Masaaki Suzuki was an organist before he was a conductor, and his recordings of Bach's organ works have made a delightful coda to his magisterial survey of Bach cantatas with his Bach Collegium Japan. This selection, the second in a series appearing on the BIS label, gives a good idea of the gems available. You get a good mix of pieces, including a pair of Bach's Vivaldi transcriptions. Fans of Suzuki's cantata series will be pleased to note the similarities in his style between his conducting and his organ playing: there's a certain precise yet deliberate and lush quality common to both. And he has a real co-star here: the organ of the Kobe Shoin Women's University Chapel, built in 1983 by French maker Marc Garnier. The realizations of Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi concertos fare especially well here, with a panoply of subtle colors in the organ. Sample the first movement of the Concerto in D minor, BWV 596, with its mellow yet transcendently mysterious tones in the string ripieni. BIS backs Suzuki up with marvelously clear engineering in the small Japanese chapel, and all in all, this is a Bach organ recording that stands out from the crowd. Highly recommended.
After a series of major label releases, the last of which was a recording with a new trio, Charlie Hunter makes significant changes for Baboon Strength. The idiosyncratic guitarist's innate joie de vivre remains constant, however, as he decides to release the album independently and, prior to that, recruits a new drummer.
Pergolesi Year 2010 marks the birth 300 years ago of a first rank composer and singular voice. Claudio Abbado's affinity for Pergolesi is a joy to the ear and balm to the soul. The introductory album of maestro's Pergolesi Project, the famous Stabat Mater, was rapturously received by the press.
Characteristic are these comments in The Times: "Abbado's commitment to period style is never in doubt…He has exceptional soloists: Rachel Harnisch and Sara Mingardo in the Stabat, ravishing in the harmonic suspensions of their duets; a lovely toned Julia Kleiter in the Salve; and the exemplary Giuliano Carmignola in the rarely recorded Violin Concerto, a little masterpiece, all but forgotten by the mainstream."
Flush with the attention he got for his role in furthering the “Indo-Pak” agenda in jazz alongside Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa, the Pakistani-born, L.A.-raised Rez Abbasi expressed the hope he and his cohorts wouldn’t be pigeonholed as ethnic outliers. With Continuous Beat, a relentlessly probing trio effort featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi that closes with an uncommonly thoughtful acoustic reading of “The Star Spangled Banner,” Abbasi takes another bold step in resisting any stereotyping.