Recording of the Month

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Hyperion Knight Posted: Jun 08, 2001 0 comments
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto 2
With: Prelude in g-sharp, Op.32 No.12; Etudes-Tableaux, Op.33 Nos. 1, 2, 9; Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op.42
Hélène Grimaud, piano; Vladimir Ashkenazy, Philharmonia Orchestra
Teldec 8573-84376-2 (CD). 2001. Friedemann Engelbrecht, prod.; Eberhard Sengpiel, Andreas Florczak, engs. DDD. TT: 70:33
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 13, 2002 0 comments
WILCO: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Nonesuch 79669-2 (CD). 2002. Wilco, prods.; Jim O'Rourke, mix. AAD? TT: 51:51
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Jon Iverson Posted: Jun 29, 2003 1 comments
PINK FLOYD: Dark Side of the Moon
Capitol CDP 582136 2 (CD/SACD), Capitol (LP). 1973/2003. Pink Floyd, prods.; Alan Parsons, eng.; James Guthrie, 5.1 remix. AAD/AAA. TT: 43:00
Performance ****½
Sonics ***** (SACD layers) *** (CD layer)
David Patrick Stearns Posted: Jun 13, 2004 Published: Jun 01, 2004 0 comments
J.S. BACH: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
Till Fellner, piano
ECM 1853/54 (2 CDs). 2004. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Markus Heiland, eng. DDD. TT: 116:58
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 12, 2005 0 comments
RENÉE FLEMING: Haunted Heart
Renée Fleming, vocals; Bill Frisell, guitar; Fred Hersch, piano, arrangements
Decca B00004406-02 (CD). 2005. Renée Fleming, prod.; Elliott Scheiner, prod., eng.; Peter Doris, Aya Takemura, Brian Montgomery, Anthony Ruotolo, asst. engs. DDD. TT: 63:58
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 16, 2006 1 comments
DR. JOHN: Mercernary
Blue Note 3 54541 2 (CD). 2006. Dr. John, prod.; Mark Bingham, eng. AAD? TT: 49:45
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 17, 2007 0 comments
WILCO: Sky Blue Sky
Nonesuch 131388 (CD). 2007. Wilco, prods.; TJ Doherty, eng.; Jim Scott, mix; Bob Ludwig, mastering. AAD? TT: 51:18
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 10, 2008 0 comments
JENNY SCHEINMAN: Jenny Scheinman
Koch KOC-AD-4483 (CD). 2008. Jenny Scheinman, Tony Scherr, prods.; Scherr, eng. AAD? TT: 53:26
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Thomas Conrad Posted: Jun 12, 2009 0 comments
GARY BURTON/PAT METHENY/STEVE SWALLOW/ANTONIO SÁNCHEZ: Quartet Live!
Gary Burton, vibraphone; Pat Metheny, guitar; Steve Swallow, electric bass; Antonio Sánchez, drums
Concord Jazz CJA-31303-02 (CD). 2009. Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, prods.; David Oakes, eng. DDD. TT: 79:22
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2010 0 comments
Jeff Beck: Emotion & Commotion
Atco R2 523695 (CD), R1 523695 (LP). 2010. Steve Lipson, prod., eng., mix; Trevor Horn, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 40:26
Performance *****
Sonics ***½
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 08, 2011 0 comments
Jordi Savall: Dinastía Borja
Music by Guillaume Dufay, Josquin Des Prez, Lluis del Mila and others Jordi Savall, viola da gamba, director; Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Alia Vox AVSA 9874A/C (3 SACD/CDs). 2010. Jordi Savall, prod.; Toni Figueras, recording coordinator; Aline Blondiau, Nicolas de Beco, Dominique de Spoolberg, Olivier de Spoolberg, recording assistants. AAD? TT: 3:43:19
Performance *****
Sonics *****

As is usually the case, a recent performance at New York's Lincoln Center by Jordi Savall, his instrumental ensemble, Hespèrion XXI, and his choir, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, was a triumph—his impeccably researched and realized early music had the crowd on their feet. In lesser hands, such exotica as old-world Spanish music influenced by indigenous forms from Mexico would have trouble drawing a paying crowd, let alone filling Alice Tully Hall; but Savall's unique vision has rescued and revitalized obscure musical forms aplenty, from the medieval, renaissance, and baroque periods. Along the way he's also managed to record notable versions of more popular works of the standard classical repertoire, such as the Mozart Requiem, and J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

Robert Baird Posted: May 29, 2012 2 comments
Krzysztof Penderecki/Jonny Greenwood
Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima, Popcorn Superhet Receiver, Polymorphia, 48 Responses to Polymorphia
Aukso Orchestra, Penderecki, Marek Mos, conductors
Nonesuch 530223-2 (CD) Filip Berkowicz, Michal Merczynski, prods. Barbara Orzechowska, associate prod. Ewa Guziotek-Tubelewicz, Pitor Witkowski, engs. Performance ***** Sonics *****

For the past two decades, the "C" word in classical music— crossover—has been a bone of both hope and contention. Lured by the supposed riches that lurk amongst classical fans who want to slum it and popular music fans with upscale intellectual curiosities, artists from Caruso to Domingo to Joshua Bell have given in this concept in search of a success to mostly disappointing results. And then of course there's humble Gordon Sumner (aka Feyd Rautha Harkonnen) who blithely smeared his meager powers onto the work of poor John Dowland in Songs From the Labyrinth—an apt title if ever there was. In 2010 the great Renee Fleming, no stranger to taking risks and a jazz singer during her college years, dipped her toes, fairly disastrously it turns out, into the classical/rock crossover pool with Dark Hope, a record whose title again seems to carry a less than promising message.

Stephen Mejias Posted: May 29, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 2013 3 comments
Though classically trained in flute and exceedingly capable on a wide range of other instruments, including drums, trombone, piano, and various electronics, Aidan Baker is best known for his work on acoustic and electric guitar. A perusal of his unofficial discography on Discogs.com reveals some 80 full-length albums, and another couple dozen singles, EPs, and compilation credits. Beyond merely prolific, Baker's recorded output is profound—and nearly impossible to chart.
Robert Baird Posted: May 22, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments
The link between jazz and the works of Igor Stravinsky is well known. In Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, his landmark 1959 collaboration with Robert Craft, the composer mentions jazz artists like Art Tatum and Charlie Christian. The fact that Stravinsky was captivated by the improvisational freedom of jazz and its insistent, inventive rhythms makes all his work, especially Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), a natural for jazz players to play and quote from, and over the years they have more than obliged.
Robert Baird Posted: May 21, 2015 0 comments
José James: Yesterday I Had the Blues, The Music of Billie Holiday
Blue Note B002283102 (CD). 2015. Yoshihisa Saito, exec. prod.; Don Was, prod.; Chris Allen, eng., mix. DDD? TT: 49:33
Performance ****
Sonics *****

Unlike the conundrum of today's country music, whose lyrics celebrate family and tradition even as the country-music community ignores and disrespects the giants of the music's past, jazz and rock have for the most part remembered and celebrated their musical pioneers and game changers, and the singular, monumental virtuosity of artists like Billie Holiday.

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