Originally put out on the Swingville label, this CD reissue is very much in the Count Basie vein. That fact is not too surprising when one considers that the quintet includes three members of Basie's men: trumpeter Joe Newman, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess and bassist Eddie Jones. Joined by the complementary pianist Tommy Flanagan and drummer Oliver Jackson, Newman and his friends swing their way through four vintage standards and a couple of the leader's original blues in typical fashion.
“Emil Gilels stands out as giant among giants,” wrote Gramophone when the Odessa-born pianist died in 1985. “In terms of virtuosity he was second to none, yet his leonine power was tempered by a delicacy and poetry that few have matched and none has surpassed.” Beethoven was at the heart of Gilels’ repertoire and in 1968 he recorded this complete cycle of the composer’s piano concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra and its long-standing maestro, another musical titan of the era, George Szell.
Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt have both called the Ukrainian Valentin Silvestrov "one of the greatest composers of our time”. He is also one of its true originals; though a leading figure in the former Soviet Union’s avant-garde in the 1960s, he subsequently came to realise that "the most important lesson of the avant-garde was to be free of all preconceived ideas – particularly those of the avant-garde." Silvestrov was born in Kiev in 1937 and studied the piano at Kiev Evening Music School, then composition, harmony and counterpoint at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. His early experimental orientation meant that his work received official criticism in the Soviet Union and, despite prizes and some prominent champions, recognition in his homeland and beyond was hard won. Over time, Silvestrov’s compositional practice evolved into what he would come to call his “metaphorical style” or “meta-music.” The composer wishes his works to be seen as “codas” to musical history because “fewer and fewer texts are possible which… begin at the beginning”. He has declared that “I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists.”
Brilliant's breezy survey of Rossini's one-act operas is assembled from five different recordings originally released on the Claves label in the early '90s. All were well received in their original form, and since all five were conducted by the veteran Marcello Viotti in similar-enough-for-non-audiophile acoustics, they make a convincing box set, and an attractive buy for those looking for a lighthearted Rossini infusion. The packaging is minimal, and the included libretti are in Italian only, so if you're counting on a translation you'll have to find it somewhere else. Viotti's work is exemplary and idiomatic throughout, always putting Rossini's most tuneful and lighthearted foot forward, while never forgetting that every good comedy has real moments of pathos. The overtures all seem a bit under tempo, and could use an extra shot of fun, but they are still upbeat enough to elicit a smile. The casts are uniformly excellent, mostly populated with journeyman Rossinians with fresh, if not always head turning, voices and good character. But each opera has at least one higher profile name, whose charisma adds just enough spice to the mix to elevate the entire collection above the competition: Ramón Vargas, Maria Bayo, and the accomplished buffo Bruno Pratico are exceptionally good.(Allen Schrott)