Edwyn Collins sounds more relaxed and assured than ever on Doctor Syntax, his fifth solo album. Responsible for virtually every single sound on the album, other than some treatments and programming from Sebastian Lewsley and drums by Paul Cook, Collins focuses all of his energy into crafting fascinating postmodern tunes. Though there's a lo-fi feel to the beats and samples and only a modest amount of texture added to the guitars, it's a remarkably lush and layered-sounding album. Indeed, it even brings to mind the quasi-medieval rumblings of Momus and the mystical frivolity of Baby Bird, without those artists' trademark lunacy. Themes of Beatles adulation, condemned ex-lovers, and introspective questioning fit nicely with Collins' moody, quirky vibes. Gone is the rage and noise of I'm Not Following You, and in its place is a focus on sometimes gentle melodies and emotions.
Continuing with with my previous video upload, here is the 2nd Lecture pronounced at Harvard in 1973 by Leonard Bernstein as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry during his tenure from 1971 onwards.
If you are only ever going to listen to one disc of the music of Anton Webern, make it this one. It has more of his appealing orchestral music on it than any other disc. There is the Passacaglia, Op. 1 - the finale of Brahms Fourth meets the finale of Mahler's Sixth. There is the Movements (5), Op. 5 - angular, aggressive, and rapturous. There is the Pieces (6), Op. 6 - tender, mysterious, and tragic. There is his pointillistic orchestration of Bach's Ricercar a 6 voci - cool dots of color illuminating a mathematical proof. There is his affectionate orchestration of Schubert's German Dances - lightly lyrical peasant dances done with loving care. There is even his Im Sommerwind - a Romantic tone poem describing his trysts in the Austrian alps.
In this first complete survey of the Boccherini symphonies, Johannes Goritzki's achievement is remarkable. Himself a cellist, he shows a natural feeling for Boccherini's special combination of galant and classical styles, revealing the music's strengths rather than its weaknesses, making the most of its colour and revelling in its fecundity of invention and easy tunefulness. The playing - on modern instruments - of the German Chamber Academany Orchestra of Neuss is alert, polished and warmhearted, besides showing a nice feeling for Boccherini's delicate Andantinos, which are never sentimentalized. The recording is excellently balanced and has plenty of life and bloom (Penguin Guide To Compact Discs)
It may be rash to claim that the French pianist Monique Haas (1909-1987) never made a bad recording, but you won't find one among her complete DG sessions. Dating from the late 1940s up to 1965, the recordings have been transferred from scratch, and they sound remarkably well for their respective vintages. The repertoire is diverse and unhackneyed, ranging from Mozart piano duets (with Heinz Schröter) and K. 449 and K. 488 concertos, rare Haydn gems (the E-flat Arietta with Variations and the Fantasia in C major), and the Stravinsky Capriccio, to Hindemith's Concert Music for piano, brass and harps (with the composer conducting), and a substantial sonata by Marcel Mihalovici (the pianist's husband) featuring violinist Max Rostal.