Continuing his award-winning cycle of works by Felix Mendelssohn, Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads the LSO, his Monteverdi Choir and three talented young actors from the Guildhall in a landmark performance of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', which was performed as part of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To mark the celebrations, Gardiner produced a special version of the work featuring some cuts to the original movements that, in his words, "remove all of the music relating to the Mechanicals and thus focus on the world of the fairies and the human lovers". Mendelssohn, who adored Shakespeare’s writings, composed his concert overture based on 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in 1827 aged 17, after having read a German translation of the play. The overture was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece and quickly became a popular favourite throughout Europe. Years later in 1843 he was asked by the King of Prussia to provide a score for an entire production: 14 short works based on themes and moods from the original overture, with a broadly romantic sound although classical in style and structure.
The pieces brought together on this CD range widely, from ceremonial works associated with affairs of state to intimate compositions addressing moments of great personal significance. Two of the three pieces by Parry best exemplify this contrast: if I was glad – written for the coronation of Edward VII and premiered in chaotic circumstances – fits into the former category, ‘My soul, there is a country’ (from Songs of Farewell) – composed in the year of his death – belongs in the latter.
As the elder statesman of British blues, it is John Mayall's lot to be more renowned as a bandleader and mentor than as a performer in his own right. Throughout the '60s, his band, the Bluesbreakers, acted as a finishing school for the leading British blues-rock musicians of the era. Guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor joined his band in a remarkable succession in the mid-'60s, honing their chops with Mayall before going on to join Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones, respectively. John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce, Aynsley Dunbar, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Andy Fraser (of Free), John Almond, and Jon Mark also played and recorded with Mayall for varying lengths of times in the '60s.
The one unreleased item among Apple/EMI's exhaustive 2010 John Lennon reissue campaign was Double Fantasy Stripped Down, a revision of the original 1980 album supervised by Yoko Ono and producer Jack Douglas. The intent of this new mix is to give the recording a greater sense of intimacy, but Double Fantasy isn’t Let It Be: it doesn’t have a heavily bootlegged original early incarnation, it only exists in its final form; it’s not an album that was designed as a raw back-to-basics record, it was constructed as a slick studio affair…
2010, three CD collection from the Blues great housed in a tin box. John Lee Hooker left a legacy which chronicled the journey that Blues music travelled in his own lifetime, from its early, earthy origins to the international musical language it is today.
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featured the best of the early 60s English rhythm and blues scene, including members of the Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream and more. This compilation of live tracks was recorded in the USA and Italy in the early 1980's, and features performances by John McVie (Fleetwood Mac) and Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones) from the reformed Bluesbreakers tour of 1982. Over 70 minutes of the finest blues including a storming workout of "The Stumble".
For Stormbringer!, John and Beverley Martyn went to Woodstock, NY, and recorded with several local musicians, including session hands Paul Harris and Harvey Brooks, as well as the Band's Levon Helm. Very much in the mold of the electric Fairport Convention of this period, Stormbringer! sizzles with acoustic interplay and an almost jazzy feel. Highlights include "Woodstock" (not the Joni Mitchell tune) and the title track. ~ James Chrispell
Much more of a collaboration here than on their previous effort, John and Beverley Martyn continue on their way through the British folk-jazz of the '70s. Flowing with a subtle improvisation that incorporated a greater ethnic feeling, Road to Ruin makes for enjoyable listening indeed. Good singing and playing make this a great album to sit back and reflect upon.