Here are five of the best recent discs we're featuring this month on CPR Classical. See what else we've loved recently.
Roy Harris wrote his Violin Concerto in 1949. But the piece wasn’t premiered until the mid 1980s. When British violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen learned the little-known work that had never been played in the U.K., and she jumped at the chance to explore the piece. But don't focus too much on the concerto's obscurity. This is joyful music. Waley-Cohen savors the beautiful and mysterious melodies of the solo and Andrew Litton embraces the richness of Harris’s orchestral textures. Pairing the Harris piece with John Adams’ Violin Concerto is enlightening for both pieces. Despite the nearly 50 years that separate the compositions, the pieces share a searching quality and a sense of uniquely American spaces.
Hear a recent CPR News interview with Andrew Litton.
The use of the word “love” in the title for this disc isn’t just posturing or marketing. The performances brim with admiration for the music, born of a deep understanding of these works. Especially interesting is Piano Trio No. 1: Denk, Bell, and Isserlis play the original version instead of the revised version Brahms created late in his life. The musicians bring a passionate urgency to match the more romantic elements of this longer, stranger version of the piece.
Hear our recent interview with Joshua Bell during his residency at the Bravo! Vail music festival.
The Dover Quartet pays tribute to the Guarneri String Quartet, one of the great American string quartets of the last 50 years. They even play with Guarneri violist Michael Tree. The performances on this disc are masterful and refined. The quartet’s sensitivity runs to every phrase and gesture in the score, as well as to each other as players. Their collaboration in making a cohesive musical thought seems as natural as breathing.
Check out our conversation and CPR Performance Studio session with the Dover Quartet from 2014.
Alisa Weilerstein is a powerful player who can achieve subtle emotional nuance, even in boldly romantic gestures. The two Shostakovich cello concertos allow her to exploit her skills to wonderful effect. She plays with precision, tenderness and intensity that complement and amplify Shostakovich’s dark sarcasm. Pablo Heras-Casado and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra are sympathetic partners for Weilerstein, and the unity of vision brings the concertos to vivid life.
Georg Philipp Telemann produced such a vast quantity of music that musicians and listeners alike can have a difficult time getting to know him as a composer. Performances like Florilegium’s are a welcome doorway into the ocean of Telemann’s works. The playing is lively, luminous and informed without any fussiness. The concertos on this disc are charmingly inventive and demonstrate why Telemann was one of the most well-known and well-loved composers of his time.