The new box contains no fewer than three different Williams recordings of that most popular of all guitar works, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez – from 1964 with the Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, from 1974 with Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra, and from 1983 with Frémaux and the Philharmonia Orchestra – plus a performance of its much-loved Adagio in Williams’s celebrated 1993 “Seville Concert”.
German guitarist Franz Halász displays a fine sense of tone and pacing in this revealing overview of Takemitsu's solo guitar music. Takemitsu wrote for the concert stage in an original avant-garde idiom, created over 100 film soundtracks, and produced arrangements of Japanese folk tunes and Western popular music. This range, except for the soundtracks, is represented here. The title tracks are from the concert work All in Twilight – Four pieces for guitar (1987), inspired by Paul Klee's painting of the same name. Here Halász's beautiful touch is shown in contrasting and subtle timbres on the composer's rich, jazz-like harmonies, sometimes brooding, sometimes in quickly flowing passages like those of the third movement. Next, the first six of "12 Songs" introduces some technically challenging, but aesthetically straightforward arrangements – Sammy Fain's classic Secret Love, four tunes by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and George Gershwin's Summertime in which Takemitsu spectacularly manages to reduce the best orchestral parts to the limits of the guitar and to improvise in a free-flowing manner.
John Lee Hooker, as anyone with a decent-sized blues collection knows, recorded for a virtual parade of labels early in his career, including Chess, although his stays with the company were fairly brief. Hooker's best early recordings, most would agree, were issued on Modern and Vee-Jay, not Chess.
The first volume of this series (Naxos 8.550761) mixed the first two sonatas of Field's Op. 1 with the first nine Nocturnes. The Sonata Op. 1 No. 3 in C minor logically appears on this second volume, in a most successful performance. Dedicated to Clementi, the first movement shows distinct tendencies towards 'Sturm und Drang'. Neither movement is fast: the concluding Rondo (marked Allegretto scherzando) is bursting with wit and charm to balance the stress of the first. This piece alone justifies the modest outlay for this disc. The remaining tracks, the next nine Nocturnes in the series, demonstrate Frith's sensitivity. Importantly, he shows a laudable restraint with the sustaining pedal. His sweet cantabile is the result of an acute musical sensitivity, and he never overblows the scale of these miniatures.
Originally released in 2001 on Cannonball Records, this album contains 12 'blues flavored' songs. John Kay, leader of one of rock's most venerable bands, Steppenwolf, has returned to the folk/blues roots of his troubador days with the release of his fourth solo recording "Heretics and Privateers". The musical subtlety and emotional depth of the albums 12 composistions feature provacative lyrics which offer a gritty view of contemporary life, surveying the human toll of institutional callousness with unflinching clarity. Kay's lyrics aren't the gripes of a chronic malcontect but the deeply felt observations of a first-generation American whose appreciation of his adopted country's promise and potential is balanced by an awareness of it's lapses…