Irina Lungu, Sherezade Panthaki & Benjamin Appl Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences will hear two new world premiere recordings from some of the most exciting composers and librettists. They will also get to experience two classics from the standard repertoire.

Here is a look at the new releases for the week.

Am I Born 

Bright Shiny Things releases “AM I BORN,” a world-premiere recording of an oratorio for soprano soloist, choir, and orchestra by composer David T. Little in partnership with librettist Royce Vavrek. “AM I BORN” is a meditation on impermanence, using Brooklyn’s past—specifically a neighborhood that was largely demolished to make way for the Brooklyn Bridge—as a means of reflecting on the rapidly changing present. Performers include soprano Mellissa Hughes, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and new music orchestra NOVUS NY, all under the direction of Julian Wachner.

The Nothing Lamp

Crossover Records releases a new album featuring a new song cycle with text by Mark Campbell and music by Joseph N. Rubinstein. The piece was written during the 2020 quarantine, and recorded and produced in 2021 by soprano Jessica Fishenfeld and pianist Mila Henry. The album was produced by Jonathan Estabrooks/Emitha Studios, with generous backing by “Arts Angel“ Debra DeMartini.

J.S. Bach Cantatas, Volume 1

San Francisco’s only professional ensemble dedicated solely to performing cantatas of J.S. Bach, releases its first album on Centaur Records. The new record features three of Bach’s beloved cantatas – “Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke,” BWV 84; “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,” BWV 170; and “Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut,” BWV 199 – with soprano Sherezade Panthaki, countertenor Reginald Mobley, and organist Nicholas McGegan. There is also a duet, “Wir eilen mit schwachen” from “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” BWV 78.

The album was recorded at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA from Sept. 9-11, 2020, by David v.R. Bowles of Swineshead Productions, recipient of numerous GRAMMY and JUNO nominations.


Mozart’s “Idomeneo” is released on C Major from a 2019 revival of Kasper Holten’s 2014 production. The Wiener Staatsoper’s cast included Bernard Richter in the title role, Rachel Frenkel, Valentina Nafornita, and Irina Lungu. Tomáš Netopil led the Orchestra and Chorus of the Wiener Staatsoper.


Benjamin Appl releases his first album for Alpha Classics. The album features Schubert’s song cycle which Appl has performed worldwide to acclaimed. He is joined by pianist James Baillieu, one of his frequent collaborators.


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