It’s not the temperature so much as the change in light …
Chinatown soundtrack, now thankfully available digitally. The single greatest motion picture soundtrack yet made.
The Brian Landrus Quartet: Traverse. Beautiful sound on the bari horn from Landrus, and a solid set of original tunes, effectively quirky, supplemented by “Body and Soul.” Landrus has a romantic sound, out of Serge Chaloff, with a lovely color, and is supported by a superior band; Michael Cain on piano, Lonnie Plaxico playing bass, and Bill Hart at the drums. It’s still rare to hear this low pitched sax in the front of an ensemble, and so this fine record is doubly welcome.
Darren Johnston’s Gone To Chicago: The Big Lift. Trumpeter Johnston has been appearing frequently as a side man and now has to new releases out, of which this is the recommended one. This is contemporary jazz with a big sound and rhythmic force. As such, it would be one of many solid records in a similar style, but the added element of Jason Adasiewicz’s cool, lapidary vides really makes this one stand out. His playing adds a fascinating and constructive tension to the music, seemingly deliberately at odds – even almost outside the propulsive pulse – but really adding an entirely new dimension of sound and thinking. A terrific band, with Jeb Bishop on trombone, Nate McBride on bass and Frank Rosaly on drums. A state of the art addition to post-Hard Bop contemporary jazz (you might want to check out Johnston’s Sidewalks and Alleys/Walking Music with his The Nice Guy Trio of accordion and bass. There’s a nice updated gypsy sound to it, but the music is unable to escape the debt it owes to Dave Douglas’ Charms of the Night Sky band).
Mahler: Symphony No. 10, David Zinman, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. The final piece in Zinman’s Mahler cycle, a sequence that has featured luxurious playing from the orchestra, wonderful SACD sound and some volatility in the performances, which range from acceptably stolid to flowing and deeply musical. The main point of interest with this disc is that is is the first, as far as I’ve heard, recording of the Clinton Carpenter completion of Mahler’s final, unfinished work. The act of completing such pieces is objectionable to some, but as long as one does not mistake it for what the composer truly meant, they are valuable, and this one is no exception. Deryck Cooke’s completion is the standard version, and Carpenter’s thought’s are valuable. Without comparing printed scores, I find this one eminently coherent but perhaps too ordered in the final movement, where the orchestra has as much quality of Sibelius as Mahler. The playing is excellent, as always, and Zinman is one of the most cogent conductors around. The opening Adagio, the one movement Mahler completely finished, is as good as has been put on record.
Jenny Lin, Silent Music. Pianist Lin, one of the top performers for new music, in a recital of the lovely miniatures of Federico Mompou, on the new Steinway and Sons label. These are later works of the composer, eschewing romantic charm for a more minimal, searching aesthetic, and Lin plays the pieces with emotional and intellectual focus. As would be expected, excellent recorded sound.
Shostakovich: Symphonies No. 1 and No. 3, Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. This is the newest release in Petrenko’s ongoing series of Shostakovich Symphonies. The previous discs have all been strong, with exceptionally clear thinking from the conductor, fine orchestral playing and top quality recorded sound. Petrenko seems totally sympathetic to the composer, driving the music when called for, laying back when it’s the right choice, keeping things flowing and picking and choosing his spots to dig in on the emotional emphasis. Half of this set is the finest yet, the other as good as could be expected. Symphony No. 3 is one of the composer’s propaganda works, dutiful yet without the things that made Shostakovich the great artist he was. He produced Symphony No. 1 when he was a teenager, and it rivals Mahler’s First as the greatest first symphony in the literature. The performance of this is spectacular, full of verve, wild, cheeky wit and mature pathos.