J.S. BACH: Morimur Partita No.2 in d for Solo Violin, BWV 1004; 11 Chorales; Chaconne from BWV 1004 and "Auf meinen lieben Gott" realized by Helga Thoene for solo violin & four voices Christoph Poppen, baroque violin. The Hilliard Ensemble: Monika Mauch, soprano; David James, countertenor; John Potter, tenor; Gordon Jones, baritone ECM New Series 1765 (CD). 2001. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Peter Laenger, eng. DDD. TT: 61:42 Performance ***** Sonics *****
WAGNER: Tristan und Isolde
Plácido Domingo, Tristan; Nina Stemme, Isolde; Mihoko Fujimura, Brangäne; René Pape, Marke; Olaf Bär, Kurwenal; Jared Holt, Melot; Ian Bostridge, Shepherd; Matthew Rose, Steersman; Rolando Villazón, A Young Sailor; Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Antonio Pappano
EMI 5 58006 2 (3 CDs, 1 DVD). 2005. David Groves, prod.; Jonathan Allen, John Dunkerly, Roland Heap, engs. DDD. TT: 3:46:29
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Birgit Nilsson, Hans Hotter, Wolfgang Windgassen, George London, Gustav Neidlinger, Gerhard Stolze, Gottlob Frick, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kirsten Flagstadt, Set Svanholm, James King, Régine Crespin, Christa Ludwig, many others; Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic, Georg Solti
Decca 0289 478 3702 2 (17 CDs, 1 BD, 1 DVD). 195866/1997/2012. John Culshaw, prod.; Gordon Parry, eng.; James Lock (1997), Philip Siney (2012), remastering. ADD. TT: 14:36:56 (Ring only)
Gramophone called it "the recording of the [20th] century"; Stereophile named it No.1 of the 40 essential recordings of all time. Fifty-four years after the first Rheingold sessions, there is still nothing like this history-making first studio recordingby conductor Georg Solti, the Vienna Philharmonic, and producer John Culshawof Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, originally taped and released on LP from 1958 to 1966. The unsurpassed quality of singers and orchestra, Solti's astonishing ability to tell a dramatic story in music, the epic scope and sweep of work and performanceand the sound, as much a wonder for our own time as half a century agomake these recordings seem more precious, their combinations of qualities less likely to ever be repeated, with every passing year.
Wynton Marsalis: Baroque Music for Trumpets Vivaldi: Concerto for 2 Trumpets, RV 537; Telemann: Concertos for 3 Trumpets, in B-flat and D; Pachelbel: Canon for 3 Trumpets (arr. Leppard); M. Haydn: Concerto for Trumpet; Biber: Sonata for 8 Trumpets & Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis, piccolo trumpets; Raymond Leppard, English Chamber Orchestra
CBS M 42478 (LP), MK 42478 (CD). Bud Graham & Steven Epstein, engs.; Steven Epstein, prod. DDD. TT: 47:18
There are very few musically satisfying compositions for solo trumpet. A great deal of the standard repertoire is Baroque, and that primarily of the Paradestuck (parade, or showoff piece) school. Of Wynton Marsalis's five Masterworks releases, at least three fall into this category, the present one most of all. There are gimmicks galore here, of composition, arrangement, and recordingWynton Marsalis, genius of all trades, overdubbing himself ad infinitum through digital wizardry. The fact is, given the music, such an approach is probably the most appropriate; certainly no one listens to the Biber Sonata for 8 Trumpets for profound spiritual insight, and none of this music was written to stretch the boundaries of anything but the trumpeter's chops. In the recording of such antiphonal works, the 18th century's version of "special effects" or "stereo spectaculars," it makes sense that the soloists seem as telepathically in tune with one another's playing as possible. So why not use the same single player?
STEVE EARLE: Train a Comin' Steve Earle, guitar, harmonica, vocals; Peter Rowan, guitar, mandolin, mandola, vocals; Norman Blake, guitar, dobro, fiddle, Hawaiian guitar; Roy Huskey, acoustic bass; Emmylou Harris, vocals Winter Harvest WH 3302-2 (CD only). Steve Earle, William Alsobrook, prods.; Wayne Neuendorf, Mike Elliot, engs. ADD. TT: 40:01
Placido Domingo, Lohengrin; Jessye Norman, Elsa; Eva Randova, Ortrud; Siegmund Nimsgern, Telramund; Hans Sotin, Heinrich; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Heerrufer; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Georg Solti, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
London 421 053-1 (4 LPs), 421 053-2 (4 CDs). James Lock, John Pellowe, engs.; Christopher Raeburn, prod. DDD. TT: 222:54
It's always surprised me that Lohengrin, Wagner's most awkward, transitional, and static opera, was, for its first 100 years, his most popular. It didn't help, I suppose, that I began my study of things darkly Teutonic with The Ring and Tristan, working forward and backward from there. In Lohengrin we can hear the last reluctant pullings away from operatic conventionsespecially choralof the first half of the 19th century, and the gropings toward full-blown musikdramaespecially in Act II, scene i.
KEITH JARRETT: Dark Intervals
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 1379 (837 342-1, LP; -2, CD). Kimio Oikawa, eng.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDA/DDD. TT: 58:22
After a five-year hiatus in which he explored jazz standards, classical music, the clavichord, and the unclassifiable Spirits, Keith Jarrett has returned, however briefly, to the form that gained him his widest reputation: solo piano improvisations. But with a differenceonly a single LP this time (instead of two, three, or ten), that LP composed of eight short sections, each with a title. This is a far cry from unbroken piano improvs spanning three LP sides, titled only with the name and date of the venue.