Modern singer-songwriters like John Mayer, Dave Mathews and Jason Mraz (and there are many others) elevated the art of guitar accompaniment to a whole new level. You hear fresh chord voicings, exciting rhythm patterns, bass lines, percussive elements, riffs and other melodic elements supporting their vocals — and they do it all with just six strings and a pick. That’s “acoustic groove” at its very best.
Nearly unrecognizable as the work of the one-time punk rock outfit, Night Drive is effectively Chromatics' third debut album in a row, following a wholesale transformation in sound and style and yet another lineup change: Adam Miller is again the sole constant member; vocalist Ruth Radelet is a new addition even since the 2006 teaser Nite, replacing Lena Okazaki, while Glass Candy's Johnny Jewel, who produced that single, is now a full-fledged member. Actually, this seems to be Jewel's record more than anyone's – in the silver-screen conceit of the liner notes he's listed as director to Miller's screenwriter, though he also has a writing credit on all the record's originals, only four of which (the vocal songs) Miller co-wrote – indeed, Jewel is emerging as the primary musical force behind much of the Italians Do It Better label. Among that camp of synthesizer-disco revivalists, Chromatics stand out as the most lush and cinematic, drawing on the more languorous, atmospheric aspects of '80s electronica to fashion a hazy imaginary soundtrack to a stylish, decadent noir film (as the album's visual presentation suggests) or just a lonely late-night drive (as per the opening "Telephone Call").
Filmed live at the Vienna State Opera in December 1983, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s elegant staging of Manon captures all the pathos of Massenet’s masterpiece. Adam Fischer leads an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Edita Gruberova in the title role and the brilliant Francisco Araiza as Le chevalier des Grieux. Massenet’s Manon was immensely successful from the outset, and it has remained a hit ever since its world premiere in Paris in 1884.
Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series reaches its 70th album with this program of three concertos by women. The ongoing success of the series suggests that audiences are ready and waiting for wider repertoire, and pianist Danny Driver and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Rebecca Miller deliver a real find here. The Piano Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 45, of American composer Amy Beach has been performed and recorded, but it's been in search of a recording that captures the autobiographical quality of the work, well sketched out in the booklet notes by Nigel Simeone. Essentially, Beach faced creative repression from her religious mother and to a lesser extent from her husband, who allowed her to compose, but only rarely to perform. These experiences, it may be said, poured out in this towering Brahmsian, four-movement piano concerto, which sets up an unusual quality of struggle between soloists and orchestra. It's this dynamic that's so well captured by Driver and Miller (who happen to be married to each other). Sample the opening movement, which has lacked this quality in earlier performances.
This is a genuinely heart warming recital of chamber music from the latter part of the 17th century by the north German masters Johann Adam Reinken and Dietrich Buxtehude, both among the influences on the young J.S. Bach. The two were great friends and shared compositional tastes. Melody is not the issue here, neither is the extroverted passion of Italian composers of the period. This is more the animated conversation of friends sitting around the fire discussing various topics after a good meal.