Finnish Accordions, Schubert's Blues And A Soviet Concerto: New Classical CDs

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili i i

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili grew up hearing her father play Shostakovich's music. Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon
Violinist Lisa Batiashvili

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili grew up hearing her father play Shostakovich's music.

Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon

For classical music fans who can't survive on Bach and Brahms alone, and for curious listeners of all stripes, there's no lack of fascinating new albums to choose from. This happy fact is reflected in a multifarious mix of music that NPR Music's Tom Huizenga spins for Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. Kronos Quartet teams up with a pair of Finnish composers and their tricked-out accordions, while pianist Gabriela Montero plays whatever comes to mind when someone mentions Argentina. And then there's baritone Matthias Goerne, relishing the dark side of Schubert, and young violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who conjures the sounds of Shostakovich from her childhood.

Finnish Accordions, Schubert's Blues And A Vintage Soviet Concerto: New Classical CDs

Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet Artist hide caption

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Kimmo Pohjonen: 'Utu'

  • Artist: Kronos Quartet
  • Album: Uniko

Is there any style of music the Kronos Quartet will not embrace? This time, the globe-trotting group teams up with two Finnish musicians, accordion virtuoso Kimmo Pohjonen and electronics whiz and percussionist Samuli Kosminen. I feel like this music — a Kronos-commissioned seven-movement suite — could be soundtrack for a thriller set during a blizzard in Lapland. The soundscapes build to giant avalanches of strings and electronics, aided by the Finns' tricked out accordions and sampling. Then poof! We've just fallen off the cliff, floating downward in silence.

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Song
Utu
Album
Uniko
Artist
Kronos Quartet
Label
Ondine

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Cover for Solatino

Montero: 'A La Argentina'

  • Artist: Gabriela Montero
  • Album: Solatino

On Solatino, Gabriela Montero pays homage to Latin American composers including Alberto Ginastera (from her native Venezuela) and a few other heavy hitters, like Cuban Ernesto Lecuona and Brazilian Ernesto Nazareth. But the surprise here is Montero's major talent as an improviser (a rarity in the classical world, except for organists). Her off-the-cuff take on Argentina is dominated by the flavor of tango, but she throws in nods to Chopin and jazz, too. A few years back, her instant improvisations were featured on NPR's series "Sing it, and Wing it."

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Song
A La Argentina
Album
Solatino
Artist
Gabriela Montero
Label
EMI

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Cover for Nacht un Traume

Schubert: 'Nacht und Traume'

  • Artist: Matthias Goerne
  • Album: Nacht un Traume

The German baritone Matthias Goerne is a terrific opera singer with a warm, velvety voice. But he shines especially brightly in German art songs, and he's studied with two of the very best practitioners: Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Goerne is in the midst of recording 11 CDs worth of Schubert songs, grouping them into themes. On his new album Nacht und Traume, Goerne explores all things deathly and nocturnal. In the title track, a song that yearns for night's dark dreams, Goerne's voice floats in like a gentle midnight breeze.

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Song
Nacht und Traume
Album
Nacht un Traume
Artist
Matthias Goerne
Label
Harmonia Mundi

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Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1: Scherzo

  • Artist: Lisa Batiashvili
  • Album: Echoes of Time

Universal Classics has been going crazy lately, signing young female fiddlers to their labels. There's Janine Jansen from Holland, Nicola Benedetti from Scotland and 31-year-old Lisa Batiashvili from Tblisi. At the center of her new record is the Violin Concerto no. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich, music he wrote in 1948, while being lambasted by Stalin's culture police. Shostakovich shoved the concerto in a drawer, publishing it in the mid-1950s after Stalin died. This isn't a big, burly performance of the concerto in the David Oistrakh mode. Instead, it's lithe, feline and crafty, with excellent support from the Bavarian Radio Symphony and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

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Song
Violin Concerto No. 1
Album
Echoes of Time
Artist
Lisa Batiashvili
Label
Deutsche Grammophon

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