MusicWeb writes.....Once the preserve of Russia's Orthodox churches, this rich choral tradition has now found some fine exponents further west. Several conductors/ensembles spring to mind, among them the Phoenix and Kansas City Chorales, led by Charles Bruffy. I first heard them in Gretchaninoff's Passion Week, a much-cherished Chandos release that was also one of my top picks for 2007. They followed that up in 2014, with a similarly successful account of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil. (My comparative review was headlined by a 2012 BIS recording of the same work, featuring Kaspars Putniņš and the Netherlands Radio Choir. This is yet another partnership that excels in this repertoire.) Staying Stateside, there's Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare, whose 2013 album, The Sacred Spirit of Russia, was ‘a joy from start to finish' (Harmonia Mundi). And one mustn't overlook Alexander Lingas and his Oregon-based Cappella Romana, whose own-label recording of Maximilian Steinberg's Passion Week so impressed John Quinn back in 2015.
Nearly all the works in More Honourable than the Cherubim are new to me, but, as I soon discovered, there's so much to enjoy here. Indeed, the opener, Petar Dinev's ‘It Is Truly Meet' has a purity of tone and certainty of line that augurs well for what's to come. One of the most striking things about Chesnokov, as revealed in Teach Me Thy Statutes, is the sheer strength and consistency of his work. That's borne out by ‘O Theotokos, We Shall Never Cease Proclaiming', the first of several contributions to this new collection. Its thrilling weight and amplitude are a pleasing foil to the Dinev; that's a sign of astute programming. Different again is Gretchaninoff's ‘Let us Hasten with Fervour', the burnished, gold-leaf loveliness of this choir sure to ravish the ear and batter the heart. (Such epiphanies move me to say that as much as I admire Pavel Grigorievich's output, that of Alexander Tikhonovich occupies a very special place in my affections.)
A magnificent release, beautifully conducted, flawlessly sung and incredibly well recorded; indeed, it's sure to be one of my Recordings of the Year.
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La Scena Musicale's PAUL E. ROBINSON writes......The lockdowns and restrictions have been trying for all. For those who care about classical music not to be able to hear music live has been frustrating. And for those who make music for a living it can be soul-destroying or even career-destroying. Yannick Nézet-Séguin has seen his usual whirlwind of concerts in Montreal, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere reduced to a trickle. Last summer, when he was able to do almost no conducting he reverted to the piano and the result is this fascinating solo album recorded in the concert hall at Domaine Forget in the Charlevoix region of Quebec. In effect, Yannick was forced to make music by himself. But there was another inspiration. His longtime piano teacher Anisia Campos (1928-2020) had just passed away. Madame Campos was born in Brazil and later studied with Cortot and Arrau. Yannick studied with her in Montreal for nearly 10 years.
Yannick recently appeared with the Orchestre Métropolitain playing Mozart, but his solo performances are rare. But as might be expected with such a gifted musician, when he sits down at the piano, he has something to say. In this album repertoire has been carefully chosen to relate to the melancholy many of us have felt during the past year. None of the pieces chosen are about technical virtuosity. Even the Scarlatti (Sonata in B minor K. 87), Haydn (Sonata No. 33 in C minor) and Mozart (Adagio in B minor K. 540) pieces are tinged with sadness, and yes, introspection. Yannick plays them all with care and conviction and resists the temptation to make them express more than their composers intended.
READ THE FULL La Scena REVIEW
HollywoodSoapbox - Jon Soltes writes.....It's not everyday that a new orchestral piece comes around that has been inspired by robotics, artificial intelligence and the relationship between humans and inanimates, but that's exactly what listeners can expect when taking in the sounds of Lim Fantasy of Companionship for Piano & Orchestra. The new work comes courtesy of French composer Manu Martin, who was commissioned to write the piece by Dr. Susan Lim, a pioneer in robotic surgery from Singapore, according to press notes.
Both Lim and Dr. Christina Teenz Tan are billed as creators of the work, and their efforts have now produced a recording of the piece, out now from Signum Records. Included on the album are pianist Tedd Joselson, London Voices and the London Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of maestro Arthur Fagen.
The album was recorded in 2019 at Abbey Road Studios, and the songs are pulled from another project, a musical named ALAN, which is also the name of the inanimate robot at the center of the narrative. Recently Hollywood Soapbox exchanged emails with Tan about the project. Questions and answers have been slightly edited for style.
READ THE HollywoodSoapbox Q&A with Dr. Christina Teenz Tan
Piazzolla: Cien Años (Centaur) commemorates the 100th birthday of the Argentine bandoneón virtuoso and composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). Bandoneón soloist Juanjo Mosalini joins the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, under the direction of its Conductor Emerita, Gisèle Ben-Dor. The recording opens with Piazzolla's bandoneón concerto, Aconcagua. Four world premiere recordings follow, all, like Aconcagua, scored here for bandoneón and orchestra. First is Mosalini's vibrant Tomá, Tocá (Take It, Play It), dedicated to Tomás Gubitsch, an electric guitarist who performed with Piazzolla. Mosalini composed the reflective Cien Años (One Hundred Years) in memory of his grandfather. The timing of the work's creation also coincides with the Piazzolla centenary. Mosalini's arrangements of Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estacíones Porteñas) and Libertango conclude the disc. Cien Años and the arrangement of The Four Seasons were both commissioned by Ben-Dor. Mosalini is a superb instrumentalist, a technically brilliant artist whose playing is both unfailingly kinetic, and suave in tone and phrasing. It is seductive music making; and isn't that perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to an interpreter of tangos? Mosalini layers improvisational elements into Piazzolla's three-movement Aconcagua, certainly appropriate for the character of this music, and highly effective. Both Mosalini's Tomá, Tocá and Cien Años are brief, single-movement works that feature a convincing and beguiling synthesis of various popular and classical elements, very much in the Piazzolla tradition. Piazzolla composed the movements of the work now known as The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires separately, and over a period of about 5 years. It is now known as a unified work (sometimes a concert companion to Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni) and has been arranged for various complements of instruments. In his arrangement for bandoneón and orchestra, Mosalini adds connective tissue so that that the four movements are performed without pause. It's a lovely effect, and one that fits into the work's 25-minute time span without strain. The disc concludes with a stirring rendition of one of Piazzolla's signature works, Libertango. Conductor Gisèle Ben-Dor has long been a superb advocate for Latin-American music. Here, she leads the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in performances that are teeming with color, style, and irrepressible energy. The recording, which positions the listener in close proximity to the artists (but not oppressively so), packs considerable impact. Both Pablo Aslan and Ben-Dor contribute lively and informative commentary for the CD booklet, which also includes artist bios. A worthy and highly engaging centenary tribute to the father of the Tango Nuevo. Recommended. - Ken Meltzer
It's a meeting of electronic and acoustic percussion and ethereal moods with Jomoro. This is the project of percussionists Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco with guest artists including Sharon Van Etten and Lucious. Veterans of artists like David Byrne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Atoms for Peace and more, they've conceived an album that's like Can meets Tropicália meets the avant-garde on their debut album, Blue Marble Sky. We beat the drums of Jomoro on Echoes.
SEE THE ECHOES PAGE LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
RTE's Ruth Barton writes......40 years after its release and with the Olympics in full swing, it's time to reassess the film with the iconic theme tune. If ever there was a film for a sporting occasion, Chariots of Fire is it. As we conclude the final lap of the marathon that is 2021's delayed Olympic Games, it is to the tune of Vangelis' iconic soundtrack that the IOC must surely move as they take their places looking down over the (empty) stands.
Directed by Hugh Hudson, produced by David Puttnam and written by Colin Welland, Chariots of Fire is routinely nominated as Best Olympic Film Ever 40 years after its release. More than that, it is also Joe Biden's favourite film. He referenced it in his 2008 run for the White House and again in his first address as president-elect. This, after all, is a story of good men and heroes who stick by their principles and win.
READ THE FULL RTE ARTICLE
Lowak Shoppala' expresses Chickasaw identity through the medium of modern classical music and theatre through eight scenes and features orchestra, narration of a libretto by Chickasaw poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Linda Hogan, children's chorus, traditional Chickasaw and classical vocal soloists, and Chickasaw storytellers. Each scene (Fire and Light, Double Header, Shell Shaker, Clans, Removal, Spider Brings Fire, Hymn, Double Header & Finale) depicts a part of Chickasaw culture and history and is sung in Chickasaw.
The recording, conducted by Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, features the Chickasaw Nation Children's Chorus and Nashville String Machine, an ensemble made up of musicians from the Nashville Symphony, and soloists including narrators Richard Ray Whitman, Lynn Moroney, and Wes Studi (Dances with Wolves); baritone Stephen Clark; and sopranos Chelsea Owen and Meghan Vera Starling.
Born in Oklahoma, Mr. Tate lives under dual citizenship – United States and Chickasaw. His father is a Chickasaw lawyer and tribal judge who authored the current tribal constitution and his mother is of Manx descent originally from Nebraska. In addition to being an active leader of American Indian law and politics, Mr. Tate's father is a classically trained pianist and baritone and his mother was a professional choreographer and dancer, leading to Mr. Tate's immersion into American dance, musical theater, and opera. Like his classical composer role models such as Claude Debussy (France), Bela Bartók (Hungary), and Igor Stravinsky (Russia), Mr. Tate strongly identifies with his culture and imbues it into all of his compositions.
LISTEN TO THE Classic 107.3 - St. Louis SEGMENT
JUNO Award winner Laila Biali's new album, Out of Dust features not only contributions from the singer/pianist's husband; Ben Wittman and son, but also multiple GRAMMY nominees and winners including Lisa Fisher, Alan Ferber, John Ellis, and Larnell Lewis. "There's a line from a song by the indie gospel group, Gungor, that has become like an anthem to me," Biali says. "‘He makes beautiful things out of dust.' That's where the title for the album comes from, and as a songwriter and musician, my ultimate intention and hope is to spread a little more love."
JUNO Award-winning artist, Laila Biali, graces us with her stunning Joni Michell cover of the classic love song, A Case Of You, just in time for Valentine's Day! Accompanying the track is a captivating video of the live performance captured live off the floor at Revolution Recording Studios – inviting any listener into the moment with Biali. Watch the full video here.
Arranged by Biali, and her husband, Ben Wittman, on djembe, alongside George Koller on upright bass, this heartfelt interpretation was created with Valentine's Day in mind. A Case Of You was featured earlier this week on CBC Metro Morning, giving listeners an exclusive first preview of the track ahead of its release today.
"My first experience hearing Joni Mitchell's music was when I was still a music student at Humber College," shares Biali. "Hejira and Mingus were the obvious starting point for a Jazz novice as equally interested in the musicians accompanying Joni as in Joni herself. But then along came Blue. That was the one, the album that triggered a lifelong fascination with Joni and her songwriting. She made my heart ache with every feeling, love and loss in the same breath. No song captures that more for me than A Case of You. I think it's the ultimate Valentine's song because it can reach you no matter where you're at – whether you're in love, longing for it, or mourning it."
JUNO-winning artist Laila Biali offers a stirring gospel-infused arrangement of Silent Night, featuring John Ellis on tenor sax. Biali grew up singing the classic carol in harmony with her sisters at candlelit Christmas Eve services year after year, and you can feel the emotion and nostalgia in her powerful delivery.
Laila Biali – vocals, piano, arrangement
John Ellis – tenor saxophone
Glenn Patscha – B3 organ
George Koller – bass
Ben Wittman – drums
Mixed and mastered by Ben Wittman
Artwork by Halla Creative
JUNO and SOCAN Music Award winner Laila Biali celebrates Canadian icon Joni Mitchell's birthday with an intimate cover of Mitchell's beloved song, "Both Sides Now." Biali's stripped down approach illuminates poignant lyrics that speak to the heart.
Multi-award winning singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali has performed on prestigious stages from New York City's Carnegie Hall to Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Known for her signature sound that "masterfully mixes jazz and pop" (Washington Post), Biali has received top honors including a 2020 SOCAN Music Songwriting Award plus the 2019 JUNO (Canada's GRAMMY) for Vocal Jazz Album. She has also toured with pop icon, Sting, and hosts a national radio show on CBC Music.
Laila Biali is at it again, cooking up some fall/winter content including the release of Anthem by Leonard Cohen on Friday, Sept 18, just before Leonard's birthday Sept 21. Biali will record a special 'Quarantunes performance video' for the release.
The 2019 JUNO-Award winner covers fellow Canadian and music icon; Leonard Cohen in 'Anthem,' a relevant song with a salient message for the times we find ourselves in: "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's where the light gets in." Leonard would have turned 86 on September 21, 2020.
This single releases on the heels of Laila's highly-anticipated 2020 album release, Out of Dust, which came out on March 27 and features an expansive ensemble of instrumentalists and singers including GRAMMY Award winners and nominees Lisa Fischer, John Ellis, Larnell Lewis, and others.
For nearly every major triumph-a highly acclaimed return to jazz, winning the JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, touring the world-the singer-songwriter has faced private debilitating crises. In just a few short years, Biali lost a close friend to cancer, mourned a family member's suicide, and was diagnosed with two auto-immune disorders that threatened to upend her career. It was a period of change and heartache-but it was also a season of great inspiration and hope. The result is Biali's deeply personal new album, Out of Dust.