Music News 5/21/2020


Steven Earle, Ghosts of West Virginia (New West Records) - Mr. Earle wrote a suite of songs devoted to the 2010 Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion that killed twenty-nine men—one of the worst mining disasters in American history.

Aoife O’Donovan, Bull Frog Croon (and Other Songs) (Yep Roc) – On a new five-song EP, Aoife O’Donovan (also a member of the super-trio, I’m With Her) set three poems by Oregon poet Peter Sears (1937-2017) to music, and collaborated with violinist Jeremy Kittel, who arranged the suite for string quartet. Ms. O’Donovan also did an arrangement of the traditional Irish folksong “Lake Pontchartrain” and singer/songwriter/activist Hazel Dickens’ song “Pretty Bird.” In mid-June, Ms. O’Donovan will be appearing on the new Goat Rodeo Project album with Yo-Yo Ma & Chris Thile.


In January, Stephen Hough released Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces (Hyperion), receiving rave reviews, and was Gramophone Magazine’s Album of the Month earlier this year. On the album, he plays Fantasias Op 116, Intermezzos Op 117, and two sets of Clavierstücke, Ops 118 and 119. In February, Mr. Hough’s book of essays and columns, Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More (Farrar Strauss), was published. It is a wonderful collection reflecting on composing, mentors and teachers, music practice, the concertizing life on the road (and his early devotion to pipes), and more philosophical notes on religion and being a gay Catholic.  In early May, taking on one of the masterpieces in the piano literature, Mr. Hough released Beethoven: The Piano Concertos (Hyperion, 3 CDs) with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu. You can read the cover article on Mr. Hough in Gramophone Magazine here.

Because of the pandemic, Mr. Hough’s April performances with the NSO, and his April 19th appearance at Politics & Prose had to be cancelled. But with his book, and CDs, you can certainly immerse yourself in Mr. Hough’s world. On June 1, Mr. Hough will be the first performer in the daily “empty hall” concerts at Wigmore Hall, to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3. (The Brahms and the book are at the store; the Beethoven is for special order.


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I can then tell you what we have in the store and offer suggestions.