Ernest Chausson’s death in 1899 in a bicycle accident robbed French music of a major talent. Almost his entire orchestral output fits on this extremely fine CD. Yan Pascal Tortelier’s performance of the richly romantic Symphony is the best since Munch’s Boston Symphony recording. Like Munch, Tortelier knows how to keep the music moving along–he’s only an insignificant two minutes slower than Munch for the whole work–without overindulging the more luscious moments, which in Chausson’s opulent setting really do take care of themselves. Even better, rather than some overplayed encore piece by another composer, the symphony is coupled with two very attractive, rarely heard tone poems and two charming orchestral excerpts from the composer’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The orchestra plays with conviction, Chandos’ sonics are gorgeous, and if you don’t buy this disc, you’re missing out on some marvelous stuff.
34 songs from the famous Songs of the Hebrides collection by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser published in the early years of this century. There are some extraordinarily beautiful songs here (Ernest Newman wrote of them that Schubert and Hugo Wolf would have knelt and kissed the hands of their unknown composers). The most famous song in the collection is the Eriskay Love Lilt but several of the others will be familiar to anybody who has bought our Bantock recordings: Sea Longing was the inspiration for the slow movement of the Celtic Symphony, and Kishmul's Galley is the tune blazed out by the Royal Philharmonic horns at the end of the Hebridean Symphony.
Julia Fischer follows her extraordinary Grammy-nominated recording of the Paganini Caprices with a contrasting album - a lyrical and poetic set of impressionistic works for violin and orchestra.
Williams launched a solo career in 1994 as a soul/dance singer, signed to Columbia Records. Her debut solo single, "All Cried Out!" peaked at No. 60 in the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up, "Everyday Thang", did better, hitting the UK Top 40. It peaked at No. 38. Her next single, the ballad "Not Enough?" managed a No. 65 chart placing. Her debut album, Human Cradle, failed to reach the UK Albums Chart.
Considering the extraordinary talent assembled for Tony Williams' second Blue Note date as a leader, this could have been a landmark session. Unfortunately, it's not. Spring isn't totally forgettable; on the contrary, the fire expected by members of the Miles Davis Quintet (Williams, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), all thoroughly influenced by "the new thing," were unleashed completely from Miles' tight rein. Add tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers and Albert Ayler bassist Gary Peacock into this mix and that influence thrived. However, the five Tony Williams compositions (including the drum only "Echo") often failed to provoke the musicians into reaching crucial unity, making Spring haphazard, falling short of the expected goal.