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May 2014's Choice CD List


Sarasate - Julia Fischer, violin; Milana Chernyavsky, piano (Decca 4785950)
Julia Fischer is on a mission: to restore the music of Pablo de Sarasate to the concert stage. When it comes to attracting new listeners to art music, she doesn’t dabble in alternate genres because, she says, "I don’t think crossover is the right way to make classical music popular." Her way is to embrace the many appealing pieces by the likes of Paganini, Kreisler and Sarasate, all composer-performers and celebrated stars in their day who never distinguished between art and entertainment. Ms. Fischer brings her astonishing prowess to bear on Sarasate’s Spanish Dances, Jota aragonesa, and the ultimate showstopper Zigeunerweisen. She and her longtime accompanist, Milana Chernyavska, believe the distinction between serious and light music leads nowhere, agreeing instead with Duke Ellington’s adage, "There are two kinds of music -- good music and the other kind."
Featured Thu 5/1, Mon 5/12, Wed 5/21, Fri 5/30

Ravel Orchestral Works & Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony - Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (SSM 1002)
This is one of three CD's launching a new label: Seattle Symphony Media. These performances were all recorded live in concert in the orchestra’s home, Benaroya Hall. Featured are Maurice Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, Pavane and Rapsodie espagnole. And then there’s Camille Saint-Saëns’s sonic blockbuster, the Symphony No. 3 in c Op 78 ’Organ’ with soloist Joseph Adam playing the 4,489-pipe Watjen Concert Organ in Benaroya Hall.
Featured Fri 5/2, Tue 5/13, Thu 5/22

Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro - MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis (Sony 370926)
Almost one thousand miles east of Moscow, in the Russian city of Perm, the charismatic and provocative conductor Teodor Currentzis and MusicAeterna, the orchestra and choir he created, are recording Mozart’s Da Ponte operas (Figaro, Don Giovanni & Così fan tutte). These no-compromise studio recordings are the fruit of a unique way of living and working characterized by unprecedented commitments to preparation, session and postproduction time. It’s a radical new approach to orchestral virtuosity, score fidelity, vocal style and performance practice. This Figaro was recorded over eleven straight days for up to 14 hours a day. The conductor’s approach to the Mozart score is based on the conviction that it is virtually impossible today to hear the work performed precisely and in full. His stated intention is to undo what he considers the effects of the 20th-century operatic tradition, focused as it is on simplification and vocal volume. For Currentzis, this recording represents the culmination of a decade-long research project dedicated to the discrepancies between the composer’s will and what our ears have become used to. Says Currentzis, “There are so many recordings which convey the general spirit of Mozart’s music. The only point in making a new one is to give the audience a chance to hear and learn about all the magic which this score holds.” The 3-CD Deluxe Edition features a 300-page bound book that includes track list, full libretto and liner notes.
Featured Mon 5/5, Wed 5/14, Fri 5/23

Blanc - La Pietà/Angèle Dubeau (Analekta 8737)
Angèle Dubeau writes of this disc: "Blanc like purity and serenity. Blanc for luminous music that can bring inner peace through its strength and powerful evocation. After months of battle against cancer, music has been my focal point; it has brought me comfort, tranquility and sometimes essential escape. This music is of Brubeck, Dompierre, Golijov, Hisaishi, Morricone, Mozetich, Munsey, O'Connor, Phillips, Sakamoto, Schyman and Stevens. Musical moments without artifice, real and filled with hope. This album tells my story, the story of a woman who, like so many others, had to fight against illness, and, serenely, came out of it stronger."
Featured Tue 5/6 Thu 5/15, Mon 5/26

The Beethoven Journey: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 - Leif Ove Andsnes; Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Sony 370548)
Celebrated Norwegian pianist, and 2013 Gramophone Hall of Fame inductee, Leif Ove Andsnes continues his exploration of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos. Like the first title in the series, The Beethoven Journey: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 (a WCLV October 2012 Choice CD & winner of the iTunes Best Instrumental Album of 2012), the new album was recorded with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and directed from the keyboard by the pianist himself. Leif Ove Andsnes will continue his Beethoven journey with the release of Piano Concerto No. 5 & Choral Fantasy in 2015.
Featured Wed 5/7, Fri 5/16, Tue 5/27

Stravinsky Solo Piano Works - Jenny Lin (Steinway 30028)
Jenny Lin’s adventurous programming efforts turn to Igor Stravinsky, whose smaller-scale works tend to escape the spotlight. But Stravinsky’s solo piano is packed with as much theatricality as his music for larger and louder forces. From instant to instant, these gestures can be comedic, raucous, rustic - and then suddenly intimate and moving. Most of the Russian master’s important solo piano works are included on this disc, as well as Guido Agosti's rarely recorded arrangement of the Firebird Suite. This is the second Steinway release by Jenny Lin to be chosen as a Choice CD; you may remember her Get Happy - Virtuoso Show Tunes for Piano disc in December 2012.
Featured Thu 5/8, Mon 5/19, Wed 5/28

Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 25 & 20 - Martha Argerich; Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado (DeutGram 4791033)
David Mellor in London’s Daily Mail says: “This album is inspirational for more than just the superb quality of the music-making. It's a testament to the friendship between two great artists... It's also poignant, of course, because this was to be the last time they played together... [the Orchestra Mozart] play so well for Claudio Abbado on this [album]... with Argerich's help he bids farewell with performances of the highest quality.” These performances were recorded live at the Lucerne Festival in March 2013, ten months before Maestro Abbado died after a long illness.
Featured Fri 5/9, Tue 5/20, Thu 5/29