Classical home listening: Pekka Kuusisto, Il Giardino Armonico and more

Kuusisto plays Muhly, Glass and Mozart, while Giovanni Antonini and co pass the time of day with Haydn

First Light (Pentatone), the first collaboration on disc between the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, of which he is artistic director, presents works by Nico Muhly and Philip Glass: two New York composers of different generations united in friendship. Muhly’s Shrink (2019), a glittering, jittery, mischievous violin concerto written for Kuusisto, is here given its world premiere recording. The work reflects its title, contracting and intensifying as it progresses, a perfect mirror of the word “shrink” and a platform for Kuusisto in hyperactive, virtuosic mode.

Glass’s The Orchard (from The Screens), in comparison, is a work of slow, long-breathed elegy. Muhly is the pianist, with Kuusisto beautifully lyrical and tender – a track you immediately want to share. The violinist has arranged Glass’s String Quartet No 3 “Mishima” for string orchestra, played here with energy and finesse, bringing alive those mid-1980s surging symmetries that first made Glass a cult figure.

• You need time to prepare for a 300th birthday: two decades in the case of Haydn, though let’s celebrate his genius any day. Giovanni Antonini and his period instrument ensemble Il Giardino Armonico are recording all 107 symphonies ahead of the anniversary in 2032, not chronologically but by groupings. They have reached No 10: Les Heures du jour (Alpha Classics), which presents three early symphonies known by their timely nicknames, No 6 in D major “Le Matin”, No 7 in C major “Le Midi” and No 8 in G major “Le Soir”.

The mysterious, slow opening to “Le Matin” is easy to imagine as sunrise, and an emergence from darkness; the other two, “Midday” and the notably rumbustious “Evening”, are less literal in association. As a trio of works they are boundless in invention. The clarity of the orchestration is made transparent and gleaming by the soloists of Il Giardino Armonico, who also make the most of every joke or surprise. Mozart’s exuberant Serenata notturna, K239 is an ideal bonus: a tiny opera without characters for which you can supply your own scenario.

• The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s chief conductor designate, Domingo Hindoyan, conducts Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and the world premiere of a trombone concerto by the young British composer Dani Howard. Radio 3 in Concert, Friday, 7.30pm.


Contributor

Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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