For the Record, Op. 52: Rachel Podger's Four Seasons; Leila Josefowicz Adams Concerto; David Aaron Carpenter and more

April 26, 2018, 9:27 AM · 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!

Rachel Podger
Rachel Podger. Photo by Theresa Pewal.

Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni, The Four Seasons
Rachel Podger, violin
Brecon Baroque

Rachel Podger celebrates her 50th birthday year with this release of Vivaldi’s ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ with Brecon Baroque. From Producer Jonathan Freeman-Attwood: "Working with Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque has been an object lesson in starting anew and identifying the ingredients which make ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ great works. Virtuosity is non-negotiable here and Rachel has it in abundance. But it’s the color, poetry, vibrancy and evocative characterization of weather, human warmth and fragility, captured by the dynamic flux of Rachel interlocking with her colleagues in Brecon Baroque, that deliver near-unimaginable qualities in this music. With two other deeply evocative works and that great ‘bull’ of a concerto, ‘Il Grosso Mogul’, the experience is kaleidoscopic in the capacity of a single-part string band to press the boundaries of intimacy and, at the same time, to produce visceral fortes as dramatic as you’ll here in any larger group." BELOW: L'Inverno (Winter) II. Largo

John Adams Violin Concerto (1993)
Leila Josefowicz, violin
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson conducting

Adams's Violin Concerto was co-commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet. It was described by the Boston Globe as having "the qualities of intelligence, craftsmanship, and quirkiness that have always marked the composer and his work; this time Adams also mingles virtuoso show with soul, popular appeal with the staying power that comes from intellectual interest." The premiere recording of the work, featuring violinist Gidon Kremer and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Kent Nagano, was released by Nonesuch in 1996. Josefowicz said of the concerto in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "It was the piece where [Adams] first got to know me as a person and a player, when I was twenty-one. I'm now thirty-eight. When I started playing this piece, it was the confirmation of the new path that I was on, to really go down this new road with new music and with composers, because this experience was so inspiring for me." She further said, "It has a really dancelike feeling, so the violin line is often incredibly syncopated with everything else going on in the orchestra … Basically, it's supposed to make you groove." BELOW: John Adams - Violin Concerto: III. Toccare:

Motherland: Dvorák, Bartók, Shor, Walton
David Aaron Carpenter, viola

For his second Warner Classics album, David Aaron Carpenter – "a star violist" in the words of the Los Angeles Times – brings together concertos by Dvorák, Bartók, Walton and a dance cycle by contemporary composer Alexey Shor. Carpenter identifies a connecting theme of "a longing for the homeland … a reverence for native musical folk tunes and language."" He is accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under three conductors: Kazushi Ono, Vladimir Jurowski and David Parry. BELOW: Carpenter recording Alexey Shor's "Lullaby for Mark":

Harold in Italy
Lawrence Power, viola
Bergen Philharmonic, Andrew Manze conducting

"Wine, blood, joy and rage mingle in mutual intoxication and make music together" was Berlioz's (impractical) description of the finale of Harold in Italy. He would surely have rejoiced in this impassioned performance from Lawrence Power, Andrew Manze and the Bergen Philharmonic. BELOW: Excerpts from the album:

Biber: The Mystery Sonatas
Christina Day Martinson, violin
Martin Pearlman, harpsichord and organ
Michael Untermann, cello
Michael Leopold, theorbo and guitar

Heinrich Biber, a virtuoso violinist, wrote the Mystery sonatas in 1678. The sonatas require scordatura tuning that varies with each one, resulting in a different kind of resonating and a variety of finger placements and unusual intervals for the violinist. The most extreme altering of the strings occurs in Sonata XI "The Resurrection," in which the middle two strings are crossed over each other both in the peg box and behind the bridge, so that one can literally see a cross on the violin. Wow!

Ravel, Franck, Ligeti, Messiaen
Duo Gazzana
Natascia Gazzana, violin
Raffaella Gazzana, piano

This album by Italian sisters Natascia and Raffaella Gazzana features György Ligeti's "1946 Duo" (dedicated to György Kurtág, and influenced by Hungarian and Rumanian folk music); César Franck's A major Sonata of 1886; Maurice Ravel's "Sonate posthume," written in 1897, when the composer was 22; and Olivier Messiaen's "Thème et variations" of 1932. BELOW: Excerpts from the album:

Four Strings Around the World
Irina Muresanu, violin

"Four Strings Around the World" is an exploration of music from four continents, which grew out of the challenges Muresanu encountered learning Mark O’Connor’s "Cricket Dance," which is the final selection on the album. An experienced concert violinist, Muresanu was used to absorbing complex scores in a matter of weeks. She wondered why this work was proving so challenging. "Could it have been because it was written in a musical style completely different from my classical training?" she wrote. "And if so, how many more different languages were there outside of the traditional/standard classical repertoire? Inspired by this question, I started my exploration of works reflecting the various ways the violin is employed in musical settings worldwide." The album includes George Enescu’s "Airs in Romanian Folk Style"; works by Reza Vali, Dave Flynn, and Bright Sheng. She also commissioned works from Shirish Korde, a composer of East Indian descent, and Chickasaw Nation composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. It also includes Paganini's 24th Caprice; the Bach Ciaccona and Kreisler’s "Recitativo and Scherzo. BELOW: Irina Muresanu performs Tango Caprice no. 3 by Astor Piazzolla:

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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