Lang Lang, piano (Deutsche Grammophon)

The problem with “The Disney Book” isn’t that it’s crossover — which at its (admittedly rare) best can illuminate both classical artistry and popular styles. No, the problem is the superstar pianist Lang Lang’s cold, steely sound, which makes you feel like he’s shoving you, tauntingly, with each chord in this collection of arrangements from the Disney canon, as far back as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) and as recent as “Encanto” (2021).

So while the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s introduction to the opening track, “Beauty and the Beast,” is all whipped cream and stardust, Lang’s entrance brings in a disconcertingly hard, icy note. His variations on “It’s a Small World” devolve into charmless, even hostile dances; “Let It Go” is almost apocalyptic.

“Feed the Birds,” from “Mary Poppins,” does have wistful tenderness; there’s also a pleasantly dreamy “A Whole New World” and a mysterious “My Own Home,” from “The Jungle Book.” “Life Is a Highway,” from “Cars,” can endure the pounding Rachmaninoff treatment. But in general, these brief fantasias meander into blandly showy runs. “The Bare Necessities” has a sweet rag-like opening, but the arrangement doesn’t have the imagination to fill out the rest of the two and a half minutes.

The album is a symptom of the Spotify-focused music economy: It’s desperate to insert itself into the search results for these classic songs, and its bite-size tracks are plainly designed to slot into mass-consumed playlists. I streamed the 28-track, 100-minute deluxe edition, but you’re welcome to choose the half-size standard version. Or, of course, you don’t have to listen at all. ZACHARY WOOLFE

Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Odyssey Opera Chorus; Gil Rose, Conductor (BMOP Sound)

When I profiled the composer and pianist Anthony Davis in May, before Detroit Opera’s revival of his 1986 bio-opera about Malcolm X, no recordings of this music were in print. Now there are two. In a shift, most streaming services offer the original 1992 Gramavision release. And, even more exciting, is a fresh reading of the music from the conductor Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

This recording presents a sterling cast and chorus, as well as Davis’s newly revised score. While Gramavision’s previous version is historically important, the latest one out of Boston is, for me, the benchmark interpretation. (It also, on disc and in the Bandcamp download, contains the full text of Thulani Davis’s libretto.)

Whereas the earlier take produced a sometimes uneasy union of this opera’s multiple languages, the new rendition ‌reflects a greater mind meld between the instrumentalists playing Davis’s fully notated material and the ones who also improvise within the orchestra. In the overture of the Boston recording, the rhythm section’s jazz-informed swing sounds of a piece with the lyrical-then-stark lines for strings, winds and brasses.

Davis has done some tightening, too: Now the overture leads directly into the “Africa for Africans” material for chorus. As the Marcus Garvey-style preacher advocates a departure from Jim Crow America, his audience’s optimism is supported by the orchestra’s well-placed warmth. And, with the clarion elegance of Davóne Tines in the title role, this is one of the year’s most essential, and urgent, opera recordings. SETH COLTER WALLS

Krystian Zimerman, piano (Deutsche Grammophon)

The Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman has always been a thoughtful interpreter with a gift for clarity and singing melodic lines — adept at the modes of expressive longing in Romanticism and Chopin alike. But his latest album feels especially noteworthy for the subtle story it tells, of his countryman Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937), who, after Chopin, is arguably Poland’s most important composer, certainly one who brought its sound into the 20th century.

That journey for Szymanowski, as this recording shows, wasn’t quick. A musical exemplar of the Young Poland movement, he had his eye toward the future but was haunted by Chopin and German musical supremacy. In Zimerman’s reading, the Op. 1 Preludes are Chopinesque in their flowing lyricism and rhythmic juxtapositions. Zimerman lends them both warmth and an improvisatory freedom that he largely does away with in the Op. 34 Masques that follow: Debussyan, modernist portraits on scale of public murals, here given heroic heft and brilliant lucidity.

Szymanowski’s devotion to and break from tradition is most apparent in the Mazurkas (Op. 50), miniatures that formally nod to Chopin yet enter new sound worlds: at their best that of highland folk music, a preoccupation of the composer’s in the last phase of his career, when he lived in the southern town of Zakopane, surrounded by the Tatra Mountains. To be fair, this style already existed in his Variations on a Polish Folk Theme (Op. 10), which closes the album; but that work is virtually German in its execution, and in Zimerman’s playing. So reflective was it of Szymanowski, however, that an orchestrated version accompanied his funeral. JOSHUA BARONE

Nelson Freire, piano (Decca)

The Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire, who died almost a year ago, was one of those artists whose profile in the music business stood in inverse proportion to his standing among fellow musicians. “Every person who knows anything about the piano,” his colleague Ivan Davis once said, “cannot figure out why he’s not a household name.”

Words like warmth, refinement, elegance attached themselves almost ineluctably to his playing, which, at its best, had insight, sterling technique and an almost magically beautiful touch. Two different sides of his personality are on display in this posthumous collection assembled by Dominic Fyfe, Freire’s recording producer at Decca. Four concertos from radio performances in the 1970s and ’80s show a fire and impulsiveness not always present later on. There is some spikiness to his playing in Bartok’s First Piano Concerto — a piece otherwise absent from his discography — as well as well-tailored accompaniment from the conductor Michael Gielen. A 1977 account of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto won’t eclipse his standard-setting version with Riccardo Chailly, but offers a fascinating complement.

The seven solo pieces sprinkled throughout return us to the sensitive, nuanced pianism familiar from the last two decades of his career. An arrangement of the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits,” from Glück’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” — Freire’s go-to encore — opens this collection; a quiet, devastating reading of Brahms’s Intermezzo in A (Op. 118, No. 2) closes it, a poignant reminder of what we’ve lost. DAVID WEININGER

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra; Jakub Hrusa, conductor (Deutsche Grammophon)

Jakub Hrusa, the Czech conductor who was recently named music director of the Royal Opera House in London, has a neat taste for wandering from the beaten path of music history. Last year, he released a valuable, if somewhat mad, recording of the 1874, 1880 and 1888 versions of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, in effect asking why the standard edition has become the norm. Here, he focuses on Hans Rott, a Wagner-inclined student of Bruckner’s who was a classmate of and inspiration to Mahler.

Rott’s Symphony, from 1880, was rediscovered in the 1980s. Interest in it lies in the questions it raises about influence — does Mahler’s cribbing of it in his early symphonies amount to plagiarism or tribute? — that started during Rott’s lifetime. Evidently he showed it to Brahms, whose negative reaction to its allusions to his own First, whether intended as homage or parody, led Rott to wield a gun on a train that he claimed Brahms had laced with dynamite. Committed to an asylum, Rott died at 25.

Hrusa writes in the booklet note that he became obsessed with the symphony after hearing it while lying in bed. It’s hard to imagine a more committed recording; but if there are moments in the first three movements when Rott’s promise truly shines through, there’s nothing Hrusa can do for the absurdly prolix finale. The album’s similarly offbeat fillers are also beautifully played: Mahler’s “Blumine,” cut from his First, and a Symphonic Prelude that, after much debate, has been attributed to Bruckner. It all makes for a wacky, wonderful release. DAVID ALLEN