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Classical New Releases, Summer 2014: Check Them Out!

WRTI's Mark Pinto, host of the Classical New Releases show, fills you in on the latest and the greatest classical music CDs every Saturday at 5 pm. Here are six recordings to pay special attention to...

Milos, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor: Aranjuez. The young guitarist Milos from Montenegro continues to win new fans wherever he goes. Now with this recording he brings his trademark passion and intimacy to bear on the two most popular works for guitar and orchestra ever composed. In the tender moments he caresses the strings, and through some close miking, every caress can be felt. Having Yannick on hand to guide the London Philharmonic and let Milos "do his thing" should help the guitarist gain some new admirers in Philadelphia.


Ailyn Perez & Stephen Costello: Love Duets. This is a long-awaited debut disc from Philly’s "first couple" of opera (they met while students at the Academy of Vocal Arts and still perform together in the area), and it is as aurally delightful as they are photogenic. The husband-and-wife team makes convincing heat on these love duets from popular operas and classic Broadway musicals. A keepsake for Philadelphia opera fans.


Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis: The Silver Album. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist and Temple University professor Lambert Orkis celebrate 25 years as a performing team with this two-disc release. At first glance they may seem an unlikely pair. However, both share a keen interest in contemporary music and in other ways have found each other to be musical soulmates. "It quickly became clear how perfectly we breathe and phrase together," says Mutter.

Superb studio and live performances from their last 25 years of music-making, of violin/piano sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Fauré, are featured here alongside new recordings of Massenet and Ravel. Plus, there are two world-premiere recordings: a dazzling and fiendishly difficult solo violin work by Krzysztof Penderecki, and André Previn's touching and lighthearted duo sonata. This is a wonderful commemorative of an enduring artistic partnership.


Yundi: Emporer/Fantasy, Beethoven and Schumann. Chinese pianist Yundi (the artist formerly known as Yundi Li) has developed and matured significantly in the years since he became the youngest pianist to win the International Chopin Competition in 2000 at the age of 18.  His formidable technique is on display here in a Beethoven "Emperor" Concerto performance so assured it may strike some as a tad on the cool side. But his real achievement is the sheer poetry and architectural mastery he brings to Schumann’s masterpiece, which can come off as rather unruly and unwieldy in the wrong hands.  With awe, one wonders what Yundi's next musical conquest might be.

Gliere: Symphony No. 3 'Il'ya Muromets'. JoAnn Falletta leads her Buffalo Philharmonic in a spellbinding performance of Reinhold Gliere’s epic 3rd symphony. This 1911 composition depicts the adventures of folkloric Russian warrior-hero Ilya Muromets.  Gliere unfolds his drama over a vast soundscape of Mahlerian proportions using a large orchestra with expanded woodwinds and brass.  Often cut in performance and recordings, Falletta here preserves the entire score with its extraordinary architecture and coaxes some phenomenal playing from her musicians. The colorful score is imbued with Russian Orthodox influences and one breathtakingly massive climax after another. This sonic spectacular of a recording is not to be missed!  


Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century Chamber Orchestra: From A to Z. Violinist/conductor Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and her New Century Chamber Orchestra make significant contributions to the solo violin-with-orchestra repertoire with these commissioned works from four prominent American composers. In Brazilian-born Clarice Assad’s Dreamscapes, the soloist navigates through a series of shifting and restless nocturnal visions, culminating in a nightmarish “chase” scene.  Austere at first, William Bolcom’s Romanza ends with a sauntering cakewalk à la Gottschalk. 

Michael Daugherty’s Fallingwater is a descriptive four-movement concerto inspired by the work of visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has the most fun here, with her Commedia Dell’Arte, featuring playfully percussive depictions of characters from the Renaissance theater tradition.  Nadja and her band are in top form in these live concert recordings.


Mark Pinto is host of the Classical News Releases show, Saturdays, 5 to 6 pm on WRTI.

A Philadelphia native, Mark grew up in Roxborough and at WRTI has followed in the footsteps of his father, William, who once hosted a music program on the station back in the '50s.