New Releases: Simone Dinnerstein, Avi Avital, Paris Opéra

Sunday, February 02, 2014

FREE Download: Simone Dinnerstein plays Bach’s Two-Part Invention No. 8 in F major, BWV 779

This week's featured albums span a wide range, from Simone Dinnerstein's latest traversal of Bach's keyboard works to Avi Avital's chameleon-like mandolin to a set of excerpts from Paris Opéra's 2013 Ring Cycle.

Simone Dinnerstein: Bach Inventions & Sinfonias
Sony Classical
Available at

Almost anyone who ever took piano lessons has played at least a couple of Bach's Inventions. Bach composed these short works – 15 Two-Part Inventions and 15 Sinfonias, or Three-Part Inventions, – as study pieces for his children, and they have been used by budding performers ever since. Occasionally, a professional will come along and show us how they’re played too, as Simone Dinnerstein does here. Dinnerstein has long proven to be a highly individualistic Bach interpreter and in these performances she plays with a certain rhapsodic looseness that takes the form back to its improvisatory roots. In concerts, this Brooklyn-based pianist has been pairing these works, intriguingly with those by modern composers like Nico Muhly and George Crumb. Hopefully, there’s more of that to come.



Between Worlds
Avi Avital, mandolin
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at

"Between Worlds" is a perfect title for Avi Avital's second album, a collection that bridges the mandolin’s classical and folk identities. This zesty collection focuses on new arrangements of folk-inspired classical compositions, including works by Bartok, Piazzolla, Falla and Monti, among others. Avital talked about tapping into his instrument's folk identity when he appeared recently at WQXR for a Cafe Concert. “Wherever I went in the world people associated it with different kinds of folk music – not only with bluegrass that we know here from the States,” he said. But he came to realize that the instrument has close ancestors in such plucked string instruments as the Russian balalaika, the Greek Buzuki and the Chinese pipa. Avital's album not only draws on those traditions, but does so with some rich arrangements featuring accordion, clarinet, guitar and double bass, plus the Potsdam Chamber Academy ensemble.


Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Symphonic Excerpts
Orchestre de L'Opera National de Paris
Philippe Jordan, conductor
Nina Stemme
Opera de Paris label
Available at

Last year, the Paris Opéra was one of many international houses to mark the Wagner bicentenary with a staging of the complete Ring Cycle (though this one was the first complete Paris cycle since 1957). It brought together some serious vocal talent but not to be overlooked was the depth and beauty of the resident orchestra's playing under the conductor Philippe Jordan. This collection of excerpts from last year's Ring is rounded off with Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene, sung by one of today’s leading Wagnerian dramatic sopranos, Nina Stemme.

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Comments [1]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

NINA STEMME is certainly a viable Wagnerian heldensoprano but she is one of the few singers who can easily pass as first class Wagnerians vocally. There are many serious obese singers who talk themselves into thinking that they can pass as Wagnerians, but their thin, small, not well projecting voices and lack of vocal stamina betray their pedestrian efforts. I am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor. I am performing and recording onto DVDs "The 300 Greatest Love Songs of Broadway Musicals, the Movies and the Grammys." Their release is upcoming soon I will sing the four song cycles that are most often performed in their orchestral garb:the complete Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," the complete Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," the tenor's music in Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Waldemar's music in Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" at the New Life Expo at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC on Saturday March 22nd at 6 PM. I have sung four three-hour-long solo concerts, the last two ALL-WAGNER concerts, in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall including programming the Wagner and the first named Mahler song cycle. One may hear my singing LIVE from the main hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium of CARNEGIE HALL, from my four three-hour-long solo concerts by downloading, FREE, 37 out of the nearly 100 selections that I have sung there by going to RECORDED SELECTIONS on my websites, and

Feb. 07 2014 08:47 AM

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About Albums of the Week

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.