New Releases by Rachel Podger, Conrad Tao and the Berlin Philharmonic

Email a Friend

This week's new releases include the Berlin Philharmonic playing Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, violinist Rachel Podger taking on the "Bach Double," and Conrad Tao in an assortment of solo piano music.

Stravinsky: Rite Of Spring, Apollon Musagete
Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic
Available at

What does a great Rite of Spring recording need? This year's centennial celebrations of the modernist landmark have put this question in sharper focus. It's got to be driven, exciting and well-paced, of course, but it also has to be colorful. The Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle bring out the work's exquisite orchestration particularly well on this new EMI release. The orchestra's excellent wind soloists are in top form, the strings have plenty of attack and the percussion is thunderous when needed. The excellent pairing is the 1928 Apollon, a fantasy on a Greek myth, has all the proper cool, classical reserve. Read 10 other major versions.


Rachel Podger
J.S. Bach Double and Triple Concertos
Brecon Baroque
Channel Classics
Available at

On this album, English violinist Rachel Podger plays Bach's double and triple concertos with her own ensemble, Brecon Baroque, an early-music ensemble named after the town in Wales where she lives. The famous D-minor Concerto BWV 1043 opens the recording with plenty of gusto, warmth and transparency. The Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute and Violin in A minor is features some fine playing from members of the ensemble, as does the Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, with its plaintive oboe part. The Concerto for Three Violins caps the album with a rousing D major flourish.    

Conrad Tao, piano
Available at

The 19-year-old pianist and composer Conrad Tao has been enjoying a burst of publicity this summer. He has organized his own three-day music festival in Brooklyn last month; released a major-label debut; and still manages to juggle orchestra commissions and life as a student at Columbia University and Juilliard. "Voyages" is a collection of his Tao's music as well as pieces by Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Meredith Monk. His Rachmaninoff has the requisite steely power but what's particularly enlightening is his own "Voyages," four vigorous and colorful character pieces. Below, watch Tao's recent WQXR Cafe Concert and listen to Tao host Hammered on Q2 Music.