Handout photo, Courtesy Naxos
November 26, 2013
For fans of classical music, there are some fine CDs this season featuring artists with strong Baltimore connections. There's a cool DVD package, too, worth considering.
Before getting to those, however, remember that you can also give the gift of live music in the form of concert tickets or gift certificates from local performing-arts organizations. If the person on your list is a newcomer to classical concert-going, or someone who can't afford to go often, the gift is all the more valuable.
That said, on with the recordings.
-- Tim Smith
Recordings featuring Marin Alsop
Although the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is in a holding pattern at the moment, recording-wise, music director Marin Alsop has been adding to her discography with other ensembles.
Alsop's brisk, straightforward approach to Brahms' "Ein Deutsches Requiem" ("A German Requiem") on a Naxos release with the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra leaves some of the score's poetic depth unexpressed. But she still brings out a good deal of expressive character, and draws polished results from orchestra and chorus. Soprano Anna Lucia Richter is a telling soloist; except for a pronounced vibrato, so is baritone Stephan Genz.
No reservations about another Naxos CD that features Alsop and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, of which she was named chief conductor in 2012. Prokofiev's brilliant Symphony No. 4, which Alsop and the BSO performed memorably last season, gets a vividly paced and phrased account on this disc. And it's great to have an equally incisive performance of the ballet "The Prodigal Son" on the same disc; Prokofiev fashioned much of the Fourth Symphony from that piece.