It’s always interesting to know what recordings spark the interest of fellow music lovers. The list below reflects new and old recordings that look promising to us. We will periodically add to the list as new releases catch our attention. We welcome your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danish String Quartet
Prism IV is the fourth release in an ambitious five-part series from the well-known Danish String Quartet. The series explores interesting ways to link Bach Fugues with Beethoven Quartets and other related works by later composers, resulting in a curated, thought-provoking experience for the listener. It’s more akin to a concert program than a traditional survey.
Prism IV opens with Bach’s Fugue in G minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. Next comes Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132. It’s a work of transcendent renewal, written after the composer’s recovery from a life-threatening illness. The central movement of the work, subtitled “Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart” (“Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode”), is a musical monument that becomes a seminal experience in the hands of a first-class ensemble like the Danish Quartet. The Beethoven is followed by Mendelssohn’s early String Quartet No. 2, Op. 13, written just a few months after Beethoven’s death at age 56. Beethoven’s influence on the 18-year-old Mendelssohn is evident from the opening chorale material. By the end of the album, we expect that the Danish String Quartet will have made the case for Bach’s influence on both Beethoven and Mendelssohn with compelling conviction.
JS Bach: Fugue, BWV 861; Beethoven: Op. 132; Mendelssohn: Op. 13
Cat No: ECM 2564
Release Date: June 3, 2022
La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler, Claire Booth, Renata Pokupić, Jess Dandy, Robert Howarth
The legendary Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage and music school for girls, has captivated the imagination of music historians almost since its founding in Venice in the 14th century. By the 18th century, the Ospedale della Pietà had become internationally famous for the breathtaking performances of its ensemble of women virtuosi, the figlie di coro. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) taught at the Ospedale on and off from 1703-1740 and wrote over a hundred works for performance by the figlie di coro.
The UK period-performance ensemble La Serenissima specializes in the music of Vivaldi, bringing obsessive dedication and uncompromising precision to their performances. La Serenissima’s founder and director Adrian Chandler is on a mission to reassert Vivaldi’s profile as a composer of sacred music, a significant part of the composer’s output that is largely ignored today. La Serenissima’s new album, Vivaldi’s Women, is a collection of some of those sacred works, most of which were written for the Ospedale della Pietà. La Serenissima’s purposeful dedication to informed authenticity and high artistic standards promise to bring listening pleasure and historical clarity to the musical aesthetics and ethos of early 18th-century Venice.
Label: Signum Classics
Cat No: SIGCD699
Release Date: August 26, 2022
Corazón: the Music of Latin America
John-Henry Crawford, cello, Victor Santiago Asuncion, piano, Jiji, guitar
In 2019, cellist John-Henry Crawford traveled to Morelia, Mexico, where he won the First Prize in the Carlos Prieto Competition. His trip brought the cellist close to the music, history, and culture of Latin America, and once indoctrinated, Crawford was smitten. His release, Corazón: the Music of Latin America, with pianist (and frequent Guarneri Hall guest artist) Victor Santiago Asuncion, is Crawford’s resulting homage to the rich musical culture of Latin America.
Manuel Ponce’s rarely heard but very worthwhile Cello Sonata (1922), is a centerpiece of the album, along with Astor Piazzolla’s better-known Le Grand Tango.
The rest of the release is a compilation of charming shorts, some familiar and others more obscure. Three of these are accompanied by Jiji on guitar. All in all, Corazón: the Music of Latin America is sure to be a great evening of listening.
Corazón: the Music of Latin America
Label: Orchid Classics
Cat No: ORC100198
Release Date: 17th Jun 2022