Press Room

This Year’s Album Releases from 21C Artists

It’s been another busy year in the studio for 21C artists. As we approach the season of gift guides, Grammys and year-end round-ups, here’s a reminder of the recordings released by 21C’s artists over the past twelve months, in repertoire ranging from Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Bartók classics to new music from Amanda Lee Falkenberg, Malek Jandali, Jessie Montgomery and a cornucopia of other original voices.

Albums already released in 2023

Marin Alsop: Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (Jan 27, Naxos)

In January, Naxos released the second and final installment of Marin Alsop’s complete Schumann symphonic cycle as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Comprising Mahler’s reorchestrations of Schumann’s Third and Fourth Symphonies, the album received a five-star review from BBC Music magazine, which praised the “lively tempo and crisp articulation” of “Alsop’s performances, which are gripping.” (See below for Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, released Oct 2022.)

Marin Alsop: Kevin Puts: Marimba Concerto, The City, & Oboe Concerto No. 2 “Moonlight” (Feb 24, Naxos)

During her outstanding 14-year tenure as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducted the world premieres of two works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts: his oboe concerto Moonlight and The City, a portrait of Baltimore that contemplates the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in 2015. Both works may be heard alongside the same composer’s Marimba Concerto on Alsop’s newest recording with the orchestra, released by Naxos American Classics in February. As MusicWeb International found, the performances “are excellent, and Alsop directs them with an obvious understanding of the Puts soundworld.”

Rafael Payare and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal: Mahler: Symphony No. 5 (March 3, Pentatone)

In his first season as Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra / OSM), Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare made his OSM album debut with an account of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Released in March by Pentatone, the recording was an Editor’s Choice in both Gramophone and BBC Music magazine, which confessed: “Hand on heart, it’s a long while since I’ve enjoyed a new Mahler Five as much as this.” Classic Review admired the “tangible chemistry between Payare and the orchestra,” and Gramophone pronounced their performance “a reading of Mahler’s Fifth of intensity and rich orchestral exploration, a real marker in their ongoing partnership.”

Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra: The American Project (March 10, Deutsche Grammophon)

Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra made their respective Deutsche Grammophon debuts on Yuja Wang’s album The American Project, featuring the Piano Concerto that Abrams wrote for her to perform with the orchestra in 2022. MusicWeb International found the work “athletic, virtuosic and direct,” concluding: “all in all, a big cheer for the players, the piece and the performance.” Friends since their student days at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, Abrams and Wang continued to collaborate following Abrams’s appointment as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra in 2014, and though they originally conceived it as a companion piece to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Abrams’s Concerto soon blossomed into a 35-minute standalone showpiece for the pianist. The composer explains: “It’s extremely technically challenging to play – written for Yuja’s exceptional capabilities – and it’s also a positive, joyous work. …. The piece traverses a wide range of populist musical genres, from ragtime to funk and Latin jazz, but it’s also Romantic in its sensibilities.” Also included on the album is You Come Here Often?, created for Wang by another close friend, Michael Tilson Thomas, who is also Abrams’s mentor. Both works were recorded live with Abrams conducting the Louisville Orchestra.

Rebecca Scout Nelson: Do Not Lament (March 10, Il Pirata Records)

Bluegrass meets the Baroque on Do Not Lament, the debut recording by vocalist and Baroque violinist Rebecca Scout Nelson. Through her original songs and instrumentals, interspersed with her own early-music arrangements, Nelson tells a powerfully personal story of love, loss and grief, inspired by the tragic death of her younger sister. Drawing on diverse musical traditions to create its own distinct yet highly accessible sound world, Do Not Lament was released digitally in March by Il Pirata Records. Describing it as “the crossover album you never knew you needed,” the SoundBodyWellness blog concluded: “It’s touching, intimate, and completely relatable. … You should buy this album. That’s a fact. It’s a rare beauty.”

Chanticleer: On a Clear Day (April 21, Platoon)

April brought Platoon’s release of On a Clear Day by Chanticleer. Tracing an emotional arc from darkness to light, the album showcases the premiere studio recordings of music commissioned and arranged for the multiple Grammy-winning vocal group over the past two decades. Featured composers include Mason Bates, Stephen Paulus, Ayanna Woods, George Walker and Tania León, whose music rubs shoulders with original arrangements of “Stormy Weather,” “Both Sides Now” and the title track. In a five-star review, Gramophone wrote: “The entire programme is delivered with the skilful aplomb one expects from these voices.”

Tessa Lark: The Stradgrass Sessions (May 5, First Hand Records)

Grammy-nominated violinist Tessa Lark’s new album, The Stradgrass Sessions, features an all-star roster of collaborators and composers: bassist Edgar Meyer, pianist Jon Batiste, mandolinist Sierra Hull and fiddler Michael Cleveland. Album selections mix original compositions by Lark and her collaborators with a sonata by Eugène Ysaÿe, a selection of Bartók’s violin duets arranged for violin and mandolin, and the world premiere recording of John Corigliano’s STOMP. Gramophone praised the album’s “wonderful warmth,” adding that Lark’s sound is “bright, with no-nonsense attack and clarity of note” and “a gorgeously harmonic approach towards intonation.” The violinist explains: “The word ‘Stradgrass’ first came about in 2015, from the novelty of performing bluegrass on the Stradivari I was playing at the time. … Hearing bluegrass played on a Strad is unusual, unfortunately, so I thought it warranted its own term.” She describes the album as “a snapshot of the way I live in music; diversely, organically, intimately, sometimes collaboratively, sometimes solitarily, always sincerely.”

Marin Alsop: Malek Jandali: Concertos (May 12, Cedille Records)

Chief Conductor Marin Alsop and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra anchor the world premiere recordings of new violin and clarinet concertos by Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali. Released by Cedille Records in May, with violinist Rachel Barton Pine and clarinetist Anthony McGill as soloists, “this accomplished album of concertos aptly showcases Jandali’s compositional approach with two strong solo performances” (BBC Music magazine).

Edgar Meyer: As We Speak (May 12, Thirty Tigers)

On the new album As We Speak, bassist Edgar Meyer is joined by his longtime friends and collaborators banjoist Béla Fleck, tabla player Zakir Hussain and bansuri player Rakesh Chaurasia. Americana UK found the album a “true mix of all the participants. They bring their own expertise but are also open to listening to their band mates and responding to their contributions, and from that something unique and wonderful has been created.” The album showcases the group’s breathtaking abilities as instrumentalists and the wide range of their influences, from the cerebral complexity of Indian rhythm and raga to the gut-level groove of a funky bass line.

Daniel Hope: Music for a New Century (June 2, Deutsche Grammophon)

To celebrate the New Century Chamber Orchestra’s 30th anniversary, Music Director Daniel Hope leads the ensemble from the violin on Music for a New Century. Also featuring Ukrainian pianist Alexey Botvinov, this June release from Deutsche Grammophon offers four works commissioned or co-commissioned by the orchestra from Philip Glass, Tan Dun, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Jake Heggie, three of them in world premiere recordings. As The Guardian noted, their contrasting compositions “provide a fine showcase for Hope and his ensemble.”

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Contemporary American Composers (June 16, CSO Resound)

Under the leadership of Riccardo Muti, in the final season of his 13-year tenure as its Music Director, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) performs works by Contemporary American Composers. Released in June by CSO Resound, the album presents live recordings of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 11 and of two CSO commissions, both receiving world premiere recordings: Hymn for Everyone by CSO Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery and Three Lisel Mueller Settings, featuring mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, by CSO violist Max Raimi. As the Chicago Reader put it, “If this is Muti’s final recorded word with the CSO, it’s a powerful mike drop.”

Pat Metheny: Dream Box (June 16, BMG Modern Recordings)

Legendary American guitarist, composer and improviser Pat Metheny’s newest album, Dream Box, was released this past spring on the BMG Modern Recordings label. Comprising nine “found tracks” for “quiet electric guitar,” Metheny describes it as “a unique recording for me; it is essentially a compilation of solo tracks recorded across a few years that I only [re-]discovered while listening on tour.” Though initially the recordings were unrelated, when Metheny began rummaging through them on tour he discovered his favorites emerging as a coherent whole. Pitchfork raved that the album provides “a fascinating peek into [Metheny’s] creative mind,” and that the guitarist “remains underrated for his unending drive to experiment and challenge himself.” The same review, describing the single “From the Mountains,” said: “The effect is like watching the sun rise over an unfamiliar city, new contours filling in as the light starts to spread.”

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: Tchaikovsky & Schulhoff: Orchestral Works (July 28, Reference Recordings)

Grammy-winning Music Director Manfred Honeck leads the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in live accounts of Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces, arranged for full orchestra by Tomáš Ille and Honeck himself, and of Tchaikovsky’s stirring Fifth Symphony. Released in July by Reference Recordings, the album was featured by Gramophone as an Editor’s Choice and Recording of the Month, scored five-star reviews in both BBC Music magazine and Classical Source, and prompted Arts Fuse to marvel: “It’s a doozy! … Don’t miss it: the Honeck/Pittsburgh partnership – thankfully, well-documented – is simply one of the best there is.”

Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the San Francisco Symphony: Bartók: Piano Concertos (Sep 15, Pentatone)

Grammy-winning French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs all three of Bartók’s piano concertos on his new recording with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, released by Pentatone in September. Reviewing the new album, the Arts Fuse concluded: “We’ve got something special here: a fresh take on some canonic works by a conductor and soloist whose bread-and-butter is this very fare.” Veteran BBC Radio 3 broadcaster and writer Rob Cowan agreed: “This for me is the best set of Bartók piano concertos we’ve had in a very long while, much to be recommended.”

Alan Gilbert: Oceans Apart (Sep 15, Bridge Records)

Grammy-winner Alan Gilbert conducts the world premiere recording of Oceans Apart, a piano concerto by former Classical Recording Foundation “Composer of the Year” Justin Dello Joio, on this September release from Bridge Records. The album features the work’s dedicatee, Grammy-winning pianist Garrick Ohlsson, and the commissioning Boston Symphony Orchestra – the same forces with which Gilbert gave the concerto’s acclaimed world premiere performances last winter, when he “masterfully shaped the BSO’s rendering of this densely layered score” (Boston Globe).

Grammy-eligible albums released in 2022

Inbal Segev: 20 for 2020: vol. 4; and complete set (Oct 7; Nov 11, Avie)

Long known as an established driving force in the creation of new cello repertoire for the 21st century, Inbal Segev released the fourth and final volume in her “20 for 2020” long-term commissioning project on Avie Records last fall. Shortly thereafter was the physical release of a 2-CD boxed set of all four volumes, comprising twenty commissioned compositions for cello by some of today’s most sought-after composers. Segev launched this major new project in fall of 2020, galvanized by the unprecedented worldwide crises that characterized that year, to capture something of that collective experience and to encourage creative recovery from it. Composers featured in Volume IV are Camille El Bacha, Stewart Goodyear, Molly Joyce, and Immanuel Wilkins, and the physical album features a bonus track by Segev herself. The entire project was praised by The Strad for “lush, nuanced, never less than assertively projected playing.” Gramophone likewise appreciated the cellist’s “understated authority,” finding her to be “a secure advocate for the widest range of musical idioms.” The same review concluded: “Finely recorded and with copious notes, this labor of love has an ambition matched by its achievement.”

Marin Alsop: Amanda Lee Falkenberg: The Moons Symphony (Oct 7, Signum Classics)

Marin Alsop leads the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices choir on the premiere recording of The MOONS Symphony by Los Angeles Music Award-nominee Amanda Lee Falkenberg. A seven-movement work created in consultation with astronauts from the International Space Station and scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency, the symphony was recognized with Corporate Vision magazine’s Media Innovative Award for “Most Promising Modern Orchestral Symphony Production 2020.” “This is music designed to grab the listener’s attention. It also happens to be right up the alley of conductor Marin Alsop,” wrote All Music. “Alsop secures excellent playing from the London Symphony Orchestra,” agreed Gramophone magazine.

Marin Alsop: Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (Oct 28, Naxos)

On the first installment of Marin Alsop’s complete Schumann symphonic cycle as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony, she leads the orchestra in performances of the composer’s First and Second Symphonies, as reorchestrated by Mahler. Released by Naxos in October 2022, the album offers “a brilliantly triumphant and gripping interpretation of Schumann’s first two symphonies” (Online Merker, Germany). Belgium’s Crescendo pronounced it “a beautiful musical and technical achievement,” and Norman Lebrecht – citing Alsop’s “lyrical readings” of the symphonies – chose it as his “Album of the Week.” (See above for Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4, released Jan 2023.)

Leif Ove Andsnes: Dvořák: Poetic Tone Pictures (Oct 28, Sony Classical)

Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes performs Dvořák’s unjustly neglected piano cycle Poetic Tone Pictures on this October 2022 release from Sony Classical. Comprising 13 little-known gems that signal a stylistic shift away from the formal constructions of the Czech composer’s earlier instrumental writing towards a freer, more Romantic aesthetic, the collection impresses Andsnes as “the great forgotten cycle of 19th-century piano music,” and has won new admirers through his advocacy. “Andsnes is persuasive throughout and his championship of these charming miniatures has yielded dividends,” noted the Financial Times. “This performance is full of colour. Every miniature is very characteristic and you are immediately drawn into these worlds,” said BBC Radio 3. Naming the album a 2022 Critics’ Choice, Gramophone concluded: “In Andsnes, Dvořák could not have a more compelling storyteller.”

Julia Bullock: Walking in the Dark (Dec 9, Nonesuch)

American classical singer Julia Bullock made her solo recording debut with Walking in the Dark. Drawing together works that, she says, “contributed to [her] development as a classical singer,” the album showcases her interpretations of a traditional spiritual and of songs by Oscar Brown Jr., Billy Taylor, Sandy Denny and Connie Converse, performed with Christian Reif at the piano, alongside Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and an aria from John Adams’s El Niño, for both of which she is joined by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra under Reif’s leadership. Released last December by Nonesuch, the recording was recognized with an Opus Klassik award, featured in the New York Times’s “Best Classical Music Tracks of 2022,” and named – alongside offerings from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar – among the 20 “Best Albums of 2022” by NPR, which called it “an album that shines, introducing us to an artist curating a career on her own distinctive terms.”

Albums coming soon

Leif Ove Andsnes: The Complete Warner Classics Edition 1990-2010 (Oct 13, Sony Classical)

Before recording exclusively for Sony Classical, Leif Ove Andsnes signed with Virgin Classics in 1990 and with EMI Classics nine years later. Having acquired both catalogs in 2013, now Warner Music Group issues Leif Ove Andsnes: The Complete Warner Classics Edition 1990-2010. A 36-CD retrospective, the collection chronicles a 20-year partnership that yielded a rich seam of treasures. These include Andsnes’s Gramophone Award-winning recordings of music by his compatriot Edvard Grieg: the Lyric Pieces, some of which were captured on the composer’s own piano, and the Piano Concerto, recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, which received a coveted Penguin Guide “Rosette.” Other highlights include world premiere recordings of Marc-André Dalbavie’s Piano Concerto and Bent Sørensen’s The Shadows of Silence, both written for Andsnes; Schubert’s late sonatas, paired with lieder sung by Ian Bostridge; and Rachmaninov’s four Piano Concertos, variously recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

# # #

© 21C Media Group, October 2023

Return to Press Room