Discover New Music with KDFC's CDs of the Week!
Tune in throughout the week for tracks from KDFC’s CD of the Week. More to discover with KDFC and KDFC.com.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Week of June 30
"Hidden Treasures" is a collection of short, captivating pieces arranged for clarinet and piano featuring clarinetist, Seunghee Lee. Born in Seoul and raised in Chicago, Seunghee Lee received her Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Charles Neidich and a Master's degree from Yale as a student of David Shifrin. Lee is also an accomplished golfer (under her married name, Sunny Kang). She recently spoke at TEDx Hong Kong
about the surprising similarities between golf and music, and the mental challenges in both fields as viewed through the lens of a perfectionist. Evan Solomon accompanies on piano. Check out the track listings for specifics.
Week of June 23
The Silver Album
Anne-Sophie Mutter/Lambert Orkis
With this special 2-CD collection, the celebrated German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her piano partner, American Lambert Orkis mark 25 years of “a level of artistic partnership that is rare, even in the highest echelons of concert performance” (Seattle Times). Mutter says, “Meeting Lambert was a stroke of luck for me. It quickly became clear how perfectly we breathe and phrase together. With Lambert I can do anything.” The Silver Album includes world-premiere recordings of works by Andre Previn (Mutter's former husband) and Krzysztof Penderecki plus new recordings of Ravel and Massenet.
Week of June 16
Mozart: Violin Concertos 3, 4 & 5
This week we're listening to two new recordings with a lot in common. They both feature women violinists who have Japanese mothers and German fathers. Plus both artists have chosen to perform concertos from a composer who is a pillar of the classical period. Midori Seiler plays Concertos 1,3,& 4 by Haydn and Arabella Steinbacher plays Mozart's 3,4,& 5 Concertos.
Joseph Haydn: Violin Concertos
Week of June 9
A Scottish Soldier
Captain Tobias Hume
Tobias Hume was a Scottish Michael Praetorius in the sense that he collected and published music from his time (the early 1600's) and may have composed some of the tunes himself. It wasn't until 1991 that we knew for certain Hume's nationality. Apparently, he was in the service of James VI and his consort, Queen Anne of Denmark and received from her some kind of payment, the newly-discovered receipt for which refers to him as a Scottish musician. Based on titles alone, you have to like this guy. Track 16 is "tickle, tickle; Tickle me quickly". The Concerto Caledonia performs.
West Side Story
SF Symphony/ Michael Tilson Thomas
This is the release that everyone's been waiting for. If you were in the audience at Davies for these performances, you know that they were something special. Now you can relive the magic. With Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber as Tony and Maria, this recording of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story sets a new standard for this greatly-loved American classic.
Week of June 2
Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Carl Goldmark, Rubin Goldmark
Hungarian violinist Orsolya Korcsolan brings us back to a "colorful, turbulent and exotic place" with a recital of short pieces by three "Gold" composers. Beginning with the Viennese, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who was a child prodigy and eventually a sought-after Hollywood film composer. Second, is Carl Goldmark, who was the pride of Hungary during the late 19th and early 20th-centuries. The third "Gold" composer is his nephew, the American, Rubin Goldmark, who famously taught Aaron Copland and George Gershwin. The disc also includes as a bonus the only surviving piece of Robert Dauber who was killed at Dachau in 1945.
Week of May 26
Myung Whun Chung
This week we feature a very personal solo piano recording from the renowned Korean-born conductor, Myung Whun Chung. Although piano was Maestro Chung's first instrument, he no longer considers himself a "real" pianist. He was persuaded to make this recording by his son (who works for the label) "as a gift for his grandkids." The program includes familiar works by Debussy, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Mozart and was made at the historic La Fenice Theater in Venice.
Week of May 19
PLAY: Works for Cello and Piano
Edgar Moreau, cello
Pierre-Yves Hodique, piano
PLAY is the debut CD for 19-year-old French cellist Edgar Moreau, who won the Young Soloist Prize at the 2009 Rostropovich Competition in Paris and the Silver Medal at the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The CD gives him a chance to show off the many voices of the cello, from the fireworks on Monti’s “Csardas” to the tender lyricism of Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” to the outright silliness of Francaix’s “Mouvement perpetual.” He is definitely up to the challenge, and this should be the start of a beautiful career.
Week of May 12
An Englishman in New York
Joe Brent & Alon Sariel
American mandolinist Joe Brent has teamed up with Israeli lutenist Alon Sariel for what they call “Impressions of John Dowland’s Lute Music” (the CD was recorded in Brooklyn – thus the New York connection). Trading off instruments, and using some newly designed mandolins created especially for this project, Brent and Sariel breathe new life into Dowland’s works with their own arrangements based on Renaissance originals.
Week of April 28
Some Other Time: American Classics for Cello and Piano
Zuill Bailey and Lara Downes
Pianist Lara Downes and cellist Zuill Bailey admit to a nostalgia for that period in American music when families gathered around their radios to hear the Saturday broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and around their TV sets to watch Leonard Bernstein's Young Peoples' Concerts. "It's not a world we grew up in, but it's a world we dearly want to see.", says Downes. This new collection of transcriptions and concert pieces is a reflection of that "golden generation" with selections by Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Aaron Copland, and Samuel Barber. The CD title, "Some Other Time", refers to the wistful tune from Bernstein's On the Town which opens the disc.
Week of April 21
is the debut CD of guitarist Mak Grgic (pronounced Mock GER-gitch). It combines classical standards (Asturias, Sheep May Safely Graze, the Albinoni Adagio) with familiar tunes from the world of cinema like Chariots of Fire, Gabriel's Oboe
, and the Cavatina
from The Deer Hunter
. Originally from Slovenia, 26 year-old Grgic is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree at USC and is studying with William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant of the LA Guitar Quartet.
Week of April 14
The young German violin virtuoso, Julia Fischer, channels the spirit and artistry of her 19th-century counterpart, Pablo de Sarasate in this new recording of violin showpieces by the Spanish master. Described as "fiendishly challenging", the program includes the popular Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) and the complete set of Spanish Dances. Pianist Milana Chernyavska accompanies.
Week of March 24
Mozart: Piano Concertos and More
Karin Kei Nagano
Pianist Karin Kei Nagano was born in Berkeley in 1998(!) She is the daughter of the conductor Kent Nagano and the renowned Japanese pianist Mari Kodama. Following in her parents musical footsteps, Karin has just released a recording of Mozart's Concertos 12 &13. She is joined by the Cecilia String Quartet in Mozart's own rarely-heard arrangements for piano and string quartet.
Schumann: Carnaval; Papillons; Sonata In G Minor
The Bay Area's own Jon Nakamatsu has a new recording of music for the piano by the great Romantic composer, Robert Schumann. Included are the suites, Carnaval and Papillons (Butterflies), as well as the Sonata in g minor. Since winning the Gold Medal at the Tenth Van Cliburn Competition, Jon has enjoyed a busy concert career around the world. This Thursday he's back home in Saratoga for a sold-out recital at the Montalvo Arts Center.
Week of March 17
The Beethoven Journey: Piano Concertos 2 & 4
Leif Ove Andsnes
This is the follow-up to Leif's recording of the concertos 1 & 3, again with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Andsnes himself as both soloist and conductor. Of the Beethoven Piano Concertos, the Norwegian says, "this is music that feeds me constantly with joy, surprise, and discovery".
Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 7
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recently marked 42 years of great (conductor-less) performances. Their latest recording is the first self-produced album for the group (which had been on the Deutsche Grammophon label pretty much forever) featuring what are arguably Beethoven's two best-loved symphonies: #5 & #7.
Week of March 10
Sojourn: The Very Best Of Xuefei Yang
This week on KDFC we feature a "greatest hits" compilation from the Chinese guitarist, Xuefei Yang. These are highlights from her best-selling CDs, personally chosen by Xuefei (or simply "Faye" to her English-speaking friends.) There's classic music from her homeland, including The Butterfly Lovers, as well as the exquisite Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo from the spiritual home of the guitar, Spain.
Week of March 18th
Who was August Nolck (1862-1928)? The notes which accompany this new CD describe him as a respected and well-published cello teacher of his day, a director of the Vienna Conservatory and a "voice from the great German cello tradition of the 19th century." His name appears in none of the standard music dictionaries, so this disc is a very refreshing discovery of some great Romantic melodies. Americans Beth Vanderborgh and Theresa Bogard bring to life a sampling of Nolck's Salon Music for cello and piano resulting in a musical journey back to a golden period in Vienna's musical history. Hear selections from this new recording on the air throughout this week. Remember that your CD purchase here benefits listener-supported KDFC.
Week of March 11th
Pianist Lara Downes has become known for her thought-provoking musical concepts. She recently released "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Goldberg" in which she asked thirteen composers to write companion pieces to Bach's Variations. Her latest CD project is an exploration of musical miniatures created by composers in exile. Downes describes the Exiles' Cafe as "a place both real and metaphorical where travelers gather to find a home away from home." Composers represented include Chopin, Kurt Weill, Rachmaninoff, William Grant Still, Milhaud, and many others. Be sure to listen to Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr's conversation with Lara on a recent edition of KDFC's The State of the Arts and look for her this April when she hosts a new series at Yoshi's SF called "The Artist Sessions".
Week of March 4th
Cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio is a founding member of the Grammy-winning Eroica Trio. The Chopin Collection is her 4th solo recording and has garnered praise from, among others, Grammophone Magazine: "These performances grab you by the ears and refuse to let you go." (Ouch!) The New York Times wrote: "There is an irresistible warmth in everything Miss Sant'Ambrogio does." The CD (which is also available as a 2 GB Flash Drive) features pianist Robert Koenig in 11 Chopin selections. Tracks from this new recording will be showcased on the air all this week.
Week of February 25th
Would you believe a recording that celebrates planetary movement as an existential source of music, a concept historically known as "the music of the spheres"? That's the idea behind the latest release from the English violinist Daniel Hope. Hope explains,"My idea was to bring together works from different centuries, united by the age-old question: is there anything out there?" The disc includes four world premiere recordings plus contemporary arrangements of pieces by Bach and Faure. There are also selections by Karl Jenkins, Ludovico Einaudi, and Philip Glass. This CD is literally "out there"! Listen for excerpts from Spheres on the air all this week.
Week of January 7th
What a journey! Composer Percy Grainger was born in Melbourne, Australia (in 1882) and died in White Plains, New York (1961)! In between, he spent a great deal of time in England and the rest of Europe, perfecting his unique style of composing and trying to satisfy his hunger for musical discoveries. This new CD presents a selection of his folk-inspired music for piano duet. Included are familiar works like Molly on the Shore and Handel in the Strand as well as the super popular Country Gardens. Of special interest is the Fantasy on Gershiwn's Porgy and Bess. The Bilder Duo of Germany performs. As with all of our CDs of the Week, we'll be featuring tracks on the air. Your purchase here benefits listener-supported KDFC.