Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Make Billboard Classical Chart

Classic Arts News   Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Make Billboard Classical Chart
A tribute to America's first great classical violinist, played by one of her musical descendants, and a collection of unusual arrangements sung by one of the world's great vocal ensembles, are the new arrivals on this week's Billboard classical chart.

Making its debut at no. 12 is American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell, performed by violinist Rachel Barton Pine with pianist Matthew Hagle. Powell (1867-1920) was once renowned for her virtuosity on both sides of the Atlantic — conductor Leonard Slatkin has described her as "the female Fritz Kreisler" (and Barton Pine prefers to think of Kreisler as the male Maud Powell) — and was a star of both the concert stage and the 78 RPM recording. This new CD is a collection of turn-of-the-20th-century miniatures for violin and piano which Powell made staples of her touring repertoire; many of them are arrangements she made herself.

Arriving on the chart at no. 22 is Into the Light, performed by the British vocal ensemble The Sixteen under Harry Christophers, the group's founding director, with guitarist Kaori Muraji. The program made up largely of two types of hybrid: instrumental works arranged for voices and guitar (with literary texts added), and Renaissance choral music, mostly by Victoria and his Spanish contemporaries, arranged for guitar and vocal soloists as well as choir. Among the surprising combinations on the disc are the words of Oscar Wilde's "Requiescat" applied to Pachelbel's famous Canon, the texts of two Dowland lute songs applied to guitar preludes by Villa-Lobos, and verses from Shakespeare's The Tempest set to one of the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor.

Songs from the Labyrinth, the collection of John Dowland lute songs performed by Sting, remains in the top spot it retook two weeks ago. "Music for Compline," the new disc by the young vocal ensemble Stile Antico which debuted on the chart at no. 2 and slipped a notch last week, has returned to second place. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma's Appassionato climbed from no. 5 back up to no. 3, edging aside Sting's Dowland DVD-CD set The Journey and the Labyrinth (no. 4) and Joshua Bell's Voice of the Violin (no. 5). The re-recording, on a Zenph Studios Disklavier player piano, of Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations rose four notches to no. 6.

The late mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's final recording, of her husband's cycle Neruda Songs, has been on theBillboard chart steadily since its release at the very end of last year. In recent weeks it has languished near the bottom of the chart (which includes 25 titles), but this week it leapt from no. 25 to no. 17.

There is very little change from last week on the new Billboard classical crossover chart. Josh Groban's Awake remains in the top spot, followed by Andrea Bocelli's Amore at no. 2, with Il Divo's Ancora and Siempre still in third and fourth place and the soundtrack to the new Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en rose at no. 5. Blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli's Under the Desert Sky moved up one spot to no. 6, edging ahead of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Broadway album Showtime! (now at no. 7); Bocelli's Spanish-language release, Amor, slipped a notch to no. 9, behind the Juanita Bynum-Jonathan Butler title Gospel Goes Classical. The soundtrack to the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice remains in the no. 10 spot it has occupied for several weeks.

No new titles made this week's crossover chart, but one did return: the Turtle Island String Quartet's A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane, at no. 25.

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