Stravinsky on strings: New Classical CDs

This week we highlight an interesting selection of recent classical releases including some Baroque solo music performed on period instruments, Strauss Lieder, and a collection of works for violin and piano by Stravinsky, which is interesting in that Stravinsky claimed he wasn’t fond of the combination of strings and piano (according to Presto Classical).

Twelve Fantasias for Solo Flute, Telemann. Performed by Ashley Solomon.
“This recording offers the listener a rare opportunity to hear two unique baroque flutes, both made in 1760 alongside my favourite modern copy. In combining all three on this recording I hope it opens a new sound world for the listener and breathes fresh life into these well-known works by Telemann” (Ashley Solomon, on CD cover).

Piano Concertos Nos. 25 & 26, Mozart. Performed by Francesco Piemontesi and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
“Described as a ‘stellar Mozartian’ Francesco Piemontesi finds a perfect partner in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra whose impeccable credentials are widely acknowledge. Piemontesi has performed Mozart exclusively recently, including a critically acclaimed 2015 BBC Prom, a Mozart cycle at London’s Wigmore Hall which commenced in January, 2016 and continues in 2017 and Mozart concertos with the SCO. The Swiss pianist enjoys a particular insight into Mozart gaining a useful ‘love of detail’ from his teacher Alfred Brendel, who was himself renowned for his masterly interpretations of Mozart. This recording couples consecutive yet contrasting works from Mozart’s Vienna period: K.503 represents the longest and most substantial of his concert masterpieces and K.537 provides the soloist with an audience-pleasing cadenza. Conductor Andrew Manze, well-known as a HIP pioneer, shares Piemontesi’s approach to creating an authentic performance, making this somewhat of a Mozart dream team” (amazon.com).

Music for Violin, Volume 1, Stravinsky. Performed by Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul.
This compilation is in large part a collection of works Stravinsky wrote for his violinist friend Samuel Dushkin, the idea being that Stravinsky and Dushkin would perform them together in recitals. Other works that feature are arrangements of some of pieces taken from some of Stravinsky’s more famous efforts, The Firebird, Petrushka for example. The CD rounds out with a Stravinsky arrangement of La Marseillaise written for solo violin.

Through Life and Love, Richard Strauss. Performed by Louise Alder.
“Hailed as ‘one of the brightest lyric-sopranos of the younger generation’… Louise has been held in high critical acclaim during her early career, and has recently been declared Young Singer of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. She is also no stranger to Lieder, and has worked with pianist Joseph Middleton previously at the Leeds Lieder Festival. Joseph is considered a specialist in the art of song accompaniment… Through Life and Love sees Louise and Joseph perform some of the most beautiful Lieder in the repertoire, including Strauss’ ‘Die nacht, Standchen’ and ‘Rote Rosen’… (amazon.com).

Check out these new CD arrivals!

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. They include the new albums by Arcade Fire and Lana Del Rey. Also, fantastic box-sets keep coming to our extensive collection and U2’s The Joshua Tree is back as a super deluxe box-set!

New Albums

Public Service Broadcasting / Every valley.
“The third album from Public Service Broadcasting, the brainchild of London-based J. Willgoose, Esq. who, along with his drumming companion, Wrigglesworth, and their bass player, keys and horns man extraordinaire, JFAbraham, is on a quest to inform, educate and entertain audiences around the globe On Every Valley Willgoose takes us on a journey down the mineshafts of South Wales valleys.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Lana Del Rey / Lust for life.
“For the first time on a Lana Del Rey album, we’ll hear voices besides Lana herself: Lust for Life includes guest appearances from Stevie Nicks, the Weekend, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and Sean Lennon.” (adapted from mightyape.co.nz)

Arcade Fire / Everything now.
“‘Everything Now’ is the 5th studio album from Arcade Fire. The thirteen track album features the lead single ‘Everything Now’ and was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Steve Earle / So you wannabe an outlaw.
So You Wannabe an Outlaw, Earle’s first album for Warner Bros. Records since 1997’s El Corazón, explores his country songwriting roots and features collaborations with Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, and Miranda Lambert.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

David Bowie / Cracked actor (live Los Angeles ’74).
“2CD set. Finally officially released on CD! Pivotal 20-track live performance from Los Angeles in September 1974, including two songs tracks not on the “David Live” album. Recorded in-between the “Diamond Dogs” and “Philly Dogs” tours.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box sets/Reissues

U2 / The Joshua tree [super deluxe].
“Alongside the 11-track album, the super deluxe collector’s edition includes a live recording of The Joshua Tree Tour 1987 Madison Square Garden concert; rarities and B-sides from the album’s original recording sessions; as well as 2017 remixes from Daniel Lanois, St Francis Hotel, Jacknife Lee, Steve Lillywhite and Flood; plus an 84-page hardback book of unseen personal photography shot by The Edge during the original Mojave Desert photo session in 1986.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Brain box : cerebral sounds of Brain Records 1972-1979.
“Music & Progressive Rock Fans rejoice as the first deluxe box set of the legendary Krautrock label BRAIN RECORDS is available. Over one year in the making this stunning and well documented 8CD box covering the glorious years of the famous BRAIN Records label will allow an unique insight into the progressive and stunning releases that occurred during that era.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Evan Dando / Baby I’m bored.
“Emerging after The Lemonheads disbanded Evan Dando returned to music first with a solo tour and Live At The Brattle Theatre then came his debut solo album Baby I m Bored . Mature and autobiographical, Baby I’m Bored is a stellar record that stripped Dando of his grunge label.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Manchester north of England : a story of independent music, Greater Manchester 1977-1993.
“From Buzzcocks to Britpop, Manchester North Of England is the ultimate tribute to the independent output of that most important and iconic of musical cities, with 146 tracks across seven CDs in a deluxe box set.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Allman Brothers Band / Brothers and sisters.
“This 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition features BROTHERS AND SISTERS (Original Recording Remastered), a second disc of previously unreleased Jams, Rehearsals, and Outtakes, in addition to two extra discs that feature the entire live show from Winterland in San Francisco on September 26, 1973.” (adapted from amazon.com)

More New Classical Additions

This week in new classical music we highlight a big German post-romantic symphony, a piece of minimalist piano music presided over by a virtuoso pianist, and a compilation of works by a less-well-known German composer of songs.

Symphony No. 5, Mahler. Performed by the Minnesota Orchestra with Osmo Vänskä.
“Composed in 1902, [this] purely instrumental work followed upon three symphonies that had all included vocal parts. This and the opening trumpet motif, an allusion to the rhythm that begins Beethoven’s Fifth have been interpreted as Mahler’s return to a more conventional idea of the symphonic genre. Other features are less traditional, however a sometimes bewildering mixture of musical idioms reminds us of the melting-pot that Vienna was at the time, with allusions to Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian styles. To an unsuspecting audience, the famous Adagietto for strings and harp probably the best-known of all of Mahler’s music must also have been surprising, appearing at the heart of a work which is otherwise lavishly scored and orchestrated.” (amazon.com)

For Bunita Marcus, Morton Feldman. Performed by Marc-André Hamelin.
“‘I have no problem with notes… none at all’, was Feldman’s cryptic comment on For Bunita Marcus. Throughout the seventy-two-minute duration of this extraordinary work, notes coalesce into wisps of melody which drift softly in and out of an immense silence. You are indeed, as pianist Marc-André Hamelin writes in the booklet notes, ‘about to enter a world unlike any other.'” (amazon.com)

Songs, by Robert Franz. Performed by Robin Tritschler.
“Highly regarded by such contemporaries as Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, Robert Franz wrote 279 songs over the course of a long life. For this recital, Graham Johnson and tenor Robin Tritschler perform a selection of 47 of their favorites.” (amazon.com)

Our favourite CDs this month

Our music enthusiasts John and Neil J. select their favourite music over the last few months. Check them out!

John’s picks

Real Estate – In Mind
In a world of constant change predictability can sometimes be a comforting thing and once again, indie hipster heroes, Real Estate, deliver another portion of their gorgeous laid back jangle pop. It is exactly what fans will expect –tremolo heavy guitars, lovely harmonies and bitter sweet songs, all delivered at a relaxed pace by musicians so tight as to appear telepathic – and the fact that there are no surprises is in this case a definite plus. They may be heading down exactly the same road – but it’s hard not to hope they keep doing so for a while yet.

The Handsome Family – Unseen
Another act that successfully tread a well-honed path are husband and wife alt country duo, The Handsome Family. It would be easy to assume that ten albums in they had exhausted ideas for their dark and entrancing gothic folk country sound, but this would be a mistake as, if anything, the contrary is true, with ‘Unseen’ the best record they have made for a while. The melodies are lovely, their darkly surreal stories as absorbing as ever and the playing as understated and gently off- kilter as to be expected. There was a time when The Handsome Family were a closely guarded secret amongst devout fans, until their title theme for ‘True Detective’ cast them into the spotlight, and the exposure appears to have given them a new confidence.

Grandaddy – Last Place
Well-crafted songs, unpretentious 2000’s indie-rock sensibilities, great hooks – guess what, California’s Grandaddy have made a new record after an 11 year silence! Granddaddy were always singer/songwriter Jason Lyttle’s band and it’s great to hear his esoteric, slightly melancholic slacker take on existentialist angst once again. The production is excellent – not trendy lo-fi and not over produced bombast –and gives the guitar, keyboards, occasional strings and electronics room to breathe under Lyttle’s hushed vocals to create a lovely listening experience. Grandaddy were always slightly out of place and now, probably even more so, but their workmanlike song craft and studied carelessness offer a welcome return.

The United States of America – The United States of America
Released in 1968, this was one of the most progressive records released at the time and among the first to feature electronics within a band setup. Grounded in psychedelia but influenced by the New York avant-garde experimental scene, band leader Joe Byrd recruited a group of UCLA students, well versed in John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, to record the group’s lone self-titled LP. The record flopped, but went on to attain cult status and, apart from some of the hippie inspired lyrics such as “Lemonous petals, dissident play/ Tasting of ergot/ Dancing by night, dying by day”, it sounds remarkably contemporary with musique concrete-style tape collages, white noise, tape delay, ring-modulated fade-outs and distorted synthesizers. This re-issue includes 10 extra alternate takes.

Illum Sphere – Glass
The second album on Ninja Tune from UK electronic producer Ryan Hunn finds him ditching the vocals of his debut to present an excellent album of studied electronica. Maintaining a nice balance between abstract and melodic, the tracks wend their way through a variety of styles including minimal four to the floor, sequencer driven grooves, atmospheric ambient and dubbed out chillscapes throughout a confident and beautifully produced immersive listening experience.

Slowdive – Slowdive
It’s always a risk when a band that has attained cult status makes a new album, and the 22 years since Slowdive’s last record is a good case in point. Key figures in the early ‘90’s Shoegaze movement, Neil Halstead’s vast glistening guitar textures and Rachel Goswell’s hushed vocals, last heard on 1995’s ‘Pygmalion’, have been a huge influence on many bands over the past two decades and it is a great pleasure to discover that their 2017 album is a grandiose and spectacular comeback. Everything a fan could hope for is here – deep layers of beautifully textured guitars and lovely plaintive vocals delivering songs, wistful and reflective, within a shimmering production……. and not a guitar solo in earshot.

Gas – Narkopop
In 2000 German electronic maestro Wolfgang Voigt released ‘Pop’, a deeply immersive record, featuring layered loops of orchestral samples to create engrossing electronic ambient music that exhibited all the majesty of classical. Since then he has pretty much created a genre of beatless electronica via his annual Pop Ambient compilations that feature a wide array of electronic artists applying techno production techniques to ambient textures. ‘Narkopop’, his first full release in 17 years, is a follow up to ‘Pop’ and dives deeper into the original template, focusing on texture and reverberation and introducing sub bass pulses to create stunning symphonic electronic chamber music that is as meditative as it is unsettling.

Fazerdaze – Morningside
The latest release from Flying Nun is ‘Morningside’ the debut album by Fazerdaze, an AK band fronted by Wellington born, bedroom pop artist Amelia Murray. Receiving rave reviews worldwide, the album has even been described as ‘generation defining’ on Canadian website ‘The Review’. Since their recent Laneway performance interest in the band has skyrocketed, with their infectious jangly guitar pop finding an audience in a young generation that has been described as the ‘anxious generation’, and if that is true then it is easy to understand how comfort could be found in these simple and stylish songs. Amelia Murray has a sweet voice and her songs hold emotional resonance, revealing a wide range of feelings – anxiety, trepidation, hope, and relief – delivered via confident song structures and diverse arrangements that reveal glimpses of darkness under the apparent innocence.

Fujiya & Miyagi – Fujiya & Miyagi
Six albums in and the Brighton, UK, based band are gradually becoming underground favorites worldwide. Their latest release compiles three eps released over the past year and finds the band fine tuning their sound. They appeared pretty much fully formed back in 2002 and their idiosyncratic sound hasn’t changed a lot since then, but they have grown into a tight band that successfully blends dance floor electro with band sensibilities and their krautrock inspired electro grooves and whispered vocals are presented here with a lot of confidence.

Tycho – Epoch
Another band that bridge electronica and indie rock are Tycho from San Francisco who have developed from the solo IDM project of electronic producer Scott Hansen into one of the best known instrumental electronic bands of this era. ‘Epoch’, their fourth release, received a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album, which is surprising considering the amount of guitar playing and drums that feature on a record that is, essentially, an instrumental post rock album. Generally it’s a four to the floor excursion with a few tracks rhythms verging on math rock and even drum’n’bass, yet overall the swirling guitars and cascading synths maintain a steady flow of highly enjoyable grooves.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Finding Me Finding You
The demise of UK post rockers Stereolab left a gap in contemporary music, but some solace can be found in the fact that there are now two bands in Stereolabs place, with Tim Gane’s Cavern of Anti-Matter exploring further into kraut rock while Laetitia Sadier continues to create her surreal sensual pop informed by the harmonies and lush instrumentation of exotica, easy listening and tropicalia. This is her fourth record since Stereolab split in 2010, and she has proven to be an artist with a clear singular vision which she explores consistently, with the addition of subtle twist here and there. Here she presents her warmest record yet, however the beauty is lodged within shifting abstract song structures that demand a listener’s perseverance – but the effort is well rewarded.

Karriem Riggins – Headnod Suite
Not quite a jazz album and not quite a beat tape, Detroit drummer and producer Karriem Riggins’ second album contains 29 tracks, most of them less than two minutes in duration, that run together to create an engrossing listen featuring vocal snippets and instrumental samples all pushed along by very cool beats. Anyone who has enjoyed the contemporary re-invention of Afro-American fusion explored on Robert Glasper’s remix projects, which re-imagine hip-hop, jazz, electronics and soul, should find this an interesting release. Like classic instrumental hip hop releases such as ‘Donuts’ (Karriem Riggins worked with J Dilla) the multitude of sounds dissipate as quickly as they appear entrancing the attentive listener

Jah Wobble & the Invaders of the Heart – Everything Is Nothing
35 years ago it would have been impossible to foresee the bass player from Johnny Rotten’s post punk band Public Image Ltd making an album of spiritual jazz-funk, but times change and Jah Wobbles latest PledgeMusic funded record is an excellent contemporary fusion of afro-beat, jazz and polyrhythmic funk. Producer Youth has described the record as Wobble’s “Miles Davis opus”, which may be an overstatement; however, this predominantly instrumental album features ten tracks delivered by a talented group of virtuosos who never grandstand but play to the funky polyrhythmic grooves, anchored by Wobble’s dub-infused bass and former Fela Kuti drummer, Tony Allen. Featuring muted trumpet, piano, guitar, Rhodes, vibes, synth, blistering sax (courtesy of Hawkwind’s Nik Turner), flute and strings, this is a big and very funky sound that both references and pays homage to the influential afro jazz that has gone before.

Neil J’s picks

Jesca Hoop – Memories are now
The supremely talented Jesca’s latest release is another subtle, melodic, sophisticated outing. Building on her previous releases it as the cliché says “ rewards repeated listening’s”. Bound to be in many peoples best of 2017 lists when that time comes. A rather beautiful wee album.

Perfume genius – No Shape
Perfume genius’s fourth album No shape is a lush, elaborate, decadent shape shifting album of contrasts. Moving effortlessly from haunting delicate fragile melodies that still somehow sound slightly damaged or decayed to uplifting euphoric rapturous elements often in the same piece of music

Bonobo – Migration
Bonobo aka Simon Green’s latest work is a sonically rich , dreamy and downbeat piece of electronica with the odd vocal sprinkled through. Its easily his most listenable work to date.

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
I love the Fleet foxes first two albums and was intrigued to hear that Crack up their third outing starts exactly where the last track of their second album Helplessness blues ends. No band is attempting to do what they do with their sound. It’s really hard to describe their work but here goes experimental, orchestral, modern folk music with a close affection for music from late 1960s American West coast Scene. People like Crosby, Stills and Nash or Joni Mitchell. Its lush, its gorgeous, its seductive and it has serious intent too one of my favourites of the year.

More new classical CDs for rainy days

This week we introduce an interesting compilation of works by, and inspired by, Schubert, a recital of intimidating Russian pieces performed by a 20 year old prodigy, and a couple of 20th century cello concertos.

In Schubert’s Company. Performed by Maxim Rysanov and Riga Sinfonietta.
In Schubert’s Company presents violist Maxim Rysanov as a soloist, conductor, arranger and commissioner of new music. Alongside works including Schubert’s Symphony No.5, Violin Sonata No.3 and Polonaise for violin & orchestra are pieces from three contemporary composers who have drawn on Schubert as the source for their works. Winterreise, Erlkönig and his late Fantasy for violin & piano are among the inspirations behind this powerful recital that explores how the haunting beauty of Schubert’s music continues to influence on today’s performers, composers and music lovers alike.” (amazon.com)

À la Russe. Performed by Alexandre Kantorow.
“Not yet 20 years old, the French pianist and son of violinist and conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow […] explores his Russian roots, in a recital that opens with Rachmaninov’s weighty First Piano Sonata, inspired by Goethe’s play Faust, and its three main characters, the scholar Faust, his beloved Gretchen and Mephistopheles, the Devil’s emissary. The nostalgic intimacy of Méditation and Passé Iointain, from Tchaikovsky’s Op. 72 collection, offers respite from the drama, but tension returns with Guido Agosti’s virtuosic piano arrangement of three extracts from Stravinsky’s Firebird. Kantorow closes his Russian recital with Mily Balakirev’s ‘oriental fantasy’ Islamey, one of the iconic works of the piano literature.” (amazon.com)

Cello Concertos, Shostakovich & Martinů. Performed by Christian Poltéra, Gilbert Varga and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
“The two cello concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich were both written for his friend Mstislav Rostropovich but whereas the first is rhythmic and virtuosic, the second is subdued and introverted. Composed in 1966, it is often regarded as a watershed work, heralding Shostakovich’s final stylistic period marked by a certain sombreness and a trend towards more transparent scoring. The op. 126 concerto has become somewhat overshadowed by its older, more accessible sibling, something which also applies to the second work on this disc, for completely different reasons. Having completed his Cello Concerto No. 2 in 1945, Bohuslav Martinu was unsuccessful in his attempts to interest a leading cellist in promoting it [… and the work] didn’t receive its first performance until 1965, six years after Martinu’s death.” (amazon.ca)

Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Beach House B-sides and rarities
Anathema The optimist
Imagine Dragons Evolve
Juana Molina Halo
Jethro Tull Songs from the wood : the country set
Frank Zappa Greasy love songs
Tom Waits Transmission impossible : legendary radio broadcasts from the 1970s
Beach Boys 1967 : sunshine tomorrow


Some New Classical CDs

This week we feature some large-scale recordings – a new recording of a Handel opera, and Mendelssohn’s complete symphonies for full orchestra – and a collection of concertos for multiple instruments by Telemann.

Ottone, Handel.
“Handel’s Ottone, re di Germania is presented here in a new recording by Max Emanuel Cencic and a superb cast, under the baton of George Petrou with Il Pomo d’Oro. Premiered in London in 1723, Ottone was one of Handel’s most successful operas in his lifetime. This rare recording breathes new life into one of the master’s greatest works and also features three ‘bonus’ arias performed in the 1726 revival” (cover).

Symphonies 1-5, Mendelssohn. Performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
“In 2016 the firebrand Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin led the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in a complete cycle of Mendelssohn’s five symphonies for full orchestra. Captured live in the magnificent acoustic of the Philharmonie de Paris, this album is a tangible record of those outstanding performances, praised internationally as much for the unity of spirit between conductor and performers as for their exquisite sensitivity and revelatory insight” (cover).

Concerti Per Molti Stromenti, Telemann. Performed by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
“It has been said that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 300 times. Could anyone possibly say that of Telemann? Not only do the specimens here feature every kind of weird and wonderful instrumental combination – three trumpets, three horns, two flutes and a calchedon (a kind of lute), and even mandolin, harp and dulcimer – they also display the most amazing variety of styles, from Vivaldian exuberance to elegant Ancian Régime dances by way of learned German counterpoint. If you ever wondered where Bach got the idea for the Brandenburg Concertos, you could do much worse than explore the concertos of Telemann…” (cover).

Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Radiohead OK computer : OKNOTOK 1997 2017
Alt-J Relaxer
Teenage Fanclub Here
Jeff Tweedy Together at last
Jason Isbell The Nashville sound
Laurel Halo Dust
Arve Henriksen Towards language
Yasmine Hamdan Al jamílat
Prince Purple rain : [music from the motion picture] Deluxe



Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Early Years II
Sylvan Esso What now
Forest Swords Compassion
John Williams The ultimate collection
Orchestra Baobab Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
Bruce Springsteen Unplugged 1992