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Sunday Classical: New Release Highlights for July 2024

Minnesota Orchestra
Travis Anderson
Courtesy of the artist
Minnesota Orchestra

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 July selections here.

Shifting Ground
Alexi Kenney (violin)

There’s something about the sound of a solo violin that’s so beguiling, especially when that instrument is in the hands of a talented performer such as Alexi Kenney. The award-winning American violinist has recorded a collection of solo violin pieces designed to be listened to as a set. Seminal works by J.S. Bach are interwoven with works from the 17th century to the present day, including Kenney’s own arrangements of Schumann and Joni Mitchell.

Brahms & Contemporaries, Vol. 1
Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective 

The London-based Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective embarks on a new series of recordings juxtaposing piano quartets by Johannes Brahms with ones by his lesser-known contemporaries. This first volume pairs Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 2 with the Piano Quartet of Luise Adolpha Le Beau. Brahms himself praised the music of this German-born pianist/composer who studied with Clara Schumann and Josef Rheinberger. Composed in 1884, Le Beau’s Piano Quartet was performed to great critical acclaim in Leipzig that same year.

The Lost Generation: Apostel • Kauder • Busch
The Orchestra Now, Leon Botstein (conductor)

Featured in the recent Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro,” The Orchestra Now is a New York-based graduate-level training orchestra of young musicians from around the globe, under the baton of the ensemble’s founder, educator and music historian Leon Botstein. Their fascinating new recording illuminates works by three 20th-century German-speaking composers whose music was suppressed by the Nazis. A trio of welcome discoveries awaits the curious listener.

Rachel Baptist: Ireland's Black Syren
Irish Baroque Orchestra, Rachel Redmond (soprano) Peter Whelan (bassoon)

They called her the "Celebrated Black Syren." Born in Dublin, Ireland and of African descent, soprano Rachel Baptist sang regularly in Dublin, London, Liverpool and other cities during the 18th century. Featuring acclaimed Scottish soprano Rachel Redmond, also of African ancestry, this album recreates a “Grand Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Musick” that took place in Dublin in 1752 as a benefit for Baptist and includes several premiere recordings.

Peter Donohoe Plays Granados & Albeniz
Peter Donohoe (piano)

The much-loved English pianist showcases colorful and virtuosic works of the early 20th century by two Spanish master pianist-composers. Utilizing traditional dance forms, Albeniz vividly evokes places and scenes in his native country in his collection, Iberia. Granados celebrates his admiration for Spain’s great painter, Francisco Goya, in his masterpiece, Goyescas.

Ernesto Lecuona: Piano Music
Pierre Solot (piano)

Piano music of another celebrated composer and virtuoso pianist of Hispanic ancestry, Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), is taken up here by Belgian pianist Solot. Admired by George Gershwin and Maurice Ravel, the Cuban wrote music of romantic passion and virtuosity, celebrating native dance forms as well as the decadence of old Vienna. One of his best-known pieces, Malagueña, is a standout selection here.

Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Boychoir, Minnesota Chorale, Osmo Vänskä (conductor)

Filled with extremes of emotion, clocking in at more than 100 minutes, and scored for an enormous orchestra, alto soloist, women’s chorus, and boys’ choir, Mahler’s Third Symphony is an epic force of musical nature. Indeed nature, particularly humanity’s place within it and Mahler’s own connection to it, was the symphony’s initial source of inspiration. The Minnesota Orchestra and its conductor laureate, Osmo Vänskä, complete their Mahler symphony cycle and musical partnership with this release.

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante KV 364, Rondos KV 382 & 386 & Horn Concerto No. 2 KV 417
Johan Dalene (violin), Eivind Ringstad (viola), Alexandre Zanetta (horn), Ariel Lanyi (piano), Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Howard Griffiths (conductor)

The Alpha label brings us another opportunity to hear young soloists play Mozart with the Mozarteum Orchestra of the composer’s birthplace. This volume features Swedish violinist Johan Dalene and Norwegian violist Eivind Ringstad in the Sinfonia concertante, K. 364; French hornist Alexandre Zanetta in the Horn Concerto No. 2; and Israeli pianist Ariel Lanyi in the two rondos for piano and orchestra.

Beethoven: Triple Concerto
Nicola Benedetti (violin), Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello), Benjamin Grosvenor (piano), Gerald Finley (baritone), Philharmonia Orchestra, Santtu-Matias Rouvali (conductor)

It’s Beethoven in an all-star performance! Great friends who happen to be three of the world’s greatest young classical musicians join forces for the first time on record to play Beethoven’s concerto for violin, cello and piano. As an added treat, celebrated baritone Gerald Finley joins the trio in a selection of Beethoven’s delightful but rarely heard Welsh, Irish, and Scottish songs.

Brahms: Reimagined Orchestrations
Kansas City Symphony, Michael Stern (conductor)

Orchestrations of compositions for much smaller forces can serve both to expand the audience for the music and enable the audience to hear familiar music with new ears. This new outing from the Kansas City Symphony offers imaginative orchestrations of three works by Johannes Brahms, including the first-ever recording of Virgil Thomson’s orchestration of Brahms’ Op. 122 organ chorales and Arnold Schoenberg’s spectacular orchestration of the popular Piano Quartet No. 1. Seek this one out!

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.