New Releases of Gregorian Chant, Bach Concertos and Bizet

Sunday, August 25, 2013

This week’s featured albums cover a diverse range. Vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire takes on chant, pianist Anastasia Injushina records popular Bach concertos, and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra visits various works by Georges Bizet.

Bach Keyboard Concertos
Anastasia Injushina
Ondine
Available at Arkivmusic.com

The pianist Anastasia Injushina has a refreshingly candid biography on her website. Along with describing her upbringing in the Soviet Union and Finland, she notes: "I have won a competition (ARD in Munich) and have at times received critical praise. Other times the critics have not been pleased." She goes on to talk about her love of chamber music and influences including Walter Gieseking. On this collection, Injushina collaborates with Finnish conductor Ralf Gothoni and the Hamburger Camerata in popular keyboard concertos written by J.S. Bach and his sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach. While the concertos were originally composed for the harpsichord, Injushina plays the concertos on a modern piano with a historically informed approach. From pere Bach is the Concerto in E major BWV 1053, played with a fluid technique and light ornamentation.

 

Ave Maria: Gregorian Chant,
Seraphic Fire
Seraphic Fire Media
Available at Arkivmusic.com

After receiving two Grammy nominations last year, the Florida vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire is back with Maria: Gregorian Chant, a collection of prayers to the Virgin Mary. Led by founder and artistic director Patrick Dupre Quigley, this recording features plainchant and motets from across Europe, showcasing the works of Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria, English composer John Dunstaple and Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, among others. The album features familiar works like Josquin des Prez’s motet, “Ave Maria…Virgo serena" but also more obscure corners of the medieval canon including Ambrosian chants and Iberian chant. The set comes with an informative booklet of texts and translations.

 

Georges Bizet: Symphony in C, Jeux d’Enfants, Variations Chromatiques
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
Reference Recordings
Available at Arkivmusic.com

The San Francisco Ballet is the oldest professional ballet company in America as well as one of the first dance companies to have its own permanent body of musicians. As with a previous recording of Delibes's ballet music, this set features a number of concert works by a composer best known for his music for stage. Composed by the 17-year-old Georges Bizet in 1855, the Symphony in C is considered a youthful gem.  Although it was never performed in the French composer’s lifetime, it is now produced as a ballet as well as a symphony. Bizet’s set of twelve miniatures, Jeux d’Enfants (Op. 22), has a similar delightful tone; the movements, translated as “children’s games” and written for piano duet, are appropriately fantastical and memorable. Variations Chromatiques is one of Bizet’s dramatic works, rarely recorded by contemporary orchestras.

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The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.

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