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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: A Gathering of Friends

John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma - A Gathering of Friends album cover
Hand-out/Sony Music Masterworks
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Sony Music Masterworks
John Williams - A Gathering of Friends - May 20, 2022

John Williams has created so many thrilling scores, so many memorable themes after so many decades, that I couldn’t begrudge him the decision to retire after writing the music for “The Fabelmans” and the latest Indiana Jones movie. But then, back in January, he changed his mind! We may yet get more Williams scores, and perhaps some concert pieces too.

Until then, you have a sure bet with this treat of a recording with Williams collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma and the New York Philharmonic, along with guitarist Pablo Sainz-Villegas and harpist Jessica Zhou in this album, “A Gathering of Friends.”

Williams’s gift for lyricism is great display throughout the cello concerto, and Ma embraces it whole-heartedly.

The surprise here for me was some fascinatingly spooky music: “Highwood’s Ghost.” This thrilling tone poem was inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s experience encountering a ghost years ago at Highwood, part of Tanglewood, and it includes some eerie effects.

You'll also find in here some lyrical film score selections, music that Williams wrote for the movies "Munich," "Lincoln," and "Schindler’s List." The guitar and cello duo, "A Prayer for Peace" from "Munich" is especially lovely.

Mona Seghatoleslami is the Music Director, host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.