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Listen to this: Classical CDs

Listen to this: Classical CDs

Daedalus Quartet

Album: Haydn: Six Quartets, Op. 20 (Bridge)

In stores: Now

Why we care: The Daedalus is a fine young ensemble, and in this two-CD set it performs some of the most lucid music imaginable — the Op. 20 quartets are known as the "sun quartets'' for good reason. Haydn's amazing output (he wrote 83 string quartets) established the form.

Why we like it: When the Florida Orchestra and Master Chorale of Tampa Bay performed Haydn's Creation in October, I found myself listening to the quartets as a kind of complement. The mighty oratorio came and went, but this delightful music remains.

Reminds us of: All the great string quartets that followed Haydn's example: by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms.

Download these: Nos. 2 and 5

Grade: A

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Album: Verdi: Messa da Requiem (Resound)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Riccardo Muti, the new music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is steeped in Verdi's operas. So his first recording with the symphony and its marvelous chorus, the Verdi Requiem, is inspired.

Why we like it: For this concert recording on two CDs, Muti assembled a brilliant vocal quartet — Barbara Frittoli, Olga Borodina, Mario Zeffiri and Ildar Abdrazakov — and his hellbent approach is tremendously exciting. As he says in a liner note, "The Verdi Requiem is a fight between men, women and God.''

Reminds us of: Other operatic treatments of the work, including two previous recordings by Muti and La Scala Orchestra and Chorus.

Download this: Offertorio

Grade: A

Wu Man

Album: Immeasurable Light (Traditional Crossroads)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Wu Man is the Paganini of the pipa. Or maybe Eric Clapton, because she brings a rock 'n' roll sensibility to what is sometimes called the Chinese lute. A member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, she plays pipa, percussion and Buddha box as well as sings on this CD, which also features the Kronos Quartet.

Why we like it: In Wu Man's hands, the pipa is both utterly exotic and accessible. The 14 tracks of Immeasurable Light include her arrangements of ancient songs plus her own compositions, such as one evoking her hometown of Hangzhou in Mountain Temple Bell at Sunset.

Reminds us of: Music for meditation

Download these: Leaves Flying in Autumn, A Spring Flowing Over Stones

Grade: B+

Robert McDuffie

Album: Philip Glass: Violin Concerto No. 2 (Orange Mountain Music)

In stores: Now

Why we care: McDuffie commissioned Glass to compose a companion to Vivaldi's ubiquitous Four Seasons, and the result is The American Four Seasons, recorded in a live performance by the London Philharmonic under Marin Alsop.

Why we like it: The concerto has the familiar Glassian tropes — the chipper arpeggios, the vaguely ominous harmonies, the ecstatic rhythmic pulse. Like the Vivaldi model, it's a four-movement work, but with a prologue and three songs to precede each movement. Glass, in a liner note, says the listener can guess which movement represents which season.

Reminds us of: Glass' First Violin Concerto

Download these: Movements II and IV

Grade: B+

Listen to this: Classical CDs

Listen to this: Classical CDs 11/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 13, 2010 3:30am]
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