This is an hour of Russian folk songs arranged for baritone and chorus by a variety of hands, including such master composers as Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Dmitri Shostakovich. The golden-voiced Dmitri Hvorostovsky provides the full-throated baritone solo, backed by the idiomatic voices of the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir. All of the music is performed unaccompanied but the lack of instruments does not preclude great variety as the mood of the songs changes from number to number.
In 2001 the U.K.-based Westside reissue label began releasing CD two-fers featuring '50s and '60s folk crooner Jimmie F. Rodgers. His albums for Roulette Records had been out of print for well over three decades. Rather than reissuing the discs chronologically, however, Westside chose a thematic approach. For some artists, such could easily be considered historic hara-kiri. However, this is not the case with Rodgers – as this initial installment amply demonstrates.
Not strictly a "greatest-hits" collection, Love Songs contains Elton John's most famous ballads, from "Your Song" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Featuring two new songs, including the single "You Can Make History (Young Again)," Love Songs is designed for the casual John fan who is familiar with his songs through adult contemporary radio…
Norwegian folk musician Sinikka Langeland, singer and player of the kantele (the Finnish table harp) is a distinctly non-traditional traditionalist, redefining "folk" in successive projects. 'Maria's Song' finds her in the company of two distinguished classical musicians - organist Kare Nordstoga and "giant of the Nordic viola" Lars Anders Tomter - and on a mission to restore Marian texts to sacred music, weaving folk melodies in between the timeless strains of J S Bach. Langeland made a lot of friends with her sparkling ECM debut Starflowers: "There are jewels everywhere on this arresting example of ego-free music-making. One of the albums of this or any other year" raved the Irish Times. Where Starflowers brought Langeland into the orbit of jazz improvisers, Maria's Song is a meeting and cross referencing of folk and 'classical' energies, and also a righting of historical 'injustice': Religious folk songs are amongst the most distinctive elements of the Norwegian folk tradition, yet the Virgin Mary rarely appears in them. Once a much-worshipped figure in the Far North she was, as Sinikka puts it, "reformed" away in 1537, so this album brings Maria back into the music. It was recorded in the beautiful Nidaros Cathedral of Trondheim, famous for its Baroque organ heard here.