Music News 10/19/23




Rolling Stones, HACKNEY DIAMONDS (Geffen, $16.98) – Mick and Keith reconvene after the death of Charlie Watts… 


Aga Khan Master Musicians, NOWRUZ (Smithsonian Folkways, $15.98) – An all-star group collaborate: Wu Man (pipa) from China (who was just awarded an NEA Heritage Award); Basel Rajoub (saxophone) and Feras Charestan (qanun) from Syria; Sirojiddin Juraev (dutar) from Tajikistan; Jasser Haj Youssef (viola d’amore) from Tunisia; and Abbos Kosimov(frame drum) from Uzbekistan. 




Igor Levit, FANTASIA (Sony Classical, 2 CDs, $22.98) – The pianist programs four major works, spanning almost two hundred years—Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor; Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor; Berg’s Piano Sonata; and Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica. These are bookended by shorter works: the album begins on a sunny note with Siloti’s arrangement of Bach’s “Air” from his Suite for String Orchestra No. 3; goes to the darker places of Liszt’s arrangement of Schubert’s “Der Doppelganger,” and Berg’s Klavierstück in B Minor; and, finally, ends with a return to the light in Busoni’s Nuit de Noël.  


John Holloway, HENRY PURCELL: FANTAZIAS (ECM, $18.98) –John Holloway and his ensemble of violin, two violas and cello play the three- and four-part fantasias. Purcell had, as Holloway notes, “an extraordinary ability to walk the fine line between joy and sorrow, to beautifully express the melancholy which was such a characteristic mood of his times.” 


Kronos Quartet and Ghost Train Orchestra, SONGS AND SYMPHONIQUES: The Music of Moondog (Cantaloupe, $20.99) – Two ensembles get together to play the music of Louis Hardin, aka Moondog (1916 – 1999), the blind composer who performed on New York streets. Guest vocalists include Rufus Wainwright, Marissa Nadler, Petra Haden, Jarvis Cocker, Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman), Sam Amidon, Aoife O’Donovan, Karen Mantler, and the GTO director, Brian Carpenter. 





Every year, Gramophone Magazine’s critics vote on their favorite classical CDs of the past season (roughly, autumn of 2022 to autumn, 2023), in categories, as well as conferring special awards.  


A few of this year’s winners, which we have on display: 




Quatuor Ébène & Antoine Tamestit, MOZART: STRING QUINTETS (Erato, $18.98) – The Ébène Quartet are joined by Antoine Tamestit on viola, in Mozart’s String Quintets, K 515 and K 516. 




Timothy Ridout, ELGAR & BLOCH (Harmonia Mundi, $19.98) – Elgar’s ‘Viola Concerto’ is his Cello Concerto (in a 1929 transcription). Mr. Ridout pairs it with Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Orchestra, both with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. 


Voice and Ensemble and Artist of the Year 


Véronique Gens & Sandrine Piau, RIVALES (Alpha, $19.99) – The two sopranos explore 18th-century French opera, backed by Le Concert de la Loge, Julien Chauvin, director. 

Ms. Gens was also selected Artist of the Year by Gramophone


Some titles will arrive early next week.