Five New Albums for Late March
We have five new and varied releases this week, four on the Alto label and one special album of Spanish guitar music.
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As we are in the midst of Holy Week at the moment, The Lamentations of Jeremiah by Palestrina is a great place to start. The biblical Lamentations are poems of mourning at the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple. Choral polyphonic settings of the Lamentations appear during the Renaissance, and the finest examples of this are the several versions composed by Thomas Tallis, Orlandus Lassus, and Palestrina. The Lamentations are a major part of the Holy Week Tenebrae services, as the destruction of Jerusalem is a reference to and foreshadowing of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. This recording of the Pro Cantione Antiqua – one of the finest authorities on and performers of Early Music from the Renaissance and Baroque – has been given a coveted 3-Star review by the Penguin Guide, which notes that the singing and the recording are “of a high order” and praises conductor Bruno Turner.
American music blossomed in the twentieth century, especially as composers developed something of a national style that was less-encumbered by the weight of European musical history and owed a great debt to jazz. American Brass! presents some of the most favorite and important mid-century works for brass orchestra, given dazzling sonority by the London Symphony Brass under the direction of famed brass expert Eric Crees. The album is mostly Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, including Fanfare for the Common Man, El Salòn México, and a Ceremonial Fanfare by Copland, and Bernstein’s Suite from West Side Story and Prelude, Fugues, and Riffs. Also included are Samuel Barber (Mutations from Bach), Charles Ives (Variations on ‘America’), and Henry Cowell (Fanfare for the Latin American Allies). “The very best in brass playing, brass arranging, and brass recording,” writes Gramophone magazine. “Has a new masterpiece been born?”
Michel-Richard de Lalande was the chief composer for the Royal Chapel at Versailles for Louis XIV and Louis XV from 1683-1723, consolidating his control over the chapel through the favor of ‘The Sun King’ himself. His most major contributions to music are his grands motets, elaborate polyphonic settings of sacred texts (often Psalms), and de Lalande is considered to be a paragon of this genre. The Penguin Guide awarded this recording with a 3-Star rating, that “Performances as lively and sensitive as these can be warmly recommended.”
Elizabethan master organist and composer Thomas Weelkes is best perhaps remembered for his vocal works, and this collection of nineteen anthems and madrigals presents his best works. “This anthology might carry the subtitle of Weelkes’ Greatest Hits,” writes Gramophone, “the best known pieces are all here, and there is no better rounded overview of his music than this.” This album features performances by a number of the finest voices in England – including Evelyn Tubb and Emma Kirkby – appearing as the Consort of Musicke under the direction of Anthony Rooley.
Over the past few years we have been excited to present several albums from the world-renown Spanish guitarist Carlos Bonell. The range of his repertoire is immense, from the Classical to the very contemporary – his album of Beatles covers, Magical Mystery Guitar Tour, has been met with much praise and success – but he is always most at home with the guitar pieces from Spain and Latin America. Carlos Bonell’s Private Collection has sixteen magnificent works from the finest names in classical guitar composition, including Isaac Albeniz, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Agustin Barrios, and many others. “They are pieces that I return to, again and again,” writes Bonell, “not just for my recitals, but also in private, for my own pleasure and enjoyment.” This is a beautiful collection that will please and thrill all music lovers.