Anita Rachvelishvili, Angel Blue & Zachary James Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences will get a chance to hear two solo albums from some of the most exciting artists in the industry, world premiere recordings, and a rarely performed opera, among others. Here is a look at the new releases:


Sony Classical will release Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili’s second album. The new album will showcase Rachvelishvili in the song repertoire in Russian, Georgian, Italian, French, and Spanish. Among the composers will include  Otar Taktakishvili, Tchaikovsky, Duparc, Tosti, and Rachmaninoff. Vicenzo Scalera accompanies the mezzo on this new album.

“I really love this repertoire,” says Rachvelishvili. “It gives one more color and more possibilities for expressing emotions with the voice.”

Words Adorned

GRAMMY-winning choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, releases its 25th commercial album on Navona Records. Words Adorned features The Crossing with the Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s Takht Ensemble led by Hanna Khoury and Palestinian vocal soloist Dalal Abu Amneh in commissioned works by Kareem Roustom and Kinan Abou-afach inspired by Andalusian poetry, and the traditional muwashshah When He Appeared by Muhammad ‘abd al-Rahim al Maslub.

In a press release, Donald Nally said, “This is one of those great collaborations in which everyone is equally vital, no one is fully in charge and no one is in the background; everyone is driving the energy of the project and the music forward with physical, intellectual, and emotional energy.”

The Song of the Earth

Centuries-old Chinese poetry is brought vividly to life in a new recording from Long Yu and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The new album for Deutsche Grammophon features the world premiere recording of the contemporary “The Song of the Earth” by Ye Xiaogang featuring soloists Michelle DeYoung, Brian Jagde, Zhang Liping and Shenyang. The album also features Gustav Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde.”

Porgy & Bess

The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Marin Alsop present a live recording with highlights of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” The cast includes Lester Lynch (Porgy), Angel Blue (Bess, Clara and Serena), Chauncey Packer (Sportin’ Life), and Kevin Short (Crown, Jake). The album was recorded live in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, in March 2020, in the last concerts performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra in front of a public audience before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The album is a co-production of the San Francisco Classical Recording Company and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Impossible Dream

Zachary James celebrates the return to live audiences after pandemic-related venue closures and the shuttering of live arts with his fourth album featuring a post-genre mixtape that honors his return to the stage as the title role of “Man of La Mancha.” The album will showcase him in original compositions alongside covers of show tune classics.

In a press release, James said, “As we, as artists, return to the stage, I want to bring all of the lessons of the past year and a half with me–the challenges and tragedies as well as the triumphs–as a way to move forward. The most valuable thing I discovered with venue closures and loss of employment was my own artistic voice.  I self-produced, self-recorded, and self-filmed so much throughout the pandemic that I can’t walk away from it now.  It’s too important to me. IMPOSSIBLE DREAM celebrates a return and a commitment to move forward with beauty, truth, and love.”

Freedom over Everything

Vince Mendoza returns to his roots as a composer and conductor, highlighting collaborations with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, soprano Julia Bullock, guest artists Joshua Redman, Antonio Sanchez, Derrick Hodge, and The Roots’ premiere MC Black Thought. “Freedom Over Everything” will be released on BMG’s Modern Recordings label imprint and will feature Mendoza’s five-movement “Concerto for Orchestra,” which was commissioned by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

La reine de Saba

Odyssey Opera has released the “La reine de Saba” which marks the debut release of the complete five-act opera including rediscovered music that has been omitted for decades. Recorded live on New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall stage in 2018, Gil Rose conducts the work with a cast that includes Kara Shay Thomson, Kevin Thompson, and Dominick Chenes.


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