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Sunday Classical: New Release Highlights for May 2024

Tine Thing Helseth (center) and her tenThing Brass Ensemble, who have a new album titled She Composes Like a Man.
Anna Julia Granberg
Courtesy of the artist
Tine Thing Helseth (center) and her tenThing Brass Ensemble, who have a new album titled She Composes Like a Man.

On the first Sunday of every month, WRTI broadcasts a special edition of our program Sunday Classical, focused on new releases. Its host, Mark Pinto, highlights some of our May selections below.

20th Century Foxtrots, Vol. 6: Southern Europe 

Gottlieb Wallisch (piano)

Austrian pianist Gottlieb Wallisch brings us the sixth volume in an acclaimed series of recordings of 20th century dance pieces for solo piano. Here he revels in early jazz-infused compositions by Puccini, Mompou, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Skalkottas, and other Italian, Spanish and Mediterranean composers that just might induce you to take a few spins around the kitchen floor.

Enescu: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 & Romanian Rhapsodies 1 & 2

National Orchestra of France, Cristian Măcelaru (conductor)

Pablo Casals called him “the most amazing musician since Mozart.” Child prodigy, virtuoso violinist and teacher, George Enescu has been regarded as one of the greatest musicians in Romanian history. His vast compositional output, however, has been overshadowed by the enormous popularity of his two Romanian Rhapsodies, especially the sprightly and irrepressible First. Romanian conductor Cristian Mǎcelaru, music director of the National Orchestra of France, gives us the welcome opportunity to enjoy Enescu’s first three Symphonies alongside the Rhapsodies in this fascinating release.

‘Diavolo’: Giuseppe Tartini - 6 Violin Sonatas

La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler (violin)

Another violin virtuoso and highly respected teacher was the Italian Giuseppe Tartini. One night, or so Tartini’s story goes, the devil appeared to him in a dream asking to become Tartini’s servant and teacher. The “Devil’s Trill” sonata was Tartini’s attempt to recreate the music the devil played on his violin. This technically demanding work is heard alongside five other violin sonatas of the Baroque composer in violinist/conductor Chandler’s new outing with La Serenissima.

All These Lighted Things

Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Elim Chan (conductor)

Elim Chan, the Hong Kong-born chief conductor of Belgium’s Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, celebrates ballet music, a genre dear to her heart, in this new release. Selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet score, along with the Suite No. 2 from Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, complement the title work, a little suite of dances by contemporary American composer, Elizabeth Ogonek.

She Composes Like a Man

tenThing Brass Ensemble, Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet)

With its title quoting a male critic’s praise of British composer Ethel Smyth, She Composes Like a Man is an intriguing and beautifully played recording featuring the music of Smyth and other female composers. Acclaimed Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth leads her all-female brass ensemble tenThing in world premiere transcriptions of pieces by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, Florence Price, and others whose music is well worth knowing.

Mozart, You Drive Me Crazy!

Golda Schultz (soprano), Potsdam Chamber Academy, Antonello Manacorda (conductor)

So what exactly about Mozart drives soprano Golda Schultz crazy? His music is extremely difficult to perform, she says, though it sounds deceptively easy. That, and because Mozart’s female characters possess a deep and constantly evolving complexity. Celebrated for her Mozart portrayals, the South African soprano explores the female heroines of Don Giovanni, Cosí fan tutte, and Le nozze di Figaro in arias, duets, and ensemble pieces in her new recording.

Telemann: Ino & Late Works

Christina Landshamer (soprano), Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, Bernhard Forck (conductor)

One of the best period instrument ensembles going, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin brings us several late works by Telemann. His solo cantata Ino, featuring soprano Christina Landshamer, is heard alongside three of his instrumental works. One of these, a Baroque suite which Telemann termed a Sinfonia melodica, is believed to have been written in 1767, his last year of life, when the prolific composer was 86.

Rachmaninoff for Two

Daniil Trifonov (piano), Sergei Babayan (piano)

Why should orchestral musicians have all the fun? Two leading lights of the keyboard join forces for this album featuring Rachmaninoff’s own two-piano version of his Symphonic Dances and Trifonov’s transcription of the beautiful Adagio movement of the Symphony No. 2. Together with the two exciting two-piano Suites, Babayan’s and Trifonov’s spirited performances make for an exhilarating new release for Rachy and piano fans.

Grażyna Bacewicz; Eugène Ysaÿe; George Enescu: Music for Strings

Sinfonia of London, John Wilson (conductor)

John Wilson and his much-admired Sinfonia of London deliver their fourth album of music for string orchestra. This time, the focus is on three composers from the Franco-Belgian school of string playing, who were themselves virtuosic string players. The “First Lady of Polish Music”, Grazyna Bacewicz is represented by her Concerto for String Orchestra; Eugène Ysaÿe by his nocturnal Harmonies du soir for string quartet and string orchestra; and George Enescu by the string orchestra version of his Octet.

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.