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 American pianist Byron Janis has performed with some of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century, including Arturo Toscanini, Eugene Ormandy and Fritz Reiner. He was also the first piano student (and one of only three total) that Vladimir Horowitz ever accepted. At the age of 89, Janis is releasing not one but three new albums.

 

 Soprano Pretty Yende grew up in a small town 200 miles from Johannesburg, South Africa. After hearing the famous “Flower Duet” by Leo Delibes in a television commercial, Yende decided to become an opera singer.

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2017 was an exciting year for new albums in classical music. There were world premieres of pieces by Bartok, Puccini and Vaughan Williams. There were also lots of anniversaries celebrated in music, from the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation to the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Emerson String Quartet.  

Join Classical IPR's Amanda Sewell for a look at some notable classical music releases from 2017. This program airs Wednesday December 27 at 5 p.m. with an encore presentation on Monday January 1 at 1 p.m.

Credit olagjeilo.com

  Ola Gjeilo is one of the most in-demand composers alive today. He’s not even 40 and has already had his music performed by major ensembles including the Choir of King’s College Cambridge and the Phoenix Chorale. His newest album is called Winter Songs, and it features original compositions and his new arrangements of some Christmas favorites.

  A new album from Decca features winter-themed music by the Norwegian-born American composer Ola Gjeilo. Gjeilo himself is at the piano for every piece, and her performs with 12 Ensemble and the Choir of Royal Holloway, conducted by Rupert Gough.

 

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.

 

 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.