MO MANDEL/The M Word: If the hippies were rebelling against the straights, maybe the hippie's kids rebelled to be like their grandparents. For a cat with a hippie upbringing that he could have mined for a mother lode of material, Mandel is more of a pomo Henny Youngman with some Shelley Berman angst thrown in for good measure. Stand up with lite observations stuff mixed in along the way as a breather, Comedy Central has another home grown winner with this funny man that can schpritz or story tell as he sees fit. And you don't only have to be in your 20s to get it to like it. Certainly this month's pause that refreshes.
PAUL LEWIS/Schubert Piano Sonatas: Every time I turn around, Lewis is serving up another platter full of legend making triumphs. This time around, he leaves Beethoven in the dust to return to his old pal, Schubert, a staple of his live work, and blows the roof off a handful of sonatas swept across a double cd because there was probably too much passion flowing to stop the clock after 80 minutes of recording. Clearly one of the contemporary masters and one who will be remembered as one of the greats, this dramatic, passion piano collection is a monster. Get your hearing checked if this set doesn't move you in every way.
TOKYO STRING QUARTET/Schubert String Quintet: Bringing in a ringer to help them flesh out the last of Schubert's works along these lines, the crew is up to the task. Like Lewis, they are also leaving Beethoven behind to tackle what Schubert left behind for them to bring to life. A deep, dramatic reading that's flawless throughout, this is first class Sunday afternoon grown up music that never fails you. The high octane pairing of the players ad the music was a match made in heaven and that's all there is to say. Killer stuff.
OLD TOWN SCHOOL RECORDINGS
LIVE FROM OLD TOWN SCHOOL/Vol 1, 2, 3, 4: Over 50 years ago when bohos, suburban bohos and slumming lawyers first opened the Old Town School's doors, little did they realize the headache they would leave behind when they got WFMT to first roll tape to preserve the performances and they did nothing in their probable commie naivety to get releases in case some rooting tooting technology came along and young whippersnappers wanted to open the achieves to posterity. 127 headaches later, the young whippersnappers issue four volumes consisting of the first batch of 127 songs that cover a smattering of everything and everyone OTS was/is. Chicago institutions from Win Stracke to Jeff Tweedy trod the boards and left the music behind. As with any omnibus collection that tries to cover several generations in a single mouthful, it's hard to make something for everybody be something for everybody, the work has been broken down into four themes where, within each, there's something for everybody that pretty well hit's the mark throughout. If you're a folkie, you'd be stupid to be a piker and not hoover up the whole thing. Unless you're truly a provincial flag waver, you have to admit this is as much of a cornerstone folk record as the Harry Smith and Broadside omnibus collections. With such a bounty of riches by contemporary stars, those gone and those forgotten, you just have to gorge yourself because this kind of fullness doesn't come along every day, even in the digital age. Essential to any folk music fan's collection.
WALTER GIESEKING/Debussy Complete Works for Piano: Look the other way here and there and even though these recordings are older than dirt, they came from a time and place by a player that was really into what he was doing, sparing no nuance or rest stop to convey the richness of Debussy's piano works at a time almost contemporaneous with when they were hot off the press. With something like the hand in glove precision that made all those Scorsese/DeNiro pictures so great, the music stretched across thee 4 cds is the kind of stuff you wan t to soak up all in one sitting---whether you intend to or not. Despite this being a complete body of work, there's no lows or in betweens, just one high after another. A strictly first class collection, the kind of which that helped give classical music it's tony reputation.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN/Shostakovich-symphony 5-Piano Concerto 2: Jazz isn't the only music that have young lions on the prowl. These 1960 recordings that show Bernstein just fresh from his multi format victories finds him adding so much drama and depth thee works that the result is nothing short of cinematic. Well recorded in the first place and newly remastered, this is as close as you are going to get to the musical experience of this symphony without a pricey audiophile release. The kind of stuff that sets reputations in cement for posterity, this is a classic classical set well worth revisiting.
ALFRED BRENDEL/Plays Liszt: Are you always amazed when something 60 years old can still be a debut recording at this point in time? So it goes with the guts of this recording, "The Christmas Tree Suite". A top shelf interpreter of Liszt, this classical fastball right down the middle shows the timelessness of well done classical recordings. With a well rounded program giving many flavors of the side s of Liszt, Brendel knew this music inside out and performed accordingly brilliant.
SIR ADRIAN BOULT/Conducts Elgar: If there's a such ting a digging in the crates, classical style. Certainly this recording was made before the dawn of time and it's 5 cds chock full of a master delivering the goods. From "Falstaff" to the graduation march, Elgar had the bases covered and Boult uncovers them in fine form. An utterly delightful discovery, this is the kind of goodie that will keep the deep classical fan rapturously busy for hours. With so much wonderful stuff to chose from, the pickings are easy, and with fatso collections like this, with all the discs packed to the gills, it's so nice to sit back and take it all in rather than make choices.
Volume 34/Number 363
October 30, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record
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