Welcome to SFCV’s 2019 year-end roundup of recordings released this year by local artists. Our list isn’t limited to classical music: We’ve embraced everything from Baroque music to jazz to Celtic, folk, blues, and bluegrass. We can’t claim that our roster is comprehensive, but we tried to provide a solid sample of the area’s musical wealth. There is so much great music here that we aren’t able to hear or review over the year, and this is one way for us to catch up.
We offer this listing with no editorializing or reviews: Blurbs are drawn primarily from artist and label promotional materials. Album titles and cover images are linked to sites with more information and purchasing options. We hope you find something new and interesting as you peruse the listing. Take a chance and enjoy the diversity of sounds available here. Visit us on Facebook to add your comments and suggestions, and please share this with your musical friends.
The 41Street Ensemble is a Chamber Jazz ensemble that uses their unique instrumentation to combine elements of Jazz and Classical music. The ensemble performs both original compositions and original arrangements; the group is an eclectic combination of musicians whose music fuses elements of jazz, Brazilian and Venezuelan music, and classical chamber work. They have created pieces that are both exceptional and innovative, resulting in a rare listening experience that is a contemplative, joyful and visual engagement with music.
San Francisco-based composer Richard Aldag’s recent release for Albany Records — Broadway Boogie Woogie — is an offering of his work performed by a collection of fine Bay Area musicians. With this first recording of his music, Aldag shares some of his most recent chamber music, offering a range of ensemble and instrumentation. The inspirations and expressive intentions are similarly diverse. This recording offers a rich and finely curated showcase for Aldag’s latest music with a chance to get to know this original and compelling composer through the intimate expression and vivid textures that are the distinguishing hallmarks of chamber music.
The Alexander String Quartet turns its attention to Mozart’s last years, beginning with this recording of the final four quartets (the first of a three-volume set which will add his other great chamber works from that period). ASQ violist Paul Yarbrough says, “Taken as a whole, Mozart’s works for string quartet, piano quartet, viola quintet, and clarinet quintet are a monumental accomplishment, as they codified the evolution of classical chamber music. He had taken Haydn’s brilliant efforts with the string quartet and elevated and broadened the genre, while adhering to Haydn’s formal and conversational precedent. But however much Mozart’s late chamber works conform, they are never ‘conformist.’ They still have the capacity to be stunningly original, and even, especially for the listeners of the time, shocking.” (Foghorn Classics)
Alexander String Quartet
The Alexander String Quartet presents accounts of two of Antonín Dvořák’s most popular chamber works. The “American” String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96 from 1893 was written during the composer’s extended retreat from New York City to the rural “Czech” community of Spillville, in northeastern Iowa. The ASQ plumbs the rich and reflective “outdoor” nuances of this exquisitely crafted masterpiece. And the miraculous pianist Joyce Yang joins the Alexanders once again for the jubilant Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 from 1887, composed at Dvořák’s country home amid Bohemia’s woods and fields. Both works are profoundly influenced by their geographic locale and are, perhaps, exemplars of the sophisticated duality of the transatlantic experience of the late 19th century, embracing the nostalgia of the traditional bucolic ideal and the urbane sophistication of the imminent new age. (Foghorn Classics)
This recital recording features American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, who has been a rising star since his breakout season, 2016-17 and who finished a year as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow this past summer. He has been a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. He was First Prize winner of the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, and winner of the Irvin Scherzer Award from the George London Foundation. His association with the American Bach Soloists goes back to a 2017 Messiah and their collaborations resulted in this disc, which features arias from operas by Gluck and Handel, and the plaintive Stabat Mater by Vivaldi. (ABS Records)
This two-CD set includes four works by Charles Amirkhanian. As a composer, he’s been pervasively innovative in two genres: text-sound pieces, in which he can draw engaging rhythmic processes from wacky word assemblages, andnatural-sound electronic pieces which go far beyond the usual confines of musique concrète to create long, poetic sound narratives poised between collage and sonic landscape. Several of his earlier commercial recordings have showcased the text-sound pieces; the present two-disc set is a welcome compendium of his sound landscapes. We might characterize the whole as three tone poems preceded by a set of ten etudes.
This is Laurie’s seventh album as a leader, following on the heels of her 2014 Joni Mitchell tribute Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light and 2015’s Varuna, a duo recording with Richie Beirach. The Oakland resident notes that she turned 60 in March, celebrated 20 years of recovery from a brutal drug addiction in April, and welcomed her second grandchild while continuing to lead her pioneering vocal jazz program at the California Jazz Conservatory. On the new CD, Laurie adds lyrics to music by Nguyen Le, Russell Ferrante, Paul Nagle, and saxophonist Johannes Enders (from her “Foreign Affair” band), and performs songs by Joni, Sheryl Crow, and Neil Young. Her all-Bay Area band features Matt Clark, piano, and Sheldon Brown, reeds.
While Robinson Jeffers (1887–1962) is one of America’s most important 20th-century poets, relatively few composers have set his lean, emotive and enigmatic verses.Composer Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli, like Jeffers a Californian with deep ties to the Monterey-Carmel area, has met the challenge with his expansive song cycle Continent’s End. The work successfully captures nine poems in which Jeffers, in characteristic fashion, combined striking nature imagery with powerful metaphysical musings and depictions of humankind’s transitory, conflicted role in the planet’s future.Continent’s End is vividly brought to life on this recording by two outstanding performers who call the Bay Area home — mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott and pianist Kevin Korth.
Vireo is an opera in 12 episodes, created for television and online viewing. It was first broadcast on KCET’s Emmy award-winning arts and culture series Artbound in June 2017. Both composer Lisa Bielawa and librettist Charles Otte were nominated for 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmys, and the opera won the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award. The recording features over 330 performers including the Bay Area’s own S.F. Girls Chorus, Magik*Magik Orchestra, and the Kronos Quartet.
Black Oak Ensemble makes its recording debut with Silenced Voices, an album of string trios by six promising, early 20th-century Jewish composers originally from Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands. One survived World War II as a member of the Dutch resistance, while the others perished in concentration camps and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe. Silenced Voices includes Dick Kattenburg’s String Trio; Sándor Kuti’s Serenade for String Trio; Hans Krása’s Passacaglia & Fuga and Tánec for string trio; Gideon Klein’s Trio for violin, viola and cello; Paul Hermann’s Strijktrio; and the world-premiere recording of wartime survivor Géza Frid’s String Trio, Op. 1. (Cedille Records)
The final album of an adventurous three-album cycle showcasing new repertoire for solo shakuhachi (Zen bamboo flute) and Taimu (bass shakuhachi). Featuring original compositions alongside kung fu movie music from Bruce Lee and David Carradine films, actual blues songs from Elmore James and Junior Kimbrough, some Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Primus, Fishbone, and more. All meticulously crafted and performed on one of the rarest and most difficult wind instruments: Japanese shakuhachi, the solo, root-end bamboo, earthy flute of Zen Buddhism, and on its baritone brother, Taimu.
Vocalist Katerina Brown, born and raised near St. Petersburg, Russia, and since 2015 a resident of San Bruno, makes her debut with Mirror, produced by her bassist husband Gary Brown and featuring a band of Bay Area musicians including pianist Adam Shulman, drummer Akira Tana, and vocalist Kenny Washington (her duet partner on “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”). The stylistic range is one of the album’s prime attractions as Katerina interprets three classic Russian songs (first in her native language, then in English translations), as well as favorites from the American repertory, and one by Brazilian composer Dori Caymmi.
The chorus and their director, Ragnar Bohlin take on the music of Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates. The release features two compelling works. Sirens collects texts about the enchanting beings who seduce with songs and sometimes lead those who hear them to their deaths and achieves mesmerizing vocal effects through its complex scoring for 12-part a cappella choir. Commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony for their 2012 Mavericks Festival, Mass Transmission features meticulously crafted music and electronic wizardry as it conveys the feelings of love between a mother and daughter separated by thousands of miles. (Delos)
A follow-up to her 2016 EP Beauty Everywhere and her work with the band
Bay Station, which released Other Desert Cities in 2018, Deborah Crooks continues to explores themes of natural history (“River Stones”), family (“All Signs”), and the #MeToo movement (“Long Roads”) on her new The Department of the West record, while also addressing the nature of land ownership and Native American history (“Department of the West” and “What the Land Will Tell You”) and relationship (“Let the River do the Running”). Crooks co-produced The Department of the West with Danny Allen (Baby Buck Studio, High Diving Horses). Allen also played guitars, ukulele and banjo on the album, and was joined by Mike Stevens (The Uptones, Sun Kil Moon) on drums and percussion, Kevin T. White (Chuck Prophet, Shelby Lynne) on bass. Longtime collaborator Kwame Copeland (Bay Station, Straw Coyotes) as well as Heather Davison (Loretta Lynch), Maurice Tani (77 El Deora, Phantom Movers) and Maryam Qudus contributed backing vocals.
Holes in the Sky is a genre-fluid collection of music written and performed by today’s leading female artists, celebrating the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present, and future of American music. This music tells the story of what women and girls can contribute to the world when they are given a chance — their dreams can make holes in the sky.
Downes collaborates with an extraordinary multigenerational group of female guest artists on this album, including the iconic singer/songwriter Judy Collins, boundary-breaking violinist Rachel Barton Pine, singer/instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens (2018 MacArthur Fellow), pianist Simone Dinnerstein, fast-rising cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, and the urban youth vocal ensemble Musicality. The album includes music by Margaret Bonds, Judy Collins, Jennifer Higdon, Billie Holiday, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Abbey Lincoln, Joni Mitchell, Meredith Monk, Paola Prestini, Florence Price, Hazel Scott, and Nina Simone, and many more. ((Portrait – SONY Masterworks)
Lara Downes continues her celebration of phenomenal women in music with a tribute to Clara Schumann, both pianist and composer, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth (Sept. 13, 1819). The solo piano works on this recording date from the last three tumultuous and decisive years of Clara and Robert’s courtship, before their marriage in 1840. These imaginative and emotionally profound pieces — Robert’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 and Clara’s Romances, Op. 11 — illustrate the passion and creative synergies that brought two great artists together, despite obstacles and struggles, into a union that produced some of the greatest works of the Romantic era. Robert’s Piano Concerto, was written at Clara’s incessant urging and under her guidance, intended as a vehicle for her pianistic brilliance. Downes performs the concerto here in tribute to the remarkable woman who coaxed this music into existence and brought it to life under her hands — a lasting testimony to Robert’s love for his Clara. (Flipside)
Ensemble San Francisco
Ensemble San Francisco’s eponymous debut album includes. Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op. 47; Robert Schumann’s Widmung, an art song transcribed for solo piano by Franz Liszt; and Dohnanyi’s String Trio in C Major, Op. 10. The performers, Rebecca Jackson (violin), Matt Young (viola), Jonah Kim (cello), and Elizabeth Schumann (piano) describe their recording in their own words: “With this music, we humbly offer the purest parts of ourselves and some of the most exquisite moments in our repertoire. We are honored to bring you this glorious music which spans the spectrum of ecstasy to agony and encompasses the profoundly sacred to the desperately passionate.”
Black Coddle is the second album by Dublin, Ireland-born Eamonn Flynn. Flynn was the session keyboard player on The Commitments' 14 million-selling soundtrack, and now lives in San Francisco. Mixed by John Porter (The Smiths, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Roxy Music, and Ryan Adams) it’s a piano-driven collection of original songs and instrumentals that draws inspiration equally from Irish traditional and American music. It features contributions from musicians from around the U.S. and the Bay Area, including The Black Family, Chris Cain, Kevin Hayes, Jeff Tamelier, and Darryl Anders.
Friction Quartet/Commonsense Composers’ Collective
Not quite a school, a movement, or a tribe, the composers that decided to form the Common Sense Composers’ Collective in 1993 nevertheless share musical and professional dreams and values that find strength together. Now in its third decade, the Collective has still got it going on, as its fifth album, Spark, amply demonstrates. It is kindled by the Oakland-based Friction Quartet, which spent many months breathing its own unique fire into the works. The group performs them here as if they had known these compositions all their lives. Their ability to move from virtuosic precision to a deep, timeless, almost telepathic mode of communication is remarkable.
On this release, Goldberg sets out on a unique trajectory: taking new, unpublished work by the poet Dean Young to stimulate compositions which, in turn, trigger new poems by the poet through Young’s participation in the improvisatory process. The collaboration by three of the most respected figures at work in creative music — Goldberg, guitarist Nels Cline and trumpeter Ron Miles — and one of America’s greatest living poets, Dean Young, Good Day For Cloud Fishing provides a dynamic interplay between written notes and language, the result of an unprecedented process for combining musical and literary ambitions. Or, as Cline describes it in the album’s liner notes: “This project is/was what we nowadays might refer to as ‘meta’; music inspired by poetry and performed while the poet who inspired it sat typing new poems inspired by the music he inspired!” (Pyroclastic Records)
Celtic, North American, and Renaissance music performed on Celtic harp by the three members of Healing Muses: Patrice Haan, Shira Kammen, and Margaret Davis. Healing Muses provides high-quality, live harp music to support patient care in hospitals, hospices, cancer care, and convalescent centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Solace of Sound, the first new release by Healing Muses in seven years, presents our music exactly as it is received by patients, staff, and family members — pure, therapeutic harp music.
Tim Hill is a nationally acclaimed uilleann piper and flute player originally from the Philadelphia area and now living in San Francisco. Hill’s debut recording, Ceol ag an nGeata: Music at the Gate, is a showcase of the richness and complexity of the uilleann pipes in an unaccompanied context. With 14 tracks in all, Hill;s repertoire draws from a variety of sources within the vast realm of Irish traditional music, with a strong influence from the uilleann pipers of the last century as well as music recorded during the 78-rpm era. Released in October 2019 at the Northeast Tionol (pipers’ convention) in East Durham, New York, this brand-new album is a landmark not only for the uilleann pipes, but also for Irish traditional music in San Francisco.
Kronos Quartet/Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat
Placeless is the first collaboration between Kronos Quartet and Iranian singers Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat. Recorded in Oslo’s Kulturkirken Jakob, the album features 14 songs composed by Mahsa Vahdat to classical poems by Hafez and Rumi and the works of contemporary Iranian poets Forough Farrokhzad, Mohammad Ibrahim Jafari and Vahdat’s husband Atabak Elyasi. Composers Sahba Aminikia, Aftab Darvishi, Jacob Garchik and Elyasi arranged the songs for string quartet. “The Kurdish Song” was released as a bonus track, with all proceeds from the sale and distribution of the track donated to Doctors Without Borders. (Kirkelig Kulturverksted / Valley Entertainment)
Nominated for the 2020 Best Engineered Album, Classical, Grammy Award, Sun Rings is the first complete recording of the Kronos Quartet and composer Terry Riley’s 2002 collaboration of the same name. The ten-movement work was composed for string quartet, chorus – San Francisco’s Volti on the album – and pre-recorded space sounds (or, more accurately, plasma waves, recorded by instruments on NASA spacecraft). Commissioned in part by the NASA Art Program, the fully staged multimedia show, featuring visual design by Willie Williams, premiered at the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium in October 2002 and has since been performed 50 times all over the world. (Nonesuch Records)
Evie Ladin Band With Keith Terry and Erik Pearson
A full-time creative in every capacity, Ladin mines decades of touring and performing to illuminate a heartbreakingly honest take on the human experience in her fourth album of original songs, Caught On A Wire. With long time collaborator Keith Terry on bass and percussion, and Erik Pearson on guitars, the trio create tracks from jazzy vaudeville numbers that inspire you to dance, to moody indie folk that makes you feel and think. Caught On A Wire is the product of not only a lifetime immersed the study of culture, but a depth of experiences, of total joys and deep disappointments, illuminating the paradoxes of living life in this world.
Unfolding in nine movements, this piece continues M. Lamar’s juxtapositions of: a sub-genre among Negro spirituals which he call Doom Spirituals; sub-genres of black and doom metal; and contemporary opera and classical music. This work continues the rich investigations and compositions from his recent collaboration with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the theorist and composer of Transcendental Black Metal. The underground aesthetics of Goth and metal subculture are also central to the look and feel of this piece. The album is released through Negrogothic Records.
Norma and Richard Mayer
Norma and Richard Mayer play a fiery brand of chamber music not often associated with their rare musical blend - music for unaccompanied voice and flute. They have performed to great acclaim from Russia to Germany to France to California, with points in between, with a vast repertoire encompassing early music, classical music, African-American spirituals, show tunes, and jazz. Their combined sounds manage to conjure up cathedrals and opera stages, with stops in the Elysium Fields along the way, and their operatic arrangements have been acclaimed as a groundbreaking direction in modern music.
Nicholas McGegan has been called a “Handel master” by the San Francisco Chronicle and is considered a foremost Handel scholar around the world. So who better to present the rarely performed Joseph and his Brethren than Nic McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. Handel’s unfairly neglected — yet splendid — oratorio depicts the grandeur of Pharaoh’s court in an intriguing plot of familial conflict and mistaken identity. With a cast of favorites including Diana Moore and Nicholas Phan, Nicholas McGegan and his historically informed Orchestra and Chorale present a lively studio recording of the program that delighted audiences and critics alike. (Philharmonia Baroque)
In describing her eclectic new release of original material, Celia Ramsay writes, “I think it’s safe to say that it’s unusual for any one person to only like one music style; our dominant choices will be seasoned by what our parents exposed us to, what we listened to with our friends as we grew up, and what we learned to explore on our own. Your Fool is perhaps best described as the ‘Celia Ramsay Variety Show.’ It is a collection of original songs that exhibit all the musical influences that have informed my life, from jazz to pop to traditional.”
Palettes is an album of original compositions from composer Taylor Joshua Rankin. The debut album is a blend of mixed-genre, contemporary-classical music with post-minimalist influences, ranging from acoustic to electro-acoustic works for chamber groups. Rankin says, “these pieces were written specifically for this record; an amalgamation of all things I am passionate about and seek to experience on a daily basis. At times messy and wrought with inspiration, and at other times solemn and clean, Palettes is an exploration of sound and color through new-music and the ever-changing landscape of the chamber setting.”
On a mission to knit the world closer together through cultural collaboration, Real Vocal String Quartet (RVSQ) freely mixes styles and transcends genres. On this latest album they create music with artists from eight of San Francisco’s sister cities, sparking new musical and cultural connections. On Culture Kin, each composition developed out of collaboration between one member of RVSQ and another artist who crosses cultures and disciplines: Máirtín de Cógáin, a bodhran drummer from Cork, Ireland; Laura Inserra, a hang steel drummer from Sicily; Soo-Yeon Lyuh, the haegeum player from Seoul, South Korea; Marta Roma, a cellist from Barcelona, Spain; Fely Tchaco, a singer from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, visual artist Seiko Tachibana from Osaka, Japan; pandeiro player Roberta Valente from Sao Paolo, Brazil; and George Brooks, a composer versed in the musical traditions of southern India. (Flower Note Records)
The Angels Bowed Down — an album showcasing soprano Yolanda Rhodes in concert performances of African American spirituals — is the third AACI (African American Composer Initiative) CD released by Cambria Master Recordings. Ms. Rhodes’s wonderful vocal interpretations on this recording are further enhanced by the exquisite choice of musical arrangements by eight outstanding composers. She is supported by pianists Josephine Gandolfi, Deanne Tucker, and LaDoris Cordell, violinist Susan C. Brown, and cellist Victoria Ehrlich. All the musicians heard on this release are members of the African American Composer Initiative, a group of singers and instrumentalists of the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to performing and preserving the rich bounty of music by African American composers.
This album represents the culmination of a multi-year collaboration between current SFGC Artistic Director, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, and former SFGC Artistic Director, Lisa Bielawa. Produced by Lisa Bielawa, it features conductor Eric Jacobsen, Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra The Knights (called “an adventurous young orchestra” by The New York Times), and NYC’s Trinity Youth Chorus, as well as three world premieres by American composers: My Outstretched Hand by Lisa Bielawa (The Knights commission), Remembering the Sea-Souvenir de la Mer by Aaron Jay Kernis (SFGC commission), and If I Were Not Me by Colin Jacobsen. All three works were commissioned for the 2016 NY PHIL Biennial Festival at Lincoln Center. The album continues to exemplify SFGC’s commitment to championing music of our time and builds on its existing discography of over a dozen recordings. (Supertrain Records)
San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas
Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in November 2017, the album presents Ives’s Symphony No. 3, The Camp Meeting; and Symphony No. 4; as well as a selection of hymn tunes which served as sources of inspiration for Ives, including “Nearer My God to Thee,” “There is a Fountain,” “Beulah Land,” and “Sweet By and By.” MTT, leading American champion of Ives’s work, states: “At its core, the music of Charles Ives is an expression of the heart and soul of America. The complexity of Ives’s rhythmic and harmonic ideas was very much ahead of his time, and, even as he was often labeled eccentric by his peers, he created a uniquely American sound. My aim with this album is to reveal the true essence of Ives’s music in order to allow the audience to see America through his eyes.” (SFS Media)
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony team up with iconoclastic organist Cameron Carpenter to release a one-of-a-kind recording of Henry Brant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning spatial composition, Ice Field. Put on your headphones for a unique Dolby Atmos immersive experience that allows us to hear Brant’s work as it was intended: as a vast acoustical soundscape for 100 players scattered throughout Davies Symphony Hall. MTT comments: “Henry’s compositions create a huge world of sound. His Ice Field is a vast sonic landscape on a huge scale that was written specifically for the acoustics of Davies Symphony Hall.”
Elizabeth Schumann/Sonya Schumann
Pianist Elizabeth Schumann and her sister, narrator Sonya Schumann, perform Enoch Arden, an epic melodrama, an elaborate tale of tragic loss and noble self-denial. Originally published as a poem in 1864 by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the words were set to piano music in 1897 by Richard Strauss. The resulting dialogue between narrator and pianist weaves a poignant story of friendship, love, separation, and sacrifice.
Transitions, by the Marcus Shelby Orchestra featuring Tiffany Austin & Mads Tolling, is the fifth album by the Orchestra and their first since 2011. On it, Shelby brings together three of his greatest passions — African-American history, baseball, and big-band jazz. He programmed the CD like an MSO concert, with vocal features and jazz standards but also introducing his new four-part suite, Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues. (That suite, incidentally, was performed at SFJAZZ in May as part of a four-night series programmed by Shelby, an SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director last season and also a longtime San Francisco resident.)
First album as a leader in 30 years for the Rio-born, Oakland-based pianist/composer (his first two were for Concord in the late 80s). In between he served as Flora Purim and Airto’s musical director for nearly 25 years, worked as a sideman for a wide range of major American and Brazilian musicians, and created (and continues to lead) the Brazilian Music Department at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.
The St. Lawrence String Quartet, now in its 30th anniversary season, presents all six Haydn Op. 20 quartetss on a double compact disc, triple vinyl album, and streaming online. A recent concert featuring the same repertoire was hailed as “in-your-face exhilarating” by the Los Angeles Times, and according to The New Yorker, “... no other North American quartet plays the music of Haydn with more intelligence, expressivity, and force.” Established in Toronto in 1989, the quartet quickly earned acclaim at top international chamber music competitions, two Grammy nominations, and a host of other prizes before being appointed ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University in 1998.
Kyle Stegall and Eric Zivian
Myrtle & Rose — the title taken from the Heinrich Heine poem which Robert Schumann set as the final song of his Liederkreis, Op. 24 — features two of his most beloved song cycles (the other being Liederkreis, Op. 39) along with several rarely-recorded songs by his wife Clara. The album beautifully captures the artistic partnership of tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian, who first collaborated at the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma, California. Stegall’s “lovely tone and ardent expression” (The New York Times) and Eric Zivian’s original 1841 Rausch fortepiano from Vienna — built exactly when the songs were written — combine in these inspired and illuminating interpretations. (Avie Records)
Walkabout is the solo debut CD of SF Symphony Assistant Principal Bass Stephen Tramontozzi. He was inspired to record new commissioned works by contemporary composers, previously unrecorded double-bass repertoire, and transcriptions for double bass of cello music. Walkabout includes four world premieres. Also included on this eclectic collection is a piece composed by the soloist in a tribute to French composer Edgard Varese. Tramontozzi is a native of Arlington, Massachusetts. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and the San Francisco Conservatory. He joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1980. Tramontozzi has been on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music since 1985. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician nationally and internationally.
In their debut CD release, Trois Bois explores French post-war wind trios of Henri Sauget, Charles Koechlin, Joseph Canteloube, Jean Françaix, and Eugène Bozza. With beloved and lesser-known compositions paired together, this collection affords a picture of French wind chamber music as it was in the early years of the Fourth Republic by composers who had made their reputations before 1939.
Esteemed vocalist and musical force, Claudia is a Rio native who’s long been based in the Santa Cruz area. She has not recorded nearly enough for her stature (and her admirers) so this is a welcome release that received high praise. She recently appeared with Hermeto Pascoal at his San Francisco concert performing an entirely improvised duet, along the lines of “Minas,” the improvisation with Kenny Werner heard on the new CD (she and Werner had previously released an album of duo improvisations, Dreamtales, in 2004). Encantada includes several septet tracks as well as duets with guitarists Ricardo Peixoto, Jeff Buenz, or Bruce Dunlap.
On this recording, hear new works by five American composers, four of them commissioned by Volti. First up is Forrest Pierce’s Gratitude Sutra, setting Gary Snyder’s poem “A Prayer to the Great Family.” From Tonia Ko comes From Ivory Depths, inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf. Robin Estrada melds Western forms with Southeast Asian musical styles in Coeli Enarrant, written as a reflection on the current conflict-filled socio-political climate. Mark Winges, who has been Volti’s resident composer since 1990, contributes All Night, and the disc ends with The Blue of Distance, by Lithuanian-born composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė. The textless, atmospheric work was inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s book A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which also provided the title of this recording. (Innova)
Erling Wold’s new chamber opera UKSUS is “a feverish mashup of artistic and political history, commentary on vinegar and meatballs, and non sequiturs, all set to Wold's tangy, versatile score” (San Francisco Chronicle). The work is a mixture of stories and poems from the OBERIU, a group of Russian writers and artists in Leningrad in the 1930s. The cast features Timur, the “extravagantly transgressive tenor” (Los Angeles Times), the “vocally resplendent” (Opera News) Laura Bohn, mezzo Nikola Printz, and actor Bob Ernst. An ensemble of crossover musicians from the new-music/jazz/classical scenes is conducted by Bryan Nies. CD contains the libretto and photos and description in a beautifully bound book.
Showcasing the extraordinary artistry of the festival’s musicians, the recordings for this Music@Menlo LIVE offering are selected from the rich catalog of 13 seasons of Music@Menlo festival performances. This special release features moving performances of Fauré’s dazzling piano quartets from previous Music@Menlo festivals. Artists featured in collaboration with Wu Han are violinists Chad Hoopes and Arnaud Sussmann, violists Paul Neubauer and Richard O’Neill, and cellists Clive Greensmith and Dmitri Atapine. Wu Han LIVE III was recorded and remastered by the Grammy award-winning sound engineer and producer, Da-Hong Seetoo. (Artist Led/Music@Menlo)