Lovely Recordings Hosted by Peter Barach

It's easy for classical music listeners like me to fall into a rut and listen to the same familiar pieces in multiple different performances. While it's true that there is always something new to find in the old chestnuts like Beethoven's Ninth, why not stretch your ears? So here are three recordings of music that I found exciting and fascinating, plus one fine recording of familiar Chopin played by an artist new to me.

Jennifer Higdon: All Things Majestic (Naxos, 2017)
I've been enjoying the Jennifer Higdon Oboe and Viola Concertos as a 24/96 Naxos download for some time. I don't like most new classical music that I here because it often sounds like a bunch of disconnected sound moments with no connection to each other. In contrast, these pieces are accessible with easy to follow musical "arguments," well-recorded and beautifully played: I bought it from this website, but a number of other download sites have it:

Available from Presto Classical

Claire Huangci: A Chopin Diary: The Complete Nocturnes (Berlin Classics, 2017)
The recording of Chopin Nocturnes by Clare Huangci (A Chopin Diary) is up there on my list of favorite nocturne sets with Moravec and Rubinstein. It's a 24/96 download from this site and others.:

Available from Presto Classical

Varèse: The Complete Works (Decca, 1999)
I listened (with the score) to all of the recordings of Varese Ameriques that I could find before attending a recent live performance by the Cleveland Orchestra. The first time I heard the piece, I was really excited to hear how Varese essentially picked up the gauntlet that Stravinsky threw down in the Rite of Spring and built something totally unique. I ended up buying the 2-disc Chailly set that includes all of Varese's compositions (it is available as a download at CD quality:

Available from Presto Classical

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 "New World" - Varèse: Amériques (Live) (Seattle Symphony Media, 2015)
The recording of Ameriques by Morlot and the Seattle Symphony was easily the clearest at capturing lots of musical detail in this complex score, and the performance climaxes with the loudest siren in any recorded version. The Dvorak Symphony 9 on the same album is just average. I bought the album from Presto Classical as a 24/96 file, but I now see it at this website with the additional option of a 24/96 surround download, which I haven't heard:

Available from primephonic

I've been a clinical psychologist for 35 years with a specialty in PTSD and trauma treatment. But I've been listening almost exclusively to classical music since I was eight years old.

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DH's picture

Even bought two - the Higdon and the Varese/Dvorak.

2_channel_ears's picture

Great piece. I have long owned a recording by Dohnanyi with the Cleveland. I listened to it along with the others listed here. Thought it more "polite", a little less engaging and less startling, as did my cat who freaked upon hearing the Chailly/Concertgobouw, which was my favorite. The rest of that disc is fine too.

Wasn't familiar with Jennifer Higdon. I thought the music had shadings of Hovaness.

pbarach's picture

The Chailly recording has the first recording of the original version of Ameriques--it has a much larger orchestra, including offstage instruments. But the Morlot version has the most outstanding (and least polite) siren, which is one thing I like about it. On either Boulez recording, the siren is buried in the hubbub--I'm guessing intentionally, since he was a stickler about instrumental balances.