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Subterranean Notes, The New Baroque And A Nod To Minnesota: Music We Love Now

By Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

From Christopher Purves' bottomless bass voice and the soaring Sibelius Fifth to a violist's new take on the Baroque, it's this week's list of albums we can't stop listening to. Got a favorite album you've had on repeat lately? Let us know about it the comments section.

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Nadia Sirota: 'Baroque'

 courtesy of New Amsterdam

Violist Nadia Sirota's exciting new album Baroque spins out six different composers' takes on what it means to write for a "solo" instrumentalist in 2013. (Sirota, a former colleague of mine at WNYC, now hosts programming on Q2.) Aside from Sirota's own virtuosity, one of Baroque's real pleasures is exploring the vastly different, mostly electronically based terrains composers including Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Shara Worden have created for this muse of the New York new music community. Standouts include the sweet, searching lyricism of Judd Greenstein's In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves and Daníel Bjarnason's densely constructed Sleep Variations, in which Sirota plays 11 different lines, weaving in and out as both soloist and accompanists. — AT


Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä, cond.): Sibelius - Symphonies 2 & 5

 BIS

In the run-up to Sunday's Grammy Awards, I was listening to this album for luck — hoping it would win an award for the poor Minnesota musicians who, due to a stubborn labor dispute, have been locked out of their orchestra jobs since last October. Osmo Vänskä is arguably the finest living Sibelius conductor and these immaculately detailed, marvelously recorded performances are further proof. — TH


Christopher Purves: Handel's Finest Arias for Base Voice

 Hyperion

How low can you go? Well, bass Christopher Purves sinks down to a subterranean B-flat that you actually feel as much as hear in "Fra l'ombre e gl'orrori" (from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo). While somewhat overlooked, the music Handel wrote for his bass singers is gorgeous. And this album by Purves, who recently created the lead role of Walt Disney in the new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American, is a joy from top to (ahem) bottom. — TH


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