New Releases: Handel's Belshazzar, James Levine's Comeback and More

Sunday, January 05, 2014

FREE Download: The Met Orchestra plays Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin*

We kick off the New Year with three recent and very distinct releases, including a Handel oratorio (and not Messiah), James Levine's Met Orchestra comeback gig, and some miniatures for violin and piano.

Handel’s Belshazzar
Les Arts Florissants; William Christie, conductor
Allan Clayton, Rosemary Joshua, Caitlin Hulcup, Iestyn Davies and Jonathan Lemalu
Available at

If you’re feeling a little Messiahed-out after the holiday season, Les Arts Florissants have something else to sink your teeth into: Handel's Belshazzar, another one of the composer’s majestic oratorios that merits greater attention. It’s the first release on the early-music ensemble’s in-house label, and the physical CD version is certainly as handsome packaged as one expects from the French early-music group. It includes a 100-page booklet with the complete lyrics as well as an essay on Babylon by the French novelist Jean Echenoz. The music itself contains lots of colorful, cinematic moments, from grand choruses to sublime and intimate arias, delivered by a strong quintet of soloists.


James Levine: Live at Carnegie Hall
The Met Orchestra
Evgeny Kissin, piano
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at

Conductor James Levine’s return to the podium on May 19, 2013 after a two-year sick leave was one of the most discussed comeback performances in recent years. It was not a full-length opera at the Met, where Levine would be essentially unseen in the pit, but a highly visible (and carefully choreographed) Carnegie Hall appearance with the Met Orchestra. The programming was conservative – Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Evgeny Kissin; Schubert’s Ninth Symphony and Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin – but the playing bristles with enthusiasm. As host Naomi Lewin wrote in her review, “Levine was in command, with sweeping arms and firm gestures.” The DG engineers get credit for capturing the Carnegie Hall acoustic faithfully.


Duo Intermezzo: Works for Violin and Piano
Ralf Mathias Caspers, violin
Tamaki Tekeda-Caspers, piano
Available at

The husband and wife duo of Ralf Mathias Caspers (violin) and Tamaki Takeda-Caspers (piano) play together as the Duo Intermezzo. As described in the liner notes, the two musicians focus their programs on short pieces and miniatures. After the 2010 set of “delicacies and desserts” comes “Intermezzo,” a collection of miniatures by Brahms, Kreisler, de Falla, Godowsky/Heifetz, Dvorak, Saint-Saens and more. The two artists have a nice give-and-take rapport and Ralf Caspers does a fine “Latin lover” approximation in Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita and applies some brilliance to Sarasate’s Gypsy Airs.

*Not into Facebook? Sign-up here for WQXR's e-newsletter and you'll receive a link to download the free Wagner track below. If you're already signed up, it will be sent out in this week's newsletter.


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Comments [8]

Folks, in case you're not on Facebook, you can sign up for the weekly e-newsletter and the download will be available via a link at the end of the sign-up process. As previously mentioned, those who are already subscribers receive a link to the download in the newsletter.
Thanks for your interest.

Jan. 10 2014 05:25 PM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

What is going on here? I am not on Facebook,would never be on Facebook I re entered my email and still cannot get a download. Maybe it is because i do not contribute to WQXR, but your offer is a FREE download, please keep your word.
God Speed, Charles Fischbein

Jan. 10 2014 02:36 PM

I just re-registered and the download popped right up. I guess the site was repaired. Thanks.

Jan. 09 2014 04:48 PM

Here it is Thursday afternoon and still no sign of the promised download or newsletter.

Jan. 09 2014 04:07 PM
Eugene from Ithaca

I have a sustaining membership with this station. Why can't I receive the download on that basis?

Jan. 09 2014 03:15 PM
Mary Dunne

My account was disabled before I even had time to set up a password! I am not on Facebook, and don't plan to be.

Jan. 09 2014 10:59 AM

@David - if you've already subscribed to the newsletter then you'll get the link to the download in this week's edition, which goes out on Thursday. Thanks for your interest.

Jan. 08 2014 02:19 PM
David from New York

Does this download work for anyone? Every time I try it, I get directed to the subscribe page. I've already subscribed. I don't have Facebook.

Jan. 08 2014 12:13 PM

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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.