February 2018 Staff Picks

We’re kicking off our first installment of monthly staff picks with fantastic albums, audiobooks and playlists that we’re currently listening to! Each featured release has been handpicked by our staff along with a brief quote. Want to listen to the featured release? Simply click “listen now” in each review section. Happy listening!

I was first introduced to Lithuanian composer Onutė Narbutaitė a couple of years back by writer, composer and friend Frank Oteri, who introduced her as one of the most original voices that has emerged from the Baltics. As Christopher Lyndon-Gee states, her music is hard to categorize and contains a timeless beauty, at once disturbing and beautiful, episodic and epigrammatic. She is a masterful orchestrator and a composer not to be overlooked in favor of her more notable contemporaries in the region.” – Sean  | Listen Now

In Praise of Shadows is as powerful an evocation of materiality’s mysterious aura as anything ever composed. In breathtaking prose, Junichiro Tanizaki articulates the vital role of shadows (or the lack of direct light) not only in Japan’s traditionally austere architectural design, but indeed in the long history of the Orient itself. He beautifully unpacks the power of shadows to render even the most everyday utensils and objects enchanting. Running throughout his essay is a dialogue of West vs. East — of the harsh luminescence of Western lighting versus the warm embrace of the East’s sparse use of light. This is essential reading not simply for those interested in Japanese culture and history, but rather for all who wish to further explore the power and agency of the material world. Sheer brilliance.” – T. Prizer, submitted by William | Listen Now

I’m a big fan of Jane Austen(and tea) so this is my new go-to playlist from unClassified! Each piece featured on ‘Tea with Jane’ was found in her sheet music collection or inspired by the era so it feels like a mixtape from Jane herself.” – Courtney | Listen Now

From the first time I heard Gabriela Lena Frank’s music in 2010, it caught my ear.  A year later – Naxos released this disc – and Hilos’ “Juegos” captures Lena Franks’ style so perfectly.  The entire disc is fantastic, programatic, and though a bit on the more modern side of the compositional spectrum – enjoyable from top to bottom.  Just when I’d forgotten about the release, the Glissando podcast featured the release during episode 1.6 and I got to re-experience the disc all over again!” – Nick | Listen Now

It is fabulous to hear Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem set so interestingly by William Hill for chorus and orchestra. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Chorus do a very convincing job at capturing the eerie essence of the text.” – Mara | Listen Now

Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Orchestra are exceptional on this impeccable version of the Symphonic Dances and The Bells by Rachmaninov. They show a dark side of this beautiful and emotional music that’s never been reached.” – Philippe | Listen Now