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Music News 03/05/2014

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CD CoverBryce Dessner: St. Carolyn by the Sea & Jonny Greenwood, Suite from “There Will Be Blood” (Deutsche Grammophon, $16.98) – Both Bryce Dessner (guitarist/composerfrom the National) and Jonny Greenwood (guitarist and keyboardist from Radiohead) have had long-standing interest in symphonic music as well as rock. Dessner released a great recording of his string quartets played by the Kronos last year. His three-movement title work interweaves a subtle electric guitar into the orchestra. Greenwood’s suite from his score to There Will Be Blood (with echoes of Penderecki and Ligeti) rounds out the album, with the Copenhagen Phil, conducted by André de Ridder.

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CD CoverVijay Iyer, Mutations (ECM, $18.98) – Pianist Vijay Iyer is also expanding his compositional range. He’s released some of the best jazz albums of the past few years (Historicity, and Accelerando), and collaborated on the multimedia spoken word project, Holding it Down:The Veteran’s Dream Project. He also won a MacArthur “genius” grant. Mutations is his first album with ECM Records, and the first with classical musicians. There are three compositions for solo piano (and electronic textures), and the title work, a  ten-part suite featuring string quartet (Miranda Cuckson, Michi Wiancko, Kyle Armbrust, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman) and piano,  and combines written and improvisational “instructions.”  

CD CoverJeffrey Mumford, Through a Stillness Brightening (Troy/Albany Records, 2 CDs, $34.98) – Violinist Miranda Cuckson is also featured on composer Jeffrey Mumford’s 2-CD album of recent works. Mr. Mumford was born and grew up in Washington, and returned last February for a residency at the National Gallery of Art Music Department, which included three concerts of his works (three of those works are on the CDs, recorded live). Ms Cuckson is featured in the solo, an expanding distance of multiple voices, and with the Argento Chamber Ensemble on through a stillness brightening. There are also works for solo piano (two tributes to Elliott Carter), viola solo and duet, solo cello, and string quartet. These are wonderful and challenging chamber music works.

CD CoverGidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica, Mieczyslaw Weinberg (ECM, 2 CDs, $35.98)
There is a resurgence of interest in the works Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996), and one of his strongest advocates is violinist Gidon Kremer. Weinberg was born in Warsaw, fled to the Soviet Union in 1939, and was friends with Shostakovich (another great supporter). Weinberg’s Holocaust-themed opera, The Passenger, was recently performed in Houston, and will come to New York in the summer. His chamber music and symphonic works are also being revived. Mr. Kremer assembles a “portrait album” over two CDs, from the early Concertino op. 42 (1948) to the Sonata No. 3 op. 126 (1979). Also included are the Trio op. 48, the Sonatina op. 46, and the Symphony No. 10 op. 98.

Concert

CD CoverThe Gregory Porter Quartet at the Library of Congress, Saturday, March 8. Mr. Porter won the 2014 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Liquid Spirit (Blue Note, $14.98). Get to the concert early for the few remaining free waiting-list tickets.