A look at the life of James Dean as he was on the cusp of achieving fame.
After her tough blues and R&B records in the early years of the 21st century – 2003's Let's Roll and 2004's Blues to the Bone – Etta James throws a quiet storm changeup. All the Way's 11 tracks are pop songs – indeed, a few are standards – written between the 1930s and the 1990s. James song choices are curious. The Great American Songbook tunes include the title track (written by Samuel Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen), Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" from West Side Story, and even Bob Telson's "Calling You" from the score to the 1987 film Baghdad Cafe – it's been recorded by everyone from Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion to Jeff Buckley and Gal Costa…
Violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis are joined by two acclaimed musical forces - pianist Jeremy Denk and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which Bell is Music Director – in a landmark joint recording, For the Love of Brahms (Sony Classical). Available September 30, 2016, the new album is a unique project that features works of Brahms and Schumann that Bell calls “music about love and friendship.” Bell, Isserlis and Denk unite here in Brahms’s first published chamber work, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 in its rarely performed original 1854 version. Isserlis also joins Bell – as violin soloist and director – and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Brahms’s last orchestral work, the celebrated Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102. Bell, Isserlis and members of the Academy also offer the first recording of an unusual coupling: the slow movement of Schumann’s rarely heard Violin Concerto, in a version for string orchestra made by Benjamin Britten, who also added a short coda.
Kathleen Battle In Concert has been a part of my classical listening experience for many, many years, and many, many repeated playings. Every time I play it, I feel real joy at hearing Kathleen Battle in the opening bars of Purcell's "Come All Ye Songsters."
Miss Battle brings a high level of musicality, an impeccable use of phrasing and some truly beatiful high notes to a wonderful mix of lighter art/love songs, and more serious, but very joyous gospel classics, as in her rendition of "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."
It's been too many years since Kathleen Battle has recorded such a delightful recital album. If you're reading this Miss Battle, please please record another! We miss your voice greatly!!!
Handel's Old Testament oratorios can be difficult to tell apart–tenor Israelite hero, bass enemy or éminence grise, soprano ingenue, and alto priest or youth. What distinguishes Joshua? Real characters: tenor Joshua, confident to the point of conceit; grizzled old general Caleb, wistfully facing retirement; alto Othniel, an excited young warrior/lover fighting battles to win Caleb's giddy daughter, Achsah. Joshua's highlights are the showpiece arias. James Bowman sails through Othniel's impetuous "Let danger surround me"; Emma Kirkby (one of the best ornamenters in the business) charms and fascinates in Achsah's "Oh, had I Jubal's lyre" and "Hark! 'tis the linnet"; George Ainsley is a Joshua both vigorous and graceful, the chorus and the brass are stunning in "Glory to God" as they bring the walls of Jericho tumbling down. –Matthew Westphal
When the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields began to popularize Vivaldi's music in the 1970s, it was on the cutting edge with its light, warm chamber orchestra sound, burnished to technical perfection yet sounding completely different from its symphonic cousins. Now, a recording like this one, with star violinist Joshua Bell, sounds conservative in comparison with young bucks like Fabio Biondi on the historical-performance side or even the young Dutch firebrand Janine Jansen. This big-budget (by classical standards) release is the kind of thing you don't see so often now, with a big poster showing Bell carefully decked out in a partially undone tie, as well as individual full-color cards reproducing, in Italian and English, the descriptive seasonal sonnets that provide the program for the four concertos. It could have collapsed under its own weight, but Bell pulls it off. Conducting the Academy strings himself, he forges tight, not-overly-sweet recordings of Vivaldi's four familiar concertos, with a nice contrast between orchestra and solo that showcases his easy, compelling agility and his Heifetz-like sharpness and brilliance.