New Releases: Jan Vogler, Shai Wosner, Voces8

Shai Wosner, VOCES8

This week's featured albums include Italian Baroque concertos, Schubert for piano and an English a cappella group.

Concerti di Venezia
Jan Vogler
La Folia Baroque Orchestra

Jan Vogler looks at the early development of the cello as a solo instrument in the 17th and 18th centuries, a time when broke free from its origins as a continuo instrument. That process was helped along by a revolution in instrument building but also by a number of forward-looking composers, some of which are featured here. They include Antonio Vivaldi, with his Double Concerto for violin and cello; Vogler is joined here by the sweet-toned Baroque violinist Giuliano Carmignola, as well as concertos by Caldara and Vandini. There are also arrangements of a Porpora aria ("Alto Giove") and Marcello's Concerto for Oboe and Strings. Vogler plays with zest and commitment through this diverse musical landscape, and the Folia Baroque Orchestra provides sympathetic support.

Shai Wosner
Schubert and Mazzoli
The Israeli-born, New York-based pianist Shai Wosner has been exploring links among the music of Franz Schubert and that of living composers, both in live performances and on this, his latest album. It features six of Schubert's Moments Musicaux for solo piano and the Sonata D959. In between comes Isabelle Eberhardt Dreams of Pianos by the remarkable Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli. Inspired by the writings and North African journeys of Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss explorer who died in a flash flood in 1904, at age 27, it incorporates fragments of Schubert's sonata.

Voces8, a young, British vocal octet led by Barnaby Smith, has released "Lux: Music by Tallis, Elgar, Tavener, Allegri, Rachmaninoff and others." It's the "others" which makes this album particularly unique. Along with radiant vocal classics like Rachmaninoff’s all-night Vespers and Elgar's Lux Aeterna, there are a couple of pop arrangements: "Teardrop" by the band Massive Attack and "The Luckiest" by singer-pianist Ben Folds. One journalist has described Voces8 -- which consists of two women and six men -- as a cross between the King’s Singers and Manhattan Transfer. It's that expansive approach that allows the group to carry off this eclectic repertoire.