Yes, surprises: Rick Simpson, ‘Everything All of the Time: Kid A Revisited’

This album is an extraordinary achievement – certainly no ordinary ‘covers project’. Rick Simpson and his ensemble wilfully tackle head-on perhaps the original writers’ most elusive set of tracks and, fittingly, bring the same sense of adventure to the material as Radiohead might recognise from recording much of their music first time around. It’s impossible…

Blackford’s Love Song to Nature

  In October 2019 I interviewed composer Richard Blackford in London. I was about to attend a performance of his rich and moving choral work Pièta which premiered at the Cadogan Hall in London to great acclaim. See my review here https://bit.ly/36E60s7 During our meeting I questioned Blackford on his optimum environment for composing. He…

Hoffmeister’s Magic Flute

Franz Anton Hoffmeister was surprisingly absent from my Oxford Companion to Music when I tried to look him up for the purposes of this review. This is surprising as his musical output at the end of the 18th century – early 19th century showed him to be quite prolific. He produced a total of sixty-six…

Guitarist Jakob Bangsø and the soul of the troubadour

This month I was very keen to hear Danish guitarist, Jakob Bangsø, play three contemporary guitar concertos on a recording he made with Orchid Classics. First out on the album is Troubadours by composer John Corigliano, written in 1993. Corigliano has a long career behind him but was nervous about writing a guitar concerto. Concerns…

Sensuous, Intimate and Evocative – Ravel: Le Langage des Fleurs

Ann Martin-Davis, piano (Guild Music) Maurice Ravel has been an enduring part of pianist Ann Martin-Davis’ musical life and in the liner notes to her new collection of his piano music, she relates an anecdote which gave her a special connection to the composer. Having played the middle movement of Ravel’s Sonatine to the renowned…

Clélia Iruzun Plays Camille Saint-Saëns and Henrique Oswald

Piano concertos are dramatic affairs performed live, with virtuoso pianist, conductor and orchestra all adding to the visual spectacle taking place on stage. Concertos are rarely run of the mill – too costly for that. Only the best performers will do. And at the moment, mid-pandemic, deprived of live performances of this nature, we have…

Striking a harpsichord: Mahan Esfahani, ‘Musique?’

It’s impossible to resist writing about this tour-de-force of an album, a CD I’ve lived with now for a few weeks and keep feeling drawn back to, certain in the knowledge there’s always more to hear, more to appreciate. I would be happy to recommend any of Mahan Esfahani’s recordings, but my true favourites are…

Window to the inner world: Heather Leigh, ‘Glory Days’

Heather Leigh’s previous release, ‘Throne’, was one of my favourite albums of 2018. Picking up the record unawares, you might expect country rock – Leigh sings, and her chief instrument is pedal steel guitar – but that would be a mistake. On first listen, you might wonder just what it is you’ve let yourself in…

London Bridge Trio Records Leipzig Circle Volume Two

  I love piano trios. For me, piano, cello and violin is a holy trinity of instruments which magically creates that big sound I seek. I was therefore delighted to listen to the CD of The Leipzig Circle Vol 11, recorded by the London Bridge Trio on Somm Recordings. Formed in 2002, the London Bridge…

Blistering Performance by Stuart Jackson on ‘Flax and Fire’

  On Flax and Fire, operatic tenor Stuart Jackson offers a recording of love songs from the romantic repertoire of Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt and Hugo Wolf, with more contemporary works by William Denis Browne and Benjamin Britten. Britten opens the album with homages to Purcell but I really started to listen from track three. Um Mitternacht…