Ondine’s third release with the star baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is devoted to sacred works by Russian composers and Russian folk songs. Hvorostovsky is accompanied by the prestigious Russian Grand Choir “Masters of Choral Singing,” conducted by Lev Kontorovich, a choir that keeps up the best traditions of Russian choral singing.
"I like the organ — but I have a particular flair for string instruments." Anyone who has a slight acquaintance with Iannis Xenakis's music will suspect that his liking for string instruments does not derive from early childhood memories or some other sentimental origin. The technical characteristics and sonorities of string instruments are so much part of his soundworld that we may well wonder if it did not actually develop out of string sound in the first place.
- Michael Struck-Schloen (from the attached booklet)
Irina Muresanu writes of this release: “It all started when I tackled Mark O’Connor’s “Cricket Dance.” It is a short, straightforward tune that requires the skills of an intermediate player, and yet it took me an absurdly long time to learn. To put things in context: I was capable of learning whole violin concertos in a matter of weeks, so why was the O’Connor piece so hard to get under my fingers? Could it have been because it was written in a musical style completely different than my classical training? And if so, how many more different languages were there outside of the traditional/standard repertoire? With this idea, I started my exploration of works reflecting the ways the violin (including its ancestors and relatives) is employed in musical settings worldwide. What resulted is Four Strings Around the World, a celebration of diverse cultures refracted through the unifying voice of solo violin, a project which immersed me in sounds and colors I didn’t even realize could be produced by my own instrument…”
Michael Head, former frontman of the Pale Fountains and current co-leader along with his brother John – who is also a Strand – of Brit pop outfit Shack, turns in a stellar chamber pop performance with Magical World of the Strands. Head, who is no stranger to either classy, baroque pop or neo-psychedelia, has composed an album of gorgeously illustrated songs that are lushly orchestrated by a standard rock quartet augmented by a flutist (Leslie Roberts) and a string quartet. The result is an album that, while little known, is a classic, a masterpiece of modern chamber pop.
Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons sway listeners’ emotions by depicting how country-folk in 18th-century Italy react to the joy of Spring, the heat of Summer, Autumn wine and Winter storms. In north-western Finland, the ancient tradition of folk-fiddle playing in Kaustinen has nurtured a new generation of string players, leading to the formation of two world-class orchestras (modern and baroque) in the region.