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Between Worlds by Avi Avital
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Classical MPR: New Classical Tracks: An Instrument Between Worlds
A genre-defying tour of the globe exploring the nexus between classical, popular and traditional music uniquely inhabited by Avi Avital and his magical mandolin.
From Bach to Bluegrass to Balkan Beats, the mandolin is the chameleon of the music world - every culture and musical genre features the mandolin or one of its close relatives - and Avi Avital is this beautiful instruments most charismatic, versatile exponent.
After the success of the Bach recording, Avi returns to again defy expectations with a selection of beautiful melodies and delightful dances from Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, each with roots in popular folk traditions, arranged by some of the worlds greatest classical composers. The resulting dialogue between North and South, East and West, New and Old, Classical and Traditional - offers a captivating musical journey Between Worlds.
For this journey, Avi is joined by a host of special guests: from music legends such as Richard Galliano and Giora Feidman, to DG stars such as Catrin Finch, accompanied by a hand-picked ensemble of virtuoso friends from around the world. The joy is palpable, the colors and rhythms irresistible.
Repertoire highlights include the popular Monti Czardas, Bachianas Brasilieras (Villa-Lobos), Blochs spiritual Nigun, Spanish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Cuban and Georgian folk dances, and a very special Piazzolla tango.
Dvořák by Alisa Weilerstein
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New Classical Tracks: Starting with a Rice Krispie Box
American cellist Alisa Weilerstein, described by the New York Times as one of the most exciting American cellists of the new generation, follows her critically acclaimed Decca debut recording of Elgars Cello Concerto with a vital new interpretation of Dvoraks Cello Concerto, coupled with some of his best-known melodies. This album captures the essential spirit of one of the greatest of all Romantic composers, reflecting Dvoraks deep-rooted love for his homeland.
Alisa Weilerstein joins forces with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and its Czech Music Director, Jiri Bìlohlavek in a terrific and deeply authentic musical partnership. This radiant performance of the Cello Concerto was recorded in Pragues Rudolfinum, where Dvorak himself conducted the Czech Philharmonics inaugural concert in 1896. Other works on the album were recorded in the USA Dvoraks adopted second homeland.
Chopin Etudes by Jan Lisiecki
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New Classical Tracks: Jan Lisiecki makes Chopin sing
The incredible Jan Lisiecki performs both cycles of Chopins virtuosic Etudes. This is the second Deutsche Grammophon release from the young Canadian pianist, and his first-ever studio recital album.
Chopins Etudes are among the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in the piano repertoire.
Jan Lisiecki has just finished recording the Etudes in the famous Koerner Hall of the Music Conservatory in Toronto. The Royal Conservatory has been involved in the training of many notable artists such as the pianists Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson.
In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores
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Weekend Edition: Hilary Hahn Revives The Classical Encore
New Classical Tracks: In 27 Pieces
First Listen: In 27 Pieces by Hilary Hahn
Soundcheck: Hahn Gives us an Encore
The idea for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores began to take shape when Hilary noticed that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinists education and repertoire, and Hilary believed that potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. What is unique about the project, though, is the incredible depth that Hilary Hahn has gone to to discover new works. She explored the music of all the composers before personally contacting them and ran a blind online contest with open submissions to find the 27th composer.
Rachmaninov #3 - Prokofiev #2 by Yuja Wang
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Morning Edition: Rooted in Diligence, Inspired by Improvisation
PBS: Yuja Wang
New Classical Tracks: Yuja Wang & Gustavo Dudamel
NPR: On a Chilly Factory Floor, Yuja Wang’s Piano Sizzles
"Youth, passion and tenacity make Yuja Wang, Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela outstanding allies on this new live recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2." - Julie Amacher, host of New Classical Tracks
The Imposter by Bela Fleck
All Things Considered: The Imposter
New Classical Tracks: From Jed Clampett to Bartók
Béla Fleck has always been one to stretch boundaries and explore new musical territory. On this all-new album, Béla gives world-premiere recordings of two original compositions: “The Impostor” and “Night Flight Over Water.”
"The Impostor" is a concerto for banjo and orchestra and is performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and conductor, Giancarlo Guerrero. The recording is taken from live performances in Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.
"Night Flight Over Water" is a new quintet for banjo and string quartet and here Béla is joined by the American quartet, Brooklyn Rider.
Bach: Sonatas & Partitas by Chris Thile
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A Prairie Home Companion: Bach Sonata No. 1 in G Minor
New Classical Tracks: Chris Thile Plays Bach
Weekend Edition: Chris Thile Looks Back to Bach
Soundcheck: Chris Thile Bach on Mandolin
From Julie Amacher, host of New Classical Tracks -
For Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, it is a given that he and his serious musician friends love the music of J.S. Bach.
"I kind of feel like serious musicians are sort of in agreement. There’s Bach and then the arguments start about what else is truly extraordinary.
"And I kind of feel like every musician — they want to rub shoulders with the great man. We all get together and are like, so what Bach are you working on? And people from disciplines that are considered to be pretty far from classical disciplines, they’re like, ‘Well, I was just getting into the gamba sonata’ or whatever it is. And so I think everyone wants to interact with the greatest musician in the world. I’m no exception to that. It was Gould’s second recording of the Goldberg Variations that kind of lit my fire and I haven’t been able to get enough ever since.”
That explains why Chris Thile, who won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, or “genius grant,” last year for his adventurous, multifaceted artistry (as both a composer and performer) has just released his first Bach recording. Even though Thile is best known for his progressive bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, he says Bach has been part of his life for a long time. “Yeah, I was 15 when that Gould recording came into my hands via my Grandma Sal. And then my Grandma Celia virtually at the same time gave me a recording of the Brandenburg Concertos. I think my musically inclined relatives saw sort of a glaring Bach-sized hole in my life and sought to fill it at the precisely same moment. So my Great-Aunt Rosie gave me a recording of the Bach Double, and a score. And I loved the music so much that I started teaching myself to read — up to that point, I’d just learned everything by ear.”
The mandolin, Thile says, does bring a fresh perspective to Bach’s sonatas and partitas. “If you put the sonatas and partitas for solo violin in front of someone who really knows music but doesn’t necessarily know the piece, or what it was written for, I don’t think they’d have an easy time saying it was for the violin over the mandolin. I think it could be a toss-up and I think the reason for that is the ease with which the mandolin can produce three- and four-part chords, relative to the violin.
"Bach himself played pretty fast and loose with instrumental issues," Thile adds. "For instance, the G minor Fugue — he actually stole that and gave it to the organ and he also made a lute transcription of it. I don’t think he felt there was anything sacred about the music being performed on the violin. I think it’s beautiful and of course part of Bach’s agenda was to explore the technical capabilities of the instrument and the people playing it. But I do think it lies pretty well on the mandolin and there are arguments to be made for it on the mandolin.” Listening to Thile’s interpretation of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas on mandolin, the first thing you may notice is the quick tempos and his focused intent behind the rhythm. He says that’s something he picked up from listening to Bach specialist Glenn Gould.
"And so while I don’t think that one should be militant about rhythm, ever, it needs to be about how it feels first and foremost, and I think, God, if you’re not, like, moving to the Gould recordings of theGoldbergs, then you don’t have a pulse. I don’t think that Gould was militant about tempo. I think he was methodic about it, and a lot of times when I listen to recordings of the Bach, I feel like I’m in the backseat of a car by someone who is using the brake incorrectly. I just feel like I’m getting whiplash. I want people to be able to tap their feet and move. The vast majority of the movements — they’re dances. And I feel like you should give people a fighting chance at dancing to them.
"I’ve been re-reading Charles Rosen’s Classical Style, mainly because I don’t think I really understood it at all, the first time. But a great point he makes is about Baroque music’s motor, it just kind of keeps humming. Which is another reason that I think that a pretty constant pulse is really appropriate. If you have a lot of these movements where the action never stops, that’s very fiddle-tune-like.”
Thile says Baroque music and bluegrass do have some key parallels, like the tendency toward two distinctive A and B Parts in their structures.
"Certainly the fugues are really rangey, so they would defy that description," he adds, "And there are lots of exceptions, of course. But I do think that that’s a pretty key similarity. I think of something like the G minor Presto — that’s almost a fiddle tune. And a lot of the pieces, particularly the dance movements — they strike me as being pretty related, and certainly more ambitious structurally than your average fiddle tune. But I do think the very great fiddle tunes can rub shoulders with even some of Bach’s greatest A-B tunes.”
Chris Thile is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with other great musicians, and later this month he will begin a fall tour with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his other colleagues in the Goat Rodeo Sessions.
Thile is really excited to be reunited with this phenomenal quartet. “So the music is a joy first and foremost. But the hang is unbelievable. I think that’s something people don’t know about Yo-Yo. He is warmth incarnate. And so he just cultivates this beautiful sense of camaraderie in any situation that he puts himself in. And Edgar and Stuart and Aoife and I are the lucky beneficiaries of his proclivities.”
Thile says he learns a lot from these collaborations which he in turn applies to his solo work — like his first volume of partitas and sonatas by Bach.
The Goat Rodeo Sessions: The Goat Rodeo Sessions is an ambitious and groundbreaking project that brings together four string virtuosos: world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Chris Thile. While each artist is a prominent figure in his own music sphere, they have come together as a unified ensemble on a most remarkable and organic cross-genre project. The music, including two tracks with female vocalist Aoife O’Donovan, feels both new and familiar it’s composed and improvised, uptown and down home, funky and pastoral and above all, uniquely American.
Beethoven by Yundi Li
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New Classical Tracks: Balancing Emotion & Logic
Yundi makes his return to DG conquering new grounds with his first ever Beethoven recording.Yundi focuses on the composers most beloved and romantic piano works, the three name sonatas Moonlight, Pathetique and Appassionata.
Spheres by Daniel Hope
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New Classical Tracks: Daniel Hope
Spheres is a musical journey that’s been spinning in the mind of Daniel Hope for years. Finally, all the planets aligned and this carefully crafted, infinitely beautiful recording was born.
Annelies by James Whitbourn
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New Classical Tracks: "Annelies" Recounts the Story of Anne Frank
On National Holocaust Day in 2005, Queen Elizabeth paid her respects at a national ceremony in London marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. It was at that extraordinary event where three pieces from “Annelies,” James Whitbourn’s choral setting of Anne Frank’s diary, were first heard in public.
According to Whitbourn, the Queen’s presence at that special service had added significance. “Of course she’s head of state and it’s always wonderful to have the queen at any event. But on this occasion even more so than ever, because Anne Frank herself had a little photograph of the queen hanging on her wall in the Annex—Princess Elizabeth, as she was at the time. She had little pictures of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, her sister, hanging on the wall. And she was one of those people—the princess… the queen as she now is… who Anne Frank looked up to, as sort of Hollywood stars. I think it’s quite telling to remember how active the queen is today, and she was a few years older than Anne Frank. It just shows how recent this history is.”
Exiles Cafe by Lara Downes
New Classical Tracks: Exiles, Emigres, and Namads
”Any of us who have traveled far from home, we’ve probably experienced that moment when we found a temporary home in some cafe, and certainly there’s such a history of cafes sheltering artists and writers throughout centuries. But it’s also a metaphorical place, it’s an imaginary place and it’s a place where a lot of different stories can come together.”
That’s how pianist Lara Downes describes the concept behind her new recording, Exiles’ Cafe, which she believes is a real place for a lot of people, including herself.
Passion & Resurrection by Stile Antico
New Classical Tracks: A Renaissance Box of Chocolates
Stile Antico is a group of young British singers. Their name literally means “old style,” a term coined during the seventeenth century to describe polyphonic Renaissance church music. Stile Antico just completed an extensive U.S. tour starting in Boston and ending in New York, with various stops in-between including Kansas City and Minneapolis.
The tour was in celebration of their latest release, “Passion and Resurrection,” music inspired by Holy Week. Soprano Helen Ashby and tenor Ben Hymas agree this program is an embarrassment of riches, “Every time I turn the page for the next piece, I think it’s the favorite one, and then they just keep getting better,” says Helen. “That’s right,” Ben adds, “It’s a chocolate box, an absolute chocolate box of Renaissance music.”
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 25 by Rudolf Buchbinder
New Classical Tracks: Mozart in Vienna
This new release, which puts Mozart’s piano concertos No. 23 and 25 in a new light on period instruments, was recorded live last summer at the Vienna Musikverein. So is Rudolf Buchbinder happy with the end result? “You know, I never listen to my own recordings,” Buchbinder admits. “My wife, when she drives along in her car, she can listen to my records but not when I’m there. When you come to my house there are all these recordings, records, CDs, they are in the original package of the cellophane, it’s never opened.”
Joshua Bell Conducts Beethoven Symphonies No. 4 & 7
New Classical Tracks: Prepare for Goose Bumps
All Things Considered: From Bow to Baton: Violinist Joshua Bell
Talk of the Nation: Classical ‘Rock Star’ Takes on Conducting
For years, violinist Joshua Bell has reigned as a classical music rock star. In 2011, he expanded his resume when he took the helm of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Bell is the orchestra’s first music director since Sir Neville Marriner who founded this chamber orchestra in 1958. And Bell — one of the concert world’s most recognizable solo artists — leads the ensemble not from the spotlight of conductor’s podium, but sitting right alongside the Academy’s violins.
Downton Abbey: The Music of Downton Abbey
New Classical Tracks: Music of Downton Abbey
PBS has a hit on its hands with the British import “Downton Abbey.” Set at the start of World War I, the drama’s Jan. 8 season premiere doubled the average prime time audience for the network. We discuss why the former colonies seem to love a soap opera about the Earl of Grantham, his family and his servants with John Lunn, who composed the show’s iconic theme music.
Downton Abbey DVDs, BluRays, and gift items