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July 2014’s Choice CD List

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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Each month, WCLV’s Program Director Bill O’Connell selects a series of special CDs to be featured on the air throughout the month. Here is the July CD list, with a few comments from Bill about why these discs are standouts. [Browse previous months of Choice CDs]

Ives: Symphony No. 2, Elliott Carter: Instances, Gershwin: An American in Paris - Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (Seattle SM 1003)
Earlier this year, the Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot announced the launch of Seattle Symphony Media, the Symphony’s in-house record label, with its first three recordings. WCLV 104.9 featured one of those CDs in May and here’s another. The Ives Second Symphony premiered in 1951, a half-century after it was written, but is finally entering the standard repertory. George Gershwin’s self-described “rhapsodic ballet” needs no introduction, but Elliott Carter’s last orchestral work, Instances, does. The work had its world premiere in February 2013 in the Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall, a co-commission by the Seattle Symphony and Tanglewood Music Center. The composer dedicated Instances to Ludovic Morlot, who, in his words, “has performed many of my works so beautifully.” All works on this disc were recorded live.
Featured Thu 7/3, Mon 7/14, Wed 7/23

El Maestro Farinelli - Concerto Cologne/Pablo Heras-Casado; Bejun Mehta, counter tenor (Arkiv 4792050)
Pablo Heras-Casado makes his Archiv debut with Concerto Cologne in orchestral and vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain. Pablo Heras-Casado has an astonishingly varied conducting career: He conducts the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically-informed performance and cutting-edge contemporary scores, and has already developed a special rapport with a number of soloists, orchestras and opera houses. El Maestro Farinelli features works of Baroque composers like Hasse, Porpora and Jomelli whose music Farinelli presented during his time as concertmaster/conductor in Madrid and Aranjuez.  There are no fewer than eight world premiere recordings on this disc, including two arias sung by countertenor Bejun Mehta.
Featured Tue 7/1 Thu 7/10, Mon 7/21, Wed 7/30

Mozart: Symphony No. 35 “Haffner,” Posthorn Serenade - Vienna Concentus Musicus/Harnoncourt (Sony 372068)
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, along with his wife Alice, founded the Vienna Concentus Musicus in 1953. That’s more than 60 years of music-making!  And maybe that explains some of the exuberance with which this program is performed. Mozart’s March in DK 335/1 is the curtain-raiser, and the grand Serenade No. 9 K 320 follows. The so-called ‘Posthorn’ Serenade was written in Salzburg in the summer of 1779 for the university’s end-of-term ceremony, and it’s played here with expressive élan. The ‘Haffner’ Symphony that concludes the program is sly and witty…a winning disc!
Featured Wed 7/2, Fri 7/11, Tue 7/22, Thu 7/31

Above and Beyond - ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band/Gerard Schwarz (Naxos 573121)
Few wind ensembles have earned such international acclaim as the United States Marine Band, virtuosos who here perform an excitingly varied program directed by the former music director of the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz. Established classics such as Frederick Fennell’s edition of Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy sit alongside Paul Creston’s festive Celebration Overture. Copland’s pungent Emblems evokes ‘Amazing Grace’ in masterly fashion, while Mr. Schwarz himself contributes his own recent composition Above and Beyond, written especially for this band in recognition of its remarkable musicianship. There are also two works by Samuel Barber, Medea’s Dance of Vengeance and Commando March, plus Bernard Rands’ Ceremonial.
Featured Fri 7/4, Tue 7/15, Thu 7/24

Love Duets - Ailyn Perez, soprano & Stephen Costello, tenor; Orchestra/Patrick Summers (Warner 633485)
Here is the reigning ‘It’ couple in opera, Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez, “America’s fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars,” according to the Associated Press, in romantic love duets from opera and Broadway musicals. Described by Vanity Fair as “a match made in verismo heaven,” the young American soprano and tenor met at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, where an onstage romance in Puccini’s most beloved opera led to a real-life exchange of vows.  They are the only married couple to boast having two prestigious Richard Tucker Awards on the mantelpiece: Costello took home the ‘Heisman Trophy of opera’ in 2009 and Pérez won in 2012, becoming the first Hispanic singer to do so in the award’s history. When they performed together at the 2012 Richard Tucker Gala, which is still available for on-demand streaming, the New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini admired their “palpable chemistry.”
Featured Mon 7/7, Wed 7/16, Fri 7/25

Night Stories - Nocturnes - Jenny Lin, piano (Hänssler 98037)
Jenny Lin is becoming a ‘can’t miss’ Choice CD artist. WCLV has already featured her Steinway & Sons CD’s of Stravinsky’s Music for Solo Piano (May 2014) and Get Happy: Virtuoso Show Tunes for Piano (December 2012). Here she is again on Germany’s Hänssler label with an evocative collection of nocturnes. Liszt’s Liebestraum and Debussy’s Clair de lune are fine, but the artist herself seems more interested in the unusual, even offbeat pieces on this program, like Arthur Vincent Lourié’s nervous A Phoenix Park Nocturne and Joaquín Turina’s virtuosic Silueta nocturna. All in all, great late-night listening!
Featured Tue 7/8, Thu 7/17, Mon 7/28

Schubert String Quintet, Quartettsatz - Cypress Quartet, Gary Hoffman, cello (Avie 2307)
Here at WCLV, we’ve admired the Cypress String Quartet ever since the members of the ensemble made a special trip to Cleveland from Ohio University to appear in WCLV’s first-ever live broadcast from the KeyBank Studio.  Gramophone magazine agrees with us, calling Cypress a “wonderful ensemble” and citing their “artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion.” So when they turn out a new CD, we’re all ears and when it’s Schubert’s Quintet and Quartettsatz, it’s an almost automatic Choice CD. The composer’s final chamber work, the enduring Quintet with its haunted and haunting beauty, features eminent Canadian cellist Gary Hoffman. This recording was made after many performances in many venues turned the quarter-plus-guest into a true quintet. Listen for yourself to hear the results!
Featured Mon 7/9, Wed 7/18, Fri 7/29

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