Poster Elina Garanca
Elina Garanca's new album, 'When Night Falls ...,' is perfect for an evening of relaxing contemplation.
Deutsche Gammophon
Recordings of the Month

Saint-Saens on period instruments, a 200th birthday and night music highlight March releases

Every day, YourClassical’s programming team (music director Joe Goetz and associate music directors Jennifer Allen and Robin Gehl) listen to dozens of recordings as they create our daily radio playlists and on-demand streams. Here are some of their favorites for March 2024.

Camille Saint-Saëns: Symphonic Poems

Camille Saint-Saëns: Symphonic Poems (Le Carnaval des Animaux and L'Assassinat du Duc de Guise); Les Siècles, conducted by François-Xavier Roth (Harmonia Mundi)

When we think of “period instruments,” we mainly think of Baroque music — Bach violin partitas with gut strings, lutes, harpsichords, that sort of thing. But the French ensemble Les Siecles and its artistic director, Francois-Xavier Roth, take that concept all the way into the 19th and even early 20th centuries. In this release, the long-lived Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) is in the spotlight. To put his life in perspective, he was born when Chopin was a young man and died nearly a full decade after the raucous premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. He witnessed radical changes in musical instrument technology and even wrote what is believed to be the first score for a film, the 1908 short The Assassination of the Duke of Guise, which is featured on this release. That the players in Les Siecles are playing older instruments is not unusual, but one instrument in particular stands out: the Pleyel double piano. Perfect for piano duets, it’s used to great effect in this recording of The Carnival of the Animals, of which you can enjoy an excerpt here. — Joe Goetz

Camille Saint-Saëns: Aquarium, from The Carnival of the Animals

March Albums 2024

When Night Falls …; Elīna Garanča and various artists (Deutsche Grammophon)

An album perfect for an evening of relaxing contemplation, this collection of lullabies and songs performed by mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča features familiar lullabies by Johannes Brahms and Richard Strauss mixed with charming delights by Xavier Montsalvatge, Luciano Berio, Engelbert Humperdinck and composers from Elīna Garanča’s homeland of Latvia. Her comforting and relaxed vocals, joined by (at various times) orchestra, chamber ensemble, guitar and piano, ask to linger in the moment, a welcome pause after a hectic day. — Jennifer Allen

Manuel de Falla: Seven Popular Spanish Songs - Asturiana

March Albums 2024

Songs of Fate; Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica, Vida Miknevičiūtė (ECM)
If night listening is for deeper thoughts, Songs of Fate, by Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer and his ensemble, Kremerata Baltica, is perhaps more appropriate, a solemn program of music from and for turbulent times. Works by Jewish composer Mieczysław Weinberg and Baltic composers address questions of being and identity through poignant settings of Jewish texts and wordless meditations on time and music. The final piece on the album, Jēkabs Jančevskis’s Lignum, was inspired by a book about trees; it’s a moving work on introspection and understanding found in the middle of a quiet forest, hearing the music of the unknown in the shadows. — Jennifer Allen

Jēkabs Jančevskis: Lignum

March Albums 2024

Bedrich Smetana: Ma Vlast; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov (Pentatone Classics)
This year, the classical music world is celebrating the bicentenary of Czech composer Bedřich Smetana’s birth, March 2, 1824. 2024 also marks a Year of Czech Music observed every 10 years since Smetana’s centenary in 1924. Record label Pentatone has issued a new album featuring the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, led by its chief conductor and music director Semyon Bychkov, performing Smetana’s great symphonic cycle Má Vlast (My Homeland). First performed in 1882, this six-movement orchestral work portrays the landscape, history and legends of Bohemia and contains the tuneful Vlatava movement, “The Moldau,” beautifully depicting the river that flows through the countryside and the capital city of Prague. Smetana included descriptive and delightful moments in other movements, as well, such as Vyšehrad, a tenth-century historic fort in Prague, and in “Z Českých Luhů a Hájů” (“From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields”). Regarded as the father of Czech music, Smetana dedicated Má Vlast to the city of Prague. — Robin Gehl

Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau

march albums

A Room of Her Own; Neave Trio (Chandos)
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’d be remiss not to mention the latest recording by a group known for its championing of female composers. The Neave Trio (violinist Anna Williams, cellist Mikhail Veselov and pianist Eri Nakamura) made waves before the pandemic with its album Her Voice, which featured trios by Amy Beach, Rebecca Clarke and Louise Farrenc.  Five years later, A Room of Her Own shines a light on trios by Cecile Chaminade, Ethel Smyth, Germaine Tailleferre and Lili Boulanger. Hear an excerpt below, and be sure to check out Julie Amacher’s interview with the Neave Trio on New Classical Tracks. — Joe Goetz

Ethel Smyth: Piano Trio - second movement

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