Director Sacha Gervasi's 2012 Alfred Hitchcock biopic was less of a proper biography and more of a breakdown of the events leading up to the release of 1959's Psycho. Composer Danny Elfman's elegant score reflects that sense of minutia, offering up a scant 38 minutes of material, much of which clocks in at under a minute. Elfman's signature blend of dread, whimsy, and mischief serves the tone of the story well, and while it may not be as stocked with memorable themes as some of his better-known works, it dutifully conveys the pathos, unpredictability, and humor of its source material.
If you'd like to access the full scope of Alkan's quirky style in bite-sized proportions rather than piling into the Concerto for Solo Piano, Les Quartre Ages, and other large-scale concoctions, here's a disc for you. Esquisses (Sketches) contains 49 piano miniatures, each lasting from 43 seconds to a little more than four minutes. Alkan apparently composed these over a 15-year span. He eventually partitioned the collection into four volumes, arranged according to key sequence.
Stand Up is the second studio album by the British rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1969. Stand Up represents the first album project on which Anderson was in full control of the music and lyrics. The result was an eclectic album with various styles appearing in its songs, yet an album which remained somewhat in the blues rock mould, which would be the last such album from Jethro Tull. The album quickly went to number 1 in the UK charts.
Director Roman Polanski's film The Pianist is based on the memoirs of Polish classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman about his harrowing experiences under the Nazi occupation of Warsaw during World War II. The soundtrack album consists almost entirely of Chopin piano pieces, most of them played by Janusz Olejniczak. Most of those, in turn, are solo performances, although Olejniczak is joined by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Tadeusz Strugala, for Grand Polonaise for Piano and Orchestra. The sole non-Chopin track is the excerpt from Wojciech Kilar's score, "Moving to the Ghetto October 31, 1940," a klezmer-like piece running only 1:45 in which Hanna Wolczedska plays clarinet, accompanied by the Warsaw Philharmonic. Appropriately, the album ends with an actual recording by Szpilman of the Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4.
Boasting big, bold pop production that suggests the anthemic-but-personable sound of Natalie Imbruglia, Siren bursts out of the speakers with a giddy rush of emotion. But Heather Nova's not one to wail stridently like some Alanis-come-lately; instead she favors a breathy, delicate style that's nevertheless strong enough to ride comfortably atop the layers of acoustic and electric guitars. (In fact, it's Nova's own guitar that's at the heart of most of the arrangements here.) Throughout Siren, Nova utilizing an intriguing catch in her voice, and ultimately, it's Nova's unique vocal style and winning pop sensibilities that make Siren work as well as it does, doing double duty as substantive singer/songwriter statement and perfect pop-radio product.