Audio reviews: Isabelle Faust plays Bach; 'Promises, Promises'; Glass Chamber Players; Robert Levin

Isabelle Faust

Album: J.S Bach: Sonatas & Partitas (Harmonia Mundi)

In stores: Now

Why we care: There is no shortage of great Bach solo violin sonata and partita recordings — those by Itzhak Perlman and Gidon Kremer are among the masterpieces — but this one by the German violinist Isabelle Faust is a worthy entrant in the field. She incorporates baroque performance practices but plays a rich-sounding Strad (the famous Sleeping Beauty) with modern metal strings for the Partita in D minor, Sonata in C major and Partita in E major.

Why we like it: This may be blasphemy, but try some of this music with a workout. You might be pleasantly surprised how the purity of the sonatas and partitas complements a long run.

Reminds us of: The perfection of Bach

Download this: Partita No. 3 in E major

Grade: A

Promises, Promises

Album: Promises, Promises (Masterworks Broadway)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth are on the cover of this cast album of the current revival of Promises, Promises, but the real star of the show is the Burt Bacharach-Hal David score, still one of the freshest, most inventive sounds ever heard on Broadway.

Why we like it: It's a treat to hear Chenoweth in I'll Never Fall in Love Again, as well as less familiar songs like Knowing When to Leave. Hayes gets the job done in the role originated by Jerry Orbach, and he joins Katie Finneran in the brilliant A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing.

Reminds us of: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, which had hits with Bacharach tunes

Download these: Overture, A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing, I'll Never Fall in Love Again

Grade: A-

Glass Chamber Players

Album: Schoenberg/Glass (Orange Mountain Music)

In stores: Now

Why we care: The newly formed Glass Chamber Players includes Tim Fain, who will premiere a Philip Glass solo violin work at the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota in October, and violinist Maria Bachmann, a frequent performer at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. The ensemble's artistic director is Glass' girlfriend, cellist Wendy Sutter.

Why we like it: Schoenberg's late-romantic masterwork Verklarte Nacht and Glass' Symphony No. 3 transcribed for string sextet make for an enjoyable, surprisingly logical coupling. The Glass sextet is relatively free of the ostinato that is his trademark.

Reminds us of: How opposites can attract

Download this: Sextet for Strings

Grade: B+

Robert Levin

Album: Dutilleux: D'ombre et de Silence (ECM)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Robert Levin is music director of the Sarasota Music Festival and a professor at Harvard, as well as an intrepid musical adventurer at the piano. Here he explores the piano works of French composer Henri Dutilleux, whose cello concerto Tout un Monde Lontain was an ear-opening experience in a performance by cellist Xavier Phllips on a Florida Orchestra program two years ago.

Why we like it: To really understand a composer you must know his piano music, and all of Dutilleux's rather slim output is here. The epic Piano Sonata (1946-48) is his first great work, and Blackbird is a small jewel.

Reminds us of: Messiaen and Boulez

Download this: Piano Sonata

Grade: B

Audio reviews: Isabelle Faust plays Bach; 'Promises, Promises'; Glass Chamber Players; Robert Levin 07/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:48pm]

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