This is one of those great Rossinian singing competitions in which everyone–and, in particular, the listeners–wins. Composed as a piece of occasional entertainment for the coronation of Charles X in Paris, Rossini borrowed liberally from his recent comic success Le Comte Ory and fashioned a musical necklace chock filled with one shiny bauble after another. Each character has a showpiece aria, from the highs of soprano Cecilia Gasdia as a melodramatic poetess all the way down to the basso realms of Samuel Ramey and Ruggero Raimondi. The ensembles are as delicious as the solos, and Claudio Abbado, in a very theatrical mood (this was recorded live) keeps everything going wittily and with great elan. The plot is practically nonexistent, but with singing like this, it's hard to complain. A real dazzler–and great fun.–Robert Levine
Fazil Say first came to international attention as a pianist, but he used that career as a springboard for launching his own compositions, and he has become widely recognized in both fields. This release from Naïve includes a fascinating assortment of his works that draw on his background in the Western classical tradition, his Turkish heritage, and his interest in jazz. His 2008 Violin Concerto, subtitled "1001 Nights in the Harem," skillfully brings the harmonic language, modal melodies, and textures of traditional Turkish music to the format of the concerto.
Like American comedian W.C. Fields, American composer Elliott Carter never believed in giving the listener an even break. In the three string quartets recorded here, Carter used all the tools at his command a virtuoso technique, an adroit intellect, and an unsurpassed ability to write ruthlessly independent counterpoint to challenge and confound the unsuspecting listener.