As one-third of the composer-collective Bang on a Can, David Lang is something of a genial father figure of the indie-classical scene. Talk to any of the world's main players and you're likely to hear them tell you about their life-changing stint in Bang on a Can's summer festival, which has acted as a sort of feeder school and incubator for the group's try-anything mentality. Lang's music has undergone many stylistic shifts over the years: In the 80s, he wrote bristlier stuff, but in the last decade or so, he's shifted quietly into a more pensive register. The Little Match Girl Passion, his 2008 work that won him a Pulitzer, was written for only four voices and some hand bells. This Was Written By Hand, his most recent recording, is a collection of short solo piano works played by the British pianist Andrew Zolinsky. The album holds the same, sustained melancholy mood: thoughtful, searching, elegiac, minimalist. Lang's way with repetitive phrasing doesn't feel like that of minimalists like Glass or Reich's, though.
The revival of Spanish music of the Baroque period continues moving forward into the Classical era with this premiere recording of sonatas for "violin y bajo" – violin and bass – by Juan de Ledesma. The sonatas were rediscovered only in the late 1980s, and they're very elegantly presented here in a package adorned by a reproduction of a marvelous French fan of the period. There isn't anything of earthshaking importance among the five sonatas on the disc, but they're attractive pieces with some challenges for the violinist, and both players of the instruments and those with collections of Spanish music will find the release of interest. The booklet notes by violinist Blai Justo (in English, French, and German, with Spanish and Catalan additionally available online) point to Corelli's influence, but also note the presence of the galant style of the period, and it is the latter sound, with its atmosphere of charm and its relaxed procession of contrasting two-measure phrases, that predominates. The players do well to avoid a harpsichord accompaniment, using either a combination of cello and guitar or one or the other instrument alone.
The ineffable magic of New York City fires the imagination of superstar pianist Lang Lang on his new album New York Rhapsody. He is joined by a wide array of special guests including Andra Day, Herbie Hancock, Jason Isbell, Jeffrey Wright, Kandace Springs, Lindsey Stirling, Lisa Fischer, Madeleine Peyroux and Sean Jones. From the haunting reveries of Gershwin and Copland to the in-the-moment intensity of songs made famous by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, Lou Reed and Don Henley, New York Rhapsody rediscovers the dazzle and the soul of America’s most symbolic city.
This is the movie that gave us the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto!" As befits the film that kicked off the Atomic Age's obsession with flying saucers and giant robots, Bernard Herrmann's score is the last word in 1950s sci-fi. Although many of its elements have become cliches over the years, the original has lost none of its power. Thanks to the many eerie, theremin-drenched passages, it's almost impossible to hear that instrument without thinking about guys in space suits. Other great moments: tinkling space pianos, ominous robot monster chords, and weird, plangent orchestrations. One of Herrmann's most visionary and influential scores.
The recordings followed an extensive international series of concerts and Lang Lang will continue to tour the programme worldwide this autumn and next spring.