Excelling in recordings of Delius, Elgar, and Holst, Sir Andrew Davis here presents a spirited programme of works by Sir Arthur Bliss. It follows a recording of Morning Heroes that made the top recommendations of 2015; likewise recorded in surround-sound, it conveys the energy of both the exceptional soloists and the impeccable BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Premiered along with Britten’s War Requiem at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962, but hardly ever heard since, The Beatitudes is remarkable for its dramatic intensity, ‘full of contrast and striking orchestral effects’, as The Times noted after a recent Barbican performance given by the same forces. The reviewer added that ‘soprano Emily Birsan was silvery clear, well supported by the tenor Ben Johnson. And the biggest round of applause should go to the BBC Symphony Chorus, full of passion.’ To complete the album are an arrangement of the national anthem having all the flair that made the tenure of Bliss as Master of the Queen’s Music distinctive and successful, as well as the virtuosic Introduction and Allegro, dedicated to Stokowski and inspired by the powerful sound of American orchestras post-World War I.
The Flesh Creeping Gonzoid: Speciality Offal & Other Choice Cuts is the sister collection to The Flesh Creeping Gonzoid: Speciality Offal & Other Imaginary Creatures. The box consists of 6 CDs and a DVD of studio out-takes, deleted obscurities, compilation appearances, vinyl and download releases. All discs are over 75 minutes in length and feature a wealth of previously unreleased material.
This 2012 box set rounds up Blake Shelton's first five albums – Blake Shelton, The Dreamer, Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill, Pure BS, and Startin' Fires – presenting them as mini-LPs in a slipcase. There are no bonus tracks but this is an easy, affordable, and handsome way to get Shelton's prime.
It's hard to believe that Morning Glory Ramblers is the first full-length recording by Norman and Nancy Blake in eight years. Certainly they've been active, from playing on all 47 Down From the Mountain dates, performing on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain soundtracks, June Carter Cash's final album, Wildwood Flower, and various other projects. This album, recorded on the soundstage of the Western Jubilee Warehouse in Colorado Springs, is a dynamite setting for the material found here. There are 17 songs in this collection, seven of them traditional melodies, still others so old they've seldom been heard over the last century, a Hank Williams' tune, and a couple by friends of Norman and Nancy's that are so saturated in the deep country, they could have been written decades before.
Blake Shelton veered toward the somnolent on the quite pleasing Bringing Back the Sunshine so it's not entirely surprising its 2016 sequel, If I'm Honest, is a bit crisper and livelier. Some of this brightening in attitude may be due to him lightening his load following a much-publicized 2015 divorce from singer Miranda Lambert – certainly the title suggests it's time for the singer to get down to what's real – but the electronic sheen and good times also feel like a reaction to Shelton sliding too deeply into softness. If If I'm Honest is indeed a divorce album, it's a Back in the High Life, not a Blood on the Tracks: Shelton is seizing the day, embracing his new lease on life with renewed vigor and a new love, who just happens to stop by to sing "Go Ahead and Break My Heart." Gwen Stefani's presence offers a reminder that Shelton stars on the televised singing competition The Voice, and If I'm Honest is targeted more at the mainstream audience attracted by the show than country radio proper.
Inspired by Miles Davis' Kind of Blue along with the latin rhythms and sound of Cal Tjader, trumpeter Ron Francis Blake brings you his debut album featuring special guests, Poncho Sanchez, Seamus Blake, and Walt Weiskopf
The pairing of Vaughan Williams' Job and his Symphony No. 9 is a logical one, not least because of the prominent role given to saxophones in both works. Vaughan Williams called Job a "masque," following old English usage, but it's a ballet in all but name, and like many of them it succeeds as a standalone orchestral work. The idea of a ballet based on the Book of Job seems slightly odd until you learn that it was inspired by William Blake's illustrations for the story, which would have been very familiar to Vaughan Williams' audiences in 1930.