Music News 11/6/2020


Fred Hersch, SONGS FROM HOME (Palmetto, $16.98) – Recorded at home during lockdown, pianist Fred Hersch’s solo album is a heartfelt gathering of songs for our times: American standards, originals, and songs he loves as “a child of the ‘60s.” Lerner and Loewe’s “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and Porter’s “Get Out of Town” are here, as are “All I Want” by Joni Mitchell, and Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman.” The spiritual “The Water is Wide” is followed by “Consolation (A Folk Song) by Kenny Wheeler, Ellington’s “Solitude,” and, finally, Lennon-McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four,” as Fred Hersch was when he recorded the album in August. 

Sun Ra Arkestra, SWIRLING (Strut, $14.98) – Saxophonist/multi-reedist Marshall Allen played in Sun Ra’s cosmic big band, the Arkestra, for 35 years. Since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, Marshall has kept the Arkestra together, with long-time veterans like French horn masterVincent Chancey, as well as new recruits like violist Melanie Dyer and vocalist/violinist Tara Middleton. Swirling is the Arkestra’s first in twenty years.  

Shemekia Copeland, UNCIVIL WAR (Alligator, $17.98) – Shemekia Copeland is a powerhouse blues vocalist, continuing in the tradition of her father, the great Texas guitarist and vocalist, Johnny Copeland. And, as the blues has continued to do throughout history, Ms. Copeland’s latest is a document of our turbulent times: from the title song, to “Clotilda’s On Fire,” her narrative of the last slave ship that arrived in Alabama. 


Every year, Gramophone Magazine’s critics vote on their favorite classical CDs of the past season (roughly, autumn of 2019 to autumn, 2020), in categories, as well as conferring special awards. 

There are winners in respective categories, then a Recording of the Year is selected from that group. Here are some of the winners. 

NOTE: Gramophone is shipping Politics & Prose the Awards issue, highlighting these winners, as well as the October, and November issues, after November 11. 

Orchestral & Recording of the Year 

WEINBERG: SYMPHONIES Nos. 2 & 21 (Deutsche Grammophon) - Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Kremerata Baltica   

Instrumental & Artist of the Year 


Early Music 

GESUALDO: MADRIGALI, LIBRI PRIMO & SECONDO (Harmonia Mundi) – Les Arts Florissants, directed by Paul Agnew  

Solo Vocal 

JANÁČEK: THE DIARY OF ONE WHO DISAPPEARED (Hyperion) – Tenor Nicky Spence and pianist Julius Drake  


HANDEL: AGRIPPINA (Erato) – Starring Joyce DiDonato; Elsa Benoit; Luca Pisaroni; Franco Fagioli; Jakub Józef Orliński; Andrea Mastroni; Carlo Vistoli; Biagio Pizzuti; Marie-Nicole Lemieux; Il Pomo d’Oro is directed by Maxim Emelyanychev. 


ADÈS CONDUCTS ADÈS (Deutsche Grammophon) - Adès conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Kirill Gerstein, and vocalists Mark Stone and Christianne Stotijn.