For a single-package introduction to the music of William Walton, it would be hard to do better than this two-disc set from EMI. Not only is the selection impeccable (including the First Symphony, Belshazzar's Feast, the violin and viola concertos, plus the Partita, for orchestra), but the performances, with the composer conducting, are, for all intents and purposes, definitive.
Violinist Tim Fain has worked extensively with minimalist composer Philip Glass in performances and in the preparation of new pieces, and the most impressive result of their collaboration may be the Partita for solo violin (2010), a seven-movement suite written especially for Fain. Associations with Johann Sebastian Bach's violin partitas are inevitable, and it's clear that Glass has had them in mind while composing in what can be described as an aspirational, rather than a merely imitative, manner. Glass has for the most part avoided his customary ostinatos and static sections, and his use of broken chords only suggests counterpoint, rather than propulsive rhythmic patterns. He has also eschewed any direct references to Bach or Baroque style, yet the Partita's kinship with the older models is certainly felt, and Fain's playing has a lot to do with it. The ebb and flow of tempos and the expressive use of rubato give the Partita an introspective feeling, and the freedom of individual expression is quite removed from the locked-in, high-energy ensemble playing that was Glass' early trademark style.
Finnish guitarist Timo Korhonen has already released his own arrangements of Bach’s solo violin sonatas. Now he turns his attention to the partitas and gives fascinating interpretations of these bottomless works. Any guitarist transcribing Bach has to contend with the spirit of Segovia but Korhonen manages convincingly to carve his own path in this music, even if he doesn’t quite shake off the shade of the Spanish master.
Naxos' album devoted to Carson Cooman's instrumental works, including symphonies, chamber music, and solos, represents an infinitesimal portion of his output; his opus numbers were in the 700s before he was out of his mid-twenties, and include pieces written in virtually every genre of Western music. Inevitably, there are some areas in which he will be stronger than others. His choral music is especially compelling: well written for the voice, with excellent text setting in a style that is not simple, but is also immediately engaging.
2CD set "The Art of Fugue" is the long-anticipated 4th volume in Richard Troeger's ground breaking, world premiere series of Bach performed on the clavichord, exclusively from the Lyrichord Early Music Series. This edition features the complete Art of the Fugue, along with stunning violin transcriptions, and fantasias, including the thrilling "Chromatic Fantasia" and "Fugue." The first three volumes garnered raves reviews both here and abroad.
Violinist Vaughan Jones brings us a fascinating collection of 18th century solo works. Three hundred years after their first publication, Austrian composer Johann Joseph Vilsmayr's Six Partitas for Solo Violin are recorded here in their entirety for the first time. Johann Georg Pisendel was a famous Baroque violinist and composer. His fiendishly difficult Violin Sonata is an unpredictable, tempestuous and capricious work, showing great scope and ambition. To round out the recording, Jones plays the famous Passacaglia by Biber - a somber, moving work and a perfect end to this noteworthy set.