Other genres may think they can boast a wide range of styles, but this month's crop of albums from classically trained musicians reveals artists pushing and pulling at the margins of a ridiculous number of subgenres. The best records of the batch include mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli taking the opera Norma into a leaner, more intimate, and more classical-period-sounding direction than is typical. And over in the contemporary-music realm, we have what is basically a prog rock band in Big Farm (if one that is over-educated in the ways of post-minimalist rhythmic trickery).
Elsewhere, The Emerson String Quartet ventures off into the catalog of Tchaikovsky with thrilling results. And, thanks to the vault-maintenance crew over at RCA records, we now have five key reissues from their 20th Century Music series, grouped under the heading "Prophets of the New." That means key composer-centric albums featuring works by Claude Debussy, Morton Feldman, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Elliott Carter and Luciano Berio. From the old to the new school, check out the appended playlist for the best notated music to hit the market this month.