Harry Connick, Jr.'s vocals perfectly fit the moods throughout the 1989 Billy Crystal film When Harry Met Sally. This soundtrack album (which stands apart from the movie) was a big hit and a major step forward for the young pianist-vocalist, although it appears to have been the high point of his career. Connick warmly sings such numbers as "It Had to Be You," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "But Not for Me," and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," while usually accompanied by bassist Benjamin Wolfe, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, and a big band. Frank Wess' warm tenor makes a brief appearance on "Our Love Is Here to Stay." In addition, there are a few melodic instrumentals, including some solo Connick piano on "Winter Wonderland" and "Autumn in New York." Highly recommended.
This is the second recording by BIS of Sally Beamish’s music, and the four pieces it contains confirm utterly her high standing. Her work is thoughtfully lyrical, intense, individual, instinctively dramatic, in ways that remind me somewhat of Nicholas Mawmusic. Like him she has a particular gift for expressive harmony and timbre. The earliest piece here is No, I’m not afraid (1989), six poignant poems written from prison by Irina Ratushinskaya spoken – by Beamish herself – against sparse but hugely effective instrumental backgrounds and interspersed with five purely instrumental interludes. The disc opens with The Caledonian Road of 1997. The name of this piece refers not just to the north London thoroughfare remembered by Beamish from childhood but to her own pilgrimage northward to Scotland, where she now lives. The music resonates with a sense of ritual, of something inevitable. By contrast, the work that follows, the unabashedly poetic The Day Dawn (written for a summer school organised by Contemporary Music-making for Amateurs in 1997, and revised in 2000) derives from a Shetland fiddle tune, and is all about new beginnings. And finally there’s the saxophone concerto The Imagined Sound of Sun on Stone (1999), whose starting point is a Swedish herding call – used as a kind of ritornello – but which is drenched in a plethora of references primeval, religious, mystical and contemporary, music at once hard and soft edged. Fine playing from the soloist, John Harle, in this work and throughout the disc by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under Ola Rudner.
Rob Reiner's romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as the title pair. The film opens with the two strangers, both newly graduated from the University of Chicago, share a car trip from Chicago to New York, where they are both going to make their way. During the trip, they discuss aspects of their characters and their lives, eventually deciding it is impossible for men and women to be "just friends." They arrive in New York and go their separate ways. They meet a few years later on an airplane and Harry reveals he is married. They meet again at a bookstore a few years after that where Harry reveals he is now divorced. From that point on, the two form a friendship. Eventually their closeness results in their respective best friends (played by Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby) meeting and falling in love with each other.
Emmylou Harris once called her 1985 release The Ballad Of Sally Rose, one of the singer’s most personal albums, a country opera. The song cycle is based loosely on her short time with influential singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, who died in 1973. Known more for singing songs written by others, this was Harris’ first self-composed album and it remains one of her favourites.
Britain-to-Scotland transplant Sally Beamish wasn't just self-taught as an orchestral composer: you might say she learned by doing. According to her notes on this BIS release, one of a group covering her orchestral output, she had never written an orchestral piece or even studied orchestration when the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, commissioned her Symphony No. 1 in 1994. The result was a work full of unusual sonorities, rather loosely woven but constantly surprising, that drew on various features (formal and textural, not tonal) of the music of Scotland.