John Storgårds, Lapland Chamber Orchestra – Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies (2012) [Dacapo 24-192]

John Storgårds, Lapland Chamber Orchestra – Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 69:03 minutes | 2,55 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Dacapo Records DK | Digital Booklet
Genre: Classical

Vagn Holmboe’s three chamber symphonies span the period when the Danish com poser immersed himself in symphonic works; they are a fine demonstration of his preoccupation with the processes of nature and the idea of musical metamorphosis. Lapland Chamber Orchestra and its conductor John Storgårds focus on Vagn Holmboe’s clear musical expression in three major works that have never previously been recorded.

Written throughout the period that Danish composer Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) was also writing symphonies for full orchestra, these are expressively and technically the equal of their larger siblings. In fact, they are marvelously concentrated snapshots of his developing compositional style using continuous metamorphosis of thematic material. Based on models found in nature-”from egg to larva to cocoon to insect” was his common example – he built his works through constant evolution of themes: the end point a logical extension of the start, if often of markedly different character. The fascination is in observing the process, like watching a plant grow, bloom, and then wither in a time-lapse video. It is a subtle and powerful tool for the expression of Holmboe’s intensely felt, but often exquisitely restrained, musical ideas. Primarily modal in tonality and conservative in language, if not in form, these are works that could be from no other century but the last, and yet they exhibit none of the formalism, extremes in harmonic language, or cool objectivism that turn some away from contemporary music.

Each of the three symphonies is also a personal testament to his spiritual state at the time. Chamber Symphony No. 1 reflects his debt to Carl Nielsen, both personal and musical, notably in the elegiac Adagio and the timpanipunctuated finale. One hears as well the influence of his studies of Balkan music, and his lifelong admiration for Bartók. The symphony was written in 1951, not long after he began teaching at the Royal Danish Conservatory. It is the most classical of the three in structure, though in its cyclic development of the opening motif it already shows the beginnings of Holmboe’s organic development method.

The melancholy of the Chamber Symphony No. 2, “Elegy” (1968) makes clear, for this usually reticent composer, that there had been a crisis in life and spirit. The public rejection of his aesthetics by former students – Per Norgård and Ib Nørholm in particular-and his subsequent resignation from the conservatory and retirement to his home in remote Zealand are reflected in the agonized writing. The intervening years had been spent perfecting metamorphic development, and here he revels in its expressive complexity while seemingly questioning it in the work’s many uncharacteristic modernisms. Holmboe finds no resolution in the Second.

The Chamber Symphony No. 3, “Frieze” was written between 1969 and 1970. The intense emotion is once again internalized. The traditional language now integrates some of the innovations he previously struggled against. Metamorphosis is used, but not as a unifying force, and the work signals a new peace. It was created in collaboration with friend and sculptor Arne L. Hansen; Holmboe’s six movements reflect the six panels in Hansen’s frieze, and each panel bears the name of one of the intensely concentrated symphonic movements. The composer would continue to write for more than 20 years, and produce masterpieces, but only a few works so thoroughly distill the essence of his mature voice as this haunting piece.

Unbelievably, these are first recordings of these important works. Filling this gap in Holmboe’s discography is an important milestone in the ongoing noble effort of Dacapo and BIS to make Holmboe’s work known outside of home turf. The composer is considered by many of his compatriots as the rightful successor to Carl Nielsen. I maintain, as do many others that know his music, that he is one of the great musical voices of the 20th century. I suppose he really needs someone to champion his work on the world stage: a Bernstein to his Mahler. For now, he has impressive advocates in Finnish conductor John Storgårds and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra; they deserve special thanks for bringing these three remarkable chamber symphonies to the catalog in performances of such insight and technical perfection.

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John Lennon – Imagine (1971/2014) [Blu-Ray Audio Rip 24bit/96kHz]

John Lennon – Imagine (1971/2014)
FLAC (image+cue ) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 39:45 minutes | 857 MB
Blu-Ray Audio Rip | © Apple Records, Universal Music ‎

Tracklist:

01 Imagine
02 Crippled Inside
03 Jealous Guy
04 It’s So Hard
05 I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Want To Die
06 Gimme Some Truth
07 Oh My Love
08 How Do You Sleep?
09 How?
10 Oh Yoko!

John Lennon — vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano; whistling on “Jealous Guy”; harmonica on “Oh Yoko”
George Harrison — electric and slide guitar on “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “Oh My Love,” and “How Do You Sleep?”; dobro on “Crippled Inside”
Nicky Hopkins — piano; electric piano on “How Do You Sleep?”
Klaus Voormann — bass, upright bass
Alan White — drums on “Imagine,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “Oh My Love,” “How Do You Sleep?,” “How?,” and “Oh Yoko!”; Tibetan cymbals on “Oh My Love”; vibraphone on “Jealous Guy”
Jim Keltner — drums on “Crippled Inside,” “Jealous Guy,” and “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier”
Jim Gordon — drums on “It’s So Hard”
King Curtis — saxophone on “It’s So Hard” and “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier”
John Barham — harmonium on “Jealous Guy”; vibraphone on “How?”
John Tout, Ted Turner, Rod Linton — acoustic guitars on “Crippled Inside”
Joey Molland, Tom Evans — acoustic guitars on “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier”
Rod Linton, Andy Davis — acoustic guitars on “Gimme Some Truth” and “Oh Yoko!”
The Flux Fiddlers — orchestral strings
Phil Spector — backing vocals on “Oh Yoko!”
Michael Pinder — tambourine on “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier”
Steve Brendell — upright bass on “Crippled Inside”; maracas on “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier”

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Riccardo Chailly, Gewandhausorchester (Leipzig) – Johannes Brahms: The Symphonies (2013) [LINN 24-96]

Gewandhausorchester, Riccardo Chailly – Brahms: The Symphonies (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Time – 233:58 minutes | 4,41 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: LinnRecords.com | Covers & Digital Booklet
Genre: Classical

This comprehensive overview of Brahms’s orchestral works includes several rarities, among them world premieres of two piano intermezzi orchestrated by Paul Klengel (brother of the Gewandhaus’s long-standing principal cellist Julius Klengel) and the original first performance version of the Andante of Symphony No. 1 and the even rarer revised opening of the Fourth Symphony.

For most listeners’ purposes, Riccardo Chailly’s set of Johannes Brahms’ four symphonies will seem standard-issue, with respectable and uncontroversial interpretations from an esteemed conductor, and rich and resonant performances by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Even in the choice of filler pieces, the set includes the three orchestral works that are usually packaged with the symphonies: the Tragic Overture, the Haydn Variations, and the Academic Festival Overture. However, this set offers welcome suprises and extra value for the purchase. Two orchestral arrangements of the Interludes, Opp. 116 and 117 for piano, are included, along with instrumental versions of a handful of Liebeslieder Waltzes and three of the orchestrated Hungarian Dances, which may be incentives to listeners who are looking for a little more. Also included are Brahms’ original version of the Andante of the First Symphony and the alternate opening of the Fourth. But no one should invest in a set solely on the basis of these extras, however unusual they may be. Since first recording the cycle with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he offered a rather heavy-handed modern take on the symphonies, Chailly has gone back to an older, more historically informed style of playing Brahms that was familiar to conductors of the early 20th century. The music is lighter and more transparent, so in some ways, his recordings are sometimes reminiscent of classic performances by Bruno Walter, George Szell, and other revered conductors. For traditionalists, this is a fine set to own, especially if a fresh digital recording is needed.

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Joe Farrell – Outback (1971/2013) [eOnkyo 24-192]

Joe Farrell – Outback (1971/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 33:40 minutes | 1,34 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: eOnkyo.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

Outback is the second and finest of Joe Farrell’s dates for Creed Taylor’s CTI label. Recorded in a quartet setting in 1970, with Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, and Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira, Farrell pushes the envelope not only of his own previous jazz conceptualism, but CTI’s envelope, as well. Outback is not a commercially oriented funk or fusion date, but an adventurous, spacy, tightrope-walking exercise between open-ended composition and improvisation. That said, there is plenty of soul in the playing. Four compositions, all arranged by Farrell, make up the album. The mysterious title track by John Scott opens the set. Staged in a series of minor-key signatures, Farrell primarily uses winds — flutes and piccolos — to weave a spellbinding series of ascending melodies over the extended, contrasting chord voicings by Corea. Jones skitters on his cymbals while playing the snare and tom-toms far more softly than his signature style usually attests. Airto rubs and shimmers on hand drums, going through the beat, climbing on top of it, and playing accents in tandem with Farrell in the solo sections. “Sound Down” is a bit more uptempo and features Farrell playing wonderfully on the soprano. Buster Williams lays down a short staccato bassline that keeps Jones’ bass drum pumping. As Farrell moves from theme/variation/melody to improvisation, he brings in Corea, who vamps off the melody before offering a series of ostinati responses. Corea’s “Bleeding Orchid” is a ballad played with augmented modes and continually shifting intervals, mapped beautifully by Williams’ adherence to the changes, with a series of contrasting pizzicato fills. Farrell’s trills and arpeggiatic exercises combine both jazz classicism and Middle Eastern folk music. On Farrell’s “November 68th,” he invokes John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things” as he digs deep into the tenor’s middle register for a song-like voicing, played with a gorgeously bluesy sophistication. The other players rally around him and push his sonic flight to near manic intensity. Outback is a stunner, as inspired as anything — and perhaps more so — that Farrell ever recorded.

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Janina Fialkowska – Chopin Recital 2 (2012) [LINN 24-96]

Janina Fialkowska – Chopin Recital 2 (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Time – 76:01 minutes | 1,16 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: LinnRecords.com | Front Cover
Genre: Classical

Very few composers exist whose piano music can fill an entire evening without straining the attention or good will of an audience of non-professional musicians. But all-Chopin recitals have been popular throughout the 20th and now the 21st centuries. For this reason Janina Fialkowska offers, without qualms, her second all-Chopin recital album.

Loved and admired by virtually all of his contemporaries, Chopin cast a magical spell on his generation as well as on all future generations of musicians. His music remains as fresh, as enchanting and as powerful as the day it was first penned. Janina Fialkowska has chosen a very personal program of Chopin’s most delightful piano music including Waltz, Preludes, Ballade and Mazurkas.

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Jamey Haddad, Lenny White, Mark Sherman – Explorations In Space And Time (2011) [HDTracks 24-176,4]

Jamey Haddad, Lenny White, Mark Sherman – Explorations In Space And Time (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/176,4 kHz | Time – 98:37 minutes | 3,56 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Chesky Records – Binaural Recording
Genre: Jazz

Lenny White, the drummer from Return to Forever, joins Jamey Haddad – one of the most sought-out world percussionists – and trained classical percussionist Mark Sherman for the ultimate and most unique Drum and Percussion session ever recorded. Funk meets world, meets classical! The Explorations in Space and Time album features both the Soundfield and binaural versions as well as bonus binaural tracks.

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Jacob Young – Forever Young (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jacob Young – Forever Young (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 73:55 minutes | 1,56 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Jazz

Forever Young features melodically inventive, harmonically sophisticated and rhythmically alert jazz, composed by Norwegian-American guitarist Jacob Young and played by a spirited team of contemporaries. Young and saxophonist Trygve Seim are friends since school days, and have been heard on the Norwegian jazz scene in numerous combinations and contexts over the years. They are joined on this album by the Polish pianist, bassist and drummer widely known as the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, a group with its own 20 years playing history.
This recording marks Jacob Young’s first alliance with the Poles, although Trygve Seim has worked extensively with Wasilewski and bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz while all three were members of Manu Katché’s touring band. Forever Young draws on both rich, shared histories and in-the-moment creativity.

On his third date as a leader for ECM, Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young debuts an entirely new international quintet. His sidemen are saxophonist Trygve Seim, and pianist Marcin Wasilewski’s trio featuring bassist Slamowir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michael Miskiewicz. Forever Young is more “song” oriented than either of his preceding albums. It’s warm, spacious, rhythmically fluid, and deeply lyrical as evidenced by “Bounce,” which moves along like a latter-era Roxy Music tune. But that melodicism isn’t all pop-inflected. Opener “I Lost My Heart to You,” introduced by the pianist, opens tentatively and tenderly and unfolds like a Brazilian folk song. Seim’s articulation of the melody reveals its emotional resonance. Young plays a nylon-string guitar. His solo is free of angles; it offers tasteful arpeggios, accenting the changes as he plays into them. “Therese’s Gate” is also touched by Brazil, but more by bossa, though its rhythmic signature is more elliptical. The interplay between Wasilewski, Young, and Seim is elegant, and full of ideas. “Sophia’s Dance” features a wrangling acoustic guitar solo and Miskiewicz’s rolling tom snare that evoke a tabla. The fat, electric guitar chords in “1970″ recall early Wes Montgomery, but Young and Wasilewski unpack it into something more modern, sleek, and global with hints of Indian and Latin jazz. “Beauty” has an open country feel, with shimmering, strummed acoustic chords which frame Wasilewski’s middle-register arpeggios in a breezy melody. Seim’s insistent solo moves it toward the margins as Kurkiewicz’s surging bassline urges him on. “Time Changes” is literal — at least rhythmically — it also swings through the head and bridge — even when it engages a classic rock chord progression as one of its themes. Young’s playing throughout offers great technical facility, but he is a democratic bandleader, never showy. Forever Young stands out in his catalog because it reveals an almost immeasurable growth in his compositional skills since 2007. These tunes inspire this fine band; they play as if they’d been playing them for ages.

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J.S. Bach – Transcriptions – Ensemble Contraste (2013) [Qobuz 24-88.2]

J.S. Bach: Transcriptions – Ensemble Contraste (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz | Digital Booklet | 930 MB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

Moving from the harpsichord to the clavichord or the organ was probably easy enough for Johann Sebastian Bach. The source of the sound didn’t matter, because for the master of Leipzig, what counted were thought and intellect: the form, tonality and melodic contours ere more important than the instrument itself. And indeed, through this work of musical thought, Bach used different keyboards, prefiguring the instruments to come: the piano as a synthesis of the harpsichord, the organ and the clavichord.

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble: Ensemble Contraste

Reviews: Bach was aware of exchanges between the different European schools, which allowed musicians to copy, transcribe and adapt the work of contemporaries. Bach did this with his own scores, as well as those of his colleagues. Over the centuries, Busoni, Siloti, Kempff and Kurtàg amongst other have transformed the magic of the organ, orchestra and choruses of the cantatas to the piano.

And now, Ensemble Contraste presents its own vision of the Cantor: a school of freedom that never betrays his conception and allows the beauty, rigorous construction and triumphant polyphonies to shine through.

“La Dolce Volta, a new French classical music label whose outstanding production values include big, bold sound and cerebral liner notes laid out in cerebral, hip typography” Strings

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Isaac Delusion – Isaac Delusion (2014) [Qobuz 24-44,1]

Isaac Delusion – Isaac Delusion (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 55:36 minutes | 642 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front cover
Genre: Alternative

HILLYDILLY Review:
About two years ago, we came across a fairly obscure song entitled “Transistors“. It was an intriguing blend of folk and electronic at the time it came out, but nothing more, at least, in terms of integration into a greater body of work. Now, two momentous years later, Isaac Delusion has returned to the Hillydilly pages with an outstanding full-length album, and what was once just a creative experiment has fully blossomed into a well-defined, unique sound of its own. After several EP releases, it’s obvious that the French band has finally perfected their craft with their very first, self-titled album, Isaac Delusion.

The second song on the album, “Midnight Sun”, happened to be released a couple of years ago, but its feature on the album makes now an excellent time to call attention to it once again. The piece’s smooth sonic array is composed of ethereal synths, subtle bass, harmonic vocal chops, ticking percussion, and Loic Fleury’s tranquil vocals, and afterwards comes “Pandora’s Box”, providing more upbeat sounds that completely differ in structure from the previous one. Layers of guitar plucks pile up atop a beat of claps, kicks, and hats, but the real magic occurs when the bongo drum summons a wave of jungle percussion amidst a shadowy soundscape.

“Early Morning” is closer to the end of the album, but even then, Isaac Delusion presents a new side to their sound. A soulful guitar and bass riff cycles over a modest drum kit, both of which compose the foundation of the track. Celestial synths grow and shrink, while an oscillating electronic hum floats about the backdrop, altogether constituting a gleaming affair with Fleury’s light vocals coasting alongside. A smoother sound is later presented with “A Little Bit Too High” through its funk-infused bass guitar plucks, warm guitar strums, and engaging synth chords.

We’re absolutely taken aback by how eclectic Isaac Delusion’s sound is, and our amazement is only further increased with ensuing track, “Land Of Gold”. The song begins as a serene ballad, but then gradually picks up pace, evolving through stages of intense percussion and synths until it’s all spontaneously pulled away, leaving a funk-emitting segment before building once again. Finally, we wrap up our highlights with the most ethereal track of all, “If I Fall”. The song is a serene journey through some acoustic guitar, gentle soundscapes, and emotive vocals.

It’s safe to say that Isaac Delusion has entirely and unexpectedly wowed us here at Hillydilly, and we hope that you find the same amazement in his music that we do.

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Igor Levit – Beethoven The Late Piano Sonatas (2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Igor Levit – Beethoven: The Late Piano Sonatas (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.87 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: HD Tracks

Igor Levit has recently given highly acclaimed debuts in major musical centres across Europe and is being hailed by international critics as one of the most outstanding pianists of our time. Levit is a BBC Young Generation Artist and currently features in the “ECHO Rising Star” program of the European Concert House Organization. Not just another young aspiring pianist releasing his debut album, he is an outstanding artist who meets the exceptionally high technical and interpretative demands of this extraordinary repertoire. Despite his young age, Levit’s interpretations display a rare depth and maturity, making for extremely well-balanced renderings on an artistic level of the great piano masters of our age. The Russian-German pianist performs one of the largest chunks of piano repertoire – Beethoven much-revered five late sonatas opp. 101, 106 and 109–111. Here, Beethoven’s late piano sonatas can be discovered in a most natural & tonally beautiful way. Written between 1816 – 1822 when the composer was completely deaf, Beethoven’s last sonatas are highly subjective artistic and personal confessions. The sonatas constitute one of the cornerstones of Beethoven’s mysterious late style next to the five last quartets.

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Igor Levit

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