Los Angeles CDs

Welcome to SF Classical Voice’s year-end roundup of recordings released in 2022 by Los Angeles artists! Our list isn’t limited to classical music: We’ve embraced everything from jazz to new music to traditional recitals and much more. We can’t claim that our roster is comprehensive, but we have tried to provide a solid sample of the area’s musical wealth. There are so many great performances that we aren’t able to hear or review over the course of the year, and this is one way for us to catch up.

We offer this listing with minimal editorializing and reviewing. Blurbs are drawn primarily from the artists and their labels’ promotional materials. Album titles and cover images are linked to websites with more information and purchasing options. We hope you find something new and interesting as you peruse the listing below:


CD coverBakudi Scream

Final Skin

Welcome, player, to Final Skin — the taut, trenchant, and mind-bending new album by Bakudi Scream, the alias of artist and producer Rohan Chander. Merging hyper-speed MIDI sequences and sampled elements with electronic keyboard washes and textures, Final Skin fully engages the physicality of the performers to create a sound environment with roots in hyperpop, classical, avant-garde improvisation, and video game scores — all with influences of artists ranging from John Cage to Space Afrika. In the end, it’s rather akin to a quest, with the listener riding shotgun, that harnesses elements of myth, magic, and fleeting glimpses of possible futures along the way. (Cantaloupe Music)


CD coverJames Conlon/Dominic Cheli/Adam Millstein/Artists from the Colburn School

Shapeshifter: Music of Erwin Schulhoff

The powerful and amazingly varied music of Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff, whose art was suppressed by the Nazi regime and who died in captivity in 1942, is given stirring performances by brilliant players from the Colburn School. James Conlon, world-renowned conductor and LA Opera music director, leads Schulhoff’s Piano Concerto, Op. 43, with Dominic Cheli as soloist. Four other pieces complete the album’s offerings, which span the years between 1923 and 1937. SFCV covered the recording, connected to Colburn’s Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices, as part of a larger article on composers whose lives were impacted by repressive 20th-century regimes. (Delos)


CD coverJosh Tatsuo Cullen

Scenes in Tin Can Alley: Piano Music of Florence Price

Josh Tatsuo Cullen’s fascination with the recently discovered piano music of Florence Price is demonstrated in his performances of these evocatively named works, including Scenes in Tin Can Alley, Clouds, Thumbnail Sketches in the Day of a Washerwoman, and Three Miniature Portraits of Uncle Ned. This is the first commercial recording of several of these compositions. The San Diego-based pianist has had a diverse career path, from performing with the Moscow Philharmonic at age 9 to a stint as an interpreter in the U.S. Army before returning his full attention back to music. (Blue Griffin)


CD coverPeter Erskine Trio

Live in Italy

Recorded live in concert at the culmination of the trio’s first tour since the lockdown began, this set from Alan Pasqua (piano), Darek Oles (bass), and Peter Erskine (drums) reflects the exhilaration found in playing before a hungry audience in a beautiful concert hall. Featuring eight originals and two standards, this audiophile-quality album is destined to become a go-to in your music library. Good pasta, great acoustics, a wonderful piano with equally great drums and bass to play on: Live in Italy is the Erskine Trio at its best. (Fuzzy Records)


CD coverMak Grgic

A Night in Upper Town: The Music of Zoran Krajacic

Guitarist Mak Grgic notes the personal history behind his latest album: “Years ago Damjan Krajacic contacted me to ask if I would like to record his father’s music for solo guitar. His dad Zoran had passed away, and this was Damjan’s way of honoring his legacy. Years later, the recording was finished, but something remained lingering in the air. Eventually Damjan and I made the connection that I had heard the name Zoran Krajacic about 15 years earlier, when I met Zoran during his time as principal of a music school in Velika Gorica, Croatia.” In its beautiful preludes and chansons, A Night in Upper Town offers a taste of the music of the old bourgeois city of Zagreb. (RoundTone Records)


CD coverVijay Gupta

When the Violin: Transcendent Night

Vijay Gupta is more than a violinist. The founder and artistic director of L.A.’s Street Symphony embodies the artist-as-citizen ethos. In 2021, Gupta launched his own record label, and Transcendent Night is the next installment in his When the Violin series. The album doesn’t feature the Arnold Schoenberg work you might expect but instead includes a piece by regular collaborator Reena Esmail; J.S. Bach’s Sonata in A Minor, BWV 1003; and Kaija Saariaho’s Nocturne — all for unaccompanied violin. (Vidya Projects)


CD coverLos Angeles Guitar Quartet

Opalescent

Opalescent is a new recording by the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet that reflects the luminous nature of music. Dedicated to the memory of Australian composer Phillip Houghton, it features his pieces Opals and Wave Radiance, exploring the synesthetic intermingling of light and sound. Other works include Andrew York’s Hidden Realm of Light, Kevin Callahan’s Alki Point, and an arrangement of Michael Hedges’s Aerial Boundaries, plus pieces by Frederic Hand, Robert Beaser, and Tilman Hoppstock. “We hope their music gives you as much solace and joy as it has given us,” said LAGQ member William Kanengiser. (LAGQ Records)


CD coverLos Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel

Dvořák: Symphonies Nos. 7–9

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic garnered rave reviews for their February 2020 performances of Antonín Dvořák’s masterful final three symphonies at Walt Disney Concert Hall. These performances were recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon for release as a digital album — the follow-up to the artists’ Grammy Award-winning recording of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Dudamel amplifies the turbulent emotions of each work, plunging deep into their often-dark inner worlds to connect with the music’s spiritual roots in Dvořák’s Czech homeland and reflect ideas formed during the composer’s time as director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. (Deutsche Grammophon)


CD coverLos Angeles Philharmonic/Susanna Mälkki

Reich: Runner/Music for Ensemble and Orchestra

These are the first recordings of Steve Reich’s Runner (2016) and Music for Ensemble and Orchestra (2018), performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted by Susanna Mälkki. Reich explained how he settled on the name for Runner: “The title was suggested by the rapid opening and my awareness that, like a runner, I would have to pace the piece to reach a successful conclusion.” He discussed the other work on the album, too: “Music for Ensemble and Orchestra is an extension of the Baroque concerto grosso, where there is more than one soloist. Here there are 20 soloists.” SFCV reviewed the release back in October. (Nonesuch Records)


CD coverLyris Quartet

Amazing Grace

Not all musicians realize it, but Ben Johnston was a major figure in the Midwestern new-music world in the 1970s and ’80s, comparable to John Cage on the East Coast or Lou Harrison on the West. He looms even larger in the world of microtonal music, for his string quartets, sonatas for retuned keyboard, and other works are among the most compelling pieces ever written in alternate tunings. Here, the Los Angeles-based Lyris Quartet champions the late composer’s music and offers the premiere recording of his final work, Octet: “Ashokan Farewell” (MicroFest Records)


CD coverMaya Magub/Hsin-I Huang

Consolations

Violinist Maya Magub and pianist Hsin-I Huang recorded this album separately in lockdown, with much creative dialogue and experimentation between them. New possibilities afforded by the necessity of recording separately encouraged musical freedom and risk-taking, as well as the opportunity to create the immediacy of a small, intimate concert through close microphone placement. Out of this process emerges a true collaboration and a moving album, centered on Franz Liszt’s Consolations and which Magub and Huang hope will bring consolation to many people. (CRD Records)


CD coverAndrew McIntosh

Little Jimmy

New-music quartet Yarn/Wire’s musical relationship with Los Angeles-based composer and performer Andrew McIntosh has lasted over a decade, and Little Jimmy represents a next step on their path together. Three deeply personal works on this recording are infused with a deep trust between the musicians and composer — a relationship made possible through professional and personal bonds. This album is a testament to the possibilities of long-term collaborations between like-minded artists. The title piece is followed by two additional works by McIntosh: In I have a lot to learn (2019) and Learning (2021). (KAIROS)


CD coverAnne Akiko Meyers

Shining Night

Anne Akiko Meyers’s quest for creative collaborations has inspired countless commissions and world-premieres, with the results infusing Shining Night, an album that embraces themes of love, poetry, and nature. Meyers’s fruitful association with composer Morten Lauridsen led to the arrangement of his popular choral work “Sure on This Shining Night” for violin and piano, lending the album its title. From there springs forth a program imbued with music of light and hope, spanning the history of composition from the Baroque and Romantic eras to popular and current genres. J.S. Bach rub shoulders with Manuel Ponce, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazzolla, Duke Ellington, and even Elvis Presley. (Avie Records)


CD coverAnne Akiko Meyers/Los Angeles Master Chorale/Grant Gershon

Mysterium

Superstar violinist Anne Akiko Meyers’s imagination and ingenuity know no bounds. Her idea to persuade leading living composer Morten Lauridsen to transform his choral masterpiece O Magnum Mysterium into a work for violin and choir is a masterstroke. Teaming up with conductor Grant Gershon — who first collaborated with Meyers as a chamber musician over 40 years ago — and the Los Angeles Master Chorale (Lauridsen was the ensemble’s first composer-in-residence), Meyers rounds out this digital EP with three other arrangements for violin and chorus of ever-popular works by J.S. Bach. The result is gold dust for the holiday season. (Avie Records)


CD coverOdeya Nini

ODE

Armed only with her incomparable voice, solo and overdubbed, Los Angeles-based composer and vocalist Odeya Nini has crafted a sonic adventure of visceral impact with her third album, ODE. The six tracks here reflect both her Yemenite-Israeli heritage and her apprenticeship with Meredith Monk, though her striking musical language is utterly her own. Writes Bandcamp Daily, “Her music has pulled between experimental music, improvisation, and meditation, and on this solo voice album many of those tendencies collide with delicious, sometimes powerful tension.” (via Bandcamp)


CD coverMichael Orenstein

Aperture

Los Angeles-based pianist, composer, and arranger Michael Orenstein comes to his debut recording with a stout jazz education pedigree and 10 years of topflight performance experiences, all shining through on this robust set of eight originals and intricate arrangements of “Giant Steps” and a Herbie Hancock tribute. Much like two major influences, Hancock and Billy Childs, Orenstein’s arrangements are surprising and dynamic with an expansive sound palette, challenging any limitations of the jazz quartet. Orenstein’s Aperture focuses light on a prodigious young talent with a doubtlessly promising future. (Origin Records)


CD coverHarry Partch

Harry Partch, 1942

1942 was a pivotal year for composer Harry Partch. After more than a decade of obscure but steadfast devotion to his unique musical vision, his bold move from the idyllic isolation of California’s Big Sur to the busy streets of Chicago brought him new recognition, putting him before a series of audiences across the Northeast. These long-lost recordings uncovered by Southern California’s MicroFest Records reveal not only a charismatic lecturer but also a powerful performer, able to transform his arcane theories into captivating music. These are the earliest recordings of this unforgettable repertoire —including Partch’s only solo recording of his famed hitchhiker saga, Barstow. (MicroFest Records)


CD coverAntoinette Perry

Moments Musicaux

Moments Musicaux offers a unique program of solo repertoire performed by pianist Antoinette Perry. Captured live from USC Thornton’s Alfred E. Newman Recital Hall, these pieces celebrate the works of German, Austrian, Russian, and American composers, intermingling cultures through various compositional styles. When it comes to Perry’s artistic ability, Germaine Vadi of Les Affiches de Grenoble et du Dauphiné put it best: “One felt oneself to be in the presence of a great pianist — an absolute art of nuance, her subtle touch, and finally her perfect musical understanding, which permits her to assimilate the music of all cultures.” (Navona Records)


CD coverSan Diego Symphony/Rafael Payare

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (“The Year 1905”)

The San Diego Symphony and Rafael Payare give a powerful performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, captured live at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall in February 2020. Composed at the height of the Cold War, in the wake of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, Shostakovich’s searing symphony is subtitled “The Year 1905” and depicts one of the most violent and tragic events in Russian history. This digital-only album marks the first commercial recording of Payare’s career. (Platoon)


CD coverNadia Shpachenko/Lewis Spratlan

Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine

As she watched in horror as her home city of Kharkiv (and the rest of Ukraine) was being destroyed, pianist Nadia Shpachenko decided to put together a new album to support humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Reference Recordings says 100 percent of the proceeds from this project go to benefitting Ukrainians affected by the war. The key piece on the album, titled Invasion (for piano, alto saxophone, horn, trombone, timpani, snare drum, and mandolin), by Shpachenko’s longtime collaborator Lewis Spratlan, is a response to this tragic war. It was composed for the pianist during the period of Feb. 24 – March 13, 2022. (Reference Recordings)


CD coverUSC Thornton Edge/Donald Crockett

Frederick Lesemann: Songs and Concertinos

Thornton Edge, previously known as the Contemporary Music Ensemble, was founded in 1976 by Robert Wojciak at the University of Southern California, and since 1984, the group has been under the direction of Donald Crockett. Composed of some of the finest student musicians at USC Thornton, Edge has presented an annual series of concerts for many years. Under Crockett, the ensemble has committed to numerous premieres, and here the musicians focus on the works of USC professor emeritus Frederick Lesemann. (Centaur Records)


CD coverChris Votek

Memories of a Shadow

With Memories of a Shadow, Chris Votek makes a bold debut as both a traditionalist performing Hindustani raga on cello and an innovative composer refracting Indian classical music through the lens of modern chamber music. “I returned to California with a new vision, my soul brimming with inspiration and my mind a whirlwind of raga melody,” Votek explained. “I imagined an ancient past where the world was small and the sacred music of medieval Europe and ancient India intertwined. … This visualization was the foundation of Memories of a Shadow.” (MicroFest Records)


CD coverWild Up

Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy

In June, the acclaimed Los Angeles-based new-music collective Wild Up released Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy, the follow-up to last year’s Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine, a record that was hailed “a masterpiece” (The New York Times). Joy Boy is the second entry in Wild Up’s seven-volume anthology celebrating Eastman, the late composer whose musical vision was repeatedly dismissed during its day but is now being unearthed to critical acclaim. It includes performances of never-before-recorded compositions, including the title work and Buddha. (New Amsterdam Records)

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