CAST your mind back to last year’s Edinburgh Festival, when Sir Charles Mackerras, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and a star-studded cast of Ian Bostridge, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Lisa Milne, below, Barbara Fritolli and Anthony Rolfe Johnson presented a memorable concert performance of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo. Nothing is lost in this fast-moving, beautifully sung recording, which was recorded at the Festival performance. It’s well worth it for Lisa Milne’s meltingly pure Ilia alone.
LSO Live, 6.99
FOLLOWING LSO Live’s recent bloom-filled trilogy of Elgar symphonies, the dryness of this newest release, Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony, is as surprising as it is disappointing. The playing, recorded live in London’s Barbican Hall, is immaculate, and the authority and mystery of Mstislav Rostropovich’s interpretation is, particularly in the opening Adagio, as mesmerising as you’d expect from someone with first-hand experience of the composer. But the recording quality is too one-dimensional to offer up the full thrust of the work. We’re told it uses the latest high-density recording technology, but the warmth and breadth are missing.
Columbia Records, 13.99
JEFF Watts is among the most sought-after jazz drummers in the world, and has been able to call in some return favours on his new album for Columbia.
Guests include saxophonists Branford Marsalis and Michael Brecker, heard in tandem on the high-energy Mr J J, and Ravi Coltrane. Guitarist Paul Bollenback is also prominently featured, and the music dips into a cross-section of rhythms and styles within the basic framework of bop-derived contemporary jazz. Watts’s titanic drumming is at the heart of everything that goes on, and the musicianship is predictably impressive throughout.
CLIAR’S new disc is a fine showcase for the band rated as the cream of the crop in Scottish Gaelic music. They stretch the boundaries of the Gaidhealtacht by including Inverness fiddler Bruce MacGregor in their ranks, but his contribution is a crucial one within their notably beautiful, lustrous sound. Arthur Cormack, Mary Anne Kennedy and Maggie MacDonald are highly complementary singers, but also bring a pleasing contrast of voices to the heart-tugging ballads, songs and feisty puirt a beul (mouth music). Ingrid Henderson’s piano and clarsach and Chaz Stewart’s guitar add depth and richness to an already gorgeous, expressive group sound.