Local classical musicians are finding themselves in the studio with greater frequency lately, and the most exciting news on this front is Yannick and the Orchestra are making a recording on the vaunted Deutsche Grammophon label. It’s just one disc — featuring the rather hackneyed Bach/Stokowski transcriptions — but it is a foot in a very big door.
Lots of new music from our composer community, too, including a vibrant disc of varied chamber music for flute, clarinet and piano from Daniel Dorff. His album is titled Perennials, and the material conjures brilliant floral bouquets: upbeat jazzy rhythms, luminous color and an elegant tribute to Bach. Dorff’s good humor makes many appearances, including a tribute to the old Steve Poses restaurant Frög, at which many of his fellow music students at the time worked the piano bar. The wonderful performances match the éclat of the music.
The music of David Bennett Thomas offers a somewhat darker profile. He uses similar instrumentation as Dorff does, including flute, clarinet and piano, but adds the deeper tones of viola and cello. His pacing is more deliberate, leading him to introspective exposition. The composer’s voice is not without brightness, and even some sprightliness, but he is most eloquent in the shadows, especially when he is exploring the textures of the instruments. A highlight of the album is the luscious music he wrote for the British alto and bass flutist Carla Rees.
The New York state label Bridge seems to favor Philadelphia composers and musicians, most notably for their landmark series of recordings of the works of George Crumb, a project that has received worldwide acclaim. They have just released a highly satisfying set of the complete music for violin and piano of Beethoven, featuring Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Barbara Govatos and the superb pianist and Bryn Mawr native Marcantonio Barone. Sure, the material hasn’t been lacking in top-flight recordings, but this bold, richly expressive playing warrants comparison to the best.