Sound Out presenter Ian McGlynn chooses five of his favourite new releases featured in March that you might have missed...

Une jeunesse a Paris - Marie Perbost (Hyperion Records)

This month I was delighted to discover the French soprano Marie Perbost via the Harmonia Mundi Nova series, which singles out exceptional new artists in classical music. And we’re very glad they chose Marie Perbost, because she is a joy to listen to.

Perbost chose the pieces for this album herself, which she dedicated to ‘a French youth’ and the album includes songs by Hervé, Weill and Hahn, recorded with a range of musicians including pianist Josephine Ambroselli. I really liked the work Banalités by Francis Poulenc – another discovery that delighted me this month – and in particular the languid tracks Hôtel and Sanglots. We will be closely watching to see what Marie Perbost does next.

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Bach: Cantatas Nos 106 & 182 – Amici Voices (Hyperion Records)

My next choice asks us to consider our own humanity, and the fate of our immortal souls. No mean feat I grant you but Bach does most of the work for us, by way of his Cantata No 106, the Actus tragicus.

Actus tragicus is a choral work that juxtaposes a fearful death with a joyful afterlife, with the music taking us from uncertainly in the face of death, into light and enlightenment. It’s all performed by Amici Voices who perform with a small ensemble of instruments, just two recorders, two viols and continuo, which delicately underscore the fine singers and allows us get even closer to the work. A highlight is the movement Es ist der alte Bund (It is the old covenant) which is begun by three lower voices. They’re joined by a soprano who sings Komm Jesu, Komm and as her fellow musicians and singers depart one by one, she brings the piece to a serene finish.

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Maghera Pony - Matthew Noone 

Matthew Noone describes himself as an Australian-Irish ex-indie rocker/improviser/composer, and he’s also the performer of a 25 string lute called a sarode. He fell in love with the instrument when he was on a trip to India, and his music today explores the possibilities of the sarode, taking in Irish traditional music, free improvisation and contemporary electroacoustic music.

His latest album is called Maghera Pony and Matthew told me that the album was developed during an artistic residency he undertook at the Burren College of Art, while he explored writing for an electro-acoustic version of the instrument. The album represents his first steps into a new sound world as a composer that pushes the limits of the traditional musical context of the instrument, and although it’s all his own work, his five-year-old daughter Rosie gets a co-writing credit for two of the songs.

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In the Middle of Things: Chamber Music by Michael Zev Gordon – Fidelio Trio with Julian Bliss (Resonus Records)

That London-born composer Michael Zev Gordon counts his teachers Oliver Knussen and Louis Andriessen as influences, this gives us some idea of where his music comes from. His work is both tonal and atonal (sometimes in the same piece!), and includes lyrical lines and contemplative spaces. His latest album tries to take the listener from somewhere familiar and known, to somewhere less familiar, even strange. And Gordon says his wish is to ‘lift the listener beyond the everyday’, a romantic notion he borrows from the 18th-century philosopher Novalis.

The album features the Fidelio Trio and clarinetist Julian Bliss, but not all together all of the time. The musicians part ways for the album performing solo works, duets and trios, and I really enjoyed Roseland, for cello and piano. Gordon uses familiar quotes from Schumann’s Dichterliebe and My Funny Valentine, which connect with his memory of a place in Cornwall, that gives Roseland its' name. It’s performed here by cellist Adi Tal and pianist Mary Dullea.

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Placeless – Kronos Quartet with Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Our final pick for this month is the new album from the impressively versatile Kronos Quartet, who have teamed up with Iranian singers and songwriters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat. Kronos have worked with a genre-busting list of artists including Asha Bhosle; Dawn Upshaw, The National and David Bowie and Björk, while the Vahdat sisters have been performing together for twenty-five years, no strangers to innovative collaborations themselves.

Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat composed all the music for poems that span 800 years, which were then arranged for the quartet by composers including Atabak Elyasi, composer and husband of Mahsa. And the purpose of the album is to remind us how the human heart is always the same, regardless of time, place and culture. And the album title Placeless is a reference to the poem by 13th-century poet Rumi:

I am not from the East, nor from the West

I am not from the land, nor from the sea

I am not from the world, not from beyond

My place is placelessness. My trace is tracelessness.

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Ian McGlynn presents Sound Out every Sunday evening from 9-10pm on RTÉ lyric fm - it's an exploration of the latest music from Irish and international artists and composers, including a weekly gig guide and a listen to new releases - listen back here.