Enormous gantry cranes, 127 meters long, tower over the wharf at the Port of Yokohama. From the operator's cabins perched 50 meters above ground, crane jockeys, the rock stars of the port, orchestrate the critical work of loading and unloading vessels. Shigeru Kamiakutsu can shift around 50 containers per hour, 50% faster than the global average. But Kamiakutsu himself doesn't aim for a certain number of containers per hour. "Working as a crane jockey", he says, "is not a track meet". For him, handling the containers gently is paramount. Many of his fellow port workers are onboard the container ships during loading. They say the sound of a 40 ton container being set down roughly is like cars colliding head-on. And they can't help but flinch when each huge steel box, as it is lowered toward the deck, blots out the sun and plunges them into darkness. They are handling hundreds of containers a day like this at ultra-close range. Kamiakutsu tries to minimize their stress by setting containers down gently. He pauses just 20cm above the stack, then slowly lowers the container the rest of the way.
The LaFontanne Chemical Company is shipping out a load of we're not sure what, disguised as something entirely different. Mr. Pereaux and Mr. Grock don't want that shipment to ever arrive anywhere, and they and a man named Aquirre mean to stop it at any cost. The ship's owner, Mr. Fontanne, smells a large rat and calls Chan in on the case, since the famous detective is in New Orleans because, well, because he felt like being in New Orleans, I guess. Chan gets what facts there are from LaFontanne, who is promply set upon by a gang who attempt to kidnap him, but fail.
Following the delectable String Symphonies Volume 1 comes an equally delectable Volume 2, with one sinfonia by Johann Stamitz (1717-1757) and three by Franz Xaver Richter (1709-1789). Where Volume 1 covered works from 1740-1750, this one covers the period 1750-1755. The musicians play on period instruments with unequalled elegance and warmth. Producers should use this absolutely superb recordings as a reference model. Rarely baroque music has sounded with so much detail and perfect sound quality.
The New Dutch Academy Mannheim Project is an immense project involving original material from dozens of libraries throughout the world, the analysis of manuscripts, the preparation of working scores, the consultation of treatises and other sources; thought about aesthetically schools, flows, changes and in relation to instruments, playing techniques and musical realization; and the combination of all this with performance, learning the Mannheim language, and bringing the music to life. Through this album we are very proud to launch our Mannheim Project, and to set the tone for the resulting series of recordings which will present newly discovered works, many of which will appear here for the first time in recorded form.