This recently-discovered release is certainly the jazz find of the year so far in 2007. In much the way that John Coltrane/Thelonious Monk Live at Carnegie Hall and, to some extent, the live Coltrane document One Up, One Down, Cornell 1964 brings a major piece of jazz history into focus in the best way possible–with an actual recording that documents it.
Following their internationally acclaimed recording of Steve Reich's masterpiece Music For 18 Musicians, Ensemble Signal and Brad Lubman present two recent pieces by the composer: Double Sextet from 2007 and Radio Rewrite from 2012. Double Sextet is scored for two sextets of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music - the first for the composer. Radio Rewrite is a work for instrumental ensemble inspired by two songs by the British rock band Radiohead - ''Jigsaw Falling into Place'' and ''Everything in Its Right Place.'' The piece represents the first time that Reich has reworked material from western pop/rock music. These strong, tuneful, energetic, tightly made works receive impassioned performances from Ensemble Signal, who The New York Times has called 'one of the most vital groups of its kind.'
Baldassare Galuppi held the position of church organist, from which he composed operas for the Italian stage. Since his forte was the keyboard, his operas have nice harpsichord recitatives (which usually I detest) and the harmonics are contrapuntal. Galuppi as a youth had studied counterpoint under Antonio Lotti, the first organist at St Mark's. Galuppi became cembalist in the great opera houses of Venice, and was involved in the first presentations of Vivaldi's operas there. Galuppi himself wrote at least 111 operas, the best of which are collaborations with the librettist Goldoni. The young Mozart reused some of the librettos that already existed in settings by Galuppi, and the mature Mozart raised to sublime heights the dramma giocoso form which Galuppi practically invented. This release supplies a missing link between Mozart and the opera world before his time.
This disc strikes me as an ideal introduction to the music of Turkey’s greatest composer. Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s style might be described as “Szymanowski with a primal rhythmic feel.” If you love the composer’s First Violin Concerto then you will find here a very similar exoticism, nocturnal atmosphere, and love of voluptuous textures. The harmonic style is intensely chromatic, but also highly melodic. Like Bartók in his last period, Saygun’s handling of tonality mellowed toward the end of his life, which makes the Cello Concerto more consonant than the Viola Concerto, but both works are absolutely gorgeous and masterpieces of their kind. It’s positively criminal that no one plays these pieces regularly in concert. The performances here are excellent. Tim Hugh is a well-known cellist, and he pours on the tone with all of the rhapsodic abandon that Saygun requires. Mirjam Tschopp also is a superb violist, with a big, beefy tone that never gets swamped by the intricate orchestration. It’s also very rewarding to hear a Turkish orchestra in this music–and to find that it plays beautifully under Howard Griffiths.