Michael Kelly, Ermonela Jaho, Asmik Grigorian & Barbara Hannigan Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week, audiences will get to check out a new documentary with three of the leading divas of our time, an album with Schubert lieder and contemporary and unknown pieces. Here is a look at this week’s new albums.

Die schöne Müllerin

Bright Shiny Things is set to release Schubert’s song cycle “Die schöne Müllerin,” in a world premiere arrangement for baritone voice and guitar by the American guitarist and composer David Leisner. On the recording, Leisner partners with acclaimed American baritone Michael Kelly.

In a statement, Kelly said, “I first came to David’s music when I programmed a cycle he had written on my concert series, SongFusion. David had also recently attended a performance I gave of Schubert’s Winterreise, so the sound of my voice singing Schubert was fresh in his ear. We sat down together back in 2014 in a cafe in New York’s Upper West Side where David presented his idea of creating a new arrangement of Die schöne Mullerin for us. It combined two of my favorite things; art song and innovation.”

Meanwhile, Leisner said, “The original cycle was for tenor voice,” and so the Duarte/Ragossnig arrangement “stays closer to the original keys.”

The Gift of the Magi

Composer Richard E Brown and Navona Records are set to release a chamber opera in one act that tells the beloved story of a young married couple who, despite being very poor, sacrifice their most cherished possessions to demonstrate their love for one another. The chamber opera adds even greater breadth to the composer’s output, which has also included works for concert band and orchestra, instrumental solos and ensembles, church music, piano solos, and scores for ballet, opera, and musical theater.


ARS Produktion releases Nordic Light Duo’s latest album. Josefine Andersson and Daniel Beskow perform on the album in Scandinavian lieder (song) repertoire. The album shows connections to the fables’ illustrations through music.

The Blue Hour

New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records release “The Blue Hour,” a song cycle written collaboratively by the female composers Rachel Grimes, Angélica Negrón, Shara Nova, Caroline Shaw, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The album is performed by Boston–based chamber orchestra A Far Cry and Shara Nova is featured as the vocal soloist.

Fuoco Sacro: A Search for the Sacred Fire of Song

Naxos releases Jan Schmidt-Garre’s film which singles out three highly individual sopranos, Asmik Grigorian, Barbara Hannigan, and Ermonela Jaho. The 92-minute film shows what goes into creating that live-performance magic—the preparation, the rehearsals, the dressing-room rituals. It’s followed by another ninety minutes of extras: Grigorian singing Tchaikovsky, Hannigan singing Satie, Jaho Cilea and Puccini, along with extended warm-ups from each of them.


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