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

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

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.

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Proven Badlands"
  • Album: Beautiful Mechanical
  • Artist: yMusic
  • Label: New Amsterdam Records
  • Released: 2011
 
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.

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Billie Jean"
  • Album: When Words Fade
  • Artist: Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
  • Label: Steinway & Sons
  • Released: 2011
YouTube
 
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.

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "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
 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.