Music News 1/18/24



Mary Halvorson, CLOUDWARD (Nonesuch, $16.98) – Mary Halvorson has an instantly recognizable sound and approach on the electric guitar. She released two albums in 2023: Belladonna featured her with the Mivos String Quartet; Amyrillis featured a new ensemble of improvisers  

Now she returns with her Amyrillis sextet—Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Jacob Garchik (trombone), and Adam O'Farrill (trumpet)—in more new tunes. Laurie Anderson (on electric violin) is featured on one track. 


SONDHEIM: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG: New Broadway Cast (Masterworks, $21.98) – This fall brought a vivid new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, directed by Maria Friedman. (Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, and George Furth wrote the book, based on a play by Kaufman and Moss Hart.) The production stars Jonathan Groff as Franklin, Daniel Radcliffe as Charley, and Lindsay Mendez as Mary. 



Ethan Iverson, TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE (Blue Note, $14.98) – Pianist Ethan Iverson performs new tunes with two different trios—Thomas Morgan and Kush Abadey and Simón Willson and Vinnie Sperrazza. Iverson also revisits “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and ‘Round Midnight” as well. Iverson ends the album with his first Piano Sonata


Sleater-Kinney, LITTLE ROPE (Loma Vista, $14.98) – Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker return. 






MESSIAEN: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps / MURAIL: Stalag VIIA (Alpha, $20.99) – The Belgium–based Het Collectief pairs two works—one which inspired another, almost 80 years later. Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (1940-41) has become a 20th-century chamber music classic. His pupil, Tristan Murail, wrote his Stalag VIIA (2018) as a prelude to the Quartet (titled after the German prisoner-of-war camp where Messiaen was incarcerated and composed the work).  



Tiberghien’s Variations 


Pianist Cedric Tiberghien has embarked on a multi-album project “in which all Beethoven’s variation cycles will be juxtaposed with works illustrating the evolution of the genre.”  

Volume 1 came out last March, and Volume 2 has just been released: 


VARIATION(S) 1 (Harmonia Mundi, 2 CDs, $22.98) – In Volume 1, Tiberghien juxtaposes seven variations by Beethoven, including the “Eroica” Op. 35, with those by Mozart, Schumann, and Webern. 


VARIATION(S) 2 (Harmonia Mundi, 2 CDs, $26.98) – Volume 2 continues with five variations by Beethoven, as well as  works by Sweelinck, Bach, Cage, Feldman, and Crumb.