Deaths in Winter

Deaths come disproportionally in winter (in the northern hemisphere). There’s no sure explanation, but it seems to me the combination of cold and diminished sunlight direct the body towards a natural cessation of activity, and for one already approaching the end of life, it may be perhaps one subtle step to slip away.

Some important, irreplaceable musicians are now gone: Mark Murphy, Paul Bley, Pierre Boulez, and Elizabeth Swados. Read the obits if you want, they all give a good outline of each career, though I have some differing critical views on their individual importance. (UPDATE: Here is my own Boulez obit at the New York Classical Review.)

Mark Murphy

I miss Murphy particularly. The ultimate, true hipster, he gave up a promising career as a matinée idol singer to be a musical expression of the Beats, especially Kerouac. As careerism and consumerism has taken over the professional development of writers and musicians in America, the Beats have become easy to laugh at, in the sense that if one conforms to the crowd, numbers protect the ego with a sense of false courage. Murphy never let go of what is an essential American idea of individual freedom held within the values and morals of communitarianism:

His influence on the most artistically important contemporary singers was profound:

Paul Bley

Bley is a great loss too, although, unlike Murphy, his playing declined over the last decade or so, along with his health. You’ll find Bley’s records under jazz, and he was one of the greatest jazz pianists, but he was so much more—an exceptional improviser who could freely improvise coherent, linear structures, and was an exceptional listener. And he was an emotionally moving blues player. There’s substantial documentation to his career, on records and in books: I’m partial to this great solo CD, and this Black Saint/Soul Note box is the best single compilation (and if you can get one or more of the Life of a Trio CDs, you will have some of the finest small group improvisations ever recorded) . Bley’s own thoughts are important, and he had a capable amanuensis in Arrigo Cappelletti, but read Paul Bley: The Logic of Chance in the original Italian if you can, the translation is literal and un-idiomatic, a tiring read.

Elizabeth Swados

Swados may get lost in the shuffle. She had a tough end, but she left us with a lot of great music, and Runaways should remain a staple of high school and community productions as long as there are kids. Please don’t underestimate how important this is: the music we make and experience when young is the most important music in our lives, and Swados will be inside millions of people.

She also wrote books, including My Depression: A Picture Book, which is an important thing to read for those of us who find ourselves caught in the mental and emotional straight-jacket of self-loathing.

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Pierre Boulez

Certainly everyone will mention Boulez and Le Marteau sans Maître, and that is an important work, but in the negative sense. The piece marks the extremity of decadence of serial music. Schoenberg and his followers used the cool veneer of their music as pernicious, ideological propaganda, developing the idea that their method was objectively correct, the logical culmination of historical currents. Actual history, the accumulation of events, has shown serial music to be both an aberration—it’s heyday, though outsized, was short-lived—and the same as every other style, which first supersedes previous ideas, then grows increasingly solipsistic until it, in turn, is superseded by another. Le Marteau is about nothing more than a technique taken to the nth degree, past the point where it serves a coherent musical purpose.

Boulez was, in all, a notable composer, staking out a place in the continuum where he exerted beneficial intellectual influence and also created some fine pieces of music. Pli selon pli is one of my favorites, along with …explosante fixe… :

As a conductor, his recordings of Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, and Ravel should be in every classical music lover’s library (I think his Ravel is the finest on disc). His takes on romantic music are uneven, but at their best are refreshing and satisfying. The salient example is his Mahler: his readings of the Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth symphonies have brilliant moments but ultimately fall apart, while the vocal music comes of well, with a great pulse and understanding of Mahler’s continually forward development.


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Consumer Reports

91hUL2SIEaL SY450

The Pierre Boulez fun will eventually stop, as there’s a limit to what is left for him to do, as certainly hardly any recordings (if any) that are not in circulation.

Joining the fun of last years, excellent, valuable and highly recommended Pierre Boulez: Complete Columbia Album Collection is the companion box from Deutsche Gramaphon, Complete 20th-Century Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon. There is quite a lot of overlap between these, of course, as Boulez re-recorded the bulk of this music for DG. Where this box stands out is with the recordings of music by Birtwistle, Messiaen and Ligeti, with a little Szymanowski tossed in if that’s your thing.

How does this compare in quality with the Columbia recordings? It’s an impossible choice: personally, I prefer his later Bartók, Schoenberg, Webern, and especially Ravel—these are my favorite Ravel readings. I listen to his Columbia Debussy, Berg, and Stravinsky more frequently. You can’t go wrong with either, but do you need both? If you don’t have the other box and need a cornerstone set of 20th century music, you want this box. Otherwise, ask your inner collector (FYI I will be resisting this box, because I have all of these recordings already except for the Szymanowski, and I’ll survive).

Best price as of this posting is Presto Classical, where it is in stock and ready to ship. Best domestic price is Import CDs, where it will be available February 10.

Pierre Boulez: The Return of The Magus

Feast your eyes on that beauty above! I’ve been waiting to see this appear in the domestic market since a reader pointed me to a listing for it at Amazon UK a couple months ago.

This box is all the recordings Boulez made for Columbia Records, and that includes fine and important performances of the core of modernism: Debussy, Stravinsky, Berg, Schoenberg, Bartók, Varèse, Webern, along with what were, at the time, unexpected selections from Wagner, Mahler, Handel and Beethoven.

The music from the older composers were the first hints that Boulez was exploring the music of the classical tradition through a backwards journey through modernism. There is also a generous set of Berlioz, not unexpected. Less well known but as important are a fantastic disc of music by Berio, and two pieces from Elliott Carter. There are also great performances of Boulez’s own music, including Pli selon pli and Livre pour cordes. You can see the full selection at Presto Classical  where the set is currently for sale at $90 less than Amazon, with an earlier release.

The best current price, though, is at Import CDs: $152, $100 off the Amazon price for the same release date.

There’s another indispensible box Columbia Records box coming out, at the moment only showing at Presto: Charles Rosen – The Complete Columbia and Epic Collection  The 21 discs from this great pianist and thinker cover the baroque (Bach) to the contemporary (Carter), including great Beethoven, Chopin, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Webern. In another week this should be listed at both Amazon and Import CDs.

PLAYLIST Week 4, 2014

Research Division:

* Schoenberg: [*Pierrot Lunaire, Chamber Symphony No. 1*](, Anja Silja, Robert Craft, Philharmonia Orchestra
* Schoenberg: [*Chamber Symphony No. 2*](, Robert Craft, Philharmonia Orchestra
* Berg: [*Pierre Boulez Edition*](
* Bruckner: [Complete Symphonies](, Eugen Jochum, Staatskapelle Dresden

Discs in a Box

When it’s time to start thinking of giving, nothing beats a box of discs:

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Dave Douglas: DD50

Trumpeter Dave Douglas turned fifty this year, and his celebration included releasing a boxed set of new and recent recordings, DD50. It’s a rare package in that it collects music that is not only recent but new. The contents are his 2012 recording Be Still, with singer Aoife O’Donovan, and quintet and sextet recordings from this year, Time Travel and Pathways. While these are all also available separately, inside the box you also get a DVD with in-studio playing and music videos, and a code to download four extra tracks, all of which are as good as the official releases.
The box is both a value and a bargain. I’m not a fan of O’Donovan’s singing, which I find bland and clichéd, and Be Still is too sentimental for me (a personal bugaboo), but the ensemble discs are excellent. Douglas is an excellent player with an uneven recording career. His ambitious compositional projects aren’t successful: though they’re full of good material, he can’t sustain their structures through to the end.

His quintet recordings have always been a favorite of mine though, going back to more than ten years to The Infinite. Time Travel is great, one of the best jazz releases this year. His new quint is anchored by Linda Oh on bass and Rudy Royston drums, and the high energy and intelligent pianist Matt Mitchell and saxophonist Jon Irabagon push the band to a new level. The sextet disc returns some important members of his earlier bands — drummer Clarence Penn and pianist Uri Caine — and is a little subtler but also excellent, despite O’Donovan’s cameo. It’s a survey of his estimable accomplishments in his fiftieth year, and great present to himself and gift to others.

William Parker: Wood Flute Songs: Live 2006-2012
With Dave Douglas above, this is the only other set on this list of recommendations that is made up of recent and new material. As the title says, these are all live recordings led by Parker, one of the finest and most important musicians on the creative edge of jazz for the past thirty years or so. Every disc features his core quartet, with Hamid Drake on drums (they make one of the finest rhythm sections in jazz history), Rob Brown on alto sax and Lewis Barnes on trumpet. They are augmented and reconfigured into almost every important ensemble Parker has led (except for his big band and his Curtis Mayfield tribute group): Raining on the Moon with the singer Leena Conquest, In Order to Survive with Cooper-Moore on piano, an absolutely wonderful septet with Billy Bang, Bobby Bradford and James Spaulding. The stats are eight CDs, over nine hours of music, only 1,500 copies issued, and 100% never-before released music. The quality is: a rich, involving, exciting and comprehensive look at the state-of-the-art in creative jazz in the early twenty-first century. Considered as an album, this is one of the most remarkable releases of the past decade. Highest recommendation.

The Complete Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-1941)

Another in the long line of exceptionally produced and essential box sets of historic jazz from Mosaic Records. Chick Webb led one of the greatest bands of the swing era. They were legendary for their power in live situations, but what the these hundreds of tracks show is how incredibly stylish they were. There is an elegance and sophistication to everything they play, and there are plenty of instrumental only tracks that are full of excitement.

Of course, the point of the set is the young Ella, who began singing with Webb when she was still a teenager. She was to my mind, along with Anita O’Day, the greatest singer the music has ever had. Her singing made jazz what it is: precise intonation, impeccable swing, beautiful phrasing. These recordings show the sweet gentleness of her youthful voice and spirit, and are a deeply poignant companion to all here later recordings, especially the great American songbooks, where she is a woman, full of experience, ruefulness, and the blues. The usual informative, detailed booklet from Mosaic, full of great pictures. This set is limited to 5,000 copies.

Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Begins
The revolution began when Scott-Heron made these recordings for the Flying Dutchman label, and it was revived when this 3-CD set was released January 1. These recordings are Scott-Heron at his finest. They are untempered fire, mordant humor, brilliant criticism and the occasional bits of sad homophobia. His ideas this early in his career where fully formed, and while from track to track the musical conception can be uneven, mainly on the first disc “Songs” (made up of Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Pieces of a Man and Free Will), the force of his intelligence is incredibly exciting, and the bands that feature Bernard Purdie, Brian Jackson, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Gerry Jemmott and others are great. Some of the funkiest soul music around, supporting some of the most important vernacular poetry of the past fifty years. Essential for anyone with any interest in African-American music and culture.

Herbie Hancock: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1972 – 1988
One of the behemoths of the season, thirty-four CDs that collect one one of the most aesthetically varied careers in jazz and American popular music. It’s not cheap, it’s not tidy, but it is full of riches. Jazz traditionalists will balk at its very existence, but listeners who value music that is creatively restless and intriguingly untidy — and that’s a lot of Herbie Hancock fans — will need to snap this up.

It’s also for fans of Sun Ra and his aesthetic associates. As great as Hancock is — and he is a great pianist, composer and bandleader — the view of his career and music-making has been confined to his origins in the contemporary mainstream at Blue Note in the 1960s and his role in Miles Davis’ 1965 – 68 Quintet, the greatest small group in jazz history. Confined to this context, he is a seminal post-bop jazzer who either spread hipness to the masses or sold his soul for cash via funk and dance music. That’s too short and narrow a lever to crack open such an enormous career.

But think of him like Sun Ra, and it all falls into place. They are both brilliant musicians who saw themselves as completely in the African-American tradition, which is unusually capacious and sympathetic. Ra made pop music that was just a natural part of his whole, in which the step from Fletcher Henderson to free-improvisation ritual was nothing more than shifting from the chair to the couch in the same living room. Hancock, though exploration different styles, has been doing the same thing. The Blue Note discs, the Mwandishi and Head Hunters bands, the V.S.O.P Quintet and Future Shock are faces of the same set of values and musical ambitions.

This set represents it all, with the great funk records like Head Hunters and Thrust, the acoustic ensemble, the pop collaborations with Bill Laswell, the hipness and naïve futurism. There are eight discs never released before outside of Japan (including an incredible live album Flood, a reunion trio with Ron Carter and Tony Williams, the soundtrack to Death Wish. This is a must have box set.

Other Notable Sets:

Miles Davis: The Original Mono Recordings

Paul Bley: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note

Anita O’Day: The Verve Years 1957-1962

Andrew Cyrille: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note

The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions

Joe McPhee: Nation Time, The Complete Recordings

Woody Shaw: The Complete Muse Sessions

Oliver Lake: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note

Paul Motion (ECM Recordings)

Julius Hemphill: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note


Verdi: The Complete Works
This is a year of important anniversaries in the Western classical tradition: bicentennials of Wagner and Verdi, centennials of Britten and Lutoslawski. All are represented on this list, but experience in the concert halls, opera houses and in front of my stereo has me firmly convinced of the greatness and importance of Verdi, one of three opera composers (the others are Monteverdi and Mozart) whose achievements are beyond all others and whose legacy is eternal and indispensable.

With Verdi, the revolutionary ideas of Monteverdi — recitative — and Mozart — harmonic structure — and synthesized and furthered by a naturalism that binds the music completely to story and character. The humanity, urgency and tunefulness of Verdi’s operas are unsurpassed. This set includes all his dramatic works, with the two versions each of the masterpieces La forza del destine and Don Carlo, his choral and sacred works, songs, ballet music, the string quartet and a collection of rarities. The musicians include Pavarotti, Sutherland, Muti, Giulini, Domingo, Gergiev … it’s ridiculously rich and, at less then $2/disc, a steal. And if you have the money and want more, you can get Tutto Verdi: The Complete Operas on stage, on DVD.

For about half the price of the box above, you can get a good collection of his generally greatest operas in this box from EMI. I am less and less fond of Wagner each day, but if you care about opera he must be dealt with, one way or another, and DG has a compact and bargain priced box of his complete opera.

Britten: The Complete Works

The other great opera composer celebrated this year is Benjamin Britten, and this is another extravagant collection that covers not only his operas but his excellent chamber music, songs, orchestral pieces and more. While not cheap, it’s again a great value at about $4/disc. The set also includes a 208 page hardcover book with biographical material, pictures, and index and more. Britten’s dramatic achievements are less consistent and important than Verdi’s, but his best operas are some of the best in the repertoire, especially Peter Grimes, Billy Budd and Death in Venice. This is a special collection — only 3,000 in existence — but there are good, cheaper alternatives: two boxes of his complete operas and a set of his orchestral music, all conducted by the composer in definitive performances. There’s also a recommended and satisfying Collector’s Edition on EMI.
There are three excellent, stringy recommended box sets of music from important twentieth century composers. Lutoslawski is the first. Vastly underrated, his music extraordinary, reconciling the Western classical tradition with the concepts of John Cage, and doing so with incredible colors and expressive beauty. This box collects the terrific series of recordings on the Naxos label. A necessity for anyone with an interest in modern classical music.

But the other two sets are no less necessary: Henze: The Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings, and Pierre Boulez: Complete Works. The Henze set does not cover his whole career, there are chamber pieces and operas that DG did not record, but it has the complete Symphonies, dramatic works like El Cimarron and Das Floss der Medusa, songs, concertos and the late ballet Undine. Henze was an knotty, uncompromising artist with exceptional skill and powerful ideas. The Boulez set is, as the back notes, a work in progress. We await new works from him, but dipping into this box to any depth convinces that Boulez is one of the greats of the last century. His rigid allegiance to serialism was in the end a short period in a long career, and his creative updating of the intellectual and aesthetic legacy of Debussy is important and profoundly beautiful. The list of pieces reads, accurately, as a list of masterpieces: Dérive, Pli selon pli, Rituel, sur Incises, Notations, Messagesquisse, …explosante fixe and many more. Endlessly fascinating riches.

Other Notable Sets:

Gesualdo: Complete Madrigals

Complete Bach Cantatas

Henri Dutilleux 1916-2013

The Art of David Tudor 1963-1992

Music of Gustav Mahler: Issued 78s 1903-1940

Alexander String Quartet: Bartók & Kodály, Complete String Quartets

Boulez Conducts Mahler


Bob Dylan: The Complete Album Collection Volume 1
Self-recommending and, at forty-seven discs plus hardcover book, a good value. If there are any doubts about the worth of this set, consider the contents:

  • All thirty-five studio albums, through Tempest
  • Included is first North American CD release of Dylan
  • Six live albums
  • 2-CD set Side Tracks that collects songs from the recording sessions that were left off the original albums

Warts and all, and with Dylan you need all, and continued listening through this box has convinced me you need it all, including the warts. One can only ponder what Volume 2 will bring …

The Orb: History of the Future

As important as any pop group in the last twenty-five years. Three CDs and one DVD that collect tracks like “A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain that Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” along with remixes and rarities, two live sets (Copenhagen in 1993 and Woodstock in 1994) and video of Top of the Pops appearances, promo videos and live events.

Other Notable Sets:

Wood Guthrie: American Radical Patriot

Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 1
Yes: The Studio Albums 1969-1987

The Beatles: Live at the BBC, the Collection

The Vevet Underground: White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

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Debussy Forever

In his interview for the Invisible Jukebox feature in Wire magazine, Steve Reich casually and knowingly dropped the notion that the history of music in the 20th century was an argument between Schoenberg and Debussy, and Debussy won. The results may seem obvious in the growing (and now dominant) prevalence of tonality in new composed music over the last fifty years or so, but the underlying meaning is important. And if the two names strike you as representing opposite ends of an aesthetic continuum, one seeking, like a Republican running for President, to turn back the clock to a reactionary condition veiled in the language of progress, and the other, almost dilettantish, following an intuitive and seemingly sybaritic path, producing truly new concepts that still strike many as as representing a decadent stew of absinthe and syphilis, then you will recognize that victory meant the championing of creative possibilities far more fruitful, and requiring far more discipline and rigor, than the systematization of everything.

Atonal music is like every other endeavor, it can be done well or badly. And, done well, it is as beautiful and expressive as any other. It’s possible to acquire a taste for the style as a whole — a motivated and attentive ear can learn to hear a lot very quickly — but it’s not a compliment to qualify a piece of music or a style by saying that it can be appreciated once one gains a certain amount of knowledge. Great music works on many levels, and the primary one is that it sounds great, it’s immediately and powerfully appealing and attractive, and the underlying intellectual and emotional content keeps you coming back for more. There’s a reason why La Mer is so common on orchestral programs: it sounds brilliant.

It also is brilliant. Beneath the gorgeous sound, the colors, the luscious phrasing, the pictorial and expressive luster, the piece is put together in a manner that is both rigorous — we know this by how gripping it is to hear — and so new that there was no model for it at the time, and scarcely any since. Read this blog, and any other serious and learned writer on music history and composition, and you’ll frequently be reading about architectural ideas, about how composer’s build structures that hold together their sections of ideas, the framework of their harmonies and rhythms, that provide a place in time for melodies and their variations and restatements. Debussy was a master architect, but one working with schema unlike any that had come before. Where Schoenberg devised his twelve-tone system to fight a rearguard action against Modernism and preserve the structural integrity of the ideas of his beloved Brahms, Debussy, as part of a generation that sought to free itself from the influence of German music in general and Wagner in particular, followed what boiled down to writing what he wished, creating and working with his materials in a way that followed the needs of his mind and heart, and applying the craft and hard work to find the form that fit each and every piece. His form followed its function.

A rough but useful way to hear this is to listen to the first movement of something by Haydn (symphony, string quartet, piano sonata). Count the bars, and you’ll hear how the structure fits into a regular pattern, e.g. an eight bar statement, often repeated, then eight bars of a counter phrase in another key, another eight bars of a variation on that counter phrase, then a return to the original statement, again often repeated. From there, Haydn will vary his structure, but it will still be built out of regular units, two-by-fours of musical information out of which he builds larger scale pieces. Fundamentally, what makes him great is how he defined symphonic and string quartet structures for the future (they are still with us) and created a formula while still constantly making it sound new and refreshing. Mozart also builds structures that are easy to hear, as does Beethoven, although his particular genius was to reduce his units down to very small and simple forms and build and even greater and more powerful set of structures from them.

Now listen to Debussy. What do you hear?

There is the pictorial color, of course, for which he’s famous and from which came the label of “Impressionist” for himself and Ravel, though Debussy loathed that term. Aesthetically, this is not out of line with the tone poem tradition of Romantic music which begins with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and extends through Berlioz, Liszt and a great deal of Mahler (Mahler is, literally, more of an Impressionist than Debussy). But in terms of the Haydn what you hear is an indescribable sense of form. The piece has a powerful structure, it’s what keeps it moving forward and, despite the repetitive phrases and colors, makes it fascinating to follow. But that structure cannot be described in terms of bar length and sections of keys, the means by which, looking backwards, it’s been possible to analyze music from the Baroque. With Debussy, musicology had to create a whole new concept of study, the idea of pitch sets. His music is clearly tonal, and it can be described as being organized around groups of related pitches, where a stretch of music will emphasize one set, another stretch will emphasize another. Other than that, the forms are unique to each work, especially the great ballet Jeux which has no form, other than its own, which it seems to make up as it goes along.

And that’s how Debussy won the argument, and what makes him one of most important composers, along with one of the greatest in terms of sheer pleasure, in the Western classical tradition. He won by creating a path for music to both remain tonal and to be fully organized while breaking free of forms and structures that, while always useful, where no longer necessary. Unlike Schoenberg, he made the future possible. He made Steve Reich possible (music organized organically to a point where the composer found an end) and even Boulez who removed himself from his own Schoenberg-ian trap of total organization into a style more tonal, more free and fully organized.
2012 is the sesquicentennial of his birth (the centennial of his death is in 2018) and so what better time for boxed sets? A happy result of his popularity is that there have been many great recordings of his work, and the competition is between collections from Sony and Deutsche Grammophon (the former consolidating the RCA catalogue, the latter those from Decca and Phillips). Both these sets are excellent and mostly comprehensive, yet there are differences. Each has all the orchestral works, the piano music and chamber music, as well as the opera Pelléas et Melisande. Where they differ is in the vocal music and some extras. Sony’s The Claude Debussy Collection includes the early “Premier Trio en sol majeur,” not in DG’s The Debussy Edition, while on DG you get more songs, including Trois poèmes de Stéohane Mallarmé, Trois Mélodies de Verlaine and Prose lyriques. That’s the equivalent of about two CDs, on with Sony that is filled out with a disc of “Encores” and one of music transcribed for the harp. These may seem less than essential, and in fact a lot of this music is the kind of thing you might hear on one of those awful, Top-40 ‘relaxing’ classical radio stations. But these selections are also supremely beautiful, involving rather than soporific, and James Galway’s arrangements of “Clair de lune” and others are skillful and sincere.
Boulez the conductor is one of the Debussy’s premiere interpreters, so you get him on both, his early New York Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra of Nocturnes, Printemps, Jeux, Images and Deux Danses and Pelléas on Sony, his later recordings of the major orchestral works with Cleveland in the DG box. Sony fills the rest out with Charles Munch’s classic La Mer and Prélude à l’apréd-midi d’un faune (they could have also gone for MTT’s recordings, which are arguably the best), and DG gives you Claudio Abbado’s Pelléas with Maria  Ewing, which is an excellent recording. Call it a draw, they say complementary and valuable things about the composer. I personally prefer the piano works on the DG set, which has the all-time all-stars Mitsuko Uchida, Zoltán Kocsis, Krystian Zimmerman and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, but Sony has most of Paul Crossley’s terrific recordings, seasoned with Robert Casadesus and others. In the land of milk and honey, you would buy both of these, but if you would like one great Debussy collection, the choice boils down to how hard-core you feel about him: for simple listening pleasure, it’s Sony, for knowing the man intimately, it’s DG.

It’s a little surprising that there is no competition here from EMI, who also have a great back list of this music. Instead, they are remastering and reissuing famous recordings, including Walter Gieseking’s collection of the piano music, the single best of it’s kind, and three CDs of piano music from the important French pianist Samson Francois. The label also has a valuable box of Debussy and Ravel orchestral music under Simon Rattle, the most important historical recording of Pelléas and the mesmerizing, powerful CD of Debussy and Ravel under Carlo Maria Giulini. Taken all together, this is a wonderful recorded legacy, and any and all of these CDs would give you great joy and satisfaction.

Hotter Than July
Grant Green, Idle Moments

Robert Rich, Below Zero

Orchestra Baobab, Specialists In All Styles

Weather Report, Domino Theory

Pierre Boulez, Anne Sofie von Otter, The Cleveland Orchestra, Ravel: Shéhérazade, Le Tombeau de Couperin, Debussy; Ballades de Villon

Mark Johnson, The Sound of Summer Running

Stevie Wonder, Hotter Than July