From Mozart To Michael Jackson: Classical Contenders

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe (right) take on everything from Michael Jackson to Mozart on When Words Fade. i i

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe (right) take on everything from Michael Jackson to Mozart on When Words Fade. Brent Cline hide caption

itoggle caption Brent Cline
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe (right) take on everything from Michael Jackson to Mozart on When Words Fade.

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe (right) take on everything from Michael Jackson to Mozart on When Words Fade.

Brent Cline

As we're thinking about the best music of the year, All Things Considered host Melissa Block spoke with Performance Today host Fred Child about more recent classical releases. From an indie-minded ensemble and a piano duet of "Billie Jean" to a set of Mozart quartet pieces, here's what tickling Child's fancy.

From Mozart To Michael Jackson: New Classical Albums

Cover for Beautiful Mechanical

yMusic

  • Album: Beautiful Mechanical
  • Song: Proven Badlands

This is one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music. You might've heard this term "indie classical" or "alt classical" being kicked around, and this scene is really beginning to thrive in several cities around the country, especially in New York and especially in the borough of Brooklyn. There are so many 20-something and 30-something musicians who are classically trained and love and play a huge range of music. There are six musicians in yMusic, kind of a mini-orchestra: violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet and sometimes guitar. This piece, "Proven Badlands," I find this really beautiful. Its composer, Annie Clark of St. Vincent, uses textures wonderfully and inventively. To me, this almost sounds like the soundtrack to a 21st-century Western movie.

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Song
Proven Badlands
Album
Beautiful Mechanical
Artist
yMusic
Label
New Amsterdam Records
Released
2011

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Anderson and Roe.

Anderson And Roe

  • Album: When Words Fade
  • Song: Billie Jean

Classically trained musicians Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe met when they were students about 10 years ago at the Juilliard School in New York. They both just turned 30 this year, and they both grew up loving a huge range of music. They think Michael Jackson is a great musical genius; they think Mozart is a great musical genius. In fact, they're side by side on this album. One of the things I love is their inventive arrangements, the way they choose to arrange the notes on the piano. They make it very much their own.

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Song
Billie Jean
Album
When Words Fade
Artist
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Label
Steinway & Sons
Released
2011

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Cover for Mozart: The Prussian Quartets

Emerson String Quartet

  • Album: Mozart: The Prussian Quartets
  • Song: String Quartet No. 21 in D major ("Prussian 1"), K. 575 [3. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio]

Right down the center of the classical tradition, the Emerson String Quartet, without a doubt, is the great American string quartet of our time. Their new recording this fall is a set of three string quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They're called the Prussian Quartets, because Mozart wrote these for the Prussian king at the time, a guy named Friedrich Wilhelm II. The king was a cellist himself. He was not a great cellist, so Mozart had to write these quartets so the king could play if he wanted to. He had to write cello parts that were interesting, not too hard, but at times were in the lead. There is a moment in the first quartet in the third movement where you can hear this happening — you hear the two violins playing for a few seconds, and it's almost like they bow down to the cello. That's something cellist David Finckel does really well — he brings a really singing quality from these lines. In fact, the members of the Emerson Quartet say that when they play Mozart, one of their primary goals is to get a real sense of singing.

Purchase Featured Music

Song
String Quartet No. 21 in D major ("Prussian 1"), K. 575 [3. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio]
Album
Mozart: The Prussian Quartets
Artist
Emerson String Quartet
Label
Sony Classical

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