First of the Big Bands is a studio album by Tony Ashton of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, released in April 1974 by Purple Records in the UK and Europe and Warner Bros. Records in the US. The project was Ashton's and Lord's brainchild and continuation of their working relationship after Ashton Gardner & Dyke helped out on Jon Lord's soundtrack album The Last Rebel from 1971. Stylistically, First of the Big Bands was the precursor to Paice Ashton Lord's Malice in Wonderland album from 1977. Most of the album was recorded at Air and Apple Studios, London, with additional work being completed at De Lane Lea and Island.
The much delayed DVD of the Tony Ashton show at Abbey Road in 2000 is finally out on DVD. It has twenty two tracks, including all the PAL and Company Of Snakes performance, as well the three track Tony Ashton set, and Pete York / Eddie Hardin's set. A few of the opening acts are missing, but all the important stuff is here. It's been done as a combined DVD / CD package, so you also get the same set on a 2xCD, all in a thick digipak.
Ever since it’s triumphant premiere in January 1960, Frederick Ashton's La fille mal gardée has been esteemed as one of his happiest creations. This is a charming piece, elegantly performed, a village love affair set in the idyllic Constable landscape of Ashton's imagination. Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta would be show-stoppers in almost any suitable role, but as Lise and Colas they are superb. William Tuckett and Jonathan Howells, in the comic roles of Simone and Alain respectively, are every bit as arresting, both displaying a certain genius for knockabout. The luminously colourful Osbert Lancaster designs, together with the vitality of The Royal Ballet’s dancing and vibrant playing from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Anthony Twiner, serve to augment the harmless good fun at which Ashton excels.
Stradella’s music is as adventurous as was his life and his many fine works receive more and more attention from both press and public. The oratorio Ester, Liberatrix of the Hebrew People, draws on the Old Testament story of Esther, a source of high drama and passion. Excellent Italian line up of soloists, and an ensemble playing authentic instruments, conducted by Luca Franco Ferrari.