Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem Berlin Philharmonic, Thomas Quasthoff, Dorothea Röschmann, Simon Rattle
It starts in regions below your feet where basses and cellos and violas dwell, this irresistible lava-stream of a requiem. With none of the thundering fear of Verdi’s, it begins in blessing and ends in comfort. Brahms chose the biblical texts himself, in German, and told a friend it might simply be called a “human Requiem.” Emphasizing peace over judgment, only Death is judged, leaving all else to glow with life.
Creole Soul flaunts a polished groove, heavy on the beats and the bass, that dares you to try to sit still. Trinidad-born trumpeter Etienne Charles is the man behind the sound, a uniquely fired up combination of calypso and modern jazz that reflects his musical upbringing.
There’s a matter-of-fact dignity to the bass saxophone, a horn of magnificent size and heft that produces the lowest notes from a brass instrument, that makes for a comfortable fit for the six foot, seven inch saxophonist Brian Landrus. A prodigious writer and bandleader originally from Reno, Nevada, the saxophonist started playing tenor sax in his teens with the Coasters and the Drifters, two bands that schooled the young Landrus in R&B, soul and pop music styles.
Many people hear the word "Creole" and immediately think of New Orleans. So it's easy to look at bandleader/trumpeter Etienne Charles’ new album, Creole Soul, and assume it's full of traditional jazz or New Orleans-style trumpet. This is not the case, as Charles’ background (and playing) is actually the true epitome of Creole.
The Wunderkind has come of age! Gustavo Dudamel, the young, Venezuelan conductor known for his flashy and energetic performances with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and, since 2009, as music director with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has turned in a deeply considered performance of Gustav Mahler’s profoundly personal symphonic statement. The recording captures the 32-year-old (31 at the time of this live concert recording) tackling repertoire conductors 20 years his senior are just now finding themselves ready to take on.
Noah Preminger is a saxophonist of consequence, fully deserving of the positive critical response and appreciative audiences that flock to his appearances around New York and elsewhere. His relaxed, low-key leadership style on the bandstand offers up an easy-going vibe and he hosts his gigs with an affable charm. As a performer, Preminger is all in, sporting a sweetly burnished tone that smacks of classic tenor out of the Ben Webster or John Coltrane tradition, but Preminger speaks his own modern language that’s fresh and exciting.
A one-of-a-kind pianist and performer, you never know what Eliane Elias will do next. The Brazilian native is an indefatigable interpreter of song, effortlessly shifting between styles and moods. In concert, she has a story behind every tune and infuses her playing with a party-like groove, yet she remains a consummate musician with a deep, soulful vibe that she always brings to the material.
I admit I approach any new recordings of these, my favorite Tchaikovsky symphonies, with a bit of trepidation. Over the years I’ve encountered one too many recordings, as well as concert performances, that lay on the incurable Romanticism a bit too thick. Thematic presentations are muddled and tempos are stretched so that each movement, regardless of the tempo indication, seems to plod at the same pace.
It’s as if some conductors believed that Tchaikovsky, who always wore his heart on his sleeve, needed help expressing his feelings.
It's not often that you hear the words "jazz" and "violin" used in the same sentence. But over the past few years, violinist Christian Howes has become one of the artists to masterfully bring these words together.