Classical CD Highlights: March

Classic Arts News   Classical CD Highlights: March
EMI puts some perspective on Ian Bostridge's career, Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim perform in major new releases, and some young violinists tackle Shostakovich.

Perspectives: Lieder, Melodies, and Song (EMI 46443)

Ian Bostridge explores a wide range of repertory this month in five concerts that he conceived as part of the Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall. In conjunction with Bostridge's New York appearances, his label, EMI, offers a mid-priced compilation of recordings by the gaunt English tenor. The disc, released on the heels of Bostridge's highly successful recording of Britten's cycles for tenor and orchestra, includes songs by Schubert (including "Die Forelle"), Schumann, Faur_, Debussy, Britten, Vaughan Williams, and Percy Grainger.

Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (Warner Classics 8256462546)
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 (EMI 0946346053)
Shostakovich: The Execution of Stepan Razin (Naxos 8.557182)
Shostakovich's Circle (Analekta 7742049898)

With Shostakovich's 100th birthday coming up in September, several younger artists are exploring the works of this increasingly popular yet still controversial 20th-century master. The English violinist Daniel Hope, who made an exhilarating recording of Shostakovich's late Violin Sonata early in his performing career, tackles the two violin concertos on a Warner disc. Hope (the youngest-ever member of the Beaux Arts Trio) is joined by the composer's son, conductor Maxim Shostakovich, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Sarah Chang brings us Shostakovich's First Concerto paired with Prokofiev's First on a new EMI CD. She is backed by no less than the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle.

Shostakovich's rarely heard setting for male voice, chorus and orchestra of Yevtushenko's The Execution of Stepan Razin is available at budget price on a new Naxos disc, with bass-baritone Charles Robert Austin, the Seattle Symphony Chorale, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra led by Gerard Schwarz. The disc also includes two shorter orchestral works: October and Five Fragments. Yuli Turovsky and his I Musici de Montreal have made successful recordings recently of works by such minor Soviet masters as Denisov and Miaskovsky. On a disc titled Shostakovich's Circle, they unearth works written just after World War II by a pair of even more obscure composers, German Galinin and Galina Ustvolskaya. The disc also includes a Shostakovich Symphony for Strings and Woodwinds in F, an arrangement by conductor Rudolf Barshai of the String Quartet No. 3.

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (EMI 3 39339)
Mozart: Complete Piano Trios (EMI)
Lang Lang: Memory (Deutsche Grammophon)

Some big names are out with new releases this month. Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic continue their steady flow of recordings. On the ninth disc since Rattle took the orchestra's helm in late 2002, the team offers a live performance of Strauss' tone poem Ein Heldenleben coupled with a studio recording of the nine-movement suite Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Daniel Barenboim returns to the keyboard to perform Mozart's complete Piano Trios with violinist Nikolaj Znaider and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov. The two-disc set also includes a performance of the "Kegelstatt" Trio for piano, viola, and clarinet. Lang Lang's childhood wasn't that long ago—he's only 23—but the flamboyant Chinese pianist has decided that it's already time to take a look back at his formative years. In his newest album, Lang plays works by Mozart, Chopin, and Schumann that helped shape his development as a young musician. Lang is in the midst of a U.S. tour that lasts into June.

Bach: Goldberg Variations (Harmonia Mundi HMU 907425.26)
Bach: St. Matthew Passion (Challenge Classics CHR 72232)
Bach: St. Matthew Passion (Naxos 8.557617-19)
The Secret Handel (Metronome MET 1060)
The Rose, the Lily & the Whortleberry (Harmonia Mundi HMU 907398)

Harpsichordist Richard Egarr, who performed recently in several acclaimed recordings with violinist-conductor Andrew Manze, strikes out on his own on a new Harmonia Mundi release. Egarr plays the monumental Goldberg Variations, employing a tuning system based on new research into Bach's preferred method of tuning a keyboard. Egarr's recording, which also includes the 14 Goldberg Canons, coincides with his U.S. tour this month. There's more Bach from Baroque specialist Ton Koopman, who leads the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir in the St. Matthew Passion on both two CDs or two DVDs from Challenge Classics. Naxos also presents a St. Matthew Passion, with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra and vocal forces conducted by Helmut Muller-Bruhl. Bach's great contemporary is represented this month by a recording titled The Secret Handel, a two-CD set of music for the rarely heard (and barely heard) clavichord, performed by Christopher Hogwood and Derek Adlam. The set includes a reconstruction by Hogwood and Adlam of a suite for two clavichords for which only one part survives. Venturing back to the Renaissance, a new release from The Orlando Consort, The Rose, the Lily & the Whortleberry, explores the ingenuity of European composers from the 13th through 16th centuries, who used floral imagery to illustrate, earthly, heavenly and even erotic love. The album—from the same group that was behind an earlier release titled Food, Wine & Song—includes a 116-page booklet with song texts and color illustrations of gardens.

James Galway: Ich war ein Berliner (Deutsche Grammophon B0006089)
Classic Recitals: Haydn, Mozart (Deutsche Grammophon B005751) Classic Recitals: Arias for Bass (Deutsche Grammophon B0005753)
Wagner: Die Walk‹re, Act I (EMI ZDH 45835)
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 (EMI 45820)
Debussy: Pell_as et M_lisande (EMI 45782)

From 1969 to 1975: before he was The Man with the Golden Flute: James Galway served as principal flutist with the Berlin Philharmonic, under Herbert von Karajan. Deutsche Grammophon recalls Galway's service in Berlin with a reissue compiling BPO and chamber performances that spotlight Galway. The mid-priced disc, called Ich war ein Berliner, includes excerpts of works by Bach, Mozart, Grieg, Bizet, Reicha, Danzi, Verdi, and Richard Strauss. Galway is currently in the midst of a 22-city American tour, performing as both soloist and conductor with the Polish Chamber Orchestra and his wife, flutist Jeanne Galway.

Several other legendary performers are represented by reissues in DG's Classic Recitals series. On one disc, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings Haydn and Mozart. Another release features the comic bass Fernando Corena in extracts from operas by Rossini, Cimarosa, Massenet, Thomas, Saint-SaêŠns, Gounod, and Offenbach. EMI's expansive Great Recordings of the Century reissue series gets a bunch of new titles, among them a performance of Act I of Wagner's Walk‹re with Lotte Lehmann, Lauritz Melchior, and Bruno Walter; Emil Gilels playing Rachmanininoff's Third Concerto and Saint-SaêŠns' Second; and the famous Roger Desormiere-led recording of Debussy's only opera, Pell_as et M_lisande, with a cast that includes Irene Joachim.

Legendary Performances of Renata Tebaldi (Opera D'Oro OPD 5601)
Legendary Performances of Franco Corelli (Opera D'Oro OPD 5602)
Berg: Lulu (Chandos CHN 3130)

The Opera D'Oro label offers low-priced complete operas featuring big stars in performances pulled from radio broadcasts or old major-label recordings. In two new sets, Opera D'Oro mines the archives to pull together grand tributes to two 20th-century giants: soprano Renata Tebaldi and tenor Franco Corelli. Each super-budget set features seven complete operas on 14 CDs for roughly the cost of one full-priced opera recording. The Tebaldi box offers live recordings made between 1951 and 1966 of Puccini's Tosca and La fanciulla del West; Catalani's La Wally; Verdi's La traviata and Giovanna d'Arco; Giordano's Fedora, and Boito's Mefistofele. The Corelli set contains live performances from 1954-64 of Verdi's Il trovatore; Puccini's Tosca and Turandot; Donizetti's Poliuto; Giordano's Andrea Chenier; Meyerbeer's Les Hugeuenots; and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. Tebaldi and Corelli are joined by other legendary performers in many of the operas. Finally, opera fans looking for something different may want to check out Chandos' release of Berg's Lulu, part of the label's opera in English series. Lisa Saffer sings the title role.

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