New Releases from the Philadelphia Orchestra, H&H and Chloë Hanslip

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This week's featured releases include the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Stravinsky, the Handel and Haydn Society playing its namesake and Chloë Hanslip and Danny Driver uncovering the work of York Bowen.

Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at

Two years ago, the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first American orchestra of its size or stature to file for bankruptcy. While few believed the orchestra would collapse during the process, its rebound since has come to much relief to its supporters and fans. The ensemble is beginning its second season with French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin as music director. His first commercial recording with the orchestra, on the Deutsche Grammophon label, honors one of his great predecessors in the post, Leopold Stokowski. It features a bright and brilliant performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (whose U.S. premiere Stokowski conducted in Philly in 1922) plus three of Stokowski's Technicolor Bach transcriptions. Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphians open the Carnegie Hall season on Wednesday, which WQXR will broadcast live.

Handel and Haydn Society
Harry Christophers, conductor
Aisslinn Nosky, violin
Available at

Haydn's symphonies acquired some colorful nicknames -- from "The Clock" to "Palindrome." The Handel and Haydn Society, which is now its 199th season, presents two of these works from opposite ends of the composer's career. In the Symphony No. 6 ("Le Matin"), one can almost hear the sound of a sunrise in the adagio opening, as flutters of winds and horns emerge into song. The Symphony No. 82, nicknamed "The Bear" is a burly work whose outer vivace movements that bustle along with good humor. It includes a theme and double-variations that looks forward to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Concertmaster Aisslin Nosky steps forward for Haydn’s relatively modest Violin Concerto in G Major, which has a lyrical nature strongly suggestive of Vivaldi and Albinioni. While it has few bravura showoff moments, there's lots of graceful, affable moments, exquisitely delivered by Nosky.

York Bowen
Chloë Hanslip, violin
Danny Driver, piano
Available at

The early 20th-century English composer York Bowen (1884-1961) was once dubbed the English Rachmaninoff, being a pianist with a post-Romantic musical language, though tinged with Impressionism. While he was a dominant figure in English music before World War I, his fame dissipated, and he spent his final decades as a teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. In recent years the English Hyperion label has been quietly engineering a Bowen mini-revival, releasing an album of his viola music last year (played by Lawrence Power) and now this set of roughly a dozen, mostly single-movement works for violin and piano. Chloë Hanslip and Danny Driver tackle do Bowen's music proud and show why he deserves to be more than just a footnote in music history.