"The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said." Taking a cue from these lines of Philip Larkin, pianist Simone Dinnerstein casts her album of the music of J.S. Bach and Franz Schubert in poetic terms. Her understanding of the composers is summed up in her own words: "The music of Bach and Schubert share a distinctive quality, as if wordless voices were singing textless melodies." Of course, Bach and Schubert were masters of setting texts to profoundly expressive music, so it is fruitful to look for the lyrical impulse in their keyboard works and appropriate to find songful interpretations. Yet Dinnerstein doesn't merely serve up rhapsodic renditions or treat the music as some kind of tuneful vehicle for idiosyncratic or personal reveries. Her playing is quite in character for both composers, and her treatment of the material is far from self-indulgent. Indeed, counterpoint and harmony are carefully balanced against the upper lines, and Dinnerstein is completely in control of the inner parts in Bach's partitas and the rhythmic subtleties of Schubert impromptus. Dinnerstein's playing is well-rounded and skillful, and the care she lavishes on the smallest details of execution may well remind listeners of Glenn Gould (without his attendant eccentricities) or Angela Hewitt.
2010's mammoth, highly collectible and very limited, 19-disc Sandy Denny box set was truly a thing to behold, presenting the entirety of her career from studio to stage to front porch. It was a completist's dream, but it came with an exceptionally high price tag, which makes the appearance of 2011's Notes and the Words: A Collection of Demos and Rarities a real gift for fans, especially those who already own the complete studio recordings, whether solo or with Fotheringay, Strawbs, or Fairport Convention. The handsome, limited-edition four-disc box skims the cream from the top of the myriad rarities, BBC sessions, demos, and outtakes that made the previous collection so remarkable (an intimate bedroom recording of Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run the Game"; an early demo of Like an Old Fashioned Waltz's "Carnival" with previously unheard melodies and lyrics; a blistering alternate studio take of a Dave Swarbrick-less "Sailor's Life," and alternate versions of Fairport classics like "Matty Groves," "Come All Ye," and "Fotheringay"), resulting in a wonderful window into one of English folk music's most magnificent voices.
On July 25th. 1998 25.000 people flooded into London's Hide Park to watch the spectacular open air dance extravaganza, "Feet of Flames". With his feet moving too fast to catch fire, Michael Flatley and his too strong cast took dance into hitherto undreamt of dimensions. Feet of Flames was a one-off special, the culmination of everything Michael Flatley has learnt in a remarkable career. He created Lord of the Dance, phenomenon of the decade, which has captivated audiences all around the world and has spawned video and CD sales in their millions. There are now three Lord of the Dance troupes, each 40 strong, performing around the world. One is touring Europe, one is touring across America and the third is third is permanenly resident in Las Vegas. A fourth troupe will shorly by launched in Disney land Florida. On Feet of Flames, Michael shows he is not just the master of the stage but the fastest dancer in the world capable of 35 separate taps in a second. He is also a visionary choreographer and an accomplished musician. On this album, which captures the unique atmosphere of the performance in Hyde Park, Michael demonstrates his command of the flute on three new songs, the band number "Celic Fire", and haunting solos on "Whispering Wind" and "Dance Of Love". Michael Flatley has proved dance can flourish as a multi media spectacle. Feet of Flames will stand as a permanent legasy of his vision as he preperes to develop new challeges, which will continue to astound and delight his millions of fans.