John Williams composed The Five Sacred Trees for Judith LeClair, the principal bassoonist of the New York Philharmonic in 1995, to honor the orchestra's 150th anniversary. The first performance was given by LeClair and the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur on April 12 of that year. The orchestra consists of three flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, harp, piano, celesta, and strings. Performance time is approximately 26 minutes. Inspiration for the work also comes from the writings of British poet and novelist Robert Graves.
Pianist Don Friedman's debt to Bill Evans was obvious in the early '60s, particularly on standards, but he also had his own creative spirit to offer. This 1997 CD reissue brings out Friedman's third of four Riverside dates, teaming him with the obscure bassist Dick Kniss and drummer Dick Berk. The pianist shows that he was developing an original voice and was familiar with the avant-garde of the period on such originals as "Ohcre" and "Flashback." In contrast, he swings conventionally but with subtle creativity on "Alone Together," "News Blues" and "How Deep Is the Ocean." A fine, well-rounded set from the underrated pianist.
A somewhat less ambitious record than Mudlark, from a recording standpoint, Greenhouse is a true solo record that offers several surprises. Over a third of it is made up of vocal numbers, including two that are absolutely superb. "Tiny Island" may be the best track here, a song by Al Gaylor, inspired by the death of Jimi Hendrix, that offer one of Kottke's best vocal performances of his whole career.
A year after its initial release, Olive's debut album, Extra Virgin, finally produced a number one British hit with "You're Not Alone," a low-key lite trip-hop number with a graceful melody. It's a strong single, and there are similarly strong moments on Extra Virgin, yet Olive don't stand out from the post-Portishead pack. Like Everything but the Girl, they are essentially a folky, pop-oriented group that uses the stoned rhythms of trip-hop as hip window-dressing. Since that rhythm is appealing on its own terms, it doesn't matter that Olive use it as ornamentation, especially since they use it well. What is a problem is their lack of consistent songwriting. Only a few songs match the singles "You're Not Alone" and "Miracle" in terms of memorable, melodic construction, and the weaker tracks tend to float by on their admittedly entrancing production. And that leaves Extra Virgin an intriguing debut, but not necessarily one that promises great things from Olive.
Anyone listening to this admirable set will gain an accurate impression of David Oistrakh’s overall playing style, his poise, composure, interpretative finesse, velvety tone and highly sophisticated musicianship. Various of the works programmed are - or have been - available in alternative Oistrakh recordings (the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos in around six versions apiece), but Melodiya’s selections are, in general, judiciously chosen.
The Greatest Hits Volume III album includes hits from 1983 to 1997. Two previously unreleased studio tracks are included, "To Make You Feel My Love" and "Hey Girl", while the third new track, "Light as the Breeze", was originally recorded for a Leonard Cohen tribute album known as Tower of Song in 1995. All three tracks are newly recorded covers (a rare occurrence in his catalogue). Chronologically, Greatest Hits Volume III overlaps slightly with Volume II, as the first two tracks, "Keeping the Faith" and "An Innocent Man", first appeared on his album An Innocent Man.