CD of the Week

Week of June 22

Brahms Inspired: Orli Shaham, piano

Our CD of the Week is a brand new recording from pianist Orli Shaham, called Brahms Inspired.  It's a collection of pieces by Brahms himself, plus works which inspired Brahms (Bach, Chopin, Schubert), as well as pieces inspired by Brahms, including two works that Shaham commissioned especially for this project. The Brahms works date from late in his life and career: the Op.117 Intermezzi and the Piano Pieces from Op.118 and 119. Juxtaposed with these are new works by Avner Dorman and Bruce Adolphe. Shaham says, "Like works of (visual) art grouped in the same room, I find the works on this album speak to and illuminate each other."

Week of June 15

James Horner: Pas de Deux for violin and cello
Mari and Hakon Samuelsen


Classical musicians, Mari and Hakon Samuelsen are a genre-defying violin and cello duo from Norway. The siblings recently commissioned film composer, James Horner (Avatar, Titanic, Legends of the Fall) to write something especially for them. The result is Pas de Deux, the centerpiece of this new CD. Described as "hypnotic, post-minmalist", Pas de Deux is partnered with haunting works by Ludovico Einaudi, Arvo Part, and Giovanni Sollima. KDFC's evening host, Rik Malone will premiere Pas de Deux on his show Monday night (6/15).


 

Week of June 8

Wolf Hall: The Tudor Music
Musicians of Shakespeare's Globe


The recent BBC/PBS presentation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall  tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, key political "fixer" and advisor to Henry VIII.  As Wolf Hall music historian, Claire van Kampen explains: "Henry VIII's period is extraordinary because it's when everything changes in music". Van Kampen put together the splendid soundtrack for the production, selecting authentic pieces from the period, including several compositions by Henry himself. The musicians (from Shakepeare's Globe Theatre) were filmed performing by candlelight in the very rooms through which Henry walked with Anne Boleyn. Van Kampen, "We all had goosebumps!"

Week of June 1

Javier Perianes
Grieg: Concerto in A minor, Lyric Pieces


Spanish pianist Javier Perianes is in town this week with the SF Symphony, performing in the evocative Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Falla. We're featuring his latest recording all this week on KDFC, but instead of Spain, we find ourselves in Norway. It's the music of Edvard Grieg with the beloved Piano Concerto plus selections from the Lyric Pieces for solo piano.

Week of May 25

Nelson Freire:Chopin
Piano Concerto #2 and works for solo piano


"Every time I play Chopin, I love it even more." Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire, 70, first recorded a work by Chopin when he was 12. That work, the Ballade #4, is included on this disc, along with the "Heroic" Polonaise, the Op.57 Berceuse, an Impromptu, and several Mazurkas. But the centerpiece of the recording is the lyrical and brilliant Piano Concerto #2 with Mr. Freire joining the Gurzenich Orchestra and French conductor Lionel Bringuier.

Week of May 18

Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshal
Bach for Mandolin and Mandocello


Two of the world's renowned mandolin soloists join forces on this new recording of Bach's music arranged for mandolin and mandocello. (The mandocello is to the mandolin what the cello is to the violin!) Caterina Lichtenberg is the only mandolin professor in the world (in Cologne, Germany) and Mike Marshall is a master of a variety of musical styles: jazz, world, and bluegrass, as well as classical. Selections come from Bach's the Art of the Fugue, the Organ Duets, and the Two-Part Inventions.

Week of May 11

Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Portrait: Ludovico Einaudi


The latest installment in La Pieta's Portrait series of recordings is this new disc devoted to the music of the Italian, self-styled minimalist, Ludovico Einaudi. KDFC listeners were introduced to Einaudi through his piece The Two Sunsets, which became a surprise hit back in the mid-2000's. For Angele Dubeau, leader of La Pieta and one of Canada's most revered musicians, Einaudi's music "dwells within us for a long time. [It is a music] which captivates the listener, a sonic landscape to discover." We'll be re-discovering it this week on KDFC!


 

Week of May 4

Brahms: The Hungarian Connection
Andreas Ottensamer, clarinet


Austrian clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer has released a new album which explores the connections Johannes Brahms had to Hungarian folk music. Joined by a virtuoso ensemble of musicians, Ottensamer performs the Brahms' Clarinet Quintet combined with Hungarian dances and waltzes by Brahms, all newly arranged to include additional material from Brahms' original musical sources, with an authentic folk twist.


 

Week of April 13

Great Comedy Overtures
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Lance Friedel


American Lance Friedel leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a collection of popular comic opera overtures on our CD of the Week. These exuberant pieces are filled with gorgeous tunes, brilliant orchestrations, and race-to-the-finish endings. Included are well-loved curtain-raisers to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Susanna's Secret, Donna Diana,  The Barber of Bagdad, and more. It's great to have new recordings of these long-time hits!


 

Week of April 6

The Salzburg Recital
Grigory Sokolov


Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov (64) has released relatively few recordings in his distinguished career. He prefers the live experience of playing before an audience. This new CD is his first in nearly twenty years and captures the immediacy of his artistry in a live recording from the 2008 Salzburg Festival. The program ranged from Rameau to Scriabin, with Mozart and Chopin in between. We will be sampling tracks from this release all week on KDFC, including selections from the six (!) encores he performed on the occasion. The Daily Telegraph wrote: "Listening to Sokolov, you know unequivocally that you are in the presence of someone extraordinary."


 

Week of March 30

Mozart: Piano Concertos and More
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet


The latest from the irrepressible LAGQ features their arrangement of music from 15th and 16th century Spain and France, including a suite from an adaptation of Cervantes' "Don Quixote," which starred John Cleese. Great playing, spacious sound, fun music and castanets! Listen for tracks all week and find out more on our CD of the Week page at kdfc.com


 

Week of March 16

Seascapes
Janice Weber


Coming soon from American pianist (and fiction author) Janice Weber is Seascapes, a collection of piano pieces inspired by the ocean. Each piece evokes a different sense of the sea's limitless moods and splendor. The diverse line-up of composers represented includes Bedrich Smetana, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Emil von Sauer, Ernst Bloch, and many others. Weber is a member of the piano faculty at the Boston Conservatory and is also a successful writer. Her books are noted for their bawdy, dark humor and their female protagonists.

Week of March 9

Wagner: Preludes And Interludes
Fabio Luisi conducts Philharmonia Zurich


Italian maestro Fabio Luisi is an internationally acclaimed conductor, especially of opera. Luisi is principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and took over much of the conducting duties there during the recent 2-year absence of music director James Levine. He is also the director of the Zurich Opera and now, with the Philharmonia Zurich, he has released a collection of purely orchestral selections from the operas of Richard Wagner. Included are the Preludes to Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Meistersinger, and Parsifal. Plus The Ride of the Valkyries and orchestral passages from Gotterdammerung and the famous (infamous?) Love-Death from Tristan and Isolde The 2-CD set of Preludes and Interludes by Wagner, will be sampled generously on the air all this week on KDFC.

Week of March 2

Chopin, Schumann: Etudes
Valentina Lisitsa. piano


Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa is the poster child for all artists hoping to use social media to promote their career. She really gets it and has forged a connection with her followers that is the envy of many of her peers. Her latest release is all piano etudes by two great masters. She plays the two sets by Chopin (Op.10 and Op. 25) plus the Symphonic Etudes, Op.13 of Robert Schumann. Listen for excerpts on the air this week from KDFC.

Week of February 24

Avi Avital: Vivaldi
Venice Baroque Orchestra


Israeli mandolin master, Avi Avital has had a lot of experience transcribing music to fit his instrument since there is relatively little music written specially for the mandolin. In the case of the Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C, however, he has the pleasure of performing a great work in its original form. That being said, this new recording also contains a host of Avital's nimble transcriptions, from Vivaldi Concertos for lute, violin, and recorder, to a Venetian Gondolier song, sung by one of today's most popular tenors, Juan Diego Florez. We'll be featuring tracks from this new CD throughout this week on KDFC.

Week of January 26

Miami Grands
Michael Torke


American composer Michael Torke might be best-known for his "color" pieces like Bright Blue Music and Ecstatic Orange. A work that he wrote for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Javelin, is also quite popular. Now he has released an unusual work, scored for ten grand pianos called Miami Grands. The impetus for the work came from the group, The Miami Piano Circle, which is made up of, you guessed it, ten pianos! Torke writes, "Each of the twelve movements represents various Miami neighborhoods at different times of the day." We'll wander from Coral Gables to Little Havana this week on KDFC with music that's brand new!

Week of January 19

2015 New Year's Concert
Vienna Philharmonic with Conductor Zubin Mehta


Since 1939, the Vienna Philharmonic has performed a concert on New Year's Day under the direction of one of the world's great conductors. 2015 saw the return of Zubin Mehta to the podium of the venerable Musikverein for a concert filled, as usual, with the sounds of the Strauss family, as well as some surprises. Listen for tracks from this "fresh-off-the-presses" recording throughout the week on KDFC.

Week of December 15

Candlelight Carols - Music for Chorus & Harp 
Jacqueline Kerrod


Candlelight Carols is new from the Grammy-nominated American group Seraphic Fire. It features lesser-known Christmas carols with harp accompaniment. Listen for the "unique collaboration between the pure, crystalline harp and warm, resonant voices." Selections from Britten's Ceremony of Carols, Morton Lauridsen's Lux aeterna, and a work by Bay Area composer Kirke Meachem are stand-outs.

The Wonder of Christmas 
Elora Festival Singers


Our second recording this week is called The Wonder of Christmas and it is new from the Elora Festival Singers. Christmas is the season for great choral groups to shine and this disc is a good example of that very thing. The music ranges from much-loved settings of old favorites to new works, from polyphony to more straightforward melodies, in a recital stretching from the Middle Ages to the music of today.

Week of December 8

Christmas at Downton Abbey

Lady Grantham sings! Actress Elizabeth McGovern is among the Downton Abbey stars featured on this 2-CD set, new for the holidays. We also hear from Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) and Julian Ovenden who plays Charles Blake on the show (one of Lady Mary's current suitors). But for the most part, Christmas at Downton Abbey features performances of Christmas favorites by such established groups as the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, the Taverner Choir and Consort, and the boys choir, Libera. There are also selections with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who appeared on the show as Nellie Melba last season.


 

Week of December 1

A Harp for Christmas, Volume II
Emily Mitchell, harp

The KDFC Sounds of the Season are underway with a sprinkling of the best in classical Christmas music throughout your day. We'll be showcasing new Christmas recordings through 
December 25th, beginning this week with A Harp for Christmas, Volume II with internationally-renowned harpist, Emily Mitchell. The disc features 21 favorite carols arranged for solo harp by Gary Schoker. Here's to the Holidays!

Week of November 17

Bach: Orchestral Suites
Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr


Fresh from their appearance at Cal Performances last week, the Academy of Ancient Music has released a new 2-CD recording of the Bach Suites. Bach's Orchestral Suites are a series of dances which pay homage to the French baroque style as championed by the ballet-obessed Louis XIV. In this new recording, Richard Egarr employs a one-person-to-a-part approach which gives a sparkling clarity to the performances.

Week of November 10

Joel Fan: Dances for Piano and Orchestra
Northwest Sinfonietta/Christophe Chagnard


American pianist Joel Fan may be best-known for his association with Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Project. You might also remember that a while back we selected his "West of the Sun" CD as a KDFC CD of the Week. Joel is back with a new release of music for piano plus orchestra but don't think concertos. This is the anti-concerto CD. These are pieces which are not quite as formal as a concerto and feature a different kind of interplay between the orchestra and the soloist. They include the Pierne Fantasie-Ballet, the Chopin Krakowiak, and the Wedding Cake caprice waltz by Saint-Saens. Fan,45, is from New York City and studied at Juilliard, Harvard, and the Peobody Conservatory in Baltimore.

Week of November 3

Masterpieces in Miniature
San Francisco Symphony


In honor of their twentieth season together, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony release Masterpieces in Miniature, a collection of short orchestral works, all recorded live in performance at Davies Symphony Hall. With this collection, MTT shares some of his most treasured musical memories.


 

Week of October 6

Blanc
Angele Dubeau, La Pieta


For Breast Cancer Awareness month, KDFC revisits the CD Blanc (White) from Angele Dubeau and her ensemble, La Pieta. Dubeau recently survived a battle with breast cancer and credits this music with helping her stay the course. Since its initial release in March, Blanc has inspired thousands of messages of thanks from women and men around the world who have been comforted by the music on this recording. For each CD sold, $2 will be donated to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.  

Week of September 29

Igor Kamenz Plays Scarlatti
Igor Kamenz, pianist


Introducing Russian pianist, Igor Kamenz. Although he's been on the scene for a while and has 9 CDs to his name, the 40-something pianist only recently made his New York City debut in August. Kamenz was born in 1968 in the Far East corner of Russia, near the Chinese border. He began conducting as a young child and even led performance at the Kremlin when he was just 9 years old! On this new recording, he explores the Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, presenting a program of 18 selections from the more than 500 pieces written for solo keyboard by the Italian.


Week of September 22

The Flatterer - Piano Music of Cecile Chaminade
Joanne Polk, piano


Joanne Polk, noted pianist and champion of music by female composers, makes her debut on the Steinway label with an irresistible collection of Chaminade’s piano works. Recorded by Grammy-winning producer Steven Epstein, the album celebrates an underrated composer whose music deserves a wide audience.



 

Week of September 8

Dances
Benjamin Grosvenor


The British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor just turned 22 and he just made his SF Symphony debut last week but the factoid I like best about him is that he's the 5th of 5 brothers! His poor mother. In fact it was mom who gave young Ben his first piano lessons. This CD boasts a fun line-up of pieces: from Bach to Boogie Woogie; via Chopin, Granados, Albeniz, Scriabin and the Blue Danube.

Week of September 15

Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album
Daniel Hope


The versatile British violinist, Daniel Hope, shines a new light on Hollywood scores in his latest CD, which seeks out the "echoes of exiled European composers" who escaped to Hollywood during the 30's. Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album includes music of Miklos Rozsa, Erich Korngold, Franz Waxman, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, and others. Even Sting stops by to provide some haunting vocals!

Week of August 25

Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4
Maria Joao Pires, piano
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Harding, conductor


2 CDWs this week on KDFC, both showcasing great Piano Concertos. In the case of Maria Joao Pires' new recording of Beethoven's 3rd and 4th Concertos, we have an experienced interpreter of these masterpieces, reflecting an "intimate and deeply personal relationship with Beethoven's genius". Pires dedicates this CD to the late conductor Claudio Abbado. Daniel Harding conducts the Swedish Radio Symphony.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1/Chopin: Piano Concerto #1
Ingolf Wunder, piano
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor


The second recording featured this week on KDFC is new from the young Austrian pianist  Ingolf Wunder. In this live performance from the 2012 White Nights festival in St. Petersburg, Wunder teams with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the legendary Vladimir Ashkenazy for two of the biggest hits in the repertory, the Tchaikovsky and Chopin First Concertos.

Week of August 18

Sarasate Transciptions
Tuianwa Yang, violin/Markus Hadulla, piano


The 19th-century Spanish virtuoso, Pablo de Sarasate, was the most successful violinist of all time. No other instrumentalist, not even Paganini, commanded higher fees. Many great composers wrote expressly for him and he, himself, composed a number of memorable violin showpieces, many of which were transcriptions. In this fourth volume of Sarasate transcriptions and arrnagements on the Naxos label, Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang and German pianist Markus Hadulla, perform works based on both familiar pieces (Bach's Air in G), as well as lesser known originals, (a Violin Sonata by on Jean-Pierre Guignon).

Week of August 11

Motherland
Khatia Buniatishvilli


For her third release on the Sony label, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvilli has put together a highly personal program of pieces which express a longing for home, for peace, or for freedom. From Bach to Arvo Part, from Brahms to her countryman, Giya Kancheli, Motherland presents a diverse array of composers, eras, and genres. 


Week of August 4

Concerto: Venice - The Golden Age
Xenia Loeffler, oboe/Academy for Ancient Music, Berlin


German Xenia Loeffler plays Baroque oboe concertos with Berlin's Academy for Ancient Music on this new disc. In addition to one and two-oboe concertos by Venice's favorite son, Antonio Vivaldi, the recording includes works by two lesser-known Venetians: Giovanni Porta and Carlo Tessarini; plus the well-loved Oboe Concerto by the Venetian nobleman, Alessandro Marcello. Of special interest is the Oboe Concerto which opens the CD, a contemporary work inspired by the Venetian masters newly penned by Uri Rom.

Week of July 21

Stravinsky: Solo Piano Works
Jenny Lin


This week we feature two new releases from the American pianist, Jenny Lin. Born in Taiwan in 1973, Lin spent her early childhood in Austria, and emigrated to the United States when she was 14. She studied music at the Peobody Institute and also got a degree in German from Johns Hopkins. "If you enjoy Stravinsky and/or bravura pianism, this one is a no-brainer." Lynn Renee Bayley in Fanfare. Lin's adventurous choices have led her to Stravinsky's solo piano pieces, which pack as much theatricality as his larger and louder and better-known works.





 
Night Stories - Nocturnes for Solo Piano
Jenny Lin


Lin's Night Stories includes Nocturnes by Chopin (of course) but also impressions of the night like Debussy's Clair de lune and Charles Tomlinson Griffes' The Night Winds and many other seriously evocative night pieces.




 

Week of July 14

Aranjuez 
Milos Karadaglic 


For his third album, the young Montenegrin guitarist, Milos, takes the super popular Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo as the starting point for a journey across the Spanish landscape, paying tribute to the great composers and musicians who placed the modern classical guitar firmly on the international stage. The disc also includes works by Falla and Rodrigo's second most popular work, Fantasia para un gentilhombre.




 
Spanish Dances
Brazilian Guitar Quartet


Founded in 1998, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet is made up of two 6-string guitars and two 8-string guitars. The group's latest album’s eighteen tracks are derived primarily from piano works by six of the best-known 20th-century Spanish composers: Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Joaquin Rodrigo, Federico Mompou and Joaquin Turina.

Week of July 7

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
Saleem Ashkar, piano


Just released is a disc of music by Felix Mendelssohn performed by Mendelssohn's own orchestra. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra these days is under the direction of the Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly and he has put together a Mendelssohn program which includes incidental music to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as the two Piano Concertos with the Nazareth-born Saleem Ashkar as soloist.

 

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