Anima mea explores the Christian concept of the soul through these masterpieces of medieval Sacred Music. Hildegard of Bingen’s beautifully exalted harmonies represent God’s order in the music of the spheres. The recently rediscovered Erfurt Ritual contains sung music from Master Eckhart’s historical context. These antiphons are performed here for the first time since 1525, along with chants from the liturgy of the Roman mass, music from the Notre Dame School, and a glorious Magnificat. The German duo Ensemble Cosmedin, who take their name from a church in Rome, are considered one of the leading ensembles for medieval and modern sacred music. Music of the soul—gentle and luminous.
On his last couple of Warner Bros albums, Gorilla and In the Pocket, James Taylor seemed to be converting himself from the shrinking violet, too-sensitive-to-live "rainy day man" of his early records into a mainstream, easy listening crooner with a sunny outlook. JT, his debut album for Columbia, was something of a defense of this conversion. Returning to the autobiographical, Taylor declared his love for Carly Simon ("There We Are"), but expressed some surprise at his domestic bliss. "Isn't it amazing a man like me can feel this way?" he sang in the opening song, "Your Smiling Face" (a Top 40 hit). At the same time, domesticity could have its temporary depressions ("Another Grey Morning"). The key track was "Secret O' Life," which Taylor revealed as "enjoying the passage of time." Working with his long-time backup band of Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, and Russell Kunkel, and with Peter Asher back in the producer's chair, Taylor also enjoyed mixing his patented acoustic guitar-based folk sound with elements of rock, blues, and country.
Although little Sandy Denny material was released prior to her first album as part of Fairport Convention (1969's What We Did on Our Holidays), quite a few pre-Fairport recordings of the singer's survive, though they usually weren't made in the most technically sophisticated settings. This CD, recorded in the Glasgow home of folk singer Alex Campbell on August 5, 1967, was salvaged from a cassette and issued in 2011, when interest in Denny's work had escalated to a point where even documents of rather lo-fi quality held enough interest to merit a commercial release. This is clearly a recording for serious Denny fans because of those technical limitations; even some of the other home recordings from the time that have found both official and bootleg release boast superior sound.
A brilliant specialist in the keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which she has recorded to great critical acclaim, Angela Hewitt proves herself equally attuned to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in this first installment of the complete piano concertos. While beginning with the Piano Concertos No. 6, No. 8, and No. 9 might be an unusual opening gambit, jumping ahead of the earliest and least compelling concertos, they are still youthful works and more than competent examples of Mozart's budding mastery.