Naxos’ exciting and important American Classics series now includes music of the present day, in this case three recent works by Philip Glass. The Violin Concerto, a work that (surprisingly) adheres to classical conventions, lures us in with beautiful, seductive harmonies. Glass relies both on his trademark arpeggiated technique (sounding in the first movement somewhat like Vivaldi’s “Winter” concerto) and on his favorite harmonic progressions to suggest a sustained melodic line. In the first two movements Glass’ carefully timed harmonic and rhythmic shifts keep you in a happy daze. He breaks the mood in the finale, however, leaving the soloist to practice arpeggios at length until the quiet, serene coda steals in. Adele Anthony, who plays with the kind of skill and grace we would expect in a Mozart concerto, brings off Glass’ work with consummate, convincing musicianship. Company (music for Becket’s prose) for string orchestra is in four movements, characterized by stimulating changes in time signature and rhythm.
The five CDs in this box set comprise 106 wonderful songs from what truly are the greatest musicals of the 20th Century. While the artists are not the ones you'd immediately recognize from the movie versions of these productions, they are nevertheless top-notch and probably were in the casts of the stage shows. So far, I haven't heard a single one that wasn't excellent. For those who love songs from great musicals, this is surely one of the great bargains of the 20th Century.
Although phenomenal British songstress Adele won't be touring in the U.S. for her latest album "25," she, however, prepared a special treat for her U.S. fans as she performed her greatest hits in a one-hour NBC special. The concert special titled "Adele Live In New York City" is produced by the 27-year-old singer herself, Lorne Michaels and Jonathan Dickins. It's directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.