Music and Recording Features

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2019  |  12 comments
Thirty-two years after it was recorded, pianist Keith Jarrett’s live reading of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, has seen the light of day.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 04, 2019  |  13 comments
Back when the vinyl resurgence was only a gleam in Michael Fremer's eye, most major record labels just couldn't be bothered with the LP. Fans of such masterpieces as Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, John Coltrane's Blue Train, and Charles Mingus's Blues & Roots had to make do with poor-quality vinyl reissues from small EU-based labels. Sure, there were—and continue to be—audiophile-quality reissues from such companies as Analogue Productions and Speakers Corner, but they often came at a premium price, and a great many classic jazz titles remained unavailable as new, high-quality LPs.
Sasha Matson  |  Jul 02, 2019  |  0 comments
American composer John Adams and I first met in the late 1970s, when I became one of his composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My recollections from those days endure as near-cinematic images: John lugging his homemade synthesizer—he called it "the Studebaker"—down the hall prior to meeting me at his office; an early performance, at Mills College in Oakland, of Adams's Shaker Loops (footnote 1) for string septet; sitting with Adams during rehearsals for the 1981 premiere of his choral symphony Harmonium (footnote 2), with Edo De Waart and the San Francisco Symphony.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 01, 2019  |  6 comments
What’s the most frequently performed new opera in America at present? It’s Laura Kaminsky’s 2014 chamber opera, As One, whose libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed explores the coming out process of its protagonist, Hannah, as a transgender woman.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 31, 2019  |  10 comments
With Trachea, the latest superb recording from Norwegian label 2L [http://www.2l.no], label founder and recording engineer Morten Lindberg continues his commitment to contemporary music. Here, working with Schola Cantorum, Norway’s well-tuned 55-year old chamber choir, under the leadership of Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl, Lindberg scores big with six fascinating and musically accessible choral compositions, all but one of which were written in the last five years.
Ken Micallef  |  May 30, 2019  |  4 comments
Louisiana-born, 58-year-old saxophonist Branford Marsalis has achieved singular status in the worlds of both jazz and classical music. He cut his teeth playing hard-hitting hard bop with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, led The Tonight Show band, and kicked it with the Grateful Dead. He's toured and recorded with Sting, costarred in the Spike Lee film School Daze (1988), and made his classical debut with the New York Philharmonic performing Glazunov's Concerto for Alto Saxophone on Central Park's Great Lawn.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 06, 2019  |  0 comments
What better way to get into the proper frame of mind for Munich High End than by listening to native German speaker baritone Matthias Goerne’s new recording of Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 24—Kerner-Lieder Op. 35, with accompaniment by the distinguished piano soloist Leif Ove Andsnes? It’s available on CD (Harmonia Mundi HMM902353), as a download (up to 96/24), and streaming.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 03, 2019  |  2 comments
Ours is an era where bargain anthologies from the greatest artists, ensembles, and composers on record compete with new issues of unusual repertoire and transcriptions. One among many that have caught my mind and ear is Alex Klein and Philip Bush’s recording of Twentieth Century Oboe Sonatas.
Sasha Matson  |  May 02, 2019  |  3 comments
Don Was is a music lover. Looking at his extensive discography as a record producer and musician, one is struck by the variety of artists he's worked with: from Iggy Pop to the B-52's, from Roy Orbison to Elton John, with over half a dozen stops along the way as producer for a little band called the Rolling Stones. In 2017, Was produced Gregg Allman's final studio album, Southern Blood (Rounder 610005). And when you include all the music he's had a hand in since 2012, when he became president of Blue Note Records, you're talking about one busy little red hen helping to bake a lot of bread.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2019  |  4 comments
It's 150 years since that quintessential French Romantic, Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803–1869), left the planet. A near-contemporary of the equally romantic Chopin, Gounod, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Liszt, Berlioz shared with Meyerbeer (1791–1864) and Wagner (1813–1883) a propensity to express his passions and fantasies in music that sometimes unfolded slowly as it extended drama to extraordinary lengths.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 05, 2019  |  10 comments
Philip Glass (b. 1937) may not quite be a household name in America, but he's surely as well-known as any living classical composer, and the repetitive minimalism that is the hallmark of his music has influenced everything from rock music to TV commercials. Still, after 5 decades of composing, it took a commission from Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion for Glass to write his first concerto for percussion ensemble, Perpetulum—"What took them so long to ask me?" Glass has said about the commission. TCP has just released the premiere recording of the 21:23 minute concerto on their new 2-CD set, Perpetulum (OM 0132), from Glass's own label, Orange Mountain Music. The recording, which was engineered in 24/96, is also available as a download with those specifications.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 04, 2019  |  6 comments
"I have an organic approach toward music but I've always been interested in electronics," says Jean-Michel Jarre, whose luxurious electronic pop conquered the world in 1976 with his hit album Oxygène. Even today, Oxygène's bubbling tones and saturated textures provide a blissful sonic experience. "I love jazz because of its organic approach to sound, and I've been influenced by that. I always thought that jazz and electronic music have much more in common than we think."
John Atkinson  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  3 comments
"Got a match?" ("Uh-uh")

"It's a fabulous party! . . . Look at all the fabulous people."

"You wanna dance?" ("Yes I'd love to . . .")

"Let's party a little bit." ("All right . . .")

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  2 comments
Only a few months after the extraordinary news and release of John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album on Impulse! Records, which revealed the tenor and soprano saxophonist deep in transitional mode, comes Universal Music/Verve's attempt to cash in on the Trane fever. Joining music from The Lost Album with selections from other albums recorded by Coltrane in that year, 1963: New Directions brings Coltrane's legacy to our commercially crass, modern marketplace.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  12 comments
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) was hardly the first composer to run headfirst into opposition from political authorities. In his case, however, the pushback was so extreme that it affected everything he wrote thereafter.

In early 1936, after the style and subject matter of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk clashed with the so-called proletarian aesthetic of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin (1878–1953), Shostakovich was denounced by the official state newspaper, Pravda. From then on, his symphonies reflected either his defiance of decades of Socialist realism, or attempts to appease the authorities while still speaking his truth.

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