This marvelous two disc set brings back into the catalog Jerome Lowenthal's superb readings of all four of the works that Tchaikovsky wrote for piano and orchestra. The recordings focus on Tchaikovsky's original, uncut scores in virtuoso performances by Lowenthal, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, directed by the late Sergiu Comissiona. The recordings, made in the late 1980s, were originally released on Arabesque.
Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity.
Drummer Dan Brubeck, son of the late Dave Brubeck, pays homage to his parents in a most appropriate way. He puts the proper frame around the songbook created by his mother and father over their 70-year performance career. Using the saxophone quartet format his father blazed jazz trails with, Brubeck leads his quartet through 14 Brubeck originals at Vancouver's Cellar recorded in August 2013. Bassist Adam Thomas proves to be a fine vocalist for the special material, never obscuring the pieces with technical attempts to impress. Urbane and amiable, this collection has been a long time coming and now that it is here, we can fully appreciate the art of Dave and Iola Brubeck.
With this subtly provocative solo recital, Ted Rosenthal merges three very different streams of piano history, putting his personal stamp on all of them. He pays homage to Bill Evans with "I Loves You Porgy," "Turn out the Stars," and "Waltz for Debby," playing the last in 5/4 but reverting to 4/4 only on his second solo chorus. The Bud Powell portion is more extensive, consisting of "Tempus Fugit," "Wail," "I'll Keep Loving You," "Celia," "Parisian Thoroughfare," and, in another 5/4 interpretation, the closing "Tea for Two." Last but not least, Rosenthal unveils his improvisational approach to Beethoven with the latter two movements of the "Pathetique" sonata, as well as the third movement of "Opus 109," which inspires a full nine minutes of spirited invention. In Rosenthal's hands all this music sounds as though it sprang from the same muse, and that's the sign of a skilled, imaginative artist.
Bring together an all-star lineup of singers and musicians, match them with accessibly romantic melodies and radio-friendly arrangements, and the results will either be lightweight pabulum or superb high-quality pop music. In the case of producer Jason Miles' A Love Affair, it's unquestionably the latter. Even after 30 years on the world music scene, Brazilian musician/composer Ivan Lins may not have had a high profile. However, as this tribute recording demonstrates, his music is as fine as anything that has come out of his native country since the bossa nova heyday of the early '60s. Taken individually, each of these songs is a piece of joyous musical exuberance. Taken as a whole, this recording is better than an hour with any radio station you're going to find on the dial or online.
It's fitting that Chris and Morgane Stapleton open this homage to Waylon Jennings – they're a spiritual echo of Jennings and Jessi Colter, the duke and duchess of Seventies outlaw country, and emblematic of how the movement shaped generations of acts who chafe at Nashville conservatism but refuse to be marginalized. Recorded live in July 2015, this concert LP gathers Jennings' family and friends with all-star acolytes for the rarest of things: a tribute album that almost never flags, with performances that approach or match the originals.