Some composers really deserve their reputation as artists whose fame rests on a single work, but with Holst the popularity of The Planets really has obscured the large quantity of good music he wrote in other forms. Part of the problem also stemmed from his daughter, Imogene, who was severely critical of her father's work and whose baleful influence persists to this day. These three choral ballets contain a large measure of delightful and wholly characteristic music. It's crime that we have had to wait until now for a complete recording of them, and fortunately these performances make a strong case for many more.
For Morning Glory, John Surman sets aside his signature baritone saxophone in favor of soprano sax, bass clarinet, and synthesizer – the result is a record as radiant and beautiful as its title portends, comprised of four epic tracks that despite their scope represent his most mainstream work to date. The skill and dexterity of the improvisations here are astounding. Surman and sidemen Terje Rypdal (guitar), Chris Laurence (bass), John Taylor (electric piano), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), and John Marshall (drums) connect on an almost telepathic level. But for all its experimental approaches and ingenious ad-libbing, Morning Glory is a remarkably generous album, inviting and approachable like few avant-jazz dates before it. So much of Surman's brilliance hinges on his refusal to alienate listeners regardless of their personal leanings and expectations, while at the same remaining true to his singular muse.
Hailing from Israel comes Trespass, a symphonic progressive rock trio whose second album Morning Lights is a continuation of the classically inspired style they showed on their 2002 debut In Haze of Time. With similarities to classic bands like ELP, The Nice, Triumvirat, and Gentle Giant, Trespass use their keyboard heavy sound to create five epic sounding pieces here that are highly enjoyable.
The Bridge at Andau is James A. Michener at his most gripping. His classic nonfiction account of a doomed uprising is as searing and unforgettable as any of his bestselling novels. For five brief, glorious days in the autumn of 1956, the Hungarian revolution gave its people a glimpse at a different kind of future—until, at four o’clock in the morning on a Sunday in November, the citizens of Budapest awoke to the shattering sound of Russian tanks ravaging their streets. The revolution was over. But freedom beckoned in the form of a small footbridge at Andau, on the Austrian border. By an accident of history it became, for a few harrowing weeks, one of the most important crossings in the world, as the soul of a nation fled across its unsteady planks