The composer Gavin Bryars has arranged and produced an album of American oddities by a songwriting couple who are a category to themselves. Three or four songs are unforgettable; others sound like Weill, Lehrer and Irish balladry all mixed in a stew. Jess Walker is the intrepid vocalist.
Well, sort of - structurally and in essence, they're mostly the same as before, but there are enough changes to keep the songs sounding fresh this time around.
The Swiss conductor Adriano reconstructed Hermann’s original intentions miraculously from a third-generation of a photocopy and the results are fully worth the effort. The Slovak radio orchestra play with multi-layered responsivity. The performance was first issued in 1994 but has only now been made available on a mass label.
Initially, I considered him far weaker than Wakeman, but I now feel that was a mistake - while I do slightly prefer Wakeman overall, as a reader below points out, the two can't really be compared straight up (since their styles are so different), and when I take into account stylistic differences, I find it very difficult to choose one over the other.The result, Relayer, must be considered one of the absolute high points of Yes' career, even though it's a slight aberration from their normal sound.
The Dutch mezzo is a formidable Mahler singer and her Kindertotenlieder here are chillingly exquisite. More surprising, and no less satisfying, are the preceding sets of songs by Pfitzner and Richard Strauss. A marvellously intelligent recital. To be heard often, with an amber glass in hand.
The first thing that strikes you about this set is the pianist’s authority, her absolute conviction that each phrase can only be articulated in a certain way, her way. The assertiveness is most pronounced in the less performed concertos, the first and fourth, where she teases out subtle shifts that are commonly blown away in a blizzard of notes. The first concerto is played with a delicately calibrated rise of dynamic tension and the fourth with an empathetic and profoundly moving sense of irredeemable exile. In the C-minor concerto, she sidesteps melancholy and Brief Encounter romance to suggest a more innocent, hopeful kind of love, while in the D-minor she avoids tripwires at sensationally high speed, negotiating the tender Intermezzo without excess morbidity. The Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini turns into a bit of a romp, with the LSO in cracking form and Michael Fine delivering pellucid sound and perfect balance.
Why, you grab your friendly neighborhood orchestra and ask them to contribute arrangments over your songs, whether they fit or not!Essentially, all of the problems with this album are summed up in that opening blurb there.
The youngest-ever finalist in the Warsaw Chopin competition, Sageman plays the Polonaises in mid-life as if they are her life’s purpose. Gone is the competitor’s showiness. What we hear is a mind and a set of fingers plunging ever deeper into Chopin’s textures in search of an elusive truth. Set beside recent showboaters, this is Chopin from the source.
The songs arealmost all good-to-great (only the two slightly dippy ballads -"Yesterday And Today" and "Sweetness" - and the ridiculously overratedwarning sign of things to come "Survival" slow the album), and PeterBanks sure can play guitar.
The tracks are legitimate songs, to be sure,with hooks everywhere, but more than that, they are essentially auralpaintings to be interpreted by the listener however he wants.Plus,just as important as the purely musical hooks, are the 'epic hooks.'Stuff like the opening jam of "Yours is No Disgrace," for instance, or theending harmonies of "Perpetual Change." You hear them, and you have noidea what they mean, but somehow you feel inspired, even if you don'tknow for what.
Everything about this album is five-star: the pianist, Philippe Collard; the sound quality; the order of songs; and the tinted cover that takes us straight to the heart of Debussy’s world, where Ms Dessay weaves a spell of unremitting fascination. Some find Debussy intimidating and cold. In Ms Dessay’s interpretation, at once clinical and passionate, his immaculate little songs have the grip of a couturier’s window on the Champs Elysées. You are rooted to the spot.
My friends who produce and present breakfast programmes on classical radio in different countrties share a common dilemma. Play anything too fast or loud, like the march of the Toreadors from Carmen, and the sleep-fuddled audience will switch to talk radio. Play slow and too soft – Barber’s Adagio – and they’ll fall back asleep. So breakfast radio ends up with reams of unnamed Haydn symphonies interspersed with middle-of-road classics by also-ran French composers of the 19th century, a murky start to a dull day.
Starting with a traditional air of his own transcription, McHale introduces John Field both through a pair of his own nocturnes and through two-little-known homages by the American Samuel Barber and the expatriate Irishman Arnold Bax, who went on to serve the English Crown as Master of the Queen’s Musick. In amidst the classical verities, there are short new pieces by the captivating Donnacha Dennehy, the challenging Ian Wilson and other young Irish composers who have lately been taking the world stage in disproportionate numbers. Ireland has mysteriously become a crucible of contemporary music. Fascinating from start to stop, this album has lovely stuff that you won’t hear anywhere else.
The gulf between Italian baroque curlicues and guttural Hebrew texts would seem too large for any composer to bridge, no matter how well versed he was in both cultures. Rossi solves the difference by choosing prayers that are traditionally susceptible to vocal decoration – such as the cantor’s Kaddish – and treating each word of the prayer on rhythmic merit. The result is always agreeable and often uplifting, the charm of the music dispelling doubts of its aptness. Belgium’s Ensemble Daedalus perform a mix of Rossi’s religious and secular works with sweet voices and infallible enunciation. It sounds almost like the dawn of multiculturalism.