Art Songs Are Alive and Well

Soprano Mary Mackenzie and pianist Heidi Louise Williams survey mostly 21st-century songs in a compelling 2-CD set   It has been some months now (back in 2018 in fact) since Albany Records released “Vocalisms,” a 2-CD set of songs by four leading and living composers: John Harbison, James Primosch, Daniel Crozier and Ned Rorem. While… Continue reading Art Songs Are Alive and Well

A Testament of Greatness

New documentary of Birgit Nilsson reminds us of what we had—and can still treasure I’ve spent most of my life believing that Birgit Nilsson was the greatest Wagnerian soprano of my lifetime. A 2018 Unitel DVD, “Birgit Nilsson: A League of Her Own,” (distributed by Naxos), gives ample evidence to even make the argument she… Continue reading A Testament of Greatness

A Requiem Review for a Birthday

We celebrate John Harbison’s 80th birthday with a review of the first recording of his Requiem   We don’t need a reason to join thousands of other music lovers around the world in honoring John Harbison, the Pulitzer Prize-winning (among many other high honors) composer born December 20, 1938. But it is particularly fitting (even… Continue reading A Requiem Review for a Birthday

Harbison and Stucky Headline a Stirring Naxos CD

Fascinating program from conductor David Alan Miller   A recent CD in the “American Classics” series from Naxos offers a compelling combination of works, masterfully played by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, conducted by David Alan Miller. John Harbison headlines the booklet, but the first work on the disc is the earliest, Sun-Treader, by Carl… Continue reading Harbison and Stucky Headline a Stirring Naxos CD

Walton Wins Us Over

BBC Symphony and James Ehnes are revelatory on new Chandos CD   My first focused exposure to William Walton’s music was a recording of his early and celebrated Façade, and I was an instant fan. Still, I didn’t diligently seek out all of his works, but surely I encountered his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra… Continue reading Walton Wins Us Over

“Copland Conducts Copland” a Real Time Capsule

Naxos DVD reissue provides a powerful encounter with two American icons   It certainly is to be expected that many folks have personal reasons for their eager anticipation of hearing a particular recording, seeing a film, et al. I surely did as soon as I learned that Naxos was releasing a “new” DVD titled “Copland… Continue reading “Copland Conducts Copland” a Real Time Capsule

Sono Luminus Label Does It Again…

CD featuring violinist Irina Muresanu as eclectic as it gets   In the space of less than two years, the recording company Sono Luminus (distributed by Naxos) has proven to be the go-to label if you’re looking to break out of a listening rut. One of their latest releases features a violinist few are familiar… Continue reading Sono Luminus Label Does It Again…