The chamber works on this recording encompass a variety of instrumental groupings and a range of moods from the humour and lightness of the Serenade to the serious magnificence of the Piano Quintet, a five-movement ‘memorial’ developing the tradition of so great a work as Shostakovich’s single-movement work for this combination. The Three Madrigals set a three-language cycle of miniature poems by Francisco Tanzer, poems which themselves encapsulates much that is distinctively Schnittke through their epigrammatic atmosphere of cryptic completeness.
An album of encores once played by someone else, even someone as famous as Mstislav Rostropovich, might seem an overspecialized product, but German cellist Alban Gerhardt had some success with a similar album devoted to Pablo Casals, and is now back for more. Gerhardt does a reasonable impression of Rostropovich's songful style, overlaid with a bit of mysterious and gloomy Russian philosophy. But the really innovative feature of the album is the program, which draws out the breadth of the great Russian's musical interests, even in the seemingly restricted feel of the encore.
Animal Magnetism is the seventh studio album by German rock band Scorpions, released in 1980. The RIAA certified the record as Gold on 8 March 1984, and Platinum on 28 October 1991. So, Scorpions were cool in the '70s and then popular in the '80s, not that you need anyone to tell you that, but it'll make things much quicker for you when deciding which albums to listen to. Animal Magnetism finds itself wedged fairly uncomfortably between the two talents of the band - those of writing fun, exciting hard rock songs and writing badass proto-metal songs. There's a little bit here for everybody and even the cover strikes a better note than that of Virgin Killer or Lovedrive without losing that dangerous sexual edge the Germans were aiming for.
Rick Wakeman spent much of the '80s and '90s recording instrumental albums that veered toward either classical or ambient, so 2003's Out There comes as a bit of a shock: it's an honest to goodness revival of the full-throttle prog rock Wakeman pursued on his solo albums in the '70s. A large part of this is due to his decision to form a full-fledged supporting rock band. Called the New English Rock Ensemble, they're a quintet led by Wakeman and featuring Damian Wilson on vocals, Ant Glynne on guitar, Lee Pomeroy on bass, and Tony Fernandez on drums and percussion. They're a powerful and skilled outfit, able to follow Wakeman's shifting tempos and moods with dexterity without ever losing sight of their forceful rhythmic core, which keeps this rock, not new age. Wilson is a similarly versatile vocalist, as convincing on the surging "Out There" as he is on the contemplative "To Be with You."