Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Top Ten Winter Music List (Part 2)
Next story: Seasonal Entertaining & Holiday Cocktails

Local Classical Music Gifts

A Banner Year for Local Classical music Cd's

This has been great year for classical music lovers who look forward to reliving, via CDs, some of the most memorable live performances by locally based music-producing organizations, and the very talented individuals from these organizations who step up from the ranks to a very well-earned place in the spotlight, as soloists.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

When it comes to recording classical CDs, BPO music director JoAnn Falletta and BPO executive director Daniel Hart, along with all the musicians of the orchestra, have been doing all the right things this year. The BPO has enjoyed a longstanding and very successful relationship with the Naxos record company that has resulted in the orchestra developing the highest international reputation in its history. As Chairman of Naxos, Klaus Heymann has singlehandedly changed the face of the classical music recording industry, issuing 241 new CD's this year alone. It says volumes about the quality of the BPO that two of the 24 CD's that Heymann just announced as his favorites issued by his company this year, were recorded by the BPO.

Reinhold Glière: Symphony No. 3 ‘Il'ya Muromets' - Naxos 8.573161

In some ways, the BPO's entire last season was built around Glière's massive, late romantic symphony ‘Il'ya Muromets' which is very rarely performed live in its complete version, due both to its length and the massive orchestral forces needed. Due to the dedication of JoAnn Falletta and the musicians, the BPO used an extended rehearsal period to reach the very peak of perfection when it offered rare performances of Gliere's monumental 1913 work, both at Carnegie Hall and at Kleinhans, where the work was subsequently recorded by Naxos. The result has been universal critical acclaim, in over two dozen reviews in the most respected classical music publications, including the BBC Music magazine whose reviewer noted “Falletta and her excellent orchestra give a visceral account of the score projecting its wide range of moods, from mystery and enchantment to violence and tragic intensity.”

Béla Bartók: Kossuth; Two Portraits; Suite No. 1, Op. 3, Sz.60 - Naxos 8.573307

Before he became one of the doyens of 20th century musical modernism, Bartók demonstrated a remarkable ability to compose highly effective symphonic works in the late-Romantic idiom, illustrated perhaps best in his Kossuth. Based on the life of the national hero of the 1848 Hungarian revolt against Hapsburg rule, BPO concertmaster Michael Ludwig evokes a wonderfully heartfelt portrayal of Kossuth in his doomed effort. Disappointment in love was the impetus for Two Portraits, with Bartók recycling material for a concerto composed for a violinist who ultimately rejected him. As with the Glière symphony, this recording has also enjoyed universal acclaim, in more than a dozen reviews.

Built for Buffalo - Beau Fleuve Records 610708-094951

In addition to Naxos connection, the BPO has also released many CDs through the Buffalo-based Beau Fleuve Record Company, run by the husband and wife team of Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio, Buffalo's internationally acclaimed guitar duo. Perhaps the most exciting release of this long-standing collaboration is this CD spotlighting members of the orchestra as soloists in a trio of new works commissioned by the BPO. Triple Concerto for Three Trombones and Orchestra by Eric Ewazen highlights BPO trombonists Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith and Jeffrey Dee in a rare, yet highly effective exploration of the musical possibilities of featuring three similar brass instruments in a solo role. Michael Ludwig has performed Daron Hagen's Songbook for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion on two different occasions with the BPO, and the slightly revised second version on this CD deftly captures the genuinely American folk spirit of the work. The prolific Miguel del Águila says that he composed his Concierto en Tango, Op. 110 for Cello and Orchestra for BPO principal cellist Roman Mekinulov, after Mekinulov “suggested the idea of writing a concerto in tango form that would explore the less classical sound and technique of the cello,” and the highly atmospheric result incorporates both traditional 19th century tango and modern tango nuevo idioms.

Joseph Achron: Violin and Piano Music - Naxos 8.573240

A child prodigy on the violin, Joseph Achron always considered himself to be a performer, rather than a composer. Remembered only for his intensely dramatic Hebrew Melody, a favorite of violin great Jascha Heifetz, the other works on this CD for violin and piano as interpreted by former BPO concertmaster Michael Ludwig, and Eastman School of Music pianist Alison d'Amato, one of the most accomplished pianists currently performing in Western New York, amply demonstrate that Achron was not a one hit wonder. As critic Terry Robins noted, “Michael Ludwig's big, rich tone is perfectly suited to the style and nature of Achron's music, deeply influenced as it was by Jewish folklore and melodies, and he and d'Amato give performances that are idiomatic and technically stunning.”

BPO CDs will be available at the Holiday Pops concerts this weekend and at the BPO box office, or online at

Camerata di Sant'Antonio

The Camerata di Sant'Antonio issued its first CD, ‘Soloisti di Camerata' back in 2011 featuring some of the group's musicians in solo roles, under the finely judged baton of music director Christopher Weber, and it has followed up that winning production by simultaneously just issuing Volumes II and III in what has now become the Soloisti di Camerata Series.

Soloisti di Camerata Vol. II

features the Camerata's oboist Paul Schlossman, who has laid down his oboe and picked up his English horn for a sensitive performance of Colin Bumbry's Scena for English Horn and Orchestra. Violinists Shieh-Jian Tsai and Marilynn Kregal are joined by cellist Eva Herer in a taut performance of the Concerto Grosso in G, Op. 6 No. 1 by Handel, while violinist Antoine Lefebvre and violist Valerie Heywood offer an ideally singing conversation between their two instruments in Mozart's delightful Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K. 364. Cellist Feng Hew is the featured soloist in the premiere recording of Whistler Waves, an ethereally atmospheric work by the currently Buffalo-based composer Caroline Mallonée.

In Soloisti di Camerata Vol. III,

Shieh-Jian Tsai is the nimble-fingered soloist in the challenging, pyrotechnically dazzling Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra by Alexander Arutiunian, while pianist Justin Pomietlarz ably captures the mood of reverie that haunts Gerald Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings. Oboist Paul Schlossman engages in a heartfelt dialogue with violinist Diana Sachs in Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin in c minor, BMV 1060, while capturing the haunting beauty of Gabriel’s Oboe, a solo piece from Ennio Morricone’s film score for The Mission, a work that he performed at the Camerata’s concert just last Saturday. Alfred Frenning, who plays several very different instruments at a professional level, is at the piano keyboard, where he is joined by violinist Sachs and cellist Herer in a rhythmically exciting performance of Tres Piezas par Orquestra de Cámera by Astor Piazzolla, the master of the modern tango.

For more information: 856-3626

blog comments powered by Disqus