The sweet voiced Polish girl continues to set the standard by which other, less inventive adult contemporary vocalists should be measured. Her tender yet powerful feelings take listeners' hearts to places with fascinating, sometimes surreal imagery. Basia and partner/producer Danny White's real gift is rhythmic diversity, and the tandem take the artsy route on a big, brassy tour through Brazil and Latin America, employing jazzy touches that keep even the most staid tune hopping. The ballads are sweet as well. Nobody in this crowded genre outclassed or outperformed Basia, but as welcome as this comeback after four years was, the singer never followed up with another full-length studio project.
Anne-Sophie Mutter obviously had fun making this disc. In the quiet pieces (Massenet, Ysaÿe, Fauré) which serve as interludes, she plays with her usual exquisite taste. In the showpieces, though, she goes to town, sliding, scooping, exaggerating, & letting all the stops out. The gypsy inflection she uses in Ravel’s Tzigane & Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen is delicious. Even a ridiculous orchestral arrangement of Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata is more amusing than offensive. With James Levine & the Berlin Philharmonic providing uncommonly alert & powerful support, & Deutsche Grammophon’s realistic sound, this disc is a real treat for violin lovers.
Buffalo Daughter is a three member group consisting of Sugar Yoshinaga, Yumiko Ohno and MoOoG Yamamoto, often augmented by a drummer and other guests. Their sound is heavily influenced by German progressive rock and techno pop, but also includes bits of dub, club, shoe gaze and post-rock influences. Given their mix and match style, and that they emerged in the mid-90s, they are often considered as part of the Shibuya-kei movement.
This SACD transfer of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s Beethoven violin sonatas, taken from a series of live recordings from 1998, does not transcend the questionable interpretations. In each of these famous sonatas, Mutter takes excessive liberties with respect to dynamics and phrasing, and while some listeners may appreciate the thought and care she puts into these readings, it sounds as if she is trying a bit too hard to be “musical”. For example, just before the exposition repeat of the “Spring” sonata, several instances of disproportionate agogic pauses, inconsistent use of vibrato, random adherences to sforzando markings, and a sporadic disregard for (or recasting of) dynamics combine to produce an overly fussy performance that lacks momentum and a sense of direction.
In retrospect, it is not hard to find hints of a coming change in the final album Cat Stevens made before a near-death experience and a religious conversion.