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CD/DVD Reviews - November 2009

CD Reviews November 2009

Chromatic gales, emotion-churning dissonances, and vocal writing so torturous it makes you wonder if the all-star cast is composed of masochists: such is the score for composer Thomas Adès and librettist Meredith Oakes’ three-act opera, The Tempest. Based on Shakespeare’s eponymous play, it was commissioned by the Royal Opera Covent Garden, where it was premiered in February 2004 under the baton of then 32-year old Adès.

 

 

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CD Reviews - September, 2009

Christina CourtinThis striking, eponymously titled album from singer/songwriter Christina Courtin introduces an enigmatic, deep-thinking artist who first disarms you, then ropes you in. Courtin’s seductive, little girl voice comes off as almost naïve in the opening track, “Green Jay,” but turns surprisingly dark and pleading in “Laconia.”

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Music Reviews - November, 2008

nov-cd-brandenburg-leadin.jpgIt’s easy to dismiss Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos assonic wallpaper. Their presence on classical FM, internet radio, iTunes, andconcert programs around the world is virtually as ubiquitous as Vivaldi’snot-always-evergreen Four Seasons. Most recordings, however, are dismayingly routine, with modern instrument players sawing and blowing away as if executing these babies was just another gig on the calendar.

Hold on to your harpsichord, partner. If you think you know Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos inside and out, take a listen to this award-winning two-CD set.

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CD Reviews - August, 2009

July 2009 CD Review - Lorraine Hunt

Why did we have to wait until after Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s passing to receive so many live, un-doctored documents of her greatness? The live 2004 Ravinia performance of her husband Peter Lieberson’s Rilke Songs (Bridge) was the first to arrive after the San Francisco-born mezzo died of cancer on July 3, 2006 at age 52. Then came her November 2005 live performance of Lieberson’s Neruda Songs (Nonesuch).

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Music Reviews - July, 2008

 

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Exquisite is a word I once reserved for the subtle beauties of classical song. Then I began to listen to ECM Grammy Award-winning producer Manfred Eicher's jazz recordings, and my perspective changed. I can't vouch for yours, but I feel confident that the rarefied atmosphere of opening five trackson this CD may very well take your breath away. And that includes the trio's cover of Prince's 1991 "Diamonds and Pearls," as well as sublime renditions of music by Gary Peacock, Ennio Morricone, contemporary trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, and pianist / trio founder Marcin Wasilewski.

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CD Reviews - May, 2009

Playing For Change: Songs Around the World - Hear Music HRM-31130-00In 2004, Grammy winning producer/engineer Mark Johnson was strolling down the streets of Santa Monica when he heard musician Roger Ridley singing “Stand by Me” from afar. Six years after he and a small, dedicated team of videographers began traveling the world to find ways to connect the world through music, Johnson heard the voice whose passion and conviction transformed his vision. He soon combined Ridley’s rendition with others from around the world, creating the extraordinary YouTube world journey video of “Stand by Me” that has generated over seven million hits.

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Music Reviews - June, 2008

music-june-2008-teaser.jpgANNE SOPHIE VON OTTER: TEREZÍN THERESIENSTADT, J.S. BACH: LUTE WORKS VOL. 1, TERRY RILEY: THE CUSP OF MAGIC, ELLA FITZGERALD: LOVE LETTERS FROM ELLA, SHELLEY MORNINGSONG: OUT OF THE ASHES

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Music Reviews - March, 2009

Music Reviews - February, 2009This is fantastic stuff. Play the first track, Horace Silver’s “Strollin’,” and you’re immediately catapulted into the bebop past, where movies are as black and white as the album cover. Mostly recorded on April 30, 2001, during the Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette Trio’s historic gig in Metropolitan Festival Hall in Tokyo, pianist Keith Jarrett, double bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Jack DeJohnette are in swinging form. Listen to them cut loose for nine minutes on Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple.” The occasional verbal exclamations are hardly gratuitous – these boys are flying. Presumably they were just high on life.

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Music Reviews - March, 2008

music-3-08-teaser.jpgJ.S. BACH - CANTATAS VOL. 16: NEW YORK • FOR THE SUNDAYAFTER CHRISTMAS • JOHN ELIOT GARDINER | SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG 137

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Holiday Music Reviews - December, 2008

Holiday Music Leroy AndersonGloom is banished with this delightful collection of Leroy Anderson’s holiday music. While some dismiss the American composer’s achievements as second-rate, there’s no question that classics such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Suite of Carols for Brass Choir” speak with irresistible color and sonority.

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Music Reviews - February, 2008 - Special CD/DVD Reviews

music-2-08-teaser.jpgThis month, I deviate from the usual review format. Instead of offering short, individual reviews of a host of CDs and DVDs, I offer three feature-length reviews that focus on four Divas past and present: Maria Callas, Cecilia Bartoli, Measha Brueggergosman, and Kate Royal. These four women, variously Greek/American, Italian, Canadian, and British by birth/heritage, provide object lessons in great singing.

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