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Amoeba Music carries a wide selection of Classical Music from Early Music to Baroque, virtuoso, classical romantic Avant-garde and everything in between. Stop by any of our three stores and pick up classical titles on CD, LP, DVD and Blu-Ray! Below is information on what’s happening now at Amoeba Hollywood and Amoeba San Francisco! More...
20% Off Classical Sale - Friday, October 22 - Sunday, October 24!
Come down to Amoeba Hollywood for our 2nd Annual 20% Off Classical Sale happening in our world famous Jazz/Classical Room. Pick up some great music on CD and vinyl at a great savings! Click here for all the details.
Naxos Sale News!
Amoeba Hollywood is having an ongoing promotion on our new Naxos label CDs. All Naxos CDs (excluding multi CD sets) are on sale for 3 for $25. Naxos has the most comprehensive of all classical CD catalogues. If you prefer to buy Naxos CDs used rather new, we have a large selection at very competitive prices.
Blow ‘Em Out!
We have hundreds of classical clearance CDs at new low prices ranging from $1 to $2.99. A wide range of classical CD’S are available -- Vocal, Symphonic, Instrumental and more. As usual, buy 4 clearance CDs and the cheapest one is free!
Attention Classical Vinyl Lovers
We’ve greatly expanded our classical clearance LP section! We have thousands of titles (refreshed regularly) at prices as low as 50 cents to $1. Such a deal!
BIG RECENT RELEASES - see reviews at the end of this post!
-Anonymous 4 – Cherry Tree Songs
-Part – Symphony # 4
-Reich – Double Sextet
Amoeba Hollywood Classical Top 20- Month of September
1. Steve Reich – Double Sextet
2. Arvo Part – Symphony No. 4
3. Gustavo Dudamel – Discoveries
4. Hilary Hahn – Higdon & Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos
5. Nico Muhly – A Good Understanding
6. David Garrett – Rock Symphonies
7. Max Richter – Infra
8. Gershwin by Grofé – Original Orchestrations & Arrangements
9. Eric Whitacre – Cloudburst and other Choral Works
10. David Garrett – David Garrett
11. Max Richter – The Blue Notebooks
12. Thomas Adés – Tevot Violin Concerto
13. Steve Reich – Octet; Music for a Large Ensemble – Violin Phase
14. Ernesto Lecuona – The Ultimate Collection: Lecuona Plays Lecuona
15. Gustavo Dudamel – Discoveries
16. Patricia Petibon – Rosso: Italian Baroque Arias
17. Brahms / Tchaikovsky / Heifetz / Reiner – Violin Concertos
18. Vladimir Ashkenazy – Bach: 6 Partitas
19. Maesha Brueggergosman / Franz Welser-Most / The Cleveland Orchestra – Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder Orchestral Music
20. Alondra De La Parra – Mi Alma Mexicana (My Mexican Soul)
AMOEBA SAN FRANCISCO
-G. Mahler: Songs with Orchestra - Graham / Hampson / Michael Tilson Thomas / SF Symphony
The final installment of the San Francisco Symphony's Mahler series is now available and on sale for $20.98 (regularly priced at $22.98) until October 8!
-T. Adès: Tevot / Violin Concerto, etc. - Simon Rattle / Thomas Adès / Paul Daniel
Thomas Adès has been hailed as one the greatest composers and performers of recent generations. His latest release is no less praised; Tom Service of The Guardian wrote of Tevot, “Of any piece of new music I've heard at its premiere, this is one of the most immediately, richly powerful." Buy it on sale for $14.98 (regularly $15.98) until October 15.
Blow ‘Em Out!
We have hundreds of classical clearance CDs at new low prices ranging from a $1 to $2.99. A wide range of classical CDs are available: symphonic, instrumental, opera, and 20th century/avant-garde. Buy 4 clearance titles and get the cheapest one FREE!
Spend Wednesday Mornings with Amoeba
Did you know that Amoeba San Francisco plays classical music every Wednesday from 10:30 to 12:30? We highlight brand new releases as well as some of our personal favorites. Come browse our amazing inventory of new and used classical music in a relaxing atmosphere and discover something new and interesting!
Attention Classical Vinyl Lovers
We have expanded our classical clearance LP section! Such a deal at $1 per LP! Also browse our huge classical LP box-set selection.
BIG RECENT RELEASES - see reviews at the end of this post!
-J. Higdon / Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos-Hahn/ Petrenko /Royal Liverpool Phil. Orchestra
-Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica - De Profundis
-N. Muhly: A Good Understanding - Grant Gershon / Los Angeles Master Chorale
-N. Muhly: I Drink the Air Before Me - Nico Muhly
-N. Paganini: 24 Caprices - Julia Fischer
-A. Pärt: Cantique - Järvi / Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra & RIAS Chamber Chorus
Amoeba San Francisco Classical Top 20- Month of September
1. A. Pärt: Symphony No.4 - Esa-Pekka Salonen / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
2. G. Mahler: Songs with Orchestra - Graham / Hampson / Thomas / SF Symphony
3. W.A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte - Jacobs / Kammerchor / Akademie fur Alte Müsik Berlin
4. J.S. Bach: The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites Complete - Yo-Yo Ma (Remastered)
5. T. Riley: Autodreamographical Tales - Terry Riley
6. M.A. Hamelin: Études - Marc-André Hamelin
7. Sandrine Piau - Vivaldi!
8. L. Einaudi: Live in Berlin - Ludovico Einaudi
9. R. Strauss: Great Strauss Scenes - Brewer / Owens / Runnicles / Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
10. L. Ferrari: Éphémère I & II - Luc Ferrari
11. J. Massenet: Werther - Kasarova / Vargas / Schaldenbrand / Jurowski / Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
12. J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould (1955 Masterworks Exp. Ed)
13. Jordi Savall / La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Hespèrion XXI - Dinastia Borja
14. R. Wagner: Parsifal - Lehman / Urmana / Pape / Gergiev / Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus
15. Anonymous 4 - The Cherry Tree: Songs, Carols & Ballads for Christmas
16. S. Reich: Double Sextet / 2 X 5 - eighth blackbird / Bang on a Can
17. A. de Cabezón: La Tecla de L'Alma - Paola Erdas
18. J.A. Hasse: Marc' Antonio e Cleopatra - Barton / Pine / Dirst / Ars Lyrica Houston
19. R. Langgaard: Music of the Spheres-Dausgaard /Danish Nat. Symphony Orch. & Chorus
20. Patricia Petibon / Marcon / Venice Baroque Orchestra - Rosso: Italian Baroque Arias
by Charlie Richards
Nico Muhly: I Drink the Air Before Me – Soloists, Young People’s Chorus of New York; A Good Understanding – Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, conductor – Decca
In 2008 I had the pleasure of interviewing young wunderkind composer Nico Muhly and found him to be a fascinatingly multi-sided, down-to-earth young man who also happened to be a genius. Now, two years later, I am very pleased to see that he has been signed to a major label (Decca) and that two new albums of his appealingly eclectic and freshly intellectual yet supremely approachable musical works have been just released. This should bring Muhly the wider attention he so greatly deserves, and I am happy to say that these new compositions deliver upon the promise of his two previously released CDs (Speaks and Mothertongue) in spades.
The first of these is “I Drink the Air Before Me” – a dance piece scored for flute, bassoon, trombone, piano, viola, double bass and children’s choir. It is the most substantial work by Muhly yet recorded, clocking in at nearly an hour and comprised of multiple movements. There is no real “story” here; Muhly states that he wished only to suggest various elements of “coastal life.” With that in mind, one can imagine a fishing village with the various types that work the sea and even, of course, the sea itself, but the music is much more varied than that and one could certainly envisage anything one liked while listening. The chamber scale suits the subject and the music well, and, as usual with Muhly, the style is eclectic. Ranging from minimalism (the style in which Muhly is based but hardly a style which has trapped him with a limited language) to folk-like passages, to hauntingly evocative tone pictures, the score is all Muhly and definitely worth several hearings. The most brilliant movement, in this critic’s opinion, is the fourth (titled “Varied Carols”) in which a solo violin creates an atmosphere of folk rusticity without ever actually quoting any folk melodies – the solo lasts some ten minutes and is infinitely varied, as is the entire score.
A Good Understanding finds Muhly in a somewhat different mood – the tone here is a bit more serious. This is the first disc to contain any of Muhly’s substantial literature for chorus, and is, thereby, most welcome. The first piece on the disc reveals how close Muhly feels to the style of Anglican church music – it is a full setting of the Latin mass entitled “Bright Mass with Canons,” scored for choir and organ. Although the piece falls wholly into the Anglican tradition, the music is far from traditional. Muhly uses the modes and cadences found in the Anglican tradition as a starting off point – but, as usual, his fertile mind races ahead and gives the listener much more than he bargained for. As is usual with Muhly’s music, the melodic line is rapturously beautiful, while still retaining a harmonious eccentricity.
Muhly’s “Magnificat” (using an English text) is certainly indebted to those of Howells and Stanford, but has the characteristic Muhly touch. The title piece (using texts from the Psalms) is certainly less contemplative, and adds percussion to the aural soundscape, with odd bits of tempi and harmonic twists. The final piece “Expecting the Main Things From You” is not liturgical at all – the texts come from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and the piece is scored for choir, string quartet, percussion and organ. It finds Muhly in a mode closer to what we have heard in his previous offerings, and like them, is new, original, and bold, but also exquisite. Muhly never seems to take a wrong turn – it never becomes overwrought, blatantly melodic, or gratuitously experimental – Muhly remains true to himself.
One might think that the style of the pieces included on A Good Understanding is much more conservative than what we have heard elsewhere but, as usual, Muhly indeed walks a fine line between tradition and modernism. In doing so he treads on a largely unexplored happy ground of mutual acceptance and the listener can only revel in the glorious sounds produced by the always spot-on (and sadly under-appreciated – by all except LA locals, that is) Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Muhly, though barely into his twenties, is, without question, a talent with which to be reckoned; his voice is one of substantial genius, and this new recording proves it. Furthermore, these discs are fun to listen to –they appeal not only on a cerebral intellectual level, but also please the spirit, as all great music must do. Anyone interested in contemporary music should treat themselves to this wonderful experience.
Mozart: Die Zauberflöte – Behle, Petersen, Schmutzhard, Im, Kaappola, Fink, RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs – Harmonia Mundi
The minute the overture begins the listener is aware that he is in for an original and unique experience in listening to this new Magic Flute from early music dean René Jacobs. The pace is not only sprightly, it goes by like lightning and instantly engages the hearer.
But it is not only the brightness and exuberance of this highly anticipated recording (Jacobs’ recent recordings of Mozart’s Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Clemenza di Tito, Cosi Fan Tutte and Idomeneo have garnered praise worldwide), but also Jacobs’ amazing insight into the score that makes this a Zauberflöte like no other. Jacobs adds a fortepiano to the continuo section (a move not without historic precedent, according to Jacobs’ scholarly liner notes), makes bold moves in tempi (this can be heard as early as the 1st act scene for the 3 Ladies which includes rests, sudden abrupt changes in tempi, and a delicious cadenza for the three women at the end of the scene). The use of the fortepiano actually gives the whole piece a chamber-like fairy tale feeling which suits the music to a T. Some may object to Jacobs’ decision to allow fortepiano improvisation during the spoken dialogue (although, again, Jacobs argues for its historicity) as well as the vocal improvisations made by some of the soloists – but the result is that it all works so beautifully. In fact, one could argue that this must be the way the work sounded when it was first performed – it all fits so well, it connects, it no longer feels like a work divided into songs and spoken sections, but a self-contained whole, and this is, perhaps, Jacobs’ greatest feat in this superb new interpretation.
None of the soloists are world-class, but all are very fine. Furthermore, all are native German speakers, which makes the spoken sections sound natural and conversational, something which is rarely heard in recordings of this work.
Once again the Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin prove themselves to be one of the best period orchestras around, and the intricate perfection of their playing can show us how far we’ve come from the rough-edged, out-of-tune period performances which were so common in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The orchestral playing has a lightness and verve that is infectious – it literally exudes joy – so appropriate for a score that is itself so joyful.
But Jacobs is the real hero here, and if this recording doesn’t secure his position as a master of the Mozartian repertoire, then nothing will. As usual, Harmonia Mundi’s presentation is lavish and beautiful – with a full color booklet containing essays, texts and translations. A must have.
Arvo Pärt: Symphony No. 4 (“Los Angeles”); Fragments from “Kanon Pokajanen” – Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tōnu Kaljuste, conductor – ECM New Series
This is contemporary music icon Arvo Pärt’s first symphonic work in almost forty years (his third symphony was written in 1971), and it differs as much from its predecessor as the sublimely tranquil Third Symphony differed from the radically atonal Second. The work is subtitled “Los Angeles” not only because it was commissioned by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic, but because Pärt used the Slavonic sacred text Canon of the Angels as his jumping off point when he began composition. But anyone expecting a heavenly choir of radiance will be firmly disappointed by the work’s austere and harshly diatonic first movement. A feeling of severe gloom permeates the hall, but that does not mean that the music is not beautiful – just pensive. As he usually does, Pärt allows for a liberal use of bells in the scoring, with long, drawn out lines for the strings, and slow, meditative tempi throughout. The atmosphere continues through the second movement and even into the beginning of the third, although by this time the string writing has become more lush – but also more troubled. The angels are certainly not rejoicing here, but neither are they weeping. As is usual with Pärt’s post-1970 works, there is a great influence of the Slavonic liturgy throughout.
The work is undoubtedly one of Pärt’s finest, and if one can get past the almost entirely unrelieved sterness of it all, one will certainly find it richly rewarding. Pärt’s fans will certainly love it, but even those unfamiliar with the composer’s style will find much to admire here. Esa-Pekka Salonen, in this, his final recording with the La Phil, caps off a magnificent recorded legacy with a lovely gem-stone, a recording that deserves to be in the library of anyone who is interested in contemporary classical music.
Arvo Pärt - Symphony No. 4, 'Los Angeles' (1/5) - I: Con sublimità (beg.)
Paganini: 24 Caprices – Julia Fischer, violin – Decca
Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin are, of course, primarily showpieces, and comprise some of the most difficult literature in the violin repertoire. It was only a matter of time, then, that upcoming violin superstar Julia Fischer (who has also proven herself lately to be a gifted pianist as well – in a recent DVD release where she plays the Saint-Saens 3rd violin concerto and the Grieg Piano Concerto!) would tackle them. Fischer began her recording career on Pentatone, and after highly acclaimed recordings of the Bach Sonatas & Partitas, the Brahms Violin Concerto, and the Mozart Violin Sonatas, was quickly signed by Decca; this is her third release for that label. It’s hard to judge aesthetic artistry by these pieces (although Fischer has certainly demonstrated this in the Brahms and the Bach), but it is easy to judge pure virtuosity by them – and Fischer comes through with flying colors. This is breathtaking violin playing, enhanced by a lilting, “singing” technique, found prominently in the 4th caprice, a subtle use of double stopping (which can be found in most of these pieces), and majestic assuredness (most prominent in the 14th caprice). The 24th caprice, the most famous of the lot (used as the basis for Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” as well as being the starting point for sets of variations by Brahms and Liszt among others) is brought off with examples of intense skill that leave one breathless. This recording will certainly take its place among those by Milstein, Perlman and Accardo, not only as an example of virtuosity by an exceptional new talent, but also as a firm demonstration of violinistic art in general, and living proof that said art is far from being defunct.
Interview with Julia Fischer about 24 Caprices