1994 Records To Die For Page 5

Robert Deutsch

EMILE PANDOLFI: An Affair to Remember
Emile Pandolfi, piano & arrangements
MagicMusic MMC-912 (CD). Emile Pandolfi, prod.; Matt Schwartz, eng. DDD. TT: 45:37

It's not highbrow. It's not funky. It probably doesn't represent a new epoch in 20th-century music-making. But for anyone suffering from frayed nerves, I can't think of a better remedy than a large aural dose of Emile Pandolfi. He plays standards from Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, and Hollywood in a free-flowing, emotional manner that seems to go to the music's very soul. Take two tracks---but please don't call me in the morning. (This record is available only from gift and book stores, not record stores, and by mail-order from The Music Tree, P.O. Box 10461, Portland, OR 97210; (503) 228-7932.)

BABES IN ARMS: 1989 Studio Cast
Richard Rodgers, music; Lorenz Hart, lyrics; Evans Haile, New Jersey SO
New World NW 386-2 (CD only). Elizabeth Ostrow, prod.; Henk Kooistra, eng. DDD. TT: 65:55

Sam Tellig and his new bride, Marina, stopped by for a visit. Of course, he had to give my system a listen. "Please, no audiophile recordings! Just play something you really like that also sounds good," he pleaded. This has one of Rodgers & Hart's best scores---"Where or When," "My Funny Valentine," "Johnny One-Note''---with a cast featuring those two fabulous Judys: Blazer and Kaye. Listen to Blazer sing "The Lady is a Tramp," and you'll forget all about Sinatra. The sound is very good, with a fine sense of depth. Sam Tellig loved it. You might, too. (XIV-6)

Jack English

ART OF NOISE: Art Works: The Best of the Art of Noise
China/Polydor 837 367-2 (CD). J. Jeczalik, Anne Dudley, others, prods. & engs. AAD. TT: 63:46

The Art of Noise's musical collages build heavily upon rock tempos, extensive sampling, every available studio manipulation, and a wonderful sense of humor. This recording includes Dan Ackroyd on "Dragnet," Tom Jones on "Kiss," Duane Eddy on "Peter Gunn," and the short-lived Max Headroom on "Paranoimia." The wealth of deep bass, lightning-quick transients, on/off artificial ambience, and buckets full of detail make this recording useful as a system test recording. Laugh, dance, and enjoy!

Realworld/Geffen 24206-2 (CD only). Peter Gabriel, prod.; David Bottrill, eng. AAD. TT: 67:01

Start with North African and Middle Eastern music played on authentic instruments, mix in a heavy dose of modern technology, lay it all over a powerful rock-derived bass foundation with carefully controlled and massive dynamic contrasts, mix thoroughly, and play in the background of Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. The result is a wonderful example of "new music," and a soundtrack to boot. This recording may sound unusual to western ears, but its musical and sonic splendor make it a great choice when you're feeling adventurous.

Mortimer H. Frank

HAYDN: String Quartets, Op.76
Tátrai Quartet
Hungaroton HCD 12812 (2 CDs only). László Dóra Antal, János Mayyás, prods.; Csintalin, Endre Radanyi, engs. AAD. TT: 2:07:56

This may be the finest volume in the remarkably stylish, technically polished traversal of the Haydn quartets by the Tátrai. When this set was produced in 1964, the group was at its most vital and vibrant, and these recordings---in their purity of tone, exemplary balances, dashing élan, and appropriate sustained intensity---comprise as distinguished readings of Haydn's chamber music as one is ever likely to encounter. Especially noteworthy is the group's lean tone colored with minimal vibrato---traits that illustrate how "authentic" style-consciousness can be achieved on modern, as well as period, instruments. The CD transfers have tamed the slight astringent harshness of the otherwise sonically excellent, out-of-print LPs.

PURCELL: The Fairy Queen
E. Harrhy, J. Smith, J. Nelson, E. Priday, sopranos; T. Penrose, A. Stafford, countertenors; W. Evans, M. Hill, tenors; S. Varcoe, D. Thomas, basses; John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists
DG Archiv 412 221-2 (2 CDs only). Dr. Andreas Holschneider, Klaus Neuman, prods.; Hand Wildhagen, eng. DDD. TT: 2:17:45

Anyone who doubts Purcell's genius should hear this recording. All of the composer's wide-ranging imagination is evident here: his harmonic boldness, rhythmic angularity, melodic inventiveness, and perky wit. This music is exceptionally fresh and expressive, some of its chromatic passages sounding like harbingers of Tristan. Gardiner gives one of his most inspired performances, projecting all of the work's variety, and the sonority of his period-instrument ensemble proves the perfect complement to what Benjamin Britten termed the "strangeness" of Purcell's music. This recording includes five numbers that Purcell added to the work a year after its 1692 premiere. Distinguished soloists and exemplary engineering contribute to this production's distinction.