HANK WILLIAMS: Timeless Lost Highway 088 170 239-2 (CD). 2001. Luke Lewis, Mary Martin, Bonnie Garner, prods.; Bob Brockman, Michael Hopkins, Mark Johnson, others, engs.; Hank Williams (no relation), mastering. AAD. TT: 43:19 Performance **** Sonics *****
THE BEACH BOYS: Sunflower
Caribou/Brother/Epic ZK 46950. Stephen W. Desper, eng. TT: 36:48 THE BEACH BOYS: Surf's Up
Caribou/Brother/Epic ZK 46951. Stephen W. Desper, eng. TT: 33:36 THE BEACH BOYS: Holland
Caribou/Brother/Epic ZK 46952. Stephen Moffitt, Rob Fraboni, engs. TT: 48:13
All three: CD only. The Beach Boys, prods. Digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt. AAD.
These are two very fine discs. Both convey to perfection the full weight of Richard Strauss's opulent orchestration for Zarathustra without the slightest hint of distortion, despite the huge dynamic range both employ. Both have the measure of the venues they are recorded in: Denon's Lukaskirche actually gives the impression of an acoustically superior concert hall, and it is astonishing to discover from the insert notes that the well tuned-in and integrated organ has been post-synchronized from the Schauspielhaus, Berlin.
Telarc's disc is their first of the Vienna Philharmonic, and their first from the Musikvereinsaal. It can hardly be faulted, except perhaps for the consistent richness of its more tonally refulgent soundsome may find this oppressive. But it does reflect perfectly Previn's more emotionally charged, almost maniacal response to this score. It is the kind of music he excels in; the meditative, almost ponderous fugue giving way to the near hysteria of "The Convalescent," and reflecting real joy at the climax of the "Dance Song." Previn is living these colorful swings of emotion, and if he makes great demands of the score in doing so (just as Blomstedt does), then his intuitive balance renders this all the more convincing.
COPLAND: Piano Concerto MENOTTI: Piano Concerto in F Earl Wild, piano; Jorge Mester (Menotti), Aaron Copland (Copland), Symphony of the Air Analogue Productions APC 029 (LP). Seymour Solomon, prod.; Jack Bryant, Ed Fiedner, engs.; Doug Sax, Gavin Lurssen, Ron Lewter. remastering engs. AAA. TT: 49:23 Also available on a spectacular CD transfer: Vanguard SVC-3.
THE POLICE: Every Breath You Take: The Classics A&M Chronicles 069 493 607-2 (hybrid SACD/CD). 2003. The Police, Hugh Padgham, Laurie Latham, orig. prods.; Nigel Gray, Chris Gray, Hugh Padgham, Phil Nicolo, orig. engs.; David Tickle, Martin Pradler, 5.1 remixes (tracks 1-12); Bob Ludwig, 5.1 remixes (tracks 13-14) and SACD mastering; Bill Levenson, reissue supervision. A?D. TT: 59:43 Performance ***** Sonics ** to *****
BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Massimo Fraccia
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No.2 in c
Earl Wild, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jascha Horenstein
Chesky? Massimo Fraccia? Is this a put-on?
No, it's not. Chesky is a new record company which, at a time when everyone is predicting the imminent demise of the LP, has just launched its first two LPs and is threatening to follow them with more.
David Chesky is a young composer/musician who, despite some impressive credentials in the classical music world, remains singularly unrenowned. But he is also a musical reactionary after my own heart, who feels that all the best performances of the so-called Romantic repertoire were done years ago and will probably never be equalled. But rather than just bitch about this in record reviews, he is doing something about it, by releasing some of those early, possibly definitive performances on the best-sounding recordings he knows how to produce.
Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa and Arbos Tabula Rasa: Fratres (2 versions); Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten; Tabula Rasa
Gidon Kremer, Tatjana Grindenko, violins; Keith Jarrett, piano; Alfred Schnittke, prepared piano; Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Dennis Russel Davies, conductor; Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Saulus Sondeckis, conductor; cellists of the Berlin PO
ECM New Series 1275 (CD). Heinz Wildhagen, Peter Laenger, Eberhard Sengpiel, Dieter Frobeen, engs.; Manfred Eicher, prod. AAD. TT: 55:04
Arbos: Arbos; An den Wassern zu Babel; Pari Intervallo; De Profundis; Es sang for langen Jahren; Summa; Stabat Mater
Gidon Kremer, violin; Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ; The Hilliard Ensemble; Brass of the Staatsorchester Stuttgart; others
ECM New Series 1325 (CD). Peter Laenger, Andreas Neubronner, engs.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDD. TT: 59:21
BIG SUGAR: 500 Pounds Silvertone 42160-2 (CD). Geordie Johnson, prod.; Peter Prilesnik, prod., eng. TT: 47:42 BIG SUGAR: Ride Like Hell EP Silvertone 42287-2 (CD). Geordie Johnson, Peter Prilesnik, Dan Gallagher, prods.; Alfie Annabelini, T. Murray, M. Peters, engs. TT: 20:50
EDDIE DANIELS: ...This Is Now
Eddie Daniels, clarinet; Billy Childs, piano; Tony Dumas, Jimmy Johnson, bass; Ralph Penland, Vinnie Colaiuta, drums
GRP GRD-9635 (CD only). Bernie Kirsh, eng.; Eddie Daniels, Billy Childs, prods. DDD. TT: 64:31
Patricia Barber: Nightclub & Modern Cool Nightclub
Premonition 90763-1 (2 LPs). Patricia Barber, prod.; Michael Friedman, exec. prod.; Jim Anderson, eng.; Bob Ludwig, mastering; Doug Sax, mastering (LP). AAA? TT: 51:20
Premonition 90761-4 (BD-A). Patricia Barber, prod.; Michael Friedman, exec. & surround prod.; Jim Anderson, eng. & surround eng. Robert Gatley, asst. surround eng. ADD? TT: 67:49
Much as the music world at large supremely values so-called original compositions (as if . . . but then that's a discussion for another day), it takes a special talent to make a song written by someone elsein common parlance, a coveryour very own. Take Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Alfie," from the 1966 film with Michael Caine in the title role. Recorded for the soundtrack by Cilla Black, and later cut by everyone from Babs and Bill Evans to the Delfonics and Sarah Vaughannot to mention a pair of laughably bad versions from Cherthe song is nothing if not overexposed. Bacharach's own soaring arrangement for the film sticks in the world's collective head. For lesser performers, that alone would be more than enough to keep them well clear of trying to cover it.
GRATEFUL DEAD: Two from the Vault
Grateful Dead Records GDCD40162 (2 CDs only). Dan Healy, prod.; Jeffrey Norman, Don Pearson, engs. ADD. TT: 109:12 GRATEFUL DEAD: Infrared Roses
Grateful Dead Records GDCD40142 (CD only). Bob Bralove, prod.; Jeffrey Norman, John Cutler, Dan Healy, Bob Bralove, engs. ADD. TT: 58:30
The Incredible String Band
Hannibal HNCD 4437 (CD only). TT: 45:15 The 5000 Spirits or The Layers of the Onion
Hannibal HNCD 4438 (CD only). TT: 50:06 The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
Hannibal HNCD 4421 (CD only). TT: 50:12 Wee Tam & the Big Huge
Hannibal HNCD 4802 (2 CDs only). TT: 87:49 Changing Horses
Hannibal HNCD 4439 (CD only). TT: 50:24 I Looked Up
Hannibal HNCD 4440 (CD only). TT: 41:30 All above: Joe Boyd, prod.; John Wood, eng. AAD.