Tom Huizenga

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Cellist Clarice Jensen says the music on her debut solo album solicits "meditation and disorientation" — two words that, while not mutually exclusive, seem to suggest both a remedy for, and the reality of, a complicated world.

When it comes to heavyweight game-changers like Claude Debussy, super fans even celebrate death anniversaries. It was 100 years ago, March 25, 1918, that the visionary composer lost his battle with cancer and died in Paris at age 56.

To mark the occasion, Warner Classics has issued a handsome 33-CD box containing what the label says is "the most complete collection ever made" of Debussy's music.

By her own admission, composer Florence Price had two strikes against her.

"To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins," is how she began a 1943 letter to Serge Koussevitzky, the revered conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She added later, "I would like to be judged on merit alone."

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Musician and composer Nils Frahm must feel like a chef who has finally assembled his dream kitchen. Frahm's new album, All Melody (due out Jan. 26), was crafted at Saal 3, a vintage studio space he was offered in an old East Berlin broadcast facility built in the 1950s.

Updated, Jan. 11, 4:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include new allegations of sexual assault made against Dutoit.

Collaboration. It's at the heart of many of NPR Music's finest moments. And it's in the DNA of the intrepid Kronos Quartet, which some 40 years ago began working with composers around the globe to spotlight new music.

Opening our 10th anniversary concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., Kronos, true to form, gave an appreciative audience both a world premiere and an extraordinary surprise collaboration.

Classical music has never lived in a bubble. For centuries, it's always found common ground with folk music.

Enter, the Danish String Quartet.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Classical and folk music continue to intermingle in fascinating ways. The intersections stretch back far beyond Bach, who cleverly slipped a German folk song into his Goldberg Variations. Later, composers like Ralph Vaughan Williams and Béla Bartók combed the countryside, collecting tunes from villagers.

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

Don't bother trying to pigeonhole the music of Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist, who record under the name From the Mouth of the Sun. If their mission in this instrumental miniature is nothing more than beauty itself, they have succeeded on a disproportionate scale.

The music in "Light Blooms In Hollow Space" summons exactly what its title suggests. A simple, two-note piano figure ticks like a clock while wheezy organ chords slowly emerge and a sprinkle of ukuleles falls from above. The space may be hollow, but it's painted with impressionistic detail.

Earlier this month, the New York Philharmonic's outgoing music director Alan Gilbert said goodbye to his orchestra in a series of concerts. Today, he is saying hello to a brand new job in Hamburg, Germany.

When John Luther Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014 for his undulating orchestral piece Become Ocean, you'd be forgiven for thinking of him as something like the Jacques Cousteau of contemporary classical music.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

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It's a curious thing how ancient music can sometimes sound so contemporary. Listen to "Morgunstjarna," and it's as if three centuries' worth of music history evaporates. The anonymous song from 17th-century Iceland sports a catchy, bittersweet melody and rhythmic hook that pop outfits like Peter Bjorn and John might be happy to whistle.

Although it closed 60 years ago, Black Mountain College keeps on giving. In its heyday, the liberal arts institution near Asheville, N.C., counted many of the mid-century's great artistic thinkers, including John Cage, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessy Gray and Robert Rauschenberg, among its faculty and students.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


The great Beethoven specialist András Schiff says, "Whatever we do on the piano is a collection of illusions." If that's true, then Volker Bertelmann, the German pianist who goes by the single name Hauschka, is a master illusionist.

Symphony orchestras and opera companies across the country continually ask the same question: How do we attract a younger and more diverse audience?

Saturday night, I discovered something of an answer at the Washington National Opera's east coast premiere of Champion, a four-year-old opera by jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

In 21 seasons of attending WNO performances, I've never witnessed a more diverse crowd.

"I feel your pain." The phrase might still be linked to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, but it's also an apt descriptor for a new project by The Crossing, the adventuresome Philadelphia-based choir, based on some very old music.

American composer Philip Glass turns 80 years old on January 31. To mark the occasion, we asked several of Glass' colleagues and collaborators to pick a piece of his music and write about it.

In the last week of 2016, Songs We Love is featuring just a few of the songs that, for whatever reason, never got their due this year.

The clarinet and guitar are common enough instruments, but you've probably never heard them sound quite like this. In the hands of guitarist Golfam Khayam and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi, the instruments breathe together in music that borrows melody and improvisation from their Iranian homeland and classical structures from the West.

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