Like 1994's Forest, George Winston's 1999 album Plains is inspired by the subtle beauty of America's landscapes. Pieces like "Dubuque" and "Muliwai" evoke regions as diverse as Montana's fields and Hawaiian shores, but Winston's distinctive piano stylings unite the songs into a cohesive vision. Though his interpretation of Sammy Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight" is unremarkable, his cover of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and originals like "Cloudburst," "The Swan," "Rainsong," and the title track showcase Winston's unique ability to transform nature into expressive piano pieces.
This collection of music for guitar, brought together by Jose Luis Bieito as the musical element of his music+image binomis, Reflections, possesses a delightful balance of sounds. These are flowing, pulsing, mostly gentle sounds that tend to soothe and calm the listener's mind. Sounds that - through a variety of compositional techniques - tend to be sustained in time; the effects of which can sometimes capture a listener’s attention, holding it inside an extended musical moment, like a spell. When heard while viewing the accompanying (provocative, sometimes disturbing) images, the sounds can serve an additional function: grounding the listener's reaction, enabling the passage of emotion; like electricity discharging through a lightening rod.
Bellini's "Norma" is a classic of the bel canto tradition, combining lavish vocal splendor with a story of great passion and nobility. The title character in "Norma" is a role with emotions ranging from haughty to desperately passionate to vengeful and defiant. Italian soprano Fiorenza Cedolins is one of the most thrilling Normas of the younger operatic generation. Along with a distinguished supporting cast, including Sonia Ganassi as Adalgisa and Vincenzo La Scola as Pollione, this psychologically staged production by Francisco Negrin, conducted by Giuliano Carella, makes the belcanto tradition vivid and exciting.