Miles Away, a compilation of songs by Miles Davis. Released in 2008 on Not Now Music. On top of that, the sound is alright, the packaging is elegant (a fold-out digipak, with cool b&w photos of Miles beneath each disc), and we even get brief, informative liner notes. Not Now Music are getting dangerously good at this budget comp thing.
This 55-CD set chronicles the remarkable Archiv label, begun in 1947. Devoted mainly to early and Baroque music, the recordings presented here, in facsimiles of their original sleeves (a nice touch), cover the period from Gregorian chant to Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth symphonies, played on period instruments. There are stops in between for a great deal of Bach, music of the Gothic era, the French Baroque (Mouret, Delalande, Rameau, etc), Gibbons, Handel (Alcina, La Resurrezione, Messiah, Italian cantatas), Telemann, Zelenka, Gabrieli, Desprez, Haydn, LeJeune, and plenty of the usual, as well as unusual, suspects. There’s also a final CD with selections of new releases (more Handel, Cavalli, Gesualdo, Vivaldi).
Christopher Hogwood has found himself a dream cast here, with even the smallest roles taken by big names. There are a couple of surprises along the way, such as the underage First Sailor (sung by a slightly quavery treble) and the cross-dressing Sorceress, here taken by a bass. Still David Thomas cackles and machinates with the best of them, so don't let that put you off.
Eddie Noack had a rough '50s, working hard and never scoring a hit, but that's nothing compared to his '60s. After he was dropped by Mercury, the singer wound up drifting to Allstar, a fly-by-night Nashville indie that specialized in "song poems" – suckers would send in lyrics and pro musicians would set them to music, for a fee – and found space for Noack, a songwriter who had success, but a singer who had none. At Allstar, he was usually able to record his own songs, but Noack wound up chasing trends instead of setting them. Specifically, he wound up cutting several singles in the style of Buck Owens & the Buckaroos, sides that may not have charted but illustrated Noack was a pro, capable of following shifting fashions and delivering upon them ably, even appealingly.
CPO follows its stellar releases of Conradi's Ariadne and Lully's Thésée by the Boston Early Music Festival with an equally extraordinary performance of Lully's Psyché. These are works that have had limited exposure and are known far better by reputation than by performances or recordings.