To open the Met’s 2017–18 season, powerhouse soprano Sondra Radvanovsky tackled one of opera’s most fearsome roles, the title druid priestess of Bellini’s Norma, who wrestles with love and betrayal before making the ultimate sacrifice on a funeral pyre. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sang Norma’s friend and rival, Adalgisa, in Sir David McVicar’s evocative production.
Three of Szymanowski’s most important works show Rattle’s ability to energise music in which he believes. Sensuality and cogency blend in refined sound.
If your Latin jazz collection centers mainly around styles from Cuba and Brazil, pianist Edward Simon would like you to consider expanding your library to include musical influences from a culturally diverse land geographically situated between those two countries – namely Venezuela, where he was born and lived until the age of 12. Simon is an acclaimed post-bop and modern creative jazz pianist in his adopted country of the United States, and while Latin American elements have certainly seasoned his recorded output to date, this 2014 Sunnyside release finds him focusing more intently than ever on the nexus between creative jazz and the folk music of his home country. The album's title is derived from "Venezuelan Suite," whose four parts fill over 28 minutes of the disc's concise 38-minute duration. Simon composed the suite for his Ensemble Venezuela, and the ten-member version of the group heard here – including musicians from the U.S., Venezuela, and Colombia – is wonderfully vibrant, ably fulfilling the pianist's creative intent. Chamber Music America commissioned Simon to write this work, and he rose to the challenge with music that is suitably rich with timbral and textural variety.