Frank Zappa's music is not easy to convert to the stage of the jazz band. Although Zappa's zany compositions have always attracted some of the more adventurous jazz players, the actual jazz content of the tunes is minimal. Italian keyboardist Riccardo Fassi takes his Tankio Band of twelve players plus selected guests through a dozen Zappa charts with mixed results. Curiously, Fassi is most successful when he diverges from the structures of the tunes. When he sticks too closely to the melodies and chords, translating them into Kentonesque big band blasts, the results are less satisfying. The quality of the soloists vary, but guest trumpeter Flavio Boltro, accordionist Antonello Salis, and band member alto saxophonist Sandro Satta dish up some of the most compelling individual work.
The Camerata of the 18th Century and its director Konrad Hünteler are committed to the recovery of original sound from the forgotten and not-soforgotten musical past. This long-awaited re-release features a masterpiece and one certainly well worth all the painstaking research that went into it: Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
Jean-Marie Leclair, a pure product of the 18th century, was at the crossroads of styles, cultivating a virtuosic art combining melodies à la française and Italian virtuosity stemming from Corelli and Vivaldi. He was 49 when he undertook his first (and only) lyric tragedy: Scylla et Glaucus. In the greatest French tradition, this work combines sumptuous numbers of sentimental outpourings with frightening scenes of fury and terror, in which the orchestra, with forceful passages, plays a dazzling role.
The aria Ombra mai fu at the start of Act I of Handel's opera seria Serse (Xerxes) is likely to be its best-known asset. Serse was written in 1733-38, at the end of Handel's career as an opera composer: he concentrated on oratorio after 1741. It is a great achievement. Not least because it uses the music, and the marriage of words and music, to evoke in the audience pathos, sympathy, delight, and as much tempered ridicule as tempered tenderness.
Coverage of the Wiener Philharmoniker's 2017 New Year's Concert featuring Gustavo Dudamel on the conductor's podium. This year's concert features works by Mozart, Paganini and Schagerl as well as Johann and Eduard Strauss.