Featured Album: Cypress String Quartet’s Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets

Cypress

Cypress String Quartet

Cypress String Quartet from San Francisco, California has released their newest album, Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets, which features five quartets from Opp. 59, 74, and 95. Beethoven began writing these in 1806, just after he finished premiering his Eroica Symphony. These works are challenging and hard to understand. During this time period music for string quartet was a genre that was enjoyed privately among die hard music lovers, so these quartets are almost experimental in a sense. Cypress takes on these string quartets with ease, performing them beautifully.

Cypress recently stopped by our performance studio at Classical 90.5 to talk with Daniel Gilliam about their journey to record and perform all of the Beethoven String Quartets. They also treated us to a special performance of Erwin Schulhoff’s Cavatine from Divertimento for String Quartet. Members Jennifer Kloetzel and Tom Stone discussed their recordings of Beethoven’s middle and late string quartets, and their plans to record his early quartets this June. They also described their Call and Response program, which pairs a newly commissioned work from a living composer with a standard masterpiece. This program reaches out to students all over the San Francisco Bay Area, creating new classical music lovers of all ages. Members of Cypress include Cecily Ward and Tom Stone on violin, Ethan Filner on viola, and Jennifer Kloetzel on cello.

You can purchase Cypress String Quartet’s newest album Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets on iTunes, and you can also purchase their first release of the quartets, Beethoven: The Late String Quartets on iTunes. Stay tuned for their release of Beethoven’s early string quartets.

Here is a video of Cypress String Quartet performing the second movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in Bb Major, Opus 130: II. Presto.

A Sibelius Celebration

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2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). There are many events planned to mark the occasion, including the first-ever Sibelius Composition Competition.

While there will undoubtedly be new recordings of his famous symphonies and violin concerto released this year, this celebration would best be used to discover his lesser-known works. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has just released an album featuring the complete works for mixed choir by Sibelius. The compositions show a deft hand by the composer with subtle harmonies and engaging melodies.

Violinist Kathrin Ten Hagen is featured in a 2015 release of the almost completely unknown Suite for Violin and Strings in D minor, Op. 117. The work is one of Sibelius’s most light-hearted pieces and reveals many tendencies toward folk-like melodic lines.

Works for solo piano including transcriptions of Valse triste and Finlandia are included in a 2015 CD by pianist Cassandra Wyss. She also plays the six Impromptus, Op. 5 and the Romance Op. 24, No. 9.

Classical 90.5 will celebrate Sibelius’s birth anniversary all year with recordings of both the famous and little-heard compositions. In the meantime enjoy this performance of Op. 117 Suite by Jean Sibelius.

2015 Spring Membership Drive Premium

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Internationally acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine has put together a double-disc set album including all of Mozart’s violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, and we’re offering it to you with your sustaining membership of $15 or more (or a lump sum gift of $180).

For this album Ms. Barton Pine worked with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and conductor Sir Neville Marriner. She has been listening to Sir Marriner and the Academy play Mozart ever since she was a child. She grew up listening to them on LP records given to her by her mother. Collaborating with these musicians was a dream she fulfilled. You can hear the level of dedication and passion from her and the Academy when you listen to this record. She has a very fine understanding of Mozart and expresses his music dramatically. She and her collaborators were detailed and precise during the recording process and didn’t stop until they achieved the perfect sound.

You can receive a copy of her new album when you contribute $15 or more during our Spring Membership Drive, March 23-28, 2015. Call (502) 814-6565 or give online.

Check out a video of Ms. Pine performing the 2nd movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 below.

Bach is Still Hot

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Classical 90.5 is giving away a copy of Joshua Bell’s latest release which is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Felix Mendelssohn is credited for putting Bach’s music back into popular culture. If the current list of new recordings are any indication, Bach is still grabbing listeners’ ears.

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili put out her own recording of Bach’s violin and orchestra works recently. The Georgian violinist paired the concertos with chamber works by Bach and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel.

Pianist Andrew Rangell released a 3-CD set of keyboard masterworks by Bach. The Steinway & Sons recording includes the Goldberg Variations and the six partitas. This 2013 set is a collection of previously released recordings by Mr. Rangell.

Pianist Igor Levit has created quite a stir in the the classical recording world with his fiery performances. That includes his Sony Classical release of the six partitas by Bach.

The six French Suites by Bach are performed by pianist Sergey Schepkin on a new 2-CD set by Steinway & Sons. The set includes Bach Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue and Fantasia & Fugue in A minor.

Giveaway: Joshua Bell “Bach”

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The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is known for its prolific recordings, mostly under the baton of Sir Neville Mariner. Violinist Joshua Bell became the ensemble’s music director in 2011, the first since Marriner, and almost immediately launched into recording with the group, starting with Beethoven symphonies 4 & 7, and in 2014 releasing an all-Bach disc.

Celebrate Bach’s birthday, coming up on March 21st, by entering to win a copy of Joshua Bell “Bach” from Classical 90.5.

The giveaway is closed. We’ll announce the winner on April 1, 2015.