Stile Antico, GOLDEN RENAISSANCE: Josquin des Prez (Decca, $16.98) – This year is the 500th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential composers of the Renaissance, Josquin des Prez (c. 1450 – 1521). Stile Antico, the English chamber choir, make their Decca label debut with a program of Josquin’s works. The centerpiece is the Missa Pange Lingua, as well as motets, chanson and plainchant. The ensemble adds works by composers who came from slightly later generations, Hieronymus Vinders (flourishing in the mid 1520s) and Jacquet of Mantua (1483 – 1559).
Parker Quartet / Kim Kashkashian, KURTÁG & DVORAK (ECM,$18.98) – Violist Kim Kashkashian and the Parker Quartet bookend Dvorák’s String Quintet with Kurtág’s Moments Musicaux and Officium Breve.
FELIX & FANNY MENDELSSOHN: STRING QUARTETS (Hyperion, $19.98) – The Takács Quartet plays “Felix’s impassioned F minor quartet, [his] fiercely personal response to his sister’s death in 1847, only a few months before his own. The Takács frames it with equally committed accounts of a much earlier work, and Fanny’s own important contribution to the genre.”
Michael Spyres, BARITENOR (Erato, $18.98) – Michael Spyres sings roles sung by both tenors and baritones. There are18 arias by 15 composers, covering three centuries of opera. This is Gramophone Magazine’s Album of the Month in their Awards issue
Philippe Jaroussky, À SA GUITARE (Erato, $18.98) – Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky in a duet project with guitarist Thibaut Garcia, ranging across 400 years of music.
Frank Kimbrough, ANCESTORS (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Pianist Frank Kimbrough died last December 30. He was known for his solo albums, and contributions to the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Ancestors (recorded June, 2017) was a spontaneous date featuring Kurt Knuffke on cornet and Masa Kamaguchi on bass, inspired by the drummer-less trios of Jimmy Giuffre (one of the tunes is called “Jimmy G”).
Joel Frahm, THE BRIGHT SIDE (Anzic, $14.98) – Tenor and soprano saxophonist Joel Frahm has a gift for melodic playing (I first heard him in Omer Avital’s group). His new trio features Dan Loomis on bass and Ernesto Cervini on drums. The album features tunes by Joel (mostly) and his bandmates.
Hear Kevin Whitehead’s review on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Billy Bragg, THE MILLION THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED (Cooking Vinyl, $14.98) – Billy Bragg calls this his “pandemic blues album.” Songs include “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More,” “I Will Be Your Shield,” “Good Days and Bad Days,” and “Reflections on the Mirth of Creativity.”
Next week: ABBA and Aimee Mann