Recording of the Month

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Robert Levine Posted: Jul 13, 2003 0 comments
VIVALDI: La Stravaganza
12 Violin Concertos, Op.4
Rachel Podger, violin; Arte dei Suonatori
Channel Classics CCS 19598 (2 CDs). 2003. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, prod.; C. Jared Sacks, eng. DDD. TT: 102:59
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Robert Baird Posted: Jul 10, 2004 Published: Jul 01, 2004 0 comments
CHRIS STAMEY: Travels In the South
Yep Roc 2033 (CD). 2004. Chris Stamey, Jefferson Holt, prods.; Don Dixon, Greg Elkins, prods., engs.; Tim Harper, Brian Paulson, John Plymale, Wes Lachot, Logan Matheny, Dan Korneff, engs. AAD. TT: 52:30
Performance ****
Sonics ***
Robert Baird Posted: Jul 17, 2005 0 comments
DAVID CHESKY: Area 31
The Girl from Guatemala, Flute Concerto, Violin Concerto
Wonjung Kim, soprano; Jeffrey Khaner, flute; Tom Chiu, violin; Anthony Aibel, Area 31
Chesky SACD288 (SACD/CD). 2004. David Chesky, David Eggar, prods.; Barry Wolfson, eng.; Rick Eckerle, second eng.; Nicholas Prout, mastering, editing. AAD? TT: 56:31
Performance ****½
Sonics *****
Robert Levine Posted: Jul 16, 2006 0 comments
MAHLER: Symphony 8
Barbara Kubiak, Izabela Klosinska, Marta Boberska, sopranos; Jadwiga Rappé, Ewa Marciniec, altos; Timothy Bentch, tenor; Wojtek Drabowicz, baritone; Piotr Nowacki, bass; Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir in Krakow, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University Choir, Warsaw Boys Choir; Antoni Wit, conductor
Naxos 8.550533-34 (2 CDs). 2006. Andrzej Sasin, Aleksandra Nagorko, prods. DDD. TT: 80:51
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Robert Levine Posted: Jul 16, 2006 0 comments
MAHLER: Symphony 8
Barbara Kubiak, Izabela Klosinska, Marta Boberska, sopranos; Jadwiga Rappé, Ewa Marciniec, altos; Timothy Bentch, tenor; Wojtek Drabowicz, baritone; Piotr Nowacki, bass; Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir in Krakow, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University Choir, Warsaw Boys Choir; Antoni Wit, conductor
Naxos 8.550533-34 (2 CDs). 2006. Andrzej Sasin, Aleksandra Nagorko, prods. DDD. TT: 80:51
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Thomas Conrad Posted: Jul 15, 2007 0 comments
JOHN ABERCROMBIE: The Third Quartet
John Abercrombie, electric & acoustic guitar; Mark Feldman, violin; Marc Johnson, bass; Joey Baron, drums
ECM 1993 (CD). 2007. Manfred Eicher, prod.; James Farber, eng. DDD. TT: 59:45
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½
Robert Levine Posted: Jul 10, 2008 0 comments
HAYDN The Creation Sandrine Piau, Miah Persson, sopranos; Mark Padmore, tenor; Peter Harvey, baritone; Neal Davies, bass; Chetham's Chamber Choir, Gabrieli Consort of Players; Paul McCreesh
Archiv 477 7361 (2 CDs). 2008. Nicholas Parker, prod.; Jonathan Stokes, eng. DDD. TT: 108:56
Performance *****
Sound *****
Robert Baird Posted: Jul 07, 2009 0 comments
Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi
Nonesuch 480380-2 (CD). 2009. Joe Henry, prod.; Kevin Killen, eng.; Anthony Ruotolo, asst. eng. AAD? TT: 61:31
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jul 11, 2010 0 comments
Sinatra Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings
Concord CRE-32026 (CD). 2010. Sonny Burke, orig. prod.; Lee Herschberg, orig eng.; Hal Gaba, reissue exec. prod.; Charles Pignone, reissue prod.; Larry Walsh, reissue eng.; Dan Hersch, 24-bit remastering. AAD. TT: 58:23
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jul 06, 2011 2 comments
Paul Simon: So Beautiful or So What
Hear Music HRM-32814 (CD; the LP comes with a voucher for hi-rez downloads). 2011. Paul Simon, Phil Ramone, prods.; Andy Smith, eng. AAD? TT: 38:15
Performance ****½
Sonics ***½

"Love & Blessings"? "Questions for the Angels"? It seems that Paul Simon, who will turn 70 in October, has begun to ask life's Big Questions in preparation for his own exit. Yet in this case, seeming is not reality, and at 69, Simon has returned to his polyglot musical influences (that he may or may not have heisted...but that's an argument for another day) to fashion a startlingly powerful collection of songs that successfully mix the jaunty near-danceability of his world-music adventures with serious lyrics about impending death, the vagaries of love, and, especially, the many unknowables contained in the word God.

Robert Baird Posted: Jun 28, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 0 comments
Bill Evans: Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate
Bill Evans, piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; Marty Morrell, drums
Resonance HLP-2012 (2 LPs/2 CDs, HDTracks 24/44.1k download). 1968/2012. George Klabin, exec. prod., mix, sound restoration; Zev Feldman, prod.; Fran Gala, mix, sound restoration, mastering. ADA/ADD. TT: 49:12/40:50
Performance *****
Sonics * to ***

Complain if you will, analog lovers, about the evils of digital technology, but in one area there isn't a whiff of argument: the esoteric pursuit of rescuing live recordings with marginal sound. Without question, manipulating ones and zeros has cleaned up a lot of nearly unlistenable bootlegs. This bit of buried treasure, while never unlistenable, has been rendered in sound that is, at times, very good. The two-star sonics rating, which may seem shocking for a "Recording of the Month," is an average—while the sound quality rates a single star in the opening, it's nearly up to four stars by Disc 2. The long-ago sounds of these two live sets of the Bill Evans trio playing mostly standards, recorded in a long-gone Greenwich Village club, Top of the Gate (it was literally above the better-known Village Gate jazz club), are, if not the holy grail, then a very gilded cup.

Robert Baird Posted: Jun 24, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
Pedrito Martinez: Rumba de la Isla
Pedrito Martinez, vocals, congas, chekere, cowbell; Niño Josele, guitar, clapping; Alfredo de la Fé, electric violin; John Benítez, acoustic & electric bass; Pirana, cajón, clapping; Román Díaz, batas, cajón, spoons, vocals; Xiomara "La Voz" Laugart, Abraham Rodríguez, backing vocals
Calle 54/Sony Masterworks 8876 540607 2 (CD). 2013. Nat Chediak, Fernando Trueba, prods.; Jim Anderson, eng. DAD? TT: 50:20
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

Cross-cultural mashups are all the rage. There's the BlueBrass mix of New Orleans brass band and bluegrass, reviewed in this issue. The Border Music project mixes David Hidalgo's Norteño/East L.A. rock with Marc Ribot's downtown New York jazz. Here, conguero Pedrito Martinez, born in Cuba but based in New York City, successfully crosses Afro-Cuban rumba with Andalusian flamenco to celebrate the work of flamenco composer and singer Camarón de la Isla. Born José Monje Cruz, de la Isla is probably best known outside Spain for his collaborations with guitarist Paco de Lucía; together they made nine records, and toured extensively throughout the 1970s. De la Isla died in 1992 at the age of 41.

Robert Baird Posted: Jun 23, 2014 Published: Jul 01, 2014 8 comments
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Texas Hurricane
Epic/Legacy/Analogue Productions AAPB SRV33-BOX (6 LPs, 331?3rpm). 1983–1991/2014. John Hammond Sr., orig. exec. prod.; Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Hammond Jr., Richard Mullen, others, orig. prods.; Richard Mullen, James Geddes, Lincoln Clapp, others, orig. engs.; Chad Kassem, reissue exec. prod.; Ryan Smith, remastering. AAA. TT: 3:55:20
Performance *****
Sonics *****

He was the shining star the blues world had always dreamed of: the rare performer who could break through to the musical mainstream. Yet alas, he flashed across the musical heavens and was gone far too soon, dying in a helicopter crash in August 1990, at the age of 35. That Stevie Ray Vaughan's reign as blues-guitar hero was brief but incendiary is driven home yet again by this spectacular new boxed set from Epic/Legacy and Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions label.

Margaret Graham Posted: Sep 13, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 1983 1 comments
683rotm.jpgJAMES WELCH: Magnum Opus
James Welch, Organist, and D.A. Flentrop, Organ-builder.
Wilson Audio W8111 (LP). David Wilson, eng.

Hearing this organ gives one delusions of grandeur! How wonderful to be rich as Croesus and be able to commission an organ like this for one's (baronial) home. At any rate, those of us who don't live in Seattle can hear it at home, thanks to this superb recording.

True to its title, this is as much a recording of the organ as it is of the organist. Full specifications are given on the back, and although it is not Flentrop's largest organ in terms of number of ranks of pipes, it is physically the largest: it contains a 32-foot Pedal Prestant which emits a floor-shuddering 16Hz!

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Oct 24, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 1987 0 comments
Copland: Appalachian Spring (Suite), Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson, An Outdoor Overture (CD only)
Pacific Symphony Orchestra/Clark/Marni Nixon (soprano)
Reference Recordings LP RR-2 and CD RR-22CD. Tam Henderson, prod.; Keith Johnson, eng.

This is unquestionably one of the best recordings Reference Recordings has done. The sound of the LP is up-front and quite bright, giving the orchestra that peculiarly nasal quality I usually associate with small French orchestras. There is truly remarkable detail and naturalness here; I was about to write that the recording makes the orchestra sound very small and pinched in Appalachian Spring when I noticed on the record jacket that this is the "Original version for 13 instruments." Okay, so I know what it costs to hire musicians in the US, but I still prefer the version of this work scored for full, bombastic, overblown 108-piece symphony orchestra. The 13 instruments are superbly balanced, though—even the piano, which is usually (and wrongfully) relegated to behind the orchestra. About a half a block behind it.

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