Classical New Releases

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Classical IPR regularly features new releases that we think our listeners will enjoy. Stay up to date on the latest classical albums of interest. 

Wayne Shorter likes to tell a story about going to see Charlie Parker, the mercurial titan of bebop, sometime around 1951. Shorter was 18 at the time — a saxophonist, like Parker, and a bop obsessive already gigging around his hometown of Newark, N.J. He headed across the river into Manhattan, where Parker, colloquially known as Bird, was headlining at Birdland, the club named in Parker's honor.

The Tesla Quartet has just celebrated its tenth anniversary as an ensemble. It has released its debut album on Orchid Classics. The title indicates the composers whose music is included: "Haydn, Ravel, Stravinsky."

A few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, composer Gabriel Kahane decided he needed to take a journey. On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the votes were counted, Kahane boarded an Amtrak train in Penn Station in New York City. He left his smartphone behind. He unplugged from the Internet. And he spent the next two weeks riding across the country, talking to people.

"Syzygy" (pronounced "si-zeh-jee") is a noun that means "coming together for a common good." It is also the title of flutist Alexa Still's latest album.

All of the music on the album is by the Venezuelan composer Efraín Amaya. Still says, “The very first time I encountered the music of Efraín Amaya, I fell in love with the soaring melodies, the raw energy, the emotion, and the stories."

The Pentatone label has just released an album of new choral works by Gordon Getty. James Gaffigan conducts the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Radio Choir.

"Beauty Come Dancing" features Getty's settings of poems by Lord Byron, John Keats, Sara Teasdale and many others. Getty also set three of his original poems. A new arrangement of the traditional "Shenandoah" rounds out the album.

When he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1970, Bob Watt was the first African American hornist to play with a major American orchestra. He retired from this post in 2008 and has just released his first solo album, "I Play French Horn."

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Wayne Shorter was 15 when he first wrote and illustrated his own comic book, in blue ballpoint pen. That was in 1949, and Shorter has traveled great distances since, becoming an influential saxophonist, a 10-time Grammy winner and one of the most highly regarded composers in modern jazz.

Duo Noire is the name of the classical guitar pairing of Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett. Flippin and Mallet, both of whom are African American and graduates of the Yale School of Music, are advocates for fresh perspectives in classical music.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg celebrated 25 years on the United States Supreme Court this year. A new album on the Cedille label is a tribute to Ginsburg's personal and professional life. 

The album "Notorious RBG in Song" includes art songs by five contemprary American composers. The music is performed by soprano Patrice Michaels and pianist Kuo-Hao Huang. Michaels also composed a song cycle on the album, "The Long View," which is based on Ginsburg's own writings.

Flutist Ana de la Vega has rediscovered a flute concerto by Josef Myslivecek that was previously thought to have been lost. She performs that concerto as well as two by Mozart on a new album on the Pentatone label.

On May 19, 2018 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were wed in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.  They are now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. For the first time in history, all of the music, readings, blessings and vows were recorded and made available on streaming services. The physical album is now also available. 

Audra McDonald has won Grammys, Emmys and six Tonys, which makes her American theater's most decorated performer. But she still has more to do - her newest album "Sing Happy" is her first solo recording with orchestra, and it features many songs that she has never recorded before.

2018 is the bicentennial of the birth of the French composer Charles Gounod. Best known for his operas such as "Faust" and "Roméo et Juliette," Gounod also composed masses, symphonies and piano pieces. A new album by Roberto Prosseda celebrates Gounod's works for piano, including some that have never been recorded before. 

Premiered in 1869, Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor is one of the most popular piano concertos ever written. Grieg was just 24 years old when he wrote it. The month after the concerto's premiere, his toddler daughter died of viral meningitis, and his wife miscarried what would have been their second child. The Griegs would not have any more children.

Grieg's publisher asked him for another piano concerto for years, but the composer simply couldn't write one. All that he wrote was a fragment about 150 measures in length.

The premiere recording of Michael Torke's "Unconquered" celebrates the United States, the ideals of the Revolutionary War and the city of Saratoga, FL. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center commissioned the piece to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In response, Torke composed a piece inspired by the Battle of Saratoga.

Violinist Er-Gene Kahng is a professor at the University of Arkansas and concertmaster of both the Fort Smith Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also taught and performed at the Bay View Music Festival in northern Michigan.

Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major United States orchestra. She also composed two violin concertos, which were thought to be lost until they were discovered in an abandoned house in 2009.

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 by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero features premiere recordings of three concertos. One of these is the Horn Concerto by Brad Warnaar.

Warnaar joined Classical IPR's Amanda Sewell in the studio to discuss the inception of the concerto and to guide the listener through each of the three movements. Hear the entire conversation and excerpts from the concerto below.

A new album from Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan features familiar music of Sergei Prokofiev. The twist is that the music is heard in Babayan's new arrangements  of Prokofiev's orchestral music for two pianos.

The centerpiece of the album is a set of movements from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet." Babayan dedicated these transcriptions to Argerich. He says, "This project happened becuase of my love for Prokofiev, my love for Martha and my love for the ballet 'Romeo and Juliet.'"

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