For the Record, Op. 17: Jennifer Higdon's Viola Concerto; and 'All Things Majestic'

March 10, 2017, 12:13 PM · Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!

Higdon and Diaz
Composer Jennifer Higdon and violist Roberto Díaz.

All Things Majestic; Higdon Viola Concerto
Roberto Díaz, viola
Jennifer Higdon, composer
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Here is a recording of Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon's viola concerto, written for and performed by violist Roberto Díaz, who is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. "I noticed that pieces for the viola were all very dark and kind of heavy," Higdon said in a press release. "So I decided to make a piece that is more celebratory and has a real swing to it. Each movement has an American rhythmic drive, with almost jazz-like rhythms that are tricky for the orchestra. They fit together like a little puzzle, where everything is tightly woven. But you also want to think about the gorgeousness of the instrument. The viola sounds great playing long lines." The recording also includes a four-movement piece called "All Things Magestic," inspired by the beauty of Jackson Hole's wild lands, and commissioned by the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Brahms: Piano Quintet Op 34; Schumann: Quartet Op. 41
Pacifica Quartet
Menahem Pressler, piano

The Pacifica Quartet joins forces with legendary collaborative pianist Menahem Pressler, 93, for Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34, in a recording that also includes Schumann's Quartet in A minor, Op. 41. Both the Pacifica Quartet and Pressler are faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music -- the quartet since 2012, and Pressler since 1955! "His artistry and dedication were inspiring to us," said Pacifca violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson in a press release. "Here was someone who had been performing for 50 years and is still searching for new artistic heights, still rediscovering the music."

Rachmaninoff: Complete Music & Transcriptions for Violin & Piano
Annelle K. Gregory, violin
Alexander Sinchuk, piano

Annelle K. Gregory performs all of Rachmaninoff's compositions for violin and piano, as well as transcriptions by Fritz Kreisler and Jascha Heifetz, with pianist Alexander Sinchuk. Gregory won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award of the 2017 National Sphinx Competition. She is a laureate of the Stradivarius International Violin Competition, First Prize winner of the 2016 American Protégé International Concerto Competition, and Gold Medalist of the NAACP ACT-SO competition. Alexander Sinchuk won First Prize at the International Competition for Young Pianists in memory of Vladimir Horowitz (Kiev), and was First Prize winner of the Rachmaninoff International Competition (Moscow).

If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes.

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March 10, 2017 at 09:13 PM · I LOVE jennifer higdon's music. I'm excited about this piece. Very happy with this post.

March 11, 2017 at 04:17 PM · CORRECTION: The original version of this story stated that Jennifer Higdon's viola concerto was called "All Things Majestic"; instead, "All Things Majestic" is a separate, four-movement piece.

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