Absolute Jest (CD)
Legendary composer John Adams teams up with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for brilliant takes on Beethoven’s scherzos. Read more
Sorrow: A Reimagining Of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony (CD)

Saxophonist Colin Stetson’s latest solo release features Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld and Liturgy’s Greg Fox on a rendition of avant-garde composer Henryk Gorecki’s Third Symphony that “draws heavily from the world of black metal, early electronic music, and from my own body of solo saxophone music,” according to Stetson. Slow and foreboding, yet full-bodied and alive, these renditions feature beautiful operatic vocals, notes that shift between atonal and euphonious, with swells of strings and stirring, rumbling percussion. It adds up to a singular, moving experience that should be undertaken by fans of neoclassical music and indie rock alike.

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Arvo Part: Musica Selecta - A Sequence By Manfred Eicher (CD)

In celebration of Arvo Pärt's 80th birthday, longtime champion of his music, ECM producer Manfred Eicher sculpts a mixtape spanning Pärt's entire career. The result is a perfect introduction to one of the 20th century's great composers.

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Stereotypes (CD)

Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste like to break stereotypes as much as they like to subvert social and sonic norms. With each wielding a violin, they shred away on their instrument against heavy beats and drum-machines clashing in cool cocophony. Who knew hip-hop and classical would work so well together?

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Prima Donna (CD)

Outright abandoning the world of sophisticated pop music, Rufus Wainwright dips his toes in the world of opera. Six years since its initial debut, Prima Donna is presented in all its melodramatic glory. Nostalgically reminiscent of Puccini and Strauss.

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From Sleep (CD)

One of the longest-ever pieces of classical music, Sleep is "an eight-hour lullaby," in Richter’s words. The gorgeous strings and muted pianos on this collection of samples from the album are perfect for lounging, introspection or dozing off — don’t worry, Richter himself wants you to sleep to this!

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Manhattan Intermezzo - American and British Works for Piano & Orchestra (CD)

With classical's influence having morphed all sorts of genres, it's no surprise that the worlds of pop, jazz, and prog can do the same for classical. Opening with the composition "Manhattan Intermezzo," Neil Sedaka lets loose as a Copland-esque composer of cosmopolitan joy. Though he's mostly known for his eternal radio standards like "Calendar Girl" and "Oh Carol," Neil Sedaka originally was classically trained musician and pieces like "Manhattan Intermezzo" gives him the room to breathe. The delicate piano and strings fill the air as it gives a warm, nostalgic feeling that recall the best Burt Bacharach instrumentals. Following is Keith Emerson's "Piano Concert #1," originally heard on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Works Volume 1. It's given new gravitas and polish that the original could have used and a more airy production that gives the piece more depth. It doesn't sound like a rock musician stumbling into more complex territory, but a work that perfectly fits among the great Western composers of the 20th century. Culminating the album is two pieces by pre-rock composers: Duke Ellington's early foray into classical, "A New World A-Comin'," and George Gershwin's eternal "Rhapsody in Blue." Both are shiny-eyed and their enthusiastic fusion of jazz and classical feels like an optimistic view into the 21st century. Under the direction of Paul Phillips, the velvety sound of the orchestra feels inseparable from Jeffrey Biegel's sensitive piano.

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Classic Quadrophenia (CD)

The Who's Quadrophenia is, without a doubt, one of the great rock albums. Now Pete Townshend converts the already surprisingly operatic album into a glorious full on symphony. With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and featuring special appearances by Billy Idol and Alfie Boe, Classic Quadrophenia reinvents and subverts rock into something even more spectacular.

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