Shack is led by Michael Head, who fronted the Pale Fountains in the mid-'80s after his mind was blown by Liverpool's incredible Echo & the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes. Head and his brother John know their way around highly-developed '60s-to-'80s pop. Get past what used to be called side one; it's often wonderful, but it's lesser. For instance, the one clunker, "Pull Together," is like uncharacteristically-bad Oasis. "Lend's Some Dough" is fun Mersey bounce pop like the La's, and the two U.K. singles, "Natalie's Party" and the much better Bunnymen-like "Comedy," are both guilty of trying too hard. But, starting with "Streets of Kenny," the LP shifts into a more natural pace, marked by chattering, delicately-picked bright acoustics, ringing electrics, busy background strings, and the Heads' onrushing, splendid harmonies. The level of compositions, arrangements, and singing on side two sets Shack apart from all the merely-OK, press-fed bands cluttering up British festivals. In fact, Head's pop knack has never been greater, as if he finished a long apprenticeship. He's rather sly about it, too: From the affectionate "You Only Live Twice" coda of the standout, "Since I Met You," to the staccato Burt Bacharach trumpet blurts of "Re-instated" to the Revolver Beatles outros of "Natalie's Party" and "I Want You" to the Arthur Lee/Love-worship of "Daniella," the milestones of yesteryear are referenced but built upon as well.
Jean-Marie Leclair, a pure product of the 18th century, was at the crossroads of styles, cultivating a virtuosic art combining melodies à la française and Italian virtuosity stemming from Corelli and Vivaldi. He was 49 when he undertook his first (and only) lyric tragedy: Scylla et Glaucus. In the greatest French tradition, this work combines sumptuous numbers of sentimental outpourings with frightening scenes of fury and terror, in which the orchestra, with forceful passages, plays a dazzling role.
Two things distinguished Thomas Hengelbrock's 1996 recording of Bach's B minor Mass from the many other historically informed performances of the work released in the early digital era. Where many other conductors used small mixed choirs, Hengelbrock not only used the 26-voice Bathasar-Neumann-Chor, he drew his soloists from it. And where most other conductors tended exclusively toward quick tempos, Hengelbrock mixed things up, favoring fast tempos in joyful movements and slow tempos for painful movements.
The aria Ombra mai fu at the start of Act I of Handel's opera seria Serse (Xerxes) is likely to be its best-known asset. Serse was written in 1733-38, at the end of Handel's career as an opera composer: he concentrated on oratorio after 1741. It is a great achievement. Not least because it uses the music, and the marriage of words and music, to evoke in the audience pathos, sympathy, delight, and as much tempered ridicule as tempered tenderness.
“Instinct” is the second album from the trio Malija who issued their début recording “The Day I Had Everything” on the Edition label in late 2015. Malija is one of those collective group monikers that incorporates elements of the names of its individual members. In this case the band is something of a ‘supergroup’, a trio featuring some of the most respected performers on the UK jazz scene in the shapes of Mark Lockheart (reeds), Liam Noble (piano) and Jasper Hoiby (double bass).