Two Classical Albums You'll Want To Hear In 2021 NPR's resident classical music specialist Tom Huizenga previews two of the albums he's looking forward to spending time with in 2021.
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NPR's Classical Music Editor Previews 2 Albums You'll Want To Hear

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NPR's Classical Music Editor Previews 2 Albums You'll Want To Hear

NPR's Classical Music Editor Previews 2 Albums You'll Want To Hear

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TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

With the new year comes new music to look forward to, and we can always count on our friends at NPR Music for guidance.

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: I'm Tom Huizenga, NPR's classical music editor. And in 2021, I'm looking forward to - fingers crossed - live music. I really missed, like, the roar of a symphony orchestra in concert or the soaring soprano up on the opera stage. But artists are still making albums even in lockdown, like British composer Max Richter. His upcoming album is a follow-up to last year's "Voices." The new one is called "Voices, Part 2," released in April.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAX RICHTER'S "FOLLOWER")

HUIZENGA: Richter's really good at erasing the lines between classical and ambient music on this album. It's not complicated music, and that's OK. It offers, I think, the potency of direct communication right to our emotions. I think you can just feel your blood pressure drop listening to it, which comes in handy these days. And I'm especially drawn to the song called "Follower," where Richter stages these kind of translucent scrims of wordless voices above the drone of a very low-pitched keyboard.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAX RICHTER'S "FOLLOWER")

HUIZENGA: Another record I'm really looking forward to - it's a debut recital album by the up-and-coming velvety-voiced baritone Will Liverman.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAM VARIATION")

WILL LIVERMAN: (Singing) While light comes in gently, dark like me, that is my dream.

HUIZENGA: It's called "Dreams Of A New Day," released February 12, and it's devoted to songs of Black composers. I think it's a very smartly programmed recital that includes songs of pioneers like Harry T. Burleigh, the man who really originated a space for Black art songs beginning at the turn of the 20th century, and some wonderful songs by Margaret Bonds, one of a number of undervalued Black female composers from the mid-century.

What I love about Liverman's voice is his dynamic control. He has this gorgeous half-voice, or mezza-voce, as the opera nerds would say, and even a falsetto, as we'll hear in this amazing song, part of a two-song composition called "Black Churches." And the text here is about the horrific shooting in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. This is contemporary music, composed by Shawn Okpebholo, with a text by Charleston's former poet laureate Marcus Amaker. And just listen to how Liverman delivers the words Emanuel AME Church.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RAIN")

LIVERMAN: (Singing) Emanuel AME Church...

HUIZENGA: I think it's an engaging album for our time, tracing an important heritage in music.

MOSLEY: That was Tom Huizenga of NPR Music, talking about two of the albums he's most looking forward to in 2021, Will Liverman's "Dreams Of A New Day" and Max Richter's "Voices, Part 2."

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