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Chamber Music - Released September 17, 2021 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released August 20, 2021 | Azica Records

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Anchored in an optimistic synthesis of classical, folk, rock and electronic music, "With Malice Toward None" elevates the idea of what it means to be human in the 21st century. Pamela Z artfully deconstructs her folk rock heroes while paying homage to youthful nostalgia and childhood songcraft, while Christopher Theofanidis and Mark Wingate partner to craft a jaggedly ethereal adaptation of poet Samuel Beckett’s haunting final masterpiece. Eve Beglarian’s epic Armenian fantasia (We Will Sing One Song) taps into the elemental desire to connect - its yearning, duduk-inspired glissandi and enchanting melismas diverge and reunite as they crisscross digital soundscapes; virtuosic percussion improvisations lead to a place of sonic enlightenment. With tradition beckoning, newly arranged Armenian folk songs find their voice, over a century removed from ethnomusicological discovery. The album’s titular track personifies the life of its creator, weaving storytelling and social contradictions with Enlightenment calls to action and good old-fashioned rock’n’roll. Communing with artists across the globe, Apollo Chamber Players expands its bold take on our collective contemporary experience, innovating beyond the boundaries of time, place and pandemic. © Azica Records
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Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | Azica Records

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“It cannot be easy to write for solo piano: so many magnificent sounds of the 18th and 19th centuries abide in the ears of today’s pianists and concertgoers. By including some of his favorite Chopin miniatures alongside three major piano pieces from the 1990’s, Thomas Sauer could well stand accused of an all-too-common reluctance to break from the past. He prefers to treat with this vexed situation pragmatically, acknowledging the reality that most of his listeners will perceive the new refracted through the lens of the old, and that some will simply be more inclined to keep listening when given a dose of the familiar together with the strange. All three recent works recorded here bear some imprint of the pianistic past - each in a different way - and yet all three successfully outrun it. © Azica Records
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Classical - Released July 9, 2021 | Azica Records

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David Russell joins Azica Records as releases his latest album of contemporary works written just for him. Classical guitarist David Russell is world renowned for his superb musicianship and inspired artistry, having earned the highest praise from audiences and critics alike. In recognition of his great talent and his international career, he was named a "Fellow of The Royal Academy of Music" in London in 1997. In May 2003 he was bestowed the great honor of being made "adopted son" of Es Migjorn, the town in Minorca where he grew up. Later the town named a street after him, "Avinguda David Russell". David Russell spends his time touring the world, appearing regularly at prestigious halls in main cities, such as New York, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Madrid, Toronto or Rome. Concert-goers everywhere are in awe of his musical genius and inspired by his captivating stage presence. His love of his craft resonates through his flawless and seemingly effortless performance. The attention to detail and provocative lyrical phrasing suggest an innate understanding of what each individual composer was working to achieve, bringing to each piece a sense of adventure. © Azica Records
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Chamber Music - Released July 9, 2021 | Azica Records

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The award winning Aeolus Quartet offers the second installment in their Many-Sided Music Project. This ongoing project collects distinctive voices of American composers, combining the classic with the modern. "Ariel and Other Poems" takes its name from the original title of Sylvia Plath's last manuscript. The poems contained therein include the work that inspired Christopher Theofanidis' Ariel Ascending, and joined by the rich expansive tones of the Copland, the buzzing electricity of the Mazzoli, and the deep catharsis of the Barber : the album "Ariel and Other Poems" seeks to offer a small sampling of the multi-faceted collection of American chamber music. © ARS-Produktion
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Chamber Music - Released June 25, 2021 | Azica Records

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The liner notes to this release, with its brief title "Diffusion", don't shed a lot of light on the Verona Quartet. The biography on the group's website offers a little bit more information. The four musicians (Jonathan Ong, Dorothy Ro, violins – Abigail Rojansky, viola – Jonathan Dormand, cello) of this North American quartet, residing since August 2020 at the prestigious Oberlin College and Conservatory, have cultivated something of an air of mystery.To get to the bottom of things, we have to get familiar with their music, and what a wonderful surprise! The sounds, textures and timbres are a real pleasure. What is immediately striking upon listening to this original programme, which combines three mesmerising and captivating quartets from the early twentieth century in a summary of the most striking aesthetics of that era in Europe, is the balance inherent in the ensemble. The polyphony enjoys incredible clarity; the attacks are distinguished by their captivating sharpness, free of dryness; the textures are adorned with constantly changing hues, which keep the listener in suspense—listen to the very beautiful Allegro moderato from Ravel's Quartet (1903), which truly is "très doux", as the composer put it, in terms of its phrasing as much as its breath and expressive intentions. The Ravelian sweetness here is also of the utmost tenderness. Impressive!The desire for precision from the four members of the Verona Quartet never takes them into the field of strict objectivity or cold analysis. Ravel's Quartet closes this album with a few moments of very rare poetry, but the sound of Verona always contains a certain je-ne-sais-quoi which is gently playful, or slightly arch (Ravel, Assez vif), and which shines an unusual light on the expressive ambivalences of Lettres intimes by Janáček (January-February 1928), which is very adroitly balanced between the nostalgic and the mischievous. What about Szymanowski? The Verona Quartet situate him precisely between two worlds, as concerned with Viennese ancestry as with the Slavic folk spirit: the ample melodic lines (Moderato dolce e tranquillo) and the polyphonic games (Lento) radiate with the same power as the spirit of rupture that sometimes produces some very spicy harmonic friction (Vivace, scherzando). Highly recommended. © Pierre-Yves Lascar / Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 4, 2021 | Azica Records

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The idea of writing classical concert music based on Native American materials dates back to the so-called "Indianist" school of the early 20th century, but the execution of the idea by Native American composers is much rarer and is devoutly to be wished. Composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the Chickasaw Nation, and he is an important practitioner of this difficult art. Lowak Shoppala' is a multimedia piece in eight scenes, featuring orchestra, multiple narrators, a Chickasaw children's chorus, traditional Chickasaw and modern dancers and vocal soloists, and Native American storytellers. Each scene "depicts a part of Chickasaw culture and history," from traditional spiritual ideas to the removal of the tribe from its traditional Southeastern U.S. homelands. The narration is in English, but the musical sections in the libretto by Linda Hogan, are in the Chickasaw language. This is remarkable, for the number of fluent speakers of Chickasaw numbers only in the dozens; Tate and Hogan are two of these. Tate's basic mode is to expand the pitch and melodic content of traditional chants into larger orchestral and choral structures. The non-Chickasaw influences on the work may include the time Tate spent as a pianist with touring productions of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon; although it does not have a plot as such, the work hangs together as theater and will consistently hold the interest of listeners far beyond the sphere of Native American music. Its historical and environmental themes are very powerful, and one is also compelled to recognize the large number of forces successfully brought together here. The album was recorded in four different locations, but the material has been expertly mastered by engineers from the Azica label, which has a long record of exposing the most diverse kinds of American music. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released February 5, 2021 | Azica Records

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With this release, the Catalyst Quartet launches the "Uncovered" series, devoted to unjustly neglected works by Black composers. The group begins with Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who a century ago would probably have been the best known of the group, with his cantatas on Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha widely performed and supported by the British musical establishment. Coleridge-Taylor's chamber music dates from early in his career before he traveled to the U.S. and began to investigate his African American roots, and to a degree, the works here have the flavor of student compositions, most of all the opening Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 1. All of the pieces show Dvořák as a model, and the most persuasive is the set of Five Fantasiestücke for string quartet, Op. 5, adept and thoroughly enjoyable extensions of the fantastic element in the Czech composer's music. The music certainly makes one regret Coleridge-Taylor's early death, probably the result of financial difficulties, and it also whets the appetite for future releases in the Catalyst's series; the performances, especially by clarinetist Anthony McGill in the Clarinet Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 10, are very strong. The Clarinet Quintet also shows the influence of Brahms, whom Coleridge-Taylor's teacher, Charles Villiers Stanford, challenged him to emulate and even exceed ("You've done it, me boy!" Stanford exclaimed for his part). Azica errs with a rather harsh college concert hall sound, but this release more than accomplishes what it sets out to do. Volume 2 will be devoted to Florence Price, a composer in dire need of wider exposure. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released February 5, 2021 | Azica Records

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Folk/Americana - Released February 14, 2020 | Azica Records

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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released November 15, 2019 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released October 25, 2019 | Azica Records

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The young Dover Quartet has garnered plenty of attention, with prizes, residences, and critical raves for recordings on the Cedille label. Here, the group moves to the similarly high-quality Azica label for a recording of Schumann's three string quartets, and it is to be hoped that this will snare the major-label attention the quartet richly deserves. The Schumann quartets, harmonically and contrapuntally dense, have not always been considered friendly to listeners, but here, they receive performances that balance Schumann's intensive studies of Beethoven and Haydn with his natural boldness and harmonic experimentation. In the Dover's performances, Schumann seems rooted in Beethoven but pushing the formal and harmonic frontiers at every turn. The group's slow movements catch the transcendent Beethoven spirit that Schumann tried to match, and there is a real sense of surprise in the harmonic turns of the Scherzo of the String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41, No. 2. The quartet brings real excitement to works that have all too often not had it. This release was nominated as the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance at the 2020 Grammy awards. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released October 25, 2019 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released August 16, 2019 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released July 19, 2019 | Azica Records

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The combination of guitar and string quartet, natural and flexible though it may seem, is uncommon in performance: some 300 works exist, but most are rarely performed. Yet guitarist Jason Vieaux and the Escher Quartet have managed to assemble a coherent program with a single theme, that of the dance. The entire album is lively, vigorous, and varied, but if you want to skip to the best, sample the finale of concluding work, the Guitar Quintet No. 4 in D major of Luigi Boccherini. Boccherini was a specialist in this genre who used the percussive capabilities of both the guitar and the string quartet in colorful works that evoke the composer's adopted country of Spain. His fandango finale here, complete with castanets, is irresistible. The other two works on the album are also a lot of fun: Aaron Jay Kernis' 100 Greatest Dance Hits lives up to its dance billing with nods to disco, easy listening, salsa, and party pop in its four (not 100) movements, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Guitar Quintet, Op. 143, an elegant work written for Andrés Segovia whose lilting melodies suggest dance even though they are ordinary sonata movements. Azica engineers' choice of a college auditorium results in a cavernous, chilly sound, but this is an entirely enjoyable hour of chamber music. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 17, 2019 | Azica Records

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This live program from the Rochester Philharmonic under Ward Stare features two world premieres, by Jennifer Higdon and Patrick Harlin. The Higdon Harp Concerto of 2018 is a real find. Higdon has long been known as a fine orchestrator and as a composer of idiomatically written concertos for solo instruments, but she outdoes herself here. For one thing, the harpist is Yolanda Kondonassis, for whom Higdon wrote the work; she is an exceptional player, both charismatic and versatile. The finale, "Rap Knock," is not influenced by hip-hop, but calls for extended technique from Kondonassis in the form of rapping on the harp and interacting with the orchestra's percussion section. Sample the second movement, "Joy Ride," where the percussive quality of the harp strings themselves is exploited, as the harp unfolds several different relationships with the exuberant orchestra. The third-movement "Lullaby" is a beautiful harp nocturne. Harlin's Rapture (also not influenced by hip-hop) has a program regarding a mystical experience of caves that you might not guess; it's also a well-orchestrated work. The Symphony No. 1, Op. 9, of Samuel Barber, although not far in time from the Adagio for Strings, is miles removed from it expressively. It's a dense, rather edgy single-movement encapsulation of four-movement symphonic form, and it's not often played. The clarity of Stare's readings extends to this work here, and it's all the more impressive given that this is a live recording. Cleveland's small Azica label achieves world-class results at Rochester's Kodak Hall. Recommended. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released May 17, 2019 | Azica Records

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Chamber Music - Released November 16, 2018 | Azica Records

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Arrangements of works by Astor Piazzolla for classical ensembles are common enough, but the ordinary piano trio is a rare medium -- even if the arrangements on Celebrating Piazzolla come from close associates of the great tango composer, José Bragato and Leonardo Suárez Paz (the latter represented by one of his own tango compositions at the end), both of whom were members of Piazzolla's ensembles. As it happens, the U.S.-based Neave Trio proves an ideal classical medium for Piazzolla's Las cuatros estaciones porteñas (The Buenos Aires Four Seasons): the music is neither softened by string groups or classical winds, nor simplified in its contrapuntal and harmonic complexity: the violin and cello, with double stops, pick up most of the detail and catch the variety of attacks created in the original by the combination of piano and Piazzolla's bandoneón. Another attraction here is the group of Piazzolla's songs, much less commonly played than his instrumental music. The trio works well here, too. Mezzo soprano Carla Jablonski has a bit of an American accent but the right slightly smoky tone for the material; she's at her best in Yo soy María, from Piazzolla's tango "operita," María de Buenos Aires. An offbeat Piazzolla release that's recommended for fans of the great tanguero. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Azica Records

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