Records 2 Live 4 2023 Page 6

Robert Schryer


Dean Wareham: I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor of L.A.
Dean Wareham, vocals, guitar, composer; Roger Brogan, drums; Jason Quever, guitar, organ, cello, drums; Britta Phillips, bass, vocals, keyboards.
Double Feature CDDBL0018 (CD). 2021. Jason Quever, prod.; Scott Hull, eng.

Dean Wareham, a New Zealand native turned NYC-based American, co-founded indie pop bands Galaxie 500 and Luna. Wareham has delivered a gem of indie folk with this, his third solo release. There's something about the mood in this recording that I find incandescent and uplifting. Every tune here is hooky in a chilled-out way, cleverly written, beautifully composed, uniquely melodic. And it is delivered by Wareham with an androgynous suavity that's comforting. This collection of songs feels coherent, as if it were put together in one afternoon rather than stretched out over different times and states of mind. The track sequence is impeccable: Songs segue gracefully from one to the next, along an unhurried rhythmic current. It's the musical equivalent of a scenic boat ride on a sunny day, and it's got buckets of charm that I find irresistible.


Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!
Efrim Manuel Menuck, guitar; Mauro Pezzente, bass; Mike Moya, guitar; David Bryant, guitar; Thierry Amar, bass; Norsola Johnson, cello; Aidan Girt, drums, percussion; Bruce Cawdron, drums, percussion; Thea Pratt, French horn; Christophe, violin; Sophie Trudeau, violin; Roger Tellier-Craig, guitar.
Kranky krank043 (2 CDs). 2000. Daryl Smith, prod.; John Golden (JG), Daryl Smith, engs.

Is this epic oeuvre of four segmented movements spanning two CDs more a case of classical music put to rock or rock put to classical? On the one hand, it's got rock's drum-driven charging momentum, sky-searing electric guitars, and nihilistic punk aesthetic. On the other, it has classical's lush string arrangements, reflective melodic interludes, and slow-building bolero-like climaxes. So, who knows?

What it is, without a doubt, is the pinnacle of post-rock, one of the few true classics of this nearly extinct genre. It is cinematically sweeping, intricately layered, majestically broad, and profoundly human. And it is timeless: It sounds like no specific era. With its reams of sonic textures, labyrinthine musical trails, and elaborate pastiche-like construction, this is a release that rewards repeated, focused listening. Even now, as often as I've heard it, I'm still discovering hidden gems with every listen.

Jason Victor Serinus


Mahler: Symphony No.4
Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth, cond.
Harmonia Mundi HMM 905347 (CD or 24/96 stream/download). 2022. Jiri Heger, prod. & ed.; Aurélien Bourgois, eng.

Roth and his one-of-a-kind, period-instrument orchestra gave us the freshest approach on record, so to speak, and a refreshing sound in this extraordinary performance of Mahler's popular Fourth. The unique sonorities of the gut strings and period woodwinds reveal detail that is harder to discern in more typical performances of this work, using modern instruments. You may find this performance remiss in some ways, where the more familiar interpretation and sound of conventional orchestras differ, but you will enter a magical soundworld much closer to Mahler's.


Hina Spani: The Complete Recordings Of Hina Spani
Hina Spani, soprano; various orchestras.
Marston 52077-2 (2 CDs). 2022. Ward Marston, Scott Kessler, prods.; Marston, J. Richard Harris, Christian Zwerg, engs.

Virtually unknown in the United States, except to collectors, the voice of Argentinian soprano Hina Spani (1890–1969) embodied the vibrancy and drama of the great Italian composers of her age. Her popular 1931 recording of Tirindelli's "O primavera," with the La Scala Opera Orchestra under Carlo Sabajno, will take your breath away. Her high D-flat toward the end of her 1928 recording of "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from Verdi's Il trovatore is justly famous—I've spent decades trying to parse all the emotion in that unforgettable sound. And the album includes a bonus: six Verdi arias from the renowned Giannina Arangi-Lombardi (1891–1951).

Never heard of these artists? How about Celestina Boninsegna (1877–1947)? Herbert Janssen (1892–1965)? Recordings of these exceptional singers have all been recently remastered at Marston. Before you start raving about the homogenized vocal production of the latest conservatory grad, listen to the singers who were born during or shortly after the creation of the core operatic repertoire, and hear opera with authentic realism. Marston's digital remasterings, which include the great pianists, are second to none, and the company is finally entering the 21st century by offering downloads of future albums.

Michael Trei


Shostakovich: Concerto for Cello in E-Flat; Symphony No.1 in F Major
The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, cond.; Mstislav Rostropovich, cello.
Columbia Records MS 6124, 1959; Speakers Corner Records MS 6124, 2018.

Shostakovitch dedicated both of his cello concertos to his friend and former student Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered both works. The first concerto was completed in 1959 and premiered in October of that year in Leningrad. Back in the US, Rostropovich recorded the work on November 8 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Imbued with all the energy and excitement of what was then a fresh new work, the recording bristles with electricity and vivacity. Early stereo recordings from Columbia can be hit or miss, but this one is clearly in the former category, with its rich, powerful sound.


The Poll Winners: Straight Ahead
Barney Kessel, guitar; Ray Brown, bass; Shelly Manne, drums.
Contemporary Records S-7635, 1976; Original Jazz Classics OJC-409, 1990. Lester Koenig, prod.; Roy DuNann, eng.

We tend to think of the early stereo era of the late '50s and early '60s as the glory years for West Coast jazz label Contemporary Records and their legendary recording team: producer Lester Koenig and sound engineer Roy DuNann. This album, recorded in 1975, provides us with not just one but two reunions of legendary Contemporary teams: Koenig coaxed DuNann out of semi-retirement to turn the dials for him, and he convinced The Poll Winners trio to reunite for the first time in 16 years. As with just about anything involving Shelly Manne, the results swing like crazy, and DuNann captures it with his celebrated vivid but strikingly natural sound.

Stephen Francis Vasta


Brahms: Piano Concerto No.1
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, George Szell, cond.; Clifford Curzon, piano.
Decca (The Classic Sound series) 425 082-2 (CD). 1995. John Culshaw, prod.; Kenneth Wilkinson, eng.


Mozart: Piano Concerti 23 & 24
London Symphony Orchestra, István Kertész, cond.; Clifford Curzon, piano.
London Weekend Classics 433 086-2 (CD). 1991. Ray Minshull, John Culshaw, prods.; Gordon Parry, eng.

The masterful Clifford Curzon, an accomplished technician and a stylish interpreter of Mozart and Brahms, was often overlooked by casual listeners—perhaps because, as Wikipedia notes, "he was rarely at ease in the studios" and did not do many studio recordings. (Purportedly, he also suffered stage fright in concerts.)

Curzon's ringing, authoritative tone commands the heaven-storming Brahms concerto. He and Szell keep the first movement's dramatic cauldron bubbling even through the calmer sections. Curzon is more subdued in the Adagio, of course, but he practically scampers through the closing Rondo. Curzon's patrician Mozart is stylish and perceptive. Concerto No.23 is particularly delightful.

Szell's tensile, volcanic reading of Brahms's tricky first movement heralds a powerful interpretation. Kertész, an underrated Mozartian, is affectionate and lyrical in Concerto No.23, while properly taut and dramatic in its companion, No.24.

Both albums are from the golden age of Decca/London analog. The CDs reproduce the handsome, vivid sound of the vinyl, and the slightly tweaked treble of the Weekend Classics disc offsets the company's bass pre-emphasis. The supplementary material on both albums is lovely, too.

ChrisS's picture

Say no more.

Jazzlistener's picture

Star Wars fan, my vote would have been for R2D2 - Records to Dance To. :)

cognoscente's picture

Crossover by Dua Saleh *

Greenzone 108 by Greentea Peng *

Forbidden Feelingz by Nia Archives *

Air by Sault *

A Light For Attraction Attention by The Smile *

Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave & Bad Seeds ***

The Specials by The Specials **

Shiva Feshareki: Turning World by Shiva Feshareki *

Itemporal by Sarah Davachi/Ariel Kalma ***

Bloom by Areni Agbabian ***

Combination of recent releases (*), rediscoveries (**) and delayed discoveries (***)

Lars Bo's picture

Thanks, Kalman - the Matangi Outcast recordings are really something.

Another recommendation of the Ukrainian Silvestrov: His "Silent Songs" w. Yakovenko/Scheps, on ECM (cd only). It must have been less than a spotless reel-to-reel used in 1986 in Moscow, but humanity and emotions are grippingly authentic.

volvic's picture

Kudos to Ms. Johnson for mentioning the extraordinary Pérotin recording from the Hilliard Ensemble. It is a mesmerizing performance that doesn't’ get the due or mention it deserves. Well done!!!

Some great recommendations from others here as well, question! Do I need another Beethoven series and a period performance of Mahler’s 4th?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Some great recommendations from others here as well, question! Do I need another Beethoven series.....

I own multiple sets of the Beethoven symphonies as well as many individual symphonies but I nominated the Savall Beethoven set (Syms 1-6) because I believe you do.

Poor Audiophile's picture

for me!

volvic's picture

Will let my fingers do the clicking and add it to the pile.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Considering the cost and despite my enthusiasm, I still recommend that you sample it on-line before making such an investment.

volvic's picture

I always do, but everyone is quite enthusiastic about these recordings, so just might take the plunge. Then again, everyone was enthusiastic over Hogwood's Beethoven cycle which doesn't really work after the 4th, but this could be different. The problem for me these days is lack of space in the ever shrinking Manhattan apartment.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

That's what I began to do after two Gramophone reviewers chose Savall's Beethoven 6-9 as their favorite recording of the year.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I was disappointed with the 6-9 as a set.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Hi Kal,

I haven't had time to listen to more than a few bits. Far more on my plate than anyone of normal appetite should dare attempt to consume in one sitting. It's on the list... the very long list. Until then, I greatly appreciate learning your opinion.


volvic's picture

Will start with the 6-9 set.

Kal Rubinson's picture

FWIW, 1-5 were recorded as the culmination of a deep immersion (described in the booklet) into the scores and the context in 2019, prior to the Pandemic. It was released in 2020. The 6-9 set was recorded in 2020 during the Pandemic which deeply intruded itself into the process and delayed its release until 2022. It is no wonder that the results are not as good as the earlier ones made in better times and without Pandemic constraints.

You can have my 6-9 set if you want it. It's good, such as it is, but not outstanding and not an urgent recommendation. My R2L4 recommendation was for only the 1-5 set.

volvic's picture

Just read about the recording timeline this morning and the obstacles the pandemic threw at the whole recording process. A shame. I will listen to it but not keep it; I will purchase my copy if I like it. Thanks for offering.

volvic's picture

Hello JVS, Happy New Year! I don't stream, for many reasons, so that option is out for me.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Hmmmm. Manhattan apartment, eh? Mebbe just borrow mine to decide. ;-)

volvic's picture

Many thanks for offering; too kind. I suspect we're not that far from each other; I'm in the UES. I will take the plunge and purchase. Just listened to his 9th, a live performance and was deeply impressed. I will be purchasing. Will revert when I listen to them.

Kal Rubinson's picture

ok's picture doesn't mean that much to us grownups anymore.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Then, why are you here?

ok's picture

it still means a lot :)

Kal Rubinson's picture

Hmm. OK.