Richard Wagner's reputation rests on his tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen, and the other music dramas he created, including Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal, which revolutionized all aspects of late Romantic music and left their mark on modern music as well. Yet there is a small body of non-operatic works that shows a more relaxed Wagner working on a much smaller scale: his Siegfried Idyll for chamber orchestra, a group of songs, and a collection of pieces for piano. This double CD by Pier Paolo Vincenzi presents Wagner's complete piano music with three sonatas, a large-scale fantasia, and eleven short pieces that show the composer's attempts at finding a more personal and intimate voice.
Forrest Gump (1994) is one of the most successful films ever made, winning Tom Hanks his second successive Best Actor Oscar (he won the previous year for Philadelphia) as well as claiming the Best Picture Oscar and many other awards and nominations, including several for music. A unique fable of American life from the 1950s to the 80s, the film blends comedy, drama, war, romance and groundbreaking special effects into a social and political portrait of the passing years, all seen through the eyes of the intellectually challenged but immensely likeable Forrest Gump. The soundtrack is a double album featuring 31 classic pop tunes plus a suite from Alan Silvestri's rich orchestral music, represented more completely on the companion score album. Opening with Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog", this is a fine anthology of three decades of American music, taking in everything from Joan Baez's "Blowin' In The Wind" to Aretha Franklin's "Respect", The Mammas and The Papas' "California Dreamin'" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson". Here also is Scott McKenzie with "San Francisco", plus Jefferson Airplane, the Supremes, Lynyrd Skynrd and many more. Like American Graffiti (1973), this is one of the great pop soundtracks, happily at home in just about any music collection.
Arguably Richard James' first full-length CD, comprised of various EPs from the early '90s when he was experimenting on his homemade electronic gear and cranking out material that surpassed the work his peers were putting out. Few others knew how to bend the rules of electronic music quite the way James does, and this skill bleeds into present day because he sets the standard for what is always on the horizon. He can turn an atonal collection of sounds into something that transcends the dancefloor, and therefore many of the pieces here require the listener's full attention…
A cofounder of the tropicalista movement with Veloso, Gil, Bethania, et al., Zé has faded into obscurity as his music becomes more and more experimental and eccentric. This is by far the best Brazilian recording I've ever heard (caveat emptor!), partly because of the gentleness of Zé's weirdness and partly because he sounds so Brazilian even as the other tropicalistas come to associate "avant-garde" with increasingly Pan American pop-soup.
With the rise of Romanticism, the topics of opera changed from the mythological fantasy of Baroque operas to the fairytale fantasy which graced the French stage long before Romanticism reached other European nations. Initiated by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, this project is built like a universal fairytale, inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, and others, as set to music by French composers of the Romantic period, alternating between famous composers such as Offenbach and Rossini and little known masters like Viardot, Silver, and Isouard. This imaginary opera was conceived and transcribed by Alexandre Dratwicki for piano quartet and two singers- a soprano and a mezzo, the roles of which are performed here by Jodie Devos and Caroline Meng.
This three-disc box set from Sony gathers up the first three long-players from Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac. Released in 1968, Fleetwood Mac (often referred to as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac) was a blues-rock juggernaut that stayed on the U.K. charts for nearly 40 weeks, while that same year's Mr. Wonderful beefed up the band's already meaty sound with a full horn section. Appearing in 1969, Pious Bird of Good Omen offered up a collection of B-sides and singles that were recorded between 1967 and 1968.
This five-disc set, contained in a cardboard sleeve that bundles standard jewel cases, consists of Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes' four albums for Flying Dutchman – Astral Traveling (1973), Cosmic Funk (1974), Expansions (1974), and Visions of a New World (1975) – along with their first for RCA, Reflections of a Golden Dream (1976). Some of the albums were intermittently elusive, at least when it came to the CD format, throughout the years, so this was a convenient – and affordable – way to get them in one shot. However, it went out of print quickly after its 2009 release.
This impressive series continues with its incredibly 6-CD sets, this one yielding 100 masterful guitar performances! The heavy emphasis is on classical, from baroque to modern (with two discs devoted to Spanish guitar and another entirely to Rodrigo), but you'll encounter some Beatles along the way, too. Pieces by Bach, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Satie, Britten, Granados, Falla, Rodrigo, Albeniz, Villa-Lobos and others are played by Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Eliot Fisk, Manuel Barrueco, Christopher Parkening and more!