BIS present a disc of works by the Japanese composer Mari Takano, composed between 2003 and 2009. The four duos and trios that share the title LigAlien are all results of the idea of what would it be like to implant ‘alien’ music into one of Ligeti’s works. Interspersing the four 'LigAliens' are two solo pieces, Jungibility for piano and Full Moon for violin and electronics, which also embrace a wealth of ideas both musical and otherwise from Duke Ellington, Omar Sosa and Stockhausen (Jungibility) and Björk, Pina Bausch and Miles Davis (Full Moon).
The answer to the question what would post-Oistrakh Soviet Mozart sound like? is Vladimir Spivakov. The answer to the question what does Spivakov's Mozart sound like? is lightly, lively, elegant, and, every once in a while, extremely intense. In these recordings from the late '70s and early '80s of Mozart's violin concertos and Sinfonia Concertante with the English Chamber Orchestra and violist Yuri Bashmet, Spivakov plays and conducts with graceful artistry, consummate virtuosity, and deep humanity. In opening Allegros, Spivakov is airborne in the zephyrs of spring. In the closing Rondos, Spivakov is dancing in the ballrooms of Europe. But sometimes, especially in the central Andantes, Spivakov can sing with an intimacy and intensity that reveal a more profound Mozart, a Mozart touched not only by eternity but by mortality. In the central Andante of the Sinfonia Concertante with the soulful Yuri Bashmet, Spivakov proves he is not only the best of the post-Oistrakh Soviet violinists, but also one of the most moving violinists of the past 30 years.(James Leonard)
For one of Bellini's less popular works, I Capuleti has seen a remarkable number of recordings, with some of the starriest stars in the operatic firmament taking part. A self-recommending and self-damning bastardized version from the 1960s in which the role of Romeo was transposed from mezzo to tenor (by Claudio Abbado) can still be found with Giacomo Aragall as Romeo, Renata Scotto (or Margarita Rinaldi, in another pirate) as Giulietta, and Luciano Pavarotti as Tebaldo. Muti's set with Gruberova and Baltsa manages to be both exciting and sterile at the same time, a couple of other entries have come and gone (where is the Sills?), and the only competition for this current release is RCA's with the marvelous, expressive Vesalina Kasarova as Romeo and the pretty, fragile Giulietta of Eva Mei. But for my ears, this one, handsomely led by Donald Runnicles, takes the lead.
For his first opera production, Dario Fo, the theatre director known for his brilliant wit, chose to stage Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Netherlands Opera. First mounted in 1987, it was a huge success and a live recording of its revival in May 1992, the 200th anniversary of Rossini's birth, has been made. Fo has said that 'Rossini is the musician of eating and love. He composes music rich in herbs and aromas, in which you find olives, tomatoes, fish, grapes, roses and rosemary, sheets and tablecloths, dry wine and the laughter of girls.' His 'Barbiere' is a joyful carnival. During the overture he fills the stage with carnival revellers and immediately the commedia dell'arte origins of opera buffa are restored. Visual theatrics abound, never at the expense of the music, but highlighting it, engaging the eye as well as the ear. Fo addresses the heart more than the intellect and Rossini's comedy comes up dazzling and vital.