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Happy returns from Kurt Sanderling

Kurt Sanderling

Album: Kurt Sanderling (Berlin Classics)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Kurt Sanderling was not only one of the greatest conductors in a generation of great conductors, but he also is father of Stefan Sanderling, music director of the Florida Orchestra. This set commemorates the senior Sanderling's 95th birthday.

Why we like it: The two CDs include core Sanderling repertoire: Bruckner's Symphony No. 3; Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer (featuring baritone Hermann Prey); and Shostakovich's From Jewish Folk Poetry. These are recordings from the 1960s, but the sound is good.

Reminds us of: Like father, like son. You can find useful insights into Stefan Sanderling's interpretations by listening to the masterful performances of his father.

Download this: From Jewish Poetry

Grade: A

Charles Mackerras

Album: Cosi Fan Tutte (Chandos)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Though Mozart's comedy has a silly story, it may be his most sublime score. Here the opera is performed in English, the original Italian text translated by Marmaduke Browne.

Why we like it: Conductor Charles Mackerras is one of the best Mozarteans. The cast in this three-CD set includes Janice Watson, Diana Montague, Toby Spence, Christopher Maltman, Lesley Garrett and Thomas Allen.

Reminds us of: How impossible it can be to understand English from the mouths of opera singers. Opera in English is a nice idea in theory, but I miss hearing the singing in the language for which the music was written and following along in the libretto's translation.

Download this: Now, ladies, calm yourselves

Grade: B

Leroy Anderson

Album: Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2 (Naxos)

In stores: Now

Why we care: This year is the centennial of Leroy Anderson's birth. The Florida Orchestra's pops program over Memorial Day weekend includes an Anderson tribute.

Why we like it: Pure Americana. Anderson wrote Sleigh Ride and many other peppy tunes, such as Fiddle-Faddle, The Syncopated Clock and Bugler's Holiday. He was the quintessential composer of light classical music — "concert pieces with a pop flavor,'' as he put it. This recording is the second of a five-CD series of Anderson's works by conductor Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Reminds us of: The Boston Pops

Download these: Forgotten Dreams, The Waltzing Cat, Jazz Pizzicato

Grade: A

Poul Ruders

Album: Poul Ruders, Vol. 5 (Bridge)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Danish composer Poul Ruders made a splash with his 2000 opera The Handmaid's Tale (adapted from the Margaret Atwood novel). Bridge Records is doing a great job of bringing Ruders' music to listeners with its collection of five CDs devoted to his works.

Why we like it: Ruders' serialism-like "change-ringing'' technique (interestingly, the composer cites Dorothy L. Sayers' thriller The Nine Tailors as an influence) of ordering musical material mathematically is accessibly illustrated by Air with Changes, a lovely sequence of variations on a Danish folk tune, performed by harpist June Han. The glamorous Light Overture is played with elan by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra under Justin Brown.

Reminds us of: Arvo Part, Richard Strauss

Download this: Air with Changes

Grade: A

Happy returns from Kurt Sanderling 05/17/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 17, 2008 4:30am]

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