Record Reviews


Orff: Carmina Burana

Telarc: CD-80575, 14.99

SCOTS-BORN Donald Runnicles’s operatic skills inform every bar of this sizzling performance with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with whom Runnicles recently became principal guest conductor. You would expect the chorus to sound a bit gutsier, but it compensates with rhythmic precision, immaculate diction and rounded tone. There’s certainly no lack of punch in the red-hot brass section, or shortage of raw-edged characterisation from soloists Stanford Olsen (tenor), Earle Patriarco (baritone) and Hei-Kyung Hong (soprano).

Nielsen: Symphonies Nos 1 and 6

Bis-CD-1079, 12.99

IN THE very month that BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) principal conductor Osmo Vnsk packed his trunk and left to take up a post in America, out comes the first coupling in his long-awaited Nielsen symphonies series with the SSO. And what a riveting pairing Nos 1 & 6 make. Nielsen’s first and last symphonies equate the freshness and zeal of the First with the elusive, often pulverising satire of the Sixth. Vnsk’s take on both is urgent and compulsive, and the playing of the SSO moves effortlessly between sun-ripe climaxes and Nielsen’s magically pawky counterpoint.

Schubert: The Piano Masterworks, Vol 2

The Divine Art: 2-1203, 17.99

ANTHONY Goldstone’s second volume of Schubert piano works is a technical triumph. The immediacy of the recording generates a magical sense of actually being in the same room as the instrument. Add to that Goldstone’s crisp and alert playing and you have a delightful series of two Scherzi, six Moments Musicaux, three Klavierstcke and two of the sonatas spread over two fun-filled CDs. The last may not have the cerebral density of a Brendel, but Goldstone’s alternative take is perfectly legitimate in its own way.


David Ostwald’s Gully Low Jazz Band: Louis Armstrong Centennial Celebration

Nairn International Jazz Festival, 12.99

KEN Ramage’s remarkable Nairn International Jazz Festival enters new territory with his first CD release, recorded at the event last year by Mike Gilmour for local radio.

Tuba player David Ostwald’s celebrated Gully Low band is one of the leading classic jazz units in the USA, and the particular line-up here also features Randy Sandke (trumpet), Dan Levinson (reeds), John Allred (trombone), Mark Shane (piano) and Joe Ascione (drums). They are all on intimate terms with the music, and serve up a fine set. The disc is an excellent souvenir, or a chance to catch up on what you missed.


Martyn Bennett: Glen Lyon

Foot Stompin’ Records, 13.99

TRADITION must be an evolving, rather than a static, concept if it is to be more than a museum piece. Martyn Bennett has been one of the most radical recent re-interpreters of traditional music, but he has always been thoroughly grounded in its deep roots. Glen Lyon enforces those connections more directly than any of his previous projects. It comprises a sequence of great Gaelic songs sung by his mother, Margaret Bennett, in unconventional settings which are contemporary but largely understated. The eloquent, evocative music is very different from the hard-core experiments of Bothy Culture or Hardland, but every bit as effective.


Rene Lacaille and Bob Brozman: Digdig

TUG 1025, 13.99

THE island of Reunion, which lies west of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, is largely known for two things: its local people produce sugar, and rich tourists bask in its sun.

If you listen to Digdig, you’ll get a whole new perspective; what the globe-trotting guitarist Bob Brozman has done in this particular collaboration is to celebrate an intoxicating musical style entirely different from any other. His musical guru here is the multi-talented Rene Lacaille, who moves effortlessly between the guitar, accordion, and sundry percussion instruments, as well as singing the local ballads.

And what these two great musicians get up to when they’re together has irresistible charm.