01 SopraSopra La Spagna
La Spagna; Alejandro Marías
Lukos Records 5451CRE201665 (laspagna.es)

Ambitious is perhaps the best word to describe this CD. The mass Agnus Dei was set to many tunes. One of them was the already very well-known Basse Danse La Spagna which subsequently became a setting for Agnus Dei throughout Europe. The ensemble on this CD has even taken La Spagna as its own name. In addition, it has sought to record here as many versions of La Spagna as it can find.

Sometimes the settings are complex. It needs a composer of the calibre of Francesco Canova da Milano to write a complex lute variant, and yet sometimes there is a lively – very lively – simplicity, as in Francisco de la Torre’s version. In the latter all but one of La Spagna’s seven musicians perform, accompanied not least by the pronounced percussion-playing of Daniel Garay.

This contrast between the intense and the spirited is borne out in the suite of six Recercadas sobre la Spagna by Diego Ortiz. Alejandro Marías digs deep into his command of the viola da gamba to interpret these demanding settings. 

La Spagna have been painstaking in their research. They have even uncovered A Spanish Humour, set by Tobias Hume. Hume must have been highly skillful in his talents; he had to be in one of them as he served as a mercenary! Which might account for the explosive introductory bars of his variation... 

It is very difficult to decide which setting of La Spagna is the most thoughtful or the most uplifting. If I had to choose, it would be that by de la Torre, with its loyalty to the intense quality of this sacred composition.

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02 Handel Francesco Corti Handel – Winged Hands, The Eight Great Suites and Overtures
Francesco Corti
Arcana A499 (naxosdirect.com/search/a499) 

Interpretations of Handel’s Eight Great Suites have long been popular – and frequently recorded on either piano or harpsichord. The choice of instrument was made for Francesco Corti as his whole career has been with the latter. And it is his virtuoso playing which is showcased on this CD.

Note from the beginning of the Gigue in the first Great Suite; a gigue may be written off as a whimsical moment casually tacked onto a supposedly more serious set of movements but in this case Corti breathes dedication and meaning into his performance.  

There are 39 movements to the Great Suites. Selecting those that most bring out Corti’s mastery of the harpsichord is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed his interpretation of No 6. There is a real dignity to his Presto, contrasted by the concluding Gigue

Corti’s demonstrated mastery is not confined to the suites however. The Ouverture [largo] to Rodelinda commences – and ends – with his imparting a glissando flourish which bookends Handel’s Presto and Adagio, themselves played with real spirit. 

Finally, Babell’s First Set in F Major gives an all-too-tantalizing glimpse into those all-too-many composers who flourished in Handel’s time but were overshadowed by him.

This is the third recording of the Great Suites I have reviewed for The WholeNote. Conti’s interpretation exemplifies why I will never tire of this Handel masterpiece.

03 CPE BachCPE Bach – Sonatas & Rondos
Marc-Andre Hamelin
Hyperion Records CDA68381 (hyperion-records.co.uk/dw.asp?dc=W22447_68381)

“He is the father and we are the children. Anybody who knows anything at all learned it from him.” Lofty words of praise indeed coming from no less a figure than Mozart in reference – not to JS Bach as we might assume – but to his second surviving son Carl Philipp Emanuel. Born in Weimar in 1714, CPE Bach was an accomplished composer and performer. His extensive keyboard output included 400 solo sonatas, fantasias and other works, all of it demonstrating considerable innovation and impeccable craftsmanship exemplified here in this two-disc Hyperion recording of sonatas and rondos performed by Marc-André Hamelin. 

The 56 tracks – a true choice of riches – follow Bach’s compositional career from 1725 to 1787 and what is particularly striking is the diversity in musical style these pieces contain, all within a classical framework. Some of them, such as the Sonata in E Minor Wq59/1 and the Rondo in E Major Wq58/3 show tendencies towards the north German “expressive style” with sudden changes in tempo and key signature while others like the Arioso with Seven Variations in C Major Wq118/10 are pure galanterie.

Throughout, Hamelin performs with a polished assurance, his playing at all times thoughtfully nuanced. His flawless technique particularly comes to the fore in such works as the presto finale of the Fantasia in C Major Wq61/6.

This recording is an exemplary addition to the catalogue. Not only does it shine light on music that deserves greater recognition, but it proves – if proof is needed – that despite Hamelin’s usual focus on virtuosic 19th-century repertoire, he is a master at anything he decides to approach. Excellent notes and attractive packaging are further bonuses.

04 Cristina Gómez Mozart BarenboimMozart; Strauss – Oboe Concertos
Cristina Gómez Godoy; West-Eastern Divan Orchestra; Daniel Barenboim
Warner Classics (warnerclassics.com/release/mozart-strauss-oboe-concertos) 

Oboist Cristina Gómez Godoy enchants listeners on Mozart & Strauss Oboe Concertos. Directed by Daniel Barenboim, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra skillfully manoeuvres both works with chamber music-like sensitivity. Although these two pieces are an unusual pairing for an album, they are the staple of every oboist’s musical library. Gómez Godoy chose to record these two concertos because they are what made her fall in love with the instrument.

The Mozart Oboe Concerto is played in a buoyant and elegant style, mixing in many passages from the near-identical Flute Concerto in D Major. Gómez Godoy has a beautiful, ringing tone and shows a sophisticated yet charming sense of musical style and phrasing.  

Written in 1945, Strauss’ Oboe Concerto was one of his last works. Often a feat of endurance for the soloist, this concerto combines long, soaring musical lines with intimate conversations with solo woodwinds. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, where Gómez Godoy is principal oboe, shows a great understanding of supportive and chamber roles. In this beautiful rendition of she shows great control and musical maturity.

05 Mozart BeausejourMozart – Famous Sonatas and Fantasia for Fortepiano
Luc Beauséjour
Analekta AN 2 8931 (analekta.com/en)

Chasing mastery in classical music performance is, undoubtedly, a lifelong endeavour. Once you add in the level of required specificity of technique, musical gesture, understanding of repertoire and the historically mediated instrumental touch demanded by an adherence to period piece performance, you end up with an important, but small collection of musicians whose dedication as both curators and custodians of the music of the past, as well individuals who contribute to a slowly, but ever growing, corpus of interpretations, variations and understandings of these canonical works, are worthy of praise, support and attention. 

Quebec’s Luc Beauséjour, who both administratively as the artistic director of the ensemble Clavecin en Concert, and performatively, as evidenced by his most recent Analekta release of Mozart’s Sonatas and Fantasia for Fortepiano, numbers among this committed group. His efforts to demonstrate the continued meaningfulness and relevance of the harpsichord, organ, and here, the Italian fortepiano – Mozart’s favourite – we learn in François Filiatrault’s informative liner notes, are showcased in this soulful and terrific release. 

Beautifully captured in Mirabel, Quebec’s Saint Augustine Church, this recording is bound to be appreciated in equal parts for Beauséjour’s supreme talent, the haunting clarity of this instrument – invented in the early 18th century but effervescent and alive in Beauséjour’s 2022 handling of Mozart’s frozen improvisations – as well as the beautiful recorded ambiance of a simple neighbourhood cathedral that acts as an additional performer and contributes mightily to the success of this disc.

06 Beethoven Rachel PodgerBeethoven – Violin Sonatas Opp.12/1; 24; 96
Rachel Podger; Christopher Glynn
Channel Classics CCSSA44222 (channelclassics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/44222.pdf) 

Recorded in May, 2021 on the “Maurin” Stradivari (1718) and an Érard fortepiano, this new recording of familiar repertoire from Rachel Podger and Christopher Glynn is full of fanciful joy, assured playing and great intelligence. Unlike Beethoven’s string quartet output, which stretches across all the periods of his remarkable career, his ten sonatas for piano and violin were written in a shorter span of time – between 1797 and 1812. The three on this disc include the first, the last and the most popular, all in major keys and all given beautifully imaginative performances. Opus 24 in F Major “Spring” is particularly thoughtful, with exciting tempi and full of conversational, intimate ensemble playing.
In a recent feature in The Strad magazine, Podger and Glynn spoke about this recording project with insight, Podger commenting that “I find it fascinating to play Beethoven after having pretty much only lived with and around earlier music. What I’ve enjoyed so much is finding the places where he’s being an 18th- and early-19th-century artist, and where and how he breaks free of those shackles.” 

Indeed, both players bring a fresh approach and wide array of colours and improvisatory spirit to the performances. A recent all-Beethoven Wigmore Hall recital by Podger and Glynn is still available on YouTube and well worth experiencing.

07 Jan Lisiecki Night MusicNight Music
Jan Lisiecki
Deutsche Grammophon (deutschegrammophon.com/en/catalogue/products/night-music-jan-lisiecki-12595) 

Jan Lisiecki, the Calgary-born, RCM Glenn Gould School graduate and former Gramophone Young Artist of the Year, leans into his impressive touch, interpretative creativity and familiarity with the canon of elegant and imminently listenable piano music on this acoustically beautiful and well-executed capture of Mozart, Ravel, Schumann and Paderewski. Unlike Vladimir Horowitz, who preferred to perform recitals on Sundays at 4:00 in the afternoon, Lisiecki has programmed here a celebration of “night music,” most obviously Mozart’s 12 Variations in C Major on “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman,” but bookending the album with the lesser-known Miscellanea, Op.16: No.4, Nocturne in B-Flat Major by Paderewski for a satisfying and sonically excellent album of an idealized and relaxed twilight listening experience. 

Undoubtedly I am not the first observer to marvel at Lisiecki’s obvious talent, depth of pianistic understanding and musical maturity while pointing to his young age (27!). That said, Night Music, a 2022 release on Deutsche Grammophon, does offer another welcome glimpse into an already exceptionally developed talent on today’s classical concertizing stage who continues to play with the theme of night for ongoing listener delight (this release follows his two-CD set of Chopin’s Complete Nocturnes). While the standout moments on this disc are many, it was Lisiecki’s dynamic touch in the piano’s lower register and fulsome exploration of the entire keyboard on Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit Scarbo – (all within a single nine-minute performance) that, for me, was simultaneously the tenderest, most stentorian and impressive.

09 Sibelius 24Sibelius – Symphonies 2 & 4
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes
Rubicon Classics RCD1072 (rubiconclassics.com/release)

This new issue features a remarkable conductor most of us probably have never heard of – Owain Arwel Hughes. Coming from Wales, he has conducted many of the finest orchestras of the world and is now principal associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic, accumulating an impressive discography mainly of British, Scandinavian and Russian composers. His current project is to record all seven Sibelius symphonies with the Royal Philharmonic and this is the second issue of that set.

The Second, the most famous of the seven, was an overnight success at its premiere in 1902. It catapulted Sibelius into fame as one of the best composers of the 20th century, a patriot and the pride of his native Finland. It is a glorious work in the sunny key of D major. Although there are dark moments, the finale, with two themes alternating in a long, gradual crescendo in 3/4 time ascending towards a climax when, after a long-held minor motif suddenly turns into major in fortissimo, is absolutely magnificent.

Symphony No.4 in A Minor is completely different. It’s a deeply personal statement and the conductor must feel, indeed inhabit, its emotional climate. In the words of Sibelius, it is completely devoid of the “compositional tricks or circuses” composers use to thrill audiences. Right at the outset a deep, sad cello theme slowly develops until stopped by forceful chords on the brass and then a forlorn, echoed horn call as we are enter a misty, dark, barren, somewhat frightening territory. There is some happiness, like a lovely scherzo second movement, but the sky quickly darkens, diminishing it into oblivion.    

The overall effect is puzzling, but with repeated hearings its many hidden beauties come out and, according to some critics, it is the most beautiful of Sibelius’ symphonies.

10 Bruckner 7Bruckner 7
Gürzenich-Orchester Köln; François-Xavier Roth
Myrios MYR030 (myriosmusic.com) 

There is a cataclysmic moment in the second movement of Bruckner’s Seventh: There are two climaxes following one another, but the second one comes fortissimo with an Earth-shattering cymbal crash, as if the heavens would open up. The whole concert hall was filled with glorious sound. I remember the great Skrowaczewski doing it beautifully many years ago at Massey Hall with its fabulous acoustics. This is how my conversion to Bruckner started.

The Seventh still remains one of my favourite symphonies. This new recording is conducted by a new firebrand, François Xavier Roth who is making big waves in Europe today. He is a scholarly conductor with a no-nonsense, analytical approach, meticulous attention to detail and a natural gift to enter the composer’s mind to follow the compositional process and to choose the right tempo.

Out of a near silent tremolo the symphony begins with a wondrous melody in the strings picked up by the woodwinds, an overarching theme that seems to dominate the first movement. It goes through many variations, but the solo flute crops up often chirping like the little forest bird leading Siegfried to awaken the sleeping Brunnhilde. (Wagner was much admired by Bruckner!)

After a crucial Adagio second movement comes an exciting Scherzo, with a simple theme and an underlying rigorous ostinato having a rhythmic urge that has always reminded me of cavalry galloping through a wide open plain. The Finale sums it all up with a resounding peroration of the majestic brass. This recording has huge dynamic contrasts that will test your stereo equipment.

11 Lola DescoursBassoon Steppes
Lola Descours; Paloma Kouider
Orchid Classics ORC100190 (orchidclassics.com) 

Two questions come up when considering this recording. First: why would I listen to an album of all-Russian chamber music at this time in history and, second, why would I listen to it played on a bassoon? The answer to both is the same: this is a spectacular recording in every way; moving, virtuosic, unpredictable and life-affirming. 

Russian bassoonist Lola Descours and French pianist Paloma Kouider present a gorgeous program ranging from short pieces by Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov to longer works by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. All the works on the album are transcriptions or arrangements, some by the performers themselves, with the exception of a new work, AirI Walk Unseen, written for Descours by the Russian-born Lera Auerbach. This work is lovely, tragic and compelling. It has some pitch bending and colour trills, both used extremely effectively. But all the music on this album is so brilliantly played that you won’t believe it wasn’t written for the bassoon. 

This is a testament to Descours’ virtuosity: she’s a product of the best European training available and she’s the first bassoonist ever to win the Tchaikovsky Competition. Her sound is effortlessly fluid and expressive in all registers, her vibrato and phrasing always tasteful and heartfelt. And Kouider’s playing moves from crystalline thrills in the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata to exquisite delicacy in Glinka and Rimsky-Korsakov. The world is a troubled place right now; do something nice for yourself and listen to this album. It will make your day.

12 Laporte PierneGabriel Pierné – Feuillet d’album
Antoine Laporte
Independent (antoinelaporte.ca/home-1?lang=en) 

The music of Gabriel Pierné is not all that well known today compared with that of his more famous contemporaries Claude Debussy and Paul Dukas. Born in Metz in 1863, he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, winning the Prix de Rome in 1882 and ultimately enjoying a successful career as a conductor, organist and composer. Included amongst his large output is a significant number of piano compositions presented here on this two-disc recording by Quebec pianist Antoine Laporte, a prize winner at the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York and the Jinji Lake International Piano Competition in Suzhou, China. 

The Quinze pièces pour le piano Op.3 from 1885 is a delightful set of character pieces, each one evoking a particular mood from the light-hearted Coquetterie to the rousing Tarantelle finale. Laporte’s approach is refined and elegant, displaying fine tonal colours while aptly demonstrating Pierné’s eclecticism. The Premier Nocturne Op.31 is a languid and lyrical essay while the Étude Op.13 concluding the first disc is a true tour de force that Laporte handles with great panache.      

Disc two takes the listener into other facets of Pierné’s compositional style – the Trois Pièces Op.40, the Variations Op.42 and the posthumous set of Six Pieces which are tributes to other composers. Most striking is the degree of technical prowess demanded of the performer, found in the virtuosic first and third movements of Op.40 and the finale of the Variations. Throughout, Laporte delivers a brilliant performance of this often daunting repertoire.

French-only and English-only booklets and notes are available. This is a fine recording of music deserving greater recognition.

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13 Things In PairsThings in Pairs
Audrey Wright; Yundu Wang
Navona Records NV6392 (navonarecords.com) 

Things in Pairs is an album that captures a listener’s heart from the very first note. Not only is it following a clever concept of pairing music from across five centuries in a way that is both exciting and meaningful, but it also features performances by violinist Audrey Wright and pianist Yundy Wang that are beaming with passion and artistry.  

It is easy to hear the musical narrative here and appreciate the connection between the compositions. Coupling Biber’s Passacaglia for Solo Violin with Balancing on the Edge of Shadows by contemporary composer Rain Worthington is simply splendid. Biber and Worthington, separated by centuries of musical legacy, treat the violin as the most precious voice and there is a deep sonority running throughout, a shared melancholy that underlies the subtle tension underneath the beautiful melodies. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ Sonata for Two Violins in B-flat Major and Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, on the other hand, offer a juxtaposition of lightness and darkness in a way that emphasizes the heart of each composition. Wright, who plays both violin parts in the sonata, is equally good in brilliant passages and lightheartedness of Bologne’s music as she is in conveying the power of Fratres. Capturing the fleeting line between a moment and eternity, and opposing forces within oneself, the violin/piano version of Fratres is further enhanced by the beautiful acoustics on this recording. Beethoven’s Sonata No.10 in G Major ties all the pieces together in an elegant sway of music ideas.

14 Light in a Time of DarknessLight in a Time of Darkness
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta
Beau Fleuve Records 605996-998579 (bpo.org)

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, arts organizations throughout the world demonstrated their extraordinary determination and resilience as they found ways to continue practising their craft and bringing music to their audiences, even if in a different format than before. Light in a Time of Darkness features works recorded live in Buffalo in 2020 and 2021 as part of the BPO OnDemand series, streamed to audiences during the height of the pandemic.

This disc is a journey through countries, eras and styles, as its contents encompass everything from Bach to the premiere of a new work by composer Ulysses Kay. There is a risk, in this time of hyper-specialization, that such a broad approach might result in everything sounding too similar, with not enough period-appropriate precision to pacify everyone. For those who prefer the lean, agile, period-instrument approach, for example, the Bach and Haydn selections will likely come across as rather big and bulky, lacking the finesse afforded by earlier instruments.

Where Light In A Time Of Darkness is most convincing is in the lush, broad textures afforded by Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and the Kay Pietà, a work of richness and depth that features some beautiful moments for the strings and a striking solo for English horn.

A testament to the resiliency and innovativeness found in so many organizations over the past two years, Light in a Time of Darkness is an eclectic and worthwhile release demonstrating the excellence of the Buffalo Philharmonic and conductor JoAnn Falletta.

16 Poulenc Complete Chamber MusicPoulenc – Complete Chamber Music
Various Artists
Naxos 8.505258 (naxosdirect.com/search/8505258)

Having recently received a treasure, in the form of digital sound files, I am compelled to offer the following advice: buy this collection. An epochal recording, The Complete Chamber Works of Francis Poulenc is performed by a cadre of young and insanely able French musicians; nowhere else will you ever need to turn for inspiration or solace, nor for useful historic information about Poulenc, his thoughts and the context of the pieces.  

The performances, grouped onto the discs in no immediately discernible order, remind us of how often Poulenc would reuse similar tropes, thrown into relief against such remarkable harmonic language. The three solo woodwind sonatas sound strangely similar, as sibling pieces perhaps, yet still strike their individual poses and stand distinct. 

Disc one opens with an old friend, the Sextuor for Piano and Woodwind Quintet. Nothing wrong with leading from strength, and this is such a strong performance by all. Absolutely fearless in their tempo choices, as technically clean as French wind players are known to be, these six bring the notes leaping off the page. Poulenc, in his secular heaven, must be pleased to know he still speaks to and through young guns like these. The eloquence of phrasing in this one piece alone is reason enough to acquire the collection. But wait! There’s more.

Of course there’s more! Included are the early works, when Poulenc was 19 or 20 years old, at the end of WWI. Having tried to tackle two of these (Duo for Two Clarinets, and Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon) when I was a similar age, I now forgive the youngster his early austerity. You hear evidence of his admiration for Stravinsky more than his love of the music hall. He seemed to celebrate jagged lines and impossibly long phrases. But at least he published these! He discarded two earlier versions of his violin sonata before allowing the one played here by Graf Mourja.

It’s pointless to select a favourite piece or performer; there is beyond enough to please every ear. The flute playing of Philippe Bernold is bright and crisp, and I forgive his tendency to reach just above the piano pitch. He also performs on recorder in the charming Villanelle. Hervé Joulain makes short work of the devilishly tough French horn writing in the Sextuor. All of the wind playing is exceptionally good. 

The project owes much to consistently excellent piano playing by Alexandre Tharaud, who performs on no fewer than 15 of the selections, if my count is correct. That’s just beyond imagining. In fact there are only six pieces scattered across the five discs that do not feature Tharaud. These are the song cycles and theatre pieces that use voice accompanied by small instrumental ensembles. Among these is the charming Story of Babar, offered in both the original French and the translated English text. Both narrators are children, (12-year-old François Mouzaya, and 13-year-old Natasha Emerson), who seem equally professional.

For choral fans, there is disc four. Poulenc’s poetry settings themselves are every bit as divergent as the switches in mood I find so beguiling. La Balle Masqué, Cantate Profane sur les poèmes de Max Jacob, makes merry Dadaist hay. Baritone Franck Leguérinel clearly propels the absurdist texts with a powerful controlled voice. He shares the disc with tenor Jean Delescluse. 

Oh, one needn’t carp, but the recording values are uneven. One wonders with the size of the project how many different venues were used, and how many different engineers and producers worked on it.

01 Duo ConcertanteEcology of Being
Duo Concertante
Marquis Classics MAR 81625 (duoconcertante.com) 

The fundamental task of finding one’s way in the world and locating true measures of meaning can be elusive as we attempt to understand how purpose relates to quality of existence. To create a successful recording, perhaps one way to begin understanding the immense implications of being is to commission a collection of new works for violin and piano. With six brilliant new works performed with world-class expressiveness and musicality, Newfoundland’s Duo Concertante has released a powerful and deeply moving album. 

The Canadian composers were asked to respond to earth’s climate emergency and to consider our interconnectedness with respect to the rapidly changing environment and the future implications of our current decisions to act or to not act. Ian Cusson delivers an utterly tragic response that is interrupted by a joyous dance, a contrast that is jarring and disturbing, in a work titled The Garden of Earthly Delights. Carmen Braden’s dusty The Seed Knows, is distant ephemera beneath shocking pillars of scratchy sonic behemoths. In Randolph Peters’ Frisson, dramatic gestures struggle toward several climactic regions that are surrounded by tender lyricism. Dawn Avery’s Onekha’shòn:a,Yakón:kwe (The Waters, the Women) is a deeply moving three-movement work that speaks to the Indigenous understanding of the symbiotic and spiritual connections between women and water. Using the ecopoetry of Shannon Webb-Campbell throughout the piece as spoken word, Melissa Hui’s Ecology of Being produces a solitary barren enchantment – carefully designed thin and empty landscapes surround the spoken text like precious gems, creating warmth through scarcity. Lastly, Bekah Simms’ shedding, as if sloughed scatters darkness amid the burning vivid augmentation of sound and noise. This work is deeply expressive, producing rich manifolds of purging smoke and sunken ash. Simms’ innovative sonic images hover like shadowforms as if to suggest that everything comes from fire and returns to it. 

This release is a stunning collection of highly personal works wonderfully performed by the duo.

02 A QuinaryA Quinary – Canadian Concerti
Soloists; Vancouver Island Symphony; Pierre Simard
Redshift Records TK475 (redshiftrecords.org)

This Redshift release of five new concerti represents the culmination of a five-year commissioning project that paired five Canadian composers with principal players of the Vancouver Island Symphony. 

Jocelyn Morlock’s Ornithomancy, written for flute soloist Paolo Bortolussi, opens with sombre and mysterious interwoven sonorities below searching bright gestures in the solo flute part. The piece unfolds organically toward more excited materials where Bortolussi’s virtuosity soars with wonderful clarity of tone. 

The three movements of Dorothy Chang’s Invisible Distance take the listener through moods of lyrical melancholy, excited drama and deep enchantment. Chang’s highly imaginative orchestral scenes provide a brilliant tapestry over which cellist Ariel Barnes dazzles with soloistic fireworks. 

Edward Top’s Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra is a shimmering fantasy embedded with rich bellows and sunken tones masterfully produced by soloist Scott MacInnes. Undulating repetitive spirals, delicate resonances and playful offerings comprise the three movements of Emily Doolittle’s Sapling where violin soloist Calvin Dyck handles the varied material with a welcomed expressiveness. 

Last on the disc is Stephen Chatman’s Concertino for Horn and String Orchestra. This work is joyous and full of life. The dance-like structures, and soloist Andrew Clark’s confident performance, create excitement and ever-forward momentum. With five successful new works and five brilliant soloist performances, this release is invigorating from start to finish. Five stars.

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