Emma Kirkby, doyenne of the Early Music scene, here shows that she's just as comfortable in music of a more recent vintage. Amy Beach was a woman ahead of her time, performing as solo pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra by the age of 18. The same year (1885), she married Henry Beach and, no longer able to perform publicly (it would have gone against her social status), she instead settled down to composing. And delightful stuff it is, too, as Kirkby and friends demonstrate in this charming recital. A number of the songs add violin, cello, or both to the piano and voice combination. "Ecstasy," for instance, has a most effective violin part that is an ideal foil to the purity of Kirkby's voice. Other highlights include the Schumannesque Browning Songs and the amiable Shakespeare Songs (the last of which, "Fairy Lullaby," is irresistible). The final item here, "Elle et moi," is an upbeat little number that suits Kirkby's lithe soprano to perfection. Occasionally, in some of the more lushly textured songs, such as "A Mirage" and "Stella Viatoris," perhaps a fuller voice would have been preferable, but then sample "Chanson d'amour" (written when Beach was only 21 and with a wonderful cello part in addition to the piano) and try to imagine it being better sung. The purely instrumental items are played with unfailing sensitivity and elegance. The Romance is straight out of the salon, while the much later Piano Trio (though actually based on early material) packs plenty of emotion and variety into its 14 minutes. The recording is exemplary, as are the concise notes and texts and translations.
In an era where it's not uncommon for a superstar act to wait three or four years between releases, it's astonishing to realize that Carole King wrote and recorded a strong follow-up to 1971's bazillion-selling "Tapestry" that was released before the year was up! "Music" was a big commercial success, but anything would pale next to the ecstatic commercial response to "Tapestry", which was still high in the charts when this follow-up was released. The generically-titled "Music" didn't spawn any hits as big as "It's Too Late" or "So Far Away," but with several decades' hindsight, it's clear that "Tapestry" was no fluke; in its more low-key way, "Music" is every bit as fine an album…
The Animals' Christmas is the sixth solo studio album and the first Christmas album by vocalist Art Garfunkel, released in December 1985 by Columbia Records. The album was written by Jimmy Webb and features vocals by Garfunkel, Amy Grant, and Wimbledon King's College Choir. The Animals' Christmas tells the story of the Nativity of Jesus from the perspective of the animals present. The album received positive reviews, with one writer calling it "one of the best Christmas albums of the '80s."
Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King is a 1995 tribute album honoring American singer, songwriter, and pianist Carole King. It features a diverse lineup of artists including Richard Marx, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, The Bee Gees and Amy Grant. The idea of this release was to re-create King's 1971 album Tapestry track-for-track using other artists. The album peaked at number 53 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Gold in the United States.