James Jolly selects some recent releases including Maurizio Pollini plays Debussy, Andris Nelsons conducts Wagner and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra play Handel. Plus Hindemith from Marek Janowski, a feast of Bernstein, and Verdi from Anita Rachvelishvili
Last week I was in Rome for concerts and recording sessions for a new set of Leonard Bernstein’s three symphonies, Sir Antonio Pappano conducted the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (the recordings will be out late summer). While there I chatted to Bernstein’s Personal Assistant during the last five or so years of his life, Craig Urquhart. It set me off on an exploration of Bernstein and his world, so I launch this week’s Listening Room with Jacob Druckman riffing on Bernstein, Craig Urquhart ‘Remembering Lenny’ and Bernstein himself playing tribute to Urquhart (and at the end of the playlist, I’ve a taster of a new recording, from Houston, of the West Side Story Symphonic Dances and part of Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s forthcoming DG recording of Mass). My archive recording, originally on CBS, finds Bernstein at the piano, joined by members of the Juilliard Quartet, in Mozart’s lovely Piano Quartet in G minor, a rewarding collaboration.
Other news releases find Andris Nelsons continuing his Bruckner cycle in tandem with Wagner – I’ve included the incandescent Act 1 Prelude to Lohengrin, the strings of Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester sounding glorious. Marek Janowski conducts Hindemith, grittier stuff, and Maurizio Pollini joined by his son Daniele in Debussy’s En blanc et noir, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra in Handel’s Concerto in F. For chamber music or Richard Strauss fans, I’ve also chosen his early Piano Quartet in a fine new recording.
Music, too, from a couple of living American composers: Steve Reich’s wonderfully serene Pulse and Aaron Jay Kernis’s Dreamsongs with its prominent role for viola.
From very new or soon-to-be-released albums, ‘Soave sia il vento’ from a live 1978 Munich performance of Mozart’s Così fan tutte conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch with Margaret Price, Brigitte Fassbaender and Theo Adam, and a taster of mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili’s new arias recital singing the role of Verdi's Azucena.
Druckman A Bernstein Birthday Bouquest: Variations on Leonard Bernstein's New York, New York
São Paulo SO / Marin Alsop (Naxos)
Urquhart Remembering Lenny
Lara Downes (Sony)
Bernstein (arr GE Sunderland) Anniversaries: IV. For Craig Urquhart
São Paulo SO / Marin Alsop (Naxos)
International Contemporary Ensemble(Nonesuch)
Wagner Lohehgrin, Act 1 Prelude
Gewandhausorchester / Andris Nelsons (DG)
Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor, K478
Leonard Bernstein; Juilliard Quartet (Sony Classical)
WDR Symphonieorchester Köln / Marek Janowski (Pentatone)
Debussy En blanc et noir
Maurizio Pollini; Daniele Pollini (DG)
Handel Concerto in F, HWV333
Freiburger Barockorchester, Gottfried von der Goltz & Petra Müllejans (Harmonia Mundi)
Joshua Roman; Royal Northern Sinfonia / Rebecca Miller (Signum)
R Strauss Piano Quartet in C minor, Op 13
Tilo Widenmeyer; Munich Piano Trio (Genuine)
Verdi Il Trovatore - Condotta ell'era in ceppi
Anita Rachvelishvili, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI / Giacomo Sagripanti (Sony Classical)
Bernstein Symphonic Dances from West Side Story - Somewhere
Houston Symphony / Andrés Orozco-Estrada (Pentatone)
Bernstein Mass – A Simple Song
Kevin Vortmann; The Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (DG)