Moonlight, Lullabies And Barn Owls: New Classical CDs : Deceptive Cadence From Spanish lullabies and moonlit nights, to the fluttering wings of a persistent little barn owl, NPR Music's Tom Huizenga and host Guy Raz spin a mellow mix of new releases.   
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Moonlight, Lullabies And Barn Owls: New Classical CDs

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Moonlight, Lullabies And Barn Owls: New Classical CDs

Moonlight, Lullabies And Barn Owls: New Classical CDs

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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(Soundbite of song "Clair de Lune")

GUY RAZ, host:

The days are getting shorter. There's a little chill in the air as the leaves fall and nature begins to slow down, at least here in Washington. And this music, "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy, seems like a perfect soundtrack for the season.

It's just one of dozens of recordings that land on my colleague Tom Huizenga's desk each month. He works a few floors up from me at NPR Music, and Tom is back with me again.

Tom, great to have you back.

TOM HUIZENGA: Thanks, Guy. Nice to be back with you.

RAZ: So tell me about this violinist we're hearing.

HUIZENGA: That's the very lovely violin sound of Anne Akiko Meyers. Her brand new disk is called "Seasons...Dreams." And actually, there are a number of new releases coming out this fall that have kind of this dreamy, nocturnal theme and feel to them, a few of which I brought along today.

RAZ: And I'm looking at her CD right now. I'm looking at the track listings. And it seems like she's one of those classical artists who, you know, I guess, isn't sort of afraid to jump around genres.

HUIZENGA: No. She plays new music, she plays the classics, and there's a few nods to jazz on this disc. And let's listen to this arrangement of Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York."

(Soundbite of song "Autumn in New York")

RAZ: It's very cool to hear that, but I can't get Billie Holiday, her version, out of my head when I hear this.

HUIZENGA: Well, that's probably the best version to have in your head, Guy, really. But Meyers really makes the fiddle sing, I think, in this tune. She's a very thoughtful player. And I'm happy to report that her career is going along very strongly, actually, a little stronger since about 10 days ago.

RAZ: What happened 10 days ago?

HUIZENGA: She got her hands on a 1697 Stradivarius. She's the proud new owner of that violin, and it earned a world record price at an auction -ready? Drum roll...

RAZ: Yes?

HUIZENGA: ...3.6 million.

RAZ: Wow. So I guess your bid didn't come through, Tom.

HUIZENGA: Just a little short.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: All right. What else do we have here in this stack, Tom?

(Soundbite of song, "Sogno di Stabat Mater")

HUIZENGA: This piece is called "Sogno di Stabat Mater," which translates to "Dream of Stabat Mater," a wonderful tune from a young composer, her name is Lera Auerbach. She's Russian-born, but she's based in New York, and it's played here on this just fascinating new CD by violinist Gidon Kremer and his band.

RAZ: Oh, yes.

HUIZENGA: She says that what she's doing here, she's reinterpreting this old Stabat Mater, a choral piece, from Giovanni Pergolesi from the 18th century. And she says she's kind of reworked it now for violin, viola and chamber orchestra.

So you'll be able to hear this old style kind of flowing through a new filter, and there's somewhat of a dreamlike feel to it.

(Soundbite of song, "Sogno di Stabat Mater")

RAZ: This is really interesting stuff. And you know, I think it's obvious - we know this - I'm not a classical music expert. That's why we ask you to come onto the show. But Gidon Kremer, his music has crossed my desk a few times, and every time I listen to him, I'm amazed because there's always something about it that's interesting.

HUIZENGA: And he keeps on going. He's got another disk out right now that I was toying with bringing in, an equally fascinating record of music from just a little east of the Mideast.

And this disk, I think, is just, in theory and in practice, it's fantastic. It's - there are 12 different composers, very diverse, from Schubert and Schumann to Astor Piazzolla and Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Part.

RAZ: And he has picked all these pieces.

HUIZENGA: He picks them all.

RAZ: Yeah.

HUIZENGA: It's almost like a mix tape. And if that weren't enough, there's this bizarre theme of oil that runs kind of like a river through the whole thing.

He says in the liner notes - Kremer writes: Today, oil is a highly desirable commodity that can both destroy and sustain life. Music is likewise a fuel - fuel for the soul. Far more precious than oil, it is felt in the impenetrable depths of our consciousness. Can oil and music mix, Kremer asks.

So there you have it, a very heady but very listenable and terrific mix of music and politics.

RAZ: Indeed, it is. Tom, we have, unfortunately, time for just one more. What do you got for us?

HUIZENGA: Well, for me, this is probably saving the best for last. It's a new CD of piano music by Leos Janacek, an odd Czech composer who died in 1928. The pianist is Slavka Pechocova, and she plays this quirky, passionate music just about as good as anyone has. And this little tune is about a barn owl.

(Soundbite of song, "The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away")

HUIZENGA: This is really one of my favorite pieces by Janacek. It's called "The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away," and that refers, Guy, to the superstition that when someone is about to die, the barn owl lingers around the house.

And also why I like it, it's classic Janacek sound where the music is prickly one moment and then pivots to this, you know, this sweeping passion. You can hear the fluttering of wings and all kinds of other quirky things here.

RAZ: And the pianist's name is Slavka Pechocova.

HUIZENGA: That's right.

RAZ: Amazing, beautiful. I'm glad you put this at the end. This really is the best for last.

That is Tom Huizenga. He's with NPR Music. He's a classical music producer there. He comes in every once in a while on this program to play us some few interesting releases that have crossed his desk from the world of classical music.

You can hear more from these albums at our website, And you can also find NPR's new classical music blog. It's called Deceptive Cadence.

Tom, thank you so much.

HUIZENGA: Thanks again, Guy.

(Soundbite of song, "The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away")

RAZ: And for Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Remember, you can hear the best of this program on our podcast, Weekends on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. We post a new episode every Monday. Subscribe or listen at We'll be back next weekend. Until then, thanks for listening, and have a great week.

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