It may seem surprising that this is the first complete recording of Gluck's one-act opera (or, as he called it, serenata teatrale) La corona (The Crown) after more than 240 years. The work was never performed during Gluck's lifetime; written for the name day of Francis I, husband of Habsburg empress Maria Theresa, it was rendered irrelevant by the dedicatee's death in 1765. The listener will discover soon enough why no one has thought to revive the work since then.
Oregon native Meredith Brooks returns with the follow-up to her 1997 smash release Blurring the Edges with Deconstruction. This time working with producer Dave Darling, Brooks delivers another pleasant if somewhat derivative helping of adult rock but fails to come up with anything that is likely to command the heavy airplay of "Bitch." Deconstruction leads off with "Shout," a slice of noise-pop that sounds a bit like the Breeders, before she tackles a cover of Melanie's Woodstock-era anthem "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)." It's a punchy version that benefits from an appearance by Queen Latifah who adds some updated lyrics.
A mid-century doctor's raw, unvarnished account of his own descent into madness, and his daughter's attempt to piece his life back together and make sense of her own. Texas-born and Harvard-educated, Dr. Perry Baird was a rising medical star in the late 1920s and 1930s. Early in his career, ahead of his time, he grew fascinated with identifying the biochemical root of manic depression, just as he began to suffer from it himself. By the time the results of his groundbreaking experiments were published, Dr. Baird had been institutionalized multiple times, his medical license revoked, and his wife and daughters estranged. He later received a lobotomy and died from a consequent seizure, his research incomplete, his achievements unrecognized.
“Songs of Ascension” is a major new recording from composer Meredith Monk and her vocal ensemble. Written in 2008, it is conceived as a continuous composition, a departure from Monk’s earlier collaged or episodic extended works. In recent years Meredith Monk’s been expanding into the worlds of orchestra and string quartet. On “Songs of Ascension” she teams up with a string quartet of New York players well versed in new music. With winds, percussion and two vocal groups added to her already extraordinary singers, this is one of Monk’s most musically ambitious ventures. Voices and instruments are paired and balanced against each other to an extent rare in her music.