Jessye Norman, Tim Mead & Carolyn Sampson Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences will get a chance to hear unreleased recordings from one of the legendary sopranos of our time. There will also be new solo albums, world premieres, and rarely performed operas.

Decca Classics to Release Jessye Norman – The Unreleased Masters

Decca releases unreleased recordings of legendary soprano Jessye Norman. The set includes an extraordinary performance of “Tristan und Isolde” with Ms. Norman performing the multiple roles of Isolde and Brangäne, Wagner and Strauss song cycles, and a live recording of an eclectic program of cantatas by Haydn, Berlioz, and Britten.

The album is released with the support of Norman’s family and estate and will pay tribute to one of the exceptional vocal performers of recent times.

The emotional range of Norman’s voice is demonstrated by a remarkable recording of highlights from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” in which Norman uses studio dubbing to perform both the roles of Isolde and Brangäne. Recorded with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1998, the recording features Thomas Moser as Tristan and a young Ian Bostridge as the Seemann. The new box set will showcase a 1989 recording of Norman performing the Four last Songs alongside James Levine and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The release is paired with a 1992 recording of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.

Beauteous Softness

Countertenor Tim Mead presents Beauteous Softness, a program containing restrained yet profoundly moving songs by seventeenth-century English composers such as Purcell, Blow, Humfrey, and Webb. In the album by Pentatone, Mead collaborates with La Nuova Musica and David Bates.

In a statement, Mead said, “While the world was still in lockdown, David Bates and La Nuova Musica invited me to collaborate on their Purcell video series. It was the perfect music with which to collectively emerge from the silence. Inspired by these sessions we committed to exploring further songs together, as well as the best work from Purcell’s contemporaries: John Blow, Pelham Humfrey and William Webb. The resulting collection contains old favourites alongside the less familiar and fulfils a long held dream to follow in Alfred Deller’s hallowed footsteps and record the astonishing Plaint from Purcell’s ‘The Fairy Queen’.”


The Year After: A Song Cycle 

NO HOPE Productions releases “The Year After: A Song Cycle,” which follows a contingent of New Yorkers as they confront the realities of seeking love, losing love, and enduring relationships in a time of personal and political chaos.

The cast includes Brittneyann Accetta (The Office! A Musical Parody), Krystina Alabado (Mean Girls), Michael Lee Brown (Dear Evan Hansen), Max Crumm (Disaster!), Dayna Dantzler (Waitress), Deon’te Goodman (Hamilton), Nathan Lee Graham, (Hadestown, National Tour), Jason Moody (Hair, National Tour) and singer/songwriter Shanna Sharp.

Writers Tim Aumiller and Scott Schneider said, “In the weeks and year after the election, there was a rupture, a seismic shift in our political landscape. Nazis were unabashedly showing their faces. The unthinkable happened every day and became complete normalcy. And yet we also found love, fell out of love, and had babies. Amidst the chaos, we persisted and tried to let everything go. That’s what we were trying to capture, all of those things and how people were processing, including us.”

Secret Nights 

Secret Nights features many a hidden ‘mystery’ of the concert repertoire. The album includes sibling duo Sonja and Astrid Leutwyler and pianist Benjamin Engeli.


Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers releases an EP with the Los Angeles Master Chorale conducted by Grant Gershon. The EP features four world-premiere arrangements that showcase the mysticism of Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and the spirituality of three beloved works from the cantatas of J.S. Bach.


Navona Records releases Hilary Tann’s profoundly lyrical sacred works. The voices of Cappella Clausura, led by Amelia LeClair, perform alongside Heinrich Christiansen.

Tongues of Fire

SOMM Recordings releases the debut of pianist-composer Eric McElroy with “Tongues of Fire,” a collection of 20 songs, all in premiere recordings, performed with acclaimed tenor James Gilchrist.

The disc’s title, Tongues of Fire, is taken from three settings by Grevel Lindop, whose work McElroy notes “exemplifies the Erotic Sublime [and] conveys truths about love and desire that are, in the profoundest sense, universal.”

World Sleep Day

In recognition of World Sleep Day, 22 established and up-and-coming artists release 50 brand new tracks. The musicians, coming from nine different labels within Universal Music Group, have debuted new compositions aimed at creating a tranquil environment conducive to a soothing night’s sleep.

Cavalli: L’Egisto

Chateau de Versaille releases the Cavalli work that features Le Poème Harmonique conducted by Vincent Dumestre. Recorded from March 17 to 22, 2021 at the Royal Opera of Versailles, the work caused a sensation among the audience of the Teatro San Cassiano when it premiered in 1643.

Elysium – A Schubert Recital

Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton release a new album on BIS featuring an all-Schubert recital themed around Elysium, the mythical idea of a blessed and happy eternal future.

The Jade Mountain– Songs by Edmund Rubbra

Lucy Crowe, Claire Barnett-Jones, Marcus Farnsworth, Timothy Ridout, Catrin Finch, and Iain Burnside perform English composer Edmund Rubbra’s songs. This album contains all his published songs with piano and harp accompaniment and includes the first and last songs of the composer’s output. Chandos releases.

Nino Rota: Il cappello di paglia di Firenze

Capriccio releases the musical comedy in four Acts from Oper Graz. Piotr Buszewski stars in the recording alongside Tetiana Miyus.

Giacomo Meyerbeer Jephtas Gelübde

Andrea Chudak, Ziazan, Marcus Elsäßer, Laurence Kalaidjian, Sönke Tams Freier, Caroline Bruker, and Ivaylo Yanev star in the recording of Meyerbeer’s opera. Dario Salvi conducts the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Marco Polo releases the album.


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