Twenty-eight years ago, pissed-off twelve-year-olds around the universe discovered a new planet, a Black Planet. Public Enemy’s aggressive, Benihana beats and incendiary lyrics instilled fear among parents and teachers everywhere, even in the border town of Laredo, Texas, home of the future founders of the Latin-Funk-Soul-Breaks super group, Brownout. The band’s sixth full-length album (out May 25th) Fear of a Brown Planet is a musical manifesto inspired by Public Enemy’s music and revolutionary spirit.
The English, historical-instrument, Baroque ensemble La Serenissima (the term was a nickname for the city of Venice) has specialized in somewhat scholarly recordings that nevertheless retain considerable general appeal, and the group does it again with this release. The program offers some lesser-known composers, and some lesser-known pieces by famous composers like the tiny and fascinating Concerto alla rustica for two oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo, RV 151. What ties the program together formally is that it covers a range of Italian cities that were becoming cultural centers as they declined in political power: not only Venice (Vivaldi, Albinoni, Caldara), but also Padua (Tartini), Bologna (Torelli), and Rome (Corelli). There are several works by composers known only for one or two big hits, and these are especially rewarding. Sample the opening movement of Tartini's Violin Concerto E major, DS 51, with its unusual phrase construction and daringly chromatic cadenza passage: it has the exotic quality for which Tartini became famous, but it does not rely on sheer virtuosity. That work is played by leader Adrian Chandler himself, but he also chooses pieces for a large variety of other solo instruments: the Italian Baroque was about more than the violin. Each work on the album has something to recommend it, and collectively the performances may make up the best album of 2017 whose booklet includes footnotes.
The songs included on this album are all settings of words by either Elizabethan or Jacobean poets: a period of literature that has been a prime source for song composers since its creation. The Shakespeare texts – all ‘songs’ from the plays – contain the works that made Quilter’s name, and have largely been responsible for his enduring reputation. Nathan Vale studied with Ryland Davies at the Royal College of Music and Benjamin Britten International Opera School. He was awarded an Independent Opera Vocal Scholarship to the National Opera Studio, where he was further supported by the Elmley Foundation, ENO, the Nicholas John Trust and The Seary Trust. He is a former winner of the London Handel Singing Competition where he was also awarded the Audience Prize. He continues his studies with David Pollard.
Ear training is a skill that can be built to identify chords, their quality, intervals and rhythmic structure. This skill is invaluable for those wishing to learn songs, and compose music by ear.