This is a reissue of Mahler performances delivered in Cologne in 1992 and 1993, and Thomas Quasthoff, just on the verge of international fame, was in phenomenal voice. The upper extension of his beautiful, expressive bass-baritone is thrilling, in perfect control. Artistically, he only grew stronger, as evidenced by his searing reading of 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' under Boulez (DG), but this earlier interpretation comes close, and there's no comparison so far as vocalism is concerned. The WDR orchestra plays well under the rather prosaic leadership of the late Gary Bertini (a native Russian who emigrated to Palestine as a child in the 1930s)– both are good enough, and the recorded sound is excellent. In all, this is a shattering reading by Quasthoff that should be heard by every lover of Mahler.
This Rhino-issued box set features five of the late great singer/songwriter's best albums in their entireties, including Heads and Tales (1972), Sniper and Other Love Songs (1972), Short Stories (1973), Verities & Balderdash (1974), and On the Road to Kingdom Come (1976).
After prison, after first shocking, then disappointing, and perhaps ultimately (and grimly) amusing the jazz world with enough dope-related hijinks to fill a book (as in Straight Life), alto saxist Art Pepper made a triumphant mid-1970s comeback. This 1979 session is rich with the fruits of Pepper's return, a depth of playing that shows itself constantly throughout the New York Album's five tunes.
Philippe Herreweghe directs these Schumann concertos with severity and urgency, with an impact that’s particularly strong in the opening movement of the A minor piano concerto. The soloist is Andreas Staier, who plays a mid-19th century J.B. Streicher instrument. But it’s not just the use of period instruments (this is certainly the kind of piano Schumann would have known) that proves so fascinating here; rather, it’s the minutely detailed way in which soloist and conductor interact during this performance. Note, for instance, how astutely Herreweghe’s wind players articulate the sorrowful first subject group after the soloist’s opening salvo, a passage that sets the tone for all that follows.
Here is a collection on the indie Wounded Bird Records that was once one of the linchpins of the Columbia Masterworks LP catalog, yet it has never been issued by anyone on CD: The Varèse Album. Issued in 1972, CBS's The Varèse Album was in itself a reissue, consisting of the albums Music of Edgar Varèse (1960) and Music of Edgar Varèse, Vol. 2 (1963), both featuring pickup groups led by Robert Craft and the first volume including Varèse's own realization on tape of Poème Electronique (1958). In 1972, The Varèse Album was thought to contain near to all of the works of Varèse, and since then that short catalog hasn't expanded by much.