Listen to this: Classical music by Brooklyn Rider, Paul Galbraith, The San Francisco Symphony and Eric Ruske

Brooklyn Rider

Album: Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass (Orange Mountain)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Philip Glass is taking over the musical world with an onslaught of his opera, film music, chamber music, orchestral music, dance music and other compositions on his own label, Orange Mountain Music. Its catalog includes more than 50 releases and counting. One of the latest is a two-disc package of his string quartets, played by the excellent Brooklyn Rider.

Why we like it: If you like the Glass sound, then his five string quartets will appeal, with his familiar (repetitive) blend of transcendence and a vague sense of menace. Premiered is a suite from his score to the 1997 movie Bent.

Reminds us of: A lot of other Glass music

Download these: Suite from Bent, Quartet No. 2 (Company)

Grade: B+

Paul Galbraith

Album: Paul Galbraith Performs Mozart, Bach & Britten (Mashulka)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Galbraith is an immaculate guitarist with an unusual approach. He plays an eight-string guitar (there are two extra strings, one high, one low) like a cello, with its metal end pin resting on a wood resonance box. In this recording (made in 2007 but only recently released; there is also a DVD) he plays transcriptions of a Mozart piano sonata and Bach's Cello Suite No. 4, plus Britten's Nocturnal, variations on Come, Heavy Sleep, a song for lute by Renaissance composer John Dowland.

Why we like it: Galbraith says the Britten is at the center of his program, but I most enjoyed the Mozart, especially its amazing Adagio, and the Bach, with its wonderfully dancey Gigue.

Reminds us of: The purity of classical guitar

Download this: Mozart K. 280 Sonata

Grade: B+

San Francisco Symphony

Album: Ives/Brant: Concord Symphony; Copland: Organ Symphony (SFS Media)

In stores: Now

Why we care: This is a fascinating pair of modernist works played by the San Francisco Symphony under music director Michael Tilson Thomas. First is Henry Brant's orchestration of Ives' gnarly masterpiece, the Second Piano Sonata, Concord, Mass., 1840-60; followed by Copland's Organ Symphony, with the splendid soloist Paul Jacobs.

Why we like it: Brant's version of the Concord Symphony doesn't sound a lot like Ives, but it still is a towering achievement that drew me back to the piano sonata (Jeremy Denk has a strong new recording of it). Tilson Thomas is a great interpreter of Copland.

Reminds us of: The old, weird America

Download this: Organ Symphony

Grade: A-

Eric Ruske

Album: Music by Three (Albany)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Ruske is one of the great French horn players. He is joined here by his wife, violinist Jennifer Frautschi, and pianist Stephen Prutsman in romantic works for the relatively rare combination of horn, violin and piano.

Why we like it: The highlight is the Brahms Horn Trio in E-Flat Major (1865), which likely served as a model for the two other works on the disc from the early 20th century, Theodore Dubois' Trio Cantabile (less than 4 minutes long) and Josef Holbrooke's Trio in D, both previously unrecorded. It's a beautiful program, and the balance and warmth between these three outstanding musicians is exceptional.

Reminds us of: The horn's mellow lyricism

Download these: Brahms' Horn Trio, Dubois' Trio Cantabile

Grade: A

Listen to this: Classical music by Brooklyn Rider, Paul Galbraith, The San Francisco Symphony and Eric Ruske 05/28/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:50pm]

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