You don't need to listen long into Langgaard's Music of the Spheres to know you're experiencing something remarkable - a sound world decades ahead of its time (1918). This is visionary music by a Scandinavian composer who forged his own way despite the criticism of, and rejection by, the musical establishment in his own country.
It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. If that is true, than singer/pianist Karrin Allyson must find it a necessity to be inventive: She appears to be always looking for new ways to present her music...taking chances that other singers either have not thought of, or dare not try.
Charlie Haden and Quartet West Sophisticated Ladies
Charlie Haden and Quartet West have been around for years, and could easily be compared to a chameleon. They have a unique, distinctive style, but blend in easily performing with orchestras and vocalists. They stand out at certain times, but then long stretches of time go by when no one can find them. Well, they're back, and better than ever on Sophisticated Ladies.
Composers have always used elements of popular music to make high art. The suites of Bach and entire movements of Mahler would never have appeared without the seeds of middlebrow entertainment. John Zorn cultivates this ﬁeld, and, for The Gift, keeps to a corner of it called "The Sixties."
Relache: Press Play Music of Mark Hagerty, Guy Klucevsek, Cynthia Folio
Relache has been slipping the thin leading edge of new music into Philadelphia since 1979. They've done it with a jolly indifference to the clashing of styles or the rocking of boats. Even their name, which in French means "the show is closed," exhibits their iconoclasm and humor. Downtown, uptown, no town, doesn't matter: if it's new - brand new - Relache is all over it.
The Complete Choros and Bachianas Brasileiras Heitor Villa-Lobos Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and soloists
One of my favorite composers is the underrated Brazilian, Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). This multi-disc set of instrumental music offers masterful performances of his two great nationalistic series, the Choros and the Bachianas Brasileiras. The Brazilian musicians playing here feel the music deeply, and speak it fluently. A final disc is devoted to his complete works for solo guitar - exquisitely performed.