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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Yesterday was Yo-Yo Ma's 60th birthday, and he was the subject of the quiz. Here's another one today. Yo-Yo Ma's recordings, which number close to 100 (!), have won 18 Grammy Awards. What is the name of his brand new disc? It was our featured New Release last week. Answer >>


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      Hear the Infernal Sounds of H.P. Lovecraft

          The stories of H.P. Lovecraft, one of horror fiction’s forefathers, have influenced artists in all disciplines from authors like Stephen King and Jorge Luis Borges to film directors like Guillermo Del Toro and John Carpenter. But, did you know that Lovecraft has also inspired composers? Composer Ryan Ingebritsen is gearing up for the more... more...

      QUIZ – What Fairy Tale Opera Are You?

      Everyone loves a fairy tale, and one of the most magical ways to experience one is at the opera house! Some of the most beloved operas of all time are inspired by fairy tales and other enchanting stories. What fairy tale opera are you? more...

      10 Facts About Bach’s Coffee Opera You Need to Know

      Yup, that's right, J.S. Bach wrote a chamber opera about coffee. And not just coffee, coffee addiction! Here's some facts about Bach's "Coffee Cantata" and how the piece came to be about. more...

      With 3 operas on 1 night, which do you pick?

      When three opera companies in one city all open their seasons on the same night, which opera do you attend? On Saturday, September 26, 2015, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, and Chicago Fringe Opera opened their seasons, performing The Marriage of Figaro, Lucio Silla, and The Turn of the Screw respectively. With two more... more...

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      Tigran Hamasyan: Luys i Luso review – lyrical folk meditation

      Yerevan State Chamber Choir/Topikyan

      Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyancan be a hectic stage act – think high-voltage fusions of hip-hop, pop and buzzy, polished jazz – but his debut ECM album strips right back to his most lyrical folk intuitions. Luys i Luso is a meditation around the sacred music of his home country on the centenary of the Armenian genocide. The material ranges from fifth century sharakans to newer hymns arranged for piano and voices. At its heart is the beautifully rough-grained sound of Armenia’s leading choir conducted by Harutyun Topikyan, with its gentle, unwavering sopranos and spine-tingling low bass drones unfolding in intense slow builds and thick chordal textures. Around them Hamasyan improvises contemplative, spacious and only occasionally nervy commentary. Hints of American post-minimalism are there and he lost me with one or two overblown climaxes, but mostly the language is deft and sensitive – best when he does the least and lets the voices speak for themselves.

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      Ravel: L’Enfant et les sortileges, Ma Mère l’Oye review – solid, affectionate, but a little too grown-up

      Orchestre National de Lyon/Slatkin

      Ravel’s dark fairytale opera L’enfant et les Sortileges opens with just a pair of roaming oboes, one of the most ambiguous and beguiling 90 seconds in all opera. Leonard Slatkin’s new recording with the Orchestre National de Lyon is solid, affectionate and tinged with a touching melancholy, but it all feels a bit grown-up. Things never get properly zany, magical or sinister. Orchestral colours are well-defined but tame. The galling final scene is matter-of-fact. Those oboes roam with feet staunchly on the ground. Vocal performances are relaxed and characterful, cabaret louche in parts and sparky in dialogue. Helene Hebrard sounds beautiful in the title role, though this naughty Child is more tender and reflective than brazenly petulant. The other work on the disc is the ballet music to Mother Goose – again Slatkin’s fairytale world is beautifully calibrated but rather literal. Ravel, a composer with the most wondrous imagination, deserves a little more conjuring.

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      Janacek/Dvorak: Sinfonietta/Ninth Symphony review – meaty, boisterous programme on period instruments

      Anima Eterna Brugge/Van Immerseel

      Thirty years ago, conductor Jos Van Immerseel gathered a handful of string players to explore French baroque and Viennese classical repertoire on period instruments. Now he’s marking his 70th birthday with Anima Eterna Brugge and this meaty Czech symphonic programme – still using period instruments, though a few centuries newer. In Janacek’s 1926 Sinfonietta, the impact is pretty subtle. Violins play on E strings made of gut rather than steel and slap on plenty of idiomatic slides between notes, but mostly it’s the light, bright articulation and taut energy that give away the band’s baroque sensibility. Patches of scrappy violin playing come as a bit of a jolt, but the brass fanfares are terrific – boisterous but clear as a bell. In Dvorak’s New World Symphony, the wind solos have a svelte, silvery charm, but Immerseel’s pacing tends toward plodding and the strings never find the dark-hewn heft they need.

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      travel feature

      Discover WFMT's Classical Italy next May! Join Peter van de Graaff on this exclusive twelve-day classical music lover's journey to "Bella Italia" next May. Imagine staying in the heart of Venice in a restored old abbey and experiencing Donizetti' opera La favorite at the historic La Fenice Opera House!

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      new releases

      Dvorak: New World Symphony

      DSO Live

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      A Festival of Julius Fucik

      Chandos CHSA-5158

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      Chopin: Preludes

      Deutsche Grammophon 481 1910

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      The Franchomme Project

      Delos DE-3469

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      Parry: Choral Music

      Hyperion CDA-68089

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