Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin (born 1957) belongs to that school of Scandinavian composers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries who are grounded in the techniques of modernism, but who employ those techniques in music that's immensely and immediately appealing to broad audiences in the directness of its emotional reach and the attractiveness of its sound. The three pieces recorded here, an orchestral work, a percussion concerto and a concerto for six percussionists, reveal a composer with an extraordinarily colorful orchestrational palette, fine sense of large musical structure, and an elemental rhythmic vitality.
Boundary busting and inventive though it was, Kalimba (ACT, 2007)—the first album by German pianist Joachim Kuhn, Moroccan vocalist and guembri player Majid Bekkas, and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez—ultimately felt like Kuhn's album more than a fully integrated, cross-cultural group exercise. Two years on, the trio's second outing, Out Of The Desert, offers a deeper mix—and an altogether more absorbing one.
Decca has pulled together a blockbuster collection of many of opera's greatest hits from the standard repertoire. The selection is heavily weighted to the nineteenth century, and to Italian operas, but it does indeed offer a generous sampling of what the general public understands as the staples of the repertoire. It includes one Baroque aria, from Handel's Rodelinda, and several from the Classical era - two arias from Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurydice, and seven from Mozart's operas - and the rest range from the bel canto of Rossini to the verismo of Cilea and Puccini. The selection is primarily made up of arias, but includes ensembles, choruses, and orchestral excerpts.
It’s been almost a decade since Casey Crescenzo brought The Dear Hunter – both the band and the character of the same name - to life with his 2006 debut full-length, Act I: The Lake South, The River North. This record revealed Crescenzo’s incredibly inventive and ambitious musical flair, something which has been evolving ever since. The two albums which followed - 2007’s Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading and 2009’s Act III: Life And Death - cemented the artist as a maverick, idiosyncratic talent whose music, while fitting a modern aesthetic, was also from a bygone era. Act I/Act II: This is the story of a boy, from his creation to his untimely end; from the beautifully rapturous to the truly tragic…
Madame d'amours is an enchanting and pleasingly varied collection of pieces performed for flute consort by The Attaignant Consort. The Consort was founded in 1998 by four graduates (from Australia, France, the Netherlands and Italy) of the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. Having studied historical flute performance practice under Barthold Kuijken and/or Wilbert Hazelzet, these experts (they also work with such renowned groups as Les Musiciens du Louvre, Freiburger Barockorchester and Musica Antiqua Köln – amongst others) also pursue their passion for the sound world of the Renaissance flute in collaboration with Italian flute maker, Giovanni Tardino. The premise of all concerned is that such consort music aspired to a closeness to the patterns and intonations of the human voice. This was (and is, here) achieved by careful attention to instrumental articulation, expressiveness and dynamic shading. The Attaignant Consort likes to play with facsimiles of the original parts in preference to scores; and from memory whenever possible. For this recording the Consort is joined by harpist Marta Graziolino, lutanist Nigel North and flautist Mathieu Langlois.
Deutsche Grammophon's reissue of its 1963 recording of La Traviata should be an essential part of the library of anyone who loves the opera because Renata Scotto's Violetta is so beautifully sung and dramatically realized. Scotto was at the beginning of her career, not yet 30, when she made this recording, three years before her acclaimed Madama Butterfly with John Barbirolli. Her voice is wonderfully fresh, with a youthful bloom that makes Violetta's plight especially poignant. She is in complete control; her tone is pure, full, and sweet; and her coloratura is agile, but it's her exceptional ability to act with her voice that makes her Violetta so memorable. This was the role in which she had made her debut when she was 18, and she inhabits it fully. She's entirely believable and inexorably draws the listener into the tragedy that Violetta's life becomes. It's a portrayal so vivid that not all of the rest of the cast can avoid being dwarfed by it.