BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA-IVAN FISCHER, conductor/Dvorak-Symphony 7 in D Minor: Fischer knows how to dig so deep into the music that you can hear Brahms influence on Dvorak quite clearly. Simply a wonderful listening record for any serious music fan that just loves to hear things done right, whether they are a classical fan or not, Fischer shows himself to be one of the great conductors and his orchestra is really there to play. "Suite in A Major", the accompanying piece in this set is much lighter but no less enjoyable. It balances out the program perfectly. A moving, masterful work, there's nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the sonic glory of the playing and the audio presentation which melds SACD, DSD and multi channel surround 5.0. There's nothing here that's missing except maybe a few awards. Well done.
BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA-IVAN FISCHER, conductor/Dvorak-Symphony 8 in G Major; Symphony 9 in E Minor: What's up with Channel Classics being afraid we'd have too much of a good thing? This companion piece to the other Dvorak set could have easily been a grand double album/box set. All the praise that went with symphony 7 comes along to this set as well. This might be the more mainstream of the pair since symphony 9, also known as "From the New World" is a familiar, warhorse piece that everyone knows. No matter, it's given a dramatic, fresh, new reading here and nobody in tow makes promises they can't keep. Wonderful, sweeping music that is executed with flawless presentation throughout. Clearly well done work taken quite seriously.
JUDY GARLAND & LIZA MINELLI/Live at the London Palladium: Ok homophobes, enough time has passed that Kathy Griffin has over taken Garland as the major domo gay icon so you can feel free to listen to Garland for the music and decide what you hear. This set of the mother/daughter team is a worthy follow up to the Garland at Carnegie Hall album, which was not only the original pace setter for live double albums, some people think it's the greatest live album of all time. This fleshed out edition, which has never been on cd before, with so much of the show in one package, is sure to piss off the moldy figs in the audience since it's still not the whole show and the errors and omissions will give some the vapors. Still, it's 60s entertainment from some of the hottest masters of the form. Kicking it out on the standards before they became iconic song fodder for the current divas, this set is packed to the bytes with SHOW BIZ!, even more than Rufus Wainwright can handle. If you really love entahtainmint, this is the place as the dynamic duo are on board giving it their all.
ALEXANDER MELNIKOV/Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues: Ah, the changing faces of classical music and all the things they bring to the fore. For the longest time, we've had the accepted last word on these Shostakovich works but here's the proof that the last don't last forever as Melnikov brings new color and interpretation to these works. Deftly doing it all with solo piano, this is intimate as opposed to claustrophobic. With a keen ear for the use of white space, Melnikov doesn't over play or wear out his welcome and plays with such a light and skillful touch that I wouldn't want to try to beat him at a game of "Operation". A big, fat double cd with a DVD bonus, this is the new last word and it's going to be hard for anyone to move him from this spot for quite some time.
GERALD FINLEY-JULIUS DRAKE/Songs and Proverbs of William Blake (Britten): Want to be transported to an English drawing room in the early 1900 swhen people took stuff like Gilbert & Sullivan seriously and Fraser/Sideshow Bob would not be out of place at all? The piano man is so unobtrusive that this is almost the vocalist's show all the way. The songs are pulled from all quadrants and it's actually more of a fun album than it looks on paper. Finley has tremendous baritone pipes and he carries the proceedings off incredibly well. Fun stuff for classical fans that love a good diversion.
NATALIE CLEIN-JULIUS DRAKE/Kodaly: With a name like Zoltan Kodaly, you'd think this would have a ready made appeal to little girls into the whole vampire thing even if they don't know what this is about. A cello/piano match up that takes chamber music to places you've only seen in dreams, this Hungarian national composer left behind a trove of deep, dramatic music that little girls into vampires might just dig despite themselves. Beautifully played, this is way up market romance music for those that are far too sophisticated for the room. Purely a grand experience that might just leave you breathless.
LAURIE ANTONIOLI/American Dreams: Left leaning, eclectic, sitting down jazz fans have the mother lode here as this ‘jazz' singer refuses to be pigeon holed in any way shape or form even if you do have to start from somewhere. Having very much gone over to Euro sensibilities as much as possible, her first stateside release in 20 years finds her bringing it all back home for the sophisticated listener looking to sit back and have the work done for him. A very outside the box experience.
VALERY GERGIEV/Stravinsky--Oedipus Rex-Les Noces: Well, this is the real deal, even if they pulled in a Frenchy to do the narration. A pure Russian classical extravaganza, this was music embraced by the nationals as their country and hearts were being ripped apart by upheaval. Gergiev knows how to capture the feelings of generations ago and distills them into such a passionate, you-are-there experience that it's a shame this might not reach beyond the classical hard core cognoscenti. Got a taste for a full on Russian classical experience? This is crazy good and is cinematic in scope throughout. A wild ride that simply will not let you down.
Volume 33/Number 233
June 22 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record
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Thank you for all you do to support music. I'd love to send you a copy of Chicago's Lisa McClowry's new CD, "Time Signatures" for review. She just co-starred in a film short written by horror legend Tom Holland (Fright Night and Child's Play "Chuck") as well. Please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org