CD and Other Review

Review: Cole Porter in Hollywood

It is now six years since aficionados of the classic Broadway musical mourned the tragically early death of John McGlinn, who did such exhaustive work creating definitive recordings with authentic orchestrations and vocal arrangements. We can thank EMI (now Warner Classics) for signing John Wilson who has continued in the tradition but with a focus on the film musical.  The first two albums, That’s Entertainment and Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies, were delightful romps and this latest is likewise. Wilsons’ reconstructions of the souped-up Hollywood orchestrations are delivered by his hand-picked band in period style with swoopy strings and fruity saxes, but with just enough British reserve to avoid going over-the-top in glitz; one can still visualise a knowing campy twinkle in the eye.  His casting of singers is impeccable; genuine Broadway style voices with no nasty modern pop-vocalist mannerisms or plum-in-the-gob operatic diction – oh, how nice it is to hear every delicious Porter lyric clearly enunciated in a natural idiomatic style.   Most of the program is from the 1950s, so the opening number from Silk Stockings makes an apt curtain raiser as a paean to the technological innovations of that decade with Anna-Jane Casey and Matthew…

February 20, 2015
CD and Other Review

Review: Sculthorpe: The ABC Recordings

According to interviews, the late Peter Sculthorpe stipulated that from the earliest he could remember, he wanted to not only be a composer but, more specifically, an Australian one. And it was during the late 50s and 60s that he came of age with innovative works like Irkandaand the seminal Sun Music I – IV– a time when Australian literature (Patrick White) and art (Drysdale, Boyd, et al) would present our land of ‘wide and open plains’, not to mention indigenous culture to an international audience. In this generous boxed set containing several ARIA winners, we see his growth as a composer, often leading to to a later rewrite. For example, there are two performances of Sun Music(the old EMI recording led by John Hopkins and a later one featuring the Adelaide Symphony with David Porcelijn which replaces western style drones with didjeridu). Irklanda IVhas three recordings, the bird-like glissandi and static approach reflecting the heat of the outback. The orchestral recordings culminate in his late masterpiece, his Requiem which brings together the Adelaide forces under Arvo Volmer with didjeridu virtuoso, William Barton. An equally important bonus lies in a DVD devoted to the works that arguably show…Continue reading Get unlimited…

February 20, 2015
CD and Other Review

Review: Shostakovich: Cello Concertos (Oslo Philharmonic)

In my recent review of Petrenko’s recording of Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony, I said it made his other lugubrious works sound like Offenbach. Well, I spoke too soon. Despite excellent playing, conducting and engineering, I strongly recommend against anyone in anything like a fragile state listening to this CD. Mørk has covered these works before but I doubt whether those recordings could top these. The Oslo Philharmonic’s accompaniment certainly reinforces Petrenko’s reputation as one of the great Shostakovich conductors of our age. Mørk also distinguishes himself throughout, conveying the gruesome parade of fear, anxiety, despair, grotesquerie and sheer bafflement. They keep the first movement of the First Concerto moving in a business- like way, making it even more sinister. In their hands, the final movement’s inclusion of a supposedly favourite folk song of Stalin is more sardonic than ever, while the threnody-like second movement sees a few green shoots of warmth and lyricism. The Second is far less known and for me the most telling moment, especially in the current international context, was the way the orchestral climax in the first movement is brutally quelled by the bass drum, as if to kill any momentum. Petrenko and Mørk’s tempi in this work are among the…

February 5, 2015