CD of the Week... of the Year!

Each week, we highlight a new release from the classical world - see which albums from 2016 each member of the WCRB team loved the most!

Tyler Alderson and Colin Brumley: Elizabeth Joy Roe: John Field: Complete Nocturnes

Elizabeth Joy Roe: John Field: Complete Nocturnes
Credit Decca Classics

TA: It's unfortunate that Field's music always seems to be referenced in relation to his influence in other, more prominent composers, as details of his life and manuscripts of his music are somewhat rare. His nocturnes for solo piano are the first examples we have of the genre, and their gentle, beguiling lyricism is more than worthy of their own place in music history. Elizabeth Joy Roe gives them their moment in the moonlight, and her thoughtful playing shows why Liszt, Chopin, and Mendelssohn were great admirers.

CB: Pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe, from the amazing Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, was inspired to record the complete set of nocturnes by John Field while recording her first album for Decca. In this premiere release was Samuel Barber’s Nocturne, Op. 33, subtitled Homage to John Field, and the rest is history. It’s no secret that I’m a huge admirer of Field’s nocturnes - collectively and individually, the works are perfect for every season, whether you’re bundled up inside watching the snow fall, or taking a stroll through the verdant metropolis that is Boston in late spring.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Laura Carlo: Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI: Granada 1013-1526

Credit Alia Vox

Medieval music can be so many things at once - sparse and contemplative or rich and seductive. Jordi Savall knows how to pick the music that takes you on a satisfying historical journey in Spain this time around, and he has done it again with this CD. I've long felt that he and Hesperion XXI are some of the finest musicians assembled specializing in music of the medieval era. While all the pieces have something special, the Cantiga de Santa Maria, composed by King Alfonso The Wise, had me mesmerized. I couldn't move until all two minutes were done. Other pieces have you imagining royal courts, the Moorish influence, and the beauty of Granada.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Cathy Fuller: Yevgeny Sudbin: Scarlatti: 18 Sonatas

Credit Bis

Every now and then someone comes along and plays the piano with so much imagination that the piano virtually disappears, and you’re left with nothing but the sheer joy of listening. That’s what happens when Yevgeny Sudbin plays Scarlatti. You’ll come away with very deep feelings for the soulful music that came pouring from Scarlatti’s heart, and when Scarlatti gets playful, he conjures up an irrepressible vision of glee itself. This is playing that takes your breath away. If you wonder what Sudbin imagines in these pieces, he writes in his notes that he hears “church bells and gunshots (K119), howls in the streets (K479), head-spinning dances (K425) … and scenes as melancholic, lean and desiccated as a sun-baked Mediterranean landscape (K99).” Amazing.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Larry King: Thibaut Garcia: Leyendas

Credit Erato/Warners Classics

Guitarist Thibaut Garcia's Leyendas features a collection of Spanish composers from both Spain and the Americas. I enjoyed listening to it on air and purchased a personal copy online. I feel that music from these composers is not often heard and deserves more attention. The late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Spanish conductor, composer, and frequent guest of the Boston Symphony, delighted in exposing Boston and Tanglewood concert-goers to Spanish music. He may be gone, but this style of music lives on with Garcia's Leyendas.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit Warner Classics.

Brian McCreath: Murray Perahia: Bach: The French Suites

Credit Deutsche Grammophon

Excellent recordings of Bach’s keyboard works are not hard to come by. Some feature harpsichordists who draw unexpectedly stunning colors from ancient instruments, like Mahan Esfahani and Andreas Staier. And on modern instruments, pianists like Igor Levit, Jeremy Denk, and Alexandre Tharaud have all brought highly individual and rewarding interpretations to Bach’s music. But when Murray Perahia released his new recording of the French Suites, I was reminded of why he remains an artist I want to hear again and again, especially when it comes to Bach. His exquisite combination of flawless technique and elegance of phrasing feels at once highly personal and unaffected in forming a direct connection to the soul of the music.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Alan McLellan and Rani Schloss: The Boston Cello Quartet: The Latin Project

Credit The Boston Cello Quartet

AM: It's always a delight to hear fine classical musicians venturing out - playing in styles that are outside their usual realm. And in this case the Boston Cello Quartet does it with such flair, they make me feel as though this is the music they were born to play! The cello seems ideal for the kind of passionate expression needed to play, for instance, "Adios Nonino" by Astor Piazzolla, or "Spain" by Chick Corea. Perfection!

RS: Ever since I first heard the Boston Cello Quartet when they came to our Fraser Performance Studio in January 2013, I was obsessed. Their unique blend of incredible musicianship, humor, and wit makes every performance, and every recording, a can’t-miss. This past April, they graced us with their presence at one of our Massivemuse events and they brought a warmth and joy that anyone in the crowd will be sure to remember for years to come. Hearing this album always creates a smile.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit the BCQ's online store.

Mark Reed and Kendall Todd: Boston Symphony Chamber Players: Brahms/Dvorák Serenades

Boston Symphony Chamber Players: Brahms/Dvorak Serenades
Credit Boston Symphony Chamber Players

MR: For me, this album was the highlight of the year. Every time I played a selection, the music, the atmospherics, and the incredible musicianship transported me to Tanglewood, the magical place that is so much a part of WCRB - especially in the summer. I was listening to it just a few minutes ago, on this cold December day, and I could imagine sitting on the lawn outside the Koussevitzky Music Shed on a summer evening with a soft breeze blowing and the music flowing.

KT: I’m a little biased towards this one - Brahms and Dvorák are two of my favorite composers, so I probably would’ve picked this CD even if it wasn’t that great (spoiler alert: it is). This is simply a gorgeous album. If you’re looking for music that sounds like how a warm summer day feels, this is the CD for you - and as the temperatures continue to plummet, it’s an especially great treat to hear it now.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit the BSO's online store.

Chris Voss: Ensemble Caprice: Chaconne: Voices of Eternity

Ensemble Caprice: Chaconne: Voices of Eternity
Credit Analekta

Without a doubt my favorite album of 2016 is Ensemble Caprice's Chaconne: Voices of Eternity, our first CD of the Week of 2016. I loved this album firstly because of the vivid, electric vibrancy with which Ensemble Caprice plays, and which they bring to every note on the album. Secondly, much like a concept album, in Voices of Eternity Ensemble Caprice focuses on a single idea: the illusion of eternity, weaving newly composed works by Matthias Maute (founder and Music Director of Ensemble Caprice) that look to the future, between beautiful chaconnes and folias from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries that revel in the past. All in all, Voices of Eternity is an immensely enjoyable listen from track 1 through track 21, and I hope you enjoy revisiting it as much as I have.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.