Classical New Releases

Saturdays, 5 to 6 pm

Your host Mark Pinto sifts through all of the recently released classical CDs to bring you the very best recordings.

First Leaves of Spring

Mar 21, 2014

It is spring, finally, we hope, we really do, on Now Is the Time, Saturday, March 22nd at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. It engenders all sorts of good thoughts as we consider Circling Permutations, a flute and double bass improvisation by Robert Ackerman, and a concert rag for piano, Spring Beauties, by Brian Dykstra. Always elegant, the music of Paul Chihara seems appropriate for our turn to the warmth; we’ll hear his String Trio.

Avner Dorman brings along his Azerbaijani Dance for piano, and if you feel like a play on words, David Gunn’s always good for that, so a Missing Inn March could fit the bill this month. New music for old instruments symbolize a change of seasons; Will Ayton’s Songs of the British Isles is for the consort of viols, Parthenia. And in a similar vein, Dick Hensold breaks out his Northumbrian pipes for First Leaves of Spring.

The Ides of March

Mar 14, 2014

Julius Caesar had better watch his back on Now Is the Time, Saturday, March 15th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Brutus doesn't show up, but look out for the Silver Dagger of Stacy Garrop, an Appalachian somebody-done-somebody-wrong song. Eric Moe channels comic-book philosophy of "they said it couldn't be done" in Dead Elf Tugboat, and Andy Teirstein throws a bright light on fate with the narrated drama The Shooting of Dan McGrew.

Michael Daugherty's Dead Elvis romps through one corner of pop culture, and Dan Visconti's Lawless Airs through another, with a violin accompanied by a harp sounding like a broken guitar played by a cowboy. The percussion quartet ensemble, et al. cautions with No Matter How Fast You Run Today, you will Never Catch up to Tomorrow, Joshua Rosenblum offers a tonic to the Ides with Forward March, and Mark Zuckerman clears the air of fate with the canon, Grant Us Peace.

A Suite of Etudes

Mar 7, 2014

We study etudes, "studies," on Now Is the Time, Saturday, September 6th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. No idea what Defensive Chili means, but this second etude for piano by Marc Mellits really sets the table. John McDonald comes in with two pieces for violin and piano, the poetic studies he calls Lily Events, and Lyrical Study.

Tomas Svoboda plays his own powerful music for piano, the Nine Etudes in Fugue Style, Vol. 2, and then we include an etude for an instrument not nearly as ubiquitous, the bassoon. John Steinmetz's Etude No. 5 is a lovely fantasy on the cowboy lament "Streets of Laredo," how about that?

Valentines

Feb 14, 2014

We hope it's not too late for Valentines on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 15th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. We start with soprano and guitar, and with an orphan's dream of an angel in Romance by William Ortiz. Irving Berlin's "They Say It's Wonderful" is the inspiration behind Love Twitters by Augusta Read Thomas, for piano, but Morten Lauridsen asks, "Against whom have you formed these thorns?" in Contre qui, rose. A lover asks for a handkerchief (she'll return it when no one's looking), in a four-hand piano setting of the Italian folk song Amor dammi quel fazzolettino by Andrew Violette.

David Bennett Thomas works with some of the greatest love poetry in his Juliet: Five Songs from Shakespeare, and we hear Eric Whitacre's first published choral work, Go, lovely Rose. Finally, Allen Shawn sends us into the evening with a last-minute Valentine's Day present for his wife, titled simply, Valentine.

It's a story as old as love, and a computer before there were computers, on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 8th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Philip Lasser's Nicolette et Aucassin are in love, and like Romeo and Juliet, their families disapprove. Unlike R&J, however, this ends happily. Two sopranos sing the 13th-century–inspired musical lines of the boy and girl, and actor Michael York's narration fills in the story.

A triple concerto for violin, cello, piano, and strings is the construction behind The Difference Engine by Graham Reynolds. The title is the name of a machine by the 19th-century inventor Charles Babbage, who was trying to build what we now call a computer. With movements such as "The Cogwheel Brain" and "Cam Stack and Crank Handle," Reynolds invents a propulsive concerto that imagines what goes with what. Like love, we suppose.

We reflect on a legacy of greatness on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 18th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Yehudi Menuhin said this: "I look to music to bind and heal. I think the musician can be a trusted object, offering his fellow men solace, but also a reminder of human excellence. I believe as strongly as ever that our finite world turns on finite individual efforts to embody an ideal."

Steven Gerber's Spirituals for strings and Curt Cacioppo's Contrapuntal Fantasy on John Newton's "Amazing Grace" for piano spin the teardrop crystals of an American heritage in the sunlight of varied compositional languages. Leslie Adams sets African-American poets, including Langston Hughes, in Nightsongs. And in Stèle for solo violin, Karel Husa pays tribute to Menuhin, whose greatness went beyond music. Each of these works points us to ideals beyond our finite selves, something Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us of whenever we remember his legacy.

It's fathers and sons, mothers, sisters, and a child on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 11th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Jeremy Beck's String Quartet No. 2 has two movements—I. Fathers, and II. Sons—that regard affinity and opposition in warm and dramatic music. Jerome Kitzke bangs on a toy piano and chants wildly in The Animist Child, a passionate, beguiling work he wrote to celebrate a birth. In Sacred Sisters, Victoria Bond uses ancient chant to celebrate heroines of the Bible: Esther, Ruth, Judith.

Marc Satterwhite looks at the tragedies visited by Chile's Pinochet regime on its citizens, by focusing on The Widows of Calama, who searched the Atacama Desert for the bodies of the missing. Originally for contrabassoon and piano, Satterwhite reworked it for bass clarinet, and the show closes with another wind instrument, the Northumbrian smallpipes. Dick Hensold, in his medley of dances that include Dad's Fantastic! Jig, always seems to walk that edge between poignancy and joy.

It’s our 200th show and we’re celebrating on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 4th at 9 pm! Judith Lang Zaimont starts us off in a poignant mood as we look back with Reflective Rag. The two pianists of Quattro Mani bring us Kindred Spirits of William Bland, the title summing up how we feel about all our contemporary American composers. Then another duo, of clarinets, brings us the fresh Aphorisms II of Ursula Mamlok.

Allen Shawn’s Nostalgic Pieces party with a waltz and a boogie-woogie, and David Wolfson’s Time and Tide (Benediction) marks the passage of the years with four cellos (multi-tracked by one player). Minton’s Playhouse by James Syler translates the jazz club to saxophone quartet and wind ensemble, the spirit of Charlie Parker hovering over this bopping concerto grosso.

Then we program a composer whose only other appearance on NITT was in Show #100. Kile Smith’s American Spirituals, Book 2, for cello and piano, blushingly closes out the celebrations. We’re grateful to all of you, composers and listeners, for keeping contemporary American music alive on WRTI!

If you're new to Now Is the Time, just go to wrti.org and click on the Listen: Classical button at the top. Day or night, that brings you the all-classical stream, and at 9 pm every Saturday, you'll hear Now Is the Time. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM, HD2, or find all the frequencies here, depending on where you are, from the Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Dover. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI!

Christmas Daybreak

Dec 27, 2013

It's faith of all kinds in the midst of Christmas on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 28th at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Daron Hagen uses choir and cello lovingly to explore traditional carols in new ways, with Once in Royal David's City and the Sussex Carol. Then, the sparkling Now Ensemble brings transformations to life in David Crowell's Waiting in the Rain for Snow.

Mischievous, menacing, or minuetting, it's dancing on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 7th at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org.

From her CD How She Danced comes Elena Ruehr's String Quartet No. 4. It includes, as do her other quartets, a dance—in this case, a minuet—among the four movements. There is always much going on beneath the surface of her music, but whether it's mathematics or literature, what we always hear is a focus on beautiful sound. Saxophone and clarinet comprise the sounding beauties of Perry Goldstein's Mischief. It pirouettes, dips, and delights on its way, and is over before we know it. We want to hear more.

Wanting more, desiring the other, and death are elements of opera; Daron Hagen brings them all together, to violent effect, in Bandanna, set on the U.S./Mexico border in the 1960s. Immigrants, law corrupted, and jealousy combine in this finely wrought yet roiling tragedy. We'll hear much of Act Two, where misunderstandings and machinations during a wedding dance propel the drama toward its conclusion.

Next week: Now Is the Time Show #200!

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