In 2011 the Berliner Philharmoniker and their musical director Sir Simon Rattle welcomed in the New Year with a gala concert programmed with ‘Dances & Dreams’. Spinetingling and inspiring performances of music by Dvořák, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Brahms are complemented by the extraordinary talent of the multi-awarded Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. Kissin’s musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have placed him at the forefront of today’s pianists, and his passionate performance of the renowned Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg is mesmerizing.
Wolfgang Rihm is one of the world's most eminent and prolific composers. His works for violin and piano encompass almost his entire compositional career from Hekton in 1972 to the solo violin +œber die Linie VII in 2006. Each draws on a wide range of influences from folk-like moments embedded quotations and dazzlingly virtuosic episodes. They reflect the breadth of Rihm's various changing styles which are almost unique in today's music in marrying contemporary technique with emotionally powerful resonances.
"The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said." Taking a cue from these lines of Philip Larkin, pianist Simone Dinnerstein casts her album of the music of J.S. Bach and Franz Schubert in poetic terms. Her understanding of the composers is summed up in her own words: "The music of Bach and Schubert share a distinctive quality, as if wordless voices were singing textless melodies." Of course, Bach and Schubert were masters of setting texts to profoundly expressive music, so it is fruitful to look for the lyrical impulse in their keyboard works and appropriate to find songful interpretations. Yet Dinnerstein doesn't merely serve up rhapsodic renditions or treat the music as some kind of tuneful vehicle for idiosyncratic or personal reveries. Her playing is quite in character for both composers, and her treatment of the material is far from self-indulgent. Indeed, counterpoint and harmony are carefully balanced against the upper lines, and Dinnerstein is completely in control of the inner parts in Bach's partitas and the rhythmic subtleties of Schubert impromptus. Dinnerstein's playing is well-rounded and skillful, and the care she lavishes on the smallest details of execution may well remind listeners of Glenn Gould (without his attendant eccentricities) or Angela Hewitt.
Italian composer Giovanni Battista Buonamente, a member of the Franciscan order, gained renown throughout Europe as a violinist, singer and choirmaster. He began his career as the Gonzaga court in Mantua, later becoming a chamber musician at the Viennese court of Ferdinand II and his final post was as chapel master at the Sacro Convento in Assisi, where he remained until his death in 1643 and his compositions many characteristics of the early Italian Baroque.
2010's mammoth, highly collectible and very limited, 19-disc Sandy Denny box set was truly a thing to behold, presenting the entirety of her career from studio to stage to front porch. It was a completist's dream, but it came with an exceptionally high price tag, which makes the appearance of 2011's Notes and the Words: A Collection of Demos and Rarities a real gift for fans, especially those who already own the complete studio recordings, whether solo or with Fotheringay, Strawbs, or Fairport Convention. The handsome, limited-edition four-disc box skims the cream from the top of the myriad rarities, BBC sessions, demos, and outtakes that made the previous collection so remarkable (an intimate bedroom recording of Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run the Game"; an early demo of Like an Old Fashioned Waltz's "Carnival" with previously unheard melodies and lyrics; a blistering alternate studio take of a Dave Swarbrick-less "Sailor's Life," and alternate versions of Fairport classics like "Matty Groves," "Come All Ye," and "Fotheringay"), resulting in a wonderful window into one of English folk music's most magnificent voices.
With every new album from The Birthday Massacre, we see a band that has created not only its own distinct niche in the musical landscape, but also seems to have created its own world. This time, we play Hide and Seek in that world. The new album from The Birthday Massacre opens with rain, and ends with the sounds of waves; in between we are given songs of lost girls, lost love, lost time. The delicate interplay between Chibi’s vocals and the ambiance created by Rainbow, M. Falcore, Rhim, Owen & Nate is on full display. Dark new wave hooks and haunting synths turn sinister as Rainbow and Falcore’s guitars lead Hide and Seek into ever darker, ever more beautiful corners of The Birthday Massacre’s world.
This is an acoustic instrument record with members of Siena Root. It features chilled out Eastern guitar, sitar, hand drum and synthesizer pieces. All improvised. "West, Space and Love" is a meditative and captivating album to place alongside artists like Daevid Allen's "Sacred Geometry" that successfully fuses ambient, electronic and ethnic/world elements to create an intoxicating and timeless psychedelic spacey journey.
John 3:16 is the latest recording project from Philippe Gerber, formerly of Heat From a Deadstar. John 3:16 keeps pushing the boundaries of his music and delivers a very well-crafted and free-flowing release that is pure atmospheric bliss. For the duration of the 50 minutes of music presented in this album, we felt like floating in space (no need for drugs on this one) thanks to the dreamy atmosphere created. Packed in an excellent digipack, this release is totally worth your money if you are looking for experimental music that puts a high emphasis on atmosphere and flow of the songs.