Filmed live at the Vienna State Opera in December 1983, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s elegant staging of Manon captures all the pathos of Massenet’s masterpiece. Adam Fischer leads an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Edita Gruberova in the title role and the brilliant Francisco Araiza as Le chevalier des Grieux. Massenet’s Manon was immensely successful from the outset, and it has remained a hit ever since its world premiere in Paris in 1884.
This is a genuinely heart warming recital of chamber music from the latter part of the 17th century by the north German masters Johann Adam Reinken and Dietrich Buxtehude, both among the influences on the young J.S. Bach. The two were great friends and shared compositional tastes. Melody is not the issue here, neither is the extroverted passion of Italian composers of the period. This is more the animated conversation of friends sitting around the fire discussing various topics after a good meal.
Left Lane Cruiser is the duo of singer/guitarist Freddie J. Evans IV and drummer Brenn Beck, from Fort Wayne, IN, and their music not surprisingly recalls that of the White Stripes, another twosome with the same instrumentation. Like the White Stripes, Evans and Beck are self-consciously primitive in their approach, and they are equally mannered in their effect. The main difference is that Left Lane Cruiser is more of a blues act. Beck stomps on his drums, and Evans plays familiar loud, heavy riffs on his electric guitar while howling into what sounds like a microphone not intended to handle vocals, such that his singing comes off distorted, even when he isn't yelling. For only two musicians, they make quite a racket, but their relentlessness can be enervating unless one really has a taste for it.