5 Classical Music Albums You Can Listen to Right Now

Jenny Jansen, violin; Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; Klaus Mäkelä, conductor (Decca)

While 28-year-old conductor Klaus Mäkelä makes an impact in the concert hall that is both elegant and visceral, the recordings he has released so far in his meteoric career do not suggest that he The best advantage. The Orchester de Paris played a blunt, dull Stravinsky, and the Oslo Philharmonic played a polite and listless Sibelius symphony. (He would soon leave these orchestras to lead more illustrious ones: the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.)

Now, for the first time, the focus of one of his albums isn’t on him, and it’s one of the best of the middling albums. Violinist Janine Jansen has been in the spotlight for her concertos with Macra and the Oslo Orchestra in Sibelius and Prokofiev (his first concerto). Janssen never seems indulgent, sometimes weak and delicate, sometimes powerful, but always full of song and humanity. In Prokofiev’s piece, she had just the right blend of playfulness and sinisterness, as well as gentility and intimacy in the urbane third movement. Led by Mäkelä, the players performed brilliantly, with passion, control and effective control of the fire. The grandeur of the finale of Sibelius’s concerto steadily increases, and the end of Prokofiev’s first movement has a fairy-tale sweetness. Zachary Woolf

Jennifer Hsu, violin; Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose, conductor (BMOP/Voice)

Pianist Vijay Iyer, a well-known figure in the field of improvised music, also writes works “around” the classical tradition, as he puts it in Notes from his first collection of orchestral music. There is nothing programmatic or explicitly political, but all works reflect in some way the tensions of the era in which they were created (2017-2019).

The largest work is the half-hour “Trouble” for violin and orchestra by the talented Jennifer Koh. It can be seen as a meditation on the relationship between the individual and the collective: unlike a traditional concerto, Hsu’s nuanced and highly varied voice swirls in and out of a spacious orchestral structure. There is a sense of collective mourning in the third movement, a painful memorial to Vincent Chin, a Chinese American murdered in Detroit in 1982. Coming together – uncertain at first, but ultimately victorious.

“Crisis Mode” of percussion and strings – what Ayer calls “a distress call from this scarred planet” – features a ghostly middle movement filled with Bartók’s nighttime sounds. Minimalism is the auditory contact point of the orchestral work “Asunder”, which has a vitality that transcends the darkness of the times. This set will leave you feeling grateful for the Boston Modern Orchestra’s consistently confident performances and wanting to hear more of composer Ayer’s work. David Weininger

Vocals Ausrine Stundyte, John Lundgren, Nikolai Schukoff; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra; Mark Albrecht, conductor (Pentatonic)

Alexander von Zemlinsky lived at the nexus of late Romanticism and early modernism. Although his music fell into decline long after it was banned in Nazi Germany, advocates have mounted a successful rediscovery campaign in recent years. An opera, The Tragedy of Florence – a love triangle story based on the German translation of Oscar Wilde’s Tragedy of Florence – was born.

Marc Albrecht, the conductor of this Dutch National Opera recording, a Zemlinsky loyalist, is in full force here. Other strong opinions of the work emphasize the Romantic sweep. But Albrecht was still haunted by some of the acidic qualities in the music. Throughout, insinuating riffs from oboe, clarinet and trumpet are given just the right amount of space to deliver their acerbic remarks.

Baritone John Lundgren, who plays businessman Simone, doesn’t give his all at first. Instead, he plays the role: in some moments, he’s effectively attacked by his wayward wife and calculating prince; at other times, he brings an air of disorientation to some of the high notes while retaining his familiarity with The most sincere enthusiasm for the goods he is promoting or the money he could possibly make. Pentatone’s booklet contains the German script and the English text side by side. All in all, Wilde’s plays, once criticized for their rapid twists and turns, are thriving anew in these bubbles of power and turbulent baths of sound. Seth Colter Wall

Paul Huang, piano; Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Michael Collins, conductor (Bis)

In the case of Adolf von Henselt’s Piano Concerto, it got off to a good start: Clara Schumann was the soloist at its premiere in 1845, and Felix Mendelssohn took the podium. . There was a time when this work also attracted great pianists such as Liszt, Busoni and Rachmaninov. But over the past century or so, only a handful of musicians possessing the curiosity and skill of the composer – “the god of the piano,” said Clara’s husband Robert – have tried it. It had previously received three recordings, including one from Marc-André Hamelin.

Paul Wee’s new account is unusual. A lawyer who moonlights as a piano player, he makes the concerto’s absurd, ever-present difficulties seem entirely manageable—so much so that its underlying daunting challenges only change when you consult the score. Gotta be as impressive as its striking double octave. As in Huang’s earlier recording of Liszt’s Eroica symphony, the sensitivity of touch and depth of characterization are as striking as the master’s thunder; note the supple shape of the left-hand accompaniment in the slow movement. His performance in Hans Bronsart von Schellendorf’s later magnificent concerto was equally impressive, united in the joyous finale with the energetic Swedish Chamber Orchestra in Together, it produced a jaw-dropping effect. David Allen

Donald Berman, piano (Avi)

Like all the famous performances of Charles Ives’ Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Massachusetts, 1840-1860,” a tribute to transcendentalism, Donald Berman reveled in the spaciousness of the music.

The sonata contains flamboyant experimentalism (in the first few minutes of the “Emerson” movement), as well as more intrinsically contemplative moods (as in the finale “Thoreau”). Elsewhere, you can find traces of parlor song affability (“The Alcotts”) and ragtime-influenced indulgence (“Hawthorne”). Ives even made room for European echoes, quoting and transforming the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the wedding march from Lohengrin.

Berman was president of the Ives Society, and he handled a variety of different styles brilliantly. He doesn’t shy away from difficult density, nor neglect beautiful melodies. He also incorporated the flute optional part at the end of “Thoreau” in his solo piano performance.

Most notably, Berman praised Ives as a tinkerer. Ives oversaw the publication of two editions of Concordia, decades apart. Berman replaced the first page of the revised “Emerson” movement with a passage from the “First Codex of the Emerson” written by Ives between the publication of the Concordia edition (later noted as probably more important than either introduction) better). Some of the extreme ranges and gestures may seem shocking, but to my mind it’s a wholesome, alternative Ivesian idea, one that seems to mesh with the churning imagination of contemporary American jazz styles. Seth Colter Wall

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