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Sunday Classical: New Release Highlights for February 2024

BBC Philharmonic

On the first Sunday of every month, WRTI broadcasts a special edition of Sunday Classical, focused on classical new releases. The program is hosted by Mark Pinto, who highlights some of the music here.

Suppé: Fantasia Symphonica, Orchestral Overtures & Preludes
Tonkünstler Orchestra, Ola Rudner (conductor)

Composer of the first Viennese operetta, Franz von Suppé wrote the music for dozens of stage works that have long since been forgotten – except for their tuneful, sparkling overtures. Two of his best known – Poet and Peasant and Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna are played here by Austria’s Tonkünstler Orchestra. These are alongside several rarities and the premiere recording of a newly rediscovered non-theatrical work, Fantasia Symphonica.

Le Temps retrouvé
Elena Urioste (violin) and Tom Poster (piano)

The locally based, widely admired, wife-and-husband team of violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Tom Poster shine a spotlight on violin sonatas by French composers published 1916 to 1926. Collected here are Gabriel Fauré’s Second Sonata, which has always played second fiddle to his First; the only sonata of the prolific Mel Bonis; and the singular sonata of Reynaldo Hahn, a composer best remembered for his songs.

Stravinsky: Violin Concerto, Scherzo a la russe, Apollon musagete & Orchestral Suites Nos. 1 & 2
BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor), James Ehnes (violin)

Two major works from Igor Stravinsky’s neo-classical period highlight the BBC Philharmonic’s new release. Sought-after Canadian violinist James Ehnes stars in the Bach-inspired Violin Concerto. With a scenario based on Greek myth, the ballet Apollon Musagète was written in 1927-28 for a festival of contemporary music at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Two orchestral suites arranged from earlier piano duets, and the popular Scherzo à la russe, written for Paul Whiteman’s band, round out this intriguing new Stravinsky orchestral survey.

A Te, Puccini
Angela Gheorghiu (soprano), Vincenzo Scalera (piano)

Sogno - Tosti Songs
Javier Camarena (tenor), Ángel Rodríguez (piano)

Two superstars of the opera stage are captured in more intimate settings in these two song recital albums. Soprano Angela Gheorghiu marks the centenary of the death of Giacomo Puccini with a program of his little-known songs, including one he wrote as a 16-year-old. Puccini would use several of these songs as inspiration in his famous operas. Tenor Javier Camarena gives us a sampling of the light and expressive songs of Francesco Paolo Tosti, born a dozen years before Puccini. Songs familiar and not-so – in Italian, French, and even English – are given passionate performances here.

Sacred Treasures of Venice
The London Oratory Schola Cantorum, Charles Cole (conductor)

The glories of Renaissance Venice are on resplendent display in this new recording of a cappella sacred works by Claudio Monteverdi and his predecessors at St. Mark’s Basilica. This is the period of “The Three Giovannis” – Giovanni Gabrieli, Giovanni Bassano and Giovanni Croce, each of whom wrote music of incredible quality. Performances are by the young members (average age: 14) of the London Oratory Schola Cantorum.

Franck & Chausson: Symphonies
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jean-Luc Tingaud (conductor)

When César Franck was writing his Symphony in D minor in 1888, the French music world was seeking to rival the great Austro-German symphonic tradition. While owing a debt to Beethoven, Franck’s only symphony is a masterfully constructed, innovative and uniquely powerful work that achieves its stated end. It’s paired in this new release with the Wagner-influenced symphony by Franck’s student, Ernest Chausson.

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.