Oh, My Girl, the second album by singer/songwriter Jesse Sykes and her band the Sweet Hereafter – led by Phil Wandscher – picks up where her debut, Reckless Burning, left off. Songs are played at cough-syrup tempo, production is sparse, instrumentation equally so, offering just enough of a frame for the melody and lyrics to hang themselves on, and everything, absolutely everything, is underplayed. There is plenty of dynamic tension, but little to no dynamic range. Yes, this is a good thing. Sykes' ghostly voice, which hovers about her words more than inhabits them, has enough old-world folkiness, raw – if intentionally muted – willingness, and lonesome country pain in it to carry off these tunes with authority. Produced, mixed and engineered by multi-instrumentalist Tucker Martine, Oh, My Girl is full of slow, dipping passion, moody expressionism and poetic smarts to make it stand out in a sensual, narcotic way from the rest of the gothic alterna-twang pack. And one more thing: Sykes has more emotion in the grain of her halting, cracking voice than a whole army of Margo Timmins'es – so let the comparisons stop now, please.
Mirella Freni returns as a glamorous Russian princess involved with a dashing aristocratic spy (Plácido Domingo) in this production of Giordano’s Fedora from 1997 conducted by Roberto Abbado. The audience and critics were unanimous in their praise for her dramatic authority, power, warmth and brilliance of her voice and the partnership of Freni and Domingo was described as “operatic royalty.”
This is an important document, not least because what is actually captured on these discs is the first performance of this work since 1772. The score is presently housed in the archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie after its discovery in the Ukraine. C.P.E.’s version of the Christ story is a dynamic one, with plenty of drama and much interaction between the various soloists and the chorus - a chorus that represents the Jews as well as performing the chorales.