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Hila PlitmannIn our newest recording of music by composer Mark Abel, Time and Distance, GRAMMY®-winning soprano Hila Plitmann brings her full emotional range to “Those Who Loved Medusa,” — a powerful story and evocative musical setting that connects ancient Greek legend with our present day’s #MeToo movement.

Hear the work immediately when you pre-order in iTunes or add the pre-release track to your Apple Music library:

Mark Abel: Time and Distance

Time and Distance

Mark Abel on Those Who Loved Medusa

Those Who Loved Medusa is derived from a poem by Kate Gale, the Los Angeles literary figure whose verses I set a few years ago in The Palm Trees Are Restless (recorded by Hila Plitmann on the Delos CD Home Is a Harbor).

The work begins with a cloud of shimmering crotale tones sounded by percussionist Bruce Carver. Ritualistic shapes and gestures in the music embellish Medusa’s dramatic account of her violation by Poseidon. Her scapegoating by the deity’s jealous wife Athena is depicted through an obsessive rhythmic episode, culminating in Medusa’s horrifying transformation and the vengeful epithet: “You are creature.”

By this point, both poem and song are in need of an exhale. Gale provides it by reminding us how ancient history’s outrageous theory of female “culpability” in the act of rape is still with us today. The music reacts by sinking into forlorn harmonies before Medusa steers the focus back to the crime at hand. Vowing to “hold my head aloft,” she finds herself taking refuge in her monstrous new identity: “Turn me into that thing you fear. … Wet, ripe, swollen. … That thing demanding.”

Her spasm of agitation is dissolved with the help of the magical ethnic instrument known as the rainstick, and the music moves forward, depicting the men who sought out Medusa in her cave of exile on an Aegean island. Plitmann closes out the song by singing movingly of the lovers who “braved the forest, found my lips.”

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5 hours ago |
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American Record Guide critic, Ralph Locke, declares John Osborn’s A Tribute to Gilbert Duprez recording a “wonderfully fresh way of putting together a ‘calling-card’ CD”:

A Tribute to Gilbert Duprez

“…a gifted and intelligent singer who has something to offer. Osborn can be heard, on CD or DVD, in the main tenor roles of Rossini’s Otello, Semiramide, and William Tell, and of Bellini’s Norma. His is a major voice, of a type that the opera world is going to continue to need. I have seen a video of him singing ‘Ah, mes amis’, from La Fille du Regiment. There, as here, he hits the numerous high notes (the famous Cs) securely without shouting; and he adds a brief, sweet D. On this CD he throws in what seems to be an unwritten high E (in the Martyrs aria), in an intense semi-falsetto. … All in all, Osborn offers, consistently, better tenorizing than what we have sometimes heard over the past decade on Saturday-afternoon broadcasts from the Met. Excellent orchestral playing by the Lithuanian orchestra, clear and suitably resonant sonics, and—from conductor Orbelian—first-rate shaping of tempos and phrasing.”

Ralph Locke, American Record Guide

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2 days ago |
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Karol Szymanowski: Masques, Études, Mazurkas

“Rosenberger’s Szymanowski has been maddeningly elusive…until now. Delos has done us the favor of combining both of her albums of this composer’s work, made in Los Angeles in 1973 and 1976, into a neat double-CD package. Listening to her performance of Masques, one is struck by the wide-awake approach of her playing. This is very different from the way most pianists perform Szymanowski nowadays, alluding to the French impressionist school which clearly inspired him. Rosenberger obviously wanted to make his Polish roots more evident in her interpretations, and she does so with surprising strength and wide-awake dynamics and phrasing. … These readings have a rich, redolent, deep-in-the-keys approach, bringing Szymanowski’s aesthetic closer to that of, say, Schumann or Medtner than to that of Chopin or Debussy, which is the modern approach. … Rosenberger carries the approach shown in Masques into the early (Op. 4) Études, which I admit I was not familiar with before hearing her performances. … Having never heard any of the early Polish recordings of Szymanowski’s music cited in the booklet, I can’t say how much her playing resembles theirs, but taken on its own merits it is clearly startling and makes a very strong impression. She doesn’t so much seduce you with the music’s delicacy as grab you with its strength. Being of Polish descent, I can tell you that this is how the mazurka rhythm is supposed to go.”

Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge

See the full review on The Art Music Lounge

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9 days ago |
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Ernest Bloch: Music for Viola and Piano



The Art Music Lounge‘s Lynn René Bayley has a new review for Paul Neubauer and Margo Garrett’s Ernest Bloch: Music for Viola and Piano recording:

“…splendid performances of some of Bloch’s most interesting works: atmospheric yet well-written with meaty themes and interesting development. The music engages both the mind and the heart, and the duo did indeed find just the right tone and mood for each piece. You really feel these performances; they’re not just professional read-throughs but emotionally engaged, even gripping in places. You’d almost think they wrote this music themselves. … Neubauer and Garrett catch each and every nuance in these scores, feeling each others’ pulse, so to speak, as they wend their way along through the music. … This is surely one of the finest albums of Bloch’s chamber music I’ve heard, outstanding performances of both the earlier and later material. Neubauer and Garrett uncover the relationships between these scores and make the program sound as gripping as a live performance.”

Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge

See the full review on The Art Music Lounge

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10 days ago |
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13 days ago |
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MusicWeb International‘s Michael Cookson reviews Verdi: Rigoletto featuring Dmitri Hvorostovsky:

“It is hard to ignore the impressive performance of tenor Francesco Demuro, seductive as the lecherous and duplicitous Duke. His bright voice is splendidly in tune conveying that special Italianate sound together with the ability to reveal a tear in the voice. … American soprano Nadine Sierra establishes herself as a suitably innocent yet enchanting Gilda.… most comfortable in her high register easily achieving her top notes. … As Rigoletto, Hvorostovsky is in his element, soon establishing the complex and deeply troubled character, notably able to traverse the high baritone demands. Best of all from act 2 in the punishing ‘Cortigiani, vil razza dannata’ Hvorostovsky excels as the angry and distressed Rigoletto, venting his fury on the courtiers to return his daughter. … what remains evident is the baritone’s rich and velvety tone, which draws the listener in, and his excellent breath control together with his innate ability to generate real drama. … Displaying total commitment in the part of Maddalena, Belarusian Oksana Volkova is in impressive voice, firm, ripely potent and expressive too. … In lusty voice, the Men of the Kaunas State Choir have been clearly well drilled. There are no problems whatsoever with the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra who play with plenty of expressive thrust and Constantine Orbelian’s tempi are well chosen, allowing plenty of room for the singers. Recorded at the State Philharmonic concert hall at Kaunas the engineering team has provided cool, clear sound… In the exemplary presentation by Delos I am delighted to report that the full Italian libretto with English translation is provided, together with an informative essay by Lindsay Koob and a synopsis. Pleasing additions are the cast and production photographs including several of Hvorostovsky. … Worthy of praise … is this well-cast Rigoletto on Delos; a fine achievement and most suitable tribute to the art of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who will be much missed.”

Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

See the full review at MusicWeb International

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14 days ago |
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Canada’s JUNO Awards nominees were announced yesterday, and Isabel Bayrakdarian’s Mother of Light recording was nominated for Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral!

Mother Of Light

Armenian hymns and chants in praise of Mary

Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano

Isabel Byrakdarian
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Soprano sorceress Isabel Bayrakdarian, acclaimed internationally for her glittering accomplishments on both stage and screen, presents – in this hypnotically alluring album of Armenian sacred music – a more spiritual aspect of her multifaceted musical persona.

Isabel conceived this project as a heartfelt gift to God for sparing the life of her mother. This spellbinding music – scored variously for solo and ensemble voices, cello and women’s choir – will take its fortunate listeners on a deeply spiritual and meditative journey of the soul.

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15 days ago |
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Can’t wait for February 16th to listen to our three new releases? Add them to your Apple Music library TODAY and get 4 full tracks today!

Karol Szymanowski: Masques, Études, Mazurkas
Explore Poulenc Trio: Trains of Thought
Explore Ernest Bloch: Music for Viola and Piano
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Delos ;
17 days ago |
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Paul Neubauer, viola

Paul Neubauer, viola

In 2001, over the course of three days, we immersed ourselves in the world of Ernest Bloch and recorded all of his works that feature the viola and piano. The preparation and concentration that a recording requires is immense and we were disheartened to hear that the digital audio tapes that were used for this recording were lost. Many years later those tapes resurfaced and we were thrilled that the tapes were not only salvageable but featured playing that we feel best represents our efforts to bring these works to life.

—Paul Neubauer and Margo Garrett

Margo Garrett, piano

Margo Garrett, piano

“A voice vaster and deeper than any spoken language,” Ernest Bloch wrote, referring to the cello, but equally applicable to the viola, an instrument close to his heart and for which he composed the array of pieces presented here in masterful performances by violist Paul Neubauer and pianist Margo Garrett.

Born in Switzerland, Bloch first came to the United States in 1916. By that time he had completed several pieces known as his Jewish Cycle, and he quickly established a reputation as a “Jewish composer.” This reputation was reinforced when his publisher, G. Schirmer, decorated editions of Bloch’s pieces with the six-pointed Star of David. However, Bloch was much too individualistic to be characterized as simply a Jewish composer. Although he was influenced by Jewish music and wrote many pieces on Jewish themes, he was also influenced by Romanticism, Impressionism, neoclassicism, and American music in its multiple styles. In many of Bloch’s works, he blends these various influences into an approach that is both personal and universal.

Ernest Bloch: Music for Viola and Piano
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In addition to his activities as a composer, Bloch had a celebrated career as a teacher. He was the first director of the Cleveland Institute of Music (from 1920 to 1925) and director of the San Francisco Conservatory from 1925 to 1930. He also taught at the University of California at Berkeley before retiring to Agate Beach, Oregon. Bloch’s many students included Quincy Porter, George Antheil, Leon Kirchner, and Roger Sessions. The great variety of styles in which these composers wrote attests to Bloch’s ability to encourage his students to bring out their individual voices. He neither expected nor wanted them to compose music that sounded like his, just as he said of his own compositions: “I cannot adopt the expressions of others.”

—David Brin

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20 days ago |
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