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Notable CDs

Notable CDs | Five noteworthy new or recent classical CDs reviewed by Arsenio Orteza

Debut

Style: Solo piano: Bach's "Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp minor, BWV 863"; Beethoven's "Sonata in A major, Op. 101"; Barber's "Sonata for Piano, Op. 26"; Gregory Fritze's 1989 "Sonata for Piano."

Worldview: That by juxtaposing the old and the new, one can better appreciate both.

Overall quality: Progressive-rock fans, take note: Atzinger's Barber and Fritze capture what Keith Emerson was aiming for 31 years ago with "Piano Concerto No. 1."

Dieterich Buxtehude: The Bach Perspective, Volume 2

Style: Thirty-three compositions by the 17th-century German-Danish composer greatly admired by J.S. Bach.

Worldview: "The purpose of this . . . project is to explore the encounter between Buxtehude's organ music and the North German Baroque Organ in Örgryte nya kyrka in Göteborg."

Overall quality: An exemplary presentation of both Buxtehude and the state-of-the-art ULSI recording process.

Angel Voices: Libera in Concert

Style: Thirteen sacred, pseudo-sacred, and secular songs, both contemporary and by (or "based on") DvorŠák, Holst, Humperdinck, Pachelbel, et al., arranged for 18-voice boys' choir.

Worldview: That the cherubim and the seraphim sound like vocally gifted, prepubescent human males.

Overall quality: Whether this "live" recording was retouched in the studio or immaculately recorded, its pristine sound renders the applause superfluous and annoying.

Farewell

Style: Haydn's "Symphonies Nos. 39 and 45" (the "Farewell") and Isang Yun's single-movement "Chamber Symphony I" (1987), performed by the 25-member Munich Chamber Orchestra.

Worldview: That Yun's "particularly Korean" "Haydn-period resonances" complement the "whole world of other meanings" Haydn "was summoning."

Overall quality: The Haydn-Yun connection remains elusive; the performances' thrillingly high fidelity doesn't.

Burana in Brass

Style: Mostly well-known vocal and symphonic works by Berlioz, Bizet, Elgar, Orff, Puccini, and Saint-Saëns transcribed for 20-piece brass ensemble.

Worldview: That the similarity between singing and producing music with brass instruments makes a brass program consisting largely of opera and a cantata "a natural."

Overall quality: An entertaining way to discover anew the details of works that, rightly or wrongly, have acquired a reputation for being overexposed.

Spotlight

The cover of the Washington Symphonic Brass' Burana in Brass: Carmina Burana & Other Delights (Warner Classics & Jazz) parodies the cover of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass' 1965 Whipped Cream & Other Delights, with a tonsured, whipped-cream-covered monk in place of Alpert's seductive, implicitly nude whipped-cream-covered model. Serious admirers of Orff, whose most famous work lends the album its title, and of Berlioz, Bizet, Puccini, Elgar, and Saint-Saëns needn't be put off, as the cover is where the similarities between the Washington Symphonic Brass and Alpert's Tijuana one end.

Well, there is another. Like Alpert, the late Milton Stevens, who conducted these 2005 sessions, intended to popularize through innovation. To that end, WSB trumpeter Phil Snedecor transcribed a program of familiar vocal and/or symphonic compositions for horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, and rhythm section. If the inclusion of Bizet's "Toreador Song" makes the project feel gimmicky, the other selections not only survive the translations but also accrue fresh luster.

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