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CD CoverDavid Bowie, Blackstar (ISO/Columbia Records, $12.98) – The details of David Bowie’s new album, released this Friday on his 69th birthday, was very hush-hush, until Nate Chinen’s article in Tuesday’s New York Times detailed how thoroughly Bowie had collaborated on the project with a jazz quartet led by tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin. The group, which also includes keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana, is adept at combing sounds ranging from straight-ahead jazz to influences from dance and electronica. Bowie had previously enlisted the Maria Schneider Big Band (in which McCaslin is a member) on a recent song, “Sue” (which is reworked on Blackstar in a new arrangement). This is an exciting way to start the New Year—and listen to another chapter in Bowie’s creative career.


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Cellist Sol Gabetta has two new albums:

Beethoven: Triple Concerto (Sony Classical, $12.98) with some exciting compatriots: the adventurous pianist Dejan Laizic and violinist Giuliano Carmignola, most renowned as the soloist with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, as well as the Kammerorchester Basel, conducted by Giovanni Anonini.

Vasks: Presence (Sony Classical, $12.98) with works by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks.


CD CoverDiana Damrau, Fiamma del Belcanto (Erato, $16.99) – Soprano Diana Damrau turns to the bel canto repertoire, featuring great arias by Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi. She is accompanied by the Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino under Gianandrea Noseda—just announced this week as the next conductor of the National Symphony.

NOTE: Ms. Damrau is now starring in a new production of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, at the Metropolitan Opera, with the Orchestra conducted by Mr. Noseda, through February 4.


Channel Classics, Gramophone’s Label of the Year:  Free Sampler

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Channel Classics, founded 25 years ago by engineer Jared Sacks, is famously regarded for its superb surround-sound recordings, and its commitment to its roster of artists, led by violinist Rachel Podger, cellist Peter Wispelwey, and conductor Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra. It also champions fascinating projects like Dejan Lazic’s Scarlatti/Bartók recital, or the many Holland Baroque Meets collaborations.

A recent example is Sounds & Clouds: Holland Baroque Meets Jeremias Schwarzer, Recorder: Works by Hosokawa & Vivaldi  (Channel, SACD, $20.98) juxtaposing Vivaldi Recorder Concertos with a new suite, Singing Garden in Venice, written for recorder and Baroque instruments by composer Toshio Hosokawa. It’s an exquisite pairing.

Channel Classics was just named Gramophone Magazine’s Label of the Year, and in celebration, they have issued a free sampler, Jared Sacks: 25 Takes from 25 Years of Recording.

Available with the purchase of a Channel Classics CD.