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Classical Music Highlights For May

May 1-7

Much of Vivaldi's sacred music was written for a state-funded foundlings' home for girls where he was music director. His writing focused almost entirely on instrumental music, especially concertos, when the choirmaster Francesco Gasparini went on leave and failed to return. Vivaldi was asked to help out, and the results can be heard on these seven CDs. This set is a must-have for those who love Vivaldi's music and wish to explore beyond the famous concertos.

May 8-14

Beethoven's 11 overtures were written almost side-by-side with his symphonies. The first, The Creatures of Prometheus, came along almost simultaneously with the Symphony No. 1. And the last, The Consecration of the House, was written during the same period as the ninth and final symphony. These orchestras paved the way for the concert overture and subsequently the symphonic poem, and all are recorded here by Leipzig's masterful Gewandhaus Orchestra under the direction of Kurt Masur.

May 15-21

The Minnesota-based men's vocal ensemble Cantus is riding a wave of success. You may have caught them on one of their national tours or heard their holiday special the last couple of years on WFIU. On "That Eternal Day," they ensemble focuses on the tradition of American sacred song from William Billings to Bobby McFerrin including a couple of new arrangements by one of their own, Timothy Takach.

May 22-28

The years surrounding the turn of the eighteenth century marked one of the recorder's golden ages in England, when the ‘common flute' appeared in many performance contexts and a wealth of music for it was composed, published and played by professionals and amateurs alike. This CD offers a snapshot of that era, featuring works from instruction manuals and transcriptions of works for other instruments.

May 29-June 4

According to Ensemble Vivant's Catherine Wilson, as with all of their music making, "Ensemble Vivant passionately embraced the stylistic challenges specific to Piazzolla." The trio was fortunate to have help in their preparation from a musician steeped in the music of Piazzolla, Julien Labro, and it shows in the fiery and sensual performance of the music of the Argentine composer.

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