New Release: Peace Worshipers – Amjad Ali Khan

Peace Worshipers

PEACE WORSHIPERS represents the culmination of a collaboration between Amjad Ali Khan, the Titan of the sarod, straddling two centuries, universally venerated as one of the greatest living Indian musicians in any genre; his sons, disciples and widely acclaimed sarod virtuosi in their own right, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash; and the distinguished American violinist Elmira Darvarova, herself a historical figure as the first woman concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. This recording emerges from Amjad Ali Khan’s deep and long abiding commitment to peace and tolerance both in the larger world as well as in the smaller communities of city, neighborhood, and the circles of family and friends – a commitment which has taken him to the United Nations and the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo as well as the greatest concert halls and performing venues around the world.

This album is the fruit of an approach that these artists have championed in their trilogy of collaborative recordings, SOUL STRINGS, then AMALGAM and now PEACE WORSHIPERS – boldly sharing their respective traditions and genres with each other while keeping the integrity and character of those traditions intact and exploring the idiom and styles of the other with fearless, ferocious energy and generous enthusiasm. In this final volume, alongside the compositions of Amjad Ali Khan, are works from regional folk traditions in India and Europe.

Available now at Amazon and iTunes.

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New Release: Phillip Ramey – “Music for French Horn”

Widely recognized as one of the world’s best horn players, Philip Myers also inspired as well as commissioned most of the pieces on this historically significant album with world premieres of horn music by American composer Phillip Ramey, whose works have been performed by such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and whose Horn Concerto (with Philip Myers as soloist) was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for their 150th anniversary.

This release presents world premieres of works for solo horn, for two horns, and for horn in different combinations with piano and/or violin, stunningly performed by hornists Philip Myers and Howard Wall, whose long-time partnership as New York Philharmonic musicians extends into fantastic chamber music collaboration, also including splendid contributions by pianist Virginia Perry Lamb and violinist Elmira Darvarova (a former Metropolitan Opera concertmaster). Some of the works are newly recorded, while others are only now receiving their premiere on CD after first performances over twenty years ago, with the Trio Concertant  recorded live, and the Dialogue,  and the Sonata-Ballade  restored from archival material. All of the works on this disc are magnificently performed contributions to the horn repertoire.

Available now at Amazon and iTunes.

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New Release: “Forever Sing” – Music of Dvořák, Rubbra, Honegger, Freed, Sowerby, Altman, Cleveland, Tindley, Lowry

Internationally renowned baritone Elem Eley’s fourth solo album, Forever Sing, is deeply personal, rooted in his southern upbringing and the heartfelt expression of singing from the Psalms. For this CD, Elem Eley chose beloved songs evoking memories of his youth, some that he has since called on in decades of performing around the world, and as Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. Meeting this challenge demands collaborators of diverse skills: His partner for the first three albums, pianist JJ Penna, plays the Classical settings of Dvořák, Rubbra, Honegger, and Altman. Concert organist Noel Werner accompanies Eley in the two sets by Isadore Freed and Leo Sowerby, recorded in the historic 1836 sanctuary of his home church, Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. The final set of three Gospel songs is arranged and accompanied on piano by the nationally renowned Dr. J. Donald Dumpson of Philadelphia; their session was emotional and exciting to witness, as these two personal friends and outstanding artists created a unique sense and sound of the Gospel musical genre, unique to their partnership and recorded here for the ages. Pure genius in every track, AFFETTO Records takes pride in presenting this multi-faceted collaboration of music incredibly performed with depth and personal resonance.

Available now at iTunes and Amazon.

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The Affetto Classical Sampler, featuring nine tracks from our nine album releases, is out and it’s Free on Amazon.

The Affetto Classical Sampler, featuring nine tracks from our nine album releases, is out and it’s Free on Amazon.

Listen to the spellbinding work of Grammy-nominated violinist Elmira Darvarova teamed with Indian sarod masters the Ali Khans, from “Amalgam” and “Soul Strings” albums.

Hear baritone Elem Eley, one of the world’s expert song cycle artists, interpret new works from “Lenoriana.”

Cellist Kate Dillingham and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, play a movement from J.S. Bach’s De Gamba Sonatas from a new Schirmer edition edited by Ms. Dillingham.

Listen to a track from “Masterpieces by Beethoven / Franck / Clara Schumann” by Elmira Darvarova on violin and Shoko Inoue on piano.

Rutgers University’s exquisite early music ensemble Musica Raritana, led by Dr. Andrew Kirkman, performs Mendelssohn’s earliest work for piano and strings.

The outstanding early music vocal ensemble The Thirteen, led by founder Matthew Robertson, harmonizes on  a piece by King Henry VIII from “Voice Eternal.”

Elmira Darvarova (on her fourth Affetto album!) and the late Octavio Brunetti perform tangos by Piazzolla from “Adios Nonino” with incomparable spirit and passion.

 
 
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Masterpieces By Beethoven, Franck, and Clara Schumann by Elmira Darvarova, Violin & Shoko Inoue, Piano

Fantastic renditions of timeless masterpieces, presented by Grammy-nominated violinist (and former MET Opera concertmaster) Elmira Darvarova and internationally-acclaimed pianist Shoko Inoue. Clara Schumann’s magnificent Three Romances Op. 22,  Beethoven’s immortal “Spring” Sonata,  and César Franck’s universally beloved Violin Sonata in A Major  are interpreted here with breathtaking excitement, immense passion and marvelous poetry. An unusually intense and deep artistic connection between the two instrumentalists brings out the multifaceted dimensions and sparkling brilliance of these eternally beautiful gems.

Available at Amazon and iTunes.

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Music Web International : Review – Dawn and Twilight: The First and Last Violin Sonatas of Cyril Scott

Music Web International : Review

Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Dawn and Twilight: The First and Last Violin Sonatas
Violin Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 59 (1910) [39:50] Violin Sonata No. 4 (1956) [16:15] Andrew Kirkman (violin); Clipper Erickson (piano)
rec. God’s Love Lutheran Church, Pennsylvania, 11-14 Sept 2013.
AFFETTO RECORDS AF1504 [56:05]

I was all set to challenge Affetto’s claim that this disc presented first recordings. Not so quick. Andrew Kirkman, in the booklet points out that the First Sonata, as recorded on Naxos (review ~ review), is of the version Scott revised in 1956 – a year when he was much engaged by the violin and piano duo. Andrew Kirkman and Clipper Erickson, courtesy of Affetto, let us hear the original 1910 version of the First Sonata. This valuable and luxuriously enjoyable addition to the catalogue is about as third as long again as its late re-casting.

Cyril Scott was much occupied with the violin as an instrument. His own instrument, the piano, drew from him piano solos, sonatas, two piano concertos, a roaming piece for piano and orchestra and a 1900 piano concerto revived as a reconstruction on Dutton. The violin with its independence from lung-capacity and its legato capacity for spinning preternaturally long melodic lines produced from Scott a violin concerto, four sonatas and various genre pieces.

Scott’s early flowering years produced generously proportioned works and this is clear in the sumptuous dimensions of the First Sonata. The first movement – an Allegro moderato – is in a state of constant efflorescence with a good sense of forward motion. The tropical undergrowth is dense and curvaceous – a little like the Austrian Marx and Scott’s British colleague, Arnold Bax at least in his early works like the String Quintet, the unnumbered symphony and Spring Fire. The movement’s successor is a deeply affecting Andante with some really distinguished and memorable ideas. It’s rather Debussian and the piano writing recalls for me another rare British composer of that era, William Baines. The diminutive Allegro molto scherzando [4:15] is a jaunty light blend of Dvořákian ‘Dumky’ and genre salon-charmer. The expansive finale [12:47] is a lofty Allegro maestoso with that noble-ecstatic air heard in the first movement. It evinces a sustained indulgence in gorgeous soliloquy rather than oxygen-rich dynamism. It is not that there is no dramatic energy [9:25] but the predominance is one borne of a sultry hothouse. Lovers of the Delius violin sonatas and violin concerto will find much to reward them here.

The First Sonata contrasts with the Fourth, which runs to just over a quarter of an hour. It was written long after the world had, by and large, turned away from Scott as it had from his contemporary Bantock. Bantock died in 1946 while Scott lived on to the fine age of 91 but these were cruel years where the musical establishment remained obdurate against the merits of Scott’s music. While his pupil Rubbra hymned his praises on radio it would be the late 1970s before anything approaching revival would spark.

The Fourth Sonata is in three tersely concentrated movements. There is still the same flow of song in constant motion but the language is a degree cooler and can be chill at times. This is still the luxurious Scott of old (I: 3:02) but dark clouds shade the waters of Lotus Land, previously the home of Rainbow TroutParadise Birds and Water Wagtails. There are some gaunt pages among the trilling delights but the delights are there. These include a noble finale which breathes conviction and new life into Scott’s early grandeur.

Clipper Erickson is no newcomer to Scott having recorded for DTR a mix of Scott and Quilter piano pieces. He has always been an adventurous pianist and the latest evidence of this is a 2-CD set of the complete solo piano music of African-American R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) on Navona. Dett’s magnificent oratorio The Ordering of Moses has recently been issued by Bridge. Erickson is nicely complemented by Kirkman who can search out and bear on high a lush lyricism with the very best. The apposite and straight-talking notes are by Andrew Kirkman and Desmond Scott.

The style-apt playing and warm, up-close recording are very satisfying indeed. I hope that Kirkman and Erickson will look at other rare violin sonatas including those by Coke, Isaacs and Gaze Cooper. That said there is still much to be done for Scott. Let’s hear an intégrale of the four string quartets and – more expensive yet – the major choral-orchestral work, Hymn of Unity.

Rob Barnett

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