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Top 10 Classical Releases, February 2014

by Seth Colter Walls

Top 10 Classical Releases, February 2014


There aren't a lot of recordings on the market by the famously idiosyncratic early minimalist La Monte Young -- the man who collaborated with (and influenced) John Cale, and thus, in turn had a hand in stirring The Velvet Underground. But we've got two of his piano pieces in this month's mix of the best recent classical recordings! "Study No. 2" is a prickly, short bit of atonality (he wrote it for the Euro-modernists in Darmstadt, before going fully minimalist), and an amazing chance to hear where Young started out. The much-later "Sarabande" is a calmer affair, featuring some of the repetitive gestures for which Young became widely known. It's a gorgeous piece and is not available (in its solo piano version) on any other recording.

Both performances come as part of Yvar Mikhashoff's posthumous release Panorama of American Piano Music, in which the pianist tackles an impressive range of repertoire. In addition to the Young tidbits, he's also got pieces by the likes of Charles Ives, Philip Glass and Frank Zappa (whose "Piano Introduction to 'Little House I Used to Live In'" is in our mix, too). It's a good month for recent American music, with other albums in our mix featuring recent works by Christopher Rouse, John Adams and Kate Soper (whose work we devoted more attention to in this recent post).

But we don't just have modernist American classical in this month's playlist. We've also got some gorgeous Vivaldi concerti, as well as a set of 15 inventions by Bach (the latter played by Bach stylist Simone Dinnerstein). And then there's Jenny Lin's standout new album of Stravinsky piano music. So click play, and then navigate back to the track list below in order to keep track of which composer wrote the piece you're hearing. Enjoy!

Track 1: Igor Stravinsky, "Tango"
Track 2: John Adams, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine"
Tracks 3-5: Vivaldi, Concerto RV 523 in A Minor
Track 6: Kate Soper, "1. Prelude: May Kasahara"
Track 7: Johann Strauss Jr., "Egyptischer Marsch"
Track 8: La Monte Young, "Study No. 2"
Track 9: Young, "Sarabande"
Track 10: Marcus Balter, "Strohbass"
Tracks 11-25: Bach, Inventions
Track 26: Christopher Rouse, Oboe Concerto
Tracks 27-29: Stravinsky, Piano Sonata
Track 30: Soper, "V. Mad Scene: Emma Bovary"
Track 31: Philip Glass, "Opening"
Track 32: Richard Strauss, "Capriccio: Mondscheinmusik"
Tracks 33-34: Richard Strauss, Also sprach Zarathustra
Track 35: Soper, "VIII. Her Voice Is Full of Money"
Tracks 36-38: Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major (Waldstein)
Track 39: Franco Donatoni, "Hot"
Track 40: Frank Zappa, "Piano Introduction to 'Little House I Used to Live In'"
Tracks 41-43: Adams, Dr. Atomic Symphony

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