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Al Cohn : The Jazz Workshop : Four Brass One Tenor
As a soloist, Al Cohn was not such an inspired tenor sax player as his colleague Zoot Sims. But he was a superb arranger, an unprofitable yet highly important function when it comes to such workshops. And though Manny Albam also played the baritone sax, his real instrument was the pen. He arranged not only jazz, but also film music and musicals. His arrangements were multi-facetted and tailormade to suit the accomplishments of the individual instrumentalists.
Apres Un Reve : Gary Karr and Harmon Lewis
Gary Karr, acclaimed as »the world's leading solo bassist« (Time magazine), is, in fact, the first solo doublebassist in history to make that pursuit a full-time career. It is a career that adds new lustre to his already lustrous 1611 Amati doublebass which was given to him by the widow of Serge Koussevitzky.
Bartok : Concerto for Violin
During his career spanning 60 years Isaac Stern recorded this major contemporary work several times and demonstrates once again his superb mastery of his instrument in this particular recording. With bravura he conjures up eruptive snatches of melody out of the rhapsodic depths, allows the slow movement to glow with pastoral sentiment, and tears through the vast variations finale with a perfect command of the score, his instrument and his creative prowess.
Bartok : Klavierkonzert Nr.1 Und Rhapsodie
This uncompromising severity presents an enormous challenge that is mastered with aplomb by Géza Anda and the RSO Berlin under Ferenc Fricsay. Bartók’s musical language is milder and more accessible in his Second and Third Piano Concertos, which are now available in a new pressing from Speakers Corner Records (DGG 138 111).
Bartok : Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3
Bartók wanted his Second Piano Concerto to be understood as a contrast to his harsh and – for the orchestra – extremely difficult First Piano Concerto. But notwithstanding its more easily understandable theme, this work too was composed using strict classical sonata form. With a bright atmosphere, fired on by the sound of trumpets, the theme of the first movement forges ahead and sets the course for the whole work. Lively exuberance and a committed interplay between the soloist and orchestra result in a work that is wholly positive throughout and which remains full of energy yet bell-like and accessible right up to the final movement.
Beethoven : Symphony No. 5 – Symphony No. 4 – Bruno Walter
Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, Korngold – Bruno Walter knew them all: musicians who sought refuge from the henchmen of the Nazi Party in the New World and found artistic fulfilment there. And they all knew him and his meteoric rise to success at all the great houses in Europe. Formed by working with Gustav Mahler in Hamburg, under whose wing he rose from répétiteur to Chorus Director and then to Kapellmeister, Walter took on further posts as Chief Conductor in Vienna, Munich and Leipzig where the talented artist matured to become a true maestro.
Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano : Janos Starker/Gyorgy Sebok
Brahms’s Cello Sonatas could well be described as “romantic expression dressed in classical garb”, filled as they are with the selfsame musical philosophy which is to be found in many of his instrumental works. Although 21 years lay between the two compositions, Brahms remained true to the formal musical language of the Viennese masters, and this brought him – and other composers of his time – the reproach of imitating Beethoven.
Chamber Music From Marlboro – Brahms : Liebeslieder Watzer, Op. 52 / Schubert : The Shepard on the Rock Op. 129
The waltz was perhaps the most important thing that the rather level-headed and conservative Johannes Brahms from Hamburg brought back with him from his sojourn in Vienna. In addition to his purely instrumental waltzes for the piano, he also composed the "Liebeslieder Waltzes" – uniquely folk like and highly original vocal joyfulness in ¾ time. The lyrics are taken from real life and tell of love, longing, desire, and suffering but also of anger and derision.
Charles Mingus : Let My Children Hear Music
On the original LP issued by Columbia, Mingus thanked producer Teo Macero for his »untiring efforts in producing the best album I have ever made.« From his deathbed in Mexico in 1979 he sent a message to Sy Johnson (who was responsible for many of the arrangements on the album), saying that "Let My Children Hear Music" was the record he liked most from his career. Although Mingus' small-group recordings are the ones most often cited as his premier works, this album does, in fact, rank at the top of his oeuvre and compares favorably with the finest large-ensemble jazz recordings by anyone, including Ellington.
Chet Baker : and his quintet with bobby jaspar
In answer to an offer from Nicole Barclay, Chet Baker arrived in Paris early in September 1955. On the 22nd – or maybe the 23rd – he signed a contract to make seven records... (The figure was later erased and replaced by 'three', which turned out to be correct). Released after the trumpeter’s return to the USA, this last volume was construed as rather a poor relation opposite the others in the trilogy, all the more so because, hurriedly drafted, the sleeve-notes did little to render unto Caesar the things which were Caesar’s. Unlike the earlier opuses, this one was in no way a concept-album: it contented itself with a simple overview of Chet’s Parisian associations, depending on where his fancies took him in the course of his stay.
Debussy : Prelude – Afternoon of a Faun / Nocturnes – Nuages and Fetes
The flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music.« With these words, the star conductor and composer Pierre Boulez stressed the immense importance of the impressionist key work "Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune". Whether one regards the gentle, mysterious opening on the solo flute as a doorway to the avant-garde or simply as a musical representation of the lasciviously fantasising god of Nature Pan (faun) is neither here nor there. What remains fascinating is the passionate performance of the large orchestra, whom the composer refused to subject to angular cadences and bestowed it instead with continually shimmering, ethereal, well-nigh wistful harmony
Dvorak/Bruch : Janos Starker/Kol Nidrei
The outstanding success of our release of Bach’s Cello Suites performed by Janos Starker has encouraged us to follow this up with a no less important interpretation of Dvorák’s Cello Concerto by the Hungarian virtuoso. Starker tackles this concerto with amazing confidence; technical difficulties encountered by others in its performance appear unknown to him. Tonal purity, even in the dreaded upper register and the cadenzas, remains unscathed, so that one can concentrate wholly on the meditative magic of the music.