New Classical Picks

This week we introduce new drama to the collection, some more literal, some figurative.

ClassicalrecentSep16b1Shakespeare Songs. Performed by Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano.
“In a pairing of true vocal scholars, renowned tenor Ian Bostridge and eminent conductor-pianist Antonio Pappano unite to celebrate the Bard’s 400th anniversary year, offering a diverse selection of some of the best known and most attractive musical settings of Shakespeare texts composed in the four centuries since his death. From the music of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, with delicate lute accompaniment, to the modern genius of Stravinsky’s cycle for voice and chamber ensemble, each song is remarkable for the sensitivity with which the composer has approached the subtle nuances of the words, their shades of meanings and their delicacy of metrical rhythm” (cover).

ClassicalrecentSep16b2Transcendental Etudes, Liszt. Performed by Kirill Gerstein.
“Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes are a quintessential distillation of the mid-19th century romantic project: they’re like sounding images of romanticism’s nervous system, its otherworldly experiences, and its transcendence” (cover). The programme notes include an interview with the pianist, giving further insight into the nuances of the compositions and their performance challenges. (According to amazon.com he describes the work as “one of the most towering mountain peaks of the piano literature”.)

ClassicalrecentSep16b3Verismo. Performed by Anna Netrebko.
Performed by Netrebko with the orchestra and choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, with Antonio Pappano (again! This time as conductor). This is a compilation of post-Romantic Italian opera arias performed in the verismo tradition, focusing on real-life characters rather than the mythical. Puccini provides the lion’s share of the disc, which also features composers such as Cilea, Giordano, and Leoncavallo.

Coming soon: an influx of French music (well, two new discs!); Couperin, Leçons de Ténèbres and Faure, Après un rêve.