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Country Tributes

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Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited (Sony Legacy, 2 CDs, $14.98) – Bristol, Virginia is right on the Virginia-Tennessee border (and not too far from western North Carolina). For two weeks in July and August, 1927, producer Ralph Peer, from the Victor Talking Machine Company (makers of  “Orthophonic Victrolas”), set up recording sessions for local musicians, hoping to find new stars. He found two of the greatest: Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family made their first recordings in Bristol, and the sessions have taken on iconic status in the history of country music. There is now The Birthplace of Country Music Museum and festivals in Bristol celebrating this history.

Producer Carl Jackson has assembled some of today’s stars to pay tribute to the songs recorded in 1927, among them Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton, Ashley Monroe, Vince Gill, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Brad Paisley, the Church Sisters, Keb’ Mo’, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Eddie Stubbs, WSM DJ (voice of the Grand Old Opry, and former fiddler of the Johnson Mountain Boys) narrates the story of the original Bristol sessions between each track, with snippets of the1927 originals.

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, Django & Jimmie (Sony Legacy, $12.98) – Over the years, both Willie Nelson Merle Haggard have paid tribute to Jimmie Rodgers—and Willie has always acknowledges Django Reinhardt’s guitar playing as influencing his own swinging approach. They also pay tribute in song to Johnny Cash (with guest Bobby Bare), and sing the new cannabis anthem, “It’s All Going to Pot.”

NOTE: Willie Nelson & Family will be at Merriweather Post Pavilion on August 19.


New Classical

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András Schiff, Schubert: Piano Works (ECM Records, 2 CDs, $35.98) – Pianist András Schiff was inspired by playing on a 1820 Franz Brodmann fortepiano from Schubert’s era. He writes in the booklet notes that he is now a “convert” to the “period instrument” movement—because it brings out colors and dynamics different from modern pianos. He uses the mellower sound of the fortepiano to span the widest dynamic range, from fortissimo to the softest pianissimo passages, using the instrument’s extra “moderator” pedal. Schiff plays the Piano Sonatas No. 18 and 22, Moments Musicaux, Four Impromtus, the Allegretto, D 915, and the Hungarian Melody, D817.

Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica, New Seasons (Deutsche Grammophon, $18.98) – Violinist Gidon Kremer returns with his chamber orchestra to the theme of “seasons” pairing two major works: Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (The American Seasons), and  Giya Kancheli’s  Ex Contrario, The two shorter works are Arvo Pärt’s Estonian Lullaby, and Shigeru Umebayashi’s  Yumeji’s Theme (from In the Mood for Love).

Grieg: Lyric Pieces (Hyperion, $18.98) – Edvard Grieg wrote his Lyric Pieces throughout his life. Pianist Stephen Hough chose 27 of the 66, and plays these memorable miniatures. The Guardian wrote, “All of the pieces are small-scale…but, as his playing suggests, that doesn’t mean the music needs to seem precious or fragile. The bright, sometimes spiky piano tone and the forthright way he tackles the faster numbers give a real robustness to some passages. The contrast with his quiet playing, every note perfectly placed and coloured, is superbly effective.”


New CDs (and Big Summer Tours)

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Florence and the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Republic Records, $12.98) – June 9, at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Mumford & Sons, Wilder Mind (Glassnote, $15.98) – June 10, at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Belle & Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador Records, $14.98) – June 11, at Echostage, DC

My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall (ATO Records, $12.98) – July 26, at Merriweather Post Pavilion Indigo Girls, One Lost Day (Vanguard, $15.98) – July 28, at Wolf Trap