New Releases: Karl Jenkins, Angela Hewitt and Berlioz

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The Welsh composer/tunesmith Karl Jenkins, the Bach specialist-turned-Mozartian Angela Hewitt and the conductor Leonard Slatkin have new releases that we're featuring all this week.

Karl Jenkins: Motets
Stephen Layton/Polyphony
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at

The career of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins is something of a paradox: he’s been hugely successful around the globe, having amassed 17 gold and platinum albums and been featured in TV commercials for British Airways and De Beers. His choral work The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace has been performed nearly 2,000 times in approximately 30 countries. Yet, even as he turned 70 in February, many classical music listeners don't seem to know who he is. This release, featuring the English choir Polyphony, offers a fine introduction, featuring choral adaptations of Jenkins’s previous hit compositions. They include three pieces taken from The Armed Man (commissioned England's Royal Armouries Museum); Pie Jesu and In paradisum, from his Requiem; and Exsultate jubilate, based on Palladio, the neo-Baroque piece made famous in the De Beers ad. 

Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 22 and 24
Angela Hewitt, piano; National Arts Centre Orchestra, Hannu Lintu, conductor
Available at

Angela Hewitt has aligned herself with the music of J.S. Bach throughout much of her 40-year career, as seen in a master class in The Greene Space this past March. But Mozart has been a growing preoccupation for this Canadian-born, London-based pianist. This is the third release in a complete cycle of the composer's concertos, and it also spotlights Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra, led by Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu. The playing is full of polish and shine, with Lintu and the orchestra providing first-rate support.


Berlioz: Harold in Italy, Roman Carnival, Benvenuto Cellini, etc.
Leonard Slatkin/National Orchestra of Lyon
Available at

Leonard Slatkin’s recently signed a three-year extension to his contract as music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon, committing to the Orchestra through the 2016-2017 season. He's been working hard to build its international profile, chiefly with a projected 11-part Ravel recording cycle (previously featured on WQXR), and a projected five-part Berlioz series. This nicely varied collection includes several of Berlioz's key orchestral works: the Roman Carnival Overture, Benvenuto Cellini and Harold in Italy. As expected, there's a French attention to melodic detail and phrasing, and the performance of Harold in Italy shows off the charismatic young soloist Lise Berthaud.