Eric Ferring, Nina Berman & Javier Camarena Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences will get to hear some world premieres, an album dedicated to the LGBT community, and a critical edition of one of Donizetti’s masterpieces.

No Choice but Love: Songs of the LGBTQ+ Community

American tenor Eric Ferring releases “No Choice but Love: Songs of the LGBTQ+ Community” with pianist Madeline Slettedahl on Lexicon Classics. The two-CD length album seeks to highlight diverse LGBTQIA+ voices and perspectives, through revelatory performances of important songs by some of today’s leading composers, including the world premiere recording of Ben Moore’s “Love Remained” and the commissioned title work, “No Choice but Love;” Manuel de Falla’s Preludios and Oración de las madres que tienen a sus hijos en brazos; Jake Heggie’s “Friendly Persuasions;” Poulenc’s “Tel jour, telle nuit;” Ethel Smyth’s “On the Road;” Jennifer Higdon’s “Lilacs;” the world premiere recordings of Willie Alexander III’s “Sure On This Shining Night” and Mari Esabel Valverde’s “To digte af Tove Ditlevsen;” Benjamin Britten’s “Canticle I;” and Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Prayer and Joy.”

Ferring expresses, “As members of that community, Madeline and I wanted to pay homage to the beautiful, difficult history of the LGBT+ community within the classical music world by featuring the many talented living and passed LGBT+ composers. We believe that music is a means of expression, an alternative lens through which to interpret reality, and a healing force. We know that we must use our voices to be advocates for those whose voices are ignored or can’t be heard. We as artists must utilize our gifts to be catalysts for change, empowering our networks, and inspiring them to do what they never thought possible.”

Letter to the World

Composer and guitarist David Leisner releases his new album, Letter to the World, on Azica Records. The album features four song cycles – “Confiding,” “Das Wunderbare Wesen,” “Simple Songs,” and “Of Darkness and Light.” This portrait album of Leisner’s oeuvre for voice and instruments features soprano Katherine Whyte, tenor Andrew Fuchs, baritone Michael Kelly, violinist Sarah Whitney, oboist Scott Bartucca, cellist Raman Ramikrishnan, Leisner on guitar, and pianists Lenore Fishman Davis and Dimitri Dover.

A Picnic Cantata 

New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) releases Paul Bowles’ A Picnic Cantata on its in-house label NYFOS Records. The new release was recorded at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center on February 22 and 23, 2017 and features sopranos Amy Owens and Chelsea Shephard, mezzo-sopranos Amanda Lynn Bottoms and Naomi Louisa O’Connell, and percussionist Barry Centanni, together with NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier and co-founder Michael Barrett on the piano.

Between Worlds

Enveloping the philosophy of Eros and Thanatos, the creative life force, and the inevitability of death, “Between Worlds” starts and ends as just another day, with the Sunrise and the Sunset. The album sees the collaboration between cellist Margaret Maria and soprano Donna Brown.

Milton Babbit: Works for Treble Voice and Piano

soprano Nina Berman and pianist Steve Beck release their debut duo recording Milton Babbitt: Works for Treble Voice and Piano. This collection of 10 vocal compositions by the extraordinarily influential American composer Milton Babbitt is a complete survey of Babbitt’s work for high voice and piano.

In a statement, Berman said, “Babbitt’s music is full of liveliness and varied expression, and working through his catalogue as both a listener and performer has been eye-opening for both of us. Steve and I hope to illustrate that Babbitt’s music overspills with heart not in spite of its complexity but as a result of it.”


Anousha Nazari and Pedro Rocha perform works by Barbara Strozzi, one of the first female composers to publish music under her own name. The cantata highlights Strozzi’s ability to communicate heartbreaking emotion with her music.

Into the Light 

The low-voiced ensemble Cantus releases its first holiday album in over a decade and the group’s third release on the Signum Classics label. “Into the Light” reflects Cantus’ commitment to diversity of repertoire with works spanning five languages by a broad range of composers and arrangers: from John Jacob Niles and Kenneth Jennings to Joni Mitchell and B.E. Boykin. The album also offers six pieces created specifically for Cantus, including two new arrangements from Reginald Bowens and Christopher H. Harris.

L’Elisir d’Amore

Dynamic releases a new recording of Donizetti’s masterpiece with Caterina Sala, Javier Camarena, Florian Sempey, and Roberto Frontali from the Donizetti Opera Festival. Riccardo Frizza conducts the Orchestra Gli Originali in a critical edition. Frederic Wake-Walker directs the work. The performances were praised with OperaWire noting, “Caterina Sala Delivers Star-making Performance in Donizetti’s Comedy.”

The opera will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and CD.

Schubert: Schwanengesang

Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide release a new album on Deutsche Grammophon featuring Schubert’s beloved song cycle.

Passion for Ukraine

Lena Belkina releases an album of Ukrainian Folk Music. In a statement teh mezzo says, “music is a glimmer of hope that stands against unbearable pain and hopelessness The large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed me. I realized that the values I hold so dearly – freedom, respect for your own as well as foreign borders, human life – are now threatened and being destroyed in cold blood. This brought up the desire within me to strengthen my self-identification, to get to know myself better, to research the history and fate of my family, and to return to my childhood and youth in Crimea through thoughts, memories, and emotions.”

She is accompanied by Violina Petrychenko.