Bach is Still Hot

Bell Joshua Perf shot_PC Chris Lee

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”

Bell Joshua Perf shot_PC Chris Lee

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.

Nico Muhly’s Cello Concerto

Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly

Steinway & Sons record label recently released a new album featuring the world premiere recording of American contemporary classical Composer Nico Muhly’s Cello Concerto. The album was recorded by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jun Märkl and features premiere cellist Zuill Bailey. It was commissioned by The Barbican, Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue and preimered by Britten Sinfonia with cellist Oliver Coates at the Barbican Center on March 16, 2012. It then was performed by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on January 25, 2013. The concerto is 18 minutes in length and in three parts, alternating fast-slow-fast. When 33 year-old Muhly studied music at the Julliard School he worked with American Composer Phillip Glass who is known for his minimalist works. Muhly demonstrates minimalist techniques in this concerto beautifully with drones and steady motoric rhythmic and lyrical development.

Here is Composer Nico Muhly with his London Premiere of Gait.

Here is cellist Zuill Bailey performing on the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert series.

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Ernest Bloch

Featured along with this premiere is Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo: Habraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra and Three Jewish Poems. Bloch was a Swiss-born American composer of the 20th century who passed away in 1959. He is most well-known for his works that reflect Jewish culture. His compositions are approachable, yet challenging. These two pieces from Bloch compliment Muhly’s Cello Concerto perfectly.

Here is cellist Sol Gabetta performing Bloch’s From Jewish Life: Prayer accompanied by pianist Andreas Kern.

You can purchase the world premiere recording of Muhly’s Cello Concerto on iTunes or Amazon.

Featured Album: Avi Avital’s Vivaldi

avi avital harald hoffmann

Mandolinist Avi Avital embarks on a Venetian journey in his latest Deutsche Grammophon album, with the Venice Baroque Orchestra and guests artists Juan Diego Flórez, Mahan Esfahani, Ophira Zakai and Patrick Sepec. “Vivaldi” includes the landmark concertos for mandolin (RV 356, 93 & 425), the Trio Sonata, RV 82; and a new recording of the “Summer” concerto from the Four Seasons. Listen to Avi Avital’s “Vivladi” this week on Classical 90.5! (Photo credit: (c) Harald Hoffermann/DG)

Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite

Radio Rewrite

Composer Steve Reich drew concepts for his piece Radio Rewrite from Composer Perotin’s Proverb, composed in 1995. He also allowed Radiohead songs Jigsaw Falling into Place and Everything in Its Right Place influence the piece as well. This is the third track on his 2014 album titled after the piece itself, Radio Rewrite. The piece is in five movements, alternating in Reich’s typical fashion: Fast, Slow, Fast, Slow and Fast. Longtime friends of Reich ensemble Alarm Will Sound recorded this work under direction of Alan Pierson. The work calls for flute, clarinet, two vibraphones, two pianos, electric bass, and string quartet.

Electric Counterpoint and Piano Counterpoint are also featured on this album. Electric Counterpoint was composed in 1987 and originally performed and recorded by Pat Metheny. On this album it is recorded by Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Reich heard Greenwood perform his work live and enjoyed the performance and then became interested in Radiohead’s music.

Piano Counterpoint is an arrangement of Reich’s Six Pianos by Vincent Corver in 2011. It is recorded by Pianist Vicky Chow. In this arrangement, four of the six piano voices are played as a recording while the performer plays the two remaining piano voices live.

You can purchase Reich’s Radio Rewrite on iTunes or Amazon.