The Scorpions never sounded better. This tribute is well worth adding to your archives of metal. Inspired by the pioneers of metal, you can't help but like this one. Take away Therion's cover of Crying Days and Rough Silk's version of Is There Anybody There and your left with 16 killer tracks…
During a career that spanned nearly five decades, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau established himself as one of the most accomplished performing artists of the twentieth century. He is widely considered to have been the finest modern interpreter of German lieder, and his extensive operatic career was noted for fine musicianship and powerful characterization. He has also made important contributions as an author, conductor, and teacher.
This is a very fine delivery of these dances in their original 4-handed version. As many collectors will be aware, there are quite a few examples of composers initially writing works for the piano in various formats. This might be for solo piano (Ravel’s Alborada or La Valse for example), for two pianos (Rachmaninov’s Symphonic dances for example) or for two pianists at one piano such as here or as in the Brahms Hungarian Dances. In all these cases the original piano version was not written as a practice version for an orchestral version.
There's nothing meek or morbid about Telemann's 'Jesu' in this passion oratorio. This is a confident muscular Jesu, closer to the Saxon Heliand than to the Man of Sorrows depicted on the CD cover; the first aria proclaims Him a hero: "Du Held… du kannst und willst mein Schutzgott sein." (You Hero… you can and will be my Protector-God.) Before that, the Siegfriedesque cantabile for horn that opens the composition sounds not so much like a lament as a call to don one's spiritual armor, and throughout the whole text Jesu is portrayed as indomitable amid the torment and agony of his followers. Specifically, He is the Lion of Judah, the model of Christian fortitude against all enemies. Yes, there are also moments of anguish in the text and poignancy in the music, but overall this is a depiction of the Passion as a Triumph. Whether that concept accords with your personal theology, dear Music Fan, is your own concern. As for me, I love the music too much to be antagonized by mere dogma.
On Ravenchild, Maddy Prior teamed up again with keyboard player Nick Holland and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley, whose arsenal included Uilleann pipes and low whistle, as she had on her previous album, Flesh & Blood. The centerpiece of the album was a six song suite dubbed "In the Company of Ravens" (also the title of the first song), a series of Prior originals concerning the carrion birds who give the word "ravenous" its meaning. This was sometimes gritty stuff, as Prior described the birds' eating habits, though their mating habits were far more inspiring. The album also contained a three song suite, "With Napoleon in Russia," tracing that famous historical defeat. Then there was "Rigs of the Time," a condemnation of contemporary media culture set to a traditional melody, and the album concluded with what Prior herself described as the eerie traditional song "Great Silkie of Sules Skerry." The music and Prior's singing could be haunting, but Ravenchild was an album of disquieting material, whether the subject was aviary, historical, or contemporary.
Concerts with Maria Schneider are something special. They are stylistically not only out of the ordinary, they also manage to bring large orchestras to perform artistically at high voltage, with an energy and at a creative level which is otherwise known only in much smaller ensembles. It is not the music alone that drives the participants, but rather the serene seriousness of a band leader who demands a maximum of intensity from her compositions and passes this premise on to their interpretation. It is impossible to conceive of compositions for jazz orchestras more stringently. The instrumentalists know this too, and therefore feel called upon not only to reproduce the charts accurately but to work out all the contained hints, implications, and visions of sound down to the deepest levels. This original recording was made in May 2000 when Schneider appeared alongside the SWR Big Band. And for the SWR Big Band, those days in May 2000 are some of the highlights of their orchestral history.