Catching up with a coupe of digital only titles today released on streaming platforms on Navona Records. Some are likely familiar with guitarist Frederic Hand who through the last quarter-century or so released a number of albums blending ancient musics with a touch of jazz. Lutenist Laudon Schuett takes a slightly different approach in his release Dedications: New Works for the Lute (Navona 6422). His is a collection of new music that uses various forms and musical techniq
Finola Merivale: Tus
New Focus Recordings FCR 327
Total Time: 63:16
Performance: ****/**** Finola Merivale studies composition at Columbia University where she is a DMA candidate as of this review. Tus is a new release of world-premiere recordings of her chamber music. It is performed by members of the Desdemona Ensemble. The pieces are not arranged chronologically, but they do give the listener a sense of Merivale’s more exper
Navona takes a risky step forward with a recording of a new opera setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet by composer Joseph Summer (Navona 6396). The release is part of their ongoing Shakespeare Concert Series though this performance was recorded in Bulgaria featuring the Ruse Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leo Hussain. Some of the songs had appeared on one of those earlier releases. This is a massive 3-hour work getting its premiere here from this Bulgarian orchestra and choru
Steven Ricks: Assemblage Chamber
Aubrey Woods, violin; Alex Woods, viola; Jason Hardink, harpsichord.
NOVA Chamber Players
New Focus Recordings FCR 328
Total Time: 45:53
Performance: ****/**** Steven Ricks (b. 1969) is a composer who experiments with electroacoustic composition techniques while exploring ancient musical gestures in this new release, Assemblage Chamber. He is a professor at BYU where he teaches theory and compos
Passages: The Music of Michael Murray
Genevieve Fulks, soprano;
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Stanislav Vavrinek
Allison Storochuk, clarinet; Minju Choie Witte, piano.
Total Time: 54:00
Performance: ****/**** Composer Michael Murray teaches at Missouri State University in Springfield and presents here four entrancing vocal settings displaying his penchant for colorful orchestration and lyricism. The album has to larger works for o
In the Brink
New Focus Recordings FCR 316
Total Time: 50:54
Performance: ****/**** Formed at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, the Bergamot Quartet looks for works that help expand the quartet literature. They advocate for the work of living composers, especially bring to the fore work by women, but like to look for works that are building and transforming the inherited Western tradition. Their bold debut release features new m
R. Strauss: Enoch Arden; The Castle By the Sea
Christopher Kent, narrator.
Gamal Khamis, piano.
SOMM Recordings 0651
Total Time: 69:45
Performance: ****/**** At first glance, the casual listener may think they have overlooked some unusual Strauss tone poem. However, this new release collects two of these rather unusual works by Richard Strauss for narrator and piano. Here are works that use poetry with a piano accompaniment that enhances the tex
Fading Sounds: Guitar Music of Georges Raillard
David William Ross, guitar.
Navona Records 6426
Total Time: 67:16
Performance: ****/**** Five years ago, guitarist David William Ross put a survey of music by Swiss-born composer George Raillard (Navona 6071). That album featured ten works composed between 1999-2008. The engaging album was a fine introduction to Raillard’s lyrical writing and beautiful harmonic shifts that lay perfectly on the instr
Out of all the 1980s film scores of John Williams, SpaceCamp (1986) seems to have gotten the short end of the stick. The score came at a time when Williams’ career was seeming to shift with his work conducting the Boston Pops, and a host of celebratory commissions taking up his time and energy. It was his first film score since 1984’s The River, though he had provided the theme and music for two episodes of Spielberg’s revamped Amazing Stories (1985). Intrada has now manag
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6/Stucky: Silent Spring
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
Total Time: 58:02
Performance: ****/**** Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony have been slowly working their way through a Beethoven symphony cycle. Honeck has some interesting performance ideas that have made some of these a little odd for some even if the PSO’s performances themselves have been expectedly flawless. His working met