Although Sweet Child is usually cited as the group's high-water mark, Basket of Light finds them at their most progressive and exciting. Highlights of this album – which actually reached the Top Five in the U.K. – include the buzzing jazz dynamics of "Light Flight," their moving rendition of the traditional folk song "Once I Had a Sweetheart," their reinvention of the girl group smash "Sally Go Round the Roses," and "Springtime Promises," one of their finest original tunes.
This, one of Tippett's earliest acknowledged works, is one of his most popular. The music relates the true story of a young German Jew who, terrified and enraged at the treatment of his mother, kills a Nazi officer and touches off a violent pogrom. Tippett adopts the structure of Bach's Passions, in which arias alternate with choruses and Lutheran hymns (chorales), although in place of the chorales Tippett substitutes magnificently moving Negro spirituals. "A Child of our Time" offers music of rage, poignancy, and deep compassion. As the title itself implies, it is both specific to a certain time and place, and universal as well. No lover of classical music can afford to ignore it.
Grammy® Award-winner Gloria Cheng brings an exquisite array of touch to this programme which couples the first mature works of Olivier Messiaen with the darkly radiant music of Kaija Saariaho. The Calder Quartet joins Ms. Cheng for Saariaho's 2003 trio 'Je sens un deuxième coeur' and Messiaen's 'Pièce pour piano et quatuor à cordes'. Saariaho attended this first recording of her ‘Ballade’ and ‘Prelude’.
The fretless bass is a wonderful musical instrument and Mark Egan is one of the few musicians to play it well. In fact, not many bassists, fretless or fretted, can play a six-minute bass solo, as Egan does on "Waterfall Cafe," without utterly boring the audience. Even though some of the performances are low-key, Egan never bores on A Touch of Light.