Classical new releases

Baroque cellist Juliana Soltis has just released her interpretation of J. S. Bach's six suites for solo cello. Classical IPR recently spoke with her about the album, called "Going Off Script: The Ornamented Suites for Cello."

Riad Abdel-Gawad is a composer and violinist. He also attended Interlochen Arts Camp in the early 1980s and was a member of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Yolanda Kondonassis is one of the leading harpists in the world today. Ward Stare is the music director of the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kondonassis and Stare recently collaborated on the world premiere performance and recording of a new harp concerto by Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon

Growing up in Chicago, Rachel Barton Pine took it for granted that there was a great body of classical music by black composers. She heard it on the radio. She played it in local orchestras as a student. The Center for Black Music Research is in Chicago. So, when the violinist recorded her first concerto album in 1997, she naturally included music by Afro-Caribbean and Afro-European composers.

Chanticleer has been called "the world's reigning male chorus" by the New Yorker. The are celebrating their 40th anniversary as an ensemble with a new album called "Then and There, Here and Now."

Until recently, most classical music videos have been humdrum affairs. Musicians, in concert attire, earnestly produce their notes with eyes closed and heads tilted in a beatific expression, somewhere between a migraine and an attempt to channel Bach from the heavens.

Composer David Maslanka passed away in August 2017. The University of Utah Wind Ensemble has just released its fourth volume of Maslanka's music.

The album includes two pieces that Maslanka completed in 2016. The third piece, his Symphony no. 10 "The River of Time," was left unfinished at the time of his death.

Renée Fleming was recently nominated for a Tony award for her performance in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical "Carousel." She has a new album of Broadway songs from the 1920s to the present day.

In the album's press release, Fleming says, "This repertoire is so rich, and the sheer quality of the music is so high that it's been a joy to record these songs." The album includes music of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Meredith Willson, Adam Guettel and Stephen Sondheim, among others.

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.

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the nation is focused, once again, on the make-up of the Supreme Court. And yet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the best-known member of the current court; at 85 she continues to be a cultural phenomenon.

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 performs a concerto by Josef Myslivecek as well as two by Mozart on a new album on the Pentatone label.

Myslivecek was born a generation before Mozart and was a major influence on the younger composer. Mozart mentioned Myslivecek more than any other composers in his letters, and he's the only composer that Mozart had anything kind to say about.

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. 

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