Classical Music Additions

This week our classical recent additions focus on French/Belgian and French-inspired performances and compositions, courtesy of Alpha Classics and Erato music labels.

Dixit Dominus, Handel & Magnificat, Bach. Performed by Vox Luminis.
A finalist for Presto Classical recording of the year, this album is beautifully produced by Belgian group Vox Luminis, directed by Lionel Meunier. “Bach and Handel are often presented as antipodes, whose musical output has little in common. … Even though their later careers could hardly be more different, it must be acknowledged that… both men were rooted in the musical culture of central Germany with its uniquely rich tradition” (booklet).

L’Homme de Génie, Haydn. Performed by the Kammerorchester Basel.
Volume 5 of the Haydn 2032 project, which aims to produce a complete set of recordings of Haydn’s symphonies before the 300th anniversary of his birth. Played on period instruments, this recording also includes the C minor Symphony by lesser-known Classical composer Joseph Martin Kraus.

Mirages. Performed by Sabine Devieilhe.
“Since the nineteenth century the coloratura soprano voice has been associated with female characters as alluring as they are exotic. This album focuses on French composers’ love affair with this exceptional voice, by means of which they draw the listener far from the real world” (back cover).

Quatuors Parisiens, Telemann. Performed by “Nevermind”.
The quartet of Anna Besson (flute), Lous Creac’h (violin), Robin Pharo (viola da gamba) and Jean Rondeau (harpsichord) combine to produce this recording of Telemann’s Nouveaux Quatuors Parisiens.

Have a browse of recent additions to our CD collection

New albums by big names such as Beck, Robert Plant and Pink are now here in our proud CD collection. The new star Kelela’s debut album and Cat Steven’s The Laughing Apple which celebrates his 50 year career, have also arrived. Check them out!

Beck, Colors
“The album is cheerier and more experimental than Beck’s last album, something attributed to his happiness with his wife, Marissa Ribisi. Those good feelings permeate the music, an experimental collage of bright pop sounds. Possibly the most aptly titled work in Beck’s storied discography, Colors unfolds in an intoxicating rainbow of auditory tricks and treats, making it a shoo-in for summeriest smash of the autumn season.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

St. Vincent, Masseduction
“Themes of power and sex, imperiled relationships and death slice through the album, St. Vincent – aka Annie Clark’s first since her 2014 breakout ‘St. Vincent.’ The thirteen tracks on ‘MASSEDUCTION’ swirl with guitar and piano, synths and strings, and drum beats that punch with purpose. ‘MASSEDUCTION’ is the culmination of years of writing, with songs crafted from voice memos, text messages, and snippets of melodies that came to Clark while traveling the globe.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Robert Plant, Carry fire
“Robert Plant’s eleventh solo album and first full-length release since 2014’s acclaimed ‘lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar’. Robert, who lived in Texas for a time before returning to England three years ago, together with his friends, present the songs Carry Fire, melding unusual rhythms with naturalism and smouldering power.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Pink, Beautiful trauma
“The singer/songwriter is a happily married mother of two, creeping up on her 40th birthday — but her decision to do little more than nod at contemporary musical trends is deliberate, a reflection of how her hits and audience have crept toward the adult contemporary charts, but she’s still as liable to curse as croon” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Sam Smith, The thrill of it all
“Following an incredible success with his debut album In The Lonely Hour – including four Grammy Awards, both an Academy Award and Golden Globe, three Brit Awards, and amassing over eight billion streams to date – Sam Smith is back with his sophomore record The Thrill Of It All. The first single off the album, “Too Good At Goodbyes”, debuted at #1 on multiple global charts.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Kelela, Take me apart
“With great anticipation, Kelela’s debut album emerges as an epic portrait of an artist spanning the past and future of R&B. In her hands, however, the genre knows no boundaries and so Take Me Apart exists as an absolutely singular and fearless addition to a canon of recent classics. From her very earliest work, honesty and vulnerability have been cornerstones of Kelela’s art – even when clad in the armor of the avant-garde electronics she so deftly inhabits – and Take Me Apart sees her double down on both the emotional intensity and resonance of her message as well as the sonic seeking she is renowned for.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Yusuf/Cat Stevens, The laughing apple
“The Laughing Apple brings Yusuf’s career full circle, coming 50 years after his first album. It reunites him with producer Paul Samwell-Smith and guitarist Alun Davies, prominent collaborators on landmark recordings including 1970’s multi-platinum Tea for the Tillerman. The Laughing Apple follows the common ’60s template of combining newly written songs with covers from Yusuf’s catalog, presenting some of his earliest material as he has always wished it had been recorded.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

We’ve made a list and we’re checking it twice: Staff pick CDs

Check out more staff pick CDs featuring from Beach House to Alice Coltrane to New Zealand composer Ross Harris. We will be back with our ‘Best of 2017’ early next year so keep checking!

John’s Picks – continued

Wire – Silver / Lead
Highly influential UK post punk band, Wire’s first gig was on April 1 1977 and to mark the 40th anniversary their 16th album, ‘Silver / Lead’, was released on March 31 2017. Less fast and angular than usual, on this record the band explore a slower and darker, introspective realm which opens up a more emotional edge to their characteristic cerebral remove. The slower pace also enables the band to create some gentle and haunting moments within what is arguably their most accessible album to date.

Radiohead – OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997-2017
Radiohead’s ground breaking third album gets a remastered 20th anniversary re-release which includes b-sides and tracks rejected from the original. The album’s prescience in portraying the digital angst and alienation that was just around the corner, coupled with its bravely experimental approach to songcraft has ensured the album classic status and twenty years on that status is definitely justified.

Laurel Halo – Dust
Anyone following US born, Berlin based electronic musician Laurel Halo’s career will be pleasantly bewildered by her third release as it is as different from 2013’s ‘Chance of Rain’, which featured dance based electronics, as that release was from 2012’s vocal leaning ‘Quarantine’. On ‘Dust’ her music remains as unclassifiable as ever and, as much jazz as electronica, has attained a new found warmth and softness with her treated vocals woven through absorbing and often playful sound textures and beats to create a collection of tracks as original and beguiling as anything you will hear this year.

Beach House – B-Sides & Rarities
Spanning the ten years of their career, this compilation flows as well as any of the indie star duo’s releases and offers some lovely peeks into their creative process via demo versions and unreleased tracks alongside remixed and live versions of their woozy lo-fi dream pop. While this album is a treat for established Beach House fans, surprisingly, it would serve well as an introduction for the curious to one of the most consistent indie acts of the 2010s.

Can – The Singles
One doesn’t immediately think of German art rock innovators, Can, as a singles band, but they actually did write the occasional offbeat pop song, and these are all compiled here from the bands most creative period – 1969-1978. Surprisingly, the 1971 single “Spoon,” actually reached the German Top Ten after it was featured as the theme song to a popular television show and the cosmic disco single “I Want More” hit the U.K. Top 30, and even resulted in an appearance on the BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’. The odd whimsical inclusions, such as an instrumental version of Silent Night, sit well alongside more serious tracks over what pretty much amounts to an alternate universe hit parade.

Beach Fossils – Somersault
NY based Beach Fossils’ third album is possibly their best yet as they take their sweet indie pop one step further with the addition of orchestral and easy listening sounds including strings, flute, sax, piano and harpsichord, a move that is sure to have Brooklyn hipsters drooling into their cupcakes. The melodies, as lovely as ever, are delivered via Dustin Payseur’s wry, weary vocals, accompanied by characteristic jangly guitars, lyrical bass and the aforementioned orchestral touches which help to create gorgeous shimmering soundscapes.

Mark’s Pick

Phil Seymour – Prince of Power Pop
Singer-songwriter, drummer-guitarist Phil Seymour was half of Tulsa rockers the Dwight Twilley Band who scored a big hit with the song ‘I’m on Fire’ in the mid 70s. Twilley and Phil Seymour met in Tulsa in 1967 at a theater where they had gone to see The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, and soon began writing songs and recording together under the name Oister. Eventually, they went to Los Angeles & signed with Shelter Records, a label co-owned by Denny Cordell and Leon Russell, in 1974.Cordell promptly changed the group’s name from Oister to the Dwight Twilley Band, which set the seeds for future problems arising from Seymour’s anonymity in the partnership. Their first single, “I’m on Fire”, reached #16 on the charts in 1975, but a follow-up single, failed due to distribution problems, as just after the single was released Shelter Records collapsed in the midst of a lawsuit between Russell and Cordell. The Dwight Twilley Band’s first completed album went unreleased for 10 months losing all the bands momentum to that point. A label shift and a second album also didn’t score commercially, leading Seymour to quit the band in 1978. In 1980 he signed to Boardwalk Records and he released his first solo album, titled Phil Seymour, which became a revered power-pop classic. A second album followed in 1982 but was weakened by his drug problems at the time, along with the death of Boardwalk Records founder Neil Bogart who died shortly after its release, collapsing the label. In the mid-80s he joined roots rock band the Textones, as a singer/drummer. While touring he noticed lumps appearing on his neck, and he was subsequently diagnosed with lymphoma. Seymour moved back to Tulsa to undergo treatment for the cancer and continued to record and play on the local scene until his death on 1993 at the age of 41. One of the most respected singers of the power-pop genre, and one who never quite had the career his talent deserved. This compilation collects up some of the best tracks from his first 2 albums with some outtakes and unreleased material, to present a solid picture of another great artist who left us too soon.

Shinji’s Picks

London Grammar Truth is a Beautiful Thing
Working Week, Young Disciples, Portishead – the trio bands consisting of a female singer and two male musicians have been notable in the UK music scene, and London Grammar is the newest and possibly the most important addition. Like the aforementioned bands, the female singer Hanna Reid, who is often compared with Florence Welch, is the centrepiece of their music, and her melancholic, mesmerising voice is truly remarkable. They keep their music simple and the atmospheric otherworldly soundscape they deftly create is the perfect pallet for Reid’s voice. For this sophomore album, they invited eminent producers, including Paul Epworth and Greg Kurstin -both have worked with Adele-, and sharpen up their intimate yet emotional world which impressed us immensely in their successful debut album If you Want. This is a beautiful thing.

Portico Quartet – Art in the Age of Automation
The previous album issued from Ninja Tune was performed by the trio under the name of Portico, but back to the quartet, Portico Quartet presents an excellent album. They also found their new home; Manchester’s label Gondwana Records. The up and coming talents, whose pursuit of new music based around jazz, such as Gogo Penguin and Matthew Halsall, have made a breakthrough from them, and for Portico Quartet it’s the ideal home for their fresh start. They use a unique instrument, hang – a custom made steel drum like percussion – and ingeniously blend its metallic yet lyrical sound into their music. A great variety of musical elements, namely jazz, ambient, post rock, downtempo and so on, can be heard in their music but their genre is none of them. This new effort shows their ability to weave beautifully textured, tonally inventive hybrid music, and it seems as though they make a new departure while summarising their musical journey to date. Brilliant.

Neil J’s Picks

Ibibio sound machine – Uyai
This is a truly global album fusing musical elements and cultures from all over the world from sleek 80s pop synth lines to African jazz and techno it’s all in there in. In this fantastic cultural mash up that never sounds lost or confused. Probably because wherever this eight piece band draws its diverse inspiration from they always infuse it with a heavy sprinkling of Nigerian highlife . An exuberant, joyful and rhythmic album.

Relative Abundance – Ylem
Ylem is a multilayer soundscape album comprising of numerous elements but at its core is one big concept, the band wanted to incorporate sound from the birth of time onwards and from the entire universe. To do this musical explorer Robert Baldock, erected a radio antenna and recorded the background radio transmissions from deep space, these by their very nature span across time and space , from the birth of the universe and the big bang and onwards and outwards and come from all areas of our universe. He then used these radio transmissions to trigger a series of hand built modular synthesisers. Using this as the core sound, fellow band members Emma Bowen and Neil Johnstone added a wide variety of content including auto harps, musical saws, found recorded sound, and a wide variety of synthesisers. The music is strangely in sympathy were with the strange ethereal haunting mood of the original “cosmic” sources . A really out there experimental piece and quite unlike anything else I’ve heard.

Alice Coltrane – The ecstatic music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
After many years an album featuring a small amount of Alice Coltrane’s mythical Ashram music has finally been released. Alice Coltrane was already a musical prodigy before she married the legendary Jazz musician John Coltrane and after his sudden death she retreated to Sai Anantam Ashram and devoted the rest of her life to seeking spiritual enlightenment. These compositions were made to nourish this community and act as a meditational aids and were never intended to be heard beyond that community. The music is at once South Asian, African American, tranquil and uplifting . Constantly seeking like Alice herself musical and spiritual transcendence.

The Innocent Railway – Sweet pea
A truly beautiful and sad album it feels as if the musicians are exploring what it means to be truly lost . It shifts from delicate melancholic songs to strange haunting soundscapes whilst carefully retaining overall cohesion. It’s difficult to describe but if Nick Drake or Tim Buckley had created a half sung ambient album with Brian Eno it might just have sounded like this.

David Long, Richard Nunns and Natalia Mann – Utterance
This is a truly remarkable album, it is what great music sounds like, this is a major work in any sphere of artistic endeavour and it’s what many musicians strive their entire lives to achieve and is one of the finest albums in any genre from anywhere I have heard in a very long time . It is the culmination of a lifetime for Richard Nunns who knew from the start of the albums production it would be his last work and it sounds as if he has placed some deep aspect of his very being into the piece. It is a modern beautiful abstract work that is very aware of the deep spiritual and cultural traditions from which it springs and embraces these roots whilst being totally unique and new and timeless. Its powerful, emotional, challenging, spiritual and simultaneously personal and universal.

Ross Harris – Requiem for the fallen
Ross Harris is New Zealand’s greatest living classical composer and is arguably the greatest composer this country has ever produced. He is going through a creative golden age as witness by his remarkable output recently his as yet unreleased sixth symphony is a remarkable and beautiful work and will be heralded on its release ( it was premiered earlier in the year in Auckland). In Requiem for the Fallen he brings a lifetime of experience to bear on a deep, serious subject matter and produces a deeply moving, melodic, powerful and compassionate work. Highly recommended.

Staff picks from our extensive CD collection

Our music enthusiast John has selected his recent favourites from our extensive CD collection. More coming soon, so keep checking!

John’s picks

Thurston Moore – Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness
Sonic Youth fans are in for a treat here as that legendary NY band’s guitarist, Thurston Moore, explores five lengthy, textural, guitar centred songs that are reminiscent of his playing on the groundbreaking Sonic Youth album, ‘Daydream Nation”. Accompanied by long time fellow traveller, drummer Steve Shelley, this is like a lost Sonic Youth album with My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Goodge on bass instead of Kim Gordon and James Sedwards on guitar instead of Lee Renaldo. The only difference being that Moore indulges in lengthy solos – which, as it turns out, is a very good thing indeed.

Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
The London based duo have moved on from their potentially novelty roots, featuring archival plummy British spoken word samples, to become something akin to musical documentarians. Their debut focused on WWII, their follow up on the 1960’s space race, and now for their third album, they focus on the rise and fall of the Welsh coal-mining industry. They manage to turn that potentially dry subject into a vital and relevant commentary on progress and social awareness and have made an excellent socially conscious pop record that sounds like a good idea turning into a great one.

David Long, Richard Nunns & Natalia Mann – Utterance
Rattle Records describe this beautifully packaged release as a tribute to Richard Nunns, who’s ongoing health issues, very sadly, see this collection of 11 improvisations as his final recording. A key figure behind the revival of interest in ancient Maori instrumentation, here he uses his formidable kete of instruments to create mesmerizing atmospheres alongside David Long’s plucked and looped banjo and Natalia Mann’s haunting harp and zither.

Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology
UK artist Jane Weaver wrote, produced , sings and played synths, keys, guitars, bass and drum machines on this impressive release that combines the hypnotic pulse of krautrock with an unearthly cosmic pop. The follow up to her 2014 release, ‘The Silver Globe’, which found her recognition after seven albums and 22 years as an idiosyncratic solo artist whose work included acoustic folk balladry, avant garde electronics and improvisation. Here she manages to meld all of her arcane source material into a rich, melodic and engaging contemporary psychedelic pop, her crisp vocals floating over gorgeous musical backdrops that include early 80s synth pop, eerie folk, library music and experimental vintage electronics.

Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
Broken Social Scene are a Canadian musical collective with 15 members, two of whom have been pushing it all along since 2001. This is their fifth album, their first in seven years, and finds them refining their sprawling ramshackle sound into a great collection of distinctive and vibrant indie pop. Anthemic without being cheesy, the collective nature of this band comes across in the music which is relentlessly positive while maintaining a political awareness.

Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet
The second solo record from Michelle Zauner, the former singer for US EMO band Little Big League, is a nice blend of experimental pop, incorporating elements of shoegaze, electropop, soft rock, ambient and indie, all wrapped around her soft yearning vocals. It is a confident and engaging record that runs the risk, however, of being too pop for those who like experimental sounds and too experimental for those who like pop, but those with open ears will be well rewarded.

Dauwd – Theory of Colours
Electronic producers often find it difficult to maintain an entire album and it is nice to be able to report that UK artist Dauwd, bucks that trend. This album, on Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour, presents a distinctive take on electronic music that manages to communicate emotional content, yet remain danceable. Most of the seven tracks maintain a lovely rolling chilled rhythm with deep bass lines and skittering hi-hats pushing it all along, while warm analog synth flourishes and electronic samples dance around over the top.

The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile started The War On Drugs in 2008, with Kurt Vile leaving after their debut album. Since then, each of them have been rewriting Americana for the new millennium with Kurt Vile’s Violaters picking up the jam band mantle from precursors like the Grateful Dead while Adam Granduciel’s War On Drugs reinvents the wide open, heart-felt grandeur of artists like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and even Bob Dylan. Their last album, ‘Lost In the Dream’, topped numerous end-of-year best album lists and this follow up looks to repeat that success.

The National – Sleep Well Beast
It’s good to see that by their seventh album US band The National haven’t slipped into a formula. While ‘Sleep Well Beast’ maintains the band’s well recognised brooding sound fronted by Matt Berninger’s distinctive baritone vocals, this time around they move deeper into a beautiful chamber pop incorporating extensive use of piano, string arrangements and, surprisingly, electronics and samples provided courtesy of collaborators, Cologne electronic artists, Mouse On Mars.

LCD Sound System – American Dream
The story goes that David Bowie told James Murphy to restart LCD Sound System after he had ended the project in 2010, so he took Bowie’s advice and here, seven years on, we get the fourth LCD album and it’s as good as anything they have done. The album starts with a characteristic musical tribute, this time to recently deceased electronic pioneer Alan Vega, and from then on it’s the expected grab bag of influences with Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and David Bowie name checked within a simmering survey of modern America. Anything but a cynical cash-in this album confirms James Murphy as a major artist. Continue reading “Staff picks from our extensive CD collection”

Get your headphones ready! We’ve got new CD box sets

Check out some of these newly catalogued box-set CDs in our extensive collection. They include the deluxe reissue of Smiths’ landmark album The Queen is Dead and two Neil Young’s original release series.

The Smiths, The queen is dead [deluxe]
“The Deluxe 3CD / 1 DVD Box set – housed in a lift off lid box with a stapled 12pg booklet. CD 1 -features the 2017 master of the album. CD 2 – features additional recordings; demos, b-sides and alternative versions. Tracks 1-7 and 9 are previously unreleased. Track 8 was released on 7” for Record Store Day. Tracks 10 and 11 are 2017 masters of b-sides from ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’. Tracks 12 and 13 are 2017 masters of b-sides from ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’. CD3 – features ‘Live In Boston’ album recorded at the Great Woods Center For The Performing Arts on 5th August 1986. DVD – features the 2017 master of album in 96kHz / 24-bit PCM stereo and ‘The Queen Is Dead – A Film By Derek Jarman’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Isaac Hayes, The spirit of Memphis (1962-1976)
“Deluxe hardback book presentation with four individual CD-pockets plus 7″ single. Isaac Hayes: The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1975) chronicles Isaac Hayes’ ascension from orphaned field-hand to soul superhero, starting with his days as a young man working as a writer and producer for other Stax Records recording artists and ending with the zenith of his popularity as a cultural icon in the mid-70’s. An essential survey of the multifaceted artist, writer, and producer that changed the shape of popular music forever.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Neil Young, Neil Young original release series : discs 5-8
“The Neil Young Official Release Series Volume 2 limited edition box set includes: On The Beach, Times Fades Away, Tonight’s The Night, and Zuma. Remastered from the original analog studio recordings at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Historically accurate artwork reproduced by Neil Young’s long time art director Gary Burden.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Neil Young, Neil Young original release series : discs 8.5-12.
“Official Releases Series is the name Neil Young has given to the personally approved remasters of his core catalog. The series debuted in 2012 with a four-album box that contained Young’s first four albums, and this 2016 installment covers his next five: the Stephen Stills duet album Long May You Run (its presence is why this is billed as “8.5”), American Stars & Bars, Comes a Time, Rust Never Sleeps, and Live Rust. Whether they’re heard in new vinyl pressings or CDs released in 2017, the remasters are vivid and robust — the best this music has ever sounded, and that’s reason enough for hardcore Neil Young fans to purchase these titles again.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

10cc, Before during after
“Universal Music Catalogue (UMC), is delighted to announce the release of ‘Before During After – The Story of 10cc’ – a special four-disc box set, curated with input from the band to detail each and every chapter of their musical story. It Is the first complete, career-encompassing collection of the work of 10cc – Eric Stewart, Lol Crème, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman, together and apart.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Tim Buckley, Buzzin’ fly : live anthology, 1968-1973
“Tim Buckley possessed a golden voice that spanned the range from baritone to tenor. More importantly, he knew what to do with it. Sometimes he used it simply as a vehicle to carry the lyrics. Other times he used it as an extraordinary musical instrument in its own right. This box contains three live albums on four CDs from Buckley’s classic phase: “Dream Letter – Live in London 1968” (on two CDs), “Live At The Troubadour 1969” and “Honeyman – Recorded Live 1973″. These performances feature eight songs that were never otherwise recorded, alongside selections from Goodbye And Hello, Happy Sad, Blue Afternoon, Lorca, Greetings From LA and Sefronia.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Noise reduction system : formative European electronica 1974-1984
“A year in the making, Noise Reduction System reaches out into the European mainland, taking in tracks from key figures on the electronica cassette label underground alongside early releases by ground-breaking innovators. Enthralled by the mysterious synthesiser and inspired by the DIY ethos of punk, a quiet revolution took place across Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From Norway to Greece, the microchip and the affordable synthesiser inspired artists for whom guitars, drums and bass had become old hat, and in home studios and art spaces across the continent electronic musicians began to stretch the boundaries of sonic experimentation. Some wanted to dance, some to relax and others to confuse and confront – all are represented here.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

More Classical CD additions

We have been busily processing new classical purchases (much more to come over the next few weeks!). Here are a few highlights:

Symphony No. 6, Pathétique, Tchaikovsky. Performed by MusicAeterna.
“Teodor Currentzis feels a very strong attachment to the music of Tchaikovsky… Naturally Currentzis has gravitated to the mighty sixth symphony undoubtedly Tchaikovsky’s greatest and most poignant symphony. The composer entitled the work ‘The Passionate Symphony’, employing a Russian word (Pateticheskaya), meaning ‘passionate’ or ’emotional’, that was then mistranslated into French as pathetique, ‘evoking pity’, yet the mistranslation survived subsequent productions in every country but Russia.” (amazon.com)

Wagner. Performed by Michael Volle with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.
A selection of arias for ‘heroic baritone’ from Wagner’s great operas, including Die Meistersinger, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. “The multifaceted magic of Wagner’s great baritone roles has an even more profound resonance in a post-heroic era – impressively embodied by Michael Volle” (back cover).

Tapiola, En Saga, 8 Songs, Sibelius. Performed by Anne Sofie von Otter with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Sibelius, performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu – sounds quite fitting (not to forget Anne Sofie von Otter of course)! The album consists of two tone poems, and a collection of eight songs, settings of poems by Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, sung in Swedish and orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen.

Recently added Classical CDs

For this selection of new classical music CDs we spotlight some vocal works: some Baroque Italian music (sacred and secular), and a post-Romantic opera.

Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and soloists.
“Debussy’s only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, is widely considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest. His setting of Maurice Maeterlinck’s love triangle between Mélisande, Golaud, and his younger half-brother Pelléas, creates a distinctive and tense atmosphere – a world of ambiguity, darkness and light, life, death and love; all underpinned by Debussy’s complex and subtle harmonies, and expressive use of orchestral colour” (back cover).

Catharsis. Performed by Xavier Sabata.
Startling cover. “Around the year 1600, a group of Florentine aristocrats, inspired by ancient Greek drama, gave birth to opera. They set out to glorify human passions in such a strong way that the spectator’s soul would be cleansed. This was a process that Aristotle called catharsis. In a fascinating program featuring works by works by Orlandini, Conti, Torri, Vivaldi, Handel, Hasse, Caldara, Sarro and Ariosti, countertenor Xavier Sabata, accompanied by George Petrou and Armonia Atenea, captures these moments at the heart of legendary heroes of Baroque opera” (amazon.com).

Vespers 1610, Monteverdi. Performed by the Dunedin Consort.
Fully titled: Vespro della Beata Vergine. Recorded at the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, this performance – corralled by John Butt – concentrates its focus on some super vocal soloists, and features the wonderful His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts. Butt and the Dunedin Consort pay particular attention to getting the details of pitch and instrumentation spot-on, and as historically accurate as possible.

New CDs at your library

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs, from newcomers London Grammar to veterans such as Steve Winwood and Brian Wilson. The long awaited third installment in a deluxe reissue series A New Career in a New Town by David Bowie has already been proven very popular.

New Albums

London Grammar Truth is a beautiful thing.
“Four years after their debut, English trio London Grammar returned with their sophomore set, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, featuring production by Jon Hopkins (Imogen Heap, Coldplay), Paul Epworth (Florence + the Machine, Adele), and Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia). Once again, vocalist Hannah Reid takes center stage with her powerful, angelic instrument, which can stir the soul at the smokiest depths before jolting everything to the heavens in a fashion much like Florence Welch or Annie Lennox.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Mount Kimbie Love what survives
“Love What Survives is the third studio album from Mount Kimbie. It is a melodic yet robust electronic record for driving with the windows down and a distillation of their career to date, mixing multiple singing voices and musical personalities, flirting with freeform experimentation, pop tropes and an expansive sonic palette. As the title suggests the record is the product of three years of intense creative development, continually honed by the duo writing and rewriting their ideas to form something wholly idiosyncratic and personal.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Killers Wonderful wonderful
“Ghosts of that sound flutter through Wonderful Wonderful, but they get pushed aside by disco struts, brooding celebrity name-drops, Mark Knopfler cameos, and Fleetwood Mac harmonies so uncannily real you’d swear Lindsey Buckingham guested on the record. Such odd juxtapositions and untrammeled ambition have been the Killers’ stock in trade since at least Sam’s Town, but the impressive thing about Wonderful Wonderful is how the Killers are able to execute Flowers’ overstuffed ideas so precisely.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Horrors V
“Stunningly assertive fifth album from The Horrors. First single ‘Machine’ sees the group at their majestic, imperial best, although the ten tracks on the album are so diverse that when the final song ‘Something To Remember Me By’ appears to channel dance, trance and ‘80s pop genres it feels like both the most natural thing in the musical world and also the most surprising. ‘V’ shows the group at the peak of their powers, exhibiting a freedom and sense of exploration that feels truly liberating.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Steve Winwood Greatest hits live
“Steve Winwood will release his FIRST-EVER live album as a solo artist this September. ‘Winwood: Greatest Hits Live’ is a new 2CD collection sourced from Steve’s personal archives of live performances. With a 23-song tracklist handpicked by Steve, featuring his best loved songs. It offers fans a definitive musical portrait of his five-decade career. The expanded 2CD gatefold package features rare, previously unreleased material touching on all aspects of Winwood’s extensive catalogue, including contemporary arrangements of the music he created with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and on his classic solo recordings.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Brian Wilson Playback : the Brian Wilson anthology
“Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology is the first-ever compilation concentrating on Brian Wilson’s solo career, and given that his discography is a bit unwieldy, it’s not a surprise that Playback is a bit misshapen. Over the course of 18 tracks, Playback samples from nearly every record Wilson released between his eponymous 1988 solo debut and 2015’s No Pier Pressure, adding two unreleased tracks.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Mastodon Cold dark place
“Only the second proper EP from the band — the songs on 2001’s Lifesblood eventually made their way onto the 2006 compilation Call of the Mastodon — three of Cold Dark Place’s cuts (“North Side Star,” “Blue Walsh,” and the brooding, acoustic- and pedal steel guitar-heavy title track) were recorded during the sessions for 2014’s Once More ‘Round the Sun, and they reflect that LP’s somber tone and predilection towards accessible hard rock songcraft.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Box sets/ Reissues

David Bowie A new career in a new town (1977-1982).
“The third installment in a comprehensive deluxe reissue series of David Bowie’s entire catalog, A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) chronicles perhaps the most artistically ambitious phase in Bowie’s career. A New Career in a New Town is a handsome, alluring, and exceptional-sounding reissue that earns its price tag.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Verve Urban hymns [deluxe]
“Expertly catching the mood of the late-‘90s upon its release in September 1997, The Verve’s third studio outing went on to become one of the all-time classic British albums. Now, exactly twenty years on, comes this Super Deluxe expanded edition, containing a host of special features. Re-mastering was undertaken by original co-producer Chris Potter and this 5CD / 1DVD box adds all of the era’s B-sides, the previously unreleased Haigh Hall concert plus further live material and BBC sessions from 1997-1998. The DVD features the full Haigh Hall concert, the ‘The Video 96-98’ documentary, a ‘Later With Jools Holland’ appearance from November 1997 plus the promo videos.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Pink Floyd The early years 1965-1967 : Cambridge st/ation.
“Four disc (2CD + DVD + Blu-Ray) set. Covering Syd Barrett’s time with the band, from the pre-EMI demos, through the non-album hit singles and related tracks, the first volume also features previously unreleased tracks like ‘Vegetable Man’ and ‘In The Beechwoods’ (newly mixed), plus BBC session recordings. Pink Floyd have also acquired the tapes of an unreleased 1967 concert in Stockholm. The DVD/Blu-ray includes historic TV performances plus some of Pink Floyd’s own film material.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Sit back and enjoy these Classical CD additions

Here are three CDs we slipped into the classical music collection recently!

Quartets Op. 13, 44 No. 2, 4 Pieces, Frage Op. 9, Mendelssohn. Performed by Quatuor Arod.
“The Arod Quartet, founded just four years ago in Paris, makes its debut on Erato with an album of Mendelssohn, tracing his life through his works for string quartet. The composer has been important for the ensemble, not least by helping it win two major competitions. The members of the Arod have been mentored by both the Ebène and Artemis Quartet, and they collaborate here with a further Erato artist, the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, in a performance of the song ‘Ist es wahr?'” (amazon.com).

Piano Concerto No. 2, Études-tableaux, Op. 33, Rachmaninov. Performed by Boris Giltburg and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
“Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of the most passionate and beloved concertos in the repertoire, its lyricism and virtuosity charting a trajectory from darkness through idyll to dazzling triumph. The Études-tableaux, Op. 33 are richly characterised musical evocations, expressive and often explosive, that reflect a more angular, modern aspect” (cover).

An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell, John Blow. Performed by Arcangelo + soloists.
“Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo present an ideal album of music for connoisseurs of the English Baroque – and extraordinary singing. This wonderful recital of music by John Blow features a wide range of both vocal and instrumental music. Arcangelo once again demonstrate their versatility in repertoire that will be a real discovery for many” (amazon.com).

Coming very soon: Mahler 2 performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Monteverdi’s Vespers 1610.

A selection of new Classical CD additions

This week’s classical selection is brought to you by the keyboard (at a bit of a stretch): a Saint-Saëns CD featuring both the organ and two pianos, a symphony composed by a virtuoso pianist, and a compilation of works performed on the tangent piano (a bit of a rarity).

Carnival of the Animals, Organ Symphony, Saint-Saëns. Performed by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano.
“Saint-Saëns briefly paused work on his Third Symphony for a holiday in Austria, during which the whimsy of his Carnival of the Animals was born. Yet these two works – from the very same year in the composer’s life – could not be more different, and make a dramatic coupling showing two sides of a singular genius. Martha Argerich and Antonio Pappano celebrate an enduring friendship with this tribute, grand and tongue-in-cheek, to Saint-Saëns” (back cover).

Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninov. Performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
A live recording of Rachmaninov’s first symphony (composed when he was 22) performed last year at the Royal Festival Hall in London, this work is receiving rave reviews. Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist and conductor extraordinaire, was recently interviewed by Presto Classical about the recording, and his thoughts on Rachmaninov and the Philharmonia Orchestra here.

Tangere, C.P.E. Bach. Performed by Alexei Lubimov.
“Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is the rare artist who has been a trailblazer in two directions, both a champion of new music (from Cage to Silvestrov) and a dedicated interpreter of Baroque music with a passion for period instruments. In this remarkable reading of music by CPE Bach, Lubimov responds to the inventiveness of the composer’s fantasies, sonatas and rondos by making full creative use of the sonorities of the tangent piano. Briefly popular in the early 18th century, the tangent piano (whose strings are struck from beneath by wood or metal tangents and allowed to vibrate) offered greater expressiveness and intensity than the harpsichord” (amazon.com).