Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Celine Dion: Loved Me Back to Life

"Bigness, not variety, is Ms. Dion’s true weapon — often it’s impossible to distinguish between when she’s singing about empowerment and when she’s singing about heartbreak. ... But Ms. Dion wants to be nimble, too, now. On this album she’s singing with more rhythm, if not more clarity, than usual. And consider her cover of Janis Ian’s 1975 soft-rock hit “At Seventeen,” an intricately detailed diary of childhood awkwardness, with more words and images in one stanza than Ms. Dion typically packs into a whole album. ... But her most decadent move on this album is the nervy duet with Stevie Wonder on “Overjoyed,” one of his signature numbers. ... Mr. Wonder, lush and flexible, is the exact opposite of Ms. Dion as a singer. On paper, it’s a severe mismatch. But Ms. Dion isn’t out of tricks — when Mr. Wonder shimmies, she shimmies back, dodging her own shadow" (Jon Caramanica, "CDs from Celine Dion and Midlake," New York Times, 11/4/13).

View catalog record here!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

"I had not heard [conductor] Marc Albrecht before this recording. He is of the Inbal school of attentiveness to color (but likes a rounder sound than Inbal). He also understands the rhetoric of this piece, with its constant hesitations and pauses, perfectly. From the quietest moments to the biggest sounds, he works to give us the wealth of sounds and textures that Mahler put into his score. The opening of the first song leaps aggressively forward. The rough edges of the last song, so important to bring out what is being said, are plain to hear. ... If you want to hear countless details that add to the meaning of the music -- harsh stopped horns and tangy woodwind comments in the first song, drunken string glissandos in the fifth; the murmuring of the night behind the harp, and later the lute, in the last song -- this is a performance for you" (Stephen D. Chakwin, Jr., American Record Guide, Sept./Oct. 2013, pp. 145-146).

View catalog record here!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brandy Clark: 12 Stories

"From Kacey Musgraves to Ashley Monroe and Holly Williams, the best country music this year has been by women not named Miranda, Taylor or Carrie. The trend continues with this sought-after songwriter's excellent full-length debut full of some terrific storytelling" (People, 12/16/13).

View catalog record here!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Beatles: Please Please Me

"Please Please Me is the debut album by the English rock band the Beatles. Parlophone rush-released the album on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of the singles 'Please Please Me' (No. 1 on most lists but only No. 2 on Record Retailer) and 'Love Me Do' (No. 17). Of the album's fourteen songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney (originally credited 'McCartney–Lennon') ... In order for the album to contain fourteen songs (the norm for British 12" vinyl pop albums at that time was to have seven songs on each side, while American albums usually had only five or six songs per side), ten more tracks were needed to add to the four sides of their first two singles recorded and released previously. Therefore, at 10:00 am on Monday, 11 February 1963, the Beatles and George Martin began recording essentially their live act in 1963 and finished at 10:45 pm ..." (Wikipedia).

View catalog record here!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mendelssohn: String Quintets 1 & 2

"There have not been many previous recordings of these lovely works. ... This recording opens with the second quintet, and it opens with a movement full of stormy tremolos and falling rain, followed by a relaxed Andante Scherzando where birds seem to be enjoying the weather in the trees. The slow movement is partly overcast and snowy, and the Finale is breezy and bountiful. The reason for beginning the program with Quintet 2 may be that the better-known Quintet 1 tends to overshadow it -- and starting off with heavier drama makes one appreciate both sides of the coin. Quintet 1 is more of a hike through the woods in Spring, perhaps beside a lake sometimes. The Intermezzo (II) seems to include a brook. ... The Leipzig Quartet plays with a warm sound, and their recording is clear and interpretation poetic" (David W. Moore, American Record Guide, Nov./Dec. 2013, p. 102).

View catalog record here!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Childish Gambino: Because the Internet

"A rapper with a parallel career as a comedian, Donald McKinley Glover makes music that can be dark and abrasive but is peppered with moments of oddball humour. On his second studio album, much of that humour exists at the structural level, in the timing of vocal samples, in the incongruity of an overblown guitar solo. In the lyrics, comedy is offset by anxiety – Glover reflects on some unsettling phenomena of our internet-addled age, such as the 3D printing of guns – and his restless delivery (which, intentionally or not, mimics Frank Ocean on several tracks) is matched by jerky, off-kilter production. The results are intriguing, occasionally frustrating, rarely boring" (Killian Fox, "Review," Guardian, 12/7/13).

View catalog record here!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Boston Camerata: With Joyful Voice

"This three-volume collection spans eight centuries of Christmas music, from the cathedrals, courts and villages of Old Europe. Works by celebrated composers like Monteverdi, Victoria and Charpentier alternate with nearly-unknown gems by forgotten masters of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Early Baroque. Performances by the Boston Camerata, directed by Joel Cohen, feature many striking combinations of solo voices, chorus, and early instruments, in music from England, France, Germany the Netherlands, Spain and Italy" (container).

View catalog record here!