For the Record, Op. 25: Joshua Bell Collection; Baroque Cellist Juliana Soltis; Violist Nadia Sirota

August 17, 2017, 2:09 PM · Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!

Joshua Bell - The Classical Collection
Joshua Bell, violin
Various artists

If you are a big fan of violinist Joshua Bell, here is a big collection with 20 years' worth of his recordings for Sony Classical. The 14-album set includes favorites by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Gershwin, Ravel, and Sibelius. It also has complete albums such as Bell's Bach (2014); Romance of the Violin (2003); and Voice of the Violin (2006). Other highlights include British composer Nicholas Maw’s Grammy Award-winning Violin Concerto, written for Bell in 1993; The Red Violin Concerto, based on themes from John Corigliano’s score to the film The Red Violin; and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite. Bell also is featured in his role as Music Director (since 2011) of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with performances of Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh Symphonies. Below: Bell describes one of the discs included in this set, his Bach album:

Entrez, le Diable! The Virtuoso Cello at the Concert Spirituel
Juliana Soltis, cello
Adaiha MacAdam-Somer, viola da gamba
Lucas Harris, theorbo
Justin Murphy-Mancini, harpsichord

Believe it or not, the violoncello was not considered an appropriate solo instrument in the early 18th century. A single event-- the 1736 Concert Spirituel in France -- changed that quite dramatically, according to Baroque cellist Juliana Soltis, whose debut album is inspired by this episode in history. She tells the fascinating story in her program notes: This series of concerts is considered to be the first to feature a solo cellist, Salvatore Lanzetti, who displayed astonishing virtuosity on the instrument. This album features the earliest music written to feature cello as a solo instrument, composed in the early 1700s by Lanzetti himself, as well as Martin Berteau, François Martin, and Jean-Baptiste Barrière. "These works were wildly experimental and intensely provocative for their time," she wrote to "One piece actually required me to play with my chin! They so scandalized the audiences of the Concert Spirituel that some came to see the cello as a devil in their midst – hence the album's title." Below, Cello Sonata No. 5 in B Minor, Book 3: II. Corrente - Allegro:

Nadia Sirota, viola
Donnacha Dennehy, composer
Steven Mertens, film animation

Violist Nadia Sirota is behind this multi-layered and trance-enducing music by Donnacha Dennehy, consisting of 15 string parts, all recorded by Sirota and Liam Byrne on viola and viola da gamba and accompanied by an progression of geometric images film by Steven Mertens. "'Tessellatum' was commissioned in an acute fit of jealousy," Sirota said in a press release. "The first time I heard Donnacha Dennehy's music I was seduced, I needed to be a part of that sound world, to inhabit it, even. Donnacha's work is almost cubist -- he fractures sonorities and re-assembles them into intricate kaleidoscopes of sound, thrusting piles of animated drones and pulses next to ionized timbres derived from the harmonic series..." Below: "Letter O" from Tessellatum, by Donnacha Dennehy; film by Steven Mertens:

If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes.

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