Over the past several months I have noted on these very pages some recently released albums that I feel you may very well enjoy adding to your personal collection, items worthy enough to have handy anytime to pop into your home or car players, or even to download into your smart devices. And as 2014 draws to a close, there are two more items that I can’t wait to recommend as gifts to yourself or to a friend or loved one.
Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets – Cypress String Quartet
Earlier I had extolled high praise for San Francisco’s enormously gifted Cypress String Quartet and their Schubert Quintet with cellist Gary Hoffman, a recording receiving international praise, as do all of the CSQ’s albums. But now, hot on the heels of the Schubert, comes the CSQ’s next installment of their masterful Beethoven cycle. With their Late Quartets set already a favorite of Beethoven aficionados, the CSQ has tackled the equally challenging Middle Quartets with extra aplomb, making for another three-CD set, Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets, that critics universally declare as some of the best performances currently available. And who am I to disagree? If you love Beethoven then you will simply flip over these performances.
Christmas in New York – Renée Fleming
Many famous opera singers have recorded Christmas albums over the years, from Leontyne Price to Luciano Pavarotti to Thomas Hampson to Kathleen Battle and many others. Wildly popular soprano Renée Fleming explains that she had never done a Christmas album before because she felt that Leontyne Price’s landmark 1961 album set such a high standard that she could not possibly meet.
However, since Renée has long proven herself quite adept in varying styles of singing, she realized that with the help of expert musicians and producers, she could create a truly intimate jazz-flavored Christmas album of popular Christmastime songs. The new album is called, Christmas in New York and has already shot to the top of the charts with the help of her musical cohorts Wynton Marsalis, Gregory Porter, Kelli O’Hara, Brad Mehldau, and other popular jazz artists of today. And although the album is presented in a jazz setting, WDAV’s classical music listeners who truly appreciate great singing and phrasing surely will appreciate this album for its masterful artistry.
As for the current Christmas holiday season, you are afforded many great ideas for Christmas Music shopping simply by listening to WDAV. But, for an immediate and concise listing of high quality albums for the holidays simply go to WDAV’s online store partner, ArkivMusic.com for all your Christmas music shopping needs.
Ted Weiner is a WDAV veteran. This San Francisco Bay Area native has been on the WDAV airwaves since November 1986 when he arrived in Charlotte from New York City and began working as a weekend and all-round fill-in announcer. He became Music Director in 1991 and has been maintaining the WDAV recording library and choosing much of the music we hear ever since. Night owls and early birds can hear Ted Weiner on WDAV from midnight until 5 each morning on WDAV’s Early Shift on 89.9fm or online.