On the third of five volumes (the first four are double-CD box sets) that reissue all of her recordings, the great Bessie Smith is greatly assisted on some of the 38 selections by a few of her favorite sidemen: cornetist Joe Smith, trombonist Charlie Green, and clarinetist Buster Bailey. But the most important of her occasional musicians was pianist James P. Johnson, who makes his first appearance in 1927 and can be heard on four duets with Bessie, including the monumental "Backwater Blues." Other highlights of this highly recommended set (all five volumes are essential) include "After You've Gone," "Muddy Water," "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," "Trombone Cholly," "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair," and "Mean Old Bed Bug Blues." The power and intensity of Bessie Smith's recordings should be considered required listening; even 80 years later they still communicate.
Naxos' triumphant march through Poulenc's complete chamber music continues with this latest release containing, among a host of smaller items, a smashing performance of the magnificent Sonata for Two Pianos, one of the composer's greatest large works in any medium. Alexandre Tharaud and Francis Chaplin play beautifully…hypnotically seductive in the slow introduction and third movement, while the faster music has the right rhythmic skittishness and crisp articulation. The other outstanding performance here is the Sonata for horn, trumpet, and trombone. This awkward but charming piece has seldom sounded better balanced and more natural (not to mention in tune), and it's very well recorded in a warm acoustic. The other pieces are trifles, but no less enjoyable for that. Another winner.
The penultimate volume in Hyperion’s four-part survey of the complete solo piano music of Ernő Dohnányi focuses on music from the period when the composer’s pre-eminent position was being assured. The titles of the largest works here, Ruralia hungarica and the Variations on a Hungarian Folksong, mask in their nationalistic ostentation the skill of a true master of piano composition. Martin Roscoe inhabits the world of Dohnányi’s music like no other—appraisals of the earlier volumes attest to this—and this new recording is a joy.
What we have here are Miaskovsky’s 27 symphonies with two overtures, two early tone poems (one after Poe; the other, Shelley), three sinfoniettas, one serenade, one Divertissement, one Concertino Lirico, one Slav Rhapsody and a piece called Links. It’s all the music for orchestra apart from the two concertos and choral works with orchestra (Kirov is With Us and Kremlin by Night). Note that the version of the Sixth Symphony here is the ……Rob Barnett @ Musicweb-international.com
Software formed in 1983 by German duo Peter Mergener and Michael Weisser, Software owes much to electronic pioneer Klaus Schulze. Software's music usually builds on sequencer patterns and simple melodies, creating a lighter version of The Schulze style. Their later work is woven into concept albums, yet the music rarely lives up to their poetic aspirations. Software's earlier recordings with Peter Mergener are generally more satisfying.