Jaap van Zweden, the newly named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in a dynamic and emotional performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. There have been a number of quite fine new recordings of this massive work in the last few years, and some would say that the composer’s own recording at the time of its premier is still the finest. I have high definition SACD recordings led by Helmuth Rilling and Gianandrea Noseda, both of which I enjoy. But there is something about this one by Van Zweden and choral conductor Reinbert de Leeuw that rises above others. Power? Emotion? I’m not sure, but whatever it is I really like it.
Britten: War Requiem
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Netherlands Radio Choir
& Netherlands Children’s Choir
Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Reinbert de Leeuw, choir conductor
And speaking of new Chief Conductors, Kirill Petrenko is the upcoming main man at the Berlin Philharmonic. He leads the London Philharmonic with the excellent Dejan Lazic at the piano in a very fine Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2. This recording is right up there with some of the very best.
– Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor, op. 18
– Moments Musicaux, op. 16
Dejan Lazic, piano
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Kirill Petrenko, conductor
Conductor, educator, and thoroughly Romantic American composer Howard Hanson (1896 – 1981) championed American composers with many fine recordings. He was head of the Eastman School of Music. And he wrote 7 symphonies and numerous other works. Some called him “The American Sibelius.” Howard Hanson– An American Romantic is a collection of some of his lesser known works including The Concerto for Organ, Harp, and String Orchestra (1926), and the Nymphs and Satyr Ballet Suite (1979). I enjoy both, but especially the Organ Concerto. The Rochester Chamber orchestra under David Fetler, and soloists David Craighead and Eilene Malone are excellent.
Meliora Quartet, Brian Preston, piano, Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale, Robert Shewan, conductor, Theodore Sipes, baritone (in Psalm 121), Barbara Harbach, organ
DSD 64fs, 128fs and 256fs
The Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar will light up your system with Spirit of the American Range. I don’t know who came up with the name for this album, but there are no cowboy songs or western movie themes. What is here is as fine a recording of Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 as you’re likely to find. This is the symphony which includes Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”. If you love Copland, take a listen to this one. Also included are Walter Piston’s Suite from the Incredible Flutist, and George Antheil’s A Jazz Symphony. Along with being famous for being “Music’s bad boy” of the early 20th Century, Antheil was an inventor. Believe it or not, you would probably wouldn’t be using a cell phone today except for “frequency hopping,” invented by Antheil and actress Hedy Lamar. (Really! They were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014!)
The Oregon Symphony
Carlos Kalmar, conductor