If you don't already have any recordings of Beethoven's late string quartets, by all means get this one by the Alban Berg Quartet. There hasn't been a set to equal it since it was originally released in a different configuration in the early '90s - the Emerson's overly enthusiastic but not especially insightful set? oh, come on! - and there hadn't been many to equal it before the '90s, only the Quartetto Italiano's wonderfully balanced and incredibly lovely set, the Quatuor Végh's supremely intense and transcendentally sublime set, and the Berg's own earlier, extremely concentrated and austerely passionate studio set.
It’s been 45 years since Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers entered a Chicago recording studio to cut the album that would change the face of American music forever. That self-titled release came out in August 1971 and launched an American institution, Alligator Records. Label boss Bruce Iglauer ran the operation from an efficiency apartment in the Windy City. In the subsequent decades, his imprint would issue roughly 300 titles, including releases from Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, and Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials, among many, many others. When quality blues records were hard to come by and majors turned their attention to the latest fashions, Iglauer stuck it out, giving a loyal fan base music they didn’t know they were missing. To see the Alligator logo on an album’s spine meant you were getting something handpicked from a friend who loved that music as much as you did. Maybe even more.
60 songs, 22 (!) previously unreleased-including duets with Dylan, the Dead, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, Judy Collins and sister Mimi Farina, etc.-together with a 32-page full-color book packed with interviews and rare pix! From We Shall Overcome through The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down to Diamonds and Rust , her complete career. This is a big ol' box of Baez; certainly more than any casual fan would need. The hits are here ("Diamonds and Rust," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"), along with a treasure trove of rare duets (with Kris Kristofferson, Bob Gibson, Donovan, and others) and previously unreleased tracks (including a giddy 1965 concert duet with Bob Dylan on his "Mama, You Been on My Mind"). The depth and breadth of Baez's work–from her early traditional bent ("Silver Dagger") to her fine choices from contemporary writers (Merle Haggard, John Prine)–is well-represented. The striking beauty of her voice is, too.
Verdi's brilliant final masterpiece Falstaff, in its first new Met production in 50 years – and conducted by Met Music Director James Levine in his first new production since his return to his podium at the Met. When it comes to theatrical flair, captivating costumes, stage antics and imagination, there are not many shows on Broadway to rival the Met s new Falstaff. “Ambrogio Maestri is made for the title role, with the apt physique, nimble acting and superb vocal presence that make him the leading Falstaff of the day. There is no weak link in a finely balanced, comically-attuned cast (the women are especially impressive) and Levine’s conducting is pitch-perfect. The show fizzles from start to finish and is tremendous fun” (Classical Music).