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Classical Music Highlights for May

May 3rd-7th

Jerry Willard's Night at the Opera

(Lyrichord LEMS-8074)

Jerry Willard, guitar

Before the piano became the mainstay of home musical entertainment, the guitar held the position. Popular melodies from operas, symphonies, and other larger-scale works were often transcribed for guitar so non-musicians might hear them when they pleased. Performing on his 1820 François Lacote guitar, Jerry Willard performs a selection of such transcriptions from 19th century operas.

May 10th-14th

Biber: Mensa Sonora - Battalia

(Cedille Records CDR 90000 116)

Baroque Band

Garry Clarke, director

The Baroque Band has been gaining wide acceptance since its creation in 2007 by British violinist Garry Clarke. They have been the resident ensemble at Chicago's WFMT Radio and the Music Institute of Chicago, and their first two seasons totaled more than 80 performances. Their first recording highlights the ensemble's virtuosity with a selection of works by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber.

May 17th-21st

Rossini: Complete Piano Music, vol. 3

(Naxos 8.572315)

Alessandro Marangoni, piano

Gioachino Rossini's later years included a standing Saturday evening engagement where he entertained guests in Paris. He composed thirteen volumes of, as he put it, "a little of everything." In the third installment of the complete piano music of Rossini, Alessandro Marangoni performs the fifth volume of The Sins of Old Age, "The Album for Adolescents."

May 24th-28th

Benita Valente, Soprano - Great Singers of the 20th Century, Vol. 1

(Bridge 9316)

Benita Valente, soprano

Few singers have the breadth of talent necessary to tackle not just the entirety of the lyric opera repertoire but also the intricacies of the art song and the challenges of new composition. Soprano Benita Valente was one of these shining stars, and the Bridge label launches their "Great Singers of the 20th Century" series with a volume dedicated to her skill. Of particular note is her breathtaking rendering of Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo.

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