Retired but never forgotten. Well, it took a while, but Benita Valente Volume 2, the long-awaited follow-up to the retired Philadelphia soprano's Volume 1 on the Bridge label is finally here, and the combination studio and live recordings is certainly among the best German art song recordings out there. The selection includes Schubert, Schumann, and Strauss, but Hugo Wolf is the best-represented composer. Those dense songs can seem labored and clotted even done by the best of singers, though Valente's beaconlike voice and musical intelligence means there's little question as to what Wolf was after.
- David Patrick Stearns
Bach plus everybody else. In its first new-music commission since 2007, Choral Arts Philadelphia's Bach @7 series features seven new Advent antiphons, all by local composers, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Clement's Church, 20th and Cherry Streets. And just because the new pieces are paired with J.S. Bach's Cantata 61: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland doesn't mean they'll sound anything like it. Choral Arts director Matthew Glandorf encouraged Mark Rimple, Daniel Shapiro, Anthony Mosakowski, David Ludwig, Melissa Dumphy, Kile Smith, and Riho Maimets to bring their own voices to the short texts that lead up to Christmas. Admission: Pay what you like at the door (suggested donation: $20). Information: 267-240-2586 and www.ChoralArts.com. - D.P.S.