Classical home listening: Julia Bullock’s Walking in the Dark; the Dudok Quartet’s Reflections

• In her first solo album, Walking in the Dark (Nonesuch), Julia Bullock – a memorable Theodora in Handel’s opera, staged at the Royal Opera House earlier this year – is described not by voice type but as a “classical singer”, influenced early on by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. If this hints at range and versatility, as well as emotional power, a Bullock hallmark, her choice of repertoire confirms that impression. An American, now based in Germany, Bullock is joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Christian Reif, in Samuel Barber’s wistful James Agee setting, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and an aria from John Adams’s El Niño.

Reif (also Bullock’s husband) is her pianist in a traditional spiritual as well as songs by Oscar Brown Jr and Billy Taylor. The album’s title comes from the haunting opening line of One By One by Connie Converse, a singer-songwriter who disappeared in 1974, her fate never known. Sandy Denny‘s Who Knows Where the Time Goes? ends this stirring and lyrical debut.

• One a famous Soviet Russian, the other – until recently; her star is in the ascent – a less celebrated Pole: Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75) and Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-69), close contemporaries, both included string quartets in their output. On Reflections (Rubicon), the award-winning Dudok Quartet Amsterdam have paired Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 5, Op 92 and Bacewicz’s String Quartet No 4, both written in the early 1950s, with quartet arrangements of seven of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes, Op 34, written at the same period, to complete the disc.

His fifth quartet is brimful of personal allusions (he was in love with his student, the composer Galina Ustvolskaya, at the time) too numerous to list here but key to the work’s inner story. Fevered and energetic, its qualities are incisively brought out by the Dudoks. Bacewicz’s three-movement Quartet No 4, written for the Polish Composers’ Union, reflects her own string-playing fluency – she was a violinist – as well as her fascination with folk songs and rhythms. Contrasts and echoes between the two are winningly explored by this fine quartet.

Discovering George Walker (1922-2018). Recorded today at the Barbican’s latest Total Immersion day, an exploration of music by the American composer, pianist and organist, in which the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus, conducted by Alpesh Chauhan, perform Walker’s Mass and other works. BBC Radio 3, Wednesday, 7.30pm/ BBC Sounds.