Antonio Salieri set Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor to music in 1799, and his work was successfully premiered in Vienna the same year. Michael Hampe staged Salieris’s Falstaff at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival in 1995 with similar success – wonderfully supported by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Arnold Östman. The libretto by Carlo Prospero Defranceschi reduces Shakespeare’s original play to a few main characters and drastically simplifies the plot. This gives John Del Carlo, Teresa Ringholz, Richard Croft and Delores Ziegler a lot of space for their artistic interpretation and brilliant singing. The work lives from the wealth of the Italian opera buffa and absorbed influences from the German Singspiel (song-play), and delights with a number of great arias.
The original soundtrack to Steven Soderbergh's striking drug war drama Traffic features Cliff Martinez's sparse, evocative score, classical pieces, and electronica, resulting in a collection of music that's nearly as complex and diverse as the film it accompanies. Martinez, who has scored virtually all of Soderbergh's films (except Erin Brockovich), proves once again why they work together so often: the score's atmospheric drones and understated rhythms build a restrained, implosive tension far better than blaring orchestral pieces. Like the film itself, Martinez' pieces aren't obvious. They don't tell the listener what to feel; they just set the scene and let the audience fill in the blanks. And though big beat songs like Fatboy Slim's "Give the Po' Man a Break" and Kruder & Dorfmeister's remix of Rockers Hi-Fi's "Going Under" could be too much of a contrast with Martinez' airy compositions, the album is deftly sequenced, allowing for the highs and lows of the score and songs like Morcheeba's "On the Road Again," Wilhelm Kempff's "Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor," and Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)." Though it sounds even better in conjunction with the film, Traffic is still one of 2000's best soundtracks.