St. Matthews Choir & Orchestra – The Creation (Haydn) (2010)

FrontCover1On a day like this, I thought of this oratorio:

The Creation (German: Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio written between 1797 and 1798 by Joseph Haydn (Hob. XXI:2), and considered by many to be one of his masterpieces. The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the Book of Genesis.

The libretto was written by Gottfried van Swieten. The work is structured in three parts and scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and a symphonic orchestra. In parts I and II, depicting the creation, the soloists represent the archangels Raphael (bass), Uriel (tenor) and Gabriel (soprano). In part III, the bass and soprano represent Adam and Eve.

The first public performance was held in Vienna at the old Burgtheater on 19 March 1799. The oratorio was published with the text in German and English in 1800.

Haydn was inspired to write a large oratorio during his visits to England in 1791–1792 and 1794–1795, when he heard oratorios of George Frideric Handel performed by large forces. It is likely that Haydn wanted to try to achieve results of comparable weight, using the musical language of the mature classical style. Among the Handel works Haydn heard was Israel in Egypt, which includes various episodes of tone painting, perhaps an inspiration to Haydn’s own pervasive use of this device in The Creation.

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The text of The Creation has a long history. The three sources are Genesis, the Biblical book of Psalms, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In 1795, when Haydn was leaving England, the impresario Johann Peter Salomon (1745–1815) who had arranged his concerts there handed him a new poem entitled The Creation of the World. This original had been offered to Handel, but the old master had not worked on it, as its wordiness meant that it would have been four hours in length when set to music. The libretto was probably passed on to Salomon by Thomas Linley Sr. (1733–1795), a Drury Lane oratorio concert director. Linley (sometimes called Lidley or Liddel) himself could have written this original English libretto, but scholarship by Edward Olleson, A. Peter Brown (who prepared a particularly fine “authentic” score) and H. C. Robbins Landon, tells us that the original writer remains anonymous.

The Creation, notice for the first public performance at the Burgtheater on 19 March 1799:
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When Haydn returned to Vienna, he turned this libretto over to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, who led a multifaceted career as diplomat, director of the Imperial Library, amateur musician, and patron of music. He had already collaborated with Haydn as librettist, editing the text for the oratorio version of The Seven Last Words of Christ, premiered in Vienna in 1796. Swieten recast the English libretto of The Creation in a German translation (Die Schöpfung) that Haydn could use to compose. He also made suggestions to Haydn regarding the setting of individual numbers. The work was published bilingually (1800) and is still performed in both languages today.

For the quotations from the Bible, Swieten chose to adhere very closely to the English King James Version. According to Temperley, “the German text corresponds to no known German Bible translation. Instead, it is so constructed that the word order, syllabification, and stress patterns are as close as possible to the English. Haydn and Swieten must have realized that English audiences would not easily accept changes in the hallowed text of their Bible; and there were the formidable precedents of Messiah and Israel in Egypt to bear in mind.”

In the final form of the oratorio, the text is structured as recitative passages of the text of Genesis, often set to minimal accompaniment, interspersed with choral and solo passages setting Swieten’s original poetry to music. Swieten incorporated excerpts from Psalms for choral movements..

Gottfried van Swieten

Van Swieten was evidently not a fully fluent speaker of English, and the metrically-matched English version of the libretto suffers from awkward phrasing that fails to fit idiomatic English text onto Haydn’s music. For example, one passage describing the freshly minted Adam’s forehead ended up, “The large and arched front sublime/of wisdom deep declares the seat”. Since publication, numerous attempts at improvement have been made, but many performances in English-speaking countries avoid the problem by performing in the original German. The discussion below quotes the German text as representing van Swieten’s best efforts, with fairly literal renderings of the German into English; for the full versions of both texts see the links at the end of this article.

The first performances in 1798 were mounted by the Gesellschaft der Associierten, a group of music-loving noblemen organized by van Swieten to sponsor concerts of serious music; the Gesellschaft paid the composer handsomely for the right to stage the premiere (Salomon briefly threatened to sue, on grounds that the English libretto had been translated illegally). The performance was delayed until late April—the parts were not finished until Good Friday—but the completed work was rehearsed before a full audience on April 29.

Performance of The Creation in 1808 in the Festival Hall of the old University of Vienna/Austria:
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The first performance the next day was a private affair, but hundreds of people crowded into the street around the old Schwarzenberg Palace at the New Market to hear this eagerly anticipated work. Admission was by invitation only. Those invited included wealthy patrons of the arts, high government officials, prominent composers and musicians, and a sprinkling of the nobility of several countries; the common folk, who would have to wait for later occasions to hear the new work, so crowded the streets near the palace that some 30 special police were needed to keep order. Many of those lucky enough to be inside wrote glowing accounts of the piece. In a letter to the Neue teutsche Merkur, one audience member wrote, “Already three days have passed since that happy evening, and it still sounds in my ears and heart, and my breast is constricted by many emotions even thinking of it.”

The old Covent Garden theatre, site of the English premiere in 1800. Engraving from 1808:
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The first public performance at Vienna’s old Burgtheater at the Michaelerplatz on 19 March 1799 was sold out far in advance, and Die Schöpfung was performed nearly forty more times in the city during Haydn’s life. The work became a favourite of the Tonkünstlersocietät, a charitable organization for the support of widows and orphans of musicians, for which Haydn frequently conducted the work, often with very large ensembles, throughout the remainder of his career. The Creation had its London premiere in 1800, using its English text, at Covent Garden.

The last performance Haydn attended was on March 27, 1808, just a year before he died: the aged and ill Haydn was carried in with great honour on an armchair. According to one account, the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the coming of “light” and Haydn, in a typical gesture, weakly pointed upwards and said: “Not from me—everything comes from up there!”

The Creation was also performed more than forty times outside Vienna during his life: elsewhere in Austria and Germany, throughout England, and in Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Russia and the United States. Despite the eclipse in Haydn’s reputation as a composer in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the work never left the repertoire during this time, and today it is frequently performed by both professional and amateur ensembles. There are many recordings

A typical performance lasts about one hour and 45 minutes. (wikipedia)

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And here we hear this legenday composition by St. Matthew´s Choir & Concert Orchestra, Ealing/London.

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And it´s such a such a moving and intimate recording …

Recorded live at the St. Matthews church, 20th March, 2010, Ealing/London

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Personnel:
Adam Crockatt (Tenor; Uriel)
Clément Dionet (Baritone; Adam)
Aurélia Jonvaux (Soprano; Eve)
Antoine Salman (Bass; Raphael)
Joanna Marie Skillett (Sopran; Gabriel)
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St. Mattew´s Choir & Concert Orchestra conducted by Phiroz Dalal

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Tracklist:

First Part:
01 .Representation Of Chaos 2.38
02. In The Beginning 4.05
03. Now Vanish Before The Holy Beams 2.03
04. And God Made The Firmament 2.13
05. The Marvellous Work 0.50
06. And God Said, Let The Waters 4.52
07. Boiling In Foaming Billows 0.34
08. And God Said, Let The Earth 5.31
09. With Verdure Clad 0.14
10. And The Heavenly Host 2.22
11. Awake The Harp 0.47
12. And God Said, Let There Be Light 2.57
13. In Splendour Bright 4.26
14. The Heavens Are Telling 0.33

Second Part:
15. And God Said, Let The Waters 8.10
16. On Mighty Pens 1.57
17. And God Created Great Whales 0.25
18. And The Angels 4.48
19. Most Beautiful Appear 2.28
20. The Lord Is Great 3.43
21. Now Heaven In Fullest Glory Shone 0.43
22. And God Created Man 3.55
23. In Native Worth 0.32
24. And God Saw Everything That He Had Made 1.33
25. Achieved Is The Glorious Work 4.07
26. On Thee Each Living Soul Awakes 3.34
27. Achieved Is The Glorious Work 4.02

Third Part:
28. In Rosy Mantle Appears 10.11
29. By Thee With Bliss 2.49
30. Our Duty We Have Now Performed 0.43
31. O Happy Pair 3.45
32. Sing The Lord Ye Voices All

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Christmas (11): Saxtribution – Merry Christmas (2010)

FrontCover1Every year in December I present Christmas music that is most sublime.

And today a kind of Christmas lounge music, played by unknown studio musicians.

I think this album never existed on CD but was produced for various streaming services.

And of course we hear a lot of smooth saxophone sounds.

Not my kind of music … but sometime I an hear this while I bake delicious biscuits in the kitchen.

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Personnel:
a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Driving Home For Christmas 3.51
02. Winter Wonderland 3.04
03. Last Christmas 4.02
04. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town 3.28
05. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 3.56
06. Jingle Bells 3.21
07. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Le It Snow 3.20
08. Silent Night 4.29
09. Happy New Year 4.23
10. We Wish You A Merry Christmas 1.43
11. White Christmas 3.42
12. The Christmas Song 3.13

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Paul Winter Consort – Miho-Journey To The Mountain (2010)

FrontCover1Paul Winter (born August 31, 1939) is an American saxophonist, composer and bandleader. A seven-time Grammy Award-winner, he is recognized as one of the pioneers of the world music genre, and also for his genre of “earth music,” which interweaves the voices of the greater symphony of the wild with instrumental voices from classical, jazz and world music traditions. The music is often improvised, and recorded in natural acoustic spaces, to reflect the qualities and instincts brought into play by the environment. With his various ensembles—the Paul Winter Sextet, the Paul Winter Consort, and the Earth Band—he has recorded more than 40 albums, and performed in 52 countries and six continents. (by wikipedia)

And here´s one of his finet recordings, a musical celebration of I.M. Pei’s Miho Museum in the Shigaraki Mountains of Japan

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In this, the finest album by Paul Winter and friends in many a year (2010 Grammy finalist, thus far, at time of this review), we hear a large variety of sounds and rhythms performed on saxophone, sarangi, koto, bansuri, taiko, bendir and other percussion, English horn, oboe, organ, keyboard, carillon, plus voice and chorus. All-star musicians include Winter, Paul McCandless, Eugene Freisen, Glen Velez, Don Gruisin, Steve Gorn, Yangjin Lamu, Dhruba Ghosh, and Japanese specialists. The rich acoustic resonance of the recording chamber is in the Shigaraki Mountain museum designed by I. M. Pei in the form of a Japanese farmhouse, though the bulk of the collection is actually underground. The variety of musical forms reflect the diverse Asian collections of this famous museum, and although they are not traditional but contemporary and musical fusions, they are instilled with the spirit of the ethnic source.

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Certainly quiet and slow, spiritual and meditative, the frequent changes in timbre and style excite and maintain attention. As Winter has done in the past, samples of animal sounds, e.g., birds and whale, are part of some tracks. Unusual in setting and format, this outstanding and beautiful music will be particularly appreciated by jazz fans of Oregon, new age enthusiasts of Paul Winter, and devotees of world music. As the sublime natural site of the museum inspired the musicians, this recording will delight the listener. (Dr. Debra Jan Bibel)

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And yes, this is my answer to the fucking corona virus !

Recorded by Akira Kato at the Miho Museum (Shiga, Japan) and Dixon Van Winkle in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City) and at Living Music Studios (Litchfield, Connecticut). Additional recording by Bobby Cochran at Laughing Coyote Studio in Redwood Valley, California

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Personnel:
Tim Brumfield (organ on 07., piano on 18.)
Eugene Friesen (cello on 08., 11., 18., 19. + 22.)
Dhruba Ghosh (sarangi on 02., 15., 20.
Steve Gorn (bansuroi on 07., 08., 13., 20. + 22.)
Don Grusin (keboards on 02., 04., 06., 16., 17., 21. + 22.)
Eriko Koide (carillon on 12., 21.)
Yangjin Lamu (vocals on 08.)
Yukiko Matsuyama (koto on 05., 13.
Paul McCandless (english horn on 04., 13. + 17., clarinet on 20., oboe on 22.)
Jordan Rudess (keyboards on 03., 11., 19.)
Cafe (Edson Aparecido da Silva) (percussion on 08.
Arto Tuncboyaciyan (vocals on 03., 11., 13., 16., 20., percussion on 20.
Glen Velez (percussion on 06., 14., bendir on 09.)
Uguisu (vocals on 12.)
Paul Winter (saxophone)
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Shumei Taiko Ensemble (drums on 14.)
Chorus Of Worcester Polytechnic conducted by Wayne Abercrombie (on 19.)
The Shumei Chorus conducted by Hiroko Matsui (on 20.)
The Peach Valley Precision Marching Band (on 20.)
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Asian Elephant, African  Elephant (voice on 14.)
Humpback Whale (voice on 15.)
Western Wind (on 17.)

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Tracklist:

Part I: Many Paths To Paradise:
01. Saxophone (Song Of Miho) (Winter) 3.20
02. Sarangi (Dawn Raga) (Ahir Bairav) (Ghosh) 5.19
03. Arto (Before It’s Too Late) 4.48
04. English Horn (Theme From “On The Steppes of Central Asia”) (Borodin) 4.09
05. Koto (Matsuyama) 1.42
06. Frame Drum (Cedar Grove Dance) (Velez) 2.09
07. Bansuri & Saxophone (Winter/Gorn) 3.53
08. Yangjin (Words Of Wish Fulfillment) (Lamu) 4.48
09. Bendir & Heckelphone (Velez/McCandless) 2.25
10. Saxophone Reprise (Winter) 0.43
11. Arto (Singing To The Mountains) (Tuncboyaciyan) 4.39

Part II: Shangri-la:
12. The Welcome (Song Of Miho): Mitarashi Waterfall  / Carillon (Winter) 0.50
13. Koto Spring (Tuncboyaciyan/McCandless/Gorn/Matsuyama) 5.02

Jakuchu Suite:
14. Elephant Dance (Velez/Winter) 2.55
15. Whale Raga (Gosh/Humpback Whale) 4.25
16. Love Is Not In Your Mind (Tuncboyaciyan) 4.13
17. Twilight (Grusin/McCandless) 2.15
18. Andante (From Sonata #2 In A Minor For Unaccompanied Violin) (Bach) 6.01
19. Remembering (Winter) 4.13
20. Saturday Night In Peach Valley (Tuncboyaciyan) 2.53
21. Song Of Miho (Winer) 0.48
22. Morning Sun (Grusin/Friesen/McCandless/Winte/Gorn) 6.32

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The Playtones – Rock’N’Roll Christmas Party (2010)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Playtones is a Swedish 1950s rock n roll band formed in 2008 in Kallinge. Their music is influenced by rockabilly. It was called Boppin’ Steve & The Playtones before 2008. The Playtones won the dansband competition Dansbandskampen in 2009.[1] 2011 the band appeared in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest. (by wikipedia)

Originally known as Boppin’ Steve & The Playtones, under which name they released their first two albums, The Playtones have gone on to become one of Sweden’s most popular bands.
They have even taken their 1950s style Rock ‘n’ Roll sound to Number One in the national album charts.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas Party is exactly what the title suggests – a rockin’ collections of Christmas Rock ‘n’ Roll songs which mixes rockin’ oldies with brand new Christmas rockers. (raucousrecords.com)

Don´t wait … join this funny Christmas party !

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Personnel:
Jonas Holmberg (guitar)
Stefan Jonasson – vocals, piano
Mattias Schertell (bass)
Johan Svensson (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Here Comes Santa Claus Again 2.14
02. Fira Jul På Fyra Hjul 2.44
03. Christmas Time Has Found Me 3.18
04. Trucking Trees For Christmas 2.01
05. Tomten Är Aldrig Sen 2.43
06. Run Run Rudolph 2.40
07. Ingen Jul Utan Dig 3.39
08. Santa’s On The Go 2.31
09. All I Want For Christmas Dear Is You 2.29
10. Christmas Bug 2.35
11. Julnatt 3.00
12. Julmedley 4.39
13 Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy 3.02

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Wendy Nieper – First Flight (2010)

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As a classical soprano Wendy has appeared with over 30 leading orchestras, including the BBC Symphony (at the 2018 proms), Berlin Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra, the Tokyo and American Symphony Orchestras, the London Sinfonietta and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, a performance recorded for Deutsche Gramophone described by the Telegraph as an “Exceptionally fine release.” Recently in Opera she performed the world premiere of Stockhausen’s “Mittwoch aus Licht” & Britten’s Peter Grimes with the LPO in China & the UK. At the National Theatre she was soloist for the three month production of ‘Women Beware Women’.

She is a regular concert soloist around the UK and as well as recitals has performed most of the oratorio repertoire including: Mozart Mass in C minor, Exsultate Jubilate & Requiem, Mendelssohn Elijah, Poulenc Gloria, Haydn Nelson Mass, Handel Messiah, Vivaldi Gloria, Rutter Magnificat, Beethoven Mass in C, Bach St Matthew’s Passion, Magnificat in D & the Christmas Oratorio & Faure’s Requiem.

WendyNieper01As a jazz singer Wendy has sung with many of the country’s leading jazz musicians including Digby Fairweather and Denys Baptiste, at the Southend International Jazz festival with Dame Cleo Laine, for the British Jazz Foundation in Harlow, Ronnie Scotts, the Jazz Cafe, Pizza Express (London) and the Stables in Wavendon. As a solo artist she has toured in Italy, Austria & the UK, including a performance at Florence’s beautiful Theatre Del Sale.

Previously she spent five years touring the world with a cappella group The Swingle Singers with whom she recorded five albums, performed around 400 concerts and sang at La Scala Milan and Chatelet Paris.

She was vocal coach to Michael Caine on his film ‘Is Anybody There?’ and has featured vocals and voiceover on three “Total Greek Yoghurt” adverts playing a singing cow! Her very extensive studio work includes recording for Bryn Terfel, Paul McCartney, Robin Gibbs, film sound tracks including Star Wars III, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter & the Hobbit and many more. (www.bcu.ac.uk)

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And here´s her debut album a a jazz singer.

BBC Radio 3 Presenter Claire Martin, features ‘Empty Beach’ and describes Wendy as “an extraordinarily versatile vocalist” on Jazz Line-up. (Jazz Line-Up, BBC Radio 3)

“Nieper is a very accomplished vocalist… I am sure she could turn her hand to just about any genre she cares to perform in” (Music Web – International.com)

“Nieper demonstrates her ongoing versatility in an intimate jazz setting” (Jazzwise Mag)

‘Singer Wendy Nieper’s voice, interpreting Olly Fox’s slow jazz score, adds a sultry sexiness.’ (Official London Theatre Guide)

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‘…while Olly Fox’s lounge-jazz score and sultry singing from Wendy Nieper adds to the insidiously seductive ambience’. (Music OMH – Neil Dowden)

‘Wendy Nieper’s scatting is gorgeous and heartstopping’ (Recorded A Cappella Review Board, USA)

‘Finally, – the dashingly beautiful Wendy Nieper had her chance to prove her fabulous vocals’ (Inkpot reviewers, Singapore)

Oh yes … a lady sings Jazz … what a wonderful lady !

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Personnel:
Wendy Nieper (vocals)
Roland Perrin (piano)
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Digby Fairweather (trumpet on 05.)
Dave Moses (bass, background vocals on 07.)
Helder Pack (drums on 07. – 09.)
Guy Silk (drums on 01. – 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. Blower’s Daughter (Rice) 4.47
02. Retrospective Waltz (Perrin) 5.13
03. Solomente (Neruda/Nieper/Perrin) 4.53
04. What’ll It Be? (Nieper/Perrin) 3.14
05.  Empty Beach (Nieper/Perrin) 7.11
06. Persuasion (Perrin) 3.13
07. Poinciana (Bernier/Simon) 5.18
08. Good Bait (Basie/Dameron) 4.03
09. Tree (Nieper/Perrin) 4.03
10. My One and Only Love (Mellin/Wood) 4.10

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Claire Diterzi – Rosa la Rouge (2010)

FrontCover1.jpgHere´s a very special artist:

Goth-tinged singer and songwriter Claire Diterzi was born Claire Touzi dit Terzi in Tours, France, in 1971, and released her first solo album, Boucle, in 2006. Although she would earn critical and popular plaudits for her own compositions and performance, her career got off to a more group-oriented start, as part of the groups Forguette Mi Not and Dit Terzi. As those groups faded into memory, Diterzi moved to the stage, performing in the 2001 Philippe Decoufle work Iris. After a few years in Japan and further stage work, Diterzi got the music itch again, only this time deciding to focus on her solo career. The aforementioned Boucle (which, it should be noted, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 2006 by L’Academie Charles-Cros) was recorded by Diterzi herself, and the critical response it drew led to an opportunity to write and compose music for the score to the 2007 Anne Feinsilber film Requiem for Billy the Kid. In 2008, Diterzi returned to the public consciousness with her follow-up solo release, Tableau de Chasse, on Naive Records. (by Chris True)

This album was the soundtrack of a musical show under the direction of Marcial Di Fonzo Bo:

Marcial Di Fonzo Bo (born 19 December 1968) is an Argentine actor and theatre director. He appeared in more than twenty films since 1997. Di Fonzo Bo directed several plays in France and was nominated for the Molière Award for Best Director in 2011. (by wikipedia)

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And this show was a hommage to Rosa Luxemburg:

Rosa Luxemburg (German: [ˈʁoːza ˈlʊksəmbʊʁk] (About this soundlisten); Polish: Róża Luksemburg; also Rozalia Luxenburg; 5 March 1871 – 15 January 1919) was a Polish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

After the SPD supported German involvement in World War I in 1915, Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht co-founded the anti-war Spartacus League (Spartakusbund) which eventually became the KPD. During the November Revolution, she co-founded the newspaper Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), the central organ of the Spartacist movement. Luxemburg considered the Spartacist uprising of January 1919 a blunder,[1] but supported the attempted overthrow of the government and rejected any attempt at a negotiated solution. Friedrich Ebert’s majority SPD government crushed the revolt and the Spartakusbund by sending in the Freikorps, government-sponsored paramilitary groups consisting mostly of World War I veterans. Freikorps troops captured and summarily executed Luxemburg and Liebknecht during the rebellion. Luxemburg’s body was thrown in the Landwehr Canal in Berlin.

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Due to her pointed criticism of both the Leninist and the more moderate social democratic schools of socialism, Luxemburg has had a somewhat ambivalent reception among scholars and theorists of the political left. Nonetheless, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were extensively idolized as communist martyrs by the East German communist regime. The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution notes that idolization of Luxemburg and Liebknecht is an important tradition of German far-left extremism. (by wikipedia)

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And we here not only a real beutiful voice, but many  different musical ideas … sometimes very strange, sometimes in a very magic way. Sometimes very soft, sometimes very disturbing … but always very intersting sounds.

This is a sort of concept album by a woman, that we should discover.

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Personnel:
Étienne Bonhomme (drums, percussion, sound machine, background vocals)
Cédric Chatelain (clrinet, oboe, flute, bombarde, background vocals)
Claire Diterzi (vocals, guitar, zither)
Baptiste Germser (bass, background vocals)
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Jack Lahana (percussion on 02., 03. + 07.)
Lambert Wilson (vocals)

Under the direction of  Marcial Di Fonzo Bo

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Tracklist:
01. 1 L’Eglise 4.43
02 Je Touche La Masse 3.44
03. J’Etais, Je Suis, Je Serai 3.08
04. Rosa La Rouge 3.32
05. L’Arme A Gauche 4.17
06. Aux Marches Du Palais 3:23
07 Ce Que J’Ai Sur Le Coeur Je L’Ai Sur Les Lèvres 3.26
08. Cellule 45 4.54
09. Berceuse 2.32
10. A Cor Et A Cri 3.07
11. Le Monde Est Là 2.38
12. Casta Diva 2.26

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David Chesky – Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra (2010)

FrontCover1David Chesky is an American pianist, composer, producer, arranger, and co-founder of the independent, audiophile label Chesky Records. He is also co-founder and CEO of HDtracks, an online music store that sells high-resolution digital music.

Chesky is considered a technological and musical innovator with eclectic interests. He has won Independent Music Awards and received Grammy Award nominations. He has written jazz tunes, orchestral and chamber music, opera, ballet, and a rap symphony (by wikipedia)

In the past when I thought of virtual instruments I thought of MIDI tones emanating from an old cream colored computer’s built-in speaker, some terrible synthesized songs from the 1980s, or even some chart-toppers created on a workstation in a bedroom without regard for the actual sound of real instruments. There’s certainly nothing wrong with expressing one’s musical creativity this way, but I’ll pass on spending a buck when the first single is released. That was the past before I heard David Chesky’s new creation Urbanicity / Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra / The New York Variations. The album’s only real physical instrument is an electric guitar played by the 24 year old rising star Bryan Baker on the Concerto centerpiece.

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Every other instrument comprising the Urbancity Orchestra of New York is virtual. This may be a hard concept to accept for many audiophiles, but if anyone understands what real instruments sound like it’s music impresario and current Composure in Residence at the National Symphony of Taiwan David Chesky. —audiophilestyle.com

David Chesky deserves major props for writing one of the best “classical” pieces yet to incorporate the electric guitar–a wonderful instrument that lots of modern composers use, mostly terribly. Leonard Bernstein managed it, and a few others, but Chesky’s concerto is at once excitingly virtuosic, cogently structured, and true to the instrument’s roots in rock and popular music. It’s exceptionally well played by Bryan Baker, who in the notes says he spent eight hours a day learning it. The effort shows, but only in a good way.

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Urbanicity and The New York Variations are ballets, which explains their rhythmic charge, but not their eclectic mixture of idioms and references, which are pure Chesky. Both have three movements. Urbanicity lives up to its title with a vengeance: the music might strike some listeners as overly relentless, but The New York Variations has more variety and (it seems to me) a wider expressive range. The performances, as in the concerto, are tip-top, and the sonics stunningly lifelike, with the electric guitar particularly well-balanced. A very enjoyable release by a distinctive compositional voice. (byDavid Hurwitz)

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Personnel:
David Chesky (piano)
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Bryan Baker (guitar on 04. – 06.)
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The Urbanicity Orchestra of New York conducted by David Chesky

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Tracklist:

Urbanicity:
01. Movement 1 / 6.42
02. Movement 2 / 6.26
03. Movement 3 / 7.58

Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra:
04. Movement 1 / 6.29
05. Movement 2 / 6.17
06. Movement 3 / 6.36

The New York Variations:
07. Movement 1 / 6.54
08. Movement 2 / 10.02
09. Movement 3 / 5.52

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Big Apple Blues – Brooklyn Blues (2010)

FrontCover1.jpgBig Apple Blues came by this vintage sound honestly. They put down tracks for Brooklyn Blues in an old hometown studio, Excello Recording, playing live before analog equipment on throwback instruments. Then they picked out a series of cuts by giants of the genre.

Included on this Stone Tone release are covers of songs by Chess Records legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, as well as tracks by a pair of former Muddy Waters harmonica-playing sidemen in Little Walter and Junior Wells. Big Apple Blues also tosses in a couple of Big Easy classics by Dave Bartholomew, including the Fats Domino staple “Whole Lotta Lovin,’” and songs by Big Joe Turner and Paul Butterfield, as well.

That gives this warm vibrancy to Brooklyn Blues, which smartly mimics the densely spacious sound of those original masters. You quickly sense that this group’s high fidelity goes beyond the studio technology; Big Apple Blues displays a lasting faith in the music’s tradition.

Guitarist Zach Zunis opens the record with a dirty, barstool-rattling guitar groove on “Too Many Drivers,” while Anthony Kane (pictured at left) puts on a shimmying show with his harmonica. Kane’s gravelly growl is perfect for Butterfield’s well-crafted lyric on betrayal. A saddle-buck cool surrounds their rollicking interpretation of Turner’s largely ad-libbed 1953 Top 25 hit “Honey Hush,” which swings along like a lost Sun Records side. Christine Santelli and Matt Mousseau join in the raucous sing-along at the end.

Big Apple Blues doesn’t often move off script but, when they do, it’s a wonder: For instance, they brilliantly rework “Whole Lotta Lovin,” originally an up-tempo 1958 pop parfait by Fats Domino, into a loping shout. They go even deeper into the brown-bottle blues on “I Hear You Knockin,’” initially sent to No. 2 on the R&B charts in 1955 by Gale Storm.

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On the original “Brooklyn Swamp,” written by Zunis, Big Apple Blues jukes expectations with a New Orleans vibe. Zunis explores a mercurial, echoing sound while drummer Barry “The Baron of the Blues” Harrison (Shemekia Copeland) underscores everything with a second-line beat.

More typical, however, is “Who’s On Third (Duvel),” this album’s only other original. The track, locomotive but instantly familiar, finds author Kane trading licks with guest pianist Brian Mitchell (Bob Dylan, Al Green, B.B. King, Levon Helm, Allen Toussaint), who also appears on “Whole Lotta Lovin.’” Kane’s aching vocal on Howlin’ Wolf’s seminal 1951 Chess classic “How Many More Years” opens the door for a sizzling, explorative solo turn by Zunis.

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Kane then retakes center stage during a trio of showcase opportunities that arrive back to back to back on Brooklyn Blues. First, there’s Wells’ “It’s My Life Baby” and then Little Walter’s “Hate to See You Go,” both from the late 1960s, followed by Walter’s determined 1959 Top 25 R&B hit “Everything is Gonna Be Alright.” Kane completely inhabits Little Walter’s style, this crisp, cocksure sound that shaped the modern vocabulary for harmonica. Then Kane neatly approximates Junior Well’s randy growl on “It’s My Life Baby.”

Big Apple Blues closes with the Diddley wallop of Dixon’s ironically named 1954 side “Mellow Down Easy,” eventually made famous by Little Walter, as well.

Of course, carefully carrying forward those signature sounds sometimes sets up Big Apple Blues for uncomfortable comparisons. These classic sides are famous for very good reasons.

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For instance, “Killing Floor,” a roadhouse staple since redefining Chicago blues in 1964, doesn’t quite have the muscular danger of Howlin’ Wolf’s initial version. Nobody, not even a player as gifted as Zunis, can touch Hubert Sumlin’s towering original riff.

Even so, Hugh Pool acquits himself well on the lyric, pushing his vocal through a series of painful epiphanies about how a relationship has gone terribly wrong. There remain new places for these songs to go, not to mention a new audience unlikely to dig through dusty stacks at the local vinyl shop.

Sure, Big Apple Blues does the old stuff the old way, but in a too-polished world so very far removed from the days when these songs were on the radio, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. (by Nick DeRiso)

Indeed … one of the finest blues albums of the last decade … hot & dirty … loud & proud !

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Personnel:
Joe Bencomo (drums)
Sonny Charles (vocals, harmonica)
Eddie St. Clair (bass)
Spider Ingram (guitar, slide-guitar, vocals)
Little Johnny Walter (guitar, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Too Many Drivers (Butterfield) 4.06
02. Killing Floor (Burnett) 3.57
03. Brooklyn Swamp (Bencomo/Charles/Clair/Ingram/Walter/Zunis) 3.47
04. Honey Hush (Turner) 2.58
05. Whole Lotta Lovin (Bartholomew/Domino) 4.07
06. I Hear You Knocking (Bartholomew) 3.03
07. How Many More Years (Burnett) 4.09
08. Who’s On Third (Duvel)? (Bencomo/Charles/Clair/Ingram/Walter/Kane) 6.19
09. It’s My Life Baby (Wells) 4.27
10. Hate To See You Go (Jacobs) 3.22
11. Everything Is Gonna Be All Right (Jacobs) 5.23
12. Mellow Down Easy (Dixon) 3.56

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Snowy White Project – In Our Time… Live (2010)

FrontCover1Snowy White has an extensive and impressive CV, serving guitar duties with huge rock acts such as Thin Lizzy (Chinatown and Renegade albums), Pink Floyd (Animals & The Wall tours), Roger Waters, Joan Armatrading, Peter Green and Al Stewart amongst many others. Whilst still to be found touring with Pink Floyd & Roger Waters, Snowy also fronts his own bands ‘The White Flames’ and ‘The Snowy White Blues Project’ and has released a number of well received and commercially successful albums and even scored a hit single with the song Bird Of Paradise.

‘In Our Time… Live’ A Snowy White Blues Project album was recorded in Holland in 2009. Features Snowy alongside Matt Taylor: (guitar & vocals) Ruud Weber: (bass & vocals) Juan van Emmerloot: (drums).

A blues masterclass from former Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd man…an excellent showcase for White’s nigh-on perfect guitar playing. (Hot Press)

SnowyWhite.jpgClassic Brit Blues Rock, pure RnB and gooving rockin funky blues… the two guitars fit perfectly together. Fine, highly melodic and swinging… awesome. (Glitterhouse)

Fine guitar-sparring between Snowy and Matt Taylor ensure the album’s appeal to lovers of the British blues. …a sound akin to Albert, Freddy and B.B. King. (R2 Magazine)

On par with the best… when White becomes one with his beloved Les Paul Gold Top, his music could hardly be more more authentic, soulful and heartwarming. (Rocks Magazine)

“…Woman Across The River”. Possibly the best version I’ve heard since Freddie King’s! ( BluesBytes)

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Personnel:
Juan van Emmerloot (drums)
Matt Taylor (guitar, vocals)
Ruud Weber (bass, vocals)
Snowy White (guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Blue To The Bone (Weber) 3.39
02. Good Morning Blues (Leadbetter/Lomax) 3.54
03. Simple (Weber) 4.46
04. Red Wine Blues (White) 5.05
05. Lonely Man Blues (White) 4.32
06. Long Grey Mare (Green) 3.27
07. In Our Time Of Living (Taylor) 8.19
08. Land Of Plenty (White) 6.16
09. Rolling With My Baby ((White) 4.44
10. I’m So Glad (James) 4.21
11. Walk On (Terry/McGee) 5.58
12. Woman Across The River (Crutcher/Jones) 4.57
13. I Want To Thank You (Taylor) 3.11
14. One Way Ticket (White) 6.53
15. World Keep On Turning (Green)3.24

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John Butler Trio – Live At Red Rocks (2011)

FrontCover1Live at Red Rocks is the fourth live album of The John Butler Trio. It was recorded on 4 June 2010 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and was streamed live to fans around the world at Livestream.
The album was released in Australia in July 2011.

The stunning set captures their captivating, largest headline concert ever at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, USA. This 3 disc package includes 2 live audio CDs plus a DVD showcasing the concert in its entirety with over 2 hours of viewing pleasure.

A live performance is just as important as what comes out of a recording studio, sometimes more; a good band will know how to wow their audiences on both fronts. But when a band manages to take their studio recording and elevate it above and beyond in a live setting, you know you’ve encountered a truly talented act.

John Butler Trio has been a household name for about 13 years now. Rolling through five studio albums and two live recordings, they’ve continuously figured out a way to capture new fans. But it wasn’t until recently that I came across a recording of theirs that was inspirational.

Inlet02A1On the 4th of June in the year of 2010, JBT took the stage at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater. And on the 19th of July in the year 2011, the band released the live recording of that night’s experiences. From what has been named their largest headlining concert came a 3-disc CD/DVD box set. From first listen, it was obviously that not only the band, but the music itself, felt completely at home [at Red Rocks].

The hoots and hollers could be heard as the marching band drum intro brought in “Used To Get High”. Its sultry vocals seemed as though they slipped smoothly off the stage and the 1980s’ electric guitar was a great audience groove starter for the night. The guitar work of John Butler himself is nearly unmatched. And when he starts off “Betterman” with a folky, banjo-esque twang, you can hear it resonate so strongly through the mountains. At one point the song breaks for a couple drums and some soft vocals, taunting and enticing the audience. The echo that stage provided worked so perfectly, you wouldn’t want to hear it any other way.

Inlet04A1One of my album favorites begins with just a subtle string dance. Fingers sashay across a hollowed instrument in a very Indian/belly dance kind of way. The sound of a didgeridoo comes out eerily from the back and eventually the sentiments of an African-dance leave way for one of the most recognizable JBT electric riffs to bust out. It’s that of the song “Treat Yo Mama” and pretty soon you’re knee deep in the pure insanity that comes with lyrics on speed and so many electric rock chords that they’re coming out your ears. One might think that his guitar work might get lost in an outdoor venue. Rest assured, you experience every note and every ween.

‘Absolute favorite JBT song of all time’is a risky thing to see at a show. You can put so much faith in your band, but so much risk as well. For me “Ocean” tops the JBT chart and when I finally reached the song on the live album, my hopes were not only met, they were surpassed. With so much raw talent rolled up into one man, it’s really best just to give him a guitar and stand back. The intro of “Ocean” was just that. You can almost hear his smile and picture how content he must have been. The first 1:20 was like a window into John. No music to follow, just whatever his fingers wanted to do. It was magical. Soon enough the song itself emerged. And with a few bass beats, the music took shape. A melody turns into a lullaby and a beat into a dance. This was one of those songs that you never wanted to end. And as the second longest song on the album, coming in at 12:03, the band surely tried to do just that.

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Not a single word comes out, but this is on purpose, so that your mind can completely take in each strum and each pluck. Not having seen JBT live myself, I can only imagine that it’s just John making the music throughout this number. And it’s because of this that I’m sure each of those 2,000 sets of eyes was fixed on one place. Like I said, inspirational.

22 songs fill the two discs in the box set and while I’d love to talk about each one, I’ll have to jump to the end. To finish their unforgettable night, the band decided to end with “Funky Tonight”. Massive rock riffs eventually fade to a single chord progression with an Irish hint to it. Cymbals are tickled and a bass note keeps everything mellow. The tempo eventually quickens and the Irish chords morph into a melody so infamously John Butler Trio. There’s no better way to end a show as big as this one, than with each audience member dancing so fast they nearly pass out.

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Even if you’ve been lucky enough to catch the band on tour, this box set is an essential for any JBT fan. (by Rachel Fredrickson)

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Personnel:
Nicky Bomba (drums, percussion, steel drums, vocals)
John Butler (vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, banjo)
Byron Luiters (bass, didgeridoo, vocals)
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Mama Kin (vocals on 12.)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:

01. Introduction 0.57
02. Used To Get High (Butler/Walker) 4.27
03. I’d Do Anything (Butler) 3.46
04. Betterman (Butler/Birchall/Johnstone) 8.31
05. Don’t Wanna See Your Face (Butler) 3.37
06. Revolution (Butler/Bomba/Luiters) 6.47
07. Hoe Down (Butler) 0.55
08. Better Than (Butler/Walker) 3.18
09. Johnny’s Gone (Butler) 3.43
10. Take Me (Butler/Bomba) 4.51
11. Treat Yo Mama (Butler/Birchall) 10.40
12. Losing You 5.25
13. Intro To Ocean 1.29
14. Ocean (Butler) 12.02

CD 2:
15. Ragged Mile (Butler) 3.59
16. Zebra (Butler/Birchall) 7.07
17. Good Excuse (Butler/Walker) 17.00
18. C’mon Now (Butler) 2.39
19. Close To You (Butler) 6.06
20. Peaches And Cream (Butler/Birchall) 7.04
21. One Way Road (Butler) 5.24
22. Funky Tonight (Butler/Walker) 11.51

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  • Byron Luiters broke a string of his electric bass in the middle of his solo. Nicky Bomba has had to play while the bass has been replaced.
  • Nicky Bomba broke a rind of his tom just in the middle of his solo.
  • The amphitheatre is built on an Indian sacred site.
  • The show was preceded by an exhibition of Indians (Native Americans) invited by the trio.
  • Butler’s wife made an appearance to sing with John.

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