Album of the Week

Discover New Music with KDFC's Album of the Week!

Tune in throughout the week for tracks from KDFC’s Album of the Week. More to discover with KDFC and
Live: Beethoven, Enescu, Chopin
Charles Richard-Hamelin 

The spotlight this week is on the second recording by the young Canadian pianist, Charles Richard-Hamelin​. The 27-year-old is from Quebec and studied at McGill University. He was silver medalist and winner of the Krystian Zimerman award for best sonata at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015. Chopin's music is featured on this new disc, along with two Rondos by Beethoven and a rarely-heard Suite by the Romanian composer, George Enescu.

Week of January 9th

Melody's Mostly Musical Day
Jenny Lin

Spend a Musical Day with little Melody and Taiwanese-American pianist Jenny Lin. In "Melody's Mostly Musical Day", Lin has put together an album of short, charming pieces for children, that illustrate a day in the life of the imaginary little girl, Melody. There are favorites from Lin's own childhood, including selections by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Poulenc, and others. There are also some contemporary surprises that kids are sure to respond to, like Bumble Boogie, Walking the Dog, and even Spaghetti

Week of January 2nd

Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas 
Fazil Say

With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Turkish pianist Fazil Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than twenty-five years. He is a pianist, composer and director known throughout Europe, Asia and the US. On this recording, he returns to a composer with whom he has a unique affinity, Mozart. The 6-CD set contains the complete Piano Sonatas of Mozart.

Week of December 19th

Alison Balsom

One of this year's notable Christmas releases is Jubilo, from trumpet sensation Alison Balsom.  Balsom lets her trumpet resound with the famous Choir of King's College, Cambridge in a selection of beloved carols and other seasonal pieces. Jubilo will be featured this week as part of the KDFC Sounds of the Season! 

Week of December 12th

Christmas Songbook
The King's Singers

The renowned a cappella singing group, The King's Singers, has released a new album for Christmas featuring 16 holiday favorites in sparkling new arrangements, written especially for the group. Christmas Songbook includes traditional carols like Silent Night and The First Nowell, as well as modern Christmas hits like Santa Claus is Coming to Town and even something called Frosty vs. Rudolph! Enjoy selections throughout this week as part of KDFC's Sounds of the Season.

Week of November 28th

Alice Sara Ott

Young German pianist Alice Sara Ott returns with an all-new recording of works by Edvard Grieg. She is joined by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for Grieg’s famous Piano Concerto, and then completes the disc with selections from the Lyric Pieces and Peer Gynt.

Week of November 21st

Screen Serenade
Claire Jones

After her release earlier this year of the popular Royal Harp Strings, harpist Claire Jones returns with Screen Serenade, featuring favorite movie themes arranged for solo harp.  Can you imagine the big sound of Jurassic Park on a harp? You can hear it this week on KDFC! One of Wales' most outstanding harpists, Jones became a household name in the UK in 2011 following her performance at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and she also held the position of Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales from 2007 to 2011.

Week of November 14th

Words Fail
Yevgeny Kutik, violin/John Novacek, piano

Hans Christian Andersen once said, "When words fail, music speaks." Using that idea as a jumping off point, the young Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik has put together a program of works that "speak". Kutik teams up with pianist John Novacek for several of the Songs without Words by Felix Mendelssohn, a violin/piano version of the Mahler Adagietto, as well as selections by Prokofiev, Lera Auerbach, and Messiaen; plus a brand new work entitled Words Fail by Timon Andres.

Week of November 7th

America Again
Lara Downes

Popular Bay Area pianist Lara Downes' latest release is an album of music for solo piano that embraces America in all its forms. The title "America Again" comes from a Langston Hughes poem, "Let America be America Again". Composers on this inclusive compilation run the gamut from female and male, to white, black, and Latino, to gay and straight. Click here to listen to KDFC's Jeffrey Freymann in conversation with Lara.

Week of October 31st

Summer Night Concert 2016
Semyon Bychkov / 
Vienna Philharmonic

This year's Summer Night Concert by the renowned Vienna Philharmonic took place on May 26, which, the last time I looked, is still Spring! No matter, it's a super fun tradition which takes place annually in the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace on the outskirts of Vienna. The conductor for this concert was Semyon Bychkov, who brought along his wife, Marielle Labeque and her sister Katia for French favorites like Daphnis and Chloe and Bolero by Ravel, Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, the Double Piano Concerto by Poulenc, and more. 

Week of October 17th

Love Story: Piano Themes from Cinema's Golden Age
Valentina Lisitsa, piano
Dubbed the YouTube sensation of classical music, pianist Valentina Lisitsa has used social media to move her career into the stratosphere. She has just released a new recording called "Love Story: Piano Themes from Cinema's Golden Age". She joins the BBC Concert Orchestra for such favorites as The Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell, the theme from Murder on the Orient Express by Richard Rodney Bennett, plus music from On Golden Pond, The Apartment, and more. 

Week of October 3rd

Moszkowski: From Foreign Lands
SF Ballet Orchestra with Conductor Martin West

This week's featured recording is the latest from the wonderful San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, with Martin West conducting. It's a collection of neglected works by the Polish-German composer, Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925). Although best known for his scintillating piano pieces, Moszkowski wrote all kinds of music, much of which is heard on this disc and much of which is a revelation. 

Week of September 26th

Dvorak: From the Bohemian Forest; Dumky
Duo Pizzaro-Zhok

This week we explore music for piano duo by Antonin Dvorak, performed by the duo of Artur Pizarro from Portugal and the Trieste-born Rinaldo Zhok. The disc includes a work called From the Bohemian Forest and Dvorak's own transcription of his Dumky Trio. Listen for excerpts all this week on KDFC.

Week of September 19th

Fernando Sor: 24 Progressive Lessons & 6 Little Pieces 
Norbert Kraft and Jeffrey McFadden

Fernando Sor was not only one of the great guitarists of his era but a major composer for the instrument, described by a contemporary critic as "the Beethoven of the guitar". His desire for the guitar to represent a miniature orchestra in timbre is a distinctive feature of his many compositions. The 24 Progressive Lessons, Op. 31 offer a panoramic lexicon for the student, moving from a simple waltz to perpetual motion, whilst the charming Six Little Pieces, Op. 32 further explore technical efficiency and musical expressiveness.

Week of September 12th

Mozart in the Jungle: An Amazon Music Original
Various Artists

At long last, fans of the Amazon original series Mozart in the Jungle can download the official soundtrack to seasons one and two of the acclaimed series. The anticipated soundtrack is comprised of 10 of the most celebrated songs from the series, bringing together classical favorites and modern renditions, with tracks ranging from Roger Neill's inspired arrangement of "Listzomania," to fan favorite "Clair de Lune," beautifully performed by the Attacca Quartet.

Week of September 5th

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano
Barry Douglas, piano

Irish pianist Barry Douglas wraps up his extensive Brahms series with this 6th volume of works for solo piano. The repertory on the disc is eclectic, ranging from Hungarian Dances and an arrangement of the Rakoczy March, to several Gigues, Capriccios, and Intermezzi. BBC Music said of this series, “Douglas’s tone is a deep velvet cushion, the legatos full of affection and the rhythms galvanized with great energy.” Bit of Barry Douglas trivia, he won the gold medal in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1986, the first non-Russian pianist to do so since Van Cliburn in 1958.


Week of August 29th

Erik Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano​

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the eccentric French composer, Erik Satie. A fixture in the avant-garde in Paris at the turn of the 20th-century, Satie was an important influence on such diverse figures as Stravinsky, Debussy,and Philip Glass. This new compilation includes 5 CDs of solo piano music performed by acclaimed French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and a bonus CD of four-handed piano music with Jean-Philippe Collard and Pascal Roge. Magnifique!


Week of August 22nd

La Mascarade
Rolf Lislevand

Norwegian early music guitarist/lutenist, Rolf Lislevand turns his attention to the music of two composers from the court of Louis XIV in this new solo release. Lislevand performs on Baroque guitar and theorbo, interpreting masterpieces by Robert de Visee (including his La Mascarade) and the Italian-born Francesco Corbetta. In keeping with tradition, Lislevand improvises introductions for some of the works.


Week of August 15th

Paradisum: Serene Sacred Songs
Bocelli, Pavarotti, Netrebko, et al

This 2CD collection brings together the calmest and most thoughtful sacred songs ever written, performed by the world's greatest singers including Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Netrebko, Renee Fleming, Jose Carreras and Bryn Terfel. Composers range from Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, to the contemporary cool of today's gifted choral composers such as Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo. A much-needed escape from our hectic world.


Week of August 8th

Beethoven Sonatas
Angela Hewitt, piano

The sixth installment in acclaimed Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt's complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas, this week's featured disc contains Sonatas #9,#19,#20, #16, and #26, "Les adieux".  Hewitt is one of the world's leading pianists. The Ottawa-born daughter of an organist, she made her recital debut at the age of nine. 


Week of August 1st

Dvorak: Violin Concerto and More
Jan Mracek, violin/Czech National Symphony

Antonin Dvorak was an expert string player. He was a violist in the Prague Theatre Orchestra for ten years and was a soloist in the premiere of Smetana's first string quartet. But it was for the violin that Dvorak wrote some of his most memorable works, all included on this new recording. In addition to the Concerto, a staple in the violin repertory, he penned the delectable Romance in a minor, the lively Mazurek (Mazurka), and the popular Romantic Pieces, Op.75 for violin and piano. The young Czech violinist Jan Mracek is featured along with the Czech National Symphony.


Week of July 25th

Frederic Hand

Guitarist and composer Frederic Hand is showcased in both capacities on a new release called "Odyssey". Hand, the longtime guitarist for the Metropolitan Opera, has been a teacher and mentor to generations of guitarists. As a composer, he produces music that defies categorization - drawing from early music, Irish music, new age, contemporary composition, and jazz. We'll be sampling tracks from "Odyssey" all this week on KDFC.


Week of July 18th

Martha Argerich
"When I don't play Chopin for a while, I don't feel like a pianist," said Martha Argerich in a BBC
interview. Our Album of the Week this week is a new 5 CD set which brings together Martha Argerich’s complete studio, live and radio recordings of Chopin on the renowned German label, Deutsche Grammophon, and documents her special relationship with the composer’s music. Issued for her 75th birthday celebration, this retrospective offers a comprehensive view on the composer who has always been at the very heart of Martha Argerich’s repertoire.


Week of July 11th

Bach: Goldberg Variations
Aulos Quartet

There is a delightful story about the Bach Goldberg Variations; probably not true, but delightful nonetheless. Gottlieb Goldberg, harpsichord student of Bach's, was in the service of a nobleman who had trouble sleeping. Bach supposedly wrote the Aria and Variations expressly for Goldberg to play in the middle of the night to soothe the insomniac Count. Well, maybe. What is undeniably true is that this set of pieces gives us another amazing example of Bach's limitless genius. The Goldbergs have been adapted many times for performance by various instruments and groups of instruments. On this new recording, we hear them performed on a quartet of violin, cello, oboe, and tenor oboe by Zurich's Aulos Quartet. Enjoy!

Week of July 4th

Vanessa Benelli Mosell: Light
Valentina Lisitsa: Nuances

We're featuring two recordings this week exploring the piano music of the Russian composer, piano virtuoso, visionary, and mystic, Alexander Scriabin, who died at the age of 43 slightly more than 100 years ago, (1915). From Valentina Lisitsa is a new CD called Nuances, demonstrating the sharp contrast between Scriabin's early and later work. More works by Scriabin are found on Light the latest from the Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell. She couples Scriabin's 24 Preludes with pieces by her mentor, the contemporary German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who is also often described as a visionary.
Vanessa Benelli Mosell: Light Valentina Lisitsa: Nuances

Week of June 27th

The Indian Character Piece: Native-American Influenced Piano Works from the Early 20th Century
Stephanie Bruning, piano

The so-called Indianist Movement from around the turn of the 20th century generated compositions related to or based on the music of Native Americans. The Indianist Movement in music resulted from many factors, chief among them was the quest for a voice that was uniquely American. Enthusiasm for the "Indian Character Piece" died out, leaving hundreds of pieces collecting dust. This new recording from pianist and educator Stephanie Bruning brings these pieces into the spotlight again, or, in some cases, for the very first time.

Week of June 20th

Poulenc: Works for Piano Solo & Duo
Lucille Chung / Alessio Bax 

Canadian pianist Lucille Chung is admired for her “stylish and refined performances.” (Gramophone Magazine) She first appears as a soloist on this release with Poulenc’s Improvisations, Novelettes and L’embarquement pour Cythere, before being joined by her duo partner and husband, Alessio Bax. Poulenc was not only an incredible composer, but also a virtuosic pianist. His style is characterized by color and clarity, and he is considered by many to be the finest French song composer since Faure.

Week of June 13th

Pergolesi's Fortune: Authentic and Spurious Works for Keyboard
Marco Sollini, piano

The Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) was so famous that even after his untimely death, the demand for his music continued to be huge. As a result, some unscrupulous publishers put Pergolesi's name on works by other composers. This caused a great deal of confusion over the years. Which works are actually by Pergolesi and which are spurious?  This recording aims to set the record straight. Italian pianist Marco Sollini performs.


Week of June 6

Schubert & Beethoven
Grigori Sokolov

The story of Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov is a strange one. He won the Tchaikovsky Competition at the unheard of age of 16 (1966), and went on to be much better known in Europe than here in the US, due in part to the scarcity of recordings by him. In fact, he released no recordings at all during a 20 year period from 1995 to 2015.  In 2015, he signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon and last year, we were able to feature his Salzburg recital of 2008 as Album of the Week. This week, KDFC will highlight his latest release: live performances of Schubert, Beethoven, Rameau, and Brahms from recitals in Warsaw and Salzburg (again) which took place in 2013. Sokolov is a strict vegan, sleeps only three to four hours a night, and has been called the greatest pianist in the world.  You be the judge!


Week of May 30

John Field: Complete Nocturnes
Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano

You may know Elizabeth Joy Roe as one half of the adventurous Anderson & Roe Piano Duo. On this solo recording, she performs all 18 Piano Nocturnes of the Irishman who invented the form, John Field. We often say that Chopin went on to perfect the Nocturne, but these works by Field are pretty captivating in their own right. Liszt described them thusly: "These half-formed sighs floating through the air, softly lamenting and dissolved in delicious melancholy." Wow!


Week of May 23

Mozart Violin Sonatas
Alina Ibragimova, violin/Cedric Tiberghien, piano

Mozart composed pieces for piano and violin throughout his brief life, starting when he was just 8 years old with a set of Sonatas he wrote for the English royal family. He even performed them in 1764 at Buckingham House (now Palace). Our Album of the Week this week features Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova and French pianist Cedric Tiberghien in a survey of Mozart's works for violin and piano, beginning with some of his earliest efforts, up to the mature Sonata K.481 from 1785. These two 30-somethings have been collaborating for some time and have also released recordings of the Beethoven and Schubert Sonatas.


Week of May 16

Baroque Session on Piano
Luc Beausejour

French-Canadian musician Luc Beausejour branches out with this new recording of keyboard works from the Baroque period (roughly 1600-1750). A noted harpsichordist, Beausejour carefully selected only those pieces that he felt "translated" well to themodern piano on this recording. For example, he decided not to include any Bach Fugues, explaining that it is much more difficult to create definition for the inner voices of a fugue on a piano than on a harpsichord. The resulting program is a fascinating exploration of what is gained and what is lost when playing Baroque repertory on a modern keyboard.


Week of May 9

Stokowski Transcriptions
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Jose Serebrier

Conductor Jose Serebrier has a unique perspective on the famous transcriptions of the legendary Leopold Stokowski, having worked with the Maestro as associate conductor in New York. Serebrier, a composer himself, revisits these striking transcriptions in recordings made with his Bournemouth Symphony from 2005 through 2009, newly compiled for this release. Works include the Bach Toccata and Fugue (as featured in Fantasia), the Boccherini Minuet, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, and many others, all with the unmistakable Stokowski sound!


Week of April 25

Ravel: Complete Orchestral Works
Tonhalle Orchestra/Lionel Bringuier

"Maurice Ravel was a magnificent orchestrator," enthuses French conductor Lionel Bringuier. The conductor leads the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra in the complete works for orchestra by the great French composer. This collection includes Le Tombeau de Couperin, Bolero, Mother Goose, Alborada del gracioso, La Valse, the two Piano Concertos with soloist Yuja Wang, and so much more. Violinist Ray Chen is also featured on this 4-CD set. 


Week of April 18


The phenomenal Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos has a new recording of short works that are among the most difficult and exciting ever written for the violin. Many are classic encores associated with great violinists of the past, like Fritz Kreisler, Nicolo Paganini, Pablo de Sarasate, and others. Alongside the technically challenging pieces, are some beautiful, lyrical encores in this wide-ranging program.


Week of April 11

American Romantics
Reuben Blundell / Gowanus Arts Ensemble

This week we're sampling tracks from a new CD called "American Romantics", featuring  recordings of works by Romantic-era American-born composers, as well as composers who emigrated to the US. Some names may be familiar (Arthur Foote, Horatio Parker) but others are virtually unknown, and their works have been recorded here for the very first time. The CD is a project of conductor and Hunter College professor, Reuben Blundell, who leads the Gowanus Arts Ensemble.

Week of April 4

Nelson Freire

In his latest recording, Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire "distills a lifetime of experience with Bach into 80 minutes of authoritative playing." In advance of his recitals here in the Bay Area this May, we'll share selections from this CD, the 71-year-old Freire's first ever all-Bach recording,  throughout the week. Here's more info on his appearances with Chamber Music SF.

Week of March 28

Lullabies for Mila
Alessio Bax, piano

This week's pick is just one big "Aww". Pianist Alessio Bax and his piano-playing wife, Lucille Chung have a 2-year-old little girl named Mila. And like every new parent in the history of humankind, they can't believe how this little creature has changed their lives and made everything, including their music, more special. Alessio has put together a program of piano lullabies that he hopes will "not just entertain, but enrich. A gift from me to other parents, so that at the end of a challenging day, they (and their children) can enjoy a seamless stream of great music."

Week of March 14

Royal Harp Strings
Claire Jones

Claire Jones is a Welsh (of course!) harpist who spent the years 2007 to 2011 as Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales, performing at more than 170 royal engagements. This week's CD of the Week is her "Royal Harp Strings", containing twelve tracks of music that creates an atmosphere to soothe, relax, and unwind. Selections include a the theme from Downton Abbey and folk tunes from the British Isles, as well as classical favorites by Holst and Saint-Saens. Ms. Jones has spoken publicly about her struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She credits many of the works on this album as her "soundtrack to recovery".

Week of March 7

David Leisner & Zuill Bailey
Quick, think of a piece for guitar and cello. Right? There's not much. American guitarist David Leisner and friend-of-the-station, cellist Zuill Bailey come together on a new CD to add significantly to that repertory. The main work on the recording is Leisner's new arrangement of the beloved Schubert "Arpeggione" Sonata, composed in 1824 for a novelty instrument said to have been a cross between the guitar and the cello. So why not hear it played by guitar and cello? Also on the disc is the World Premiere recording of Leisner's Twilight Streams,  dedicated to Zuill Bailey. Selections for guitar and cello by Gluck, Villa-Lobos, Falla, and Paganini round out the program.

Week of February 29

The Clarinotts
Ernst, Daniel, & Andreas Ottensamer
They may be known as the Royal Family of the Clarinet in Vienna, but they are calling themselves the Clarinotts on this album of showstoppers for multiple clarinets. They are the Ottensamers. There's dad, Ernst, who has been a Principal Clarinet of the Vienna Philharmonic since 1983. His two sons, Andreas and Daniel, now hold similar roles in the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics respectively, and Andreas is also a solo clarinet star. Together they perform selections "from the stage" on this CD, with music from opera, ballet, film, and more. 

Week of February 15

1985 at the Movies
Take a trip back in time with this week's CD of the Week. As a warm-up to our annual KDFC at the Movies next week, we're sharing a new release that celebrates 1985, a great year for movies and a great year for movie music.​ John Barry's score for Out of Africa sets the bar very high for this collection which also includes themes from Witness (Maurice Jarre), Back to the Future(Alan Sivestri), and The Color Purple by Quincy Jones.  Some of the movies may be long forgotten, but the list of composers is pretty impressive: Henry Mancini, James Horner, John Corigliano, and Jerry Goldsmith, among others.

Week of February 1

Nicholas McCarthy

This story will blow you away! British pianist Nicholas McCarthy was born in 1989 without his right hand. This month he releases his debut album, "Solo".  McCarthy only began his piano studies at the late age of 14. He went on to graduate from the Royal College of Music in London in 2012 and has since been making headlines world-wide. This new CD features 16 racks, ranging from Puccini's O mio babbino caro to a new work written especially for Nicholas by Nigel Hess, entitled Nocturne for Left-Hand.

New Year's Concert 2016
Vienna Philharmonic/Mariss Jansons

It's a tradition that has spanned 75 years! The New Year's Day Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic. Each year, the Vienna Philharmonic rings in the New Year with a gala concert that is broadcast to over 90 countries around the world and watched by more than 50 million viewers. The program, per tradition, is made up of a mix of works by members of the Strauss dynasty (particularly from the so-called Waltz King, Johann, Jr.), and their contemporaries. This year's concert, which was conducted by Mariss Jansons, featured 8 works never before heard on the New Year's concert, plus many returning favorites.

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