudi and John Adams. Their latest musical portrait album features selected works of Max Richter.

 

Richard Reed Parry plays to arenas full of fans as a member of the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, but he impressed listeners in 2014 with a more intimate record. Parry's Music For Heart And Breath featured compositions that asked some of the best musicians in contemporary classical music to use their own heartbeats and breathing to guide their performances.

A new album by Steven Isserlis surveys the music written for the cello during the period of World War I. The album is called The Cello in Wartime. It includes several popular pieces performed on an instrument called a trench cello.

 Military wind bands were very popular in Britain in the early part of the twentieth century. Sir Edward Elgar and his contemporaries wrote quite a bit of music for this type of ensemble. A new release from Somm Recordings called Elgar and His Peers: The Art of the Military Band celebrates this repertoire.

 

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has released an album featuring solo piano music of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Sibelius composed fewer than 20 works for the piano, and his orchestral music is far better known.

 

 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. A new album produced by Rachel Currea is a musical celebration of the the many contributions of Martin Luther.

 

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.

A new album from Sony Classical presents all three piano trios of Johannes Brahms. Pianist Emanuel Ax and cellist Yo-Yo Ma have already won multiple Grammy Awards for their previous Brahms recordings. Here they join violinist Leonidas Kavakos in their first recorded collaboration as a trio.

 

Classical and folk music continue to intermingle in fascinating ways. The intersections stretch back far beyond Bach, who cleverly slipped a German folk song into his Goldberg Variations. Later, composers like Ralph Vaughan Williams and Béla Bartók combed the countryside, collecting tunes from villagers.

When Daniil Trifonov was 20, he scored a double victory, taking home top prizes at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein International Piano Competitions. That was six years ago, and by now he has secured a spot as one of the most revered – perhaps even feared – classical pianists on the scene today.

Pianist Evgeny Kissin has just released a long-awaited solo album. “Evgeny Kissin: Beethoven” is the pianist’s first solo album in over ten years. It is also his first album dedicated entirely to the solo piano works of Ludwig van Beethoven.

 

What does it take to be an opera superstar? Jonas Kaufmann should know. He's been called "the world's greatest tenor."

Kaufmann has the voice. He's also got the onstage charisma, the movie-star good looks, the ambition, even a little controversy — and a brand new album.

He's the ultimate singer-songwriter: His poetry knows no equal and, as a musician, his powers are magical. But he also has big problems.

The tragic story of Orpheus has inspired countless works of art over the millennia — plus one. The latest retelling comes from director and choreographer Mark DeChiazza.

 Giacomo Puccini is best known for his many operas, including Madama Butterfly, La boheme, Tosca and Turandot. Classical IPR’s Featured New Release shows a previously unknown musical side of Puccini: his work as an organist. The album is called Giacomo Puccini: Organ Works.

 

David Finlayson / Teresa Berg

Brothers Anthony and Demarre McGill both have successful careers as orchestral musicians. Anthony McGill is the principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic, and Demarre McGill is the principal flutist with the Seattle Symphony.

 

The McGill brothers, along with pianist Michael McHale, have released a new album on the Chicago-based label Cedille. The album is called "Portraits," and it features several world premieres. It’s also the first album the brothers have recorded together.

 

Classical IPR’s Featured New Release includes three world premiere recordings and a guest appearance by an Academy Award-winning actor. The McGill/McHale Trio’s new album on the Cedille label is called Portraits.

 

Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week is an album that celebrates the woman who created the link between Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. The album is called In Sara Levy’s Salon.

 

J. Henry Fair

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin has a new album called "Alma Española." On the new album, Isbin and mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard perform Spanish-language art songs, many of which are new arrangements Isbin created.

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

Mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard and guitarist Sharon Isbin have a new album on Bridge Records called Alma Española. The album features art songs by Spanish composers including Manuel de Falla and Federico Garcia Lorca.

 

 Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week features familiar music in a new and surprising interpretation. Marimbist Kuniko performs her own arrangements of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in Bach: Solo Works for Marimba.

 

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