A restlessly inventive composer, who builds the language and form of every new piece from scratch rather than relying on gestures or harmonic and melodic ‘moves’ that have worked well in the past.
Nixon in China
Sols; Chorus and Orchestra of St Luke's / Edo de Waart
'Destined to create a sensation even among those who normally pay little or no attention to the medium of opera.'
Samuel Barber is the composer of one of the most iconic works of the 20th century, Adagio for strings, but there is plenty of wonderful music to explore besides, such as his lyrical Violin Concerto.
Cheryl Studer (sop); Thomas Hampson (bar) / John Browning (pf)
'The most valuable recorded song recital that I have heard for a very long while.'
Bernstein straddled the extremes of the musical world - he wrote complex symphonies and 12-tone music but was equally happy playing piano and writing Broadway musicals.
Jubilant Sykes bar Peabody Children's Chorus; Morgan State University Choir and Marching Band; Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop
(Naxos American Classics)
'Alsop's Jubilant Sykes is the best of all possible Celebrants.'
Among the most prominent composers of the 20th century, Cage's influence stretched far beyond the ‘classical’ arena, with rock musicians being inspired by his electronic works and his musical philosophies.
Litany for the Whale
Theatre of Voices / Paul Hillier
'This is a landmark for Cage, Paul Hillier’s group and everyone else.'
In a nutshell, Aaron Copland managed the difficult feat of becoming a popular classical composer while retaining the respect of critics and the ‘serious musical establishment’.
'Copland - The Populist'
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas
(RCA Red Seal)
'Boasting opulent, exhilaratingly expansive recorded sound, this is a corker of a release.'
No composer has done more to weld the two opposing cultures of serious and popular music together. The works he fashioned with his miraculous melodic gift have stood the test of time and changes in musical fashion.
Rhapsody in Blue
Stefano Bollani pf Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly
'There is an irreverence and spontaneity which capture the spirit of the work like no other.'
His music, often described as minimalist, relies on repetition, often slightly out of sync so that wave patterns are formed: Glass prefers to describe it as ‘music with repetitive structures’.
Complete Piano Etudes
Maki Namekawa pf
(Orange Mountain Music)
'The very final Etude is a work of extraordinary power and beauty, at times quite unlike what one might expect from the composer.'
The devices that Ives introduced into his music – atonality, polytonality, dissonance, multiple rhythms, jazz, collage – were way in advance of the Stravinskys, Schoenbergs and Debussys of this world.
Three Orchestral Sets
Malmo Chamber Chorus; Malmo Symphony Orchestra / James Sinclair
(Naxos American Classics)
'Well recorded, idiomatic performances all round - a real Ives discovery.'
Reich is a pioneering minimalist whose studies of African drumming combined with a love of jazz have helped to form one of the most distinctive and influential voices in contemporary music.
Different Trains. Triple Quartet. The Four Sections
Lyon National Orchestra / David Robertson
'Impresses immediately by the richness of its vastly expanded sound palette.'
One of the most popular composers of his generation, virtually all of his works stem from words, from poetry, and his facility for setting text is what distinguishes him as truly exceptional.
Light and Gold
Eric Whitacre Singers; Laudibus / Eric Whitacre
'This glowing disc deserves the widest exposure. Simply glorious!'