Holiday Gift Suggestions from VPR Hosts
VPR's music hosts Walter Parker, George Thomas, Cheryl Willoughby, and Joe Goetz suggest some of their favorite music as gifts for the Holiday Season.
The new Messiah this year is an intimate, lucid, and joyous account by Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, led by Stephen Layton on Hyperion.
Two unique and classic recordings of incidental music are available again. Both contain more of the music than we usually hear and both
benefit from the participation of soprano Elly Ameling:
Grieg: Peer Gynt
Each summer, Claudio Abbado hand-picks the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. The devotion of the players to Abbado is palpable in thrilling DVDs of Mahler Symphonies. The Fifth Symphony DVD allows the viewer to choose the director's camera choices or cameras remaining on Abbado.
Symphony 2 : Symphony 3 : Symphony 5 : Symphony 6 : Symphony 7 : Symphony 9
CD: Allen Toussaint "The Bright Mississippi" Nonesuch (2009)
With Allen's piano rooted in New Orleans' blues, Marc Ribot takes the avant-garde evening off to swing hard, but relaxed, on Django's and Nicholas Payton's trumpet that brings forth the presence of Louis Armstrong without being an exact copy.
Poetry: Louise Gluck "A Village Life" FSG
Pulitzer Prize winning, Poet Laureate of Vermont 1994-98 with detailed, at times funny, poems about out-of-time village life.
Biography: Robin D.G. Kelley "Thelonious Monk - The Life And Times Of An American Original" Free Press/Simon&Schuster
One of best, most detailed, especially in it's many pages of notes, book on a music figure. The detail lies in the surrounding wealth of political, cultural and race history that put every event in Monk's life into proper context. I learned something new on each page.
Photography: Larry Fink "Somewhere There's Music" Damiani (2006)
Often dark black & white images, many of jazz musicians, remind me at times of the late Roy DaCarava but Larry Fink's are sharp takes on The Life with printed quotes from several musicians/writers like Dave Liebman and this one from Roswell Rudd, "You blow in this end of the trombone and sound comes out the other end and disrupts the cosmos"
Einojuhani Rautavaara: 12 Concertos
This collection features many of today's top musicians (Richard Stolzman, Patrick Gallois, Vladimir Ashkenazy) in some of the Finnish composer's defining works for solo instruments.
Renee Fleming: Verismo
Renee Fleming sings her heart out and then some on this vivid collection of arias from Puccini, Catalani, Masgagni, and other 'verismo' opera composers.
My two suggestions are settings of the Russian Orthodox All-Night Vigil. The first is well-known, written in 1915 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and features the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
Woody Guthrie "My Dusty Road" box set of tracks lovingly transferred from long-lost masters re-discovered recently in New York City. The sound quality is a revelation!