Classical Music CDs, DVDs

Staff Reviews

Ryuichi Sakamoto is best known for his film score music. On this recording he has fashioned some of these themes for a piano, cello & violin setting, giving the pieces a decidedly chamber music sound. Debussy or Satie are composers that spring to mind to give an idea of related worlds, with a Japanese accent. Very calming and attractive. Christine Hinton 2013.

The Streeton Trio devotes a whole cd to the compositions of Elena Kats-Chernin, her customary variety of rhythms well on display, from the vigorous to the romantic. I’m sure the trio had much fun exploring “Gypsy Ramble” for example. There is also an arrangement of some themes from the “Wild Swans” ballet and her ever-popular “Russian Rag”. Thoroughly enjoyable to hear this music in a trio setting.  Christine Hinton 2013.

A dvd compiled from seven Opera Australia productions recorded at the Sydney Opera House and the State Theatre in Melbourne from the 2011 & 2012 seasons. Some singers are shown in more than one opera, giving a glimpse of their range. For instance, Emma Matthews singing up a storm from a flying chandelier in Verdi’s La Traviata, then the glorious “Bell Song” and “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ Lakme. From Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, there is a finely sung “Dove Sono” with Rachel Durkin who then joins Taryn Fiebig for the lovely “Sull’aria”. One of the most sublime duets in all opera is the presentation of the rose in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, here beautifully sung by Catherine Carby and Emma Pearson, though unfortunately the ending is abruptly edited for this collection instead of being faded. Still that could be an inducement to see the full production from which it comes, as each of these operas is available individually. This is a fitting souvenir and serves as a good introduction to the world of opera. Christine Hinton. 2013.

UK chanteuse Mary Carewe accompanied by Australian pianist Philip Mayers, present a wide-ranging program spanning decades to include familiar George Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Noel Coward and lesser known pieces such as a James Joyce setting by Samuel Barber (gorgeous piano in this one), a Patrick White setting by Carl Vine, and some treats from William Bolcom. The disc commences with the most tender version of "Diamonds are Forever" you'll ever hear, far removed from the original. Storytelling songs of attitudes and behaviour, of love found and lost, from a vocalist who possesses immaculate clarity of diction and vocal colour, and a pianist who is with her all the way. Christine Hinton 2013.

Tenor Roberto Alagna draws on a little of his heritage with this collection of songs from Cuba, Mexico and Argentina. Popular selections include "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas", "La Cumparsita", "Cielito Lindo", "Besame Mucho" and "Siboney". Musical direction is by Yvan Cassar who provides appropriate instrumentation and an infectious atmosphere. Thoroughly enjoyable, guaranteed to have those toes tapping. Ay, ay, ay, ay, indeed.  Christine Hinton 2012.

This cd marks the third issue in a 25 year collaboration of jazz pianist Tony Gould with guitarist Peter Petrucci. From the opening of the first melody, the standard For All We Know, the mood is set: gentle, reflective and supportive interplay. The following material is all original while maintaining the atmosphere. The final piece is Emmanuel by Michel Colombier, with Tony providing a keyboard string cushion. A lovely closer to a lovely album. Am ultimately reminded of that other great partnership of Bill Evans and Jim Hall.

Enrico Rava, veteran Italian jazz trumpeter, has been inspired to try his hand with the songs of Michael Jackson. These are given a big band treatment with arrangements by Mauro Ottolini, who also plays a mean trombone on one of the tracks. Thriller and Privacy, with it's loping rockiness, both generate a lot of heat in the brass. Charles Chaplin's ballad Smile is thrown in to calm the atmosphere and shows off the mellow side of Rava, then the tempo surprisingly segues into a mainstream combo. Good popular music has always been mined by jazz musicians over the decades, and the tradition continues with this project. Christine Hinton. 2012.

Karl Jenkins CBE has recently been declared the most performed living composer. His "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" has struck a chord with many people. Now this work "The Peacemakers" has arrived.

The text has been drawn from the likes of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Shelley and others, also from a variety of religions. I particularly liked the 'Fanfara' movement as the chorus sings the word peace in various languages with emphatic rhythm. There are some lovely oriental flute passages in 'Inner Peace', some celtic flavouring with a beautiful Amen in 'Healing Light', and a lyrical violin for 'Solitude'. With choruses delicate and rousing, The Peacemakers should strike many more chords. Karl Jenkins knows how to write a tune.  Christine Hinton 2012

The much admired jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal is now in his 82nd. year and his latest recording finds him still with plenty of know-how in a quartet setting. With a repertoire of standards and three originals that could indeed become standards, Ahmad is a lyrical improviser and has an inventive way with arrangements. This is a thoroughly likeable recording and an in-shop favourite.   Christine Hinton 2012.

Written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th 1912, Robin Gibb (Bee Gees) together with his son R.J. Gibb and orchestrator/conductor Cliff Masterson have created the Titanic Requiem. It opens with an impressive male chorus representing the shipbuilding effort, then moves through attractive orchestral sections depicting at times an idyllic atmosphere and joyfull pastimes. The Kyrie movement introduces a foreboding air culminating in a chilling event, an unforgettable orchestral moment.(Not unlike that which occurs in The Beatles' "Day in the Life"). A solo piano interlude provides needed calm and reflection. Individual songs sung by Mario Frangoulis, Isabel Suckling, and Robin Gibb himself, will no doubt have lives away from the body of this work. Overall this is a creditable effort. In a way surprising there have not been more works on this subject but one I would like to recommend is "The Sinking of the Titanic" by Gavin Bryars, vastly different in style but there is beauty in the way he captures a ghostly underwater world. Christine Hinton 2012.