Snake Skin is the musical project that the genius mind behind the gothic metal/rock opera of Lacrimosa, Tilo Wolff, formed when he felt the need to express himself in a different way. The orchestral moments are present and, of course, they couldn't be missing from the music of Snake Skin, but there is no way someone can say that they remind of Lacrimosa, only a bit in some moments…
The piano may not be the ideal medium for capturing the expressive possibilities of Glass' style of minimalism, but pianist Bruce Brubaker selects pieces that work well on the instrument. Part of the problem with hearing Glass on the piano is forgetting the sound of his ensemble, and the variety of colors (and volume) they have imparted to similar music. Brubaker begins his recital of works by Glass and Alvin Curran with his transcription of "Knee Play 4" from Einstein on the Beach. It is in fact a lovely piece on the piano if one can put the spectacular power and tonal range of the instrumental version out of one's mind. "Opening" from Glassworks, originally scored for piano, works beautifully on the instrument, and flows as naturally as the C major Prelude from Book I of The Well Tempered Clavier. The two pieces by Curran, Hope Street Tunnel Blues III and Inner Cities II, use a syntax similar to Glass, with a more dissonant tonal vocabulary. Hope Street Tunnel Blues III has ample kinetic energy that gives it an exhilarating momentum.
This collection of the late Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi marks the recorded debut of many of his smaller works. Ranging from 1954-1966, Scelsi's elongated tonal studies are given a rapt performance here by a nameless Dutch ensemble that carries off the task without flaw or unnecessary adornment (a constant temptation, it seems, with Scelsi's work). Included here are three fragments of I Riti, the ritual march from the composer's Funeral for Achilles.
The violin was perhaps the most popular instrument of the 17th century. It turns up in nearly every Baroque instrumental genre, including the solo sonata, the concerto, and the immensely popular trio sonata (for two violins, often complimented by harpsichord, organ, or theorbo). Much less common, but equally compelling, are pieces for three violins with some sort of plucked or strummed accompaniment.
Like the Renaissance itself, Music for the Spanish Kings begins with a strutting fanfare and ends with a melancholic sigh. Attaining his usual high standards, Jordi Savall has fashioned a poignant and varied musical portrait of the century encompassing the reigns of three Spanish kings: Alphonso I (1442-58), Ferdinand I (1458-94), and Charles V (1516-56). Montserrat Figueras' rich mezzo-soprano voice carries over half the pieces on the first disc. Her stunning vibrato imparts a troupadour's sadness to the cancions.