Sydney's wonderfully named Pinchgut Opera is committed to Baroque and Classical repertoire that rarely finds its way into traditional opera houses, and its 2005 production of Dardanus was the work's Australian premiere. The company uses the original 1739 version of the opera, with a brief interpolation from the composer's 1744 revision, and entirely omits the allegorical Prologue. Anthony Walker leads the Cantillation choir and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, which specializes in music of the Baroque era, in an elegant and idiomatic performance of the opera.
Antonio Vivaldi's probably early Nisi Dominus, RV 608, and Stabat Mater, RV 621, both for solo voice and ensemble, have received several top-notch recordings, so the listener can pick on the basis of voice type and stylistic preference. Countertenor David Daniels has essayed the pair with Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante ensemble, and you can hear the preternaturally rich contralto Sara Mingardo in a reading with the fiery Italian Baroque specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini. Here you get a countertenor, Philippe Jaroussky, in the Nisi Dominus and a female contralto, Canadian Marie-Nicole Lemieux, in the Stabat Mater. The pairing robs the whole of unity at one level, but makes musical sense; the Nisi Dominus is a more athletic work that benefits from the power of the male voice, while the Stabat Mater, especially in Vivaldi's truncated and highly dramatic setting, may require the audience to identify with a female singer.
In 2002, Ace released Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings/The Stars in the Sky, which contained two albums – Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings (1989, originally released on Blue Horizon) and The Stars in the Sky (1992, originally on Tramp) – by Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings on one compact disc.
Dreams are an essential part of the musical world. Despite having been firmly involved in Sweden's highly fertile prog rock scene in the '70s, Roine Stolt (Kaipa, The Tangent, Transatlantic) was still harbouring dreams of maximum creative fulfilment when he arrived in the '90s, guitar in hand and a head full of sublime musical ideas. The end-result was a solo album, 'The Flower King', which struck such a resounding chord with a small but growing number of prog fans around the planet. It also proved to be one of a handful of albums that helped to kick-start and underpin a worldwide resurgence for adventurous, symphonic rock music that is still gaining momentum over two decades later…