NY Philharmonic's New Top Clarinet Reveals Intimate Side

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FREE Facebook Download: Pacifica Quartet & Anthony McGill play the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, Andantino*

This week's featured albums include the Pacifica Quartet and newly-appointed New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill playing music by Brahms and Mozart. Plus, we sample recordings by Ukrainian pianist Stanislav Khristenko and Concerto Italiano.

Anthony McGill & Pacifica Quartet
Mozart & Brahms Clarinet Quintets
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Anthony McGill is the focus of much attention at the moment, since after ten years as principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he has just been named to the same position at the New York Philharmonic (news that WQXR broke last month). Here he joins the Pacifica Quartet in a collection of meat-and-potatoes chamber repertoire: the Clarinet Quintets of Mozart and Brahms. As McGill told host Jeff Spurgeon last November, Mozart has a particular feel for the clarinet: "The part of the instrument that sounds like the human voice – that’s the part that he zeroes in on and uses to the best of his abilities," he said. Brahms, too, has a feel for the clarinet, but it's very different (and more perhaps complex), and hearing the two works side by side on this recording is illuminating in many ways.

Stanislav Khristenko, piano
Steinway & Sons
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Ukrainian pianist Stanislav Khristenko, the winner of last year’s Cleveland International Piano Competition, and a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, has released his debut album, not of a splashy concerto but four intimate takes on the “Fantasy” or “Fantasia” form.

Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major was conceived as a tribute to Beethoven but also (and perhaps more to the point) his future wife, Clara Wieck. Its emotional urgency and sense of longing is palpable throughout, and Khristenko plays with the right balance of urgency and restraint. The pianist also offers two lesser-known gems: Bruckner’s modest and soothing Fantasie in G Major, and Zemlinsky’s Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel, which suggest Brahmsian lyricism crossed with a French salon aesthetic. Brahms himself is also heard, with the late Fantasien, Op. 116, seven compact, romantic works whose brevity is matched by their feverish intensity.


Vivaldi: Concertos for Strings Vol. 2
Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini
Available at Arkivmusic.com

The National University Library in Turin, Italy, which houses a large Vivaldi manuscript collection, has collaborated with the Naive label and other organizations on an initiative to record every one of the scores in its holdings. Volume 57 (that's right) is now out, featuring no fewer than eleven concertos for strings, played by Concerto Italiano. Rinaldo Alessandrini conducts performances that have a "folk-Baroque" sense of color and zest. And despite the old adage that Vivaldi composed the same concerto hundreds of times, considerable variety and invention runs through these major- and minor-key works.

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