Music News 3/14/2019


Vijay Iyer & Craig Taborn, TRANSITORY POEMS (ECM, $18.98) – Two powerhouse pianists playing duets, recorded live at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest, in March 2018. There are tributes to three pianists who have recently passed away—Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Geri Allen—as well as to sculptor Jack Whitten.

NOTE: Vijay Iyer will be in DC performing twice in early April. On Saturday, April 6, at the Kennedy Center, he’ll be leading his Sextet. On Sunday, April 7, at the National Gallery of Art, he’ll be in duet with cellist Matt Haimovitz.

Ulysses Owens, Jr., SONGS OF FREEDOM (Resilience, $16.98) – Drummer and bandleader Ulysses Owens, Jr. recruited three very different vocalists—René Marie, Theo Bleckmann, and Alicia Olatuja—to showcase a program of anthems (“Oh Freedom”), spirituals (“There is a Balm in Gilead”), along with songs written by or associated with Nina Simone, the trio of Abby Lincoln, Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., and Joni Mitchell. Mr. Owens’s band includes bassist Reuben Rogers, Allyn Johnson, and guitarist David Rosenthal.

The Comet is Coming, TRUST IN THE LIFEFORCE OF THE DEEP MYSTERY (Impulse, $14.98) – High energy jazz from the trio of  Shabaka Hutchings (billed as King Shabaka) on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Dan Leavers (Danalogue) on keyboards and Max Hallett (Betamax) on drums. “Blood of the Past” features poet/spoken-word artist Kate Tempest. The program ends on two peaceful tunes, “Unity” and “The Universe Wakes Up.”

Anna Webber, CLOCKWISE (PI, $15.98) – Composer, flutist and saxophone player Anna Webber wrote a series of works as “homages to some of her favorite 20th-century composers as seen through the lens of their works for percussion. For the project, Webber spent months researching and analyzing various percussion compositions by Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman, Edgard Varése, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt, and John Cage, isolating particular moments that could be extracted and developed into new works. Her ensemble includes Jeremy Viner, woodwinds, Jacob Garchik, trombone, Christopher Hoffman, cello Matt Mitchell, piano, Chris Tordini, bass, and Ches Smith, drums.

Nate Wooley, COLUMBIA ICEFIELD (Northern Spy, $14.99) – Trumpeter Nate Wooley’s meditation on the Rocky Mountain’s largest ice field (between British Columbia and Alberta). He composed music for his new group with Mary Halvorson, electric guitar, Susan Alcorn, pedal steel guitar, and Ryan Sawyer, drums. Zachary Woolfe called it “a mixture of quiet exaltation, wild exaltation, melancholy, fear, curiosity, [and a] struggle to keep warm.”



BACH: VIOLIN CONCERTOS (Harmonia Mundi, 2 CDs, $19.98) – Violinist Isabelle Faust and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin explore works by J.S. Bach that were, “in one form or another, originally written or conceived as violin showpieces. Along with the famous Violin Concertos BWV 1041-43, a selection of overtures, trio sonatas, and concertos now associated with other instruments, are performed here on violin as the composer intended.”

Natalie Clein, CLARKE: VIOLA SONATA & BRIDGE: CELLO SONATA (Hyperion, $19.98) – Ms. Clein plays the cello arrangement of Rebecca Clarke’s famous Viola Sonata, Frank Bridge’s Cello Sonata, and ends with Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Six Studies in English Folk Songs. She is accompanied by Christian Ihle Hadland on piano.

NOTE: Natalie Clein will play this program at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday, March 24.



SHOSTAKOVICH: SYMPHONIES NOS. 6 & 7 (DG, 2 CDs, $23.98) – Conductor Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra continue their Shostakovich cycle with the fourth volume of their series, Under Stalin’s Shadow. Beside Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7, they program the Festive Overture, and Incidental Music to King Lear.

MAHLER: SYMPHONY NO. 3 (Harmonia Mundi, 2 CDs, $27.98) – François-Xavier Roth conducts the Gürzenich Orchestra Köln, the orchestra that gave the first performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in 1902. Sara Mingardo is the contralto soloist.

FANTASTIC BERLIOZ (Warner Classics, 3 CDs, $13.98) – In an anniversary year of Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869), here’s a super-budget compilation of his greatest works (some complete plus many excerpts of longer works) including Symphonie Fantastique, Harold en Italie, La Damnation de Faust, Les Nuits d’Été, and Les Troyens. Conductors include Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Harding, Kent Nagano, John Barbirolli, Riccardo Muti, and Mariss Jansons. Vocalists include Janet Baker and Joyce DiDonato.