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Listen to this: Maya Beiser, Rene Jacobs, Viviane Hagner, 5 Browns

Maya Beiser

Album: Provenance (Innova)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Cellist Beiser is a remarkably eclectic musician. Provenance draws from musical traditions of Iran (I Was There by Kayhan Kalhor) and Armenia (Memories by Djivan Gasparian) to music of Sephardic Jews exiled from Spain (Mar de Leche by Tamar Muskal). Douglas Cuomo contributes Only Breath, inspired by a Rumi poem.

Why we like it: You've got to love an album that includes insights like this from composer Evan Ziporyn: "Robert Plant's vocal range is basically identical to a cello.'' Hence Ziporyn's arrangement of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir for Beiser and drummer Jerry Marotta (Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel).

Reminds us of: A musical bazaar

Download these: I Was There, Kashmir

Grade: A

Rene Jacobs

Album: Mozart Symphonies 39 and 40 (Harmonia Mundi)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Here are period renditions of late Mozart symphonies with Jacobs leading the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. This comes after the conductor's long experience with Mozart's operas, such as his Grammy Award-winning recording of Le Nozze di Figaro in 2005.

Why we like it: The lean musical forces — a dozen or so violins, four cellos, three double basses and so forth — give rare transparency of texture to the playing. But this is far from the dainty "sewing machine music'' of so many historically informed performances; the dramatic moments have plenty of punch.

Reminds us of: John Eliot Gardiner and Nikolaus Harnoncourt in the same repertoire

Download this: Symphony No. 40

Grade: A

Viviane Hagner

Album: Vieuxtemps Violin Concertos 4 and 5 (Hyperion)

In stores: Now

Why we care: The 19th century Belgian composer Vieuxtemps wrote seven violin concertos that deserve to heard more often for their romantic lushness and technical challenges. Here two of the best are played by Hagner, an excellent German violinist (she was the soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Florida Orchestra in 2007) and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Martyn Brabbins.

Why we like it: Shows there is more to the romantic violin concerto than the warhorses of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Brahms

Reminds us of: Jascha Heifetz, who set the standard in Vieuxtemps violin concertos with some celebrated recordings that are still available

Download this: Violin Concerto No. 4

Grade: A

The 5 Browns

Album: The 5 Browns in Hollywood (E1 Entertainment)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Featured in People and on Oprah and The View, the Browns — piano-playing Mormon siblings who all went to Juilliard — are models of fresh-faced crossover appeal. Try to guess how many of the five are playing on each arrangement of film music.

Why we like it: Yes, there are some awfully familiar selections here — Over the Rainbow, My Favorite Things, a Disney movie medley — but various combinations of Browns also play less-known gems such as a solo from Philip Glass' score for The Hours, music from Catch Me If You Can by John Williams and the melancholy theme of Dario Marianelli's Atonement.

Reminds us of: A Boston Pops concert

Download this: Hitchcock Movie Suite

Grade: B+

Listen to this: Maya Beiser, Rene Jacobs, Viviane Hagner, 5 Browns 08/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:19pm]
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